“While You Were Out,” is a Friday feature of short notes and commentary from the week. Whether it’s something you’d discuss at the water cooler or at happy hour, you’ll find it on our grid, together with our opinion as to whether it’s praiseworthy or cringeworthy. We’re pleased to bring you the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Alicia Keys Has A Holiday Baby
A child is born! Alicia Keys and husband Swizz Beatz welcomed their second child together over the holidays. "The joy of joy is joy!! It's a boy!!" The singer exclaimed on Instagram, announcing the birth of Genesis Ali Dean.
Lady Gaga sings Sting
Lady Gaga proves again that she can kill cover songs. Tasked by the Kennedy Center Honors to sing a song by 2014 award-recipient Sting, Gaga showed her range as a performer, playing a raucous piano and belting the song's iconic lyrics, "if I ever looooose my faith in you…" Sting, watching among the audience, smiled.
Luise Rainer Dies
Actress Luise Rainer died this week. The Austrian-born beauty was famous for her two consecutive Oscars, putting her in the ranks of Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Jason Robards, and Tom Hanks. Many have suggested her career suffered "the curse of the Oscars," peaking too early and not lasting long, and Rainer herself suggested it was the worse thing that happened to her. But clearly life went on for the actress, who went on to live to the ripe age of 104 years. "She was bigger than life," her daughter Francesca says. "If you saw her, you'd never forget her."
Harvard Makes a Change
Harvard University this week revised its sexual-harassment code, after being one of 55 colleges nationwide under federal investigation for management of sexual-assault complaints. Now the school will "notify students and employees about their right to file complaints and how to do so; pursue the criminal process in sexual violence cases; and submit sexual harassment and sexual violence complaints to the U.S. Education Department Office for Civil Rights." Given the rampant harassment and assault problems on campuses these days, I'm glad to see some attention being given and actions being taken.
In Lighter News...
There's this new book out that shows page after page of pure happiness—and by that I mean gorgeously photographed dogs with the windows rolled down.
Drunk Bird Behavior
A recent study revealed that birds slur their speech—er, chirps—after consuming alcohol. They do not, however, have their flying impaired. Thanks to science, we have a new ice-breaking factoid for your next happy hour.
Disney Doesn't Give Christina What a Girl Wants, What a Girl Needs
As a self-proclaimed Disney fan and mother of two, I love a chance to take a photo with the head honcho himself, Mickey Mouse. So I get a bit miffed when characters have to take a break right before it's our turn to say, "Cheese!" Christina Aguilera gave the Mouse more than he bargained for when she and her posse recently found themselves in the same boat. After allegedly hurling a choice expletive and asking, "Do you know who I am?", I can't help but hope her kids weren't there to witness the un-magical scene. Even sadder, I'm not surprised by the former Disney star's less than exemplary behavior.
A Good Week for Being Honest About Mistakes
Sam Raimi, who directed Spiderman 3,admitted this week that it wasn't his best work. Well, I'm glad the director of such other films as the comedy-thriller Drag Me to Hell knows how to tell day from night and can admit a mistake after he's made one. But maybe next time you have a huge budget and project on your hands, deliver something you're proud of.
J-Lo Goes HBO
Jennifer Lopez unveils a concert documentary on HBO this week, sharing happenings from her largest tour following her breakup with Marc Anthony two years ago. The singer's world tour spanned 65 cities on five continents. "I had just gotten divorced, was a single mom for the first time (and) decided to go tour the world," Lopez said.
Gwyneth Paltrow Has Second Thoughts
In a heartbreaking interview this week, actress Gwyneth Paltrow mentions, "there are times when I think it would have been better if we had stayed married." Paltrow was married to Coldplay frontman Chris Martin until this year when the couple, who share two children together, published a statement calling their split an amicable "conscious uncoupling." Was their marriage doomed to fail, or were they just experiencing a rough spot amid the challenges of celebrity marriage? Either way, Paltrow's latest comment suggests that one's feelings, however conscious we are of them, can change.
Woman Fired For Not Wearing Bikini One Day on Job
On the TV show Undercover Boss this week, a sports bar waitress was fired for not wearing a bikini one day on the job. The woman, who said she complies every other day to wear the dress code for her job at Bikinis Sports Bar & Grille, chose to wear a T-shirt the day she knew television cameras would be at the site, saying that she doesn't want to appear on TV wearing something she wouldn't want her grandmother to see. The restaurant CEO who fired her was rightly blasted on social media for firing her on the spot with no two-week notice, revealing deep ignorance that most of the waitresses working at Bikinis only work there because they need money to pay the bills, not because they like being oggled by men. But then again, perhaps we shouldn't expect basic standards of civility or humaneness from a man who calls his restaurant a "breastaurant."
And The Cringeworthiest News of the Week...
Two male porn performers tested positive for HIV this week, re-sparking a national conversation about the safety of those working in the sex industry. I side with Shelley Lubben, ex-porn star and founder of the Pink Cross Foundation, who says STDs are just one of the innumerable harms to employees in the porn industry. Some are using this as an opportunity to try to make sex safer for porn actors, but that’s like trying to stop a dam leak with your thumb, and it's hard to see such efforts as anything but hollow. After all, we're talking about an industry that is a revolving door for sex-trafficking.