Humor

Find out what happens when Artie dares to eat one of Dr. Monkee's bananas

This week, Artie's on Sock Monkee's couch, where he gets a taste of his own medicine

People are terrible. It's not an unnatural impulse to want to strangle them.

Artie is tired of all the bullshit. Bradley at the office is an incessant small-talker, society as a whole is filled with device-laden millennial zombies, there is simply no hope. But because killing people is generally a bad thing to do, fortunately, there is therapy. Is it just me, or was this guy on Star Trek, Six Feet Under and Masters of Sex?

Whatever, he's calling himself Artie now and he just wants someone to listen to him. Check out his first session with "Dr. Monkee."

Sock Monkee always starts a session by being the exemplar of the attentive listener that all Harvard-educated monkey doctors can only strive to emulate. But as Artie's concerns grow graver (and, to Monkee, more boring), the malevolent sock can only try to amuse himself by perusing the pages of J.Crew and texting his friends. Wow. This monkee is into Italian cashmere. Btw, the "Just kill me now" text is an expert twist of foreshadowing to Artie's demise…

But Monkee's methods, however nebulous, are taking effect on Artie. He claims to be able to be himself "for the first time" in Monkee's presence. But he takes this freedom for granted by violating the one sacred territory of our beloved monkey: his banana bowl. Oh. No. He. Didn't.

I've never quite seen something so disturbing in my life as a close-up shot on a banana string hanging from an old guy's mouth. And yet, I can't look away. And crazy as it sounds, Artie's rant is so dead on. But what's really disturbing is Monkee's increasingly close button-eyed death stare. I would be scared, too.

In the end, the pressure is just too high, and we, humble audience members, can only assume that Artie is a goner. Never feel safe inside a therapist's office, especially if that therapist has a heart of sock. Oh God. That ending is unexpected. And classic.

Stick around for more Monkee Madness and drop all your bananas!

Top Stories

A kind stranger gave this wounded puppy a second chance

Burned and attacked in India, Hershey's situation was grim, until a chance encounter with Ingrid Newkirk

The streets of India are often not a welcoming home for the millions of stray dogs and cats that struggle to survive. Without the watchful and caring eye, disease, starvation, vehicle accidents, and abuse can claim the lives of innocent animals every day. The situation was especially dire for Hershey, a 4-month old puppy with third-degree acid burns on her back. Brutally abused as well as attacked by other dogs, Hershey's prospects weren't looking good.

PETA

Fortunately, Ingrid Newkirk, President of PETA, found the puppy on her recent trip to Mumbai to visit PETA India. She took the dog in her arms to the PETA India office and a veterinarian was able to treat her wounds. Despite her pain, the little pup was strong in her recovery, never losing her charm and positive attitude.

PETA

PETA

While healing, she was able to make both human and canine friends. She finally had time to relax, and even developed a passion for watching other dogs on YouTube!

Check out the video to see Hershey's inspiring story.

Thanks to the kind folks at PETA, Hershey was given a second chance at a happy life. She has now recovered and is living at an animal sanctuary while she awaits a loving new adoptive family.

To find out more about Hershey's story and the inspiring work of PETA, click here.

Keller is a toy-fiend. She does tricks, loves belly rubs, and is a champion sniffer. The full-grown Double Merle is as special as her mystical name implies, but she's also the most fun-loving, adorable, and "normal" dog you can imagine. Just look at her!

Keller on a beautiful day.Keller the Double Merle

But here's the thing: Keller is both vision-impaired and deaf.

Among her breed, Keller is not an anomaly. The offspring of two Merle dogs, Keller became a Double Merle, a product of irresponsible and uninformed breeding practices that occurs in 25% of cases. The consequence is dogs born with a susceptibility to vision and/or hearing deficiencies or complete vision and/or hearing loss.

What is a Double Merle? Here's a video that explains this completely preventable breeding practice.

The idea of owning a dog with disabilities can scare a lot of dog owners. There's the factor of the unknown, the potentially increased health risks, and the thought that maybe these dogs are lacking something that dogs without disabilities have. But none of these fears crossed Amanda Fuller's mind when she was reaching out to breeders to find a second dog to add to the family. Once she saw a photo of Keller, it was love at first sight. She knew nothing about Keller's disabilities, but just that she needed to bring her home. And the rest is history.

Keller doing tricks!Keller the Double Merle

Amanda was Keller's guardian angel. The puppy was only 5 weeks old when she was taken from her breeder, who was going to kill her because of her disabilities. But Amanda gave her the home, the chance, and the voice that she needed to thrive.

Amanda didn't see Keller for her disabilities, but for all the love that she could bring to her life and to others' lives. With a lot of patience (and treats), Amanda was able to train Keller using sign language. "She'll do anything for food," Amanda told me. While she can't respond to her name like dogs with full hearing can, Amanda got creative to find another method of communication with her new pet.

The takeaway that Amanda has from training Keller is that she's really no different from any other dog. She's overly friendly to new human and animal friends alike. She has a hilarious personality and is enthusiastic about learning new tricks. Amanda urges prospective and current owners of dogs with disabilities to understand that they have to treat them the same way that they would treat any other dogs. Many people think they'll spook them, but these dogs don't have to be babied; they need training and guidance just like any pet. Dogs, she told me, don't know that they have disabilities. They don't know what the words "deaf" or "blind" mean. "Disabilities," she says, "are only what you make them."

Check out Braille, Keller's canine friend.Braille the Double Merle

But the main threshold to change is in education.That's where Keller's Cause comes in. Keller's Cause is a 501c3 nonprofit that was founded in September 2015 with a mission to educate dog owners and breeders about the Double Merle and promote healthy and happy breeding and training practices. Amanda and her team raise money for rescues and to attend dog expos and events where they do touch-signal training and trick demonstrations in an effort to get the word out about Double Merles. Watch here:

Too many breeders don't know what they're doing or don't care enough to learn about dangerous practices. Dogs like Keller are often left abandoned because people don't know how to deal with their disabilities. But here's the good news: there are a bunch of wonderful rescue organizations that specialize in beautiful dogs like Keller. They include, Speak for the Unspoken, Double J Dog Ranch, Amazing Aussies, Green Dogs Unleashed, Pawsavers, and Hot Mess Pooches Rescue and Sanctuary. Help spread the word and give homes to these loving animals!

For more information about how to get involved with Keller's Cause, click here!

Humor

Why Aziz Ansari is the next David S. Pumpkins

Is it concerning that I still can't get this pizza song out of my head?

NBC

Peppy Ronnie and the Pizza Pals have been haunting my dreams since Saturday night. They're the animatronic band that premiered on Saturday Night Live in one of the tamest, most apolitical of the show's skits that night: Pizza Town. Aziz Ansari stars as Peppy Ronnie, the lead singer with gumby-esque hair and his signature toy-poodle voice. Pizza Town has been abandoned for presumably, years, and is now the location of an epic criminal standoff. The dorkish Kyle Mooney is the wanted man Carozzi, ambushed by Putin-impersonator Beck Bennett (who admittedly had some trouble with his lines) and everyone's fave, Kenan Thompson. But the real madness ensues when Bennett asks Thompson to find the fuse box and get the lights.

"I like that pizza pizza / I like that pizza pie! / Give me a piece of pizza / Pizza what? Pizza pie!"

With an unaware whimsy not unlike that of Tom Hanks' deviously sweet David S. Pumpkins ("Any questions?), Ansari's robotic movements and plastered on smile make us forget, if only for a moment, that politics even exist. It instantly brought me back to my days at Stew Leonard's, seeing that terrifying clan of "Holstein Family Singers", which were the subject of many a childhood nightmare.

But this jolly pizza band was nothing like those creepy, broken-down farm animals. Otherwise underutilized in that night's show, Bobby Moynihan played a convincing Italian drummer named "Chef Jeff," while "Cheesy Steve" (Mikey Day) shredded his "guitarmigian[a]" and "Sausome Mary Nara" (Aidy Bryant) shook her tambourine. They were not short on the pizza puns, let me warn tell you.

While Bennett tries to discourage his partner from being distracted by the momentary interludes of the pizza band (truly odd considering the high-stakes context), Thompson actually finds the gang amusing. I did, too. Beck Bennett, why do you always have to bring down the party? Just let us enjoy the pizza band, okay?

Even though the show has gotten some flack from our new prez, it's skits like these that keep SNL going. Even though the skit was a little cheesy, I can't get that damn pizza song out of my head.

Watch the sketch here:

Thanks, Aziz.

MUSIC

In This 'Post-Truth' World, Do Lyrics Matter?

Not according to the French dance-pop duo, YELLE, who teaches us how to play cymbals with our heads and break some plates in their new hit, "Ici et Maintenant"

In 2010, the Belgian-Rwandan hip hop star, Stromae, released his French classic, "Alors on Danse" ("So We Dance") to young Europeans everywhere. Shortly thereafter, the song became an international hit. Why? It had a simple and driving beat, unique melodic elements (namely, the saxophone motif), and an intriguing music video. It became so famed, in fact, that despite his not knowing French, our very own Kanye West did a remix of the song in his classic "hit-the-club" style. But little did Kanye (presumably) know that Stromae's original song was not just about clubbing and getting some. The French lyrics reveal a tragic and meta dance song about how people attempt to escape the depression of quotidian life through monotonous dancing. This example raises a very important question:

Can you enjoy a song if you can't fully understand it?

Of course you can, according to Stromae. While he hadn't met West prior to the collaboration and knew that the American rapper wouldn't understand the song's full meaning, he appreciated West's willingness to converge their styles and bring the song to a wider Anglophone audience. In fitting déjà vu, Stromae himself used to listen to English music like Notorious B.I.G., even though he had no idea what B.I.G. was talking about.

In a 2014 interview with Elle, Stromae said, "We are all human and we are all able to listen to music that we cannot understand." The musician, whose music is solely in French, has still managed to have a huge following in the U.S., even though many Americans don't understand the lyrics of his songs. That's the power of music; as long as you have heart and a beat, that's a recipe to move someone.

We could say the same for another rising Euro-band who you may have never heard of. YELLE, the French dance-pop duo is made up of friends Julie Budet and Jean-François Perrier, who go by Yelle and GrandMarnier, respectively. In 2005, they took their friendship to the next level and did what all good friends do: start a band.

That usually doesn't go so well for most friends, but fortunately, Budet and Perrier's efforts resulted in success. Their first 2005 MySpace-launched single, "Short Dick Cuizi" wasn't the favorite of the French rapper whom it criticized (Cuizinier), but that was no indication of how the rest of the Francophone world would take it. The song soon became the French top five and indie hit, "Je Veux Te Voir" in 2006.

Things went quickly from there. Source Records released their debut album, Pop Up in 2007, and then they went on the road. Between touring and prepping for their second album, Safari Disco Club, they had some sweet collabs with Robyn and Crookers, and also remixed Katy Perry's "Hot & Cold."

That led them to go even deeper into their international touring season, and they were able to sign their third album, Complètement Fou, with Dr. Luke's Kemosabe label in 2014. So now, after all the non-stop touring and record producing, it's time for a little reflection. That's exactly what their new song, "Ici et Maintenant" ("Here and Now") is about. It's also a testament to how a catchy beat and a killer video can bridge the language barrier. Here's what YELLE has to say about it:

After 3 albums and crazy intense touring over the world, we felt we needed to pause, not looking at the past or being in loops about what is next all the time; no, instead we want to be connected to the present. Here and Now. That's exactly the idea behind the song. That's our state of mind. Being simply and fully in the moment.

The video reflects that, it's very here & now, super extra normal! We made it with our friend Nathan Barnatt who we met a few years ago after he'd done a 'fan' video of our 'Que Veux tu' song remixed by Madeon.

Normcore to the four on the floor!

Here's the video:

That "super extra normal" comment is exactly on point. Whereas their other videos are extravagant, 80s-inspired masterworks of quirk, this song takes a well-deserved breather. An adorable and infantine glockenspiel opens the song with Budet in bed, staring poker-faced at the camera, while next to her, out of frame, something is violently shaking.

She sings, "Je vais bien / Oui c'est certain que je vais bien / J'ai pris mes médicaments" ("I'm doing well / Yes it's certain that I'm doing well / I took my medicine").

Seems fairly "normcore," right?

But then things get a little weird.

Budet gets out of bed and proceeds to do a variety of everyday rote tasks, like taking a shower, doing yoga, and going for a jog. But beside her throughout every task is a man spastically dancing in the background, unable to perform any of these tasks himself. In one particularly satisfying scene where Budet is tying her shoes, he struggles to tie his own laces, which are a pile of spaghetti. While brushing his teeth, he brushes his entire face with toothpaste. When taking out the trash, he cannot push the garbage can in a straight line. His dancing takes over everything.

Budet doesn't crack until the chorus which takes it half-time, and she and the man dance together, then get back to checking their texts when they feel they've overindulged in the moment. This is the "here and now" to which the song is referring, where they both take the time to reflect and connect.

YELLE

In another hilarious scene, Budet throws plates at the man, who shatters them to the ground one after another. She sings, "Mais pour l'instant c'est ici et maintenant / On joue au frisbee dans un ouragan / Je traverse NYC sur un cheval blanc" ("But for the moment, it's here and now / We play frisbee in a hurricane / I cross NYC on a white horse.")

The two continue in this style until, as a sign of hope(?) at the very end, Budet lets loose, finally adopting the outrageous dance style of her partner.

The cutesy electro beat reminds me of the campiness of Stromae's "Moules Frites," which on the surface, sounds almost like a children's song, but is really a dark warning about STDs and AIDS. Even without knowing what the lyrics to "Ici and Maintenant" mean, the video's spontaneity pays homage to this "seize the day" attitude, just by music, gesture, and dance alone.

In the end, their French language has not limited YELLE, but instead made them both unique and universal. Themes like being present are ones to which we can all relate, especially in these, (dare we say) trying times. YELLE can move you with their artistry and sharpness, without being able to speak your language. With the song, produced on YELLE's own label, Recreation Center, the group hopes to combat not only the overwhelming nature of being an internationally touring musician, but to teach us all to take a moment for ourselves and dance, whatever language we speak.

YELLE

WEBSITE: www.yelle.fr

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/Yelle

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/yelle (@yelle)

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/yellestagram (@yellestagram)

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/user/yelle

SNAPCHAT: @yellesnap

YELLE "Ici & Maintenant" (Here & Now)

https://youtu.be/DMeyvg1M52k

https://open.spotify.com/track/1avpXwvtoCS4ycUsVPXQs7

https://soundcloud.com/yelle/here-now

Available for sale/stream here: https://idol.lnk.to/IciMaintenant

MUSIC

I Found Sia in a French McDonald's

Sia is a superstar now, but her early music is never gonna leave me.

A singular moment of my life happened at McDonald's. Two summers ago, I was in Paris waiting to meet up with a friend. We picked the McDonald's (or more French MacDo) as our meeting place outside of the Jaurès metro station. The global establishment was the only place that offered free WiFi, so an obvious choice, despite its lack of ambiance. It was pouring outside, and my friend said he was running two hours late. I didn't bring a book.

To pass the time, I first wrote angry poetry about waiting in my phone's Notes section. When I ran out of words, I decided to close my eyes and listen to the McDonald's soundtrack. This particular McDonald's, though it served croissants on the menu, played exclusively American pop music. Most of it I could care less for, but then, as if like a rainbow, a song caught my attention.

It started with some catchy, playful power cords and a woman's voice singing very incomprehensible lyrics, vaguely about love, nostalgia, and such. I couldn't quite make out her annunciation, and was trying to guess her country of origin. Sweden? Definitely something Nordic.

Then the prechorus came in, leading up to something truly epic. A three part-harmony, with the classic pop chords: "Now I'm taking your love from above, your love is never gonna leave me." I had no idea what "taking your love from above" meant, but all I knew is that I needed to find out who sang this song.

Taking advantage of my free WiFi, I used a magical search engine and typed in "never gonna leave me." Sure enough, I came up with a name: Sia. An Australian (not Swedish) pop singer with short blond hair who doesn't like to show her face to the public. She would soon be my new idol.

The rest of my days in Paris, I listened to "Never Gonna Leave Me" three or four times a day on the minimal WiFi I had in my studio. I played it for everyone I met, friend and foe. This song was my sugar-sweet anthem, and I didn't know why.

Back in New York, I played the song every morning on the way to work, then at work again a few times. I wanted to find out what else this fine lady could do. Sia Furler, the girl who seemed like any other pop star, was just the opposite. She battled with the sudden death of her boyfriend, drug addiction, depression, and an autoimmune disorder. She's an advocate for animals and free expression. She started as a singer for the band Crisp. Her jazz vocals led her to move to the UK to sing for Jamiroquai and participate in other collaborations, until she finally established her own soul-infused sound with the albums, Healing is Difficult and Colour the Small One. These albums put her on the map as not just a singer, but a musician.

Then I stumbled upon her 2008 studio album, Some People Have Real Problems. This album stood out to me above the rest. Where "Never Gonna Leave Me" was from the more poppy 2010 We Are Born, her preceding album had a depth I found unexpected. In the opening track, "Little Black Sandals," Sia sings with a child, which adds an eeriness to the bare bones ballad. Sia sings, "My little black sandals are walking me away / My little black sandals saved my life today."

The next is a tearjerker called "Lentil," about the first dog Sia fostered. It starts barely audible, and turns slowly into a dramatic, key-changing showcase of Sia's octave-defying vocal and emotional range.

Other standouts include the romping "The Girl You Lost to Cocaine," the subtle "You Have Been Loved," the quirky "Academia," and the soaring, "Soon We'll Be Found."

Of course, I am also a fan of her latest work, which verges more pop and electronic than ever before. "Dressed in Black," "Reaper," and "Fair Game" are some of the modern hits that have made Sia into an international superstar. But despite her explosion on the scene, I still listen to "Never Gonna Leave Me" every day. To me, Sia will always be the heartfelt jazz singer, the activist, the shy and scarred musician. She will always be the voice who stole my heart at McDonald's.