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While You Were Out: Rihanna’s Latest, An Uptown Funk Remake, New X-Files, and More


“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 if it’s praiseworthy or cringeworthy. We’re pleased to bring you the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.

Flight Goes Down in French Alps, Killing 150

A flight carrying more than 150 people crashed into the French Alps with no survivors this Wednesday. Investigators have acquired one of the plane’s black boxes, which revealed the crash was due to the copilot locking the flight captain out of the cockpit and adjusting the altitude to crash the plane. They're still seeking a second black box that was also aboard the plane. Our thoughts and prayers go to all those suffering from this great loss.

Mary Rose Somarriba

Angelina Jolie Shares Her Health Story

This week Angelina Jolie penned an article in TheNew York Times sharing her “diary of a surgery”—the story of her latest health decision to avoid the cancer that runs in her family. After undergoing many tests and receiving counsel from doctors, Jolie decided to have her ovaries removed, but what she focuses on most in her piece is how she learned what matters most in life along the way. “The beautiful thing about such moments in life is that there is so much clarity," she writes. "You know what you live for and what matters. It is polarizing, and it is peaceful."

She also notes that women’s health options can be extremely difficult and confusing: “I feel deeply for women for whom this moment comes very early in life, before they have had their children. Their situation is far harder than mine. I inquired and found out that there are options for women to remove their fallopian tubes but keep their ovaries, and so retain the ability to bear children and not go into menopause. I hope they can be aware of that.”

We’re all for taking control in understanding our bodies—whether understanding the basics of your menstrual cycle or hormone levels, or knowing the facts on fertility and egg-freezing. One thing’s for sure. Jolie’s article reveals a promising trend: Women deserve all the facts about our health, because, as she put it, “knowledge is power.”


Women’s Portraits Plus Thoughts

A stunning exhibit called "Her | Self" is on display at the dnj Gallery in Santa Monica, California, until April 4. Jennifer Bermon, photographer and network TV producer, took photos of women—some staged, some candid—from many different walks of life over the course of 20 years. She then handed the photos back to the subjects and asked them to describe, in their own words, what or who they see in the pictures. The results are powerful.

"What better way to explore the source of women's body image issues than to see, and hear, from women themselves?" Bermon toldThe Huffington Post. "The photos give people insight into who the women really are and what story they want to tell about themselves."

Hannah Allen White

Rihanna’s Voice Hitting Home

Rihanna plays the voice of the main character in Dreamworks' film Homewhich opens this weekend. During a recent press event, the singer opened up about the home life she experienced before making it big—a challenging one in Barbados that included an abusive home, bullying for her skin tone, and military training, which she says helped her grow a tough skin. In the film, Rihanna portrays a young girl named Tip, who meets an alien (played by Jim Parsons); the two develop an unlikely friendship. Rihanna has released two songs to accompany the film, including “Towards the Sun," which is already receiving recognition as one of her most powerful and positive songs yet. “Turn your face towards the sun," goes the high-noted ballad, "let the shadows fall behind you. / Tell a prayer / just carry on / and the shadows will never find you." A modern anthem for overcoming if I ever heard one.


Brandy due in Chicago on Broadway in April

Nineties-music lovers have a treat coming to NYC! Not only is Brandy an award-winning singer and star of a popular 1990s television show, she's now conquering Broadway as Roxi Hart in Chicago. The singer, famous for her "Boy is Mine" duet with Monica, premieres April 28 at the Ambassador Theatre in New York.

Set in the 1920s, Chicagois a scathing satire of how show business and the media make celebrities out of criminals. With Bob Fosse-inspired choreography and killer songs such as "All That Jazz" and "Cell Block Tango,” Chicago has become a Broadway classic, and we wish Brandy all the best headlining it!


Coming to a Coffee Table Near You...

New Yorkers and New York-lovers will enjoy the newly releasedWeegee Guide to New York, a photo book that compares mid-20th-century New York (photos all shot by Weegee) alongside current scenes of the city.


Fox Announces Brief Return of The X-Files

After broadcasting a mini-run of the discontinued cult favorite 24 last summer, it's no surprise that FOX decided to give that format another go and has managed to sweet talk David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson into reprising their roles as agents Mulder and Scully on a six-episode run of new The X-Files episodes.

Needless to say, everyone is freaking out. The original show started in 1993 and amassed quite the loyal following. The show's creator, Chris Carter, told the AP on Tuesday that he considered the show's absence like a "13-year commercial break." He also said that viewers are in for a treat because the world has only gotten stranger in those years. These new episodes are slated to air over the summer. In the meantime, here are some oldies you can stream right now.


Cracking Down on TV Nudity

This week the FCC fined a CBS affiliate in Roanoke, Virginia, for showing nudity on television during hours when children were likely among viewers. The program had allowed pornography to play in the background of one of their news stories. While it’s disappointing to hear that this happened, it’s good to know the FCC has woken up to the realities of inappropriate sexual content that shows up on TV today. This is the first fine the FCC has granted in eight years. If the government needs money, it’s fair to say this is one area that’s a goldmine.


That Other Film with J.Law and Bradley Cooper

I don't know about you, but when I saw the preview for Serenastarring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence late last year, I was pumped. I already loved Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, so what could be better than another Lawrence-Cooper collab? I read a big teaser when the trailer was released and, man, oh, man, did it look good!

There was just one problem—it never came out in theaters. I kept an eye on the artsy fringe places near me, too. But, no. Sundance came and went, and the Academy Awards came and went, with no mention of Serenaanywhere.

Now this week, we've learned that Serena—starring two of the top-grossing actors in the world right now, made by an Oscar-winning director, and based on a best-selling novel—went straight to DVD. How did this happen? Every critique I've managed to find online is basically a plea for unsuspecting people to take precautions to avoid the film—it's thatbad. No studio wanted to distribute the film here in the states, so a deal was struck to release it as a DVD.

Despite the critics, I'm pretty sure I have to see this.


Hogwarts Funk

No doubt you've heard the insanely catchy “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson. It's a fun song and we love dancing to it. But—like Weird Al and Saturday Night Livewe have to agree anything good is made better as a parody. That's just what KFaceTV did this week when they released a video re-imagining the funkiness with Lord Voldemort.

"Caught the kid, Boy Who Lived, Harry's out of luck," Voldemort sings. "With the Elder Wand, stop the Chosen One, maybe make a new Horcrux." All while dancing and getting his hair done. Complete with a giant snake, references to Aurors and Pure Bloods, and a very snazzy performance by You-Know-Who himself in a band called Tom and the Riddles, this video crawls with a cheeky wit that the world could always use more of!


Bubble Boy Asks People to Wear Yellow

Seth Lane, a five-year-old boy in the U.K., has asked us to wear yellow today. Yes, today, March 27, and we’re in. Seth, who was born with severe combined immunodeficiency has earned the nickname “bubble boy” for living most of his life in a sterile environment. In anticipation of a needed bone-marrow transplant, his parents posted a short video of Seth for their family blog in hopes of gaining some pictures from family and friends showing support for their little one who can’t get out to see them face to face. What happened next is Internet awesomeness. The video went viral and gained more than 2 million views within a few days. People all around the world will likely be wearing yellow at Seth’s request and posting pictures with the hashtag #wearyellowforseth. Seth’s parents promise to put the pictures up in his room to make the little trooper feel the love of so many supporters.

As a parent myself, I must say the urge to make your little one feel joy and love can be incredible. On my daughter’s second birthday, we were living far away from family and friends, and I almost felt like paying people to attend her birthday party. I knew all she wanted were friends. So bravo to the Lane family for their love and care of little Seth, and when it comes to the yellow challenge, you can bet we’re in.


Monica Lewinsky On Compassion and Cyberbullying

If you haven’t heard Monica Lewinsky’s recent TED Talk yet, it is well worth 22 minutes of your time. Expanding on the idea of a culture of humiliation that she explored in her article for Vanity Fair last year, she talks with courage and impressive self-awareness about her mistakes, how she had to face up to the worst version of herself, the way that she was branded and mocked on a global scale, and what her experiences can teach us about the way we use the Internet today.

Motivated to share her perspective when she saw the increase of cyberbullying on social media and the Internet at large, Lewinsky points out that “online we’ve got a compassion deficit, an empathy crisis.” We all have the life-saving responsibility of contributing to a healthier Internet culture, whether that means posting positive comments, reporting bullying behavior, or choosing what we click on more carefully. As she says, it’s so important to “recognize the difference between speaking up with intention and speaking up for attention.”

Her message is desperately needed. After all, it was all too easy “to forget that ‘that woman’ was dimensional, had a soul, and was once unbroken.”

Sophie Caldecott

Now Peggy Young Can Actually Go Ahead and Sue UPS

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court released their decision in the closely watched case of former UPS driver Peggy Young, with a victory for Young. When Young became pregnant in 2006, at the advice of her doctor, she requested to be moved from her role as a driver—which required her to be able to lift at least 70 pounds—to light duty work instead, an accommodation that had previously been granted to a male colleague when injured. UPS refused and told her take unpaid leave until she had her baby. In all previous courts, her lawsuit had been dismissed, and the victory here at the Supreme Court simply means that now she is allowed to take UPS to court for her case.

If you're thinking that this will cause a widespread change in employers' pregnancy policies, don't hold your breath. The decision noted that "The Court doubts Congress intended to grant pregnant workers an unconditional 'most favored nation' status, such that employers who provide one or two workers with an accommodation must provide similar accommodations to all pregnant workers, irrespective of other criteria." But what it does mean is that without a compelling, logical reason, you can't exclude pregnant women from benefits or accommodations made for other workers who, temporarily, cannot perform their job.

It's promising to see the Court say that we treat pregnant employees at least as well as those who cannot perform their job for other temporary reasons. Score (a small) one for women!

Kara Eschbach