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24 Aug 08:54

Big Bears Teaching Their Teddies How To Bear

by Lina

Momma bears are a fairly devoted bunch, and because bears are so incredibly cute, the moments they enjoy in the spring when raising their young cubs can be truly precious. That’s why we collected this list of 20 photos of adorable bear parenting moments.

During their hibernation, momma bears of various species lose as much as half of their body weight while their nursing cubs grow rapidly off of their milk. Some momma bears go so far as to consume their cubs’ waste – to keep the den clean and to recycle their lost nutrients. Once the bears end their hibernations, it’s time for the cubs to learn by example. Their mothers show them how to survive and the cubs do their best to keep up. After all, in 2-3 years, their mother will begin chasing them off to begin their own independent lives.


Image credits: Marco Mattiusi


Image credits: Edwin Kats


Image credits: Tin Man


Image credits: Anton Belovodchenko


Image credits: Gary Pollock


Image credits: Marina Cano


Image credits: Anton Belovodchenko


Image credits: Peter Stahl


Image credits: Marina Cano


Image credits: Anton Belovodchenko


Image credits: Nikolai Zinoviev


Image credits: Danilo Ernesto Melzi


Image credits: Marina Cano


Image credits: Sergei Gladyshev


Image credits: Nikolai Zinoviev


Image credits: Nikolai Zinoviev


Image credits: unknown


Image credits: Graham Erik Mandre


Image credits: trolljenta


Image credits: Sergei Gladyshev

Big Bears Teaching Their Teddies How To Bear originally appeared on Bored Panda on August 24, 2014.

10 Jul 19:53

Neko Case Did a Cool Feminist Anthem… About How Geek Shit Is All For Boys - Stop right there.

by Rebecca Pahle

Neko Case knows there are female superheroes, right? And that women and girls are actually a huge part of the geek sphere, and have been for decades? Please, someone, show her the light. Because her music video with Kelly Hogan for “These Aren’t the Droids” would’ve been really cool—Ellie Kemper is saved by science! Feminist utopia! That rocking Leia/Spock outfit! And it’s for charity!—if not for the part where geekery is explicitly stated as being the realm of immature manboys.

Ms. Case, it’s time:


(via io9)

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09 Jul 17:30

The Little Engine That Could: Female, and "Literally the First to Lean In!"

by Jia Tolentino
by Jia Tolentino

me no daysAt NPR:

Children who read the story may not think much about whether the little blue engine is male or female. But adults do. If you remember the story, three trains — all male — refuse to help the broken-down engine over the mountain. They are too important, too busy, or too tired to pull an engine full of toys. ("I won't carry the likes of you!" they said to the disappointed dolls and stuffed animals).

The little blue engine who (after significant cajoling) agrees to help is female — and also self-deprecating. "They only use me for switching trains in the yard. I have never been on the other side of the mountain," she protests.

And then the little engine just leans right in and does it: she disrupts the sluggish train economy and flawlessly executes a deliverables hack to the benefit of a group of young consumers a full century before Y Combinator. Francesco Sedita, president of the Penguin division that publishes this beloved children's book, calls the engine "literally the first to lean in! She really is the poster engine of the can-do attitude." I think I can, I think I can, I think I can lean back and fall down the mountain instead with the lazy boys, because I haven't gotten lunch yet and I'm hangry. [NPR]

20 Aug 00:39

We Spoke To Rob Sitch About ‘Utopia’, Satire, And How The Government Wastes Your Money

by Koren Helbig

Last week, our very own Nation Building Authority handed over a metric buttpile of cash for a new logo — only to immediately revert to old branding, amid claims the design was plagiarised. In the very same week, Junkee has learned bureaucrats from the new government office physically swapped laptops to read emails sent to one-another during an intranet outage.

Okay, so none of that stuff is real. But maybe I had you going there for a second? That’s the genius behind new political satire Utopia: it’s frighteningly close to the lumbering antics of our actual government.

Written and produced by Australian comedy legends Rob Sitch, Santo Cilauro and Tom Gleisner, the show is being hailed as the third part in an unofficial series by Working Dog, a production house formed in 1993. The trilogy began with legendary 1990s satire Frontline, which skewered current affairs “journalism” for its exploitative and shallow practices, before 2008’s The Hollowmen, which focused on the inner workings of the prime ministerial office.

Utopia, which premiered on the ABC last Wednesday, follows perpetually harassed office manager Tony (Sitch), and his team of mostly ham-fisted public servants, who make up the fictional Nation Building Authority. They spend millions on planning new roads, rail lines, airports and high-rise urban developments, while achieving almost nothing, constantly distracted by political machinations, and continually derailed by government liaison guy Jim (Anthony “Lehmo” Lehmann) and public relations whizz Rhonda (Kitty Flanagan), who are fixated on slogans and public opinion.

Visionary long-term plans driven by knee-jerk reactions and an obsession with tomorrow’s front page… Sound familiar?

A Series Inspired By Gluten-free Muffins

Needless to say, the everyday workings of Australia’s real-life government organisations provided an inspirational goldmine. While researching the show, Sitch and his team chatted to a bunch of people involved in the political process, from public servants to property developers, and unearthed some astonishingly absurd stories.

Like the government office that for months specially ordered in gluten-free muffins, before realising the employee that needed them had left; management promptly called a meeting on the important topic of whether gluten could therefore be removed from the blacklist. Let’s hope a Celiac didn’t start work the next day, sending the place into some sort of gluten death spiral.

Utopia started life as an examination of modern absurdities,” Sitch says. “Prosperous societies manage to find new and fresh ways of converting good intentions into amusing and unintended screw-ups all the time.”

Building A Nation… Of White Elephants

Utopia’s writers noticed “nation building” had worked its way into modern political lexicon, as politicians of all ilk repeatedly announced unplanned and uncosted yet wildly grandiose infrastructure projects, seemingly planned on the back of envelopes still stained with the residue of last night’s whisky lobotomy. (Think recent criticism by former government finance head Mike Keating of Tony Abbott’s extra $58 billion for projects that haven’t been properly costed. Also, maybe, the entire NBN.) Thus, Utopia and its entertaining exploration of well-designed white elephants was born.

Often, Sitch says, finding inspiration was as easy as picking up a newspaper. “It’s rarely one incident. It has to be something systemic – and you can pick that up from the front pages of the papers. The key is to match what people say and what people do. That’s probably the best bullshit detector of all.”

Utopia highlights how an obsession with image rather than substance can knee-cap otherwise worthwhile projects.  “Public life is marinated in marketing terms,” says Sitch. “Media management and marketing techniques used to be called propaganda. That term has a very troubling history over recent centuries, but now it seems to be a force unto itself …. like HAL in 2001 A Space Odyssey. The machine needs to be fed. Edward Snowden revealed many secrets, but possibly the most troubling one was that the ‘marketing’ no longer matches the truth.”

The Power Of Satire

For their impressive body of work, Sitch and fellow Working Dog creatives Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy, Santo Cilauro and Michael Hirsh were last week named among Australian television’s 75 most powerful people. Which made me wonder: does caustic comedy that highlights and ridicules the absurdity of real life actually have power, beyond entertainment?

“I find trying to make something good is still really difficult; I emerge from the process feeling anything but powerful!” Sitch says. “Producing change is multi-factorial. No one likes being made fun of, especially if it’s accurate. Personally I admire investigative journalists. That’s something that definitely works.”


Utopia screens on Wednesdays at 8.30pm, on the ABC — and the entire Frontline series was released for free last month on YouTube. You’re welcome.


Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance writer living in Spain. She has written for New Internationalist, Frankie, Kill Your Darlings and The Lifted Brow, blogs at The Little Green House, and tweets @KorenHelbig.

13 Aug 08:31

Artist 3D-Prints City-Shaped Shells For Hermit Crabs

by Dovilas

Japanese artist Aki Inomata has partnered with, of all things, hermit crabs, to create a brilliant architectural art project. Using a 3D printer, Inomata created clear plastic shells with cities on them that were then promptly inhabited by their new hermit crab residents.

Hermit crabs usually inhabit vacated snail shells, but in their absence, they’ve been known to inhabit pieces of wood, stone or plastic, so their “partnership” with Inomata isn’t all that strange. Instead of their usual shells, Inomata provided them with tiny works of art to carry on their backs. The series is aptly titled “Why Not Hand Over a ‘Shelter’ to Hermit Crabs?”

Check out the videos below, where you get to see how the shells were made and how the hermit crabs moved in to their new homes.

More info: (h/t: spoon-tamago)

New York City


Windmill landscape




Santorini, Greece


Port City





Why Not Hand Over a “Shelter” to Hermit Crabs?


Artist 3D-Prints City-Shaped Shells For Hermit Crabs originally appeared on Bored Panda on August 13, 2014.

14 Aug 21:10

Downton Abbey Forgot Water Bottles Didn't Exist in 1924

by Hillary Crosley

Downton Abbey Forgot Water Bottles Didn't Exist in 1924

"Guys, what year is it? I can’t tell because of my water bottle. Oh, it’s the 1920s? Crap." These are the thoughts of whomever left their plastic bottle behind during a Downton Abbey promotional shot of the Earl of Grantham and Lady Edith Crawley, according to the Daily Mail. Thank you silent stranger who didn't throw away their drink while their co-workers prepped to do the Charleston. You have made this rough day better, especially since plastic bottles didn't gain steam in the U.K. until the 1960s. Time travelers unite!


14 Aug 16:34

The Afghan Whigs cover The Police

by David Pescovitz

My pals in The Afghan Whigs transform The Police's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" into a burning dark ballad dripping with soul. Read the rest

28 Jul 20:15

Stream Spoon’s new album, ‘They Want My Soul’

by Dan Turkel
Stream Spoon’s new album, ‘They Want My Soul’

The latest album from Austin-based indie rock staple Spoon is now available for streaming in full via iTunes Radio. Click right here to hear it (you might have to enable iTunes Radio if you haven’t already).

The 10-track record is Spoon’s eighth since they formed 21 years ago and put out the generally “ok” debut “Telephono.” The six that followed have been generally incredible, including the punk “A Series of Sneaks” and masterfully clever “Gimme Fiction.” The most recent, 2010’s “Transference,” was well-received and had a number of strong tracks (“Is Love Forever?” “Trouble Comes Running,” etc.) and fantastic, inventive production, but was missing some of that patented Spoon energy or the most part and comes in low in my personal ranking.

But, from the sounds of it, “They Want My Soul” is going to be killer. Frontman Britt Daniel’s time in the kraut-rocky Divine Fits with Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner seems to have reinvigorated Daniel’s sense of invention as the tracks on TWMS are fresh, poppy, and full of the life that “Transference” was missing. On first listen, “Do You” is a standout with near-twee backup vocals behind a charmingly abrasive chorus “Do you? / Do you? / Do you?”

High quality production has always been a part of Spoon’s pedigree and TWMS, produced by Joe Chiccarelli (The Shins, My Morning Jacket, Minus the Bear) and Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, MGMT, Tame Impala), is no exception. The band have come a long way from their early days and the record shows off a band matured, sure of themselves and capable. Of course, they were always willing and able to try new things, but tracks like “I Just Don’t Understand” (part my-baby-don’t-love-me-blues, part piano jazz courtesy of new keyboardist Alex Fischel) and “Rainy Taxi” (a moody five-minute almost-blues with a Spoon-y twist) show the band leaving what you might call their “comfort zone,” but without actually losing any comfort. On the other hand, tracks like opener “Rent I Pay” remind us of exactly what endeared us to the band so much as they definitively found their sound years ago.

Daniel admits that a blues influence is present, citing The Rolling Stones as a big influence, going through “a phase” with them before recording the album. And AC/DC too, though I can’t say I quite hear that influence as well.

But don’t just read my words about it, go listen to “They Want My Soul” right now on iTunes Radio. The album’s out August 5th on Loma Vista, Spoon’s first record on the label, and it’s available for pre-order in all sorts of bundles here. Plus, check out the videos below for “Do You” and “Rent I Pay,” the latter of which is supposedly “unofficial,” but comes straight from the band.

[h/t: Consequence of Sound | Image: Constant Artists

11 Aug 02:58

What Even Is Australian English? An Interview With The Editor Of The Macquarie Dictionary

by Chad Parkhill

Before the first edition of The Macquarie Dictionary was published in 1981, few Australians considered that the English they spoke was any different to British English – we might have different accents, sure, and a few colourful colloquialisms, but it’s fundamentally the same thing as the mother country’s mother tongue, isn’t it?

The Macquarie Dictionary completely transformed this understanding by comprehensively listing all of the peculiarities of our common dialect, and thereby arguing that Australian English is just as valid as American English or British English. Now in its sixth edition, The Macquarie Dictionary remains the standard reference dictionary for Australian publishers, writers, linguists, and word-nerds alike.

Susan Butler, Macquarie’s editor since the first edition, has just released The Aitch Factor: Adventures in Australian English, a collection of short essays covering the breadth and richness of Australian English. The book mixes Butler’s fascinating insights into our language, gleaned over decades of research, with personal anecdotes about the often-fraught nature of defining words and how we use them. (One particularly interesting chapter delves into the brouhaha that accompanied former prime minister Julia Gillard’s use of the word ‘misogyny’, and the gender politics of those who tried to argue that she should have used ‘sexism’ instead.)

Did you know that the pejorative ‘dropkick’ actually refers to the c-word, via the rhyming slang ‘dropkick and punt’? Or that the distinction between ‘licence’ with a c (noun) and ‘license’ with an s (verb) was not always so clear-cut? Or that ‘Beijing’ is correctly pronounced with a hard j, and anyone who softens it (bei-zhing) is incorrectly applying the Universal French Accent (the assumption that all foreign languages must follow similar pronunciation rules to French)?

We called Butler to chat about The Aitch Factor, and her own experiences in the trenches of lexicography. We also asked her for fifteen of her favourite ever words.



Junkee: What was the impetus for deciding, back in 1981, that Australian English needed its own dictionary?

Susan Butler: From the outset, Macquarie was always meant to be as complete a record as we could possibly make of our variety of English – of Australian English … There are many Englishes in the world: there’s English English, or British English, there’s American English, South African English, Singaporean English, Philippine English, and so on. Among those Englishes there is Australian English, which didn’t really have any proper account, any proper record, of what its characteristics were.

In those circumstances, communities can find it a little bit difficult to have a sense of what their English is, and certainly to believe in it – to believe it’s a legitimate form of English. If you go to Singapore, for instance, they’re always nervously wondering whether they’re speaking ‘proper’ English or Singlish – trying to hitch up their socks and pretend, as we used to do, that they speak British English. It’s amazing how a dictionary makes the variety of English visible to the speakers of that variety. It really just took the Macquarie to come out in 1981 for everyone to say, ‘Oh yes! That’s it! That’s Australian English!’, and relax about the whole situation.

There’s a moral dimension implicit in that – the question of legitimacy. Do you think that without the Macquarie, we’d still feel something of a cultural cringe, that Australian English isn’t necessarily legitimate?

I do, because I struggled with that all the way through. I used to have to go up to Brisbane [for work], so I’d routinely get taxis to the airport, and routinely answer the question of what I did – ‘Well, I work on a dictionary of Australian English’ – and routinely have to fend off responses like, ‘What’s that? We’ve only got a bit of slang, that’s all we’ve got, otherwise we speak British English, don’t we?’ It was really like that until the dictionary was published, and after that I realised I didn’t have to have those conversations any more – people just understood what I was talking about.

I remember taking the dictionary to a party with me, the advance copy from the printer. We’d worked on this thing, typesetting was hell, finally it went to the printer, and when the copy came back I looked at it and thought: I feel absolutely numb, I have no idea how to respond to this at all. So I took it to this party and passed it around, and within minutes people were saying, ‘Well, if it’s Australian English this word ought to be in there. Is it in there? Yes, it is! Okay, what’s the next one?’ Trying it out.

After a few minutes of nervousness, I relaxed and thought: yes, everything does seem to be in there. And people thought it was fantastic, they really warmed to it.

One of the things I discovered from The Aitch Factor is that you often have people contacting you, seeking legitimacy for a particular usage rule they adhere to, or asking you to adjudicate a dispute. Why do people have so much of their sense of self tied up in being a speaker of ‘proper’ or ‘correct’ English?

We grow up making important decisions about ourselves, about our hair, and our style of clothes, and also about the words we’re going to use: the expressions we’ll adopt as our favourite colloquialisms, the spellings we’ll adopt, and so on. This all gets worked through very solidly, through our childhood and our teens, and we emerge from that as competent – very competent, we would think – speakers and writers of Australian English. And we’ve invested quite a lot of effort into arriving at that; we think we know all about it, and we have an interest in it.

Nine times out of ten, our conclusions about language will match the conclusions reached by the rest of the community. But then on the tenth time, for some reason – some accident of childhood, or education, or personal history – we’ve ended out on a limb, making a decision that’s quite different from the rest of the community, and we’re quite unaware of it. We’re also unaware that, for a number of those other decisions in the ten, that other people have arrived at a variant form, which is still perfectly legitimate – just not the one that we decided to use. So there’s more complexity in the situation than we all realise, and every once in a while we find ourselves out on a limb, which is a bit difficult.

This anxiety is not restricted to the English language, but other languages avoid it by having a central authority that can determine what is ‘proper’ for that language. The Académie française, for example, is able to look at a situation and make a ruling about it, and from that moment on their decision becomes part of proper French. There is no such body for English – do you think that this is a bug, or a feature of our language?

Well, first of all, in this anti-authoritarian world, I don’t know that even the Académie has the power it once wielded – they may well make a ruling, but the French citizens will keep on doing what they’ve decided, collectively, to do, without paying much attention to that ruling.

Dictionaries once held that place in the past: they were once held as the arbiters of what is correct. My mother would have regarded her dictionary as telling her what is best in the language. But early in the 1900s, for the last hundred years, adult dictionaries have all aimed to be descriptive dictionaries, not prescriptive dictionaries. So dictionaries have all shifted to this ground where they try to describe, as well as they can, what’s happening – and that includes the attitudes, so it includes usage notes like, ‘While many people use “infamous” to mean “famous”, there’s quite a group in the community who don’t think that’s the right thing to do and will resist it’.

I think we all now try to get a feeling of what is correct from sources available to us – from dictionaries, style guides, and so on – but ultimately we all have to make some hard decisions for ourselves without that sense of certainty we once had.

Your commitment to being a descriptivist comes up a lot in The Aitch Factor – you’re more interested in how language is actually used than in telling people about how they ought to use it. This has led you to some fascinating conclusions – including a recommendation that we should ditch apostrophes entirely.

That was a bit tongue-in-cheek – I knew I could say that, secure in the understanding that for anyone to get a whole language community to shift on a major decision like that is well-nigh impossible … But I despair of the apostrophe constantly turning up in plurals, and being left out of possessives! It’s a weird situation where we don’t use it where we should, and we do use it where we shouldn’t.

This reminds me of hypercorrections – where people think they’re doing the right thing, but are being so rigid about a rule that they actually get it wrong. I’m thinking in particular of people who cling to ‘so-and-so and I’ in all circumstances, rather than saying ‘so-and-so and me’ when it’s appropriate.

It’s unfortunate that education seems to instil sensitivity, without necessarily equipping people with the right choice to follow the sensitivity. They know there’s a problem, and they know they have to pause here and think about it, that it’s not what they’d think about intuitively – so they go for the wrong decision.

It leads to some perverse outcomes – like people who are so confused about whether to use ‘I’ or ‘me’ in that circumstance that they fall back on the reflexive pronoun ‘myself’, which is horrible.

I think there’s two corrections going on here, one happening after the other.

‘Between you and I’ – because there’s a problem of definition and what form of the pronoun should follow, they go for ‘I’ thinking, ‘That took effort, therefore it must be right; I was going to go for “me”, but that’s too easy, too informal.’

Then, having gone for ‘I’, the other rule kicks in that you must never use ‘I’ because it looks as though you’re being egotistical and imposing yourself on other people, so they soften it by turning it into ‘myself’. Very complicated. If they’d just stuck to ‘between you and me’ in the first place they’d have been alright!

And grammatically correct.

And grammatically correct, yes!


15 Of Susan Butler’s Favourite Ever Words

Skedaddle: A sound-echoing-sense word where you can almost see the swerve in the exit movement from the extra kick of speed.

Fossick: An old-fashioned word from British dialect. Many Australian words which are common, mainstream items for us have their origins in the British dialects of the convicts and settlers who came to the colony.  This one has the –ick ending which indicates a repetitive action, while the foss- is a variant of fuss.

Pellucid: A favourite poetic word from the Latin pellucidus which breaks up into the intensifying suffix per- (becoming pel-) and lucidus meaning ‘clear’.

Dining boom: A clever coinage. After the mining boom Australia will rely for exports on the dining boom, that is, the demand for quality foodstuffs for the burgeoning middle class in China.

Muffin top: A favourite in the first Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year held in 2006, being chosen both by the committee and the popular vote.  The image of the fat spilling out over the top of the tight jeans is so much like the muffin spilling over the cake holder.  Very amusing, and an Australianism which we gave to the world.

Googleganger: Everyone did it – although we might be more relaxed about it now. Everyone put their name into the search on Google to see what would turn up, and discovered that others with their name were living varied lives out there.

Brekkie: My favourite meal of the day and a delightful hypocorism – that is, a word shortened with the –ie ending so favoured by Australians.

Snottygobbles: A colonial word written up in all seriousness in the reference books, but sounding to me very much like a child’s word. Snottygobbles are the fruit of an acacia bush that grows in the outback. Very sticky seeds.

Groodle: My son has one. One of the poodle crossed that we first noticed with the labradoodle. This one is a golden retriever plus poodle. Very cute.

Lugubrious: I described a very dark chocolate mud cake as ‘lugubrious’ and realised that I was quite fond of the word. From the Latin lugubris meaning ‘mournful’, that is, to do with mourning rites, particularly mourning garments.

Grumpy: Ultimately it comes from a Scottish word for the sound that pig makes when it is annoyed. From there it is associated frequently with old men who make a similar grunting noise when irritated. For all of us it can mean to be generally out of sorts. It is something that people point out in others which, surprisingly, makes them even more irritated.

Boofhead: A word I like in its own right, coming as it does from bufflehead which means ‘having a head like a buffalo’.  Buffle is French for ‘buffalo’.  But a discussion on TV of boofhead, which seems to range in force from affectionately mild to mildly offensive, led me to remark that taboos changed, and that these days you would get into more trouble saying someone was fat than saying that they were a fuckwit. I think the alliteration appealed to me at the time. For more on this go here.

Perspicacious: It sounds so sharp, so discerning. You can see the pursed lips, the glint in the eye. I would like to be described as perspicacious, but sadly I don’t think it is the first adjective that would come to mind.

Misogyny: This proved to be such a learning experience for us all back in 2012, that words can shift in meaning. Of course there were those who didn’t want to acknowledge the shift, which is when linguistic pedantry teamed up with conservative politics.

Shibboleth: This is such a linguist’s word. In the book of Judges in the Old Testament, the judge Jephthah used shibboleth as a word to distinguish the Ephraimites (who were on the run from him) from his own men, the Gileadites.  The Gileadites could say the initial sh, the Ephraimites couldn’t. And so it becomes anything that sorts the sheep from the goats, the in group from the out group. The way you wear your hair, the way you say hello, whether you use a split infinitive or not, or, even worse, say ‘youse’ or not.


The Aitch Factor is out now through Pan Macmillan. Find out more about it here.


Chad Parkhill is a Melbourne-based cultural critic whose work has appeared in The AustralianThe Lifted BrowKillingsMeanjin, and The Quietus, amongst others. He tweets @ChadParkhill


01 Aug 20:15

Why Are Tech Workers So Bad at Dressing Themselves?

by Nitasha Tiku on Valleywag, shared by Kate Dries to Jezebel

Why Are Tech Workers So Bad at Dressing Themselves?

If the guiding principle for building great startups is "solve an important problem," then the difficulty tech workers have locating (and laundering!) garments to wear in public would appear to be the sartorial equivalent of Fermat's last theorem.


01 Aug 21:00

French Hospital Opens a Wine Bar for Dying Patients

by Kelly Faircloth

French Hospital Opens a Wine Bar for Dying Patients

A French hospital has announced that it'll soon open a small bar within its palliative care ward. Terminally ill patients will be able to invite visitors over for drinks including wine, beer and whisky.


31 Jul 14:57

16 Of The Most Magnificent Trees In The World

by Lina

How do I love thee, tree? Let me count the ways; you change carbon dioxide into the oxygen we breathe, you sequester carbon, and you provide shelter for countless critters. There are many reasons for which we should all be tree-hugging hippies, but within the scope of this article, all we’ll focus on is how amazing some of them look.

Granted, not all of these amazing beautiful trees are trees (the Wisteria is a vine, Rhododendrons are shrubs, and bamboo technically belongs to the grass family), but we’ll give them a pass because they are amazing, huge and beautiful. So once you step outside and take a breath of fresh air, hug the nearest tree and say thank you!

If you know of an amazing tree not on this list, you can submit it at the bottom of this post.

125+ Year Old Rhododendron “Tree” In Canada


This huge 125-year-oldold rhododendron is technically not a tree – most are considered to be shrubs. You can find out more about it here. (Image credits: reddit)

144-Year-Old Wisteria In Japan


Image credits:


At 1,990 square meters (about half an acre), this huge wisteria is the largest of its kind in Japan. Read more about it here. (Image credits: y-fu)

Wind-Swept Trees In New Zealand


These trees on Slope Point, the southern tip of New Zealand, grow at an angle because they’re constantly buffeted by extreme antarctic winds. Find out more here. (Image credits: Seabird Nz)

Beautiful Japanese Maple In Portland, Oregon


Image credits: falcor88


Image credits: Tom Schwabel

Antarctic Beech Draped In Hanging Moss In Oregon


The antarctic beech is native to Chile and Argentina, though this specimen is from the U.S.’ North Pacific region. (Image credits: Drew Hopper)

Blooming Cherry Trees in Bonn, Germany


This beautiful tunnel of cherry blossoms blooms in Bonn, Germany in April. To see more tunnels like this one, click here. (Image credits: Adas Meliauskas)

Angel Oak In John’s Island In South Carolina


The Angel Oak in South Carolina stands 66.5 ft (20 m) tall and is estimated to be more than 1400 or 1500 years old. (Image credits: Daniela Duncan)

Flamboyant Tree, Brazil


The flamboyant tree is endemic to Madagascar, but it grows in tropical areas around the world. (Image credits: Salete T Silva)

Dragonblood Trees, Yemen


The dragonblood tree earned its fearsome name due to its crimson red sap, which is used as a dye and was used as a violin varnish, an alchemical ignredient, and a folk remedy for various ailments. (Image credits: Csilla Zelko)

The President, Third-Largest Giant Sequoia Tree In The World, California


President, located in Sequoia National Park in California, stands 241 ft (73m) tall and has a ground circumference of 93 ft (28m). It is the third largest giant sequoia in the world (second if you count its branches in addition to its trunk). (Image credits: Michael Nichols)

Maple Tree Tunnel in Oregon


Image credits: Ian Sane

Rainbow Eucalyptus In Kauai, Hawaii


Image credits: jwilsonnorton


The rainbow eucalyptus, which grows throughout the South Pacific, is both useful and beautiful. It is prized for both the colorful patches left by its shedding bark and for its pulpwood, which is used to make paper. (Image credits: Christopher Martin)

Jacarandas in Cullinan, South Africa


These beautiful Jacarandas, with their violet flowers, grow in South Africa. (Image credits: Elizabeth Kendall)

Avenue Of Oaks At Dixie Plantation In South Carolina


This avenue of oak trees was planted some time in the 1790s on Dixie Plantation in South Carolina. (Image credits: Lee Sosby)

Baobab Trees In Madagascar


These baobabs in Madagascar are excellent at storing water in their thick trunks to use during droughts. (Image credits: confitalsurf)

The Dark Hedges In Northern Ireland


Image credits: Stephen Emerson


Ireland’s Dark Hedges were planted in the 18th century. This stunning beech tree tunnel was featured on Game of Thrones as well. Read more about it here. (Image credits: Christopher Tait)

16 Of The Most Magnificent Trees In The World originally appeared on Bored Panda on July 31, 2014.

29 Jul 14:50

33 Pictures Taken At The Right Moment

by Julija

We Bored Pandas are huge fans of perfectly timed photos that capture perfect (and usually funny or unexpected) moments that come and go with a blink of the eye. The internet is abound with images shared by people who have captured images at just the right moment or from just the right perspective, so we wanted to share some more of them with you.

Anyone with a smart phone, point-and-click camera, DSLR or any other sort of camera can potentially capture such a moment – whether it’s staged or spontaneous. If you’ve ever captured such a photo, share it with us below!


Source: reddit (h/t: distractify)


Source: imgur


Source: reddit (h/t: distractify)


Source: reddit


Image credits: Vladimir Levin


Source: reddit (h/t: distractify)




Image credits: Tom Baum


Source: imgur


Source: reddit


Source: imgur


Source: reddit


Source: reddit (h/t: distractify)


Source: imgur


Source: imgur


Image Credits: Adde Adesokan


Source: reddit


Source: reddit


Image credits: Nick Kelly


Source: unknown


Image credits: Mrsnef1




Image credits: troyANDabed


Source: reddit


Source: unknown


Image credits: Arainya


Source: reddit


Source: imgur


Source: reddit


Source: reddit


Source: reddit


Source: imgur


Source: imgur


Source: (h/t: buzzfeed)


Source: reddit

33 Pictures Taken At The Right Moment originally appeared on Bored Panda on July 29, 2014.

28 Jul 15:00

Mesmerizing Interiors Of Iran’s Mosques Captured In Rare Photographs By Mohammad Domiri

by Dovilas

Mohammad Domiri, a talented architectural photographer from northern Iran, takes stunning photos of grandiose mosque architecture throughout the Middle East.

Middle Eastern architecture is often recognized by its elegantly curved arches and spiraling columns, which feature heavily throughout Domiri’s photos. Many of the historic sites Domiri shoots are decorated with colorful stained-glass windows, geometric decorations and painstakingly detailed mosaics, so he shoots with special wide-angle lenses to make sure that he captures all of these details. Because they are historic structures, many of these mosques also impose heavy restrictions on photography – making photos like Domiri’s very rare.

More info: | 500px | Facebook (h/t: dailymail)























Mesmerizing Interiors Of Iran’s Mosques Captured In Rare Photographs By Mohammad Domiri originally appeared on Bored Panda on July 28, 2014.

05 Aug 18:00

Block More, Fix the Stupid Internet

by John Herrman
by John Herrman

According to a nice new tool called Blocktogether, I am blocking 16 people on Twitter. I was worried about what this tool would show me: Would it be 16 reminders of times I was wrong, or acted stupid, or engaged in some sort of petty feud? Would I be ashamed? Here is what it said:

@monteiro (Mike Monteiro)
@darth (darth™ )
@RyanHoliday (Ryan Holiday)
@pmarca (Marc Andreessen)
@gabestein (Gabriel Stein)
@SteenKJW (Steen)
@Max_Fisher (Max Fisher)
@BorowitzReport (Andy Borowitz)
@tomwolber (Tommy Wolber)
@paxdickinson (Pax Dickinson)
@WyanRilson (jack danielsaur)
@DylanByers (Dylan Byers)
@paulcarr (Paul Carr)
@NYTFridge (NYTFridge)
@ChristineTWang (Christine Tien Wang)
@GlennF (Glenn Fleishman)

I don't remember blocking about a third of these people, and don't clearly remember who three of them are. There is certainly evidence of pettiness here! Arguments I didn't want to finish, buttons clicked in the heat of the moment, silly Twitter-only conflicts that are too embarrassing to recount. I am a little sorry for that, but I will not be unblocking any of these people. This list is a much more honest expression of my preferences than my follow list, which is garbage. This is my real Twitter account, and so I stand by it. I plan to cultivate it and help it grow. I will boast of my blocks. For every new follow, three blocks. I will Own my Owns, and you should too.

Matt's list is longer; he uses blocks more frequently, and, I would argue, much more effectively than I do:

AntDeRosa (Anthony De Rosa)
ginamdunn (Gina Dunn)
adamswbrown (Adam)
ShawnKing (Shawn King)
techsavvy (Matt Buchanan)
patlyk (patlyk)
Mikeisaac (Mike Isaac)
morganwarstler (Morgan Warstler)
MattHurst (Matthew Hurst)
mrb (Matthew Buchanan)
mdaisey (Mike Daisey)
ashedryden (how about no conf)
cpawl (cpawl)
samgustin (Sam Gustin)
kziel (Kris Ziel)
jaycarozzi (Javier)
PrintsCharming (Ryan Smith)
xonder (Alexander)
freekdeman (Freek de Man)
notoakie (oakie)
searchmeinc (
ringernation (Jonathan Weaver)
akour_ (Ahmed Akour)
travelchannelgo (Travel Channel GO)
wiifitproject (Wii Fit Project)
WhoWhat (#WhoWhat)
puluwai (Puluwai Real Estate )
davidsirota (David Sirota)
klturi421 (klturi421)
VanityFair (VANITY FAIR)
froesei (Ivan Froese)
NonRevAdventure (Bruce Bere)
syllogic (Syl Mulder)
CoNOrgsMattM (Matt Millsaps)
sdcrane (Stuart Crane)
moorehn (Heidi N. Moore)
mediazerm (#mediazerm news)
hleman (Hope Leman)
kittylyst (Ben Evans)
vineetsingh (VineetSingh)
hunterw (Hunter Walker)
samatlounge (Sam Missingham)
votetocracy (Votetocracy)
ariokage (Lea Hannigan)
iPhoneCTO (iPhoneCTO)
pro2rat (professor rat)
vsabhi (Abhi Sharma)
svatikirsten (Svati Kirsten Narula)
mommamiaria (Maria A)
muckrack (Muck Rack)
cocoricks (coco ricks)
evgenymorozov (Evgeny Morozov)
braincellsgood (Kevin C)
redapron (
shitanshuverma (Shitanshu Verma)
faizairmac (Faiza Chowdhury)
Staceynzoey (Stacey King)
GianlucaRispo (Gianluca Rispo)
lwfoxwell (Lennie Foxwell)
sdhousehunting (Jeremy Katz SDHH)
leoofborg (Bad Uncle Leo)
KiwiPixel (KiwiPixel)
TapThatGuy (Tap That Guy)
coffeeforkicks (Lincoln Donaldson)
CPA_Fans_Page (Earla Riopel.USAnews)
InstantWeb (Snapshot of the Web)
ladybeazley (Lady Beazley)
Tips4Tech (Allan Pratt, MBA)
morgannels (Morgan Sandquist)
gathtata (Gath_-_-kats)
sujith_web (Sujith S Nair)
UberFacts (UberFacts)
greg_gray_ray (Greg Ray)
EdwinKorver (Edwin Korver)
Laldinfela (Laldinfela Pachuau)
everybodyiknow (Christian's Bot)
True4m (Godstruform)
lilville155 (lillian falciglia)
damy_kim (Damy Kim)
JrPenny (Junior Penny)
patosins (Patrick Osinski)
gabyncontreras (Gaby Nuñez Contreras)
thepinwale (Ismail Jadun)
XVisionNow (XVision)
shaymitchfanss (Stephanie)
Phoblographer (The Phoblographer)
TweetsFromNYC (New York)
WhiteHousePtbo (White House Hotel PR)
youngt1986 (willie bryant)
SuperZeroMovie (Super Zero)
DylanByers (Dylan Byers)
SharonMTeel (Sharon M. Teel)
makezens (ZENS)
uniofsurreyarts (Arts at Surrey)
jasey153 (jasey dickson)
davisagirl90 (davisajordan)
coraliecanelle (coralie Mason Wilson)
yamahateaminfo (pingi)
BrightApollo (christopher wanko)
paulcarr (Paul Carr)
bingo418 (SallyKim)
ArielMondi (Ariel Mondi)
1938loren (Loren Feldman)
BezelDollGrp (Bezel Doll Group)
veter_iok (Anna Baidachnaya)
SarahSlocum (Sarah Slocum)
rnorthboy (rnorthboy)
MattAtTheBrief (Matt Buchanan)
LaLimonadaTO (LaLimonada)
geetayl0r_ (?gee?)
socmedtech (socmedtech)
Sparkle_Policy (The Sparkle Agency)
usefoolapps (Actions)
retreatrdotcom (retreatr)
mike120699 (mike egna)
cashshower (CashShower)
Wonam6 (Casey)
yashalevine (Yasha Levine)
bouffordbzgfd9 (Boufford Axton)
huytuandecor (huytuandecor)
MakeSomeoneLove (Sam Stone)
RhafTonreyUJAS (Rhaf Tonrey)
JadaMix (JadaMix)
mimi98loll (mimi)
MarcoTimelli (Marco Timelli)
Katheleenq26 (Katheleen Ridlen)
strebeckk6 (Strebeck Jobs)
royalangel4 (oyinlola moses)
Minbox (Minbox)
LocishOfficial (Locish)
8515Jairo (jhon jairo )
Galaxkey (Galaxkey )
FPhones (Free phones)
dust_particle (Dust Particle)
yo_thanland (Than's Stellarbot)
ashokaap (ashokaap)
JesleyCassidy (Jesley Cassidy)
peerintech (Peerin Tech)
MrHatefulMean (Mr. Hateful Mean)
mojVkANRKw (morgan mcdonald)
thewritealice (thewritealice)
YoungFreshHD (?i?? ?i? ƒ???€?– ??)
7411nigeria (7411 Nig. Directory)
takez7 (takez7)
Reeppyu (Reetta S)
WhoisWallet (WhoisWallet)
victor03972867 (victor)
doug_stellar (Doug's Stellar Bot)
ivana_jonovic (Ivana Jonovic)
Benzy92Laryea (benjamin laryea)
TheClippy (Clippy)
SnapchatShot (Snapchat ?•??•?)
experimenttess (Tess )
lezlowfreegen (lezlow@freegenmail.c)
InstantAutogrhs (Iautographs)
Bravesoul79 (Jason)
Johnson67LARRY (LARRY Johnson)
sesssnt (#Savepalestine)
felix_sande (estevao felix sande)
HistoryInPics (History In Pictures)
AlexyBome (gogita)
JoaquinTamiroff (Seth Edenbaum)
h8reads (Hate Reads)
JbGelasius (Gelasius)
dodo (The Dodo)
beinganddying (Being and Dying)
CrusadesPay (Henry Wise)
alicehuttep (Alice Huttep)
minaj9_nicki (nicki)
OweYaa (OweYaa)
FauxFranzen (Faux Franzen)
ICantGetABoner (ICantGetABoner)
holybiever (holybieber)
SpaceGreyiPhone (Space Grey iPhone 5S)
hdvhardcore (hdvhardcore)
abomhawed1 (???? ??????)
EzeeCube (Ashok Jaiswal)
AvalonRadys (Avalon Radys)
clarabarbosa19 (clara barbosa )
CESrpg (#CESrpg)
cem3394 (chris mckinlay)
TheWNOfficial (World News)
iOSShiftKey (iOS Shift Key)
ExMediaMan (Media Man)
britney_spider (Britney Spears)
ClippyTheClip (Clippy)
Gabrielmendza (Gabrielle Mendoza)
GlaycePin (glayce imaculada pin)
promotionsweb (Web Promotions)
GShuttleBus (GTrainShuttleBus)

There is nothing to explain here. This is a list of the forsaken and forgotten: People who tweeted too much, who slipped up once or twice, who posted a "Thank god it's Friday" joke on two consecutive Mondays, who were wrong in such a way that would obviously never be remedied and therefore earns them permanent silence. If you grant that actively using Twitter and maintaining mental hygiene are not mutually exclusive, this is the proper way to do it.

Anyway, try this. It's great! Blocktogether seems to be a little busy right now, but BlockedBy.Me is a good alternative. Check your block list and share it with the world. Don't just tell your blockees that you're tired of them. Tell the entire stupid internet! People may look at your list and think less of you, which is fine. They deserve to be blocked too. Others may look at your list and think: Why do I let people continue to retweet that obnoxious venture capitalist into my feed? Why do I occasionally continue to put up with that fake photo account that people can't stop falling for? Oh, this one, he is definitely a harasser, and should be blocked by every single Twitter user in the world. Brand? Blocked. And that annoying guy, I've seen too much of him lately, so maybe I should block him too. Blocking is power in a situation otherwise defined by endless concession.

Name, shame, own. Who cares, let's do a hashtag: #OWNYOUROWNS. Block them. Block them on Facebook, too. BLOCK THEM ALL. Music helps. Put on some sunglasses and crank "Barracuda."

You lying so low in the weeds
I bet you gonna ambush me
You'd have me down, down, down, down on my knees
Now, wouldn't you, Barracuda? Oh-oh-ohh

Unfriend like the icy wind. Post less, ban more. Ideally just don't post at all, and block all the time.

Image by Anthony Fire


The post Block More, Fix the Stupid Internet appeared first on The Awl.

08 Jul 01:00

News: Touring: Jonathan Boulet, Harmony, Wagons

by Mess+Noise

Touring: Jonathan Boulet, Harmony, Wagons

– Following the demise of his well-liked band Parades and then a year spent in Berlin, Sydney’s Jonathan Boulet is back to making solo albums again. And so he’s following up 2012’s memorably titled We Keep the Beat, Found the Sound, See the Need, Start the Heart with the third LP GUBBA. Out next Friday (July 18) through Popfrenzy, it’s heralded by the brashly raucous single ‘Hold It Down’. Boulet will launch the album on the East Coast next month, with support on all four dates from Unity Floors.

Fri, Aug 15 – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Sat, Aug 16 – Pirie & Co Social Club, Adelaide, SA
Thurs, Aug 21 – GoodGod, Sydney, NSW
Thurs, Aug 28 – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD

– We’re still reeling from the mighty second Harmony album, Carpetbombing, and the band aim to remind the rest of you about it by launching the new single ‘Vapour Trails’ in Brisbane and Sydney, on top of three Melbourne appearances. In his Track by Track on the record, frontman Tom Lyngcoln wrote of the track: “The last song written for Carpetbombing and the first nominated to be left off. We toyed with excluding this song for months and then upon deleting all of my superfluous guitar solos and intros we found a whole other five minutes of space for it.” A ringing endorsement! But seriously, anything that gets Tucker B’s to play a show in 2014 (see Sydney date) is already a success.

Sat, July 12 – Bakehouse Studios, Melbourne, VIC [11am, free, all ages, w/The Impossible No Goods]
Sun, July 20 – Copacabana, Melbourne, VIC [midday, all ages, w/Bitch Prefect, Empat Lima + Beaches DJs]
Sat, Aug 9 -– Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW [w/Tucker B’s, Bare Grillz + Ramps]
Sat, Aug 16 – Beetle Bar, Brisbane, QLD [w/Keep On Dancin’s + Woolpit]
Sun, Aug 24 – Poison City Weekender @ Reverence Hotel, Melbourne, VIC [sold out]

– Also doing a bit of a victory lap (and not technically a tour, but oh well) are Wagons, who have announced a pair of Victoria shows following their current jaunt through North America — during which they’re playing Montreal Jazz Festival and making other high-profile stops. It’s all in the name of their recent sixth album, Acid Rain & Sugar Cane. The current single from the LP is ‘Chase the Eclipse’, which now has a claymation video made by the band’s own Si the Philanthropist. It was made over a month in his home studio, comprising 6500 shots. It tells a story too, naturally. Watch it below.

Fri, Aug 8 – Caravan Music Club @ Oakleigh RSL, Oakleigh, VIC
Sat, Aug 9 – The Substation, Newport, VIC

07 Jul 01:00

News: New 2250-Capacity Venue Opening in Melbourne

by Mess+Noise

New 2250-Capacity Venue Opening in Melbourne

A new 2250-capacity venue is set to open in Melbourne to help cover for the loss of the Palace Theatre, which closed in May.

The Melbourne Pavilion on Racecourse Road in Kensington will undergo an extensive refit, allowing the venue to host major touring acts under the name Pavilion Live. Currently the venue operates as a sports and function centre with a licensed capacity of 1300. The Palace could hold 1850 punters.

“Melbourne is well served by a brilliant collection of well-operated small venues and venues of the 900-1500 capacity but there is a definite need for a venue that is the next step up from there – a venue that is large enough to accommodate national level touring bands but still offers a more intimate experience than a stadium-type venue,” explained Pavilion Live spokesman, entertainment lawyer and consultant Andrew Watt.

In a press release Chris O’Brien, general manager of Soundwave Touring, agreed, noting that the recent closure of the Palace was “a dagger to the heart of the Victorian live music scene.”

The loss of The Palace has loomed as a logistical nightmare for bookers trying to entice overseas bands to our shores. “The proposed demolition of The Palace Theatre won’t affect the health of Melbourne’s grassroots music community,” wrote FasterLouder and M+N Editor-in-Chief Darren Levin last year. “What The Palace does provide though is a place for mid-sized tours – the kind that can’t fill out Etihad (53,000 capacity or 20,000 in “intimate” mode), Rod Laver (14,820), Hisense Arena (10,500), Festival Hall (5445), the Myer Music Bowl (25,000), or The Plenary (5540) ... And that’s a big gap to fill for a city that likes to think of itself as Australia’s live music capital.”

(From FasterLouder)

02 Jul 11:00

News: Video Premiere: Primitive Calculators ‘Dead’, ‘Why’

by Mess+Noise

Video Premiere: Primitive Calculators ‘Dead’, ‘Why’

When Melbourne synth-punk elders Primitive Calculators programmed Rage at the end of May – a fairly unexpected development, it must be said – the band debuted videos for two songs off their 2013 album The World is Fucked.

Now we’ve got a hold of them, for premiering outside of TV land. Matthew Ellery’s clip for ‘Dead’ was filmed in a community theatre space in Heidelberg, with lighting effects by Tarek Ishak, while Robin Plunkett’s clip for ‘Why’ was filmed under the Flemington Bridge. Both feature the band making a pretty strong case for why that album was worth waiting three and a half decades for. That’s right: in case you didn’t know, Prim Calcs started in the late ’70s and quickly established themselves as icons without even having a studio album to their name.

The band’s stint on Rage spanned such strange bedfellows as ABBA, Cannibal Corpse, Michael Jackson, the Easybeats, the Bee Gees, The Velvet Underground and The Saints. ‘Dead’ and ‘Why’, meanwhile, were described by M+N contributor Everett True as – respectively – “filler [that] still sounds more vital than 20 generations of your fucking asshole-wipe triple-j-chasing Sydney middle-class-entitled asshole shits” and “even nastier and more alienated and vengeful and repetitive and with those drums pounding into your head like a jackhammer morning spent without any fucking coffee cos that cunt of a bus driver wouldn’t allow you to take it on the bus with you.” Trust us: it makes more sense in the context of the review.

The World is Fucked is out now on CD, vinyl and digital through Chapter Music. Primitive Calculators will play an a cappella show at The Old Bar as Pocket Calculators on Sunday, August 17 with The All Seeing Hand, Heads of Charm and Diploid.

05 Aug 08:46

‘Kevin Rudd 2000′ Is Dead And Australian Political Life Has Lost All Meaning

by Alex McKinnon

At 4:53PM this afternoon EST, the Twitter account ‘Kevin Rudd 2000′ sent out what appears to be its final tweet:

Ablo eat Kevern

— Kevin Rudd 2000 (@Rudd2000) August 5, 2014

The surprise announcement has sent shockwaves through Australia’s corridors of power. For years, ‘Kevin Rudd 2000′ has been a beacon of journalistic rigour and wisdom in Canberra, telling the stories about our nation’s most powerful people that others were just too afraid to touch, and bearing witness to some of the most significant political events of modern times.

Toney Abert have his victory over Jolya he now have literally no other purpose in life no ideas that’s it he got nothing — Kevin Rudd 2000 (@Rudd2000) July 17, 2014

Joly Bish hit passion pop tonight break out the Stevie Nicks she on the edge of seventeen again — Kevin Rudd 2000 (@Rudd2000) July 11, 2014

Same Datsyaari small secret he basically a garden gnome what come to life — Kevin Rudd 2000 (@Rudd2000) July 11, 2014

Kevin Rudd 2000 churned out over 3000 tweets, each one full of passion, high drama and backroom intrigue starring all your favourite characters: Garg Hunt, Scot Moronsen, Bell Sharten, Ablo.

Mark Latam fridge have no milk in it police evacuate whole west of Sydney — Kevin Rudd 2000 (@Rudd2000) June 25, 2014

Scot Moreson straight up give a chinese burn to a heaps little kid — Kevin Rudd 2000 (@Rudd2000) August 5, 2014

David Leayunjhellm see black person on street he flash his piece make it clear who is boss — Kevin Rudd 2000 (@Rudd2000) July 1, 2014

Who will guide us through these troubled times? Who will hold our hand and lead us to’ards the light? Who shall quench our raging thirst, sooth our burning brow? Not Kevern. No more Kevern.

Crag Thamsen get into fight with ibis over contents of bin — Kevin Rudd 2000 (@Rudd2000) August 5, 2014

Corey Barnardi hear data retention thing straight up shit his pants — Kevin Rudd 2000 (@Rudd2000) August 5, 2014

☆。★。☆。★ 。☆ 。☆。☆ ★。\|/。★ Emmo ★。/|\ °★ 。☆。 。° ☆。 ☆。 ★。☆ °★

— Kevin Rudd 2000 (@Rudd2000) July 19, 2014

Goodnight, sweet Kevern. RIP in peace.

05 Aug 01:43

Senator Nova Peris Has Given A Brutal And Stirring Call To White Australia

by Alex McKinnon

Senator Nova Peris, Australia’s first female indigenous federal MP, has given an impassioned call-out for white Australia to take up the cause of Indigenous recognition in the constitution and to drag Indigenous issues from the margins into the national spotlight.

Speaking at the Garma Festival in Arnhem Land, Peris spoke passionately and candidly to a mostly-white audience about the need for white Australians to recognise the country’s long history of racial injustice, and work together with Indigenous people to shift the nation’s mindset. Footage of the speech was filmed by the ABC and placed online this morning.

“I have to refrain myself, at times, from saying the things I really want to say because of my political hat. So I’m going to take the political hat off for a moment”, Peris began.

Peris, whose mother was a member of the Stolen Generation, became a Senator in 2013 after being personally selected by then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard to head Labor’s ticket in the Northern Territory. Peris also appeared on an all-indigenous episode of Q&A last night which was held near the mining town of Nhulunbuy in a remote part of east Arnhem Land, as part of Garma.

“What we’re trying to do is get an entire country to recognise two percent of the population”, Peris said.

“White Australia think we get too much, but every single day we’re gonna need a helping hand because for too long we’ve been squashed from the earth we came from…Until we truly shift the mindset of white Australians and make you realise that everyone is here, you’ve all benefited from two hundred years of systemic injustices. This constitution is a whitefella rulebook.

“Within every single Aboriginal person is a spirit that needs to be awakened…We are the most resilient people on this planet, because we’re here. We’ve survived for that long…This movement can’t come from Aboriginal people who constantly don’t have a voice…This needs to come from whitefellas, because you need to realise that…Aboriginal people are prisoners in our own country. And until you realise that, we are literally just wasting our efforts.

“I don’t want to be an Aboriginal politician going out there…and begging whitefellas to recognise us. Because you’re killing us! You’re killing our spirit.

“Just because you know an Aboriginal person doesn’t mean you understand us, and I wake up and I don’t understand whitefellas at times. it’s a two-way street here, we can’t do this alone…We’ve been talking about this for decades and decades and decades, and it can’t fail. It simply can’t…If this about anything, it’s about Australia acknowledging and recognising the true history of this country.

“When we’ve got chronic disease, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, high incarceration, low education, literacy, numeracy — I could go on forever and ever. It can’t come from us, it’s gotta come from you, the non-Indigenous people who call this place home.”


Feature image: ABC News.

01 Aug 05:06

The New York Times Just Discovered We Serve Breakfast In Australia, And They Are Losing Their Shit

by Steph Harmon

At this point, the only thing more predictable than a New York Times trend piece that’s equal parts out of touch and condescending is the backlash that follows,” wrote Flavorwire in 2013. Flaccid trend-spotting articles are in the paper’s DNA, and we love to hate them.

It happened with the man bun surge of 2012, the normcore movement that didn’t need to be named, and, most recently, the return of the monocle – which brought forth not only international ridicule, but a trend piece from the New York Times about New York Times trend pieces.

But this week’s article is particularly special, because this week’s article is about us.

Australian Cafes Arrive In New York‘ reads the triumphant headline from Oliver Strand, who has uncovered a new phenomenon in his city: cafes named after bits of Melbourne which manage to serve coffee AND breakfast AT ONCE.

“New York is a city of immigrants and their unofficial embassies offering a taste of home: the French bistro, the English pub, the California juice bar,” he begins. “Add to that list the Australian cafe.”

GUYS, there is, apparently, a foodie scene outside of New York City, and The Times is ON IT.

— The Times Is On It (@NYTOnIt) July 29, 2014

Confused? So is the journalist.

“At first glance,” he writes somewhat suspiciously, “an Australian cafe may seem like an American coffee shop, with colorful idioms: brekkie (breakfast), a piccolo (a cortado), a flat white (a small latte) and “no worries” (you’re welcome).”

That’s where the trouble begins:


“But it functions differently,” he continues, “and differs from the dozen or so Australian coffee bars in New York, which offer the coffee but not the full experience.”

For instance, there is the way they work: “The cafes offer table service, with a waiter bringing your drink.”

Also, there is the way they feel: “A sunny disposition so genuine it could disarm the most brusque New Yorker.” One of three entire people interviewed for this piece, an Australian, agrees: “It’s breakfast,” he reminds us. “It’s not serious; it’s meant to be fun.”

And speaking of fun, there’s a new dance in town, and it’s called The Avocado Smash. “Sometimes called an avocado toast (and in the United States often associated with California), it’s comfort food for any time of the day,” Strand writes, with audible awe. “You smash half a ripe avocado onto a thick piece of multigrain toast, season it with salt, pepper and chile flakes, then give it a splash of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.”

Wondering what inspires such culinary adventurism? Well it appears to have something to do with surfing.  “You wake up, go down to the beach, have a swim, then go have some coffee and poached eggs and toast,” says one cafe owner. “I surfed every day of my life until I came to New York,” says another.

And then the article ends, with what is possibly the most obvious quote about New York City ever to be published in its hallowed newspaper: “You don’t have surfing here. But you have a lot of other opportunities that make up for it.”


in melbourne everybody is so nice in cafes uhuh and if you believe that I’ve got a fleet of trams here to sell you

— adam brereton (@adambrereton) July 31, 2014

@therevmountain in australia everyone goes surfing and then has a coffee and poached eggs at a super friendly cafe

— adam brereton (@adambrereton) July 31, 2014

@therevmountain australians love to smash avocados while we drink our flat whites (small lattes)

— adam brereton (@adambrereton) July 31, 2014

@therevmountain i smash literally hundreds a day and sometimes i don’t even eat a single one

— adam brereton (@adambrereton) July 31, 2014


Delicious-looking feature image by Katherine Lim, under a Creative Commons license on Flickr

30 Jun 23:28

Pass It On: Watch This Wonderful Man Put His Pants On Using Only The Power Of Dance

by Alex McKinnon

Every now and then, when we most need one, a hero comes along.

Sometimes it’s a politician. Sometimes a philosopher. But sometimes — just sometimes — it’s someone who puts their pants on the floor, cranks ‘The Final Countdown’ on the stereo, and throws everything that’s come before out the window.

Dear God.

It’s beautiful.

10 Jul 17:15

Bat For Lashes shares gorgeous ‘Skin Song’

by Alex Moore
Bat For Lashes shares gorgeous ‘Skin Song’

We’re still trying to wrap our heads around Natasha Khan’s transformation from her previous incarnation as the ho-hum Bat For Lashes to the incredibly amazing Bat For Lashes on her last album “The Haunted Man.” Now she’s bringing her newly-transformed incredibleness to a project called “Body of Songs,” a compilation which has musicians teaming up with medical experts to produce songs about the human body.

The team of surgeons, pathologists, neurologists, stem cell researchers and more collaborated with Goldie, Bat For Lashes, Ghostpoet, and more on songs about “why a chosen organ works and fails.”

Natasha Khan chose the epidermis, and her strikingly intimidate voice lends itself well to the task. “Body of Songs” is out some time in 2015. Listen to Bat For Lashes’ “Skin Song” below.

H/t: CoS

23 Jul 14:40

Low, "I'm on Fire"

by John Herrman
by John Herrman

Low covers Bruce Springsteen, 30 years later. Here, from the same upcoming tribute, are Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires with a rendition of "Born in the USA." [Via Stereogum]


The post Low, "I'm on Fire" appeared first on The Awl.

10 Jul 18:40

Introducing… Shirterate

by Choire Sicha
by Choire Sicha

People often ask us what's next for our company. We've spent a lot of time surveying the Internet landscape, and, while the land rush into the content arena has been gratifying to watch for those of us who've worked in the "space" since long before there was a venture capital invasion, we really feel that the future of the Internet is in serving individuals. One by one. Artisanally. Particularly high net worth individuals. So we'd like to invite you to visit our new project, Shirterate.


The post Introducing… Shirterate appeared first on The Awl.

03 Jul 17:00

A Subtlety of 'A Subtlety'

by Rachel P. Kreiter
by Rachel P. Kreiter

IMG_8477Last week, I went with a friend to see A Subtlety: or the Marvelous Sugar Baby: an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant, the installation by Kara Walker that will close after this weekend, following an eight-week run. When we left, I asked my friend what he thought. “Well, it’s all over Instagram,” he said. “So it’s pretty much what I expected.”

Reviews of Walker’s installation have tended to focus on a few themes: Gender and sexuality is a big one, as the work is a giant sculpture of a naked woman; many have noted the fig sign the statue makes with a thumb through its fore- and middle fingers. Others have reveled in its open-endedness: Jerry Saltz spoke to its "ambiguous anarchic meaning" while at the Los Angeles Review of Books, Francey Russell asked, "Is there a right way to view it? and concluded that, "A Subtlety can occasion moments of self-recognition and also refusals of such recognition." So basically, A Subtlety is whatever you think it is, person viewing A Subtlety. Mostly, though, it’s a work about race—the slavery-supported sugar industry is the primary topic of critique. Given Walker’s previous work on this theme, that is hard to miss.

What's surprising, amid all the attention, is that A Subtlety hasn't really been discussed as an example of Egyptianizing art; Walker is borrowing the visual language of ancient Egypt and using it in a decidedly non-Egyptian context. When employed by modern people, Egyptian aesthetics usually signify, at least subtextually, one of a handful of things we associate with Egypt: pyramids, sphinxes, and slavery. Because the Old Testament dwells upon the experience of Israelite slavery in Egypt, post-antique Westerners have long associated Egypt with despotic, autocratic, authoritarian rule, even though Egyptian slavery as depicted in Exodus is a myth. But there was a rigid social hierarchy in place, and reflected in what we call ancient Egyptian “art” is a worldview whose primary purpose was to maintain the status quo. The status quo of ancient Egypt as we understand it is a bureaucracy, at the top of which sits the king. Below him—or her, but nearly always him—is a stratified elite class. Underneath these elite people on the social hierarchy was almost every ancient Egyptian person. They weren’t slaves, but they were nearly all agrarian peasants and menial laborers.

The sorts of jobs these people did were of great fascination to the Egyptian elite, because the labor of the peasant-workers kept privileged Egyptians at the top of the social pyramid, pun intended. Egyptian literature, which was entirely composed by and for the literate elite class, often concerns entreaties to become a scribe in order to avoid potentially dangerous and body-destroying labor. Yet these activities were so essential to the foundations of Egyptian society that they were commemorated repeatedly in painted and relief wall art in tombs. From as early as the third millennium BCE, Old Kingdom-period Egyptians put small, limestone serving statues in their tombs which depicted workers doing menial yet essential labor. The idea was that the statues were magically activated and would work to produce sustenance for the deceased for eternity.

IMG_8495Walker has fashioned her installation in the form of a sphinx—a familiar Egyptian statue type with the head of a person and the body of a lion. In nearly every instance, a sphinx is male and royal—most often a king. And it’s true that, hunched forward, tits out, and arms in front of it, A Subtlety echoes the posture of a sphinx. But circumnavigate the thing and you’ll see that the form also, in fact, echoes a type of Old Kingdom servant statuette, a woman grinding grain. (There’s an example of this statue type in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.) Check out the way her body is positioned, particularly the ass and labia thrusting back, the bare chest, and the breasts presented toward the viewer. What Walker has made is something explicitly female-bodied, human, and decidedly common—a laborer. Maybe it’s accurate to say that the sugar statue has a queenly air about it, but I wonder whether that’s because the statue is meant to be regal, or whether we read monumental installations as evidence of power regardless.

I can’t say my friend was wrong though; actualizing this work, standing among the Instagrammers, didn’t add much for me. But the statue's less immediate physical context is crucial. This factory, which is slated for demolition, is located in a post-industrial neighborhood that, since the factory’s construction, has seen all sorts of gentrification. Egyptian sphinxes were usually found in royal or otherwise high-status contexts; the Giza sphinx was built in a royal necropolis, and other sphinxes, like those of Hatshepsut, were intended for temples. Serving statues came out of private tombs, and often serdabs, constructed spaces in which images of the elite deceased were concealed for the purpose of making offerings. In that sense, the serving statues are automatically in conversation with the persons whom they’re ostensibly serving. You could say, then, that the context of Walker’s installation specifically invites a comment about the tension between the marginalizing of the working-class and those who stand to benefit from their labor. The placement of smaller molasses statues depicting children carrying baskets around the monument mirrors, in a way, the Middle Kingdom wooden serving statue type that replaced the limestone Old Kingdom example. Check out the Statue of an Offering Bearer from the tomb of Meketre, in the Metropolitan Museum; Walker’s little molasses boys are not Egyptian in the least given their naturalism, but their posture and demeanor can be found in Meketre’s serving girl. The other models and statues in the Meketre cache all concern labor, too.

Discussing A Subtlety in New York Magazine, Saltz called it "part Cecil B. DeMille parade float"—a reference to 1956’s The Ten Commandments, in which the Egyptians impose biblically framed hard labor on their Hebrew slaves, who then end up liberated from a Soviet-like, despotic Ramses the Great as portrayed by Yul Brynner, who had something of a gift for bringing totalitarian asshole kings to life. The Western view of Egypt has always tangled labor up with power, flattening the actual Egyptian social hierarchy. There's no need to flatten Walker's work, too; the city will take care of that soon enough.

Rachel P. Kreiter is a doctoral candidate in art history at Emory University.


The post A Subtlety of 'A Subtlety' appeared first on The Awl.

12 Jun 19:51

A Conversation with Patricia Lockwood

by Molly Minturn
Cat B

Perfection. "I’m the absent-minded type, so I’ve always felt more detached and curious about reviews than personally affected by them. You know when your dog looks at you with its head cocked to one side, half “… go on” and half “I used to be a wolf”? That's how I look at reviews."

by Molly Minturn

I barged into the men’s, and felt stares burning
hard like reading or noon, felt them looking
me up and over, felt them looking me over
and down, and all the while just holding their
    they do it different oh no they don’t,
they do it standing up

It’s a bit uncanny how these lines in “The Feeling of Needing a Pen” a poem in Patricia Lockwood’s new book, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, echo recent criticisms by a handful of discomfited reviewers. “They make me feel like the guy who ruins all the fun,” wrote Jonathan Farmer in Slate, in his review. Adam Plunkett, writing for the New Yorker’s Page-Turner blog, expressed concern that Lockwood was shaping her poems for her avid followers on Twitter, even going so far as to say that her best-known work, “Rape Joke,” is a poem that “probably wouldn’t have been written if Twitter hadn’t been around.”

Much has already been written about these reviews, from Mallory Ortberg’s excoriation in The Toast to Kat Stoeffel’s take in The Cut, in which she recommends that “‘Rape Joke’ should enter the canon forever and be required reading for all U.S. citizens.”

Listen to the sense of terrible captivity in these lines from “Rape Joke”: “The rape joke is that you were facedown. The rape joke is you were wearing a pretty green necklace that your sister had made for you. Later you cut that necklace up … The rape joke is that of course there was blood, which in human beings is so close to the surface.”

Now read these lines from “The Arch”:

… A city
cannot travel to another city, a city cannot visit
any city but itself, and in its sadness it gives
    away a great door in the air. Well
    a city cannot except for Paris, who puts
on a hat styled with pigeon wings and walks
through the streets of another city and will not
even see the sights, too full is she of the sights
already. And within her walk her women …

Lockwood’s poems, I realized as I read Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, are Paris. They have a freedom, an ability to step outside all bounds and territories, to create little worlds woven through with metaphysical conceits, gorgeous and slightly world-weary.

I talked with her over email earlier this week about Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, her experience writing it, as well as her thoughts about critical reactions to the book, and the best use of the word “Plunkett.”

There’s been a lot of talk about the supposed irreverence and suspicion of sincerity in your work. I actually found your poems to be full of empathy, especially for outsiders, like the man in “He Marries the Stuffed-Owl Exhibit at the Indiana Welcome Center” and poor Nessie in “Nessie Wants to Watch Herself Doing It.” Do you consider your work irreverent?

I am irreverent, but I don’t believe my poems are. The fact is that for all my modern vocabulary, I have an old-fashioned tendency to focus on characters—like Edwin Arlington Robinson except with lake monsters, and the thing they shoot themselves with in the end is profundity. Characters in poetry are a test of empathy, really. Can you project yourself into a myth? A mascot? A cartoon, or a waterfall? What is the most unlikely space you can think yourself into, can you look out through those eyes?

When I was reading your book, I kept thinking of it as a primer, maybe for girls, maybe for anyone who feels like an outsider, teaching us how to navigate this difficult world. In the first poem, the speaker is adolescent, witnessing confusing sex acts, and becomes a “homelandsexual,” perhaps as a way to keep safe. The last poem is in the voice of a hypno-domme, completely confident and powerful. Is there a sort of “journey” (ugh, forgive me for using that word) that the reader is meant to go on through your book?

Ordering a manuscript is one of the 12 labors; it frequently kills very muscular people. Sometimes it’s best to follow a rough chronology. I began with the earliest poem I wrote for the book and ended with the latest, so it wasn't so much that I wanted to send the reader on a specific journey as that I was asking them to walk with me on mine—as I thought my way through a question, and ended on something that sounded like an answer.

Has anyone ever called you a metaphysical poet? I feel like you are the last of the major metaphysical poets; they’ve just been quiet for a few centuries.

I’m totally a metaphysical poet, with a ruff and a tiny pointed beard. Even as a child I was obsessed by the conceit: how to begin it, how far to push it, where its breaking point was. I felt the most nagging sense of incorrectness when the components of my writing refused to work together. Plus the metaphysicals were so dirty—people’s bloods were always having sex inside the same flea, and it was poetry! So yes, let's say that they have risen up out of their GRAVE in the form of a rude patricia.

What do you make of Adam Plunkett’s review of your book, in which he expressed concern about your new poems being too crowd-pleasing and social media-ready?

I’m the absent-minded type, so I’ve always felt more detached and curious about reviews than personally affected by them. You know when your dog looks at you with its head cocked to one side, half “… go on” and half “I used to be a wolf”? That's how I look at reviews. My main feeling about the Adam Plunkett review was that it had gotten the whole conversation off on something of a weird hairy foot, and led it down a path of reviews of reviews, and reviews of reviews of reviews, which eventually seemed to travel farther and farther away from the actual work.

In a strictly poetic sense it was delightful, because the name Plunkett is so euphonious, and if you wanted to pretend to be mad about the whole thing you could bellow PLUUUUNKETTTT! at the darkening sky while ripping your shirt open to the waist and shaking your fists at the clouds. That's not an opportunity I’m ever going to pass up.

Did you have a particular audience in mind when you wrote Motherland?

Oh no, I never have an audience in mind. Or rather, the audience is the same as the one you put on shows for, in your room, when you’re a child engaging in the deepest and most private kind of play. It seems like the whole world you're playing for, it seems like the eye of God up on the ceiling, but it's really your own consciousness distributed among dolls. It couldn't be anything else.

Were you surprised that some men (NOT ALL MEN) felt alienated by certain poems in your book? What is your response to that?

I was surprised to see these sudden dark hints that my poems might be “difficult for men to access” because such a large part of my readership and so many of my visible supporters have always been men, from the very beginning. When BPOB first came out, I had a stock of about 100 books that people could order directly from me and I’d draw in it for them and write a little message, and I’d say 75 percent of the people who asked for them were men. The people who published those supposedly difficult poems were men, often men at the helm of very traditional institutions. The characterization just didn’t seem particularly accurate—not to mention that it didn’t give men any credit for the fellow-feeling and sensitive readings I’ve always gotten from them.

So hold up, this is interesting, let’s take it all the way. I think these responses are less about alienation and more about vulnerability. The part of us that reads poetry is a reflex part. Men read poetry with their reflexes the same as women do—they put themselves in your trust, they put their bodies in your hands, you tap the right place and the leg kicks. Or the pupils dilate. Or the hackles rise, and something flies out of you on a flock of little red nerves. To feel power shift out of your body is uncomfortable. It makes you feel that it was never yours to begin with. That’s the whole point; that’s the subject here; and maybe what we are seeing is that it is more difficult for men—to recognize that they’re in someone else’s hands, to recognize that they’re at someone else’s mercy, when the author’s touch feels different, when the poems are these poems.

I read that Laura Ingalls Wilder was an influence when you were writing Balloon Pop Outlaw Black. Did she come into play at all with Motherland? Who or what else influenced these poems?

“What would happen if one writer told the truth about her influences? The world would split open.” I will say that I did watch the entire run of Star Trek: TNG for the first time ever when I was smack in the middle of writing, and that HAD to have had an effect. You might actually be able to see a point in the book where I start to wonder what it might be like to have sex with Worf. A slight pivot, a swivel of the eyes toward the question: would his cum kill you.

You said in an interview with Hazlitt: “The problem with me is that I can write individually, sentence-to-sentence, very well.” But you’re now working on a memoir for Riverhead. How is that going?

It’s exhilarating, really. There’s so much space, there’s so much room to play with form, you take a greedy breath and it just keeps going—the lung of it seems infinite. And there’s always some corner of it you can sit in and rearrange and dab paint on when you feel stuck. That’s not true of poetry. When you’re stuck with a poem, you’re stuck. Go to the turtle races and put all your money on the slowest one, because you’re not getting anything done today. But a big book gives great shelter.

Molly Minturn’s poems and essays have appeared in Boston Review, the Toast, the Indiana Review and elsewhere. She lives in Virginia.


The post A Conversation with Patricia Lockwood appeared first on The Awl.

10 Jun 17:15

J Mascis streams new track, reveals details of new album

by Joel Freimark
J Mascis streams new track, reveals details of new album

There are few phrases more pleasing to the ears of music fans than “new J Mascis music,” and while he had already stated this year would see the follow-up to his phenomenal 2011 album “Several Shades Of Why,” he has now revealed that it will come out August 26, as well as streamed a single from the album.

The longtime Dinosaur Jr frontman remains one of the endless fountains of creativity, as alongside his solo work and The Dinosaur, he’s released countless other amazing projects under names like Heavy Blanket and Sweet Apple. Yet for this solo effort, titled “Tied To A Star,” he’s enlisted folks like Cat Power and Mark Mulcahy among others, and this can only make the final product all the better.

Posting a stream of the first single, “Every Morning,” it sounds as if the forthcoming album will fall somewhere between the heartbreakingly beautiful “Several Shades Of Why” and the last Dinosaur Jr release. J’s vocals are far more clear than on the Dinosaur Jr record, yet there is a fuzz, sting and loudness to the music that was absent from his last solo outing. However, that absence was in many ways what made that record so special.

Regardless, any new music from J Mascis tends to rocket to the top of the “must buy” list, and “Tied To A Star” is currently available for pre-order via Sub Pop.

Listen to “Every Morning”

Joel Freimark hosts a daily music-related webseries HERE and you can follow his daily music musings and suggestions HERE as well.

Image: Sub Pop

Follow @thedailyguru

03 Jun 20:30

"It’s OK to Be a Bit Sassy": An Interview with Jenny Slate

by Dina Gachman
by Dina Gachman

Back in January, Obvious Child premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was immediately called one of the best films of the fest (it was). The film’s star, Jenny Slate, was also hailed as the newest, freshest rom-com star in years (she is). It was also called an “abortion comedy” and a “comedy about abortion,” which it sort of is, but it’s also much more than that. It’s about Donna, a 20-something struggling standup comic in New York who is dealing with a terrible breakup, an empty bank account, and—as if things weren’t rough enough—an unplanned pregnancy after a one-night stand. It all sounds very serious, but Slate and writer/director Gillian Robespierre have managed to make a hilarious, touching movie about a woman going through some tough emotional challenges. First and foremost it’s a romantic comedy, and despite what’s going on in Donna’s life it never strays from that, which is no easy feat to pull off.

The movie is based on a short film that Slate and Robespierre made a few years back, and it also stars Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffman, Gabe Liedman, Polly Draper, and Richard Kind. They’re all great, and Slate—SNL alum, one-half of The Kroll Show’s PubLIZity duo, Mona-Lisa on Parks and Rec, Tammy on Bob’s Burgers—is a rom-com star you can relate to. She doesn’t wear designer clothes, live in a palatial home, or look perfect after a workout. She wears T-shirts, pees in the street, and casually stalks her ex-boyfriend. You know, normal stuff.

Slate has a new Marcel the Shell picture book coming out this fall, based on the squeaky, one-eyed snail who uses a raisin as a beanbag chair, created by Slate and her director husband Dean Fleischer-Camp. Right now, though, she’s got Obvious Child, which is an empowering, honest, and very funny movie.

Here’s Slate talking about why you should see it, what she loves about it, and why it’s much more than a comedy about abortion.

You’ve probably heard the term “abortion comedy” a thousand times in the last few months. It’s fitting in a way but it’s also a little reductive, so how would you describe the movie?

First of all, I appreciate any press about the movie. I want people to see it because I love it. I do think it’s more than a movie about abortion, though. In fact I think it’s a movie about one woman at a certain time in her life. It’s about her handling all the different moving pieces and going from a passive state to an active state. I would also just describe it as a very romantic, funny movie—it has all the satisfactions of a classic romantic comedy, but it’s plot points are just more modern and unique.

It seems like a tricky thing to balance the very funny moments with the more serious moments, like when Donna has her confessional standup scenes where she’s talking about very serious things, but trying to make people laugh at the same time. Was that a hard balance to strike?

I think so. We didn’t want to treat it so gingerly or treat it like it was so fragile and it would break and we didn’t want to be rough with it and seem glib or flippant or thoughtless about the situations that Donna goes through. I think people would agree that even in times that are more difficult humor can still be there, and just because there’s laughter doesn’t mean that there’s disrespect. It’s OK to put a toe over the line and be a bit sassy, and playing with those boundaries is OK, too. We weren’t jailed by them and weren’t afraid of being curious about how different situations could play out. In general, all the humor was coming from the point of view of one individual. Donna is never saying, “Hey ladies, isn’t everything like this…” She’s saying, “I’m me and I’m like this.” If people relate to it I think it’s maybe because even though she’s confident on stage, she’s confident in displaying a sort of vulnerability.

People who know you and your work might think, “That’s Jenny Slate up there on camera doing standup.” Did you separate your standup style from Donna’s at all? Did you do anything to try and differentiate the two?

I didn’t try to alter my standup style because that’s how I do standup. It’s sort of like a bodily function for me. That’s how I do standup, that’s how I dance, that’s how I kiss and that’s how I walk. All of those things are in the movie because that’s how I do them and I felt they shouldn’t be altered because I wanted it to be natural. It didn’t feel like cheating to me, in terms of acting. The standup itself is my style of standup, but the subject matter is in fact very different. It’s a delicate balance. 

How is it different?

I don’t talk about my husband and our sex life in my standup. I talk about maybe what made me horny as a teenager or weird things that might make me horny now, but I’m never going to put my husband out there and make a meal out of him for everybody else. I’m not interested in that and I think I’m very careful in my standup about walking the line between showcasing myself and hurting myself. I don’t think anyone wants to see me being fully self-deprecating because I don’t think they really relate to that.

What do you think people relate to?

I think what people relate to is the good-natured ribbing that we can give ourselves in order to explore different things we’re curious about. I share that with Donna, for sure. But it was kind of confusing to do something that I usually do in earnest and in a sincere fashion that I do in my own standup and to do it as somebody else and tell stories that are not mine. It was a whole different thing. I think with the right amount of focus it came out OK, but it was tough.

Have you gotten any crazy reactions to the film from anti-abortion groups? Has anyone had a reaction that surprised you?

Nothing yet. We’ve been very lucky to have open-minded audiences, and I think because the film is about so much more than a woman who has an abortion, people tend to come up to us after and share their personal stories. But a lot of them are just romantic comedy fans that are happy to see a rom-com that stars a woman that might be in their neighborhood. I also tend to just focus on what I’m doing, and I’m not interested in being part of an argument, so I’m not going to seek it out. I am interested in being part of a useful conversation and I welcome anybody that wants to join that.

You Tweeted a photo of your grandmother’s pro-choice stickers recently, so what was her reaction to the movie? I’m guessing she likes it.

She has a kitchen bulletin board full of 'I Stand Up for Planned Parenthood' and 'Keep Abortion Legal' stickers. Those have been there for years; that’s just her thing. She’s just a really cool lady. In general I have a good group of women in my family who stand up for women’s rights and they’re feminists of all different ages. She loved the movie.

This is what my 86 year old grandmother has on her kitchen bulletin board. #BeautifulPerson

— jenny slate (@jennyslate) June 1, 2014


When did you know you wanted to be on stage? What or who has inspired you creatively along the way?

I’ve always wanted to be an actress since I was very young. I was really influenced by people like Madeline Kahn and Lily Tomlin and Ruth Gordon and Gilda Radner—actresses that could not be replaced by anyone else. They had their own thing and their own sense of style, and individuality was the first and foremost thing [for them]. They had confidence and an acceptance of whatever their sexuality was and of their womanhood, and that pumped me up. I really liked that. And as a teenager I really loved Margaret Atwood.

We’ve got Maleficent, there’s a big budget Tom Cruise movie coming out—why should people check out Obvious Child instead?

There’s nothing like Obvious Child that’s coming out right now. It’s a small, homemade narrative. It doesn’t have any explosions in it but it has a lot of great jokes and it has a true beating heart. I think it’s the coolest, most authentic thing you’re going to see. But then again, I’m in it.


Obvious Child opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday.

Dina Gachman is a writer in Los Angeles. Look out for her first book, Brokenomics, coming from Seal Press in spring 2015. She's on Twitter @TheElf26.

05 Jun 20:30

What Happens When You Start Earning a Living Wage

by Mike Dang
by Mike Dang

Resorts WorldGothamist has really terrific profiles of five of the 1,400 workers at Resorts World Casino who saw their pay double from $10-$12/hour to $20 or more, plus benefits after their union struck a new contract deal for them. Here’s Jeannine Nixon, who works at the casino as a customer relations representative:

A lot has changed now with me being in Local 6. I’m able to see all the specialists and in particular have a major surgery that was long overdue. I was having trouble eating and drinking, and they diagnosed me with achalasia. They told me that they needed to repair my esophagus and after that I’d be able to eat and drink properly, but then I was told I needed esophagectomy. Now I have better coverage and a thoracic surgeon from Cornell—one of the best—they went in and looked and that’s what I’m facing now. But with the contract, I don’t have to go pay those high co-payments. I count it as a blessing that I receive the service that I am receiving now. And if I didn’t make what I make now, I probably wouldn’t be following up with my medical care.

I raise my son by myself. He’s five. Now I’m able to put him in different programs, when before there were no programs available to him. He starts private school in August. I’m grateful for the [wage] increase, it is really important. Now I can afford to pay my bills, I can afford to pay my rent. I don’t need to borrow or need additional resources to do that.

To be honest with you, at the end of the day, I have pride knowing that I can pay my own bills. It’d be nice to get some resources from my son’s father, but that was my decision to raise him. Now I’m able to pay my bills and know that I don’t have to look anywhere else. It’s an overwhelming feeling, and I still pinch myself and ask, “Is this really happening?” I get two paychecks a week. It’s like, you get a paycheck, and then you get another one! [Laughs]

The rest of the stories are also wonderful. Go on and read them.