Melania Trump’s White House Christmas Decor Compared To A Scene In ‘The Shining’

First lady Melania Trump unveiled this year’s White House Christmas decorations, and critics already have a lot to say about them. 

Last year, her “blood red trees” caused a stir on social media. In 2017, her stark hallway of leafless sticks prompted comparisons to “The Blair Witch Project.”

This year’s theme is the “Spirit of America,” with patriotic decor mixed in with the holiday ornaments as well as references to the first lady’s “Be Best” campaign. 

“The Spirit of America” is shining in the @WhiteHouse!” she tweeted. 

But many critics on Twitter saw something else “shining.” 

Specifically, references to the 1980 horror movie “The Shining,” based on the Stephen King novel, along with some other cracks and complaints: 

‘The Witcher’ final trailer sounds the battle cry with epic combat scenes

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With Netflix’s adaption of The Witcher just around the corner, the final trailer has landed and we’re in for some serious action, friends.

Star Henry Cavill unveiled the final trailer at a promotional fan event in Manila, Philippines on Thursday, and it gives us a pretty good look at the three main characters — Cavill as the titular witcher Geralt of Rivia, along with Anya Chalotra (Wanderlust) as Yennefer and Freya Allan (The War of the Worlds) as Ciri — as well as some truly epic battle and combat scenes.

The Witcher lands on Netflix Dec. 20. Here’s the first trailer if you want more before then.

8 gifts to get for the person you just started dating

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Image: Mashable composite: disney, twelve, bombas

Holiday shopping season is always a stressful time, but never more than when you’re in a brand new relationship. 

You’re already juggling buying gifts for the office Secret Snowflakes, the family member who swears they don’t want anything, and the dog walker… and then there’s the new person you’re dating. 

It may be one or two months in — too soon to go all out, but you do want to give them something. What can you get your new partner that is casual enough not to set off alarm bells, but not too casual to make them think you don’t care at all? 

We got you covered.

1. A shirt from their fandom of choice

8 gifts to get for the person you just started dating

Image: disney

For the Baby Yoda fans among us, official merch is a thoughtful gift, but impersonal enough that it doesn’t scream “MY ~NEW BAE~ BOUGHT ME THIS.” Adjust to fandom of choice, whether it be a different Disney franchise or TV show or band. 

Price: $24.95 from Disney

2. A book about a subject they’re into or an author they like

8 gifts to get for the person you just started dating

Image: twelve

A book is a thoughtful gift that, unless you’re going the “bougie coffee table book” route, will set you back less than $30. If you’re dating a film buff, Movies (And Other Things) by Ringer staff writer Shea Serrano is a great choice.

Price: $14.99 from Amazon

8 gifts to get for the person you just started dating

Image: audible

If your new partner is more on their feet, or just loves podcasts more than the printed word, they may prefer an Audible subscription. If you’ve been dating for a short time, a one month subscription is perfect at $15.

Price: $15+ from Audible

4. Socks

8 gifts to get for the person you just started dating

Image: bombas

Listen. We’re adults now. Socks are a great gift, especially fancy socks that your new partner probably would not buy for themselves. Look at these Cookie Monster socks! They’re adorable. Smile almost guaranteed. 

Price: $14 from Bombas

5. A nice notebook

8 gifts to get for the person you just started dating

Image: moleskine

For the literary partner, a notebook like a Moleskine can encourage one interest while also referencing another — in this case, David Bowie. 

Price: $27.95 from Moleskine

6. Patreon for their favorite podcast or digital artist

8 gifts to get for the person you just started dating

Image: last podcast on the left

Being a podcast patron is something people (okay, I) grapple with doing, as they may love the podcast but love too many to support them all for $5 per month. This is a relatively inexpensive gift, even if you keep subscribing for several months. One massively popular Patreon is for the true crime pod Last Podcast on the Left, which has options as low as $1/month.

Price: $1+ from Patreon

7. A Groupon experience

8 gifts to get for the person you just started dating

Image: GROUPON

Some people don’t want “things.” They have too many, there’s not enough space, they Kon Mari’d earlier this year, etc. etc. Get them an ~experience~ instead, like a nice dinner out. You can even buy one on Groupon, so you look savvy and like you care while also saving money. For example, you can get dinner with a skyline view for $34. 

Price: $34 from Groupon

8. A movie date

8 gifts to get for the person you just started dating

Image: fandango

If Groupon seems too extra, you could just go the route of treating them to the movies — and maybe dinner if you want to go all out. A gift card to Fandango could be given IRL or over email.

Price: $15+ from Fandango

The joy of listening to authors like Jonathan Van Ness read their own audiobooks

Essentials Week spotlights unexpected items that make our daily lives just a little bit better.


Jonathan Van Ness made me cry on the train to work. Ali Wong told me a filthy joke in the supermarket. Michelle Obama recreated election night in 2008 while I scrubbed my shower.

I’m a proud, hardcore sucker for audiobooks. I use Audible every single day, snatching up those superfluous achievement badges like a beaming front-row Ravenclaw. I listen when I’m walking my wolfhound, when I jump on the train, when I rarely and scarily cook — all the in-betweens when I really should be calling my parents (sorry guys). And while I’ve tried to listen to fiction, it doesn’t land the way audiobook autobiographies do. Especially when they’re read by the author.

Sometimes fiction audiobooks really work for me. Ann Dowd, Bryce Dallas Howard, Mae Whitman, and Margaret Atwood herself narrating The Testaments? Fuck yeah. Audiobook king Stephen Fry doing all the voices in the Harry Potter series? Legendary. But more often than not it just feels a little bit… awkward. Do not listen to Haruki Murakami’s work as an audiobook (trust me, several disturbing scenes in Kafka on the Shore can’t be unheard). And I’ve tried to listen to Frank Herbert’s Dune, and no disrespect to one of the greatest sci-fi books of all time, but I just couldn’t keep up with all the verbally delivered names — Halleck? Hawat? Harkonnens? Who is who? WOOORRRM!

But memoirs read by their authors? For some reason it really works for me. 

To me, narrating your own audiobook is one of the bravest things authors can do. Revisiting trauma, loss, or even just elements of your own story that are hard to come to terms with is hard enough to get down on the page, but actually reading it aloud? Pure courage. 

For example, Jonathan Van Ness’ Over the Top is one of the most startlingly vulnerable, brutally honest, and beautiful self-love journeys around, and read aloud by the author, it’s incredibly affecting. JVN personally unpacking some truly challenging moments of life really has impact, so whether you read or listen, it’s big. But the Queer Eye star reading aloud passages like the below is like having your own personal life coach sitting in your ear and telling you, nay, insisting that you’re OK just the way you are. 

Imperfection is beautiful. To anyone who has ever felt broken beyond repair, this is for you. If you’ve ever been excluded, or told you were not enough, know that you are enough, and beautifully complete.

I damn well needed that one shitty Tuesday morning, and there it was, right in my ear.

Memoirs steeped in politics and current affairs are suddenly humanised when their author is telling their own story. Listening to Malala Yousafzai narrate her book, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, has so much more impact hearing it directly from the Nobel Peace Prize winner herself. Michelle Obama sings a tiny section of her best-selling memoir, Becoming. Heck, Barack Obama has even won two Grammys for his readings of Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope.

Comedians who narrate their own memoirs can be either exactly as you know them, or completely different. Ali Wong’s Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life, a collection of essays to her two daughters that’s as funny, filthy, real, and poignant as her formidable stand-up shows, made me guffaw so hard on the Tube I missed my stop. It’s all in how Wong lowers and raises her voice for dramatic effect, and it’s right in your ear. Jenny Slate’s Little Weirds, on the other hand, is a whimsical, nostalgic, and yes, weird collection of memories, that Slate delivers with such vulnerability that you feel like she’s sharing a secret just with you. See also: Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Amy Poehler’s Yes Please.

Listening to an author tell their own life story actually has a similar impact as seeing a stand-up show, going to a book reading, or most accurately, hypothetically having a beer in the pub with that person, spinning yarns of former lives and loves. Seriously, if you listen to Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking narrated by the Star Wars legend herself, you’ll hear the sarcasm in all the right places, the amusement at her own jokes (she genuinely and delightfully chortles all the way through). It’s based on her one-woman stage show, so works perfectly. Fisher roars at appropriately exasperated moments, almost as if she’s throwing her hands in the air, especially when she thunders the final line, “I can’t forget that stupid, fucking hologram speech. THAT’S why I did dope.”

And it’s Fisher’s reading, and other authors who’ve passed on in recent years, that offers another more poignant reason autobiographies read by their authors are absolute treasures: We get to listen to their voices after they’re gone.

Musicians, many of whom are still with us, are best listened to as well (who woulda thought?). Artists, like Patti Smith, who’ve been reading their memoirs aloud for audiences for decades, are truly meant for this medium. In her latest memoir, Year of the Monkey, Smith weaves something as pedestrian as ordering eggs for breakfast with the far-flung possibilities of the universe so effortlessly and hypnotically, I got lost in Kings Cross station. 

Debbie Harry reads her memoir Face It with fellow Blondie member Clem Burke and Alannah Currie from the Thompson Twins. Personal favourites Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz narrate their wild Beastie Boys Book, with heartfelt dedications to their friend Adam “MCA” Yauch. Hearing memories straight from those who lived it is truly moving — and because the book’s long, they haul in a bunch of famous friends to help them out: Steve Buscemi, Jarvis Cocker, Snoop Dogg, Will Ferrell, Kim Gordon, Spike Jonze, Maya Rudolph, and Jon Stewart to name a few. 

There’s a moment in Jonathan Van Ness’ epilogue, which involves an ice rink with none other than American figure skater and Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan and Cher’s “Song for the Lonely.” Listening to the last words of Over the Top, it was genuinely hard to keep it together. Try and read this in JVN’s wonderfully expressive, heartfelt voice: 

Learning to parent yourself, with soothing compassionate love, forgiving yourself, and learning from all the decisions you made to get you to where you are — that’s the key to being fulfilled. Learning to be the dream parent cheerleader to yourself. It’s been in you the whole time. And no matter how down you get, you can always make a gorgeous recovery.

I switched over to Spotify, punching Cher’s big-time-feels anthem into the search bar and hitting play. Heaving, snotty crying flowed. It was everywhere. On a main street. Goddamn it JVN.

Reading someone’s story in a memoir is a wonderful journey to take, but if you’re lucky enough to have them tell it to you in their own voice, well, prepare to blub in public.

2019’s Holiday Ads Will Give You All The Festive Feels

1. Don’t Over-Shop

Every host&rsquo;s worst nightmare is to have guests leave their home hungry, so people tend to purchase and prepare far too much for large meals, leading to mountains of&nbsp;<a href=”http://www.worldwatch.org/reducing-food-waste-during-holiday-season”>uneaten leftovers</a>.&nbsp;<br><br>When grocery shopping, <a href=”https://www.huffpost.com/entry/meal-planning-will-make-your-life-better_n_7484278″>pre-plan</a>&nbsp;your list to make sure you don&rsquo;t over-shop. If you have some vegetarians, opt for a smaller turkey. If there are a lot of kids, try making something picky-eater-friendly, like mashed potatoes.<br><br>Most of all, prepare food that makes for good leftovers: There&rsquo;s nothing like a cold turkey and cranberry sandwich. But day-old fondue? Not so much.

Vstock LLC via Getty Images

Is climate change impacting cuffing season?

Destruction of the Arctic. Millions of people forced out of their homes. An increase in devastating natural disasters.

These are all impacts of climate change, which is very real and very terrifying. It seems that every week, scientists release new reports about how dystopian our future looks, if we even last much longer

As someone who has lived in New York City most of my life, I’ve noticed the differences in weather over two decades. It stays warm until November, and when winter finally comes it’s more extreme. The summers used to be hot but manageable, and now they’re so brutal I can’t stand outside for five minutes without the risk of underboob sweat. 

And it’s not just my imagination. There is actual data behind it: the average temperature statewide has increased 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1970, with winter temperatures rising even more at 4.4 degrees F. 

I’m no climate scientist, but I am a sex and relationships reporter. I observe the shifts in weather and like Carrie Bradshaw, I can’t help but wonder: Is climate change impacting cuffing season?

Cuffing season, for those who don’t know, is the period of time when the weather gets colder and the desire to be “cuffed,” or part of a couple, intensifies. This is mainly due to a lack of desire to go out and meet new people as well as couple-driven holidays like New Years Eve and especially Valentine’s Day. The term “cuffing” comes from African-American Vernacular English.

It makes sense, then, for cuffing season to be impacted by the weather. It seems like the change in seasons are only denoted by the date now. It is cold into spring, it is warm well into fall. How could cuffing season survive when the true seasons of fall and winter are not?

To look into how cuffing season may be changing due to the scary shifts in our environment, we should examine the scientific explanations for cuffing season in the first place. Dr. Justin Lehmiller, a Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute and author of the book Tell Me What You Want, said that one theory as to why humans want to be cuffed in the winter months is due to sun exposure.

“We know that in the winter months, there’s less sunlight exposure,” Lehmiller said, “And as a result, less production of serotonin that can affect people’s mood in a way that might lead them to want to seek out social connections in order to compensate.” Basically, a scientific explanation for cuffing season — which Lehmiller has written about more in depth — is that people want to try to combat the winter blues by seeking out a partner.

Earth-based Tantra teacher Tara L. Skubella, who in her own words helps people connect with Mother Earth to make a healing connection, agreed. She said that the winter season may make us seek connection in order to get a hit of serotonin and dopamine. “It’s like this energetic, chemical shift where we want to replace our happiness that has perhaps dropped off for sometime,” she commented. “And what better way to do that then to replace it with a yummy new relationship?”

“Part of what drives cuffing season is just wanting to be warm on those cold winter nights.”

Climate change does not impact hours of sunlight, of course. But Lehmiller did say that the “climate is changing cuffing” theory is viable in another way. “Part of what drives cuffing season is just wanting to be warm on those cold winter nights,” he said. “Now, that’s something that could potentially be impacted by climate change. Because if you have rising global temperatures, and that’s impacting the climate in a given area, that would be one mechanism for which climate change could impact cuffing season.”

And global temperatures are indeed rising — and faster than scientists previously thought. The World Meteorological Association recently found that by the end of the century, the world’s average temperature could increase 3 degrees to 5 degrees Celsius, or 5.4 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit. With fewer — if any — of those chilly winter nights, you may be more focused on moving inland to escape rising sea levels rather than finding a mate. 

According to Skubella, it’s not just climate change that’s impacting cuffing season, it’s also the fact that people are spending more time indoors in general. “I think both of the two weave together. As we’re spending less time outside, we want to replace what we’re missing with our nature connection and relationship. That’s part of our inherent primal energy,” she said. 

There’s another element to take into consideration as well. Climate change obviously impacts the environment, but it also affects humans’ mental health. According to the American Public Health Association, climate change can cause and intensify stress and anxiety. There are Immediate impacts, such as PTSD, that can occur from natural disasters. But even if one is not directly impacted from a climate change-driven disaster, mental health problems like chronic stress (which could lead to chronic physical disease) and feelings of hopelessness and dread can occur. 

Lehmiller said that for those who are scared about climate change, there are different paths their anxiety may take them. “For some, [climate change] might lead them to want to live in the moment more,” he said. “For others, it might contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety about the future.” 

Neither of these bode well for cuffing season. If climate anxiety leads someone to be more hedonistic, this can result in not settling down at all and opt to date multiple people. For those who are depressed about climate change, they may not want to date at all. 

Whether cuffing season will be a victim of climate change is yet to be seen, but from the fact that temperatures are rising at an alarming rate — impacting the environment as well as humans — it is possible. While there are bigger consequences to worry about, this is yet another to add to the list. 

Amazon Echo Show smart displays are now back to Black Friday prices

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Good things come to those who wait.
Good things come to those who wait.

Image: Amazon

TL;DR: Amazon’s Echo Show smart displays have been reduced in the last-minute Christmas sale, with the Echo Show 5 now costing only £49.99


If you missed out on some of the best deals of the year during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, never fear, because Amazon is here. 

Amazon’s Echo Show smart displays have once again been reduced, with the Echo Show 5 and Echo Show 8 both being notable highlights in the reductions. 

Echo Show 5 has dropped to just £49.99, matching its Black Friday deal, which is £30 off the list price of £79.99. That’s a 38% reduction on the compact smart display, and some big savings to consider. 

To sweeten the pot, Amazon is also offering four months of Amazon Music Unlimited with your purchase, at no extra cost. This membership is worth just over £31 itself, making this deal a highlight of the festive sales. 

Evacuation Slide Falls From Delta Jet Into Massachusetts Man’s Front Yard

TSA Checks Woman’s Afro For Weapons

September 2011: A Dallas-bound woman was angered by TSA agents after <a href=”https://www.huffpost.com/entry/isis-brantley-dallas-woma_n_973787?ref=tsa” target=”_hplink”>they stopped and searched her afro</a> while she went through security at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport.

Isis Brantley, a hairstylist, was rocking her signature haircut while going through security to make her American Airlines flight to Dallas. Brantley, who has not cut her hair since she was 12 (she is now 53), said, “I just heard these voices saying, ‘Hey you, hey you, ma’am, stop. Stop — the lady with the hair, you,” Brantley told the station. She then claims that TSA agents stopped her so they could “check for weapons.” A female agent started “digging in her scalp.”

Merriam-Webster unveils its word of the year for 2019

Back in September, the Merriam-Webster dictionary added a new definition of the word “they,” including its use “to refer to a single person whose gender identity is non-binary.”

And now, “they” has just been chosen as Word of the Year for 2019.

The selection is described as “entirely date driven” in Merriam-Webster’s official press release, with the word in question having to show “a significant increase in lookups over the previous year.”

It’s not really a surprise that searches for “they” have gone up, either — back in March, singer Sam Smith opened up about being non-binary during an interview with Jameela Jamil, before going on to change their pronouns to “they/them” in September.

“After a lifetime of being at war with my gender I’ve decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out,” wrote Smith. “I’m so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision but I’ve been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think but fuck it!”

At the time of writing, Smith’s post has been liked over 640,000 times.

“Pronouns are among the language’s most commonly used words, and like other common words (think go, do, and have) they tend to be mostly ignored by dictionary users,” Merriam-Webster’s senior editor, Emily Brewster, said in a statement.

“But over the past year or so, as people have increasingly encountered the non-binary use, we’ve seen searches for they grow dramatically. In 2019 the increase in lookups for they was so significant and sustained that it stood out from all the other top lookups when we went to analyze the data. 

“People were clearly encountering this new use and turning to the dictionary for clarity and for usage guidance.”

It’s that time of the year for dictionaries to release their annual word, with “existential,” “climate strike,”  “climate emergency,” and “cancel culture” claiming the title elsewhere as 2019 words of the year.

Hugh Grant points out the 1 crucial card missing from Boris Johnson’s ‘Love Actually’ parody

Hugh Grant was the last good prime minister to grace this Brexit-stricken land. Oh wait, that wasn’t real. Grant’s Love Actually days are long gone, but he’s certainly not taken a backseat when it comes to politics.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4 Today, the Notting Hill star gave a powerful response to the utterly bizarre Conservative Party broadcast featuring a Love Actually parody. 

The truly baffling video shows Boris Johnson re-enacting the rom-com’s creepiest moment, while somehow managing to make it even creepier. 

“I did notice that one of the cards from the original film that he [Johnson] didn’t hold up was the one where Andrew Lincoln held up a card saying: ‘Because at Christmas you tell the truth,'” said Grant.

“I just wonder if the spin doctors in the Tory party thought that was a card that wouldn’t look too great in Boris Johnson’s hands.”

Ooof. 

Just last week, Grant showed up on constituents’ doorsteps in London while out canvassing for Liberal Democrat candidate Luciana Berger. He is currently urging voters to vote tactically against the Conservative party. 

Perhaps telling the truth isn’t the campaign strategy the Tories are going for?