Happy Anniversary Two Us! Highlights from Wondercade’s Second Year!
Buckle up, folks — it's time for a trip down memory lane
It’s our two-year anniversary!! (Double exclamation points feel apt, doncha think?)
I’m experiencing a mélange of emotions. A passionate potpourri, if you will; a kaleidoscope of sentiments: I’m awed. I’m grateful. I’m proud. I’m glowing with absolute giddiness. I’m also kinda hungry. (I had an early lunch.) But chiefly, I’m feeling quite nostalgic. (For our anniversary, sure, but also for the late ’90s. I’m ready to listen to Smash Mouth in some baggy jeans.) Two years marks a milestone chapter in the Wondercade Chronicles, and I’m feeling all the feels. (Note to self: trademark Wondercade Chronicles for a fantasy, feel-good YA series.)
And so, today, I’d be honored if you accompanied me on a trip down memory lane. I’m driving, so hop in as I recap some of my favorite moments — and yours too. It’s been an extraordinary year. (Inhales deeply.) Ahhh, don’t you just love that new car smell? Oh, no, wait…that’s just me. You’re welcome.
Buckle up, baby! It’s time to motor down memory lane as we revisit our prior 52 weeks of emails. And as with any good road trip, we’re gonna make a bunch of stops — 12, to be exact, for the 12 months in our second year of operation — to take in points (content) of interest. (Am I taking this driving metaphor too far? I need to come to a full stop before I brake the bounds of good taste.)
First up…we launched a Wondercade website (1)! If starting this newsletter precisely 104 weeks ago was me sticking my toe into the water of the media world, then starting a whole website was a cannonball off the high-dive. (I didn’t launch the site in a bathing suit, though. And I didn’t get any innocent bystanders wet, either. Well…maybe I did. Not sure what you’re into. Wink.) It was fairly daunting and super humbling (I learned what a Gantt chart is; cool stuff), but unbelievably fun and a total adrenaline rush. (Also, speaking of the website… Reminder: Our Games page will launch soon! Very soon. Click here to stay informed, and get notified ASAP when the daily challenge goes live. It’s gonna give Wordle a run for its money. Trust.)
Speaking of conquests across the world wide web…this li’l ol’ email won a Webby Award (2)! What’s that, you ask? Glad you did…it’s like a Tony for digital media. Fun fact: the actual Webby trophy is heavy AF, a metal spiral that’s etched with binary 1s and 0s. (Clever design FTW!) The fact that Wondercade won the award for Best Entertainment and Culture Newsletter on the entire information superhighway is huge, especially considering we’re only in our second year. Even better, we claimed victory in the People’s Choice category, which means, in the words of the esteemable Sally Field, you like me, you really like me. A HUGE thanks to you, because you (quite literally) made that possible. Basically, I owe you a drink.
And fortunately…I can actually make that happen! Because back in May, we launched our first IRL product, Wondercade x Game Box Wine Rosé (3). It’s delicious, crisp, dry and fruity. The best, basically. It’s also housed in a box covered in riddles, cyphers and puzzles that I crafted. So this rosé stimulates your palate, as well as your brain. It’s pink matter that activates your gray matter. You matter to me too, so click here and pick up a box!
Between a website, Webby and wine, the (very alliterative) Wondercade universe is kinda like the universe itself: Constantly expanding! (Hmm. Maybe we’ll have a Space Issue soon. @NASA: Send me to space? A little NPH x ISS collab? It’d be out of this world.) This past year featured a carousel of colorful characters, and to keep the space metaphor going, allow me to recall some of the astronomical talent that has graced your inbox.
Did you catch my chat with Esther Perel (4), the podcast, TED Talk, card game icon/impressario and world-renowned psychologist? Our wide-ranging conversation — which includes video! — covered sex, relationships and advice on how you can improve bonds with everyone in your life. (It’s kinda like free therapy, in newsletter/website form. You’re welcome.) More recently, to celebrate our centennial (or, at least, our 100th issue), I sat down and Zoomed (is that a verb? Like “Googled”? Should be.) with This American Life and NPR-slash-podcasting virtuoso Ira Glass (5). He talked about the joy and art of storytelling, shared BTS bits of TAL and NPR (apologies for the acronym soup, but also, yum!) and how he’s a fan of Wondercade! Be sure to click that link; it’s also got a couple of videos. And, finally…for Mother’s Day, I interviewed my own mom, Sheila! (6) I mean…what can I say? Without her, I’d be nothing. (Again…quite literally.)
I’m blessed to have so many awesome people in my life. And to enjoy so many brilliant experiences, from theatre to travel, games to magic. It’s nearly impossible to pick just two to note here, but space is limited. (Uggh, should I have come up with 52 favorite moments instead of 12?! Next year…!) A couple months ago we made a very special, absolutely brilliant Whodunit? (7) issue, wherein my genius colleagues, Jen McTeague and Ange Strom-Weber at Apocute, plopped a full line-up of Wondercade regulars into a dastardly crime mystery that you had to solve. It’s kind of like a game of Clue (or Cluedo, if you’re outside North America). This unprecedented, experimental issue saw our Last Call section take over an entire issue. (Haven’t played it yet? What are you waiting for?! Click here to take on the challenge…or send it to someone who might enjoy pure, unadulterated fun.)
There was also my trip to Vegas (baby!) (8) with David and perhaps the single greatest tour guide ever, our good friend Emily Jillette. We had the time of our lives in Sin City — and we didn’t even gamble! Though we were a bit sinful. Or so the folks at one of our favorite bars told us. With Emily at the helm, the weekend was a merry-go-round of escape rooms, theatre, immersive experiences, over-the-top cocktails and more. (And by extension, our trip is your next itinerary…click that link for deets, yo.)
Tasty mix, huh? On that note, we served up soooo many recipes from soooo many brilliant chefs (9). To name but a few: my pal and Milk Bar founder Christina Tosi’s Sugar Cookies, celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli’s Roasted Salmon with Apple and Celery Root Slaw, L.A. icon and James Beard Award winner Roy Choi’s Veggie Dumplings, Leah Cohen’s Burmese Tomato Salad, John Fraser’s Iris Hummus, Elena Yamamoto’s Japanese Wanpaku Sandwich, and Josh Capon’s Grilled Clams with Garlic Chili Butter.
Did I whet your appetite? Cool. Now I’m gonna wet your whistle! (Mmmm.) To chase all those delicious dishes, may I recommend Wondercade house mixologist Jonathan Lind’s guide to after-dinner drinks, spotlighting amaro in particular (10)? Honestly, we published a stocked shelf’s worth of great cocktail, wine and spirit-free drink pieces — pour over all ’em here.
From culinary recipes you’ll love, to the man I love…David and I shared some creative synergy this year — we both took to the stage! At the same time! (11) (Like, literally. The shows ran concurrently. Don’t worry, we got a sitter for the kids, and a dog walker.) I was the Narrator in Peter Pan Goes Wrong (and also geeked out backstage with my castmates playing amazing board-slash-card games) — click through for behind-the-scenes and backstage anecdotes, tidbits and photos. (There’s even one of my bum, which I bruised on set. Not the sexiest pic in the world, mind you, but all in the spirit of journalism, Wondercader!) And while I was treading the boards in Pan, David, who’s tall(ish), dark(ish) and handsome(est), was unleashing his dark comedy chops just a few blocks away in a revival of God of Carnage. Bravo, Boss Burtka.
Finally, for my 50th birthday (12), David planned a remarkable, exhaustive 50 days of challenges and surprises, which culminated in an epic party. Why am I sharing this personal event among my favorite Wondercade moments? Well, the reason is twofold. First, this email is a place where I share my world — my family, friends, passions, experiences, adventures and so much more — with you. And second, my goal each and every Wednesday is to give you actionable information to use in your own life (we in the media biz call it “service journalism”), whether it’s tips on throwing a birthday party, a new destination to visit (see the P.S. below!), a recipe to make, a magic trick to perform or a riddle to tease your brain.
So thank you. Here’s to another great year.
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