John Mayer Pulls Couple Onstage for Mid-Concert Gender Reveal

John Mayer Does Gender Reveal
(Getty/Gary Miller & Instagram/Katie Friesema via John Mayer)

Why worry about putting together your own gender reveal party when you can get a music superstar to do it for you? On August 3, during his solo Summer Tour 2019 stop at Columbus, Ohio’s Schottenstein Center, John Mayer helped a lucky couple announce the results of their pregnancy test in front of thousands.

Spotting the sign of soon-to-be parents, Ben and Margo, which asked if the musician would do their gender reveal, Mayer invited the expecting couple onstage, citing “points for originality.”

Giddily handing over an envelope from 7 Hills Women’s Health Center, Mayer said, “The future of your love and your life is in here, and you have bestowed upon me this great responsibility… so I’d like to sing to you.”

Mayer carefully examined the envelope’s contents, gave the couple a knowing smirk, and stepped up to the microphone, jumping straight into the bridge of the song, “Daughters”:

Boys you can break. You find out how much they can take. Boys will be strong. Boys soldier on. 

Taking the not so subtle hint, Ben and Margo embraced while the crowd roared. I mean, it’s no blue-colored lasagna or anything, but it’s still a pretty cool moment.

During the following set break, Mayer hosted an episode of his popular live Instagram show, Current Mood, where he explained exactly how the impromptu gender reveal went down.

It’s just nice to see a peaceful gender reveal instead of one that ends with an injury or fire.

24-Yr-Old Former Sanitation Worker Is Headed to Harvard Law

24-Year-Old Paid for College by Collecting Trash, Now He’s Headed to Harvard
(Twitter/RehanStaton)

Most of us, at one point or another, have been told that we can do anything we set our minds to. Now, this may be true in some cases – we can learn an instrument, become a better athlete, even get a decent job, assuming we’re willing to put in an insane amount of work. Even with all of the drive and effort in the world though, there are times that success just isn’t in the cards. Or, at times, success comes after many consecutive failures which makes it even more worthy of celebration. For 24-year old Rehan Staton, the sweetness of success could not have been any more thrilling because of just how many times it felt completely out of reach.

It all started when he was just 8 years old, far earlier than any of us should have to face the harsh realities of life. Rehan’s formerly normal household fell apart when his mom left and his dad moved out of the country. Suddenly, Rehan and his brother’s lives were turned upside-down. The brothers went from private school students to not knowing with any certainty where their next meal would come from. They went from a two-parent household to their father working up to three jobs at a time to try to keep a roof over the boys’ heads. In middle school, Rehan’s grades suffered severely due to stress at home and a teacher even offered to place the bright, but overwhelmed student in remedial classes.

This was not an option for Rehan’s dad, who knew his son was more than capable of keeping up with his peers. He got his son a tutor (an aerospace engineer who volunteered to tutor Rehan for free through the local community center), and for the rest of the year, Rehan was on the Honor Roll. His academic goals were secondary to his dreams of becoming a professional boxer, but in 12th grade, Rehan experienced yet another roadblock when he injured both shoulders. The frantic senior began applying to college since he was no longer able to pursue his boxing dream, but unfortunately, nothing panned out.

Rehan began working as a garbage man, but his peers quickly realized he had bigger dreams to realize. “It was the first time in my life people were lifting me up for the sake of lifting me up and not because I was good at sports,” Rehan recalled to CNN.

Rehan’s coworkers recognized his intelligence and wanted to help him reach his full potential. Eventually, word of his bright and gifted nature made it to the son of the owner of the company where Rehan worked. The owner’s son, Brent Bates, took a liking to Rehan and brought him to meet a professor at Bowie State University. Much like everyone else who crosses Rehan’s path, the professor was extremely impressed by the young man and even appealed to the admissions board to help him gain entry to the university. The universe finally gave Rehan a bit of good news, and he was able to begin working towards his undergraduate degree. To nobody’s surprise, he maintained a 4.0 GPA. He achieved so much success that shortly into his undergraduate career, Rehan set his sights on law school.

“Throughout my entire life … all the people in my life who I was supposed to look up to were the ones who always downplayed me and made me feel bad about myself,” Rehan reflected. “I had to go to the ‘bottom’ of the social hierarchy — that’s to say formerly incarcerated sanitation workers — in order to be uplifted.”

Rehan’s coworkers weren’t the only ones fully backing his academic pursuits, Rehan’s older brother Reggie even dropped out of school to help support his family and allow his gifted brother to focus more fully on his studies. Rehan transferred to the University of Maryland for his junior and senior year, and graduated in 2018. Invigorated by his success, Rehan began working in political consulting while studying for his LSAT and applying to law school. Finally, after all of the setbacks life threw at him, Rehan was accepted to not one, but multiple distinguished schools – he starts classes at Harvard Law School this upcoming fall.

Former Football Player Catches Toddler Thrown From Burning Apartment Building

Football Player Catches Baby
(Twitter/ChandranTheMan)

A former college football wide receiver made the biggest catch of his life over the weekend when he dramatically caught a toddler dropped from a burning apartment building.

Phillip Blanks heard the commotion outside the Arizona apartment building and quickly saw the fire. He didn’t even have time to put on his shoes, he just ran into action. He arrived on the scene just in time, to catch a toddler who was dropped from a third-story balcony in an attempt to save his life. Blanks was able to get there just milliseconds before the child would’ve crashed into the gravel below.

“It was all fast, it was a blur,” Blanks told MLive.com. “It was tunnel vision, I didn’t see anything but the baby.”

The video is heartbreaking but shows Blank’s heroics as he caught the falling 3-year-old. The child survived the blaze, as did as an 8-year-old girl as well. Tragically, their mother that helped them escape the blaze did not survive the apartment fire.

Blanks, who is currently a bodyguard, said his background is what helped him jump into action without hesitation. In addition to playing college football as a receiver at a school in California, Blanks served in the Marine Corps.

He told the Washington Post that his training taught him to “always be on high alert.” And he did credit his football skills in an interview with a local TV station.

“I know how to catch,” he said. “I learned how to catch a football. So I’ll give some credit to football.”

Ultimately, though, he deferred any praise, calling the real hero the child’s mother.

“She made the ultimate sacrifice to save her children.”

Father Figures: A Changed Man

“When we first met, we were both a mess, with little stability in either of our lives.

We have now been married for four years, and with two children. In that time, I have watched my husband blossom into the most beautiful person.

He went from the life of the party, short-tempered, with very little patience, to tea parties with our daughter. He gets up at 4:30 every morning to make it to work, then comes straight home and spends time with his family. He never asks for a boys’ night or time to himself because he gives whatever is left after the workweek to his wife and children.

He does the dishes, he folds the laundry, he writes sweet little love notes. He tucks our daughter in and dances EVERY single time she says, ‘Dance with me, Daddy!’ He hides his tired eyes and body from us and still offers to cook dinner when I’ve had a ‘rough day at home with the kids.’

He plays Barbies, sings Disney songs, rolls the ball and sits at the kid table while our children make pretend meals for him to gobble down. He gets up every Saturday and gets Mommy a coffee with our son, still a baby who wakes up at the crack of dawn, and he changes our son’s diaper late at night without waking the rest of us up.

He is the best dad and husband I could ever ask for. I see the weight he carries around, I notice the sacrifices and love he pours into our family each day. That is a love worth holding on to and showing appreciation for.”

– Allania Lathrop

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Far Side Creator Gary Larson Releases First New Comics in 25 Years

Gary Larson New Stuff
(Getty/Denver Post)

2020 already feels like a satire of itself, but there’s one key element missing – the cartoonish, offbeat, often animal-centered humor that only cartoonist Gary Larson can provide. The Far Side comics ran from December 31, 1979, to January 1, 1995 at which point the beloved cartoonist decided to retire. That is, until now. Much to the delight of his fans who have been subsisting on 25-year-old material, Larson added a New Stuff section to The Far Side website.

The website reads, “I don’t want to mislead anyone here. This corner of the website—“New Stuff”—is not a resurrection of The Far Side daily cartoons. (Well, not exactly, anyway—like the proverbial tiger and its stripes, I’m pretty much stuck with my sense of humor. Aren’t we all?).” Larson goes on to say that he became exhausted of the deadline-oriented process of cartoon creation. The only time the cartoonist has taken on a drawing project since has been Christmastime, where he would draw a holiday card from himself and his wife. After years of frustration with his perpetually clogged pen, Larson discovered digital art using a tablet – and his inspiration, along with his passion for drawing, returned.

So now, fortunately for us, we get to join Larson as he dives into the world of digital art. We are invited to watch as he experiments with a new medium, and we will be gifted an array of new content. There is no timed schedule for the release of Larson’s new comics because as he stated, the formerly schedule-driven artist is enjoying the freedom of drawing for the sake of drawing.

Fans are ecstatic, obviously.

And so are we. Welcome back, Gary – you could not have chosen a better time.

Theater Student Wows Entertainment Industry With Incredible Visual Effects

Julian Bass Effects
(Twitter/thejulianbass)

One of the great benefits of social media and the rest of today’s easily accessible technology is the opportunities afforded to regular joes. Thanks to the internet and smartphones, we no longer need big bucks to create a dream project, and thanks to Twitter and Instagram and TikTok and the like, it’s easier than it’s ever been to get exposure for those projects.

Create something clever and blast it out online and people are going to see it, and if it’s good and someone enjoys it, they’re going to make sure other people see it, with nothing more than a click of a button. Suddenly you can go from making stuff in your bedroom for your friends to getting hired by Lucasfilm or Pixar or Marvel to make stuff for them, and for the world.

That may be exactly what’s about to happen to Julian Bass, a 20-year-old theater student in Atlanta who created a fun visual effects video displaying his skills and posted to Twitter in the hopes that someone – in his case, Disney – might notice it. Well, Disney noticed, and so did many, many other big wigs in the entertainment world. They’re impressed and for good reason.

In the video, which has over 20 million views, Bass stands in a room and suddenly, seamlessly, transforms himself into a Jedi, the animated character Ben 10, and finally, Spider-Man. It’s quick, creative, and you can’t see a single string.

Check this out:

The caption reads: “if y’all can retweet this enough times that Disney calls, that’d be greatly appreciated,” and while we don’t yet know if Disney has called him, they were among the people who noticed, via former CEO Robert Iger.

Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn and Scrubs star and Garden State director Zach Braff were impressed:

Sony noticed:

Bass spoke to NPR about who else he’s heard from, saying, “The first one for me was The Lonely Island. And then I started seeing Josh Gad, Matthew Cherry. I saw Mark Hamill liked it. I mean if Mark Hamill likes it, I’m a Jedi now.”

Based on the supersized reaction his talents have caused – he’s also heard from HBO Max and Marvel co-president Louis D’Esposito – he may soon be a real Jedi, at least behind the scenes.

“Yeah to be a fan of something and then to see people want you to be a part of it, that’s a chance that I will not ruin for myself whatsoever,” Bass said. “If they pass on it, look, that’s OK, there’s plenty more opportunities. But I feel like I’m ready to take my shot and that’s truly what it’s all about right now.”

Students Inspire Their Bus Driver to Get His College Degree

Students Inspire Their Bus Driver to Get His College Degree
(Youtube/WSAV3 MASSBAY COMMUNITY COLLEGE)

In the midst of a pandemic, it’s often hard to find the motivation to get anything done. Some days, the bare minimum of putting on pants and doing the tiniest bit of work just has to wait until tomorrow. It’s possible though, that we would all get infinitely more done if we had a group of cheerleaders as motivating as these Massachusetts students.

Upon learning about their bus driver Clayton Ward’s love of history, the students said the very thing that pushed him to take a leap of faith. Ward recalled to CBS News, “Just talking with them a little bit about history … it inspired me, especially hearing them say, ‘You should be my teacher.'”

Ward came from a family of bus drivers and becoming one himself was somewhat of a natural choice. Ward never completed college, but it was something he’d kept in the back of his mind since he dropped out a decade ago. After that small push from his students, hearing them say they’d want him as a teacher, Ward went all in. He continued driving buses full-time but enrolled in MassBay Community College last May. Well, in just three semesters, this driven driver obtained his associate’s graduate (and made the dean’s list every semester). Ward isn’t hitting the breaks on his educational journey – in fact, he’s now headed to Framingham State to complete his bachelor’s degree.

Eventually, Ward plans to become a high school history teacher, just as his students had hoped. Although Ward’s graduation ceremony had to be done virtually due to COVID, the experience didn’t lose any significance. Ward is on the road to achieving his dream due to his hard work and perseverance, and in no small part due to the support of the students on his bus route.

“You guys mean so much to me”, Ward said in a message to the students who inspired him to follow his dream. “I thank you for every time we were able to talk. It gave me more of a drive, more ambition to go.”

Ward’s students gave him the push he needed to pursue teaching. Now, for years to come, Ward will be able to pay it forward by inspiring his very own students to pursue their dreams.

The Dad Law: The Definitive Rule Book for All Things Dad

The Dad Law Book
(The Dad)

Fatherhood comes with it a plethora of guidelines. If your kid hands you a toy phone, you answer that toy phone. If your kid is thirsty, you are Friday. For thousands of years, these rules have been unwritten. Until now.

Introducing: THE DAD LAW.

(The Dad)

From road trip etiquette to pun regulations, this gorgeous leather-bound book is the most thorough briefing on every do, don’t, and duh pertaining to fatherhood. Is it okay to let your kid win in Mario Kart? When to use cool your jets vs hold your horses? It’s all in this bad boy.

Here are a few choice excerpts:

It’s the authority on language…

healthy road rage…

less healthy eating habits…

workplace motivation…

light goofing…

and facilitating a sense of community.

There are also plenty of cool illustrations within, including tong diagrams…

(The Dad)

and visual aids for embarrassing puns.

(The Dad)

Click right here to snag a copy for a measly $22 (because we know “money doesn’t grow on trees”, “you’re not made of money,” etc) and explore 202 whole pages of these silly, sweet, and painful universal truths about fatherhood with your very own copy of THE DAD LAW!

Supermarket Sweep, King of All Game Shows, Hits Netflix

Supermarket Sweep
(Netflix)

There have been a rash of 90s show revivals recently, and plenty of old classics finding new life on streaming platforms. And then sometimes, a show that had completely moved out of your brain will come out of nowhere and remind you of a simpler time. And that show is Supermarket Sweep, which just landed on Netflix.

Supermarket Sweep is probably the greatest game show ever invented. Purists will argue for Jeopardy, and I’ll grant that its formula is a little more standard and erudite, has a more iconic host, and is (deservedly) the most beloved game show of a generation.

I will even concede that The Price is Right would probably land second in the pantheon, given its longevity, great hosts (Drew Carey is much better than he’s given credit for) and that it’s the ultimate “sick day” show.

But here’s why you can’t sleep on Supermarket Sweep. What it lacks in game show gravitas, it makes up for in utter chaos. The show is bananas, often literally.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a game show that defines the excess of the 90s. The entire point is to run around the store, throwing as much crap as you can into a cart, and then the team that gets the most expensive order wins. You haven’t truly lived until you’ve seen housewives morph into gladiators when they start tossing 30-pound Thanksgiving turkeys into their cart like they’re marshmallows.

Netflix added 15 eps of the cult classic, along with a random smattering of other throwback TV shows.

And, before the world shut down, there was actually a reboot of Supermarket Sweep in the works, starring SNL’s Leslie Jones as the new era host. So while we may have new Sweeps in the future, it is a glorious jump into a time machine to watch an ep or two of the old Sweep.

The fashion choices alone make it worth the watch. And if you run out of episodes, Amazon Prime has two seasons as well, one from 1991 and one from 2000.

Walmart Is Turning Their Parking Lots Into Drive-In Theaters at 160 Stores

Walmart Drive-in Theaters
(Walmart)

Walmart is a store where you can literally get anything. You can go there and leave with new tires for your car, groceries for the week, new clothes for your toddler, and a goldfish. And that’s without even going in the other half of the store. And now, some Walmart’s are also turning into the place to be for your night’s entertainment.

The superstore chain announced this week they are planning to turn the parking lots of 160 stores into temporary drive-in movie theaters. During this time of social distancing, with actual theaters closed and many families left looking for safe alternatives, drive-in movies are coming back into style.

And so Walmart is going to make the experience easy. They will offer curbside pickup of whatever food/snacks you ordered for the movie experience and will have their parking lots structured for the perfect socially distant family night out.

The store is planning red-carpet events with directors and celebrities and much more.

“This family-friendly night will include hit movies, special appearances from filmmakers and celebrities, and concessions delivered right to customer vehicles,” according to a press release. Walmart will use the nearby physical stores to let people use curbside pickup for treats and food.”

This is starting up in August, but if you want to be the first one to get info as it happens, you can sign up for Walmart’s weekly newsletter. I did not even know Walmart had a weekly newsletter, but I assume it’s pretty coupon heavy (it took me longer than I’m proud to admit to come to that conclusion, rather than my first thought of there just being a newsletter about different things workers were up to that week).

The pop-up events are temporary and should last through October, but for a few nights, you’ll see the store in a whole new way.