Try not to tear up reading this fan letter from a Mexican-American about 'Coco.'

People are  loving Pixar's latest film, "Coco."

The animated movie follows Miguel Rivera, a guitar-playing 12-year-old who accidentally winds up in the land of the dead — an otherworldly dimension based on the Mexican holiday, Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.


Since its release on Nov. 22, "Coco" has raked in over $100 million domestically in ticket sales and has garnered rave reviews from critics.

But it's arguably the personal connection many fans have had to the characters and their story that's truly made this film special.

On Nov. 29, "Coco" director Lee Unkrich tweeted an email that was sent to Pixar from a woman who'd seen the film.

"I will admit, I feel a little silly emailing such a large company and am pretty sure you won't even read this," her note began. "But I figured I'd give it a try."

The woman, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, explained why the movie meant so much to her:

Growing up, my parents and sisters used to watch Pixar movies all the time. The only problem was that we would have to pause the movie every 5 minutes to explain to my parents what the characters were saying because both of my parents are not very fluent in English. Of course nowadays it is much easier because we are able to select Spanish versions and subtitles. But you can imagine the difficulty in the 90s!

"But now there's 'Coco,'" the woman continued in her letter. "Not only did you make a movie for mi gente, you've also made it viewable in THEATERS in SPANISH!"

"Coco," as she noted, was released in Spanish in many theaters across the country, including in over two dozen cinemas in Southern California alone.

‌Actor Anthony Gonzalez, who is the voice of Miguel in "Coco." Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Vulture Festival.‌

"Let me explain why this means so much," she continued. "To me, last night, for the first time in my life, I took my mom to the movies. We went to the movies like real Americans do!"

"My mother had tears in her eyes. She hadn't been to a movie theater in over 30 years. She has always felt a bit out of place in the States. But last night, she forgot she was not from here. She felt at home. And of course the movie made us cry too!"

Fans of the film, many of whom could relate to the woman's story, filled the tweet replies with heartwarming messages.

"My 6 year old son said to me 'he (Miguel) looks like me!'" tweeted one person.

"It was my mom's first time in a movie theater in over 15 years as well," tweeted another.

"I felt like a film finally represented me and my culture," another tweet read.

"I felt this movie in my soul," shared another fan.

Diversity in film matters in real-world ways. From the actors and directors bringing the movies to life, to the languages and cultural narratives they tell on screen, "Coco" shows how feeling as though the story reflects you and your story can make a world of difference.

"I apologize for getting so emotional," the woman concluded her letter. "But I want to say, from the bottom of my heart, and from all Mexican-Americans, thank you. Thank you for including us. Thank you for making my mommy feel like she belongs. Thank you."

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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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.

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