TIME celebrities

Patton Oswalt Had a Lot to Say About the Trevor Noah Backlash

Try 53 tweets about the incoming Daily Show host's controversial jokes

Within 24 hours of being named Jon Stewart’s successor on The Daily Show, South African comedian Trevor Noah found himself in hot water over some old tweets that critics deemed sexist, anti-Semitic and fat-shaming. “To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian,” Noah wrote in response.

Enter Patton Oswalt, who is no stranger to criticizing what he thinks is unnecessary political correctness infiltrating comedy (for the worse). Last night Oswalt came to Noah’s defense with an elaborate, 53-part Twitter joke that took aim at trigger warnings, disclaimers and the way people talk about privilege on the Internet. The gist of his argument is basically, “So what if jokes are offensive? Deciding who or what is off-limits—or going out of your way to placate—is terrible for comedy.” But you can read the whole thing (excerpted below) over at his account and decide for yourself.

TIME Vatican

Pope Francis Says St. John Paul II Was Shining Example of ‘Suffering With Joy’

The Pope spoke on the eve of the 10th anniversary of John Paul's death

Pope Francis said St. John Paul II showed sick people how to “carry the cross of suffering with joy” on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Polish-born pope’s death.

Pope Francis spoke to tourists and pilgrims during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, the AP reports. John Paul died on April 2, 2005, at age 84, in the Apostolic Palace next to the square where Pope Francis spoke. John Paul became the Catholic Church’s first non-Italian pope since the 15th century when he was elected in 1978. He served until 2005, the second longest pontificate in history.

“We remember him as a great Witness of the suffering Christ, dead and risen,” Francis said.

[AP]

 

TIME Business

No Joke: This Woman Got a $50,000 Car Thanks to an April Fools’ Day Twist

The license plate reads "NoFooL"

Being skeptical doesn’t always pay off on April Fools’ Day.

Just ask Tianna Marsh, who traded her 15-year-old Nissan Avenir for a new BMW worth $50,000 when she answered an ad that many New Zealanders dismissed as a joke. A BMW dealership put a front-page ad on the New Zealand Herald offering a new car to the first person who showed up on April 1 with their current vehicle and the coupon. When Marsh arrived at 5:30 a.m., she asked for an employee named “Tom,” per the ad’s instructions, and quickly said hello to a new ride with the license plate NoFooL.

“The ad was intentionally vague and definitely appeared too good to be true, but in this case we wanted to turn the tables and reward the first person who was willing to take the chance,” said Ed Finn, a spokesperson for BMW. The company will donate the money made from selling Marsh’s old Nissan to charity, and it also plans to upload video footage of Marsh claiming her prize to prove to skeptics it wasn’t a publicity stunt.

The dealership hired security guards in the event of riotous crowds, but according to the company, few took the bait.

[New Zealand Herald]

TIME obituary

Creator of the Pet Rock, Gary Dahl, Dies at Age 78

Product shot of Pet Rock, fad from mid-1
Al Freni—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Product shot of Pet Rock, fad from mid-1970s, displayed w. its own carrying case.

Gary Dahl's invention of the pet rock made him a millionaire after it went on sale in 1975.

Gary Dahl, the creator of the Pet Rock—”one of the most ridiculously successful marketing schemes ever,” Newsweek once said—died at age 78 on March 23.

Dahl first came up with the concept as joke while working as a freelance copywriter, but the idea of a minimal-effort “pet” and its clever packaging resonated with the times—and quickly made him a millionaire after the rocks went on sale for $3.95 apiece in 1975, the New York Times reports. “People are so damn bored, tired of all their problems,” Dahl told People that year. “This takes them on a fantasy trip—you might say we’ve packaged a sense of humor.”

Dahl eventually came to regret the invention, however, and returned to advertising later in life: despite a trademarked name, knock-off businesses flourished; two of his original investors sued him in the late 1970s, and he paid a six-figure judgment; his subsequent inventions, like the Original Sand Breeding kit, failed to take off in the way Pet Rocks had; and aspiring inventors steadily flocked to him seeking advice. “Sometimes I look back and wonder if my life wouldn’t have been simpler if I hadn’t done it,” he told the AP in 1988.

[NYT]

TIME Television

Watch Ethan Hawke and Jimmy Fallon Sing Lullabies in the Style of Bob Dylan

Just sleep tight, it's alright

He wowed critics in Boyhood and just directed a documentary, but now Ethan Hawke is showing off another, completely different talent: impersonating Bob Dylan on The Tonight Show.

Hawke, like host Jimmy Fallon, is a father to young children. And sometimes, when your kids don’t go to sleep when they’re supposed to, you have to get a little creative—perhaps by singing classic songs in the style of the folk icon. “I’ve heard there’s scientific research that points to this,” Fallon says. “Oh, it’s proven,” Hawke answers before the two break out their guitar gravelly-voiced renditions of “Rock-a-bye Baby” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

Watch the full clip below:

 

TIME celebrities

Maniac Cop Actor Robert Z’Dar Dies at 64

2007 Chiller Theatre Convention
Bobby Bank—WireImage Robert Z'dar attending the 2007 Chiller Theatre Convention at the Hilton Hotel on October 5, 2007 in Parsippany, New Jersey.

He appeared in more than 100 films in his lifetime

Robert Z’Dar, the cult-film actor best known for his work in the Maniac Cop series, died Monday at age 64 after being hospitalized in Pensacola, Fla.

Z’Dar, who was recovering from chest pains when he went into cardiac arrest, was in town to for Pensacon, the city’s comic convention, the Pensacola News Journal reports.

“We talked every day,” longtime manager Jim Decker tells the Journal. “We’ve been together through thick and thin. He was the first actor I took on in my career as an agent. We spent many weekends on the road together and a lot of time enjoying each other’s company. I miss him dearly.”

The man born Robert J. Zdarsky appeared in 121 films, at least one movie annually for 27 out of the past 29 years. In addition to the three Maniac Cop films, he also appeared in Mobsters, Tango & Cash, Soultaker and The Final Sanction. He had TV roles on Growing Pains and The Flash. Z’dar was recognizable due to his prominent chin, which often scored him roles as villains.

Prior to becoming an actor, Z’Dar was on Arizona State University’s football team, played in a band called Nova Express and worked as a Chippendales dancer, Decker said. Z’Dar was due to film Samurai Cop 2, the sequel to the 1991 movie.

[Pensacola News Journal]

TIME Music

Hear the Bright, Fuzzy Title Track from Chris Farren’s New EP: Premiere

Chris Farren
Max Schwartz Chris Farren

The Fake Problems frontman also started a new record label with his fiancée

You probably won’t know Chris Farren’s name if you’re not a punk fan, but he’s got one of the more enviable resumes in the genre. The Fake Problems frontman has toured with artists such as Against Me! and the Gaslight Anthem, put out a collaborative album with Bomb The Music Industry! frontman Jeff Rosenstock and even briefly achieved Internet virality with his spoof of The Smiths t-shirts.

Now, just a few months after assembling a Christmas compilation, Farren is preparing a new 7″ EP — and he’ll release it on a new record label that he founded with his fiancée.

Recording the Where U Are EP’s bright, fuzzy title track, which premieres on TIME today, was a literal journey: Farren initially rushed to finish the EP’s three songs before embarking on tour with the Gaslight Anthem in Australia, but he ran out of time and was forced to finish the tracks wherever he could — hotel rooms, bathrooms, before and after shows.

The upside to recording on the road, however, is that you can recruit your friends to help out, which is exactly what Farren did to complete the song “Permanent For Me.” “Brian [Fallon, of the Gaslight Anthem] and I have been friends for a while and always get into these intense conversations about songwriting,” Farren tells TIME. “I played him what I was working on and asked him if he’d want to sing on one of the songs, and he said ‘yes.'”

Much like its continent-spanning recording process, releasing the EP on his own label also wasn’t part of Farren’s original plan, but it proved to be a welcome relief from the anxiety of having to pitch the project. “While we were recording this EP, I had in my mind a few labels I wanted to send it off to,” he says. “I was going through all of the gross, hyperbolic things I could say about myself in an attempt to convince someone to want to be involved. It got to a point where I was spending too much time worrying about how it would come out and not enough just working on and enjoying making the music.”

In response, Farren’s fiancée suggested they simply put the music out themselves, and so they named their endeavor Boyfriend Island for the unreachable state someone enters when they begin a new relationship. “We call it Boyfriend Island because the idea of the label is freedom in isolation, not really [being] bothered about what anyone outside of it might say or think. Just do it ’cause you like it.”

Where U Are is available April 7. Hear the title track below:

TIME Music

How Death Cab for Cutie Did Things Differently for Their New Album Kintsugi

The band tells TIME about the inspirations for their new album

Rarely does word of a band’s new album inspire such conflicted feelings among loyal listeners. Last summer, Death Cab for Cutie die-hards were thrilled to find out the band was putting the finishes on their eighth studio album—but they were heartbroken to learn the album would also be the last with founding member Chris Walla, who was leaving the band after 17 years.

Instead of distancing themselves from his departure, however, the remaining members—frontman Ben Gibbard, bassist Nick Harmer and drummer Jason McGuerr—made it part of the album’s story. The band named the album Kintsugi, a Japanese ceramic repair technique that finds beauty in the object’s cracks and flaws by filling them with gold and silver. “When Chris left the band we saw it more as an opportunity than as a breakage,” frontman Ben Gibbard tells TIME about Kintsugi, out March 31. “Right now we all see this as a really exciting time for us: we have a new record we’ll be proud of, we get to go out in the world and play these songs we’re really proud of, and we’ll figure out what the next step is when we come to it.”

On bringing in an outside producer for the first time: “It was something that we were all really excited about doing,” Gibbard says. “All of us have certain tropes that we tend to remain comfortable in, things that we gravitate towards. Bringing in [Rich Costey] to cut through what we were comfortable with—like, ‘No, you guys always do it like this, but we need to try something new here’—was really inspiring. This record would absolutely not be the record it is if we had done things the way we’d historically done them.”

On loving music the way you did in high school: “I think it’s absolutely possible to continue to have, as you get older, those really intense relationships with records—it just happens less frequently,” he says. “When I was 16 years old, music was everything in my life, and everything I heard was brand new. Now I’m 38. I’ve heard a lot of music. But there are still these moments where these records come along that just come out of nowhere and blow my mind. It doesn’t happen as often as it once did, but it still happens. You can’t have your mind blown every time you put a record on.”

On drawing lyrical inspiration from Los Angeles: “Los Angeles obviously is a hotbed of character study,” Gibbard says of the new songs, many of which appear to address his divorce from actress Zooey Deschanel. “The swath of people that you run into is fairly wide and interesting. A lot of these songs on the record were inspired by people that I came across in my time living there. It’s a really interesting place. There are some things I love about it, but I don’t think I would ever go back—no, I would never move back.”

On aging as a band: “We all feel very fortunate that these records that we made now some 10-15 years ago, people still care about them,” he says. “That is one thing that is fairly rare these days. There’s so much music coming at you all the time. You have access on streaming services to every record almost ever made. Every day there are websites that are updating with 10 new exciting bands that you should check out. The fact that we have made some albums that now at this point people are still asking us to play feels really good.”

TIME Crime

British Man Duped Prison Officials Into Freeing Him With Fake Government Email

He instructed officials to release him—and they did

A British man is awaiting sentencing after he apparently created a fake government email address while in prison and used it to trick officials into releasing him.

A prosecutor said Neil Moore, 28, was awaiting trial on fraud charges last year when he used a cell phone that he snuck in to the Wandsworth prison to create a web domain (hmcts-gsi-gov.org.uk) that looked like that of Britain’s Royal Courts of Justice (hmcts.gsi.gov.uk), NBC News reports. He then created an email address with that domain and pretended to be a court clerk, messaging prison officials to say he had been granted bail and should be freed.

Not only did officials comply and let him out on March 10 last year, documents show, but he also turned himself back in a few days later, his lawyer says. According to the Ilford Recorder, authorities were already aware of his escape.

Moore will be sentenced on April 20 after pleading guilty to one count of escape from lawful custody and eight counts of fraud. He was already facing fraud charges when he made his escape after impersonating employees at major banks in order to convince financial companies to fraudulently transfer him roughly $2.66 million U.S.

[NBC News]

TIME movies

Here’s Why Helen Mirren Wants to Be in a Fast & Furious Movie

The Woman in Gold actress is apparently a big fan of Vin Diesel

Helen Mirren has won an Oscar, multiple Emmys and several Golden Globes, but there’s one thing still on her bucket list.

“My great ambition is to be in a Fast and Furious movie,” she told Yahoo. “I so want to be a mad driver in a Fast and Furious movie. My claim to fame is I always do my own driving — I was on Top Gear, and I did [my lap] in a very good time.”

The actress, who can soon be seen in Woman in Gold in theaters this Friday, says she’s floated the idea several times but that “they never ask” her — even though her 2010 action-flick Red, co-starring Bruce Willis and John Malkovich, netted $200 million at the box office globally and spawned a sequel.

“I have to say Vin Diesel is brilliant,” she continued. “I love Vin Diesel. He’s a great guy, smart — I love him. It’s partly because of him I’d like to be in one, but also the driving. I’d also love to do another Red-type movie, because those are such fun to do.”

[Yahoo]

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