Mixed Media

Here Is a Wonderful Video of a 40-Year-Old Deaf Woman Hearing for the First Time

| Fri Mar. 28, 2014 8:35 AM PDT

Joanne Milne was born deaf and began to go blind in her 20s due to a rare genetic disorder called Usher Syndrome. Last month, at the age of 40, she underwent surgery to have cochlear implants installed. This video of her hearing for the first time in her entire life is the reason I can't get any work done this morning.

"It might be a bit overwhelming at first," the doctor warns before turning them on. That's an understatement.

"Hearing things for the first time is so emotional from the ping of a light switch to running water. I can’t stop crying and I can already foresee how it’s going to be life changing,” Joanne says.

Her friends made her a playlist with one song for every year of her life. The first one she heard was John Lennon's "Imagine."

Anyway, this is beautiful and amazing and, to be honest, I don't even like that stupid John Lennon song but I want to listen to it right now on repeat for an hour.

Happy Friday.

(via Gawker )

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Quick Reads: "The Humor Code" by Peter McGraw and Joel Warner

| Fri Mar. 28, 2014 3:00 AM PDT
The Humor Code

The Humor Code

By Peter McGraw and Joel Warner

SIMON AND SCHUSTER

Searching for the essence of humor is a delicate business: Dig too deep, and you kill the joke. Fortunately, Peter McGraw, an irrepressible psychology prof, and Joel Warner, his straight-man scribe, deliver entertaining answers to nagging questions like: Do unhappy people make better comedians? Are some things too horrible to laugh at? And how do you win The New Yorker cartoon contest? Despite getting heckled by colleagues in the surprisingly serious field of humor studies and bombing as a stand-up comic, McGraw lays out a convincing theory about how humor works and why it's an essential survival mechanism.

This review originally appeared in our March/April 2014 issue of Mother Jones.

WATCH: Will Corporations Win the Right to Religious Freedom? [Fiore Cartoon]

| Thu Mar. 27, 2014 4:32 PM PDT

Mark Fiore is a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and animator whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Examiner, and dozens of other publications. He is an active member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists, and has a website featuring his work.

Ricky Gervais Is Absolutely Right About Hollywood's Woman Problem

| Thu Mar. 27, 2014 1:35 PM PDT

In an interview with Radio Times, English actor and comedian Ricky Gervais expressed his frustration with how women are portrayed on TV and in Hollywood movies, especially comedies. (The 52-year-old co-creator of the UK's The Office was promoting his show Derek, which returns for a second season in April. He said his show will soon feature some "real, good, modern girl power.")

"I love writing interesting female characters because usually they're props, particularly in comedy," Gervais said. "Even in Hollywood, they're usually air heads or if they're ambitious they're straight away cold and need to be taught a lesson. They need to show that getting a man is more important than getting a career. Or they're just props for men to do funny things...People think that men rule the world but they don't, really. That was never my experience growing up and certainly not at Broad Hill [nursing home]. Men, when they're together, revert to the playground."

(Gervais is correct; Hollywood absolutely does have a womanand girl—problem.)

For this, Indiewire declared him the "Hollywood Feminist of the Day," which fits nicely with some of Gervais' other comments:

Gervais has also spoken about atheism, war, racism, rape jokes, obesity, Nelson Mandela, Adolf Hitler, Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, and animal rights, typically in very funny ways.

"Noah" Film Inspires Flood of Religious Freak-Outs

| Thu Mar. 27, 2014 3:01 AM PDT

The new Darren Aronofsky movie Noah is pissing off quite a lot of people. The outrage over the film—which retells that famous biblical tale of Noah, his ark, and God's wrathful flood—is international and diverse in its stupidity. And it goes without saying that the majority of the people saying mean things about the film haven't yet seen it (Noah hits theaters on Friday, and stars Russell Crowe and Emma Watson). "It's always kind of silly that somebody puts their voice and opinion to something when they haven't seen it, based on an assumption," Crowe said in an interview with Access Hollywood. (Crowe has been trying to get Pope Francis to endorse Noah. That won't be happening.)

Aronofsky has dubbed his $160 million epic the "least biblical biblical film ever made." (Word on the street is that it promotes some pretty "aggressive environmentalism.") Here are some lowlights in the ongoing permutations of Noah hate:

1. Noah is actually banned in some countries because it depicts Noah. Censorship bodies in United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Indonesia have banned national releases of the film. This prerelease backlash stems primarily from a conservative Islamic prohibition on representing holy figures in art and entertainment. (Al-Azhar, a top Sunni Muslim institute in Egypt, also objected to the film and released a statement declaring that it would hurt the feelings of believers.) Also, there's a sense among certain government officials that Aronofsky's film doesn't play it straight: "There are scenes that contradict Islam and the Bible, so we decided not to show it," Juma al-Leem, director of media content at UAE's National Media Center, said.

"If there is a fear that the film will cause unrest and protest from some groups then the government should create a situation conducive to people growing up instead of always limiting them to a narrow-minded condition," Joko Anwar, an award-winning Indonesian filmmaker, told the Jakarta Globe.

Noah
Paramount

"Anchorman" Director Adam McKay Is Taking On the Financial Crisis. But What About His Lee Atwater Film?

| Tue Mar. 25, 2014 12:30 PM PDT
Will Ferrell (left) and Adam McKay.

Writer/director Adam McKay is signed on to helm a film adaptation of journalist Michael Lewis' book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine for Paramount Pictures. The nonfiction best-seller examines the housing and credit bubble of the 2000s. "Michael Lewis has the amazing ability to take complex formulas and concepts and turn them into page-turners," McKay said in a statement.

The 45-year-old director is best known for directing comedies such as Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and the Anchorman movies. The idea of him doing a housing bubble film might strike Ron Burgundy devotees as odd. But if you take more than just a quick glance at his career, it shouldn't. "Adam McKay to Film 'The Big Short,' Which Makes More Sense Than You Think," the Wire writes. Sure, his films have plenty of crude jokes and improvisational and (sometimes surreal) humor. But also he's an intensely political person.

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The Good Wife's Brave, Bold Move

| Mon Mar. 24, 2014 3:10 PM PDT

Do you watch The Good Wife? You should watch The Good Wife. It's brilliant. It's amazing. Oh my God, it's so good. Why aren't you watching it? Maybe you are watching it. If you are watching it, good. You are smart and you have good taste. But a lot of you aren't watching it. Do you not like law shows? Who doesn't like law shows? If you're not watching it because you don't like law shows, you should watch The Good Wife because The Good Wife isn't actually about the law. Or at least not really. It's about people who happen to be lawyers. Every episode has a case that the cast tackles, but it isn't important to the overarching plot. It's simply a vehicle for the melodrama. And the melodrama! Oh how sweet and wonderful the melodrama on The Good Wife is! I think a lot of you don't watch The Good Wife because it's on CBS, the Perry Como of American broadcast networks. A certain set of bright young things thinks that anything that comes from Les Moonves' top-rated network is stale, stodgy, and old. And they aren't wrong, in general. But they do themselves a disservice when it comes to The Good Wife. If it were on FX, it would be live-tweeted with the gusto of Justified, Mad Men, Homeland and the Queen's Crown of high-brow pop culture, Game of Thrones.

So if you aren't watching it, go watch all five seasons right now. Forget your job. Forget your family. Forget your personal hygiene. Go and mainline all of it now.

Go.

Ok, if you have been watching The Good Wife, we need to talk about last night.

SPOILER AHEAD. SPOILER AHEAD.

THIS IS HAPPENING SPOILER IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN LAST EXIT TO WILL IS DEAD.

He's dead! They killed him! He's dead! Shot to death in a courtroom! The blond kid he was defending took the gun from the bailiff and shot a bunch of people and Will is dead!

Will! Will, the male lead. The good wife's boss. The good wife's lover. One-third of the central tension of the show! He's dead. He's dead. He's dead. I have no coherent thoughts here. Save this: Brave, bold move, The Good Wife. It takes courage to kill off the second most important character on the show. Josh Charles' deal was up after the fourth season and he signed on for this limited 15 episode run because he loved the show and wanted to give the character a proper signoff.*  This seems like a good out for everybody, but wow! Bold.

Last night's episode was one of the few genuinely shocking things I've seen happen on a fictional TV show.

As Robert and Michelle King, the show's creators, write in a letter posted on the show's website, they could "have sent Will to Seattle," the way ER handled the departure of George Clooney. A weak, sentimental part of me wishes they had done that so Will could come back at some point, but that's stupid. The bold move was undoubtedly the right one, at least in the short term. Last night's episode was one of the few genuinely shocking things I've seen happen on a fictional TV show. In the long term, who knows what it means for the show and the daily dynamic. I'm sure the writers will be able to convert the old Good Wife into the new Good Wife. And that's what it will be. The Good Wife 2.0. Because The Good Wife was definitionally about Alicia being pulled in two separate directions, one by Peter and one by Will. What Will represented—independence, vengeance,  the road not taken—remains, but Will is gone.

Will is gone. :(

In the letter the Kings explain, "We chose the tragic route for Will’s send-off for personal reasons. We’ve all experienced the sudden death of a loved one in our lives. It’s terrifying how a perfectly normal and sunny day can suddenly explode with tragedy." This is true and also heartbreaking when you think about Tony Scott, one of the original executive producers, who died in August of 2012.

RIP Will. Long live The Good Wife.

Here's a video of the cast and crew talking about Will's death and Josh Charles' departure.

 

Correction: An earlier version of this post speculated that Josh Charles was let out of a longer contract early. That is not the case.

Unwound's "Rat Conspiracy": Like Nirvana, Minus the Pop Accessibility

| Mon Mar. 24, 2014 3:00 AM PDT

Unwound
Rat Conspiracy
Numero Group

Unwound Rat Conspiracy

Arguably America's most inventive reissue label, Chicago's Numero Group has built its reputation on thoughtful compilations of ultra-obscure '60s and '70s R&B, but excels at other kinds of music as well. Exhibit A: Unwound, the Olympia, Washington, punk trio that made a righteous racket throughout the '90s through 2002. Check out the 32-track Rat Conspiracy, the second installment in Numero Group's four-part survey of the band, and prepare to be electrified. Like Nirvana, minus the pop accessibility Kurt Cobain sometimes seemed to rue, Justin Trosper (vocals, guitar), Vern Rumsey (bass), and Sara Lund (drums) swing from pensive and subdued to furious and brutal—and back again—at the drop of a hat on these blazing '93 and '94 recordings, which encompass two albums plus 11 equally thrilling loose ends. If you're seeking catharsis, here it is. (FYI, Trosper and original Unwound drummer Brandt Sandeno will return to action with the debut album of their new band, Survival Knife, in late April.)

Stop Trying To Make "Muppets Most Wanted" About Putin

| Fri Mar. 21, 2014 3:29 PM PDT

As you probably heard, Russia invaded Ukraine. This has been big international news for the past few weeks, and now it is even affecting how people cover and review the new Muppets movie.

In Muppets Most Wanted (released on Friday), the antagonist is Constantine the Frog, a notorious criminal with a thick Russian accent. He also looks an awful lot like Kermit the Frog. Early in the film, Constantine escapes from a gulag in Siberia, tracks down Kermit, steals his identity, and gets the good-natured Kermit thrown in the Russian labor camp in his place. (Tina Fey plays Nadya, the officer who runs the song-and-dance-obsessed gulag.)

The Russia content in Muppets Most Wanted grew out of the filmmakers' desire to create a "classic cold-war musical comedy," and to give a lighthearted nod to the Russian bad guys of 1980s movies. Director James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller of course had no idea that their new Muppet movie would hit theaters right around the time Russia annexed Crimea. Constantine is a world-infamous thief, not a stand-in for Putin or any Russian politician (not that the Muppets haven't dabbled in politics—or been accused of partisan bias—before). Regardless, critics and writers found a way to make their coverage of Muppets Most Wanted more topical!

Here's a sample:

  • "The newest Muppet is Russian, prefers to go shirtless and is intent on evil domination. Sound familiar?" — USA Today.
  • "The one discordant note comes by way of the gulag gags: With Russian President Vladi­mir Putin enthusiastically reviving that country's most oppressive totalitarian past, making light of what now seems all too real may strike adult viewers as, if not tasteless, then at least unfortunately timed. (The backfire also serves as a cautionary reminder to studio executives eager to exploit the newly all-powerful international market.)" — The Washington Post.
  • "The United States government today called on Walt Disney Pictures to delay or cancel the release of Muppets Most Wanted on national security grounds. Or at least, it should have. Not only might this movie annoy Russia, with whom the American government is already nose-to-nose over Crimea, but it could also cause any European allies being courted by President Obama to unfriend him and the rest of the country. The film, a music-filled follow-up to the 2011 hit The Muppets, lands poor Kermit in a gulag in Siberia, which is depicted just as unflatteringly as gulags in Siberia always are. Vladimir V. Putin is unlikely to be amused." — The New York Times.
  • "The film's female lead, Miss Piggy, arguably bears some resemblance to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose stance on Russia has toughened considerably as the Crimean crisis unfolds." — Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
  • "He's kidnapped and replaced by evil frog Constantine, Kermit's exact double apart from a facial mole and an accent that sounds like Vladimir Putin trying to invade his space." — The Toronto Star.

...Ugh.

Now, for something better, listen to Muppets Most Wanted's fun, self-referential musical number "We're Doing a Sequel" below:

GIFs: The Big Dance's Best Dances (So Far)

| Fri Mar. 21, 2014 1:49 PM PDT

You toss the ball into the air as time runs out, falling to the court as your teammates rush over from the bench. Your school—which half of America just Wikipedia'd to figure out what state it's in—just pulled off a miracle victory against a better-ranked, better-funded, big-name opponent. What are you going to do next?

You're going to dance, of course. You're going to dance on the sideline, you're going to dance in the locker room, and you're going to dance behind your coach while he tries to give a TV interview. These Cinderellas came to the ball prepared—we'd put them in a bracket and rank the best dances, but we have no idea how the winners would celebrate.

For example, here's Kevin Canevari, a senior for new national treasure Mercer University, who capped off the Bears' victory over third-seeded Duke with this gem:

Not to be outdone, fellow senior Anthony White Jr. did the robot while his coach was interviewed:

Jordan Sibert, Devon Scott, and Devin Oliver danced in the locker room after proving Dayton's dominance in THE state of Ohio. Or maybe they're just happy that someone ordered pizza:

North Dakota State's overtime victory against favored Oklahoma was impressive. The locker room choreography between Carlin Dupree, Kory Brown, and Lawrence Alexander afterward was even better: