Category Archives: 7 Quick Takes Friday

7 Quick Takes on Cash Show, The Rock, and Teacher Stuff

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

I have been winning trivia like a beast these last few weeks. My ability to play will decrease significantly very soon, so I’m glad to be going out in a blaze of glory.

I won HQ Trivia two times!

You won! with my happy smiling face

But I only remembered to take a photo one time.

— 2 —

In a related development, I also won Cash Show for the first time!

I won 79 cents!

And I also won that game twice!

I won $1.09!

See? A beast.

Cash Show is like the low-budget version of HQ. It has a similar structure: airs live, twelve questions, winners split the prize. But you start can start earning cash if you make it to question 6, each question is worth a specific (split) amount, and you get to keep the money you earn as each question passes.

So you can be knocked out at Question 9 and leave with twelve cents. I still only consider it “winning” if you make it through Question 12, which I did for the first time last Saturday. The main downside is that you can only get your prize as actual money in your possession once you earn ten dollars. Thus, although I have won a total of $3.81, I haven’t gotten any actual money. We’ll see if it falls into the “you might not ever get your money” loophole that HQ did before it let you cash out at any amount.

— 3 —

On a completely unrelated note, I remembered that Netflix has all of the Star Trek series right now, so I decided to finally finish watching Voyager. It was always my favorite since it was the newest when my dad finally converted me. (My mom and I used to make of him for liking Star Trek. I have since eaten my crow.)

My family lived overseas during Voyager‘s original run, so I never got to see the final season. I couldn’t remember how far along I’d watched, though, so I picked a random episode in the second-to-last season with a plot synopsis that sounded familiar.

Imagine my surprise when one of the guest stars was The Rock! He didn’t have any visible tattoos, so I wasn’t sure it was him until he did the eyebrow. Gotta love the eyebrow.

— 4 —

With my summer downtime, I worked through my backlog of alumni magazines. The one from Notre Dame feels like a short book. I don’t know how I managed to read Seventeen cover-to-cover when I was in high school!

The summer issue of Notre Dame Magazine had an intriguing article about young peoples’ declining or absent Catholic lives. The intriguing part wasn’t that it had anything new to say, but that I found myself agreeing with it so wholeheartedly. It doesn’t focus on the same old lines I hear all the time. It discusses a variety of reasons for the decline, and although it doesn’t offer any answers, it also doesn’t point the blame at any single cause. Considering that I’ve skipped a few ND Mag articles recently that made me roll my eyes at how un-Catholic they seemed, this one was a welcome change.

— 5 —

I also really liked the ND Mag article about a grown-up alumni child who has been fighting cancer for three years past his initial prognosis. I just thought it was well-written and hopeful without being schmaltzy.

— 6 —

If you happen to be a teacher looking for a easy way to make a poster of your class rules, I highly recommend this template from Canva. You can use Canva as a guest or with a Google account, and the poster can be printed as an engineering print at Office Depot for $4. Ask me how I know.

— 7 —

I hope to be a cool English teacher, but I don’t think I’ll ever be this hip:


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7 Quick Takes on French Fry Corn Dogs, Racial Names, and Regular Dogs

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

Confession: The Mel Gibson–Helen Hunt movie What Women Want is one of my guilty pleasures. Back in the day, when I had cable, I would always stop to watch that movie if it was on TV. (Before it came out, my “stop and watch” movie was Pleasantville.)

On a vaguely related note, I came across a pair of essays published by my favorite Catholic news aggregator, CERC, about what men want (which caught my eye immediately) and then what women want. Spoiler alert: they’re basically the same thing, and it centers around admiration. What do you think?

— 2 —

I dipped my toes back into the Pinterest black hole and discovered a new food that I now must try: a french-fry covered corn dog! Why is this Korean food? How could we let them take our food and make it so much better?

— 3 —

As a black woman who does not have a stereotypically black name, I think about the correlation between name and race a lot. I’m the only non-white Lindsay I’ve ever met, and I’ve caught more than one flicker of recognition when I meet people face-to-face who have only known me on paper. As a result, I enjoyed reading a short NPR story about a white man named Jamaal.

His story indicates that he and I have opposite experiences. People assume that he’s black; people assume that I’m white. He’s been told that he has a black man’s name; I’ve been told I have a white girl’s name (not by someone I ever spoke to again, thankfully). When he shows up, people expect racial diversity and don’t get it; when I show up, people who hadn’t expected racial diversity get it.

Then again, I get called “Ashley” so often that I’ve started to wonder about parallel universes.

— 4 —

Whenever I do link-ups, I always visit at least the post linked up before mine. In last week’s 7QT, I clicked on a blog I’ve never visited before, and the first take struck me. Like many moms, Katherine daydreams about the day when all of her littles are grown up. However, unlike most of the mom rhetoric I read, her post acknowledges that many of her good habits (like avoiding social media and trying not to yell at her kids) are the direct result of having those very kids underfoot.

It’s like the mom version of St. Ignatius’s reading the Bible and the lives of the saints because he didn’t have anything else to read while convalescing. Katherine’s conclusion is that she will need to work even harder to grow spiritually when she doesn’t have her kids basically forcing it on her, for better or for worse.

— 5 —

I turned lemons into lemonade in my West Coast Swing class this week. The studio I attend always does drop-in classes, so when there’s an intermediate class, there is a beginner class at the same time. This week, I arrived to find that there were only beginner classes, since most of the staff and intermediate students were away at a competition. I decided to practice my beginner basics, especially the technique tips I got in private lessons last month. Eventually, I rotated to an intermediate leader who expressed a desire to learn to follow, so I practiced my beginner leading skills with him!

Most of the other dancers were couples who had no interest in practicing with anyone else (which is a shame), so the social dancing was kind of a bust, but at least I was confident that I can nail my basics.

— 6 —

That’s all I’ve got this week, so I guess this is really only five takes.

— 7 —

This corgi is done, and so am I. So that’s six takes.


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7 Quick Takes on Books, el Oso, and Assumptions

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

Yesterday, I went to the first evening of the Jane Austen Festival here in Louisville. (I have to fight the urge to spell it “Austin” because I lived in that city for so long!) I am not a huge Jane Austen fan, and she has no particular ties to Louisville, but some friends highly encouraged me to check it out, so I did. It was smaller than other festivals I’ve attended; I was spoiled by the massive Maryland Renaissance Festival, which is the second-largest in the country. The hat game was strong.

The main reason I attended was to see a staged reading of the latest adaptation of Persuasion. The playwright performed as Anne Elliot; she and several of the other actors sang original songs; and all the actors were delightful despite completely lacking costumes, props, and sets. They were losing the light very quickly as the play headed towards the end, but they persisted. I enjoyed it immensely.

I only knew a little about the story, but I found it pretty easy to follow. I did wonder why the main “villain” was supposed to be such a scoundrel. According to my companions, that storyline was cut for the adaptation. I guess that’s the risk of adapting a story to a different form: you have to decide what to leave out without affecting the story too much. That part probably should have stayed in.

— 2 —

Duolingo has been making some big changes in its language teaching pedagogy. The biggest one, for me, was adding a ton of new lower-level content to the Spanish course. I went from having covered everything except the last dozen skills to getting almost 60 new skills below the point I’d reached. So I went from reviewing future-tense conjugations (everything is review for me because I have a minor in Spanish) to things like “ballpoint pen” and “I have a blue shirt.”

The bright spot is that all of the new, low-level skills come with a way to test out quickly. I’ve been easily finishing a skill a day for the last several days. I’m not a fan of the new developments (especially Crowns), but I do like testing out of so many things.

— 3 —

I also still like Duolingo because of the crazy sentences, such as the ones in the video I shared a few weeks ago. One random sentence in Spanish is “el oso no cabe por la puerta,” which means, “the bear doesn’t fit through the door.” Whenever I get a weird sentence, I head to the discussion forums to see everyone else’s reactions.

When would I possibly need to say that the bear doesn’t fit through the door? My favorite was the scenario in which that sentence is followed by, “No, wait, the bear does fit through the door! Run!”

My second favorite was this gem of an illustration:

Winnie-the-Pooh can't get out of Rabbit's hole. Aww.

Silly old bear.

— 4 —

I worked as a teacher before I moved to Austin, and I’ve been working as a teacher since I left Austin. In the middle, I barely even thought about the mechanics of teaching. When I got back into it last summer, I wanted to go back to the style of lesson and unit planning I’d learned in grad school, but there was a catch. All my templates were Excel files, and after those interim years, I didn’t have access to Excel anymore. My solution was to semi-successfully convert the file to LibreOffice‘s spreadsheet file format and go from there.

That worked well since I used my personal laptop at school. I never wanted to have to bring my own computer to work, though, and I don’t have to anymore. My new school issued me a sweet Chromebook about five minutes after I showed up for my first faculty meeting. (The place is on point.)

This past week, I spent several distraught hours trying to figure out how to get my course plans from Excel or even LibreOffice into Google Sheets. There are a lot of really useful sheet-to-sheet links I didn’t want to give up. I patched together a plan that I thought might work… and it finally dawned on me: I can’t be the first person with this problem; I should just Google it. Lo and behold, sometime since I graduated, the files were made available in Google Sheets format. Crisis averted.

— 5 —

I checked out The Power and the Glory from the library since I almost never buy books anymore. (Then again, I did go on a mini-spree in the spring, but that was a fluke.) It was compelling, and I was excited to finish it when this happened (possible spoilers):

From page 164 to page 149? Oops.

I was very worried until I flipped through the duplicate pages and found that the story continued on just fine after the second instance of page 164:

This is how it’s supposed to go. This is how *numbers* go.

The last time I remember something that crazy happening in a book was when a bunch of copies of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix were missing the last fifty pages. I think I also remember some copies of Deathly Hallows repeating pages just like that copy of The Power and the Glory, but I can’t find anything online about that right now.

For me personally, there was a big bug smashed into my copy of Half-Blood Prince. I was so into the book that I just scraped it out with a tissue really quickly so I could keep reading!

Since this misprint didn’t involve any missing pages or non-missing bugs, I guess I lucked out.

— 6 —

This week, I found a bunch of iBooks on my phone that I’d forgotten I own. This is not as exciting as getting new books, though, since they only live on my phone. #21stcenturyproblems

— 7 —

I read a lot about managing relationships of all kinds. I was particularly struck by an article about how to ask questions to figure out someone’s perspective. It’s so easy to assume that someone is being intentionally rude or is totally satisfied with a situation. It’s much more awkward to ask, but in my book, that beats assuming the wrong thing.


For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes on Books, Computers, and Criticism

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

Just a few weeks ago, I posted about finishing my 2017 Goodreads Challenge in October. Well, I’ve set a new record now:

I finished my 2018 challenge by reading 23 books!

I’m already done for 2018, and the year is only half over! Although I’m tempted to set my goal higher now, I think I’ll just call it a win and keep going. I’m aiming for a lifelong reading marathon, not a sprint.

— 2 —

I was saddened to read this NPR article about the rise in AI grading for standardized writing tests. The system can be gamed, of course, but it goes deeper than that.

On the one hand, I’ve been a human grader. It stinks. When I taught in Birmingham, I had to read hand-written standardized essays once. It was just me, a bunch of other English teachers, and a bunch of terrible handwriting. I’m pretty good at reading bad writing (both bad penmanship and poor skills, unfortunately), but one sample was so sloppy that I struggled mightily. I remember reaching the end of a sentence and realizing that I’d decoded all the words but had no idea what the sentence meant. I’m glad that was the closest I’ve come to experiencing any part of what it’s like to have a learning disability. I was working much too slowly for the volume of work set before us. So I get that human-grading of essays isn’t sustainable.

On the other hand, standardized writing doesn’t allow for much nuance anyway. I also understand the complaints of real graders who claim that computers can’t judge strong voice and elegant turns of phrase… but standardized scoring doesn’t give you very much credit for those things, anyway.

Overall, I’m just not ready to trust computers with interpreting writing. They’re phenomenal at transcribing speech, but those are just groups of sounds that need to be coded into letters. Dictation software still struggles with punctuation! Google might have an AI that can make me a hair appointment, but I’m not going to let it write my blog posts—or tell me how good they are.

— 3 —

Speaking of spooky computers, I came across this beautiful short film last year. It sent a chill down my spine.

— 4 —

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about criticism. The term “constructive criticism” has never sat well with me. After all, if there is a kind you can call “constructive,” then the default must be destructive, right? And it is. Putting “destructive” right next to “criticism” is a double whammy. I was never able to unpack my unease about so-called “constructive criticism” until today.

My first resource was the Gottman Institute. It’s been my best source for secular relationship advice for years. They identify criticism as one of the Four Horsemen of the relationship apocalypse. As one of the Gottman bloggers explains, criticism attacks a person’s character rather than actions and puts all the blame on the other. Instead of saying “you did a bad thing,” criticism says “you are a bad person.” The solution is to make a complaint about the way an action or statement makes you feel, as well as expressing what you need that’s different from what you’re getting. Those things are all about you, not about the other person.

So I was settled about what makes criticism feel so destructive sometimes (or a lot of the time), but something was missing. I didn’t see how criticism could ever be “constructive.”

— 5 —

I was listening to podcasts while doing my hair this morning, and I think I finally found the missing link to reconciling my dislike for “constructive criticism” with its alleged goal. It’s not just the feeling of destruction; it’s the total lack of construction.

Erik Fisher of Beyond the To-Do List (the podcast I’ve followed the longest) interviewed Jon Kolko about creativity and critique. Jon reiterated the Gottman principle that criticism can only be good when it focuses on someone’s work or actions instead of their character, but he also pointed out that, when giving a critique, you should offer advice for construction. That’s it! Don’t just tell someone what’s wrong with their work; tell them how to improve it. Then your criticism is constructive.

I think I get it now. And it works with work as well as in relationships.

— 6 —

For Independence Day, I went to visit a family I’ve befriended and a bunch of their friends. It was a little strange to walk into a house full of strangers, but how else will they become friends? We played some trivia games, the garlic butter green beans I’d brought seemed to be well received, and I got to watch some neighborhood fireworks.

Louisville is the first city I’ve lived in where fireworks are legal. We viewers stayed way back, I was only afraid for my hair a little bit (long hair and fire do not mix), and I was only a little distracted by the sight of continuing fireworks lighting up the night as I drove home.

— 7 —

The garlic butter green beans recipe I used was one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever followed. It was more complicated than just tossing some frozen cut green beans in the microwave, but they also tasted better. I might remember this one the next time I’m cooking for other people and want an easy side dish that’s as homemade and tasty as the entree.


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7 Quick Takes on HQ Trivia, Multi-tasking, and Talking Apps

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

Winner!

I won HQ trivia! Not only did I win, I won it twice, and the first time, I didn’t even use an extra life!

If you missed the buzz late last year, HQ Trivia is a live, app-based trivia game. What makes it unique (besides being live and in an app) is that you have to get each question right to keep playing, and if you get all the questions right, you split the prize money with everyone else who got all the questions right. Thus, if the prize is $5000, and 5000 people get all the questions right, each person gets $1. But that, dear readers, is more than zero dollars, and for me, that’s what makes HQ fun.

I only started playing a few weeks ago, when my beloved Jeopardy! had a category called “HQ Trivia.” I took that as a sign and Alex’s blessing.

I had never won until, last Monday, the usual 3 p.m., twelve-question weekday game changed to an 8 p.m., eight-question game. In that game, I finally won… and so did 90,000 other people. Yes, that’s ninety thousand. For my victory, I received twelve cents.

You won, lndsyloves! $0.12 Congratulations!

Why were there so many winners? My guess is that the show’s question-writers and producers didn’t perfect how to balance the easy and hard questions (they start out ridiculously easy to weed out bots), so they wound up with way more winners than usual. They fixed that problem by Tuesday.

I finally figured out the (totally legit) trick to getting a free extra life without a referral on Tuesday, and then I won the 12-question game on Wednesday night, so I got another 99 cents.

I will probably use my winnings to buy a Dollar Tree lint roller. They are great quality for the price.

— 2 —

On Saturday night, I went to an event hosted by my local library. They showed The Breakfast Club and followed it up with a discussion by the author of a book about 80’s teen movies (Brat Pack America) and by John Hughes’s son, James. It was not as enriching as I’d hoped, but I appreciated the opportuty to get out of the house, see a new area of Louisville, and watch a great movie.

After I accidentally re-watched High School Musical 3 last week (it wasn’t very good either time), I needed a better movie to cleanse my palate. That did the trick.

— 3 —

One particular day during this past school year, the wi-fi was spotty, so I tried to load a page in Chrome while my computer wasn’t detecting any Internet at all. I got the default “no connection” page and accidentally pressed the space bar instead of my usual Ctrl+W keystrokes to close the tab.

Imagine my shock when I started playing a side-scrolling video game! I’d seen my students playing that game before, but I’d had no idea how they got to it. (Middle schoolers are smarter than we think.)

I only played it for a minute before I reset my Internet connection, but it was fun to stumble across an Easter egg the old-fashioned way for once.

— 4 —

I use Duolingo to practice and refresh my Spanish vocabulary and grammar. It uses computer-generated sentences, though, so some of them get a little ridiculous. I appreciated this video dramatizing some of the most ludicrous sentences Duo comes up with.

— 5 —

I completely lost my voice for five days last November. Maybe I’ll blog that story one day, but for now, I just want to recommend the app that I found to be an absolute life-saver. It’s called Talk for Me, and it’s designed for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. Since I could hear just fine despite being unable to make a sound, I just needed something better than scribbled notes on a piece of paper. It was just the right thing, and it was free!

— 6 —

On about the third day of my lost voice, I started trying to consider emergency plans. I haven’t called 911 in a while, but I have done it before. If I’d suddenly needed to, how could I call for help without a voice? You can’t text emergency services; I checked.

Really, my only recourse would have been to call and leave the line open, hoping the dispatcher would approximate my location and send someone to check around. Once I found Talk for Me, I could have tried to use that, but even finding the app in the first place took a little while. I would have been left to fend for myself in an actual emergency. I couldn’t even yell for someone within earshot!

The only solution we really have for people who are permanently deaf or hard of hearing are those ancient alert buttons for the elderly or literally going to find a hearing person to call 911 for you. That doesn’t seem right.

— 7 —

Multi-tasking is a myth. The best currency in the 21st century is focus. I recently found a video to show all my haters. Seriously, try it, and see if it doesn’t change your mind about multi-tasking forever.


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7 Quick Takes on Makeup, Freaks, and Prayer

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

I have been using Mary Kay powder foundation for a few years now, and until today, I always suffered when I was almost out of product. I was stuck tapping forever on the container to try to get the last bits of powder to sift through. It’s not a cheap product, and I paid for all of it, so I want to put all of it on my face. Reasonable, right?

It didn’t occur to me to Google my problem until this morning. Thanks to YouTube, I now have easy access to that pesky last bit of powder. I just removed the sifter! (Note that I didn’t actually need pliers as shown at the end of this video; I just kept pulling gently with the tweezers until the sifter popped out.)

— 2 —

That was good news; here’s some bad news. Although I have attended more than a few Masses that include a couple’s renewing their weddings vows, that’s not technically a thing. As Fr. McNamara, liturgy Q&A columnist for Zenit, explains, the couple can receive a special blessing, or they can express their intent to renew their commitment, but the vows are only exchanged once. The vows make the sacrament what it is, and you can never redo a sacrament. The couple should be celebrated and encouraged. And who doesn’t love a blessing? But the vows are technically not renewable.

— 3 —

I just finished watching my way through the cult classic TV show Freaks and Geeks. I liked it! It suffered part of the curse Firefly by getting a terrible time slot, but I think it also aired at the wrong point in TV history.

It’s amusing to see F&G described as the anti-Dawson’s Creek since Busy Phillips moved on to that exact show. I kind of enjoyed that the story wasn’t full of wins for the characters. (I also recently saw Rogue One, so I might just be in the mood for stories with messy endings.) I also appreciated the way they moved through different characters’ point of views without the sheer weight of an ensemble show. Maybe that was unintentional, but it worked.

— 4 —

In my quest to read as much about Freaks and Geeks as possible, I discovered that there is a precedent for Marshall’s amazing short list of songs on How I Met Your Mother. Jason Segel apparently learned to play guitar in order to write a terrible, wondeful song “by” his character for another. I was delighted to dig up such a gem.

— 5 —

I was sad to read an article from Aleteia about the role men play in getting women the medical care they (often obviously) need. Sad, but not surprised. I can think of examples from my actual life when I have taken a man along somewhere simply to be present and to advocate for me. Seriously, all I needed them to say was, “Listen to her.” The article reminded me of one of the last few episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, when Bailey was having serious heart trouble and wasn’t believed despite being a doctor and the chief of surgery of a large hospital. She was a woman, and everyone knows that women exaggerate. Except when we don’t. Like any human.

— 6 —

If you’ve ever struggled over whether to pray grace when appetizers arrive, whether soup counts as a meal, or what to do when the Mexican restaurant hits you with chips and salsa when you’ve barely sat down, I found the answers for you!

(Yes, I know it’s a joke. Just go with it.)

— 7 —

This is the story of my life.

I just want to read books and ignore all my adult problems.


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7 Quick Takes I Meant to Share a Long Time Ago

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

Way, way back in the early days of this past school year, I really thought I would still be able to blog regularly even while teaching. That was not a great plan. It turned out to be an exceptionally difficult year. This week’s takes lean heavily on things that happened actual months ago that I never got around to sharing.

The moral of the story is that, even when I disappear from this space for months at a time, it’s likelier than not that I’ll be back.

— 2 —

Although I didn’t blog, I did manage to keep up with my reading. Conquering several texts for school helped me finish the Goodreads Challenge much earlier than usual: in October!

I completed my 22 book challenge.

I ended the year by reading 29 books, which made me feel like a boss. For this year, I crammed in so many books (including some short ones) that I’m 90% finished with my challenge already! Despite many defeats over the last ten months, I won when it came to reading.

— 3 —

As in previous years, reading a handful of articles in Pocket and watching YouTube videos I send there put me in the top 1% of Pocket users for the year. I still think that most of the user base must just toss things in and completely forget about them.

pockettop1percent2017

Can I count those 30 books towards my Goodreads challenge?

— 4 —

Finally, just a few weeks ago, I completed a year-long streak on Duolingo. I learned Spanish in high school and minored in it at Maryland, so I can’t attest to how well one can learn a language with Duo, but I’ve found it useful for working on vocabulary. I don’t get much of that from Evangelio del dia and El País.

oneyearofduolingo

— 5 —

That’s the end of the old news. In a new development, I have been taking private lessons in West Coast Swing, and it’s been such an enriching experience. Even before my year-long hiatus (which I saw coming), I knew I would eventually need private lessons to correct my bad habits and dig into my particular needs as a dancer. I started saving for them at one point, but other, more urgent expenses derailed that.

Now, though, I’ve only had three private lessons, and I can already appreciate the difference.

As a classroom English teacher, I know full well that many of my students can achieve more with one-on-one attention. I’ve seen it happen. That’s not how school works, though. I’m one teacher, and I have between 9 and 27 students who all deserve my attention. But they can’t get it individually and simultaneously. School is primarily a place for group instruction.

(The concept of “small groups” frustrates me to no end. Three people is barely a group, and eight is kind of a lot to be considered “small.”)

I do my best to work with students one-on-one as much as I can, but we’re all in the classroom together. I have to figure out how to teach that way, and they have to learn that way.

Now that I’m experiencing the dance version of tutoring, I understand both sides of that tension much better. (And for the record, I still also take group dance classes. They make my budget happy.)

— 6 —

Let’s close with two very different throwback videos. I was up early yesterday, so I saw Drake’s new video within hours of its premiere. That is very unlike me. The linchpin was that it features a Degrassi reunion! I’m on the fence about Drake, and I don’t always like his language choices, but Degrassi will leave me smitten any day. It’s nice to see Drake acknowledge that he didn’t really start from the bottom; he started from a Canadian teen soap opera.

— 7 —

Finally, I love the 80s, and I was so enchanted by this hit list mash-up featuring Sesame Street characters doing delightful parodies. Watch all the way to the end, check out the amazing costumes, and pay attention to the backstage banter!


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