Gene Wilder always reminded me of the opening line of the Rafael Sabatini novel Scaramoush: "He was born with a gift for laughter and a sense that the world was mad." No one captured that madness better than he.
Part of the unstated job description for a woman in sports seems to involvedealing with serious forms of online abuse—harassment that often extends well beyond the innocuous jab and into violent, misogynistic threats. It's a well-documented problem, but that doesn't matter. It's a near daily reality for far too many women working in sports.
A new video featuring Sarah Spain and Julie DiCaro, two well-known professional sports reporters, brings the issue to the forefront. They gathered some of the tweets they had received on the job and asked a few men to read them back. Here are a selection of those messages:
"One of the players should beat you to death with their hockey stick, like the whore you are."
"This is why we don't hire any females unless we need our cocks sucked or our food cooked."
"Sarah Spain is a self-important, know-it-all cunt."
"Hopefully this skank Julie DiCaro is Bill Cosby's next victim. That would be classic."
The men in the video appear visibly struggling to recite the disturbing language other men have directed at Spain and DiCaro. "I don't think I can even say that," one man says. "I'm having trouble looking at you when I'm saying these things," another says.
The video ends with several of the men apologizing for having anything to do with bringing back the tweets. They are clearly taken aback with the material they've just read. As for Spain and DiCaro, they sit nearly silent; their familiarity with the experience didn't make it any easier to handle.
On Sunday, John Oliver focused his attention on Puerto Rico's paralyzing debt crisis and the fast-approaching May 1 deadline looming over the island to repay $72 billion—an amount the island's governor announced last June could not be repaid and was therefore crippling Puerto Rico's economy. The ongoing crisis has affected many of Puerto Rico's 3.5 million people and shut down schools across the island, while members of Wall Street have profited along the way.
In recent months, a growing number of politicians, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have called on the US government to provide economic relief and the opportunity for Puerto Rico to restructure its debt. One of the most outspoken defenders of Puerto Rico has been Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of the Broadway musical "Hamilton." On Sunday, the newly-minted Pulitzer Prize winner appeared on Last Week Tonight to continue his plea for help, this time with a new rap song in hopes that members of Congress will rescue the island. It's a brilliant performance, so be sure to watch above.
Australia's Stephanie Craise, who records as Summer Flake, makes electric folk music that's both mammoth and intimate. Her sweet-and-sour combination of frayed guitars and dreamy, overdubbed voices has a bracing sizzle, with sentimental melodies tugging at the heartstrings to amplify the drama. If Hello Friends feels like eavesdropping on someone's aching reveries, it never achieves the creepy oversharing quality sometimes heard in confessional pop, thanks to Craise's vibrant sense of songcraft. Check out "So Long" and "Make Your Way Back to Me," both five-minute-plus epics that benefit from their extended running time by allowing her to slowly cast a powerful spell. Following last year's tantalizing, albeit tentative, Time Rolls By EP, this arresting album marks an exciting leap forward. Bravo!
Today, the world mourns the death of legendary musician Prince, the prolific artist who produced countless hits such as "When Doves Cry" and "1999."
Just a week before his death was reported on Thursday, the pop star played two sold-out shows in Atlanta, where he performed one of his most celebrated songs, "Purple Rain." The concert enforced Prince's long-standing ban on cameras, but one concertgoer managed to record a quick clip:
We weren't supposed to use phones at Prince in ATL last week, but I couldn't resist. Last performance of Purple Rain pic.twitter.com/6FjkJTksJO
Over the past year, American lawmakers have expressed outrage over the water crisis in Flint, Michigan—a "man-made disaster" that poisoned thousands of children living in the city, while state officials knew that the city's tap water was in fact unsafe to drink.
But as John Oliver noted on the latest Last Week Tonight, lead contamination extends far beyond Flint. According to a USA Today study cited on Sunday, nearly 2,000 water systems across the United States have been detected for excessive lead levels. The problem gets even worse when children ingest lead paint dust, which is present in 2.1 million homes across the country where children under the age of six live.
"There is no safe level of lead," Oliver said. "It's one of those things that are so dangerous, you shouldn't even let a little bit inside of you—much like heroin or Jeremy Piven. Even low-level exposure can lead to irreversible damage like lower IQ's, anti-social behavior, and reduced attention span."
Despite the outrage, Congress continues to deny the crucial funding needed to start removing lead from American homes.
"That's what makes it so frustrating that last year all of those men voted for a bill that would have reduced the already low funding for hot lead abatement programs by $35 million, amounting to a 32 percent cut," Oliver said. "And the truth is, if you cut funding like that, a whole lot more children might get poisoned."
While the cuts never passed, funding to correct the issue has remained flat and continues to put children at risk for lead exposure across the country.
Caetano Veloso & Gilberto Gil Dois Amigos, Um Seculo de Musica: Multishow Live
The great Brazilian singer-songwriters Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil go back a half-century together. Spearheading the Tropicalia movement, which blended traditional and modern pop music, they ran afoul of the country's authoritarian government in the '60s, leading to brief imprisonment and then exile, though both eventually came home to continue their brilliant careers. But you don't have to know ancient history (or Portuguese) to appreciate this wonderful live album, drawn from their joint 2015 tour. Performing together and separately, with just their acoustic guitars for support, Veloso and Gil epitomize playful grace and warm camaraderie on these entrancing, deftly melodic songs. Both have aged well and blend beautifully: Caetano possesses the sweeter, smoother voice, while Gilberto is a deeper, slightly raspier singer. Dois Amigos is a lovely introduction to—or triumphant reminder of—two remarkable artists.