FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
July 21, 2014

Last week was a kind of victory lap for "Weird Al" Yankovic, whose new album Mandatory Fun was greeted with a near-rapturous reception across the internet.

But while Yankovic is thrilled to have had "the best week of [his] life in terms of a response from people," it may also be a kind of swan song; despite the success of Mandatory Fun, Yankovic says he's ready to abandon the album format altogether.

"I hate to draw lines in the sand and say this is absolutely the last album, but it sure looks that way," he explained in an interview with Associated Press. "It's the end of my record deal. I've been under contract since 1982, and I just kind of feel like — especially with the kind of music that I do — the album format isn't the best way to deliver that music. It feels like I need to be more, you know, immediate. And that means, probably, singles."

As long as he keeps churning out hilarious music videos to go along with them, fans can probably live with that. --Scott Meslow

1:00 p.m. ET

If you're like me, you've shrugged off more than a few morning runs this summer, telling yourself it would be irresponsible to run in this heat/be extra tired at work/get out of bed before you have to. Whatever your excuses, it seems Kansas City Royals center-fielder Jarrod Dyson does not share them, at least if this ridiculous home run-robbing catch he made Thursday night is any indication:

Dyson topped out at nearly 20 mph in his mad dash for the ball, and by fielding what should have been a sure-fire homer for Miami Marlins left-fielder Christian Yelich, Dyson committed the first-ever home-run robbery at Marlins Park.

Now as someone who admittedly gravitates more toward the other Big Four sports, baseball tends to, er, lack the excitement I crave. That said, a cheetah generally tops out at around 60-70 mph, so Dyson is impressively about a third of the way toward matching the world's fastest land animal — but no word on how well the cheetah's hand-eye coordination would translate to defensive baseball. Kimberly Alters

12:03 p.m. ET
AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) found himself in hot water Friday, after news of a profanity-laced voicemail he left for a state lawmaker made headlines. LePage left state Rep. Drew Gattine (D) an aggressive voicemail, the Portland Press Herald reports, in response to allegations Gattine apparently made suggesting LePage was a racist following the governor's characterization of drug dealers in Maine as "90-plus percent … black and Hispanic."

LePage, who has been an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump for president, reportedly challenged Gattine to back up his alleged accusations of racism:

"Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage," a recording of the governor's phone message says. "I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you (expletive). I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I'm a racist. I've spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist (expletive). You … I need you to, just friggin. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you." [Maine Gov. Paul LePage, via Portland Press Herald]

In a follow-up encounter with a reporter from the paper, LePage said that he wished "it were 1825" so he could duel Gattine. "I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you," LePage said, referring to Alexander Hamilton's famous, fatal duel with Aaron Burr in 1804. "I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt." Read more about the entire ordeal at the Portland Press Herald. Kimberly Alters

11:23 a.m. ET
David McNew/Getty Images

If you seek a pure encapsulation of the festering mess of feelings this presidential election has engendered nationwide, look no further than a dozen swing voters from Brookfield, Wisconsin, who participated in a Washington Post focus group this week. Though 11 of the 12 believe Hillary Clinton will beat Donald Trump come November, the group cast both candidates as deeply flawed choices in a "cesspool" election.

For Clinton, the most common word mentioned was "liar," and the former secretary of state's image as a self-serving career politician came up frequently. "You can't trust her," said Beth Gramling, who voted for both George W. Bush and Barack Obama. "The trust to know between right and wrong, and integrity. I don't think that she has that, and it's a shame."

Trump — labeled America's "drunk uncle" — didn't fare any better. "Trump, the way he acts. Every day you turn on the TV, and I just shake my head," said Sheri LaValley, who also has voted for both Republican and Democratic nominees since 2000.

Even the voters who have decided to vote for one of the two were dispirited in their choice. A Trump supporter said he felt "apprehensive," and worried about Trump's unfettered style, while a Clinton supporter mustered a less-than-ringing endorsement: "I'm choosing what I feel is the lesser of two evils." Bonnie Kristian

11:20 a.m. ET

Trump campaign spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway thinks Donald Trump "deserves credit" for going where most Republicans haven't: into "communities of color." "Republican presidential nominees usually are not bold enough to go into communities of color and take the case right to them and to compete for all ears and compete for all votes. They've been afraid to do that," Conway said Friday on Good Morning America.

Conway's defense of Trump's effort comes amid criticism that he's painting an unnecessarily bleak picture of African-American communities, with comments about high rates of poverty and unemployment and schools that are "no good." "This entire conversation had to be had," Conway said, noting that Hillary Clinton — who far and away leads among black voters — has suggested policies that would leave "many people behind."

"We hope they're listening," Conway said of minority voters. Watch the interview, below. Becca Stanek

11:00 a.m. ET
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

On Thursday, Oxford Dictionaries launched #OneWordMap, an online survey asking readers to submit their least favorite word in the English language, along with their age, location, and gender. "Moist" was an early frontrunner in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, while "phlegm" took the lead in New Zealand.

Just one day later, though, the whole project has been shut down after answers turned wildly, predictably offensive. "We regret to inform users that due to severe misuse we have had to remove this feature from our website," Oxford Dictionaries said in a brief statement on the now-shuttered project page.

Though the organization declined to specify exactly which "swearwords and religiously offensive" words were winning, comments on Twitter suggest "Islam" and "Israel" were among the more popular choices. Bonnie Kristian

10:25 a.m. ET

Donald Trump's favorite attack line against rival Hillary Clinton of late has been to call her a "bigot." He first used the word during a rally in Mississippi on Wednesday, and parroted it again Thursday when challenged by CNN's Anderson Cooper, who asked Trump whether he really meant Clinton possessed the hatred described in the dictionary definition of bigotry.

On Friday morning, MSNBC's Morning Joe played footage of Trump's confrontation with Cooper before host Mika Brzezinski issued a sober condemnation of Trump's seemingly careless diction:

Brzezinski herself has been a target of Trump's attacks, alongside her Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough. Most recently, Trump called her "neurotic" and "not very bright," catapulting Brzezinski into the long list of female TV personalities Trump has personally insulted. Kimberly Alters

10:20 a.m. ET
FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images

On Friday, France's Council of State ruled against the country's controversial burkini ban, which outlawed a full-coverage swimsuit worn mostly by Muslim women. While the court's decision only suspends a ban in the town of Villeneuve-Loubet, it has the potential to reverse the estimated 30 bans already installed in other cities and once again allow women to wear the body-covering swimsuits on the beach. The burkini covers the entire body including the head, leaving only the face, hands, and feet exposed, to better conform to Islamic rules of modesty.

French mayors decided to ban the burkini because of "growing terror concerns," CNN reported. The ban does not explicitly name burkinis, instead only prohibiting "beachwear which ostentatiously displays religious affiliation," The Guardian reported, but human rights activists quickly fought back, arguing that the ban impeded religious freedoms and encouraged fear-mongering.

The court sided with those activists Friday, saying that the ban "seriously and clearly illegally breached fundamental freedoms to come and go, freedom of beliefs and individual freedom," BBC reported. The ruling is temporary, however, and a more definitive decision on the burkini ban is still to come. Becca Stanek

See More Speed Reads