Between the Boston Marathon Bombing and the ricin scares, the sinkhole in Chicago and the massive fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, this is a week NewsFeed is glad is finally over. But there’s always a little light amid the darkness; here are ten of our favorite bright spots in a week that sorely needed them.
1. A Woman Was Reunited with Her Siblings, 15 Years Later
As a teenager, Meredith Richardson had promised her dying grandmother that she would look after her young brother and sister — only to see them be put into foster care and disappear behind a wall of bureaucracy and red tape. Now, after a 15-year struggle with the Los Angeles County foster care system, Meredith, Marilyn and Aubrey have finally been reunited. “This whole experience has made me want so much more for myself and my future. Unconditional love — there’s nothing like it,” Marilyn told the Los Angeles Times in a heartwarming story published Wednesday. “I want to live up to my new family’s picture of me and be a good sister for them and to be happy they found me.”
2. Patton Oswalt Made Us Want to See the New Star Wars Movie
Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt pretty much won this week: his inspiring Facebook post in response to the Boston Marathon bombing went viral, he announced he was hosting the 17th Annual Webby Awards and he played the Penguin in a hilarious College Humor Batman spoof. But possibly most impressive was this 8-minute, off-the-cuff pitch for the plot of the new Star Wars film, filmed for his guest spot on this week’s Parks and Recreation, that scaled heights of geekdom that even J.J. Abrams might fear to tread.
3. George H.W. Bush Posed for This Photo
As the 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush has had his share of formal duties. But it’s probably the first time an 88-year-old former commander-in-chief introduced the newest members of the Houston Texans’ cheerleading squad. Bush gave a rose to each of the women in a special ceremony on Wednesday and sported some extremely handsome star-spangled socks to boot.
4. Roger Ebert May Be Gone, But Ebertfest Lived On
Two weeks ago the nation mourned the loss of the beloved Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert. But the 15th annual Ebertfest, which commenced Wednesday at the University of Illinois, was a celebration of everything he valued. Widow Chaz Ebert opened the festival according to the specific instructions left by her husband, including an appearance by a gospel choir who joined the audience in a sing-a-long of the 1960′s hit, “Those Were the Days.”
5. The Circle of Life Continued
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium announced the births of two new babies, one born to Moka, a Western Lowland gorilla, and another born to Toma, an Amur tiger. (Both are engangered species.) The babies don’t have names yet — Moka’s child has bonded so closely with its mother that zoo officials can’t tell yet whether it’s a boy or girl, according to Pittsburgh’s KDKA News — but both are said to be doing well.
6. These Hollywood Kids Held a Dance-Off
Nine-year-old Academy Award nominee and Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhané Wallis faced off with Rachel Meiselas, the eight-year-old daughter of entertainment lawyer Kenny Meiselas, in a dance-off during an MTV Movie Awards afterparty on Apr. 14. We call it a draw.
7. Jon Hamm Appeared on Sesame Street
We certainly hope most Sesame Street viewers aren’t allowed to watch Mad Men yet, but any grown-ups who tuned in got a kick out of watching Jon Hamm and Elmo teach kids about the word of the day, “sculpture,” in an episode that aired Apr. 18. While Hamm plays a ’60s-era creative genius in the AMC drama, Elmo managed to create his own masterpiece without any of his input.
8. New Zealand Legalized Gay Marriage
New Zealand’s landmark decision to vote in favor of same-sex marriage garnered a Glee-esque response when audience members in the public gallery (and some members of Parliament) broke into a sing-a-long of the Maori love song “Pokarekare Ana” as the law was being read into the record. New Zealand is the 13th country to legalize gay marriage and the first nation in the Asia-Pacific region.
It may be time to renew that gym membership. A new study finds that exercise may help undo some of the brain damage resulting from heavy alcohol consumption.
A 9-year-old boy was nearly swept over a 300-foot waterfall at Yosemite National Park on Saturday — until he was saved by someone not very much older than himself. Alec Smith, 16, after hearing the mother’s cries, leapt over a protective fence and jumped into the raging Merced River, pulling the boy to safety just yards from the massive drop over the Vernal Falls waterfall. Alec was philosophical about the rescue, which park rangers said put him at considerable risk: “Don’t think about what could have happened,” he told the San Jose Mercury News. “Be grateful for what did happen.”