We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Aleppo Is Evacuating During Cease-Fire
Years of war in Aleppo, Syria, have led only to the end of one cease-fire and the beginning of another in a matter of a week. Turkey and Russia announced a cease-fire Tuesday; however, it came to an end before evacuations were able to be made. Though a new cease-fire began Thursday, it has not been easily met. Brief attacks on ambulances have worried many, but the ambulances continued their embarkation on rebel territory Thursday morning. As of Thursday evening, the Red Cross totals 3,000 civilians to have left eastern Aleppo.
According to NPR, civilians leaving east Aleppo worry that they will be imprisoned should they flee to government-held territory. Thus these evacuees will flee to rebel-held territory near Turkey instead. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those as they seek refuge. —Rebecca Lee Curry
Patti Smith Offers an Unexpected Message at the Nobel Ceremony
When it comes time for the Nobel laureates to be announced, one prizewinner usually steals the spotlight—the Peace Prize, of course. This year, however, Bob Dylan, the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, has been the center of attention. Many questioned whether the vanguard was worthy of the honor; they questioned the blurring of lines between music and literature. Then when Dylan announced he would not, for undisclosed reasons, attend the awards ceremony in Stockholm, more criticism flew. In his place at the gala on Saturday, Dylan was represented by two women: Azita Raji, United States Ambassador to Sweden who read a speech Dylan had prepared, and Patti Smith, who performed his song “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.”
In an unusual turn of events, Smith, famed “Horses” singer and author of the National Book Award–winning Just Kids, fumbled during her performance and was unable to finish. In a moving self-reflection for the New Yorker, Smith conveyed how overcome she was by the humanizing experience. Explaining that she was shaky but determined to finish the song, Smith said, “...instead I was struck with a plethora of emotions, avalanching with such intensity that I was unable to negotiate them.” It was a beautiful sentiment both to watch and read about. Smith showed the true nature of anxiety and raw feeling that we are often taught to conceal at all costs. Amid all the fanfare of such an event, Smith’s moment of fragility was an unexpected showstopper and a humble reminder that none of us—laureates or proletariat—is above being human. —Megan Madden
Billboard Awards for Women in Music
This week the Billboard Women in Music awards took place in New York on December 9 and were aired on Lifetime on December 12. Among those receiving recognition in the evening hosted by Hailee Steinfeld were Shania Twain, Andra Day, Kesha, and Madonna. There were so many heartening and women-empowering remarks through the evening, it’s hard to count. Andra Day, upon receiving her Powerhouse Award, thanked the room of women “for highlighting women who support each other and who love each other and for breaking the stereotype that women are always competitive or always catty...this is a room full of women who are powerhouses and who support each other and [it] gives me hope.” Kesha, receiving her award as Trailblazer exclaimed, “I'm just as scared and flawed as any person I know... life is hard sometimes and things don’t happen exactly the way you planned it... [but] do not let anyone else take your happiness. You are worth it, and thank you for reminding me that I am worth it too.” Here’s to the many worthy women in music who support each other. —Mary Rose Somarriba
‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ Gets a Classy Remake
If you’ve ever been troubled by the serious date-rape vibes of the 1944 classic Christmas song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” you’ll be happy to hear that singer-songwriter duo Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski have released a new version. “My mother will start to worry,” Liza sings in the cute remake, with Lemanski responding, “Call her so she knows that you’re coming.” The pair originally released the rewritten song to amuse their friends, before it went viral and was picked up by The Current. As well as raising awareness about the importance of consent in sexual relationships, a portion of the proceeds from the new studio recording of the song (available via iTunes and Amazon) is going to the Sexual Violence Center and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence. —Sophie Caldecott
Wonder Woman Is No Longer U.N. Ambassador
In case you forgot, back in October the United Nations named the fictional character of Wonder Woman as an honorary ambassador for women’s and girl’s empowerment. That announcement was met by mixed responses. On one hand, it was an interesting departure from the norm—a bit exciting, even. On the other hand, what message did it send that our supposed role model wasn’t a real person? (Oh, yeah, and that outfit caused quite a stir.) In a rather swift change of course, Wonder Woman’s reign has come to an end according to The Guardian. Reports say nearly 45,000 people asked the U.N. Secretary General to rethink the appointment, and so he did. There has been little to no official explanation about the reversal, but the general consensus seems to be that women and men alike think there are plenty of real people who we should be looking up to before resorting to fictional characters. —MM
Dolly Parton Helps East Tennessee Wildfire Victims
This week, Dolly Parton helped raise $9 million for the victims of the wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains. Wildfires wreaked havoc in East Tennessee last week as they tore through the mountainous area. With only minutes warning, citizens were evacuated very late in the night Monday, November 28. Some returned to homes, while others returned only to ashes.
Seeing a desperate need to help people in the area she so loves, Parton used her platform to bring awareness to the area’s need. "We want to provide a hand up to those families who have lost everything in the fires. I know it has been a trying time for my people and this assistance will help get them back on their feet." Parton brought in numerous celebrity artists to perform during a three-hour telethon, including such musicians as Reba McEntire, Alabama, Kenny Rogers, Alison Krauss, Chris Stapleton, Chris Young, Hank Williams Jr., and Cyndi Lauper. While the event was a success, Parton's fundraising is ongoing. It's heart-warming to see a woman who despite her global success, never forgets her roots. —RLC
La La Land Is Amazing
The film La La Land has already been called one of the best films of the year by Rolling Stone, and this week Verily style editor Lilly Bozzone described its main character Mia (Emma Stone) as one of her favorite females on film in 2016. Mia is a relatable combination of a dreamer and a doer, a woman who fumbles but keeps her head up. So if you’re looking for a feel-good film that also has substance, get ye to the theater without delay. —MRS