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Tommy Edison watches movies for a living. He's never actually seen one.

If you're only watching movies, you might be missing out.

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Perkins School for the Blind

Tommy Edison was born blind. That didn't stop him from falling in love with movies.

If your first reaction upon reading that was to wonder how a blind person watches movies, Edison understands. It's a question he's answered a lot in his job as the Blind Film Critic on YouTube.

"I'm always asked how I can enjoy films without being able to see them," he said. "But for me, there's so much more to the experience — there's story, there's dialogue, there's music and sound. It's a lot more than what you watch on the screen."


For blind movie lovers like Edison, knowing that there are actors and action on the big screen is only a small part of experiencing cinema.

‌Tommy Edison, the Blind Film Critic. Image via Tommy Edison, used with permission.‌

"For me, the biggest part of a film is the story," he said. "Movies like 'Goodfellas' or 'Clerks' don't even need the visuals — their storytelling is so strong and the performances are so skilled. As soon as those movies started, I was right in the story."

Even if a film doesn't have amazing performances, it can make up for it with an excellent soundscape. "There was an incredible movie called 'The Grey,' starring Liam Neeson, a few years back," said Edison. "Most of the action took place outside, and the sound editors took advantage of the surround sound in the theater to make it feel like we were right there with them. I could hear the rain all around me — so much that I wanted to wipe it off my head, it felt so real."

At the moment, a lot of big-budget movies revolve around action sequences without dialogue — a challenging situation for blind moviegoers. That's when audio descriptions are helpful.

‌A woman listens with headphone to a movie playing on her laptop. For blind movie watchers, hearing the action is just as good as seeing it. Image via iStock.‌

Like closed-captioning for the hearing-impaired, audio commentary helps vision-impaired or blind people follow along with TV and movie action during scenes with limited dialogue.

According to the American Council of the Blind, three American theater chains — AMC, Cinemark, and Regal — offer audio descriptions on all of their screens. Blind or vision-impaired moviegoers can go to the theater and wear a set of headphones that will play a narration track describing the film's key visual elements like costumes, sets, and other moments only sighted people would experience. Best of all, the track only runs during pauses in lines of spoken dialogue, ensuring non-sighted moviegoers don't miss anything.  

For Edison, an audio description track changed his understanding of one of the most famous movies of the '90s. "I tried watching 'The Matrix' a few times without audio descriptions. I couldn't make it through more than about 20 or 30 minutes of it," said Edison. "The descriptions changed that; they helped me understand what it was about, and how cool of a film it was."

While Edison is appreciative of technological advancements like audio descriptions, he'd rather they weren't necessary.

If he had his way, Hollywood would simply get better at telling stories, rather than showing them.

‌This empty green-screen set could become an entire scene in a superhero popcorn flick. For blind moviegoers like Edison, that's a big problem. Image via iStock.‌

"The one genre that doesn’t really work for me as a blind audience member are the superhero movies," he said, conspiratorially. "'Thor,' 'X-Men,' 'Superman' — it all sort of seems to be eye candy. They have all these incredible performers, and they all know how to act — studios need to give them something to work with! At the very least, they need to talk to each other more during fight scenes, not just grunt and roar."

Movies and TV shows are part of our shared cultural fabric — whether we're watching them for the action on the screen or listening to them for the stories they tell.

While, as Edison said, "there's nobody audio-describing our lives," anyone can appreciate the moviegoing experience of blind people on their own. So next time you settle in for a night on the couch or head to the theater for a break (and some $12 popcorn), maybe try closing your eyes and listening to the film instead. You might end up seeing it in a whole new way.

Tommy Edison was born blind. That didn't stop him from falling in love with movies.

If your first reaction upon reading that was to wonder how a blind person watches movies, Edison understands. It's a question he's answered a lot in his job as the Blind Film Critic on YouTube.

"I'm always asked how I can enjoy films without being able to see them," he said. "But for me, there's so much more to the experience — there's story, there's dialogue, there's music and sound. It's a lot more than what you watch on the screen."

For blind movie lovers like Edison, knowing that there are actors and action on the big screen is only a small part of experiencing cinema.

‌Tommy Edison, the Blind Film Critic. Image via Tommy Edison, used with permission.‌

"For me, the biggest part of a film is the story," he said. "Movies like 'Goodfellas' or 'Clerks' don't even need the visuals — their storytelling is so strong and the performances are so skilled. As soon as those movies started, I was right in the story."

Even if a film doesn't have amazing performances, it can make up for it with an excellent soundscape. "There was an incredible movie called 'The Grey,' starring Liam Neeson, a few years back," said Edison. "Most of the action took place outside, and the sound editors took advantage of the surround sound in the theater to make it feel like we were right there with them. I could hear the rain all around me — so much that I wanted to wipe it off my head, it felt so real."

At the moment, a lot of big-budget movies revolve around action sequences without dialogue — a challenging situation for blind moviegoers. That's when audio descriptions are helpful.

‌A woman listens with headphone to a movie playing on her laptop. For blind movie watchers, hearing the action is just as good as seeing it. Image via iStock.‌

Like closed-captioning for the hearing-impaired, audio commentary helps vision-impaired or blind people follow along with TV and movie action during scenes with limited dialogue.

According to the American Council of the Blind, three American theater chains — AMC, Cinemark, and Regal — offer audio descriptions on all of their screens. Blind or vision-impaired moviegoers can go to the theater and wear a set of headphones that will play a narration track describing the film's key visual elements like costumes, sets, and other moments only sighted people would experience. Best of all, the track only runs during pauses in lines of spoken dialogue, ensuring non-sighted moviegoers don't miss anything.  

For Edison, an audio description track changed his understanding of one of the most famous movies of the '90s. "I tried watching 'The Matrix' a few times without audio descriptions. I couldn't make it through more than about 20 or 30 minutes of it," said Edison. "The descriptions changed that; they helped me understand what it was about, and how cool of a film it was."

While Edison is appreciative of technological advancements like audio descriptions, he'd rather they weren't necessary.

If he had his way, Hollywood would simply get better at telling stories, rather than showing them.

‌This empty green-screen set could become an entire scene in a superhero popcorn flick. For blind moviegoers like Edison, that's a big problem. Image via iStock.‌

"The one genre that doesn’t really work for me as a blind audience member are the superhero movies," he said, conspiratorially. "'Thor,' 'X-Men,' 'Superman' — it all sort of seems to be eye candy. They have all these incredible performers, and they all know how to act — studios need to give them something to work with! At the very least, they need to talk to each other more during fight scenes, not just grunt and roar."

Movies and TV shows are part of our shared cultural fabric — whether we're watching them for the action on the screen or listening to them for the stories they tell.

While, as Edison said, "there's nobody audio-describing our lives," anyone can appreciate the moviegoing experience of blind people on their own. So next time you settle in for a night on the couch or head to the theater for a break (and some $12 popcorn), maybe try closing your eyes and listening to the film instead. You might end up seeing it in a whole new way.

via Pixabay

A sad-looking Labrador Retriever

The sweet-faced, loveable Labrador Retriever is no longer America’s favorite dog breed. The breed best known for having a heart of gold has been replaced by the smaller, more urban-friendly French Bulldog.

According to the American Kennel Club, for the past 31 years, the Labrador Retriever was America’s favorite dog, but it was eclipsed in 2022 by the Frenchie. The rankings are based on nearly 716,500 dogs newly registered in 2022, of which about 1 in 7 were Frenchies. Around 108,000 French Bulldogs were recorded in the U.S. in 2022, surpassing Labrador Retrievers by over 21,000.


The French Bulldog’s popularity has grown exponentially over the past decade. They were the #14 most popular breed in 2012, and since then, registrations have gone up 1,000%, bringing them to the top of the breed popularity rankings.

The AKC says that the American Hairless Terrier, Gordon Setter, Italian Greyhound and Anatolian Shepherd Dog also grew in popularity between 2021 and 2022.

The French Bulldog was famous among America’s upper class around the turn of the 20th century but then fell out of favor. Their resurgence is partly based on several celebrities who have gone public with their Frenchie love. Leonardo DiCaprio, Megan Thee Stallion, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Reese Witherspoon and Lady Gaga all own French Bulldogs.

The breed earned a lot of attention as show dogs last year when a Frenchie named Winston took second place at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and first in the National Dog Show.

The breed made national news in early 2021 when Gaga’s dog walker was shot in the chest while walking two of her Frenchies in a dog heist. He recovered from his injuries, and the dogs were later returned.

They’ve also become popular because of their unique look and personalities.

“They’re comical, friendly, loving little dogs,” French Bull Dog Club of America spokesperson Patty Sosa told the AP. She said they are city-friendly with modest grooming needs and “they offer a lot in a small package.”

They are also popular with people who live in apartments. According to the AKC, Frenchies don’t bark much and do not require a lot of outdoor exercise.

The French Bulldog stands out among other breeds because it looks like a miniature bulldog but has large, expressive bat-like ears that are its trademark feature. However, their popularity isn’t without controversy. “French bulldogs can be a polarizing topic,” veterinarian Dr. Carrie Stefaniak told the AP.

american kennel club, french bulldog, most popular dog

An adorable French Bulldog

via Pixabay

French Bulldogs have been bred to have abnormally large heads, which means that large litters usually need to be delivered by C-section, an expensive procedure that can be dangerous for the mother. They are also prone to multiple health problems, including skin, ear, and eye infections. Their flat face means they often suffer from respiratory problems and heat intolerance.

Frenchies are also more prone to spine deformations and nerve pain as they age.

Here are the AKC’s top ten most popular dog breeds for 2022.

1 French Bulldogs

2 Labrador Retrievers

3 Golden Retrievers

4 German Shepherd Dogs

5 Poodles

6 Bulldogs

7 Rottweilers

8 Beagles

9 Dachshunds

10 German Shorthaired Pointers


This article originally appeared on 03.17.23

Representative Image from Canva

There's no way they didn't understand what she was saying.

Okay, so maybe dogs don’t understand everything we tell them exactly as a human would. But is that gonna stop us from having full blown conversations with them? Of course not. And the times they do seem to comprehend what’s being communicated—pure comedy.

Take this dog mom’s hilarious pre-grooming pep talk with Shih-Tzus Branston, Pickle and Gizmo. She minced no words telling them exactly how this trip was gonna go. And the message seemed to be received.

Branston (the troublemaker, apparently) got a firm warning of what not to do, including telling white lies about his upbringing.

“I don’t need you running in telling the first dog you see that this is what this is what your hair used to look like when you lived in the Bronx running up and down the block, cause I know for a fact, Branston, that you live in a rural village,” she tells him.

Viewers, however, seemed on board with Branston’s Bronx-affiliation, even if it was a little white lie. One person joked, “don’t be mad at the treats that I got, I’m still Branny from the block.”

In the video, Branston is also instructed to not tell everyone that he “identifies as a BUll Mastiff,” which gets the most adorable look of disappointment for wee little Branston.

As for Gizmo and Pickle—mom’s best advice is to pretend like they don’t know Branston.

Perhaps the best part is mom’s British accent, which makes the entire clip feel like something pulled straight outta “Ted Lasso.” That, or the complete shock the Shih-tzu trio has at being informed of their weight class.

Watch:

@branstonandpickle01 Your NOT from the Bronx and you never ran up and down the block!! #dogsoftiktok #peptalktoyourdog #branstonwehavearrived #shihtzusoftiktok #peptalkbranston #funnydogvideos #funnyvideos #nyc #bronx #funny #dogs #dogtok ♬ original sound - Branston,Pickle&Gizmo

Perhaps Branston, Pickle, and Gizmo’s mom isn’t totally off-base by giving them a talking to. According to the website allshihtzu.com, this breed had a “unique intelligence,” which gets best demonstrated by their attuned, empathic connection to their human families. Meaning that while they might not have the same kind of smarts as border collies or other herding dogs, their super power is picking up social cues.

And, again, even if they had no earthly idea what their mom was saying, odds are she’d still be talking to them anyway. Why? Because pets are our babies. And baby talk is fun.jk

Island School Class, circa 1970s.

Parents, do you think your child would be able to survive if they were transported back to the '70s or '80s? Could they live at a time before the digital revolution put a huge chunk of our lives online?

These days, everyone has a phone in their pocket, but before then, if you were in public and needed to call someone, you used a pay phone. Can you remember the last time you stuck 50 cents into one and grabbed the grubby handset?

According to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, roughly 100,000 pay phones remain in the U.S., down from 2 million in 1999.

Do you think a 10-year-old kid would have any idea how to use a payphone in 2022? Would they be able to use a Thomas Guide map to find out how to get somewhere? If they stepped into a time warp and wound up in 1975, could they throw a Led Zeppelin album on the record player at a party?


Another big difference between now and life in the '70s and '80s has been public attitudes toward smoking cigarettes. In 1965, 42.4% of Americans smoked and now, it’s just 12.5%. This sea change in public opinion about smoking means there are fewer places where smoking is deemed acceptable.

But in the early '80s, you could smoke on a bus, on a plane, in a movie theater, in restaurants, in the classroom and even in hospitals. How would a child of today react if their third grade teacher lit up a heater in the middle of math class?

Dan Wuori, senior director of early learning at the Hunt Institute, tweeted that his high school had a smoking area “for the kids.” He then asked his followers to share “something you experienced as a kid that would blow your children’s minds.”


A lot of folks responded with stories of how ubiquitous smoking was when they were in school. While others explained that life was perilous for a kid, whether it was the school playground equipment or questionable car seats.

Here are a few responses that’ll show today’s kids just how crazy life used to be in the '70s and '80s.

First of all, let’s talk about smoking.

Want to call someone? Need to get picked up from baseball practice? You can’t text mom or dad, you’ll have to grab a quarter and use a pay phone.

People had little regard for their kids’ safety or health.

You could buy a soda in school.

Things were a lot different before the internet.

Remember pen pals?

A lot of people bemoan the fact that the children of today aren’t as tough as they were a few decades back. But that’s probably because the parents of today are better attuned to their kids’ needs so they don't have to cheat death to make it through the day.

But just imagine how easy parenting would be if all you had to do was throw your kids a bag of Doritos and a Coke for lunch and you never worried about strapping them into a car seat?


This article originally appeared on 06.08.22

What is Depression?

In the United States, close to 10% of the population has depression, but sometimes it can take a long time for someone to even understand that they have it.

One difficulty in diagnosis is trying to distinguish between feeling down and experiencing clinical depression. This TED-Ed video from December 2015 can help make the distinction. With simple animation, the video explains how clinical depression lasts longer than two weeks with a range of symptoms that can include changes in appetite, poor concentration, restlessness, sleep disorders (either too much or too little), and suicidal ideation. The video briefly discusses the neuroscience behind the illness, outlines treatments, and offers advice on how you can help a friend or loved one who may have depression.


Unlike the many pharmaceutical ads out there with their cute mascots and vague symptoms, the video uses animation to provide clarity about the mental disorder. It's similar in its poignant simplicity to the HBO short documentary "My Depression," based on Liz Swados' book of the same name.


This article originally appeared on 08.17.19

New baby and a happy dad.


When San Francisco photographer Lisa Robinson was about to have her second child, she was both excited and nervous.

Sure, those are the feelings most moms-to-be experience before giving birth, but Lisa's nerves were tied to something different.

She and her husband already had a 9-year-old son but desperately wanted another baby. They spent years trying to get pregnant again, but after countless failed attempts and two miscarriages, they decided to stop trying.


Of course, that's when Lisa ended up becoming pregnant with her daughter, Anora. Since it was such a miraculous pregnancy, Lisa wanted to do something special to commemorate her daughter's birth.

So she turned to her craft — photography — as a way to both commemorate the special day, and keep herself calm and focused throughout the birthing process.

Normally, Lisa takes portraits and does wedding photography, so she knew the logistics of being her own birth photographer would be a somewhat precarious new adventure — to say the least.

pregnancy, hospital, giving birth, POV

She initially suggested the idea to her husband Alec as a joke.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

"After some thought," she says, "I figured I would try it out and that it could capture some amazing memories for us and our daughter."

In the end, she says, Alec was supportive and thought it would be great if she could pull it off. Her doctors and nurses were all for Lisa taking pictures, too, especially because it really seemed to help her manage the pain and stress.

In the hospital, she realized it was a lot harder to hold her camera steady than she initially thought it would be.

tocodynamometer, labor, selfies

She had labor shakes but would periodically take pictures between contractions.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

"Eventually when it was time to push and I was able to take the photos as I was pushing, I focused on my daughter and my husband and not so much the camera," she says.

"I didn't know if I was in focus or capturing everything but it was amazing to do.”

The shots she ended up getting speak for themselves:

nurse, strangers, medical care,

Warm and encouraging smiles from the nurse.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

experiment, images, capture, document, record

Newborn Anora's first experience with breastfeeding.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

"Everybody was supportive and kind of surprised that I was able to capture things throughout. I even remember laughing along with them at one point as I was pushing," Lisa recalled.

In the end, Lisa was so glad she went through with her experiment. She got incredible pictures — and it actually did make her labor easier.

Would she recommend every mom-to-be document their birth in this way? Absolutely not. What works for one person may not work at all for another.

However, if you do have a hobby that relaxes you, figuring out how to incorporate it into one of the most stressful moments in your life is a pretty good way to keep yourself calm and focused.

Expecting and love the idea of documenting your own birthing process?

Take some advice from Lisa: "Don't put pressure on yourself to get 'the shot'" she says, "and enjoy the moment as much as you can.”

Lisa's mom took this last one.

grandma, hobby, birthing process

Mom and daughter earned the rest.

Photo via Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

This article originally appeared on 06.30.16