You wake up one morning and head to the bathroom because something just doesn’t feel, look or smell right. Something is off. You immediately start to panic.

Thoughts come flooding into your mind like, “Oh my gosh, that son of a bitch cheated on me and gave me an STD,” “I should have never slept with that guy a month ago” or “Jesus, now I have X, Y or Z. What if I die from this? Can I die from this?”

Before you have a full-on panic attack and end up in the emergency room, take a deep breath and call your doctor to make an appointment. A lot of the time, people are sure they have a STD, but they actually do not.

Here are the six most common things that might look like STDs, but actually aren’t:

1. Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

We all naturally have good bacteria and bad bacteria in our vaginas. When the pH balance of our vagina is off-balance, which may occur for many reasons, bad bacteria can outgrow the good bacteria. Bacterial vaginosis produces a discharge with a fishlike odor, and it can be accompanied with some mild irritation.

2. Candidiasis (Yeast Infection)

Also caused by an imbalance of your vaginal pH, yeast infections are actually a lot less common than BV. They tend to cause clumpy, cottage cheese-like (sorry if that was part of your high-protein breakfast) discharge that is usually odorless. It can also just cause irritation, burning and itching without the discharge.

3. Folliculitis (Razor Burn)

I cannot tell you how many people I’ve seen in my office who are convinced they have herpes, when all they have is a bad case of razor burn. Symptoms of folliculitis include redness, stinging and bumps. These are the exact same symptoms you will find if you google “herpes.”

This type of irritation after hair removal isn’t specific to shaving. I have also seen it after waxing and over-the-counter depilatory products such as Nair.

4. Epidermoid Cysts

These are small, painless bumps that can occur on the skin of your vulva, and they are often mistaken for genital warts. Epidermoid cysts are usually made of keratin and fat. They are normally small, measuring about a few millimeters, but they can grow to be a few centimeters in size.

They are not harmful, but can be irritating or annoying, so people often want them removed. They should always be removed by a doctor.

5. Dermatitis

This is plain old skin irritation. This can lead to redness, irritation, pain and itchiness that lasts more than a day or two. The skin “down there” can be sensitive and easily bothered. Common catalysts of dermatitis include laundry detergents, toilet paper, vaginal deodorants or sprays, sanitary pads and panty liners, bath soaps and shower gels, new underwear (especially lace) and latex in condoms.

6. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Common UTI symptoms include increased frequency of urination, burning with urination and smelly, cloudy urine. UTIs occur when bacteria that is naturally on your body (especially near your rectum) has relocated itself through movement into your urethra. Since it doesn’t belong there, it hurts like hell.

UTIs are easy to treat, but they definitely do need to be treated immediately. If left too long without treatment, the infection can actually make its way to your kidneys, which is a worst-case scenario.

So, as you can see, there are a variety of things that can go wrong in your vagina that have nothing to do with a sexually transmitted disease. A new sexual partner or a high volume sexual experience (i.e. binge sex) can predispose you to getting a yeast infection, BV, dermatitis and a UTI, further convincing you that you may have a STD.

With that said, if you ever have anything unusual going on with your vagina, contact your doctor. Make an appointment, and never self diagnose. Every time you have a new sexual partner, you should also contact your doctor for a full STD screen. Please, please always practice safe sex.

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When considering the characteristics one wants in a life partner, “judgmental” does not top anyone’s list. Judgey people, as a general rule, are no fun. At the same time, God gave us critical thinking skills for a reason – and while sniffing out every single fault isn’t a very good trait, some level of discernment is crucial in getting through life, and in selecting a mate (or just a date). Internet Dating Land is especially fraught when it comes to the necessity of using superficial characteristics to determine potential compatibility.

You can’t message everyone OkCupid; you have to make some choices about who to respond to, and who to reach out to. That requires committing the great sin of Judging. If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool liberal and you get a message from LuvsAtlasShrugs79, it might be judgmental to write her off as a selfish Randian, but it’s also an efficient way to keep you from wasting an evening. If you hate cats and a dude who contacts you is wearing one as a scarf, Bon-Iver-style, it makes sense not to message back (although feel free to send him my way).

But not everyone who internet dates agrees that judgment is a necessary part of the process. (Aside: so do they date everyone that sends them a message?) Some folks are very upset that you may be judging them (to which I say, HOW DARE YOU JUDGE ME FOR BEING JUDGMENTAL?!). Like this OKCupid user, for example, who doesn’t think you should judge him for what he looks like or for what he’s done with his life:

It’s sad that people judge others on the way they look, or what they have accomplished in life thus far. I believe a person should look past all of that, and see what that person COULD do. That person that you just stuck you’re nose up at, could be the greatest political leader the world will never see, because (s)he didn’t get that push from someone. There’s not a person in the world that cannot accomplish greatness. It’s all a matter of did they have someone there to push them through the hard times. To comfort them when they didn’t think they were strong. I think that if everyone did one kind thing for a stranger once a week, this world would be a lot better. Keep in mind that this is just my Philosophy. I am not telling anybody their wrong. This is just my thought process.

Those are all very nice thoughts, but this is internet dating. And “I’m an unmotivated lump who needs you to push me to be a reasonably accomplished person” is not exactly a boner-inducer.

But he is still an award-winning catch next to this OkCupid champ, who also doesn’t believe in judging:

This man is exactly why the good Lord gave us all the gift of judgment. There’s nothing wrong with farting – everyone farts, and even a gentlelady like myself can admit that a good fart feels great – but maybe don’t advertise it when you’re trying to secure a girlfriend. I understand there is someone out there for everyone, but “Hey I’m just being honest” is not a get-out-of-being-disgusting-free card.

Also? If people read your profile and properly conclude that you’re a jackass, “STOP JUDGING!” is not the best response (I would suggest, instead, to stop acting like a jackass). Like this jackass, who is mad that superficial bitches have the nerve to look at his OkCupid profile before responding to his message:

so i haven’t updated my profile so because of judgments i figure it be best to update it. but it did serve as a good social experiment. its interesting to know how superficial a lot of women are. and these are the same women who pass judgement on men being superficial. they rather not take the time to actually talk to someone and get to know them. instead they read a profile and just stop there with their judgment. In the days before Internet, a person had to actually go ahead and talk to someone …wow, how did we do it back in the stone age. people did come with a preprinted portfolio to present to you when u said “hi” they didn’t have a million pictures to show you when you first said “hi” what you saw is what they looked like…period. you took the time to converse and get to know the person. they may have started with the wrong intentions but during a conversion the correct corresponding ground could be found and people’s intentions might change. that was the beauty of actual conversation, not this preprinted portfolios. Cuz in essence this is the EXACT same thing as arranged marriage, just arranged dating. You are presented with a preprinted “bio-data” and determine if it is to you (or your family) liking, bu yet we frown on the “old age nonsense” There is a loss in the human connection. and that was my attempt here. to place a sleazy profile up and yet still try o converse with females. Most looked at my profile first before even talking to me and even when i explained those are not my intentions they still declined. Did you know even after the advent of all these dating websites and stuff with preprinted profile so you can know the person “better” the divorce rate in the US still climbed from 60% to 70%?

Well for all you superficial females, this is my response to you. To those who took the time to actually talk to be as a person and not judge me on preprinted nonsense, well thank you. We found our common grounds and continued from there as proper adults should.

What is this, some sort of Superficial Woman Utopia where women get to not respond to your advances when they aren’t into your self-described “sleazy” profile? A a pre-arranged marriage where you actually see what a person looks like and what their interests are before agreeing to date them? Ugh, this is what’s wrong with America today, clearly, and here is a made-up divorce statistic to prove it.

The twin of the No Judgments profile is the No Fakers profile. Because people who hate people who JUDGE also hate people who are FAKE. Unlike the rest of humanity, I guess, who are basically like, “Fakers and phonies? Love ‘em!” But plenty of people feel the need to mention how they hate FAKERS and JUDGERS in their profiles – I suppose so that when FAKERS read said profile, they’ll think to themselves, “Wow, this person sounded so great, we like all the same music and have all the same hobbies and they are so totally cute, but crap, they say they hate FAKES and I am nothing if not totally FAKE so I guess I shouldn’t respond.” That works, right? Just ask this juggalo Holden Caulfield:

whats up im a 23 year old man yes ima juggalo or a hardcore fan of underground music im very family oriented and im looking for a girl who can accecpt me for me and not try and change me and these are things girls have tried to change about me in the past tried to get me to quit smokin weedn ( never gonna happen ) tried to get me to drop my music ( again never gonna happen ) and tried to get me to stop drinking ( never gonna happen i love to party ) so if your not some controling bitch feel free to message me back i beleave relationships are 50 / 50 you have to give a lil to get a lil when i a woman won’t change for a man then i don’t see the point in the man even making an atempt to change
p.s im very real i don’t mess around with fake ass ppl plus sex is important but its not the most important bare in mind i am a guy so sex is in my top 3 its not number 1 but its atleast number 3 i have to feel loved when im in a relationship

I am confident he will find a nice Juggalette to love him for HIM, no judging no faking. Hey, this lady is probably still single.


If you’ve got your own online dating horror stories, drop them below, or submit them anonymously.

The A(n)nals of Online Dating is a weekly column about How We Date Now, from the proprietor of the website of the same name, showing the best of the worst internet dating has to offer.

Illustration by Leslie Wood

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All humans make mistakes; it’s just part of our nature. There is an unfortunate truth, though, that we all must accept. Even the professionals that have our lives in their hands can make mistakes. When you’re under the knife in an operating room, your surgeon can make an error at any point. (After all, he is human… probably.) It’s horrifying to think of a doctor opening you up and then somehow forgetting to do the right thing. Complications during surgery happen and they typically aren’t the result of mistakes. Still, removing the wrong organ or leaving surgical tools inside of patients? That shouldn’t happen. Even the doctors that pay outrageous amounts because of malpractice insurance know that, but these mistakes still occur. These are some of the worst medical mistakes that could ever happen to you.

1.) Nancy Andrews of Commack, NY, became pregnant after receiving in vitro fertilization at a clinic. However, when the child was born, they instantly realized that they must have had a DNA switch-up. Their daughter had much darker skin than they expected. The doctors accidentally used another man’s sperm.

2.) 17 year-old Jésica Santillán died 2 weeks after receiving a heart and lung transplant… because she was given the wrong ones. The organs’ blood type did not match her own.

3.) Doctors accidentally removed the healthy right testicle of 47 year-old Air Force veteran Benjamin Houghton. The surgery at West Los Angeles VA Medical Center was supposed to be for the removal of the left testical because of cancer fears. The process was a series of mistakes and resulted in a $200,000 lawsuit from Houghton and his wife.

4.) Donald Church was having a tumor removed from his abdomen at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle in June 2000. After recovering and leaving, he discovered that doctors left a 13 inch-long retractor in his abdomen by mistake.

5.) A 67 year-old woman was admitted to a teaching hospital for cerebral angiography. The day after, she was accidentally involved in an invasive cardiac electrophysiology study. There was a mix-up in where her bed was after the procedure… and she was accidently taken into an operating table and was worked on for an hour (they made an incision in her groin, punctured an artery, threaded in a tube and snaked it up into her heart). The study was soon aborted and she was taken back to her room.

6.) For the third time in a year, doctors at Rhode Island Hospital operated on the wrong side of a patient’s head. An 82 year-old woman needed an operation to stop the bleeding in her skull. A neurosurgeon at the hospital began a surgery by drilling the right side of the patient’s head… even though the CT scan show bleeding on the left side.

7.) A surgeon accidentally removed the wrong leg of 52 year-old Willie King in 1995. There was a chain of errors before the surgery took place, resulting in the wrong leg being prepper for the procedure. The surgeon’s team realized in the middle of the procedure that they were operating on the wrong leg, but it was too late. They had to remove the whole leg.

8.) In St. Louis Park, Minnesota, a patient at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital needed to have a cancerous kidney removed. Doctors accidentally took out the wrong kidney after they took out the organ and tested it for cancer.

9.) A West Virginia man, Sherman Sizemore, was admitted to Raleigh General Hospital in Beckley in 2006. He needed exploratory surgery to determine the cause of his abdominal pain. During the surgery he experienced anesthetic awareness, a state where the patient is awake and can feel the pain, pressure or discomfort of an operation but cannot move or communicate. The 73 year-old Baptist minister was driven to suicide after the extremely traumatic experience.

20.) Former SNL cast member, Dana Carvey, needed a double bypass operation to save his life. Unfortunately, during the first surgery, surgeons had bypassed the wrong artery. It took another emergency operation to clear the blockage that was threatening to kill the 45 year-old comedian.

If you didn’t like going to the doctor before, you certainly won’t like it now. If you’re going into surgery, don’t be afraid to write on yourself before the procedure to let the doctor’s know what’s up. You may feel silly, but writing “NOT THIS LEG!” may save you a limb and a lot of heartache. Share these absolutely insane stories of medical mistakes by clicking the button below.

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Speaking at Northwestern University today about jobs, President Obama continued the “broken record” approach of economic planning:

POTUS calls for new investments in energy and technology to make America "a magnet for good, middle-class jobs."

— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) October 2, 2014

Hey, that sounds familiar!

.@JohnEkdahl Today – December 2013 – May 2013 –

— S.M (@redsteeze) October 2, 2014

Yeah, but “magnets” — that’s got to do something, right?

@redsteeze MAGNETS, FTW!!!! @JammieWF @JohnEkdahl

— Gaytriot (@GayPatriot) October 2, 2014

How original RT @markknoller POTUS calls for new investments in energy and technology to make America "a magnet for good, middle-class jobs"

— Brent Munlin (@Bmunlin) October 2, 2014

@markknoller Wait, what does "magnet" mean? We've magnet-ed more than enough. No more magnet.

— Alexis Metro (@Mrs__Met) October 2, 2014

.@markknoller New investments in energy and technology. Wow, what a brilliant, novel idea. I've never heard of such a "plan".

— Dostoevsky's Shade (@DostoevskyShade) October 2, 2014

@markknoller Isn't that what the old investments were supposed to do?

— Klown 2.0 (@realmyiq2xu2) October 2, 2014

@markknoller Hopefully it works out better this time!

— mateo (@stfuworld) October 2, 2014

@DostoevskyShade @markknoller You mean like wind & solar? #BeenThere #nobama #fail

— Nancy (@nancyruta) October 2, 2014

Obama should tell his ideas to the person in charge, if there is one:

Gee whiz! Whoever is in charge should get on that! RT @BarackObama: "We have to make our economy work for every working American." —Obama

— Melissa Clouthier (@MelissaTweets) October 2, 2014

I must say, I especially like it when President Obama talks about America as if he hasn’t been anywhere near power for the last decade.

— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) October 2, 2014

@charlescwcooke Obama vows to spend the rest of his life finding out who the real President was from 1/09-1/17.

— DrewMTips (@DrewMTips) October 2, 2014

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Melanie Lynskey exploded into film 20 years ago, playing a murderous teenager in Heavenly Creatures — now she’s a hipster mom in Happy Christmas. She talks about her career choices, Charlie Sheen, and full-frontal nudity.

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Melanie Lynskey and Joe Swanberg in Happy Christmas. Magnolia Pictures

When Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh went looking for the perfect actress to play Pauline Parker in Heavenly Creatures, they found her in 15-year-old Melanie Lynskey, a small town girl from New Zealand. According to a story in the Washington Post from the fall of 1994, when the movie was released, the filmmakers looked at between 500 and 600 girls to play the seething, simmering Pauline, who, with her best friend (and girlfriend) Juliet Hulme (Kate Winslet), murders Pauline’s mother. “The film was obviously going to live or die on its casting,” Jackson told the Post about the search at the time. Walsh and Jackson went on to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Screenplay, and Lynskey won Best Actress at the New Zealand Film & Television Awards.

Twenty years later, Lynskey, 37, is living in Los Angeles, where she’s spent most of her adult life, and working consistently, doing both movies and television. Whereas you could once see her in supporting roles on a more massive scale — as a friend in Sweet Home Alabama or Coyote Ugly, or as Two and a Half Men’s crazed stalker, Rose — she has more recently homed in on a vibrant career in independent movies. On Friday, Joe Swanberg’s sweet Sundance film, Happy Christmas, in which she co-stars opposite Swanberg, Anna Kendrick, Lena Dunham, and Jude Swanberg (a toddler, and a scene-stealer), will begin its theatrical rollout. (It has been available on iTunes and on demand for a month.)

In Happy Christmas, Lynskey plays Kelly, a Chicago novelist and mother who finds herself wondering about her life and her ambitions when her husband’s (Swanberg) wild, fucked up sister (Kendrick) moves in with them. That’s slightly wild, and a little fucked up; everyone is pretty nice here. It’s a lovely movie. And Lynskey, whose character you might think is going to be an uptight scold, creates a real-seeming person in Kelly. You’d want to hang out with her.

Lynskey and I met recently — in an empty screening room at the University of Southern California’s film school, which was an odd setting, but we got over it, I think — to talk about her career.

Heavenly Creatures came out 20 years ago. Does it feel like that to you?

Melanie Lynskey: I mean, it’s scary to think that I was acting 20 years ago. But when I think about it, it feels like a really long time ago.

You were in normal school, and Fran Walsh was basically going door-to-door looking for someone to play Pauline Parker?

ML: Yeah. She was driving around schools in New Zealand, auditioning girls.

Were you a theater kid?

ML: I’m from a very provincial town, so I couldn’t get an agent or do anything like that. But I did all the local theater.

What kind of teenager were you?

ML: I was a little bit naughty. I really liked boys a lot. I come from a very relaxed family where nobody knows what time you’re getting home. Sometimes my parents would be, like, “You need to have a curfew!” But then they would never do anything about it. I didn’t have a lot of rules.

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Lynskey in Heavenly Creatures. Miramax/Courtesy Everett Collection

So you ended up auditioning for Peter Jackson.

ML: He showed me Kate Winslet’s audition tape before my second audition. Which is one of the meanest things. She’s this professional actress, and he showed it to me and he was, like, “This is how good you have to be.”

That is mean. And she had been acting professionally, and living on her own, I think. That was different from your experience.

ML: She was, like, an old pro at that point. She was two years older than me, but when you’re 15, two years feels huge. I had never met anybody that glamorous before. She had a big pile of headshots, and she was, like, “Oh, they’re for fans.” I was, like, “What?”

That must have worked well for your characters’ power dynamic.

ML: It could not have been more perfect. I idolized her.

Do you feel like if that movie came out now, everyone would be more relaxed about whether the girls are or aren’t lesbians? It was such a different time in terms of sexuality on screen.

ML: That was the thing that really confused me when I was doing press for that movie. Again, my household was very permissive, and I had made out with girls, and been, like, Who knows? Everyone’s kind of everything, right? I was very loose about that kind of thing. Some of my friends had gay parents. And that was all anyone was asking me: “Are they lesbians?”

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Kate Winslet and Lynskey in Heavenly Creatures. Miramax/Courtesy Everett Collection

When you were done filming, did you go home and resume your normal life?

ML: I went back to high school. I never thought about it coming out. I never thought about anyone seeing it. New Zealand is very big on people not getting too full of themselves, so I was encouraged to be, like, Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? Now get back on with your life. And Kate took off so completely — I think I was like, Well, that’s her thing. Who do I think I am to try to start working? It took me a couple of years to get the courage up to even try. I came over here to do some auditions, and it was soul-destroying. I wasn’t ready for it. Then I went back home and regrouped.

After Heavenly Creatures but before you moved to Los Angeles, did people in your life think it was strange that you had been in this movie, and then were just living a student’s life?

ML: Not really, because people do that in New Zealand. Nobody’s really a celebrity or anything. Everyone’s all just, Don’t get full of yourself. There are a lot of actors who would do one movie. And then everyone would be, like, Well, she’s the person in that movie. So we can’t put her in another movie. And then they would go to Australia. So I don’t think it was that weird. I was working in a truck stop as a waitress — it sounds very dramatic…

Wait. After Heavenly Creatures?

ML: Yeah. I didn’t get recognized by that many truckers, but I got recognized a couple of times. And I was just kind of like, “Oh, yeah.” I didn’t have that, I’m too good to be a waitress or whatever.

That’s great. And please excuse my alarm. But you didn’t get paid enough for Heavenly Creatures not to work at a truck stop?

ML: Well, it was my first movie. I got a certain amount of money. I think I put some in a savings account. And then I was at university. I needed a job. I didn’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even tens of thousands of dollars. I think it was pretty fair. It’s more than I get paid for movies now. New Zealand actors don’t have a union, so I never got residuals or any money after that.

What was it that made you move to Los Angeles eventually?

ML: I got an agent over here. It was the only agent who had any interest in me. And she ended up becoming a manager, and she was my manager until last year when she passed away. So for 20 years, basically. Susan Smith was her name. She was, like, my second mother. She let me stay in her house when I came over here.

Los Angeles must have felt so far.

ML: It’s so far. And I was really naive. I think it’s a little different now because people have the internet, and the world is more connected. But at that time, I would order Premiere magazine and it would get to me like four months later. I was not on top of what was going on. So it was very, very frightening, and she was really kind to me.

I auditioned for The Crucible, and they asked me to test for it properly. I came over here and tested with Daniel Day-Lewis. I think that was when I was like, If he’s taking me seriously, and if they’ll let me be in a room with Daniel Day-Lewis, then maybe I have kind of a shot. And then I started to really try to do it.

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Jon Cryer, Lynskey, and Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men. CBS

At one point, you were a series regular on Two and a Half Men. And you asked to just be a recurring guest star instead, even though it was a huge hit show.

ML: I guess mostly people do that when they have a huge film career, and they’re like, “I’m too busy, guys.” I don’t know if anyone’s ever done it with nothing else to go to. I just got in a panic.


ML: It started becoming really popular. After the first season, I had a conversation with Chuck Lorre where I was like, “Am I, like, the wacky neighbor?” He was like, “No, no, no.” I said OK. Then, after the second season, I just realized that the show was about what it’s about, and everyone else is kind of peripheral. And I thought, I’m going to lose my mind if I’m on this show, just showing up every week and saying something crazy. It’s the easiest job in the world. The hours are amazing. I liked who I was working with. I could have been a millionaire. I could have a real fancy house! But I just was like, This feels like if I keep doing this, then it will only be this. Not just time-wise. But because there was so much exposure, and I knew I had to get out and start building up something else. Because also I had just done Shattered Glass. It was the first movie I’d done in awhile that I felt really, really, really proud of. And I thought that’s the feeling I need to have.

And Chuck Lorre said OK?

ML: He really was not happy at first. And Chuck Lorre not happy is really scary! But he was very kind to me. And after a little while, he was like, “You made an artistic decision, and I have a lot of respect for it.” And it worked out perfectly. It saved them money, not that they worry about that. But also, every time I came back, they needed a reason to bring me back, so they would write something good for me to do. It ended up being really fun.

You’ve always spoken highly of your working relationship with Charlie Sheen.

ML: Yeah, I really loved him.

What was he like to act with, especially in the early years of the show?

ML: When I met him, he was sober. Just a really, really sweet, good person. He was so prepared. So, so, so prepared. He’s the only actor I’ve ever worked with I think who was off-book for every rehearsal. And there’s no point being off-book when you’re doing a sitcom, because it gets rewritten after every time you rehearse it. But he would learn the lines so he could be present and feel it out properly. I was like, “Why do you do that? What’s the point in learning it? It’s just going to change.” He was like, “Ah, it’s just how I like to do it.” He was super respectful. We had a lot of physical stuff we had to do on the show because we were love interests. He would always be like, “Is this OK? Is that OK? Here’s how I think we should do it.”

Were you around when the craziness with him happened?

ML: I hadn’t been there for many, many months, and then I showed up, and it was clear that something was going on. I showed up and was like, “Hey everyone!” And everyone was like, “Uhhhhhh…” There was some tension. We ended up not filming the episodes. I think we did two of them. I was very confused the whole time. I was like, I know something’s not right, but I don’t know what.

You have kept your life pretty normal. And as far as celebrity spectacle goes, that was the most extreme. What was it like to know the person involved?

ML: I could tell that he wasn’t taking himself seriously at times. I reached out to him, and I was like, “Is everything OK?” And my conversation made me feel better about where he was at. And I haven’t been in touch with him for awhile. But you just hope that person is all right. He was always so good to me.

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Lynskey and Matt Damon in The Informant!. Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

I’m going to ask you about some of your other past work. I loved Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and your character represented the twist in the movie.

ML: It was really a complicated decision to do that. But I felt like the book had been so powerful for so many people, and I trusted Stephen. And I thought the movie could be something that could really help a lot of kids. It was nice to think of being a part of that. And I also thought it was a really interesting — it’s so tricky to talk about without seeming completely creepy. But, you know, a lot of abuse is perpetrated by people the child is really close to. Someone who’s really beloved. And I thought it was a really interesting way to show that. She was this really warm, lovely presence. But this other thing was going on.

You also worked with Steven Soderbergh and Matt Damon in The Informant!.

ML: That’s my favorite thing that I’ve ever done. That’s my favorite finished product, and it was also my favorite experience. First of all, Matt Damon is one of the greatest actors ever. Especially playing that character, he was so good and so weird. And Steven works in a way that was really appealing. It was very loose, and you felt like you had a lot of control over what was happening, but you felt very, very safe. We worked really quickly. Everyone would go to the bar after work and just hang out. It just was an atmosphere of respect. Steven has a lot of respect for everyone; everyone has a lot of respect for him. And then I just loved the movie. I feel like they maybe didn’t make it out to be the movie that it actually is in the trailers and in the marketing of it. So I think some people were a bit annoyed. I think people were confused about what the tone of it was.

Earlier you mentioned Shattered Glass. What was it about that experience that caused you, basically, to leave Two and a Half Men?

ML: Billy Ray is so smart, and so great, and he was very, very tough on me because I had been doing some romantic comedies. And he was really, really specific about not being too big, not doing anything character-y. Just being real, and sitting there and talking. And that movie was just so fucking good. It’s like The Informant! — I’m just watching the movie, and being, like, I love this movie, and then seeing myself in the middle of it.

You have a big Southern accent in Sweet Home Alabama. You’re the one who Reese Witherspoon’s character says, “You have a baby — in a BAR” to. Was that one of the romantic comedies Billy Ray was yelling at you about?

ML: I guess so. Yeah, that was a crazy shoot. People were really partying it up. Not Reese. Not Reese. She’s serious. She works a lot.

Well, I was happy to see her cut loose in that tape when she was arrested.

ML: She’s the kind of person I wish I was. Because I’ll, like, get in a fight with somebody if I have to. But I’m so indirect and making sure everyone else is happy, and, What does everyone need? She just asks for what she needs, she’s very direct, she expects people to be respectful. And I just love that. She’s really kind, and she’s very, very generous and funny.

I was going to shoot The Perks of Being a Wallflower. And I never look at tabloids or anything like that, but I’d had a really shitty day. I can’t remember what happened, but I was like, I’m gonna get a tabloid — fuck it. I’m just going to sit here and be disgusting and eat some chips and read this. I’m sitting on the plane going to Pittsburgh, and I hear this voice go, “Melanie?” And it was Reese. She was sitting in the seat next to me on this flight, which was wonderful because we had this nice, long flight, and we got to really catch up with each other. But it’s the last person you want to see you with, like, a trashy magazine. Awful. If I could name the one person in the world I wouldn’t want to see me reading Us Weekly.

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Lynskey and Anna Kendrick in Happy Christmas. Magnolia Pictures

So, with Happy Christmas, from what I understand of the Joe Swanberg process, he outlines his screenplays, and the dialogue isn’t written.

ML: There’s no dialogue. Some scenes are a little more specific in that he’ll say, “They have a conversation about how she needs more time to write. He says he’ll try to help her.” But then some scenes are just like, “They’re in a room — something in the basement!”

Speaking of the basement, I loved that scene with you and Anna Kendrick and Lena Dunham. With something like that, would you talk with them ahead of time about what to say, or would you just try to have a normal conversation?

ML: We just tried to have a natural conversation. I told Joe what I wanted to talk about. Most of what I say in that scene is directly stolen from my three best girlfriends, who have made me the godmother of their children. Because I don’t have children. But I feel I have a good understanding of what it’s like. And that was kind of why I wanted to do the movie, because I thought that was such an interesting thing to discuss.

I feel like movies have a lot of trouble portraying parenthood, the shades of it. The fact that it’s rewarding and wonderful, but also kind of ruining your life at the same time. The Kelly character loves spending time with her son — but also, it’s not enough.

ML: I think the thing that surprised me the most with my female friends, and surprised them about motherhood, is they kind of thought, I’ll have the baby, I’ll go back to my career, and I’ll be able to do both. I’ll get help if I need it. And the instinct they had of wanting to be there with their child really shocked them. These women have worked really, really hard to build a career, and in your early- to mid-thirties is kind of when you’re getting to the place where you want to be. And it’s so hard to let go of that. But then, at the same time, they’re like, I don’t want to not be at home. But I don’t want to be at home.

The movie turns out to be about Jenny, Anna Kendrick’s character, and Kelly and their friendship. I loved that.

ML: I kind of loved that too. It’s kind of the wonderful thing about the way he works. He gets really interested in a little snippet of a conversation, and then he’ll be like, “Can you put that in this scene?” or, “Can we do one scene where you’re talking about that?” And I think I got along really well with Jude. And he wasn’t sure if that was going to happen, so it enabled him to have more stuff where I was involved with Jude.

He’s a good little actor, that Jude!

ML: He’s so good! He’s so cute!

You’re in one of Joe Swanberg’s upcoming movies too. So, you were nervous about his process, but it ended up being something you would want to do again?

ML: If I don’t know how receptive someone’s going to be, it’s hard for me to speak up. And then I’m pretty good about it, once I work out who I’m dealing with. Once it became apparent that Joe was really open to anything, I really liked it.

Does it feel to you like you work steadily?

ML: Yeah, I feel really grateful. And it’s been really tough. A lot of my friends are actors, and character actors. It’s been hard the last few years. Nobody makes enough money to really live off of. There are so few jobs that the jobs you typically would have done, a famous person is now doing them. There’s this whole sort of trickle-down effect that’s been really hard on people. It’s always nerve-racking. I don’t know an actor who doesn’t feel like that. I mean, maybe I just wouldn’t be friends with those people. But everyone I know is like, Well, it’s all over!?

You’re on the Duplass brothers’ HBO show, Togetherness, which will be on sometime next year. What’s your character like?

ML: Mark Duplass and I are married to each other, and his friend, who’s played by Steve Zissus, moves in with us. And then my sister, who’s played by Amanda Peet, also moves in with us. Mark and I are having marriage problems; I can’t stand the sight of him sexually, I love him in every other way. It’s just kind of about marriage, not really in crisis, but dealing with problems. And parenthood, again. We have little children again.

An HBO show like that is something that could run for five seasons.

ML: Oh my god, that would be so great. I’ve never been sadder to have anything end.

Why was that?

ML: It felt so creative. Everything about it was really good. And I loved the show. I’ve seen two episodes. I’ve seen the pilot, and I’ve seen the one that I’m full-frontally naked in.

Oh, you’re — wow!

ML: You didn’t see as much as I thought you would see. But you — there’s some stuff. But I kept hearing from people, “Oh, all the episodes are so good.” So I was like, “Please show me the one. I need to know what people are seeing of my body.”

And how was that?

ML: It was fine. I felt kind of good about it. It’s definitely not the kind of naked body you usually see. But there’s a part of that I feel weirdly kind of liberated about. I saw it and thought, This feels kind of nice for the world. Just a fleshy, fleshy lady lying there.

You don’t look fleshy. I feel weird.

ML: I am, though. You don’t see any muscles. But I was like, I kind of love that that’s what my body looks like. And that’s what is going to be on television. It just feels nice to be representing something. I’m prepared for the backlash of people saying, “I don’t need to see that!”

I don’t think that would be the backlash. I think it could be, “Why is everyone naked on HBO all the time?”

ML: I think it’s good for people to be naked.

Sorry, I meant naked women.

ML: Well, Mark is naked too.

Ah! Then they won’t say it.

ML: Everyone is naked! I think everyone is naked on our show at some point.

God. This is going to be a good show!

ML: Yeah!

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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Miramax/Courtesy Everett Collection

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God I hate signs. Telling you to do things or warning you of other things. Where do they get off?! Sometimes I just want to go over to one of them and write some funny remark that sort of correlates to the subject of the sign and post it to the internet?

Anyone feel like that? Apparently some of you do. At least 24 (assuming the same people didn’t strike more than once), in fact…

1. Got that guy by the window on the lookout for you

2. Even with “probably” instead of “baby”, what is that an advert for?

3. I had Batman down for conservative

4.Facilities need to throw a comma in there…

5. If CCTV actually looked like that, the world would be a friendlier place.

6. Scarface can sell me drinks any day

7. Ahhh… that’s dark

8. Getting flashbacks over here. Call the police.

9. But what’s the unit?!

… 45

10. They could have at least given the other guy some claws…

11. Them crazy Australians

12. What if you don’t like pie?

13. Don’t worry, God has some flan for you…

14. Very small potato. Probably a King Edward #PotatoTalk

15. Did someone graffiti the light?

16. Excellent grammar and everything! 10/10

17. Who sign posts a roof?

18. Handy because it would calm down someone in need of the emergency door…

19. How can I make this place more suitable for my date?

20. People placing sticky notes on it.

21. Ah clever but, seriously, get your prostate checked out.

22. Aerosmith and their signs, eh?

23. But leave anarchy out of the fridge for a bit so it doesn’t clump up on your toast.

24. Tom Hanks for reading

What was your favourite? Let us know in the comments!

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Edward Snowden talks with Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena (2nd R) in front of a car at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo on Thursday. Handout / Reuters

WASHINGTON — Pressure is building in Congress for President Obama to move the G-20 summit in September away from St. Petersburg in light of Russia’s granting Edward Snowden asylum on Thursday.

“Russia has stabbed us in the back, and each day that Mr. Snowden is allowed to roam free is another twist of the knife,” said Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in a statement. “Others who have practiced civil disobedience in the past have stood up and faced the charges because they strongly believed in what they were doing. Mr. Snowden is a coward who has chosen to run. Given Russia’s decision today, the President should recommend moving the G-20 summit.”

“Yes. Yes I do,” Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Buzzfeed when asked if she thought Obama should consider not attending the G-20 meeting.

“I think this is a troubling pattern,” Ayotte said, pointing to Putin’s support for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, his crackdown on adoptions and a string of other decisions in which he’s “basically just trampling on what we’ve expressed to him that we want to see happen … we’re not just talking about Snowden here.”

Other senators didn’t explicitly call for Obama’s plans to change, but strongly condemned Putin for allowing Snowden into Russia instead of returning him to the U.S.

“I think Snowden is a traitor, and Putin did a wrong thing. But I’m not going to be a Secretary of State. I’m going to leave that to the President and John Kerry,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told BuzzFeed.

Sen. John Cornyn said that while he doesn’t have an opinion on whether Obama should not attend the meeting, he placed a substantial part of the blame for Putin’s decision on Obama’s shoulders.

“I think it’s a real thumb in the eye by Putin,” the Texas Republican said. “A thumb in the eye to the United States and a thumb in the eye to the President personally. Part of that is because people don’t see any consequences that follow cross red lines or defying the United States. That’s as much a credibility issue as anything else.”

Senator John McCain called for “serious repercussions” for Russia’s actions.

“Russia’s action today is a disgrace and a deliberate effort to embarrass the United States,” McCain said in a statement. “It is a slap in the face of all Americans. Now is the time to fundamentally rethink our relationship with Putin’s Russia. We need to deal with the Russia that is, not the Russia we might wish for. We cannot allow today’s action by Putin to stand without serious repercussions.”

McCain called for an expansion of the Magnitsky act and for completion of the U.S.’s missile defense programs in Europe. ”

Meanwhile, the White House and State Department have been suggesting that the President’s participation in a planned meeting with Putin around the time of the summit is in question.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters in the daily press briefing on Thursday that “we’re evaluating the utility of a summit.”

State Department deputy press secretary Marie Harf told reporters that “we are also re-evaluating the utility” of a planned 2+2 meeting between U.S. and Russian representatives scheduled to take place in Washington later this month.

Given the news about Snowden, Harf said, “It behooves us to reevaluate where the relationship is, whether the summit makes sense.”

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We still like you guys, even after that whole freedom fries thing.

1. The Little House on the Prairie

The Little House on the Prairie

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The Little House on the Prairie has been on French TV since 1976. For years, it’s been broadcasted during lunch time. Whenever the channel tries to replace it with another show, the fans go nuts and sign online petitions, and Little House is back on air a few months later.

2. Woody Allen movies

Woody Allen movies

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His movies are often more popular in France than they are in the U.S. and the recent scandal might not change that. He’s considered a genius and the epitome of the New York intellectual.

3. The Young and the Restless

The Young and the Restless

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Let’s be clear, not ALL French people love The Young and the Restless. But it is a household name and an absolute must in every retirement home in the country.

4. Starbucks Coffee

Starbucks Coffee

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The Associated Press

We may be coffee snobs, but the idea of walking around with a grande skinny caramel macchiato in our hands sounds so American, so “Hollywoodien,” as we say, that many French people wish they had a Starbucks in their town.

5. Paul Auster

Paul Auster

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For some reason (probably because he is a Francophile), the American author has achieved more literary fame in France than he has in the U.S.

6. Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben

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The Associated Press

Coben is big in the U.S., but he’s huge in France. French director and actor Guillaume Canet even turned his novel Tell No One into a successful movie.

7. Douglas Kennedy

Douglas Kennedy

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Kennedy is another very popular American francophile whose books were turned into French movies.

8. Burger King

Burger King

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Jean-Paul Pelissier / Reuters / Reuters

Right after Paris’ only Burger King outlet opened in December, people waited up to an hour to taste a Whopper — and people in Paris tell me the line is still very long today.

9. McDonald’s


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Mike Blake / Reuters / Reuters

Burger King’s novelty might be appealing, but in our eyes, the real monument to American gastronomy is McDonald’s. Sad, I know.

10. Naming their kids after American TV show characters

Naming their kids after American TV show characters

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Fox Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

When 90210 became a huge hit on French TV, people started naming their children after the show’s heroes — in particular Dylan and Kelly. These typical American names were among the most popular in France for a few years. So if you ever meet a French Dylan, you can bet his parents loved Luke Perry.

11. Barack Obama

Barack Obama

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AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Barack Obama can do no wrong in our eyes. He is the coolest politician and the president we wish we had.

12. American politics

American politics

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Stefan Rousseau – Pool / Getty Images

American politics is extensively covered in the French media although we’re still trying to figure out how your electoral system works. The Monica Lewinsky scandal and the overall reaction in the United States particularly amused us.

13. 7th Heaven

7th Heaven

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The show was extremely popular on French TV in the 2000s. Other American shows were too, but 7th Heaven was popular because it was so exotically wholesome, American, and Christian.

14. HBO and AMC shows

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Fred Prouser / Reuters


We’re not only into mediocre American TV. Shows like The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men also have a cult following in France.

Network American shows like Friends and Desperate Housewives also have a huge fan base. Seinfeld, however, never made it big.

15. Philip Roth

Philip Roth

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AP Photo/Joe Tabbacca, File

In our eyes, he’s kind of the literary equivalent to Woody Allen: a brilliant self-depreciating New Yorker who’s been in therapy for the past 30 years.

16. Jonathan Littell

Jonathan Littell

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To be fair, Jonathan Littell gained French citizenship a few years ago. But he only had an American passport when he wrote his French novel The Kindly Ones, which became a best-seller in France and went on to win the Prix Goncourt — the highest literary price in the country.

17. Jerry Lewis?

Jerry Lewis?

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Joel Ryan/Invision / AP

Americans seem to think we love Jerry Lewis. The truth is, old people love him but younger generations barely know who he is.

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