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Encased You Missed It: Everything We’ve Got on the Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is clearly the holiday to which all other holidays swear their undying allegiance. While Thanksgiving puts up a fight (the food! the family! the 5 p.m. bedtime!), it sill can’t compete with the Fourth of July’s fantastic summer weather, fireworks and copious day-drinking. Then there’s the little traditions, like friends who try to one-up each other with the more ridiculous flag-themed outfits, or the fact that every year I’ll watch the 1996 alien-invasion classic Independence Day without fail. Is there a better “holiday” movie? I think not.

All of which is to say, be sure to enjoy your Fourth—because it’s the best. To help you along, we’ve collected some of our favorite Fourth-of-July-themed content from this week as well as all the other Fourth of Julys we’ve existed. But before we get to that, a quick reminder to be safe out there today. And most of all, to stay properly hydrated while pounding beer in the name of American independence. Speaking of beer…

Must Reads

“How Beer Became American”
While Germans, Belgians and others might have a huge issue with that headline, it’s hard to argue that, here in the U.S., light beer isn’t synonymous with being a red-blooded American. But the history of beer being the adult beverage of choice in the States doesn’t go back very far. In fact, it wasn’t so long ago that these light lagers were considered suspiciously un-American. READ MORE

“An Oral History of ‘Real American’”
“Real American” is one of the most recognizable songs in American culture. Don’t laugh — watch the music video and tell us it doesn’t come rushing back:

That might be because, if you’re a child of the 1980s, it was synonymous with the man who crushed every bit of evil in his righteous path—Hulk Hogan. Here’s how the song went from “most patriotic song ever” to Hulkamania soundtrack to ironic punchline from the mouths of the people who lived it. READ MORE

On Declaring Independence

Today isn’t just a day to drink, tan and stuff your face (more on that in a bit). Fourth of July is also about celebrating our nation’s independence from Great Britain. And who knows more about what that experience might have been like than a man founded his own country?

Shorts Stuff

No matter where you live in the U.S., it’s smoking hot out today. If you want to keep cool in the face of oppressive heat, dress like the pros — like a Death Valley park ranger, a volcanologist and others whose job it is to sweat balls on a daily basis.

…but if you’d rather have the opinion of the opposite sex, here’s our Deputy Editor Alana Levinson on why men should embrace wearing shorts.

…then again, some men refuse to wear shorts on principle, and perhaps you should listen to what they have to say.

Finger-Lickin’ Good Manners

What, you thought barbecues were a free-for-all, where you can walk around half- (or fully) drunk, picking up random pieces of food with your grimy little digits and never thank the host? False. There’s actually etiquette for barbecues, too, so if you want to be remembered fondly when the invites go out for next year’s party, you’d best recognize the rules:

  1. Bring a gift. Potato salad will do.
  2. Outdoor parties stay outdoors. Don’t dawdle inside if the hosts are entertaining outside. Bathroom visits only.
  3. Never touch another man’s grill. Unless you’re otherwise directed.
  4. Sure, light some fireworks. Just be sure to obey all local laws, and BE SAFE.
  5. Have a safe-drinking plan. Plan how much you’re going to drink before hand. If you find yourself changing your plan mid-party, you’ve probably had too much.
  6. Pools are off-limits. Unless it says “pool party” on the invite, don’t be that guy.
  7. You’re not on the hook for clean up. Doesn’t mean you can’t offer, however!
  8. Don’t overstay your welcome. Two hours is standard. If the party is outdoors, don’t stay so long that they have to begin entertaining you inside.

Say Cheese!

You can’t have a Fourth of July without cheeseburgers, and you can’t have cheeseburgers without cheese. And the proper cheese for cheeseburgers is American Cheese, which, for better or worse, has long been the poster child for processed foods. But is it as full of chemicals as people say it is? Not really. That isn’t us shilling for Big Cheese — see for yourself:

Now, that does look like a lot of things that aren’t curds and whey. But not exactly formaldehyde, either. Find out what each of those ingredients are and what they do, here.

A Festival of Meats

Before you gorge yourself on nitrite-laden bratwursts, gorge yourself on some meaty knowledge:

A Film Critic On… Meat in Film

Tasty burgers, freaky hot dog sex, euphoric munchies, creepiest barbecue scenes. It might sound weird — it certainly did when we pitched it — but if you can’t salute the best performances by a meat in a movie on the Fourth of July, when can you do it? Feast on our favorite scenes, here.

Hot and Bothered

Not only is it sticky, sweaty and uncomfortable, but extreme heat sucks so much that studies have linked it to increased stress and paranoid thoughts — not to mention, violent crimes up to—and including—murder. So why does heat make us f**king crazy? It has everything to do with discomfort, and what prolonged bouts of heat can do to your psyche.

Too Long; Didn’t Read

It’s the Fourth of July: Do you know where your abs are? If you’re idea of exercise is walking to the front door to pick up your Postmates order, you’re never going to get a six-pack. But that doesn’t mean you can’t fake one.

Here are three ways to getting yourself some faux abs: