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The Power of Twitter

[update! Jamie Denbo, aka Beverly, has just added a personal note to this post for all us _flossers. See below...] In case you doubt the power of the bird, here's a refreshing story that'll make you want to ReTweet with glee.

Friends of mine, Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo, are hilarious comedians who have made a name for themselves around Los Angeles as Ronna and Bev, two middle-aged Jewish women from Bastan who say the most inappropriate things and somehow get away with it in a style that Larry David only wishes he had.

Some moons ago, they pitched a show based on their characters to Showtime, who ordered a pilot. The pilot was shot, but then ultimately dropped before it ever reached the cable waves. (Sadly, par for the course for the majority of pilots, even the good ones, which this is.)

Then, suddenly, Showtime announced that, for tax purposes, it had to air the canned pilot before the end of the year. (?!) And so, last week, in the days preceding the (cough) "premiere", Chaffin and Denbo enlisted their Twitter followers and Facebook friends to help spread the word about the show, figuring, if enough hubbub was made, another network might order a season's worth of episodes.

This is where the social media buzz gets interesting. From a piece today in the WSJ:

They reached out to friends they had made during their years on the New York and L.A. comedy circuit, including "Juno" writer Diablo Cody; "Daily Show with Jon Stewart" alums Rob Riggle and Rob Courddry; and Mindy Kaling, an actress/writer/producer on "The Office." All four tweeted about the show, enticing people (Kaling alone has over a million followers on Twitter) to watch or record the episode. On December 20 and 21, "Ronna and Beverly" became a cause célèbre on Twitter with people like "The Office" co-star Rainn Wilson (who has more than 1.7 million followers) and Time magazine contributor Joel Stein (over 1 million followers) piping in. After the show aired, Twitter as well as the IMDB page for "Ronna and Beverly" filled up with mostly positive reviews and calls for Showtime to reconsider.

In case you missed the original airing, it goes on again tonight at some silly hour (like 12:07 1/2 am or something) so check your Showtime listings and BE SURE to TiVo it. With all the media attention it's receiving, you can bet you'll be part of a winning movement to get the show on the air.

Read on for a personal note from Jamie Denbo to all you _flossers:

"I have always trusted the audience more than most of the upper execs who make these kinds of greenlighting decisions. And in this case, the audience has spoken and is still speaking. It would appear that smart people and smart audiences like Ronna & Beverly. No matter what happens, we will always have that. Thanks for the support everyone! Beverly owes you a big, wet, sexually inappropriate kiss!" - Jamie Denbo

And if you want to follow them on Twitter: @JamieDenbo and @jessicachaffin. You can also Fan them on Facebook here.

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Why Can Parrots Talk and Other Birds Can't?
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If you've ever seen a pirate movie (or had the privilege of listening to this avian-fronted metal band), you're aware that parrots have the gift of human-sounding gab. Their brains—not their beaks—might be behind the birds' ability to produce mock-human voices, the Sci Show's latest video explains below.

While parrots do have articulate tongues, they also appear to be hardwired to mimic other species, and to create new vocalizations. The only other birds that are capable of vocal learning are hummingbirds and songbirds. While examining the brains of these avians, researchers noted that their brains contain clusters of neurons, which they've dubbed song nuclei. Since other birds don't possess song nuclei, they think that these structures probably play a key role in vocal learning.

Parrots might be better at mimicry than hummingbirds and songbirds thanks to a variation in these neurons: a special shell layer that surrounds each one. Birds with larger shell regions appear to be better at imitating other creatures, although it's still unclear why.

Learn more about parrot speech below (after you're done jamming out to Hatebeak).

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