While you’re gobbling down your Thanksgiving turkey, remember to show gratitude to the day’s other patron animal, the lamb—for it was Sarah Josepha Hale, author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” who in 1863 persuaded President Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. And let our favorite adaptation of the verses, by Buddy Guy, put you in a spirit of thanks this weekend. In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, the Mediander Blog will be on a shortened publishing schedule this week. We hope you’re spending today with your friends and loved ones, and we wish you safe travels, plus the best of food, football and fun. We’ll resume our regular schedule on Monday, November 30. Photo: Flickr
If you’ve seen the 2010 Academy Award–winning film The King’s Speech or 2012’s Les Misérables, you know that nobody directs a classic quite like Tom Hooper. In his new movie, The Danish Girl, he brings to life the story of Lili Elbe, one of the first male-to-female sex reassignment surgery recipients. The film stars Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne as Elbe and the actress to watch for this year, Alicia Vikander, as Elbe’s supportive wife. (Do yourself a favor and check her out in Ex Machina if you haven’t already.) This flick is definitely the awards contender to catch this Thanksgiving weekend. The Danish Girl has been in the making for years but comes around at a time when transgender equality is a national discussion. Adapted from the David Ebershoff novel of the same name, the film is based on the real life of Einar Wegener and his transition into Lili Elbe after he poses in women’s clothes for his wife, artist Gerda Wegener. The movie beautifully addresses transgender issues and their relevance long before there was a Caitlyn Jenner. Check out the trailer below, and make sure to see The Danish Girl when it opens this Friday. Photos: Focus Features/Everett
On November 27, His Holiness Pope Francis—the “people’s pope” who wooed even atheists during his New York City visit—will take an important step in spreading his ideology of peace and love. Wake Up!, a collaboration between Francis and several musicians and producers, is a studio mash-up of his best speeches and a variety of musical styles, including at least one track that sounds like Pink Floyd reborn as a post-rock band circa 2002. Surprisingly, Francis isn’t the first pope to cut an album. Benedict XVI’s Alma Mater: Music From the Vatican came out in 2009, and John Paul II’s Abba Pater dropped in 1999. The latter featured the pope’s message in five languages and musical genres—ranging from Polish to Latin to African-inspired New Age—and is a clear precedent for Francis’s ecumenical musical mission. But for every pope who uses the power of song for a laudable end, there are even more Corey Feldmans, Shaquille O’Neals and Arsenio Halls who have no such higher purpose (or goodwill) sustaining their sonic forays. What follows is our list of celebrity LPs, from the shamefully bad to the astonishingly good. Corey Feldman, Former Child Actor (2002) A year before making his reality-show debut in The Surreal Life, washed-up 1980s actor Feldman recorded and toured behind a this-is-who-I-am album of Red Hot Chili Peppers–style rap-rock and ballads. With the titles “You Can’t Win,” “Phony People” and “Diseased,” Feldman wore his heart on his sleeve, but it’s unclear if anyone noticed—despite Rick Springfield’s writing help on the title track. A smooth jazz cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” was included with the first 2,000 copies. Icing on the sad cake.
Last August, in a shameless appeal to young voters, Hillary Clinton tweeted, “How does your student loan debt make you feel? Tell us in 3 emojis or less.” Political pandering though it may be, Hill’s tweet is a sign of how much our language has changed in this latest age of social media, when emojis are the preferred shorthand and text-speak is comparatively verbose. The latest triumph for the emoji came last week, when Oxford Dictionaries announced its 2015 Word of the Year as “Face With Tears of Joy” (😂), the plump, yellow-faced circle that conveys humanity’s ever-dueling contrary emotions—a modern yin and yang, if you will. Needless to say, language purists shed tears of a different sort (😭). The Oxford Word of the Year frequently goes to technological slang—selfie and GIF are two recent winners—but an emoji is not slang at all, really. It’s a language all its own, and one that’s not entirely new. As our language has slid continually in the direction of simplification, it has come around full circle to that most ancient form of written communiqué: the pictograph. Symbolic pictures were our first form of written language, originated by the ancient Sumerians, rendering the emoji more a throwback than a leap forward. As 2015 comes to an end, let’s take a look at some of the big moments in the year of the emoji: February 15: Buzzfeed conducts the world’s first political emoji interview, with Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop. Answering every question with an emoji, Bishop jeopardizes diplomatic relations with Russia when she portrays President Vladimir Putin as a red-faced angry man (😡). April 28: In a White House welcoming ceremony for Japan’s prime minister, President Obama thanks Japan for bringing the world “manga and anime, and, of course, emojis.” (Emojis are originally from Japan. In fact, the name is a Japanese loanword: e means “picture” and moji means “letter.”) May 20: Domino’s launches a Twitter-based ordering system, whereby customers can tweet a pizza emoji (🍕) @dominos and have a piping-hot pie delivered to their doorstep in minutes. August 17: Yemoji, an iPhone app that lets users text using Kanye West emojis, is released on iTunes. Apparently, some things can be expressed only with Yeezy’s face. November 22: The American Music Awards (AMAs) issues official emojis for all of its performers, which show up automatically when the musician is tweeted about. Yet another thing to distract from the lack of talent onstage. 😞