Mixed Media

You're Really Going to Hate James Franco's Offensive Nostalgia Trip to McDonald's

| Thu May 7, 2015 11:20 AM EDT

In the midst of plummeting sales, pressure to bump wages, and an apparent gastronomic identity crisis, McDonald's needs all the help it can get right now to reclaim its status as a global fast-food powerhouse. Today, the company found a friend in actor James Franco.

The aspiring Renaissance man and actor, who once worked as a McDonald's employee for a total of three months, has penned a bizarre op-ed in the Washington Post to defend the company from its growing chorus of detractors. The piece, titled "McDonald's Was There for Me When No One Else Was," describes his decision to quit UCLA as an undergrad in 1996 in order to pursue an acting career.  While studying at a "hole-in-the-wall" acting school, Franco worked a part-time job at a Los Angeles McDonald's:

When I was hungry for work, they fed the need. I still love the simplicity of the McDonald’s hamburger and its salty fries. After reading "Fast Food Nation," it's hard for me to trust the grade of the meat. But maybe once a year, while on a road trip or out in the middle of nowhere for a movie, I'll stop by a McDonald’s and get a simple cheeseburger: light, and airy, and satisfying.

Franco, who seems to forget that being a drop-out from an elite university set him apart from most hourly workers at McDonald's, goes onto reminisce about his rosy experience: Mixing it up with co-workers and even practicing funny accents. "I refrained from reading on the job, but soon started putting on fake accents with the customers to practice for my scenes in acting class," he recalls. Franco even encountered a homeless family. "They lived out of their car and did crossword puzzles all day," Franco writes. "Sometimes they would order McDonald’s food, but other times they would bring in Chinese or groceries."

Franco also had the thrill of getting hit on by a man who actually cooked those "light, airy, and satisfying" burgers.

He wanted to hook up in the bathroom, but he didn’t speak English, so he had someone translate for him.

To everyone out there fighting for a living wage, this experience could offer some hope. After all, with the right attitude, McDonald's can be a stepping stone on your path to Hollywood stardom, just as it was for James Franco.

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This Supercut of Candidates Singing "Let's Get It On" Is Why We Love Britain During Elections

| Wed May 6, 2015 5:36 PM EDT
 

Who could get it on after #GE2015? Watch our #GeneralAffection song to find out.Full election coverage on Sky News, May 7th from 9pm.

Posted by Sky News on Thursday, April 30, 2015

British voters are heading to the polls today for what promises to be a very tight election. Latest polling suggests the two major parties, Labour and the Conservatives, are tied near the finish line. The result is likely to be what's known as a "hung parliament". Both Labour and the Conservatives will need support from smaller parties across the spectrum to form government—among them the Scottish National Party (SNP) on the left, the Liberal Democrats somewhere around the center, and UKIP, on the right. Whomever can stitch together enough seats in parliament to win a majority will ultimately form government. If no group of parties can get to the magic number of 326 seats, Britain might well be heading back to the polls again soon to sort this whole mess out.

Even if you're unfamiliar with British politics, the video above from Sky News gives a nice introduction to the main players—David Cameron (the current Conservative PM), Ed Miliband (the current opposition leader, from the Labour party), and Nicola Sturgeon, from the resurgent SNP among them. All set to Marvin Gaye's classic, "Let's Get It On". Enjoy. (And happy voting, friends across the pond.)

The Woman Behind Texas' Muhammad Cartoon Contest Compares Herself to Rosa Parks

| Tue May 5, 2015 3:59 PM EDT

After two gunmen opened fire at a Muhammad drawing contest in Texas over the weekend, the head of the group that organized the controversial event has appeared on several television programs explaining the legitimacy of the contest.  Today, Pamela Geller's defense reached a new height of tone-deafness when she compared herself to civil rights activist Rosa Parks.

Fox News host Martha MacCallum asked Geller how she felt about criticism from conservatives including Donald Trump, who condemned Sunday's contest as a "taunting" tactic solely used to incite Muslims. Geller dismissed Trump's comments, saying, "He sure flaps his tongue and uses free speech and wishes to silence others. What would he have said about Rosa Parks? Rosa Parks should never have gone to the front of the bus. She’s taunting people."

Shocked, MacCallum responded, "No, no, no. How do you make the Rosa Parks comparison?"

Geller refused to back down, and in fact seemed to be gaining steam, pledging she would not "abridge" her freedom for the sake of "savages"—a description she has used in past anti-Islam campaigns.

Insulting Donald Trump, Muslims, and the memory of Rosa Parks in one brief segment does demonstrate the unusual range of Geller's ability to be downright offensive. Who needs the Southern Poverty Law Center when there's material like this?

 

Jessica Williams Expertly Trolls Gay Marriage Opponents With Tribute to "Hate Class of 2015"

| Tue May 5, 2015 11:30 AM EDT

Though divided in oral arguments, in the coming weeks, the Supreme Court is expected to rule in favor of gay marriage in the landmark case, Obergefell v. Hodges. This could signal the death knell for same-sex marriage opponents, who may soon be forced to accept a new gay-friendly law of the land.

Realizing it may be her last chance to rub elbows with the "Hate Class of 2015," The Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams recently met up with opponents outside the Supreme Court to bid a fond farewell—a "wrong side of history" yearbook signing and A-plus trolling included.

Watch below:

 

Today Is the 151st Birthday of All-Around Feminist Badass Nellie Bly

| Tue May 5, 2015 10:27 AM EDT

Today would be the 151st birthday of Elizabeth Cochran—the groundbreaking journalist better known as Nellie Bly. In 1885, Bly wrote a furious letter to a Pittsburgh newspaper denouncing a column titled "What Girls Are Good For" that described the working woman as a "monstrosity" and said that women were best suited for domestic chores.

Impressed by Bly's letter, Pittsburgh Dispatch editor George Madden hired her as a full-time reporter under the pen name Nellie Bly. She was a trailblazing journalist, an unwavering champion for women and the working poor, and a brilliant muckracker. One of her most famous assignments was for the the New York World where she posed as a mentally ill woman and exposed the horrors of a women's asylum on Blackwell's Island.

Bly also achieved worldwide fame with her 1889 trip around the world, which was inspired by Jules Verne's novel "Around the World in Eighty Days." She completed her journey in seventy-two days. Below is the front page of the New York World from January 26, 1890 and the lead article was about her record-setting trip:

AP

To celebrate Bly's birthday today, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeah's has written a song in her honor, which is featured in a lovely Google Doodle created by artist Katy Wu. 

Google

"We gotta speak up for the ones who've been told to shut up," the lyrics go. "Oh Nellie, take us all around the world and break those rules cause you're our girl."

To check out the song and animation, skip to Google's homepage here.

Just When You Thought Fox News' Baltimore Coverage Couldn't Get Worse, It Made This Mistake

| Mon May 4, 2015 5:21 PM EDT

On Monday afternoon, Fox News alarmed social media with a dramatic news report of a man being shot by police in Baltimore. It might have been news to some that Fox was breaking a story on a police shooting—rather than discrediting such an account. But the network, eager to claim a scoop, quickly promoted this story. On-the-scene reporter Mike Tobin reported the supposed shooting and his reporting was quickly tweeted to a large audience by one of Fox News' biggest stars, Greta Van Susteren: 

"About 2:45 we saw a guy running from the cops right at the intersection of North and Pennsylvania where the epicenter of the unrest here," Tobin described on a phone call for a breaking news segment on Fox. "As he was running away, that officer drew his weapon and fired and struck the individual who was running away. He was a young black male and what we saw on the sidewalk as the crime scene unfolded over there, there was a revolver on the ground."

Note that Toobin said "we saw" the shooting. But there was one problem. The incident did not happen. There was not a shooting for him to see.

Moments after the story was published, Fox's Shepard Smith was forced to issue an apology for the network's sloppy work:

Of course, this is yet another cautionary tale about recklessly reporting possibly incendiary events. It's also noteworthy that it was Fox News, which typically discounts such stories, that rushed out this embarrassing and potentially dangerous report. Will there be an internal review? Shep, let us know.

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John Oliver Perfectly Describes the "Woman-Battering Human Landfill" That Is Floyd Mayweather

| Mon May 4, 2015 11:01 AM EDT

While issuing a takedown of Bud Light's awful new #UpForWhatever tagline last night, which included a clip of a woman calling the campaign a tad "rapey," John Oliver snuck in quite the perfect description of another awful subject, Floyd Mayweather.

"That's true, but it would be great if you could use a slightly more serious word than 'rapey'," Oliver said. "It's somewhat diminishing—It's like saying Floyd Mayweather is a smidge assaulty. It's technically correct but it'd be more appropriate to say he's a woman-battering, human landfill. That'd be more on the money."

Watch below:

 

 

Let John Oliver Explain How Standardized Testing Makes Kids Anxious and Vomit Under Pressure

| Mon May 4, 2015 9:31 AM EDT

Every year, students around the country are subjected to an insane amount of mandatory, standardized testing. So much so, the average number of tests a student completes by the time they graduate high school is a staggering 113, according to the latest "Last Week Tonight." As host John Oliver noted on Sunday, all the stressful bubble-filling is taking an inevitable toll—with teachers reporting their students throwing up under the pressure so often, official testing guidelines specifically outline how to deal with kids vomiting on their test booklets.

"Something is wrong with our system when we just assume a certain number of students will vomit," Oliver said. "Standardized tests are supposed to be an assessment of skills, not a rap battle on '8 Mile' Road."

Watch below as Oliver explains how our education system arrived at this extreme point:

 

Re-live the Kingbees' Rockabilly Revival

| Mon May 4, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

The Kingbees
self-titled
Omnivore

The rise of punk and new wave back in the late '70s and early '80s was accompanied by a mini-rockabilly revival, the most notable commercial success being Brian Setzer's Stray Cats. Another eminently satisfying act was Los Angeles' Kingbees, a spunky trio fronted by Jamie James, a spirited dude seemingly possessed by the ghost of Buddy Holly. There's nothing profound on the expanded edition of this crisp 1980 debut album—just a bunch of snappy originals, including the semi-hit "My Mistake" and deft covers of Don Gibson ("Sweet Sweet Girl to Me"), Eddie Cochran ("Somethin' Else") and Buddy himself ("Not Fade Away"). But if you need a quick pick-me-up, check out "Shake-Bop" or "Ting-a-Ling." They'll put a spring in your step, guaranteed.

White People Could Learn a Thing or Two About Talking About Race From the Orioles' Manager

| Thu Apr. 30, 2015 6:14 PM EDT

On Wednesday, after the Baltimore Orioles trounced the Chicago White Sox in front of over 48,000 empty seats at Camden Yards, Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter offered a blunt assessment of the ongoing protests happening just beyond the stadium gates.

When a Baltimore resident asked what advice Showalter would give to young black residents in the community, the manager explains [emphasis added]:

You hear people try to weigh in on things that they really don't know anything about. ... I've never been black, OK? So I don't know, I can't put myself there. I've never faced the challenges that they face, so I understand the emotion, but I can't. ... It's a pet peeve of mine when somebody says, 'Well, I know what they're feeling. Why don't they do this? Why doesn't somebody do that?' You have never been black, OK, so just slow down a little bit.

I try not to get involved in something that I don't know about, but I do know that it's something that's very passionate, something that I am, with my upbringing, that it bothers me, and it bothers everybody else. We've made quite a statement as a city, some good and some bad. Now, let's get on with taking the statements we've made and create a positive. We talk to players, and I want to be a rallying force for our city. It doesn't mean necessarily playing good baseball. It just means [doing] everything we can do. There are some things I don't want to be normal [in Baltimore again]. You know what I mean? I don't. I want us to learn from some stuff that's gone on on both sides of it. I could talk about it for hours, but that's how I feel about it.

Fans watched from outside the stadium gates after demonstrations in response to the death of Freddie Gray forced the team to play the first game behind closed doors in Major League Baseball history. At Wednesday's press conference, outfielder Adam Jones, who related to the struggles of Baltimore's youth as a kid growing up in San Diego, called on the city to heal after the unrest.

Jones goes on to say:

The last 72 hours have been tumultuous to say the least. We've seen good, we've seen bad, we've seen ugly...It's a city that's hurting, a city that needs its heads of the city to stand up, step up and help the ones that are hurting. It's not an easy time right now for anybody. It doesn't matter what race you are. It's a tough time for the city of Baltimore. My prayers have been out for all the families, all the kids out there.

They're hurting. The big message is: Stay strong, Baltimore. Stay safe. Continue to be the great city that I've come to know and love over the eight years I've been here. Continue to be who you are. I know there's been a lot of damage in the city. There's also been a lot of good protesting, there's been a lot of people standing up for the rights that they have in the Constitution, in the Bill of Rights, and I'm just trying to make sure everybody's on the same page.

[...]

It's not easy. This whole process is not easy. We need this game to be played, but we need this city to be healed first. That's important to me, that the city is healed. Because this is an ongoing issue. I just hope that the community of Baltimore stays strong, the children of Baltimore stay strong and gets some guidance and heed the message of the city leaders.

Like team exec John Angelos, Showalter, Jones and the rest of the Orioles organization get it.