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The Oscar nominee that says a lot just with its title

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The Oscar nominee that says a lot just with its title

Long before a bemused Riz Ahmed read its name on Oscar nominations morning, the title of Pamela Ribon’s short film has tended to have an effect on those who hear it. Like when Ribon went to pick up her festival credential at SXSW in Austin, Texas, shortly before premiering her movie there.

Guy at the desk: “What’s it called?”

Ribon: “My Year of Dicks.”

Guy at the desk, not missing a beat: “Hard same.”

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There is, to be sure, no Oscar nominee this year quite like “My Year of Dicks” — and not just because of a title that, as Ribon notes, “is tough on a spam filter.”

The film, written and created by Ribon and directed by Sara Gunnarsdóttir, is one of the more hysterical, painful and sweet portraits of adolescence in all its awkwardness. It’s nominated for best animated short film at next month’s Academy Awards. Phil Lord (“Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse,” “The Lego Movie”) has called the 26-minute movie “one of the best films of the year of any length.”

It’s based on Ribon’s 2014 memoir, “Notes to Boys (and Other Things I Shouldn’t Share in Public)” — particularly a chapter that documents 15-year-old Ribon’s resolution to lose her virginity in 1991 while growing up on the outskirts of Houston. It proceeds as five cringe-inducing chapters of intimate encounters with not-so-great guys, though — as damning as that title is — “My Year of Dicks” is less about judgment for Ribon’s far-from-ideal romantic partners than it is about recounting, and illuminating, the bumbling first steps of sex.

“It’s cheeky but it isn’t mean,” Ribon said in a recent interview by Zoom from her home in Los Angeles. “It really was an inclusive feeling of: ‘We all got through that somehow, didn’t we?’”

When they were starting out, Gunnarsdóttir, an Icelandic animator who crafted the vivid animations of “Diary of a Teenage Girl, ” wondered if “Notes to Boys” would be a better, less troublesome title. But Ribon sensed something relatable — nay, something universal — about “My Year of Dicks.”

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“Not everybody has sent a note to a boy but everybody’s had a year of dicks — academically or in business or dating. It has a lot of layers,” Ribon says. “So it has been a way to bring everyone in, unfortunately. Everyone’s like ‘Hard same.’”

“My Year of Dicks,” which is streaming on Vimeo, has emerged, against the odds, as one of the most talked-about films at this year’s Oscars. Not only will much be riding on whether Ribon and Gunnarsdóttir can win on March 12, but perhaps even more eagerly awaited will be seeing which presenter, at the most dignified of awards shows, gets to utter the film’s name for an audience of millions, on live television.

“Do you think they’ll bleep it?” anxiously wonders Ribon.

For Ribon, 47, “My Year of Dicks” is an oddly appropriate culmination. Though her best known credits as a screenwriter are for more kid-friendly cartoons (“Moana,” “Ralph Breaks the Internet”), Ribon has, as an essayist, blogger and podcaster, long been an uncommonly open book. Her 2012 essay, “How I Might Have Just Become the Newest Urban Legend,” described a less than, um, sanitary trip to the masseuse parlor while she was many months pregnant.

“People were like: ‘It just would never occur to me to share that story with people,’” Ribon says. “And I was like, ‘What would you do?’ They were like, ‘Never tell anyone ever for the rest of life my life what just happened to me.’ I was like, ‘Oh!’”

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“I do sometimes feel like a walking cautionary tale,” says Ribon.

Even as a teen, Ribon was deeply aware of the tragicomedy of her coming of age. She didn’t keep a diary but she prodigiously wrote, either by typewriter or by hand, about her life. Holding up a thick green notebook, Ribon flips through the short stories, notes to boys and ticket stubs she accrued through those years.

“I liked to have an audience from the beginning when I was processing my thoughts,” says Ribon. “I’m still that way. I much prefer writing an email about my day than keeping it to myself. It feels weird to talk to me.”

“My Year of Dicks” began as a television project for FX Networks, but the filmmakers ultimately decided to try their luck on the festival circuit. Since the Walt Disney Co. owns FX, “My Year of Dicks” technically counts, ironically enough, as one of Disney’s Oscar nods, alongside the likes of “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Turning Red.”

As time went on, “My Year of Dicks” began to appear different, and more distant to Ribon. The overturning of Roe v. Wade made such sexual exploration far more perilous for young women. Texas law bans abortions after roughly six weeks of pregnancy and makes no exceptions for rape or incest. Ribon’s film, increasingly, looked like a time capsule of a bygone era.

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“In modern day Texas, this is the most dangerous thing a girl can do with her future. These people should not be responsible for lifelong decisions because of a party,” says Ribon. “At least I felt free to find out. Now, I would have been too scared to learn about myself. I’m grateful for the mistakes I was able to make. I didn’t have sex in any of those situations but it could have happened. And it could have happened with just one person being more a dick than here. It’s so much scarier to think about.”

But Ribon believes animation offers “a tool to talk to someone’s unfiltered heart” — that even in an a very adult animated film, it’s possible to connect back to, as she says, “that part where we set out with the best intentions for ourselves.”

“We’re thrown back into Saturday morning cartoon feelings,” she says.

So, yes, “My Year of Dicks” might be the most giggle-inducing Oscar nominee this year. But it also may be the most nakedly heartfelt.

“Maybe that’s my job in life, to help people know that you’re not alone and it could be worse. There is something very satisfying about knowing I officially have the worst sex talk of all time. It’s not just something that I say,” Ribon says, pausing to smile. “The academy has spoken.”

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R.E.M. delivers surprise performance at songwriting gala

R.E.M. delivers surprise performance at songwriting gala

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R.E.M. delivers surprise performance at songwriting gala

 R.E.M. performed onstage together for the first time in well over a decade Thursday, reuniting to play their classic “Losing My Religion” as they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Michael Stipe, Peter Buck and Mike Mills broke up in 2011, and the last time all four members played onstage together — Bill Berry left in 1997 — was in 2007. But entrance into the who’s who of music that is the prestigious songwriting pantheon got the band back together.

“Songwriting is the very foundation of why we came together in the first place,” lead vocalist Michael Stipes told AFP. “We’re really proud.”

The band was inducted by Jason Isbell, who performed a cover of R.E.M’s “It’s The End of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” at the event. “R.E.M. was greater than the sum of its parts. R.E.M. moved like a single instrument,” Isbell said.

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The Songwriters Hall of Fame celebrates its inductees with a festive dinner and intimate concert instead of a televised event.

Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael — the duo known as The Bacon Brothers — opened the show with a foot-stomping rendition of “Footloose,” the Oscar-nominated title track of the hit 1984 film of the same name.

Bacon starred in the movie — but Dean Pitchford wrote it and much of its music, and was among the elite group inducted Thursday.

The writer of many hit film and musical tracks, Pitchford thanked the adoring audience “for hearing all these years, and above all, thank you for listening to me.”

Trey Anastasio of Phish inducted Steely Dan, while chairman of the Songwriters Hall of Fame Nile Rodgers — the beloved co-founder of Chic — bestowed SZA with a special award for songwriters “at an apex in their careers.”

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It’s “just beyond all of my wildest dreams,” SZA said, before performing an acoustic rendition of “Snooze.”

Rodgers took his moment onstage to emphasize that “there would be no music industry if there were no songs,” specifically calling out streaming platform Spotify to “acknowledge and make a point of songwriters being your priority.”

Hip hop, country, and Oscar royalty

None other than Missy Elliott had the crowd on its feet as she inducted Timbaland into the coveted class.

“In hip hop, there was certain ways that hip hop music sounds — Timbaland… literally changed the cadence,” she said, adding that the producer, rapper and singer whose hits include “Give It To Me” was a master at marrying sensibilities of rap and R&B.

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“Thank you for giving me a seat at the table,” Timbaland said in a lengthy acceptance speech, before conducting a house band through a medley of his hits and those he produced for the likes of Elliott, Justin Timberlake and Beyonce.

Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban performed in honor of Hillary Lindsey, a Nashville songwriting star who’s written for artists including Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Shakira.

And Diane Warren — the songwriter who’s earned 15 Oscar nominations, including for “Because You Loved Me” performed by Celine Dion and Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” — received the night’s highest honor, the Johnny Mercer award.

She, like all of the inductees, said being honored by her peers was particularly special. “It’s songwriters — what’s cooler than that?” she said. 

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King Charles’ portrait defaced by animal rights protesters

King Charles’ portrait defaced by animal rights protesters

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King Charles' portrait defaced by animal rights protesters

King Charles’ first completed official portrait since his coronation in May 2023 has been defaced by animal rights activists in London.

On June 11, two supporters from the group Animal Rising approached the King’s dramatic portrait by Jonathan Yeo at the Philip Mould Gallery and affixed posters inspired by Wallace and Gromit to the image.

The protesters overlaid the King’s face with the character of Wallace, adding a speech bubble reading, “No Cheese Gromit. Look At All This Cruelty On RSPCA Farms!”

The stunt was meant to draw attention to the findings of a new report by Animal Rising, which describes itself as a nonviolent organization working towards a more sustainable future “where humanity shares a positive relationship with animals and nature.”

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The report, published on June 9, claimed that “cruelty and suffering” were found across 45 randomly sampled farms affiliated with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (RSPCA) Assured program, a statement said.

The RSPCA Assured is the organization’s non-profit farm animal welfare assurance initiative, upholding higher farm animal welfare standards from birth to slaughter.

King Charles, 75, is the royal patron of the RSPCA, following in the footsteps of his mother, Queen Elizabeth.

“The lighthearted action played on the King’s love of Wallace and Gromit and his status as Royal Patron of the RSPCA,” Animal Rising said in the statement.

“Animal Rising has called on the King to suspend his support for the charity until they drop the Assured Scheme.”

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The activists defaced an image significant as the King’s first portrait since his ceremonial crowning last spring.

The fiery red portrait by Yeo was revealed at Buckingham Palace on May 14, unveiling a commission in the works for four years.
The artwork was commissioned in 2020 to celebrate Charles marking 50 years as a member of The Draper’s Company in 2022.

Yeo is considered to be one of the world’s leading portrait artists and joked on social media that the image “sparked a million memes” after it was unveiled.

Queen Camilla reportedly had a thoughtful reaction when she saw it for the first time, telling Yeo, “Yes, you’ve got him,” according to the BBC.

The piece measures about 8 ½ by 6 ½ feet, framed to fit in with the architecture of Drapers’ Hall, the hub of the historic guild. It has been displayed to the public for free at the Philip Mould Gallery in London since May 16 and was scheduled to be on view until June 21.

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Behroze Sabzwari draws flak for his recent ‘controversial’ statements

Behroze Sabzwari draws flak for his recent ‘controversial’ statements

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Behroze Sabzwari draws flak for his recent 'controversial' statements

Eminent TV host and actor Nadia Khan appearing on her show has taken famous veteran actor Behroze Sabzwari to task for his controversial statements about women and PIT founder Imran Khan.

Nadia Khan called out Behroze Sabzwari for his recent disputed statements.

Nadia Khan said, “I think it is okay if he only talks about himself, I have a problem when he passes statements on women.

In a recent podcast, he talked about his ex-daughter-in-law. Some time, he talks against other women. He criticises women for their dress. He keeps an eye on how women dress up.

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Sometimes, he talks against me. It has become a pattern now.”

On a show, Marina Khan said, “Actors are ambassadors as they represent themselves. They represent media fraternity and they should not talk against anyone.”

Behroze Sabzwari once had said Nadia Khan used to degrade her guests on her morning show.

Nadia Khan is a super gorgeous, famous and talented Pakistani television host & actor.

She has so far appeared in many notable television dramas which include Des Pardes, Bandhan, Kaisi Aurat Hoon Main, Dolly Darling, Aisi Hai Tanhai and Kamzarf.

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The talented host is happily married and has adorable kids. Nadia Khan is also known for her YouTube channel Out Style With Nadia.

She is currently appearing in the show Kia Drama Hai as co-host and reviewer. Nadia Khan is a fearless celebrity who always speaks her heart out.

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