The Game of Twister: It’s Not Just for Kids
by Suzette....

What do the late Johnny Carson, the television show Friends, and more than 4,000 University of Massachusetts students have in common? They have all enjoyed the iconic game that has its players tied up in knots – Twister.  

Developed in 1965 by Reyn Guyer, who was working on a shoe polish project for his dad’s design company when he thought of the idea, the concept was initially sold to the board-game company Milton Bradley (which is now owned by Hasbro) and launched onto the market in 1966. But the game’s popularity didn’t take off until May of 1966 when Johnny Carson, the host of The Tonight Show, entangled himself on air with the voluptuous actress Eva Gabor and had the show’s audience in fits of laughter. By 1967, the simple product made of a thin sheet of vinyl sporting red, green, yellow and blue polka dots had sold 3 million copies and was declared “game of the year.” It went on to become a childhood right of passage that has entertained tens of millions of children (even yours truly), as well as adults.  

In the event you have somehow managed to avoid one of the most recognizable games of the past half century, Twister is played by spinning a dial to determine where players must place their hands and feet. A spin that lands on “left foot red” requires the participants to quickly locate that part of their body on a free red dot. As the game progresses, the players end up intertwined in an effort to hold their hands and feet in place. When players touch an elbow or knee to the mat, they are considered “out” of the game. The last one left on the slippery surface wins!

Of course, the touchy-feely game of flexibility wasn’t without controversy or competition. Rather quickly, other game developers either discredited the fun by labeling it “sex in a box,” or created their own versions, such as the Parker Brothers game Funny Bones. The Sears Catalog, the standard bearer of mid-20th century shopping, thought it was too provocative to include among its pages. Without a doubt, Twister broke all the rules of social engagement of the 1960s. Even the Germans were squeamish about this kind of flexible fun. The reason why?  German women reportedly didn’t like “taking their shoes off in public.”  


As the Plot Twists On…
by Laura

I’ve been reading mysteries since my childhood. Instead of the well know Nancy Drew series, I opted for Trixie Belden, the plucky girl detective from a blue-collar background. Unlike Nancy, Trixie couldn’t dash off in her little blue roadster. Trixie had to work for what she wanted – in her case a horse. I was drawn, in part, to her dramatic declarations: “Oh, Moms…I’ll just die if I don’t have a horse” ( The Secret of the Mansion). I was Trixie’s age, and I suffered the same fate – having to pay for an extravagance myself.

In retrospect, I think what I enjoyed most about the series were the mysteries presented in each book. I still love trying to figure out the “who did it” question, and plot twists, those moments when the story takes us somewhere suddenly and unexpectedly, keeps reading fresh and exciting. In recent memory, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl was a bestseller because readers felt like they were on a literary rollercoaster.  

My new favorite mystery with an exceptional plot twist has to be Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go. As the author’s website states, the book “follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind…” Mackintosh brilliantly deploys deception – she lets readers make erroneous assumptions about Jenna and her past and then drops a bomb that leaves them reeling. When I came across a particular surprise twist, I had to go back ten pages and reread the chapter. When I finished the book I actually read it again from the beginning to see how she masterfully played me.  

Exploring why plot twists are appealing led me to several blogs about how to use them. David Lazar gives the following suggestions: use ambiguous endings and/or unreliable narrators, reverse character roles, kill off a main character, and bring the reader into the mix. Clare Mackintosh’s book definitely had an unreliable narrator and a major reversal. She was so successful in also using pathos – I was rooting for the protagonist only to find out that Jenna was not what she seemed.  

If you are looking for some refreshing plot-twisting beach-reads for the summer, Bustle has a great list of books with stimulating twists and turns. Goodreads also offers its suggestions for books with a twist. Or, if you want to try your hand at twisting your own plot, there are several tools available, like The Writer’s Plot Twist Generator, that can help. Enjoy!  

Do you have a favorite book with a great plot twist? Let us know.

Photo by Brandon Goforth .
’Do Get it Twisted: Hairstyles for Summer
by Kari

Feel that summer heat comin’? Those warm waves of heat prompt the long-haired among us to get it off our necks ASAP and enjoy the summer breeze. But then comes the hard part – what to do if you’re sick of a boring old ponytail?  

For some sleek-and-twisted styles that will keep you cool as a soft-serve cone, check out People Style’s tutorial with Adir Abergel, hairstylist to the stars. His three simple styles can work anywhere – a summer wedding, a day at the office, or even a pool party with friends. The best part? Even an updo rookie can do them herself after watching this easy “how to” guide. So grab some bobby pins and let’s get twisted!

In Dizzying Disbelief: On Spinning, Turning and Whirling
by Rebecca

Spot, turn, snap… spot, turn, snap… spot, turn, snap. These were the instructions that were repeated to me and the other 7 and 8 year olds in my ballet class as we attempted to pirouette from one corner of the dance studio to the other. Look at a spot on the wall, hold that spot while your body turns and then snap your head around. As my classmates and I staggered into the wall we would burst into giggles, and would then joyously run to the next corner to try again, all the while trying to regain our balance. There was something freeing – a sense of weightlessness- we felt while spinning across the room.   

In adulthood, we sit in awe when we see a skilled ballerina, ice skater, or ballroom dancer spinning round and round. This admiration only grows as they come out of the spin and appear unaffected- able to continue dancing or skating in a straight line. While these athletes are incredibly impressive, I have to say, I think the most spell binding spinners are the Whirling Dervishes. What they do seems to define all logic and watching them whirl for what seems like forever, leads one to believe they are indeed connecting with some define force.  

Those commonly referred to as the Whirling Dervishes, are members of the Mevlevi Order of Islamic Sufism. The Mevlevi originated in Turkey during the 13th Century through the art and teachings of Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi. The men, and at certain points women, that choose this path perform a mesmerizing dance known as the Sema, from which they have gotten the name, Whirling Dervishes. The dance, a ritual of religious devotion, includes four parts each representing the connection of the dancer to the earth and to God. The four stages include different numbers of dancers and different positioning, but in each part, the dancers continually turn on their left foot in a trance-like state.

The dancers wear a long white skirt and white jacket, which symbolizes the ego’s shroud. On their slightly tilted heads sits a tall camelhair hat that represents a tombstone for the ego. As the dervishes whirl, their arms are mostly held up, with one hand facing up and the other down. The right hand is open and facing God, and the left is turned downward to signify the granting of God’s gifts to the world. An over 700-year-old tradition, the Mevlevi Order were outlawed in the 1920s when Atatürk secularized the country. Yet, it became clear that the Sema was a tourist attraction, so legality aside, the tradition continues and flourishes. In fact, in 2008 the Sema was put on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.  

Take a look and tell me you aren’t impressed… and perhaps a bit dizzy.

Cheese Twists
by Jacque
  • 2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted overnight in the refrigerator
  • Flour, for dusting
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Click here for full recipe.