Today, enjoy your burgers and fireworks. Tomorrow, let's all get back to work making America the best America she can be.
Here is a list of words that describe me: nerd, feminist, pop culture nut, comedy fan, TV enthusiast, bad at bio-writing, good at list-making. I'm hoping to make the world a better place by blogging in my pajamas. You can can find me sharing stories I find interesting on Facebook and Tumblr or talking about a lot of things (and live tweeting bad movies) on Twitter.
Welcome to Day 5 of Upworthy's 31 Days of Happiness Countdown! If this is your first visit, here's the gist: Each day between Dec. 1 and Dec. 31, we're sharing stories specifically designed to bring joy, smiles, and laughter into our lives and yours. It's been a challenging year, so why not end it on a high note with a bit of laughter? Check back tomorrow (or click the links at the bottom) for another installment!
Today's countdown calendar treat combines two of the internet's favorite things — nostalgia and cats — in a truly beautiful way.
Yes, I'm talking about the official "Power Rangers" parody featuring a colorful cast of real cats as your favorite mid '90s group of spandex-clad "teenagers with attitude." It's called "Meower Rangers." It's perfect in every single way.
It shouldn't work. You're right. I can feel your skepticism through the screen. And yet, each minute-long episode in the show's two — yes two! — seasons is the perfect amount of delightful-as-heck meta absurdity guaranteed to make you giggle uncontrollably.
Did I mention Rita Repulsa is played by a shiba inu inexplicably called "Akita Repulsa," even though an akita is an entirely different kind of dog? And that Zordon is a goldfish? And that the Megazord is a collection of cardboard boxes?
Look. There's no wrong or right way to practice self-care. For some people, it's bubble baths and spa days. For others, it's a long run or reading a favorite book for the hundredth time.
For me, it's revisiting the shows and movies I watched growing up — and if I can do so in a way that involves cats, well ... who could say no to that?
Whether you need a break from calling your representatives all day or are exhausted from constantly being asked to fight for your humanity and your existence in a world that is stacked against you — or maybe you had a hard day at work and you just need a laugh — there's "Meower Rangers."More days of happiness here: DAY 1 / DAY 2 / DAY 3 / DAY 4 / [DAY 5] / DAY 6 / DAY 7 / DAY 8 / DAY 9 / DAY 10 / DAY 11 / DAY 12 / DAY 13 / DAY 14 / DAY 15 / DAY 16 / DAY 17 / DAY 18 / DAY 19 / DAY 20 / DAY 21 / DAY 22 / DAY 23 / DAY 24 / DAY 25 / DAY 26 / DAY 27 / DAY 28 / DAY 29 / DAY 30 / DAY 31
GIF by Tyler Hoehne/GOOD.
Grab a seat, put your feet up by the fire, and pour yourself a mug of cocoa. You deserve it. 2017 has been a hard year. You've earned a break from the relentlessness of the news cycle. What better way to end the year than with a bit of laughter and love?
That's why, from now until the end of the year, we're going to share a new story every day specifically selected to bring joy, smiles, and laughter into your life.
We have stories about generous strangers that'll make you smile (Days 2 and 9), inclusive fireworks displays you can feel (Day 6), and animals so strange and beautiful they'll make you believe in magic (Day 15). At least one of them features Gordon Ramsey (Day 22). Two feature footage from outer space (Days 17 and 19). And one involves a husky dog jumping on a trampoline (Day 21).
Think of this as an advent calendar of happiness: You won't know what little treasure you're going to find until you click the link. A new story will be added every day*. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead, give it a try!More days of happiness here: DAY 1 / DAY 2 / DAY 3 / DAY 4 / DAY 5/ DAY 6 / DAY 7 / DAY 8 / DAY 9 / DAY 10 / DAY 11 / DAY 12 / DAY 13 / DAY 14 / DAY 15 / DAY 16 / DAY 17/ DAY 18 / DAY 19 / DAY 20 / DAY 21 / DAY 22 / DAY 23 / DAY 24 / DAY 25 / DAY 26 / DAY 27 / DAY 28 / DAY 29 / DAY 30 / DAY 31
I don't mean campy, though I do love that about it too. I specifically mean those moments that are just straight up awkward and goofy. Those moments where the characters were supposed to look cool and badass, but — due to a combination of the technology of the time, the low budget, and the use of stage fighting techniques — they ended up looking silly.
Yes, the secondhand embarrassment when watching these scenes is real, and for some people those moments make it impossible to suspend disbelief enough to immerse themselves in the show. But, to me, those are some of the show's most human moments, and one of the things I love most about it.
Like, Kirk thinks he's a badass — and in the world of "Star Trek" he is a badass — but when he fights, he looks like pretty much any normal human would look while trying to be cool in a fight.
And when a mission calls for spontaneous dancing — to defeat a small army of android sexbots using illogic, as it were — dancing may not be Chekov's calling but dammit if he doesn't give it his best.
When McCoy finds himself in a gladiator game, he doesn't suddenly and miraculously become a master swordsman through the magic of TV editing. He just does his best!
In "Star Trek," when something urgent happens, there's NO TIME FOR COOL RUNNING. You just gotta haul ass. Like Spock.
And when you gotta get from point A to point B without being seen, sure, there's probably a way to make it look cool, but you know what? In real life, it'd be hella awkward too.
A highly produced, crisply edited version of "Star Trek" would make these scenes look cool, coordinated, and well-choreographed. There would be more close-up shots, edits would cut on the action, and McCoy would be as skilled with a sword as he is with a hypo.
But I like these moments of awkwardness. Human beings are nothing if not generally awkward, and I find it incredibly reassuring to think that even in the 23rd century, there's no graceful way to get shot in the face with happiness pollen by an alien flower.
Capt. Kirk never seems more human than when he's fighting the Gorn. It's awkward af, but I love it. If you found yourself being forced to build a makeshift cannon while simultaneously fighting a lizard monster in the desert heat and wearing polyester pants, you'd be about this graceful too.
And if you ever found yourself trapped in a real-life Halloween house, being chased by a creature that is clearly a giant house cat (that also sometimes takes the form of a human woman, but is actually an insect-slash-bird-looking alien) while carrying a magic wand and jumping on a makeshift trampoline, yeah you'd wish you were anywhere near as graceful as Kirk is here. And he's not graceful at all.
There's a moment in one episode of the show where Spock almost gets hit in the head by one of those weird futuristic hexagonal door frames while exiting a scene. I can't find a GIF of it, but I LIVE FOR THOSE MOMENTS.
Call "Star Trek" low-budget, call it campy, call it bad acting — call it whatever you want. These are the little moments that, when coupled with a grand vision for the future, allowed a franchise launched five decades ago to still resonate today.
They're small, human moments — some scripted, some accidental — and they're one of the unsung heroes of what makes the world of "Star Trek" seem, to me at least, possible.
Sometimes you have a day where your job sucks and you end up like Sulu — holding a dog in a unicorn costume, staring out into nothingness wondering how this is your life.
And other times you find yourself doing busy work in the background of other people's lives, while they save the day.
There was 100% a cooler-looking way to shoot this scene. Spock is wearing jet boots! Jet boots are awesome! But this scene is awkward af.
And they knew it. That's why it's there.
The first "Star Trek" reboot even had a scene that — unintentionally or not — paid homage to this classic awkwardness.
Sure, Kirk could've taken a hypo to the neck without missing a beat, but he didn't. He made a weird face. Because he's human.
"Star Trek" presents a utopic vision of the future that is sleek and shiny and has jet boots and food replicators and transporters and phasers and intergalactic space travel and racial and gender equality (or '60s-era versions of it anyway), but it's also a future where people are still people (and, by "people," I'm including Trek's entire spectrum of nonhuman races) — and people are awkward, even while accomplishing great things and saving the universe time and time again.
A future in which everyone looks cool all the time might be fun to watch, but doesn't feel as tangible. The vulnerability of looking silly while achieving great things is incredibly human and makes it seem possible that we as individual people in 2016 can help bring the best parts of the future "Star Trek" envisioned to life.
One of the show's greatest legacies is the way it has inspired real change in the real world — from iPads and cell phones to saving the whales. To me, these small moments, more than anything else, make the grand vision of the future "Star Trek" presents — equality and justice for all — something that could happen, if we work hard enough to make it so.
Because on Sept. 16, 2015, marine police in Indonesia rescued 45 turtles from illegal poachers.
While the sea turtle population faces threats from climate change and habitat loss, the World Wildlife Fund also says the number of turtles lost to illegal poaching and overharvesting numbers in the "tens of thousands" each year, with almost 5,000 a year being picked up as "bycatch" just by Indonesian longline vessels
These lucky 45 turtles were spared a grisly fate at the hands of illegal poachers and set free the next day by the marine police, with the help of some tourists.
Of the seven species of sea turtle in our oceans, the World Wildlife Fund ranks three (leatherback, hawksbill, and Kemp's ridley turtles) as critically endangered, two (loggerhead and green turtles) as endangered, one (olive ridley turtles) as vulnerable, and the last one (flatback turtles) as "insufficient data" (but according to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, it used to be listed as vulernable sooooo ... there's that).
The turtles set free in these photos appear to be mostly green sea turtles.
And sea turtles don't have anything on tortoises, which have been documented living long past the century mark. But sea turtles have been known to live anywhere from 50 to 150 years, depending on their environment and species.
According to this Oceana report (PDF), the green turtle's grazing habits prevent seagrass beds from getting in the way of currents and help keep the oceanic food chain productive and healthy. So if you like eating lobster, you better care about people not eating the green sea turtle.
And not just any old random beach, either. They've been known to come back to the same beach where they were born to make their nests. I can barely even remember where I left my keys, and I always leave my keys in the same place.
Some species, like the Eastern Pacific green turtle, have been known to come up on land just to rest in the sun for a bit.
These guys are just trying to help, but there's no way to make this rescue look dignified.
So let's just leave the turtles in the ocean where they belong, OK
In the hustle and bustle of Big City LifeTM the notion of kindness sometimes gets lost.
We're all in such a rush to get to work or get home from work or catch that train or flag that cab or respond to that text that sometimes we get a bit lost in our thoughts and forget to look around us.
That doesn't make us horrible people; it just makes us human.
But it's also good to remind ourselves that our ability to be kind is also part of what makes us human. And kindness is a choice that we should, perhaps, strive to make more often.
To find an answer, the video lays out three different scenarios.
First, an elderly woman with a cane and a heavy suitcase approaches a steep set of stairs:
Second, a man falls asleep on the Tube with a sign asking other passengers to wake him up at Clapham Junction:
And lastly, a man bumps into a young woman on the street, knocking all of her belongings to the ground:
To be honest — and maybe I'm being cynical — but it wouldn't have come as a shock if no one stopped to help these folks. After all, the National Safety Council reports that 11,000 people were injured in distracted walking incidents between 2001 and 2011. If we're so distracted that we injure ourselves while walking, how can anyone expect us to notice when strangers around us might need our help?
But waddaya know? In each of the three scenarios laid out in the video, kindness prevailed. Peoplehelped.
Before the elderly woman could reach the stairs, a man was already on his way down to help her:
The sleeping Tube passenger was woken up in time to get off at Clapham Junction:
And a man almost immediately stopped to help the young woman collect her spilled belongings:
The best part though? Each of these good Samaritans was rewarded with a song from the other "strangers" around them:
And watching the surprise on their faces as they try to figure out why their small acts of kindness garnered such praise is exactly why we should all seek to be kind to each other more often.