Parks and Rec Cast Reunites for Special Social Distancing Episode

Parks and Rec Reunion
(NBC)

“Treat Yo Self” to a brand new episode of NBC’s hit comedy Parks and Rec. No, no matter how much you wish it was 2011, it’s not. The comedy, which went off the air in 2015, is coming back. For one night, at least. And you know what? We’ll take it.

The cast of the critically acclaimed series created by comedy savant Michael Shur and starring Amy Poehler is reuniting for a special episode to raise money for charity. The Parks and Rec cast will all be reprising their roles in the special airing Thursday, April 30th.

It picks up right in the Pawnee viewers left behind five years ago, and it’s imbibed with a pretty current take. According to the press release, the story comes from the events of the day as “Pawnee’s most dedicated civil servant, Leslie Knope, is determined to stay connected to her friends in a time of social distancing.”

The special will be raising money for Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund. At a time when millions around the country are dealing with the fallout from the virus and lost jobs, food insecurity is a threat in communities everywhere. The creators are hoping to inspire fans to donate to food banks as well.

Schur released a statement saying he wanted to do something to help and sent an email to the cast. Within minutes, they were all on board. In addition to Poehler, all of the regular cast is scheduled to appear, including Chris Pratt, Aziz Ansari, Rashida Jones, Aubrey Plaza, and Nick Offerman.

“Like a lot of other people, we were looking for ways to help and felt that bringing these characters back for a night could raise some money,” Schur said. “Our old Parks and Rec team has put together one more 30-minute slice of (quarantined) Pawnee life and we hope everyone enjoys it. And donates!”

When a Student Was Embarrassed by His New Haircut His Principal Fixed It for Him

Principal Haircut
(Facebook/Lewis Speaks)

A principal in Indianapolis is going viral for the compassionate way he treated a student and it’s a genuinely touching gesture. It was the first day students were back to school for in-person learning, and the pupil in question refused to take his hat off. He was subsequently sent to the principal’s office.

When he got there, the middle school principal Jason Smith, learned the boy wouldn’t take his hat off because he was embarrassed about his haircut. Instead of launching straight into disciplinary action, Smith told the student he had experience cutting hair. He showed him some pictures and proposed fixing his hair with clippers if he’d go back to class. The boy agreed. Smith called the student’s mom for consent and then got to work. A school resource officer shared the photo on Facebook, saying the principal was a great leader.

“The principal could have easily called the child’s parent and put him out of school for the day, but he took time out of his busy schedule to make sure the student was successful completing his first day of school,” he wrote.

The student’s mom said the principal handled it very well.

“I’m just glad he was able to handle that without being put in in-school suspension,” she said. The student apologized for his behavior afterward and went back to class.

Smith told CNN that disciplinary action would’ve just prevented the student from being in the classroom and learning and that he checked in on the student after the haircut and he was following the rules and was doing great in class.

“All behavior is communication and when a student is struggling, we need to ask ourselves what happened to this child instead of what’s wrong with the child,” Smith said. “What need is the child trying to get met and really, the future of urban education rests on that question.”

Now that’s a principal with some positive principles.  It’s a position that often gets ridiculed in popular culture, but the principal can set the tone for an entire school, and choosing compassion and understanding over discipline speaks volumes about his dedication to his students.

Preschoolers Help Senior Home Residents Celebrate Mardi Gras With Parade

Preschoolers hold mardi gras parade for senior home
(Facebook/Country Place Senior Living of Fairhope, Alabama)

COVID has changed the way we do just about everything. Rather than forgo the activities we love, many of us have found creative ways to safely enjoy our favorite things. Some people, like residents of senior centers, don’t always have the resources or the technical abilities to modify their lifestyles as much as they may like. Fortunately, kind samaritans have been stepping up to ensure those quarantined in elderly care facilities aren’t forgotten during such an isolating time.

Residents of Fairhope, Alabama are serious about their Mardi Gras celebrations. In normal times, the town held annual Mardi Gras parades, carnivals, and even a ball to celebrate the festive day. This year, however, the town’s celebrations were canceled.

Preschool students at Stars Early Learning Academy were disappointed about this year’s lack of festivities. The kids loved dressing up and participating in parades, and most kids are still struggling to process why all of their favorite activities have suddenly disappeared. Rather than simply helping their students cope with disappointment, teachers at the academy devised a plan.

Not only would their students get to celebrate Mardi Gras, but they would give back to their community by helping others celebrate as well. Specifically, residents of Country Place Senior Living community. The kids and teachers planned and prepared, and finally, it was time to celebrate the fruits of their labor.

Led by a trumpeter, the young students pushed their decorated floats made of strollers, shopping carts, and even Cozy Coupes around Country Place. They smiled and danced, waving at residents through their windows. The parade was a smashing success, leaving residents of the senior center smiling and filled with joy.

Preschoolers host parade for senior home
(Facebook/Country Place Senior Living of Fairhope, Alabama)

“Another big thank you to our neighbors, Stars Daycare for helping put together our social distanced Mardi Gras parade!” Country Place Senior Living shared on Facebook. “Between the festive live music and kids that are cuter than crawdads, our residents are truly in the Mardi Gras spirit! Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

Co-Op Shooter ‘Aliens: Fireteam’ Releasing This Summer on Playstation, Xbox & PC

Aliens: Fireteam Game
(YouTube/Aliens Fireteam)

“Move it Spunkmeyer, we’re rolling.”

Today, developer Cold Iron Studios revealed their Left 4 Dead/Gears of War style, three-player co-op shooter Aliens: Fireteam.  You can check out all the alien/face-hugger madness in the action-packed trailer down below.

Scheduled to release Summer 2021 on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, & PC, Aliens: Fireteam will take place over a multi-mission story campaign.  The story is set 23 years after the original Alien trilogy and will drop “players into the role of a Colonial Marine aboard the USS Endeavor, recently tasked with answering a distress call from the outer colonies. Deploy to overrun facilities, abandoned ruins, and strange alien landscapes as you battle terrifying enemies across four campaigns with two friends or AI teammates.”

There will be over 20 enemy types, including 11 unique types of Xenomorphs ranging from Facehuggers to Praetorians and Synthetics.

Players on the other hand will be able to choose from one of five unique classes such as Gunner, Demolisher, Technician, Doc, and Recon.  Each class will have unlockable cosmetics to make your marine your own.  There will also be different levels of difficulty to choose from for each mission that will introduce things like friendly fire, deadlier acid spray from Xenomorphs, and scarcer resources.

I think it’s time to pick a class, get the crew together and slay some aliens.  Maybe we’ll even build a fire and sing a couple of songs in between matches.

Aliens: Fireteam will release on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, & PC Summer, 2021

An American Airlines Pilot Had a UFO Encounter and the FBI Is Investigating It

American Airlines UFO
(Getty/Cooper NEILL)

An American Airlines pilot saw an unidentified flying object last week and I feel like we’re all taking it too lightly. This isn’t a kook or someone publishing a clearly doctored photo to accompany some bizarre theory. This is a professional and experienced airline pilot spotting something and determining what that something was has proven difficult.

It was on Saturday when an American Airlines pilot on a flight from Cincinnati to Phoenix told air traffic controllers that he spotted something else flying in the sky, very close to his plane.

“Do you have any targets up here? We just had something go right over the top of us,” he said. “I hate to say this but it looked like a long cylindrical object that almost looked like a cruise missile type of thing moving really fast over the top of us.”

The FAA released a statement saying air traffic controllers did not see any object in the area on their radar. So that’s all totally normal and good! Case closed, move along.

The transmission was caught by a blogger who was trying to pick up a different aircraft with a radio scanner. Steve Douglass published the audio on the aviation blog Deep Blue Horizon. Since the report, the airline has confirmed the authenticity of the transmission.

The blogger determined the broadcast was made over the northeast corner of New Mexico, near Clayton. The FBI is currently investigating.

Now, does UFO necessarily mean aliens? Of course not. It’s probably some military test of a missile or something similar, that’s the most logical explanation.

Buuuuuuuut (the buts are always where the fun stuff happens), could it be? I mean, the UFO world does seem to be heating up with news and declassifications in the last few years. It does seem like something the government is investigating more thoroughly and is being more transparent about (which, to be fair, is a very low bar and still isn’t that forthcoming).

So, there is a non-zero chance airline pilots on a routine flight encountered an object from another civilization, and that is pretty cool. Even if it was some new military weapon they’re developing, that would be pretty cool too.

Either way you look at it, something pretty cool happened in the sky of New Mexico last month.

Recently-Rescued Dog Saves Owner’s Life After He Collapses From a Stroke

Dog rescues owner after he has stroke
(YouTube/CBS New York)

A phrase that’s frequently thrown around when talking about rescue dogs is, “who rescued who?” Though technically it was the human’s decision to give a dog in need their forever home, dogs have the incredible ability to give back to their humans. You provide the food and shelter, and they’ll happily provide constant companionship and love. Dogs can calm anxiety and help us through challenging times, but sometimes, they rescue their humans in ways we can’t ignore.

Sadie, a 6-year-old German shepherd, was surrendered to a local shelter by her former owner. Middle-aged dogs have a much harder time being adopted than puppies and the trust issues that followed the loss of the only humans she knew and loved made her situation even more challenging.

“She was confused and seemingly lost upon rescue, having suddenly lost the only family that she knew,” the Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge said on Facebook. “Sadie is a loyal dog, but nervous and protective with new people, making her a more difficult placement. Just a few months ago, Brian came into Sadie’s life and decided to adopt her. Though her bio noted that she was especially nervous with men, Brian felt a special bond with Sadie, as he valued her intelligence, hesitancy to trust and fierce loyalty once she did form that trust.”

It wasn’t long after Brian took Sadie home that she had the opportunity to prove her fierce loyalty, an opportunity that saved Brian’s life. Just a few months after embarking on a new life together, Sadie realized something was very wrong with her human. Brian collapsed, after experiencing what was later diagnosed as a stroke. Sadie stayed by Brian’s side, keeping him awake by licking his face. According to the Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge, Sadie even pulled Brian over to his cell phone – had Sadie not been there, Brian wouldn’t have been able to call for help.

Thanks to Sadie, Brian got the help he needed in time. While Brian recovers from his stroke, his furry hero is staying with family. The pair FaceTime daily, making sure Sadie knows she hasn’t been abandoned again. Brian may have rescued the middle-aged pup a few months ago at the shelter, but this time, it was Sadie who rescued Brian.

How Playing Video Games Helped Me Through My Fight With Cancer

How Playing Video Games Helped me Through Cancer
(Getty/photoschmidt)

There are just certain things in our lives that can lift up our spirits.  A favorite TV series or a certain kind of food.  It’s different for everyone, but video games are what helped me cope during a rough patch in my life.

Almost eight years ago, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer.  While in the shower, one of my testicles felt like a rock.  It was solid and painful to even graze it on anything.  Putting any kind of pants on would become a chore and unfortunately, you have to wear pants out in public.  After expressing concerns with my doctor, I was booked in for an ultrasound.

Immediately the day after the scan, I got a call from my doctor and she asked me to come in to discuss the results.  She told me to bring my wife and kids as well.  The positive, inviting sound of her voice almost made it seem like we were going to like what she had to say.  She broke the news and my wife and I held back tears.  Our kids didn’t really know what was going on since they were young at the time (one and four).  For me, I thought that was it.  The beginning of the end.  Game over, man.

Ultimately it was decided that surgery would be the best option.  They would remove my right testicle (they make an incision in-between your pelvic area and your stomach) and after that perform some tests to see if the cancer had spread any further.  It is the most common form of cancer in men age 15 to 35 and statistically, 95% of men survive testicular cancer, you just have to catch it early enough.

My wife likes to take only the most flattering photos of me.

The day of the surgery arrived and I was on edge.  I constantly kept making sure with the doctor and nurses that they knew that it was my right testicle they were removing. I had this fear they would accidentally remove the wrong testicle and then they would end up having to remove both.  Even when they were giving me the anesthesia, I made sure with them that it was my right testicle they were removing.  After the surgery, I woke up groggy and disoriented, but not so disoriented that I didn’t immediately check underneath the covers.  They had removed the “right” testicle.  I breathed a sigh of relief and might have laughed because I was still ridiculously high on pain meds.

Once I was back at home, any movement was pretty painful and my mental state wasn’t the greatest.  That’s the thing, the surgery wasn’t the hard part, it’s what comes after.  Growing up, your testicles are a coveted treasure.  I can guarantee you’ve heard “Grow a pair” or “Get some balls”.  It’s rammed into your head that your testicles define who you are as a man (they don’t).  Well, now I was short one.  In desperate need to get away from my current situation, I figured this was as perfect a time as any to chill on the couch and catch up on my backlog of games.  Parental duties had pushed Borderlands 2 to the wayside so I decided to start a new character and immediately, I found myself lost in its wild, hilarious, messed-up world.  That’s one of the great things about video games, they’re able to distract you and help with the healing process.  I’m not quite sure I’d recommend something as intense as Dark Souls, but if that helps you relax, go for it.

I hadn’t played any of the expansions yet for Borderlands 2 and there’s one called ‘Assault on Dragon Keep’.  It involves you traveling through various fantastical areas within a board game called ‘Bunkers and Badasses’.  Much like an actual Dungeons and Dragons game, the world shifts and transforms right in front of your eyes.  It’s really awesome and as with most of Borderlands, it has its fair share of funny moments.  While you’re playing through it though, there are little hints as to why one of Borderland’s most outrageous characters Tiny Tina loves playing ‘Bunkers and Badasses’ so much.  She uses the game to cope with the death of her friend.

It was at that moment I realized I had something in common with the adorable little psychopath and this game spoke volumes to me.  Borderlands 2 allowed me to escape to a world where I got to be a badass Vault Hunter.  Like most video games, it offered a form of escapism that I so desperately needed at that time in my life.  I just wanted to get lost in something and forget about the situation I was in.

Almost eight years later, surgery would end up being all I needed.  I’m still in remission, but I get checked yearly just to be safe.  It honestly took a while before I didn’t feel any different and felt confident again with myself, but video games helped with getting through that whole process.  Things turned out alright in the end for me, but I can’t imagine the stress and fear of the families dealing with a situation like mine that doesn’t go according to plan.  I have friends and family who have dealt with and are currently dealing with cancer in their lives.  You don’t realize how many people it actually affects until you’ve been there yourself.

Video games have the power to take your mind off things, allowing you to heal, and Borderlands 2 holds a special place in my heart for that reason.

Sometimes, just like Tiny Tina, you have to escape the real world for a little while.

Testicular cancer is no joke.  Most young men are reluctant to talk about it or examine themselves because they’re embarrassed, and those with testicular cancer may not discover it until it’s too late.  Don’t let the stigma hold you back from getting checked out.  If you think you might have testicular cancer, here’s how to self-examine yourself.

God of War Fans Want Nick Offerman To Play Kratos in a Live-Action Adaptation

Offerman as Kratos
(@Nick_Offerman/Sony)

It looks like we might have a fan favorite candidate for the role of the mighty Kratos, should Sony ever decide to make a live-action God of War.

This whole thing started thanks to a Twitter thread by Neil Gaiman.  He asked everyone to post pictures of themselves as the head of an underground organization without downloading new pics.  Parks and Rec star Nick Offerman posted an image of himself and God of War fans immediately began making comparisons to the 2018 Playstation 4 version of the character.

The resemblance is uncanny with the completely bald head, intimidating stare, and impressive beard.  Fans were quick to bring God of War director Cory Barlog into the mix, begging for Nick to be considered for the live-action role.

There were even those that took it upon themselves to photoshop Nick wearing the classic Kratos war paint.

Personally, I’d love to see Nick play the role of Kratos, but as Ron Swanson.  Ron enjoys wood carving, hunting, being alone, and presents himself with a steely demeanor, much like Kratos.  Oh man, wait a sec.  Does that mean?  No… it couldn’t.  Are Kratos and Ron Swanson one and the same?  Does Ron Swanson battle Greek Gods when he’s not working as the head of the Pawnee Parks and Rec Department?  Does Kratos want all of the bacon and secretly play the saxophone as Duke Silver?

Let the fan theories commence!

Otherwise Clueless Kids Know Exactly Who Chadwick Boseman Is

Kids Know Who Chadwick Is
(Twitter/Phil_Lewis_)

In times like these, entertainment can seem pretty meaningless. And awards ceremonies featuring rich and famous people patting each other and themselves on the back are about the last thing we need. But sometimes we’re reminded of the impact that some of those larger-than-life performers have, even during tough times.

Chadwick Boseman was one of those larger-than-life performers, having portrayed a variety of heroes on the big screen, from Jackie Robinson and James Brown, two black titans of 20th-century culture, to King T’Challa of Wakanda, one of the most popular superheroes of the 21st century.

At Sunday’s Golden Globes ceremony, Boseman was honored for his final performance, winning Best Actor, Drama for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. His victory resulted in a moving speech from his bereaved wife, during which the hole the gifted actor and beloved man’s loss has left in his friends and family’s life was made abundantly clear.

But before his category aired, we were treated to a segment in which Phillip Lewis, an editor at Huffington Post, quizzed young kids on their knowledge of the Golden Globes, which, we quickly learned as the segment progressed, wasn’t much.

Before the segment ended, however, we learned that while those kids might not know Minari from Mank, they definitely know who Chadwick Boseman is: Black Panther.

The segment made for a fun, touching tribute to a star who left us far too soon but whose legacy will last generations.

Watch it here:

Chadwick Boseman’s Wife Tearfully Accepts His Posthumous Golden Globe Award

Boseman's Wife Accepts Award
(Twitter/NBC)

Last night was the Golden Globes. The Globes are the first major awards show of Hollywood’s awards season, which will last longer than usual this year with the Oscars being pushed to April (thanks Covid) and also the least reputable.

Nobody quite knows who makes up the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, other than the fact that they aren’t black and they are corrupt, but the awards ceremony itself is generally regarded as pretty fun because the stars of movies and television mingle, and many drinks are consumed.

Not this year. This year, it was pretty much all Zoom. (Thanks Covid!) Co-hosted by Tina Fey And Amy Poehler from opposite coasts, nominees accepted awards and made speeches via sometimes faulty video feeds. Which made for an awkward broadcast that left little room for fun. There were few spontaneous moments where a couple of presenters – say, Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig – riffed on stage. Instead, it was mostly a bunch of cringe-worthy reaction shots and stilted speeches.

There were a few genuine moments, like when the director of Best Foreign Film winner Minari accepted the award while his daughter hugged him, or when a pre-taped bit featuring clueless children made clear the overwhelming impact of the late Chadwick Boseman. Perhaps the most moving moment of the night was when Boseman won a posthumous award for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

The actor, who died unexpectedly last year after a secret battle with cancer, was not able to accept his award, but his wife was. Through tears, Taylor Simone Ledward did her best to fill-in for her late husband, expressing gratitude for his costars and crew, his family and friends, and the HFPA.

Give it a watch, and have some tissues handy: