A puppeteer met an elderly former columnist. They decided to 'out-nice' each other and now look.


If you can't watch this sweet and extremely cool video from AARP's rad new studio right now, it's OK — we have some highlights for you below to tide you over until you can.

Ricky was tired of doing skilled labor work. He decided to focus on what he loves to do, which is creating magic with marionettes.


The first week he was out in the park bringing his show to the public, he met Doris. She's a retired columnist, and she later came back and brought him some of her articles she thought he'd like.

DORIS: "So the next time he saw me, he said 'Oh, I have something for you.' I sat down next to him, and he pulled out the little Doris puppet."

Yes, you read that right. He made her a puppet. That looked like her. Just because.

RICKY: "I decided to make a marionette of her, as to wow her, like 'Oh alright, you want to be nice to me, well here we go.'"

He makes his puppets himself, out of things like wood, eyelets, rubber hose, and Glade air freshener covers.

As they unveiled their new act as a duo, Doris got pretty popular.

RICKY: "People would come by and take pictures of her with the puppet, and she just felt like a queen. And her friends are telling me 'Since this puppet, man, you know it's like she's getting younger!'"

And Ricky's career began to take off. In the way that a humble street puppeteer's career can.

RICKY: "And I went from having to play gigs and pour concrete and all that to I'm doing this and people are putting money in my hat and people feel like this. I was just overwhelmed. All these years I had been a laborer trying to be an artist or a steelworker trying to be an artist, but I was an artist trying to be all those other things. So that's who I really am."


This is just too wonderful not to share, and if you can check out the video, it's fascinating to see Ricky explain his process for creating characters with the marionettes.

Cheers to precious friendships and to finding a way to do the things our souls long to do.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less