This week’s listmaker: Sarah Murrell. Sarah’s a photographer, makeup artist, writer, and listings editor at NUVO. She will try anything twice and never backs down from a double-dog dare.
As soon as the sun starts hanging low in the sky, so many moods do follow. People who write textbooks call it “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” I call it “just another reason winter sucks.” If I were one of those un-fun, cheerleader types, I would advise a treatment regimen of exercise, eating kale, and taking Vitamin D. But the reality is that you’re no more likely to do that than start flossing regularly, because you probably stare at a lot of screens all day long, and you’re too tired for aerobics at the end of the day, and you are cold and dead inside like the winter.
Never fear. I have spent many a winter month gathering the will to get out of my bed (Did I mention I also have a mattress heater?) simply by cracking my laptop in the pre-dawn hours and getting my giggle on, and I’ve combed the internet for the most irrepressible-giggle-inducing content out there. I strongly suggest bookmarking this page for a quick refresher when the serotonin levels really start to dip, right around the end of February when you realize that spring is a farce created by a panel of cruel old men designed to keep you in a perpetual state of hopeful gloom, but the sun never comes. It never comes.
Skip the bowl when you get out the ice cream, and press Play.
1. This Small French Child Telling A Story. Are you even kidding me with this French kid? This homegrown gem features everything in this world that makes life worth living: a small child in a blunt haircut with bangs, precocious non sequitur narrative, French accents, and one Winnie the Pooh character eating another character’s babies. The story itself is better than anything picked up by NBC in the last two years; and this child is proof of your suspicion that everything French is just a little bit better than the American version, including children: infinitely more interesting than your own, with much better clothes and better stories, like your European roommate from college. You’re also getting a lot of bang for your buck with this video, with frame story elements of the supernatural mixing with surrealism and animism, and even a cameo by a mammoth. Watch this video too many times, and you’ll forget why you even bother with your own kids.
2. This Baby’s Head Hitting the Ground. One hundred American dollars is what I would bet that you did not see the ending of that one coming. The sound of that tiny child’s cranium hitting the frozen earth is such a delightful little gift from gravity at the end there. I know, I know, I shouldn’t laugh at her inability to balance during her first ice-related experience (and probably only months after she walked for the first time), but you’re witnessing a classic and necessary evolutionary moment. You get to be a part of her rite of passage as a bipedal creature, where you learn that a surefire way to look like an asshole is to walk confidently upon frozen water, which has the awesome power to scramble your egg even after you’ve recovered your balance once. Essentially, we are watching her gravitational innocence be destroyed, and it is hilarious. Like chicken soup for the soul.
3. Anderson Cooper giggling. This is one of the most satisfying pieces of footage I have ever seen in my life. First of all, Anderson Cooper is obviously adorable. But what makes the footage so satisfying is that the little forest nymph giggles coming out of the same man with that perfectly-pressed suit and silver haircut, who we’ve seen report from the front lines and the aftermath of global crises. Look at him. Look at his sweet little face as he desperately tries to cling to any semblance of composure, crinkling up into a gleeful grin as he surely did during his carousing years as a young lad at the Dalton School.
You can see it in his eyes as he crumbles: he’s picturing Thomas, the family butler, standing in the corner stage whispering, “Composure, Coop! You’re a Vanderbilt!” He can see Thomas’s disappointment in his mind’s eye, but he just can’t stop. Even Anderson Cooper, who contracted malaria in Kenya as a teenager and was given his first black Gap Kids T-shirt in a Nairobi hospital. (He calls it his “warrior shirt” and wears it to this day. It has become his armor.) But he loses his on-air giggle fit v-card over a poop joke, and you can fully access the humanity of his true being for one majestic moment. Like Icarus, he flew too close to the toilet humor sun, and he tumbled to earth among all of filthy normals with our pooping puns. The glory of it all is a heady lift for the mood.
4. Talking porcupine. Honest to God, the first time I heard the sound of this animal, I cowered in my chair with my hands over my mouth. I got tears in my eyes. I made this squealing noise that caused my dog to bolt into his cage and stare at me in fear. This is a powerful booster shot of cute, what with the tiny, weird little hands pulling up a miniature basket. Over and over again he does it, staring expectantly at the keeper like, “Bitch, give me that banana that I know you have!”
And oh my goodness, when she does, he expresses a sound that is made of pure animal joy. It’s the sound of unadulterated happiness, slipped free of the surly bonds of our stupid human words, translated into the sweetest little grunts of a toothless porcupine. It is that noise that let’s us know that authentic joy is possible, and sometimes it comes to you even when that stupid little basket you pull up that long string is empty, over and over.
If you can hold on, at one point, the keeper pokes Kemosabe’s belly. Be careful, because the sound that the porcupine makes has the power to cause random cranial explosions. It just might be the cure you need. Keep pulling on that basket, buddy. You never know when that great benevolent hand will give you a banana.
5. Hold onto your butts: Freshly-bathed baby sloths. It’s basically 8th grade math that if you take any helpless animal and get it wet, it automatically becomes a thousand times more adorable. On a sliding scale, the cuteness increases according to the animal’s likelihood to drown if left unsupervised. Cats, for example, are adorable and hilarious when soaked to the bone and photographed, looking all the world like a sewer rat and very visibly pissed off, but you know that if there wasn’t a human there usually manually dragging the little bastard into the water, any cat would be Outie 5000; therefore, they fall low on the scale. But a sloth and water? They would drown in their own leaf bath in the time it would take a keeper to take a sip of her latte, which raises their reading on the Squee-Meter by over a thousand percent.
Multiply wet sloth by the element of baby slothness, and what you create is a veritable atom bomb of depression-vaporizing power. They hang the sloths to dry on a tiny jungle gym. They make tiny perfect shrieks of discomfort but they can only lazily drag their long arms through the air in the softest form of protest. They eat flowers. They eat fucking flowers, you guys. The only way you should be able to make it through this without turning into a mushed-up pile of joyful tears and giggles and applause is by thrusting a knife into your own thigh—or maybe just by looking out the window.
Did that do it? Well, you’ll just have to start over from the beginning and get some more ice cream. We’ll get through this together: you, me, and a bucket full of freshly-washed sloths.