A Talk with Barbara Hershey About Her Long-standing Career

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Barbara Hershey is a multi-award winning actress who has been gracing us with her presence on the big screen for quite some time. She is an Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner for Outstanding Lead Actress in a “Killing in a Small Town” and was nominated for an Academy Award for a “Portrait of a Lady” as well as a BAFTA award for “Black Swan”. In the 1980’s Barbara was at the height of her career. She has played many roles, from “The Stunt Man”, “The Right Stuff” to “Hannah and Her Sisters” with Woody Allen, and “Hoosiers” with Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper, Barbara is the epitome of what it takes to have a lifetime career pursuing your dreams and doing what you love. From her award winning role in “Anne of Green Gables” for PBS for which she received a Gemini Award to co-starring opposite of Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson in “Insidious” Barbara’s gift of acting is beyond amazing.

I had an opportunity to speak with Barbara about her long-standing career and to find out what’s next for her.

ABCs “Once Upon a Time” is an amazing show, so let’s talk about your return to the show this season.

I was in two episodes this season. I was truly excited about it because I was asked to do more than I’d ever been asked to do before on the show. It was really an exciting show to get to do, and a very emotional show. They’re wonderful people and I enjoyed doing it and touching base again.

You play the standout character Ann Rutledge on the A&E series “Damien”, what has your experience been like?

Well one of the things that attracted me to it was the question, ‘what would you do if you found out you were the Antichrist?’ because we are starting with the iconic version of the film, the first one with Gregory Peck and Lee Remick and not dealing with any other sequels or anything since, and the little child at the end of that first film that looks at the camera and smiles, is Damien. This is him all grown up and during that period, the human part of him blanked out who he was. He couldn’t deal with it. He then found himself always drawn to pain so he became a war photographer. He’s now thirty years old. My character Ann Rutledge, has been in the shadows his whole life guiding him and protecting him, unbeknownst to him. He’s not aware of her at all, and at this moment she steps out of the shadows and lets him know who he is. But we approach this like the original film in that we approach it realistically. It’s much more like a psychological thriller with edges of horror rather than out of horror. We deal with a lot of interesting issues about good and evil and what is preordained and what isn’t. I find it very interesting and very surprising. The words Antichrist and Damien bring certain images to mind, but the show doesn’t really go in the obvious direction.

You’ve had a long a successful career, what has been your best and favorite role?

This is a very hard question to answer. I have five or six favorite roles and then as soon as I say that, I feel disappointed that I didn’t say something else. It’s hard. It’s like picking your children and saying which one you like best. They’re all a part of me and it’s a difficult thing to pick.

Let’s talk about “Black Swan” and how amazing the film was and your role in that.

I really loved the film. I don’t think I ever worked on a film where I had less of an idea of how the actual film was going to turn out. I don’t mean in terms of good or bad but in terms of my performance specifically, but the film itself. Darren’s way of directing is getting a lot of different varieties on a scene so you do lots of takes that are different from each other, and then he puts it together. The first time I saw the film, I didn’t know what the effect of my character was going to be. Especially that film because you’re looking at the movie through the eyes of someone who is going insane. It’s a subjected film. The character’s version of that is very warped and accelerates. You’re not just presenting a character, you’re presenting what’s going on and her perception of what’s going on kind of at the same time. It was a fantastic film to do and Darren is a really huge talent and wonderful to work with. It was intense. I came in the last three weeks of filming after they had done all of the ballet and everyone was pretty exhausted.

How did winning an Emmy and Golden Globe Award, change the direction of your career?

I don’t know if it did. I won the Cannes Film Festival twice too. It doesn’t seem to affect anything with me. I haven’t noticed any difference. But on a personal level, it has meaning. Film actors actually act in a vacuum, since they don’t have an audience. When you do get an award, it’s kind of an undeniable circumstance where you have to admit what you did which is gratifying. But I always think acting awards are writing awards anyway.

What’s next for you and do you have any aspirations to work behind the camera?

I don’t know what’s next which is often where I’ve been in my life and that doesn’t bother me but I have to stay in a state of openness. Hopefully “Damien” will get renewed and that will be next, but you never know about things. And behind the camera, I don’t know and I don’t think that’s a good enough answer to step behind the camera. I think you have to know. Sometimes I think it would be good but I don’t know. It’s not a big aspiration. I’ve always been just an actor. That’s my love.

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Janet Jackson Reportedly Pregnant With Her First Child

Congratulations are apparently in order for Janet Jackson! The music icon is reportedly pregnant with her first child, a source confirmed to Entertainment Tonight. Us Weekly and E! News are also reporting the news. 

The Huffington Post has reached out to a representative for Jackson and will update this post accordingly. 

The pregnancy news comes about a month after Jackson, who turns 50 this month, decided to postpone her Unbreakable World Tour in order to plan her family with her husband, Wissam Al Mana. 

In a statement to her fans, Jackson said there had been “a sudden change,” and that she had to delay her shows. At the time, it was unclear whether she meant she was pregnant herself or growing her family in another way (such as adoption or surrogacy).

“I thought it was important that you be the first to know,” she said in a video posted on her social media accounts. “My husband and I are planning our family, so I’m going to have to delay the tour. Please, if you can, try to understand that it’s important that I do this now. I have to rest up; doctor’s orders. But I have not forgotten about you.” 

Jackson married Al Mana in a secret ceremony in 2012. This child will be the first for the couple. 

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This 4-Year-Old Darth Vader Is Wickedly Adorable

Who knew an evil Sith Lord could be so darn cute? 

Photographer James Hopkirk, who’s a huge Star Wars fan, cast his adorable 4-year-old son Harry as Darth Vader in the photo series below. In it, The small Sith Lord does everyday tasks in a way that’s just sinisterly adorable. 

The project, called “Little Lord Vader,” was shared on Tumblr just ahead of Wednesday’s “Star Wars Day.” 

The small Darth Vader is seen doing anything from munching on a burger to changing diapers (probably with the use of The Force). The photos were shot over a few months, and Hopkirk told the Huffington Post that the 4-year-old was actually behind the concepts for some of the shots. 

“Harry had lots of ideas,” the London-based photographer said. “And he insisted that we include his little brother Ted in the pictures.” 

Hopkirk told HuffPost in an e-mail that his son’s love of Star Wars began just before the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” last year. It didn’t take much for the tot to get hooked.

“I decided that, even though he’s quite young, I couldn’t deny Harry the chance to see a brand new ‘Star Wars’ movie on the big screen, so I had to quickly show him all the other films first,” he explained. “He was just completely in awe of them. I’m a massive fan myself, but I didn’t need to do any selling — he fell in love with them straight away.”

Interestingly enough, Harry gravitated toward the notorious Sith Lord the most. 

“He loves all the characters, but for some reason he went nuts over Darth Vader — to be fair, he is pretty awesome. When we play together he always wants the Dark Side the triumph. Hopefully that’s not a reason to be concerned,” Hopkirk joked. 

After the dad bought his son a Darth Vader costume, he realized just how kickass Harry looked. Pretty soon, a photo series was born.

So far, there are 15 photos in the series, but Hopkirk isn’t done capturing the cutest villain in the galaxy yet and promises there’s more to come. 

To see more of Little Lord Vader and his antics, head on over to Hopkirk’s Tumblr page for the project here. 

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The Unexpected Reason Why Prince Was So Successful

The Unexpected Reason Why Prince Was So Successful - Deborah Acker

I remember when I first heard the news of Prince’s passing. Sadness mixed with shock, though, with the slew of rockstars that have left way too soon, in some ways, it wasn’t as shocking as it would have been only a few short years ago.

As I began to reflect on his life, I realize, amidst the high heels, high pitch and high life, there was one reason why everyone loved him, a reason that made him so successful, a reason we might not expect:

He was true to himself.

You see, Prince was really becoming well known in the 80s, and this was a time when being you wasn’t so common. But Prince did it right. He avoided all boxes, gay or straight, black or white, even male or female, and whether we knew it or not, it was the thing that we loved most about him.

How liberating to just do things your way, to push the line, at times, to even cross the line, and how, in our own way, we longed to be more like the crazy-talented man in sequence.

While, we may not have been ready for it back then, more and more of us are ready for it now, and if this applies to you, here are three ways you can really be true to you:

1. Own Your Desires.

Do you have a dream or desire you keep hidden away? Maybe it’s something that if you didn’t worry about judgment, logic or repercussions, you’d pursue without question? I’m here to tell you, it’s time.

In this world, it’s super easy for us to just pretend everything’s ok, and where our life is right now, is good enough. What made Prince’s life so special was his quest to never settle, even if it meant discomfort for others, and bigger yet, discomfort inside.

Prince defied the odds, maintaining his integrity and what he really felt was right, to reap bring rewards, both personally and professionally. What’s one desire you have, that if you were really being honest with yourself, you’d go for?

2. Honor Yourself.

Honoring yourself is such a big key to being true to you. How many times do we do something that someone else’s wants at the cost of our own truth? While sometimes this is necessary, it’s important to remember we always have a choice. There are so many times I hear people say, “I had no choice,” and while it might feel like this because you could lose your job or you needed to help your family, reminding yourself that you chose to have a family or take the job that you’re in can move you back to a place of empowerment versus that life is just happening to you.

Remember, Prince chose to go against the grain time and time again, and this choice paid big dividends.

As part of this, compromise can definitely help, too, when you’re looking to begin honoring yourself in a new way. Maybe one time you say no to something you usually say yes to and the next time you agree to it. It’s the little everyday steps that move us towards big goals.

3. Be You.

This one seems obvious, but when you really think about it, how many times are you doing something to please another or following something you learned from your parents without giving a second thought to whether it’s really true for you?

Something simple that you can do to begin to change this is by asking: “Is this mine or something I learned from someone?” This alone helps you know if you’re doing something just because you were taught it. Once you’ve recognized this, I like to ask:

“Is this really true for me?” Maybe you’ve just been saying yes to something because as a little kid you were trained that if you didn’t, it would make you a bad person.

What’s one way you’re going to be more true to you? I’d love to know! Respond in the comments below.

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Adele Worships At The Altar Of Beyoncé Just Like The Rest Of Us

Adele is a proud member of the Beyhive. 

The “Hello” singer took to Instagram on Tuesday to express her love for Beyoncé, writing that she’s been late to react to the “Lemonade” singer’s stunning visual album because she’s been “speechless.” (We feel you, Adele.)

“Beyoncé is the most inspiring person I’ve ever had the pleasure of worshipping,” she added. “Her talent, beauty, grace and work ethic are all in a league of their own. I appreciate you so much! Thank god for Beyoncé X.” 

Of course, the British songstress has been open about her love for Yoncé before, telling Time magazine, “anyone who knows me knows that my main priority in life outside of my child is Beyoncé.”

So, when’s that duet coming out? 

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Rekindling the Magic of “Shuffle Along”

On the night of May 23, 1921, an unheralded all-black musical opened in a small playhouse on Broadway and 63rd Street, a half-mile north of Times Square. No one in the audience could have guessed that “Shuffle Along” would change the face of American musical theatre, but the ingredients were all there: The production featured a powerhouse cast, eye-popping dance numbers and a boldly modern score that fused syncopated jazz with bright pop hooks. Critics were wowed. “You may resist Beethoven or Jerome Kern,” wrote one, “but you surrender completely to this.”

The creators–Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle, along with writer-actors Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles–should have been able to milk those notices for years. But even though their production blazed new trails in music, theatre and race relations, “Shuffle Along” was largely forgotten as time went by. Until now. A star-studded, Tony-nominated revival has opened on the Great White Way, and for those who want to dig deeper into the story of this remarkable show, Harbinger Records has just released a beautifully-packaged archival recording of the score as it was performed by members of the original cast and creative team.

“Sissle and Blake Sing Shuffle Along” is a rich slice of Broadway history, and a sterling addition to Harbinger’s growing catalogue of musical theatre and cabaret recordings. The disc includes vintage sides that Blake and Sissle made for the EBM record label, along with acetates the two men recorded for a show, “Shuffle Along of 1950,” that was written but never produced. The songs on the disc are presented in order, as heard on opening night. And we’re not talking about scratchy, low fidelity recordings; the music has been re-mastered for contemporary listeners with clean, warm sound.

Harbinger, a subsidiary of the non-profit Musical Theatre Project, has already distinguished itself with recordings like the “Hidden Treasures” series of unreleased songs and performances by John Kander, Sheldon Harnick and Hugh Martin. Ken Bloom, Harbinger’s co-founder, said he eventually plans to release all of Blake’s recordings from his own record label, as well as the complete demo sessions for “Shuffle Along of 1950.”

As a plus, the new disc includes a 23-page booklet that serves up a mini-history of black musical theatre, as well as a chronicle of “Shuffle Along’s” gestation and its importance in the Broadway canon. Hailed as one of the best musicals of 1921, the show ran for 504 performances–and it’s easy to see why it broke new ground.

“A modern song, to make any kind of hit at all, must have ‘pep’ to it, and also must have a ‘catchy’ tune that unconsciously sticks to the mind of the listener,” Blake told the Lebanon (Pennsylvania) Daily News, explaining “Shuffle Along’s” box office success. He said “the mushy, sobby sentimental love songs of twenty or more years ago would not be at all popular today. What the public wants today are lively, jazzy songs, not too jazzy, with love interest, but without the sickly sentimentality in vogue a generation ago.”

When it came to love interest, Blake and Sissle rejected the cartoon-like caricatures of black characters dating back to blackface minstrelsy. They portrayed an adult relationship between a black man and a black woman, despite warnings that white audiences would rebel at such a plot. On opening night, the song that helped frame the show’s love interest, “Love Will Find a Way,” was a huge success, as was the storyline.

The audience seating plan was no less of a breakthrough. At “Shuffle Along,” whites and blacks both sat in the orchestra, even though there was a line of demarcation between them. While Variety reported that “the two races rarely intermingled” at the show, blacks were not forced to sit in the balcony. It marked an important step toward the integration of New York City theatres.

“The factors for a significant cultural development in the American popular theatre were all present,” according to the album’s liner notes. “A white audience fascinated by the Negro, though in many ways obviously misinformed; critics and writers interested in the possibilities of seeing Negro themes and actors on the stage, and a great pool of Negro talent, trained in cabarets, vaudeville houses and Negro theatres.”

The disc makes this potent moment come alive. While the book of “Shuffle Along” was hardly compelling–it featured the comic story of a three-way mayoral race in a fictional town, interspersed with vaudeville gags–the music and lyrics were the main event. And they connect today just as they did on opening night. “If You’ve Never Been Vamped by a Brownskin” kicks off the recording with a bang. The infectious “Baltimore Buzz” stopped the show in 1921, and the production’s biggest hit, “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” had audiences on their feet 95 years ago, just as it does in the Broadway revival today.

“Shuffle Along” was packed with talented stars, including Florence Mills, Lottie Gee, Roger Matthews and Gertrude Sanders. But new faces would go on to make their own history. Sixteen-year-old Josephine Baker was an audience favorite. A powerful bass singer riveted theatregoers–something that would become routine in Paul Robeson’s career. When a smaller version of the show toured in the 1940s, Nat King Cole played in the pit band.

Musical theatre would never be the same. At the end of the day, the production showed that black artists could match, if not exceed, the work of white composers, and fill seats night after night. As Blake later noted: “The proudest day of my life was when ‘Shuffle Along’ opened. At the intermission of the show, all those white people kept saying: ‘I would like to touch him, the man who wrote the music.’ It made me feel like, well, at last, I’m a human being.”

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75 Facts about Dr. John for his 75th Birthday

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1) Young Malcolm John Rebennack modeled for the Ivory Soap Box.
2) His Aunt Andre taught him to play on the piano on his childhood home.
3) By 13, his New Orleans gigs included strip clubs, grocery stores and brothels.
4) His dad’s appliance and record store sparked his early interest in music.
5) At the age of 16 he worked in A&R for Ace Records.
6) One of his first assignments was to spy on other executives.
7) Had a finger shot off protecting a bandmate whose mother told him she would “chop his cojones off if anything happened to her son.”
8) So he switched from playing guitar to playing piano.
9) Released his first single “Storm Warning” under his own name in 1959.
10) Moved to California in 1963 after serving time in federal prison for drug possession. Has been clean & sober for over 25 years.
11) While in California recorded with legendary studio musicians The Wrecking Crew.
12) With unused studio time from Sonny & Cher released Dr. John album “Gris-Gris”.
13) “Gris-Gris” is #143 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
14) Bandmate Ronnie Barron was originally going to be the character of Dr. John, but his manager talked him out of it.
15) He didn’t want to be a front man but a bandmate told him: “If Bob Dylan can be a front man YOU can.”
16) During the summer of 1969, played on “Music from Free Creek” with Eric Clapton who appeared as “King Cool” for contractual reasons.
17) Released his album “Sun, Moon and Herbs” in 1971 with musicians including Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger.
18) His 1972 New Orleans-themed album “Gumbo” was ranked by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
19) The lead single from “Gumbo,” “Iko Iko”, made Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
20) Produced Professor Longhair’s “Crawfish Fiesta” which won W.C. Handy Blues Album Award.
21) His 1973 hit “Right Place Wrong Time” was produced by Allen Toussaint.
22) “Right Place, Wrong Time” was in “Fargo” & “American Horror Story: Coven.”
23) On the album “In the Right Place” Dr. John covered Allen Toussaint’s song “Life.” He played it at Allen’s memorial concert in New Orleans yesterday.
24) Played piano on Carly Simon and James Taylor’s duet of “Mockingbird” in 1974.
25) Was the inspiration for The Muppets’ Electric Mayhem Bandleader Dr. Teeth.
26) Co-produced Van Morrison’s album “Period of Transition” in 1974.
27) Piano and vocals in The Rolling Stones’ “Let it Loose” from their album ‘Exile on Main Street.”
28) John Lennon told Dick Cavett that Dr. John was one of his favorite musicians.
29) Appeared in SCTV’s Polynesiantown skit. “Forget it Jake – It’s Polynesiantown!”
30) Performed on the March 19, 1977 episode of NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
31) Was featured on the 1978 Beatles-inspired Musical album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
32) In 1989, won a Grammy with Rickie Lee Jones for “Makin’ Whoopee.”
33) Performed the theme song “Like Curious George!” for the PBS TV series.
34) Wrote the theme for the ’90s TV show “Blossom,” “My Opinionation.”
35) Appeared in “Touched by an Angel” as did Al Jarreau, B.B. King and Al Hirt.
36) Won Best Traditional Blues Album Grammy for “Goin’ Back to New Orleans”.
37) Autobiography: “Under a Hoodoo Moon: The Life of The Night Tripper.”
38) Best Rock Instrumental Performance Grammy for “SRV Shuffle” with Clapton, Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Art Neville, Bonnie Raitt & Jimmy Vaughan
39) With B.B. King, won 2000 Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals for “Is You Is, Or Is You Ain’t My Baby.”
40) Extensive discography includes tracks with Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Harry Nisson, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Neil Diamond, Frank Zappa & many more.
41) Featured in Martin Scorcese documentary about The Band “The Last Waltz” with “Such a Night”
42) Moved to New York City in the late 1970s.
43) Met Louis Armstrong in their mutual manager Joe Glazer’s New York office.
44) Produced legendary songwriter Bobby Charles’ final album, “Timeless.”
45) The music festival Bonnaroo took its name from his album “Desitively Bonnaroo”
46) Wrote the score for the movie adaptation of John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row.”
47) Performed the song “Cruella de Vil” for the Disney movie “101 Dalmatians”
48) In 1997, he appeared on the charity single version of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”.
49) Performed “Walkin’ to New Orleans” in Shelter from the Storm, a 2005 benefit.
50) Joined Aaron Neville, Aretha Franklin and a 150-member choir to perform the national anthem at Super Bowl XL.
51) in 2009, he moved from New York back to his home state of Louisiana.
52) Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Fall of Fame in 2011 by John Legend.
53) In 2012, was in Soul Fire Ceremony for Healing of the Waters on BP Oil Spill anniversary.
54) Received an honorary Tulane University doctorate along with the Dalai Lama and Allen Toussaint, making him Dr. Dr. John.
55) Recorded the benefit EP “Sippiana Hericane” for post-Katrina charity efforts.
56) Performed “Yes We Can” at The Grammy Awards, 2006 with Allen Toussaint, Bonnie Raitt, The Edge, and Irma Thomas.
57) Recorded Grammy-nominated “Another Murder in New Orleans” with Bobby Rush and Blinddog Smokin’ for New Orleans Crimestoppers.
58) Performed the theme music for Fox’s post-Katrina TV drama K-Ville.
59) Won 2008 Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy for “City that Care Forgot.”
60) Recorded “Let ‘Em In” on Paul McCartney tribute album “The Art of McCartney.”.
61) Recorded opening track “Down in New Orleans” for Disney’s animated movie “The Princess and the Frog.”
62) Won Blues Album of the Year Grammy for 2012’s “Locked Down,” produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.
63) Was featured in the HBO’s New Orleans series “Treme” as himself.
64) Introduced the phrase “hip tang” to Bravo’s “Top Chef” in hot sauce judging.
65) In 2014, played at the NBA All Star Game & Pharell Williams and Janelle Monáe.
66) Kicked Off Musical Mojo of Mac with Bruce Springsteen on “Right Place, Wrong Time”
67) In Dave Grohl’s HBO’s series “Sonic Highways,” Dan Auerbach told Dave: “Dr. John is cooler than you will ever be.”
68) Recorded Louis Armstrong tribute album “Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch” after Satch came to him in a dream and said “Do my music your way.”
69) “Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch,” co-produced and arranged by Sarah Morrow, charted at #1 on Billboard’s Jazz Chart.
70) Performed at “Lean on Him: A Tribute to Bill Withers” at Carnegie Hall.
71) Played “What a Wonderful World” to induct the song into the 2015 International Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.
72) Portrayed himself in the season premiere of “NCIS: New Orleans” fall, 2015 playing “Right Place Wrong Time.”
73 Is recording tracks for Disney’s “The Jungle Book” directed by Jon Favreau who Instagrammed himself, Dr. John, Bill Murray & Christopher Walken in the studio.
74) Tours internationally and in the U.S. with his band The Nite Trippers featuring Music Director Sarah Morrow.
75) Will receive the Louie Award from the Louis Armstrong House Museum in December, 2015 for helping keep the spirit of Satch alive.

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Here’s How Jed Bartlet’s Administration Vetted Refugees On ‘The West Wing’

The debate taking place about Syrian refugees in the wake of the Paris attacks — over whether to halt refugee resettlement or, as some GOP presidential candidates suggested this week, to only allow “proven” Christian Syrians into the U.S.  – actually took place years ago in a fictional White House.

In Season 2 of NBC’s popular show “The West Wing,” President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet’s administration is faced with the question of what to do with a group of Christians who left China in hopes of attaining refugee status in the United States. 

As one the president’s aides, Josh Lyman, points out, one challenge is that refugees may ”feign faith” to prove that they are being oppressed for their religious beliefs. It is at that point that the president proposes sitting down personally with one of the Chinese refugees to gauge the veracity of his Christian faith — and is pleasantly rewarded by the outcome.

It’s not identical to today’s debate, but the comparison is one that “West Wing” fans will surely appreciate.

Watch the segment below.

Also on HuffPost:

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Gwen Stefani Wishes Her Divorce From Gavin Rossdale ‘Didn’t Happen’

Gwen Stefani opened up about her “unexpected” divorce from ex-husband Gavin Rossdale in yet another radio interview. 

The “Used To Love You” singer was on “The Tommy Show” Wednesday morning and talked about her 13-year marriage, hinting at the cheating rumors that have been swirling around. Rossdale allegedly cheated with the family nanny for three years, according to Us Weekly. 

“I feel like I go back and listen to a lot of that stuff, and I get sick,” said Stefani to the radio station. “You look at the song and you go ‘That was a red flag. That was a moment where I was feeling just as bad as I feel today and why did I keep it up?'” 

Stefani and Rossdale filed for divorce in August after nearly 20 years of being together. They have three children, sons Kingston, 9, Zuma, 7, and Apollo, 1. 

“I wish it didn’t happen, I wish that all of this wasn’t happening but at the same time, I feel like it was part of my life journey,” Stefani said on the radio show. “In my life I’ve had two really bad heartbreaks and I’ve written some incredible music out of it and I feel so lucky to have that and to be able to share it.” 

Stefani has previously admitted that her new single, “Used To Love You,” was written during a time period when her life was crumbling. 

“I had been writing because my life blew up,” the singer said during an interview with  KIIS FM’s JoJo Wright. ”Everybody knows that my life blew up last February. I’d just been dealing with that.” 

Stefani has since moved on with fellow “Voice” coach and country singer, Blake Shelton. 

For more of Stefani’s interview with “The Tommy Show,” head to the show’s website

 

Also on HuffPost: 

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Michelle Obama Brings Broadway To The White House

First Lady Michelle Obama hosted an event on Monday honoring some of the best performing arts students from around the country, inviting some special celebrity guests to hold panels and workshops for the students.

“We always think that there’s a good reason to invite a bunch of talented young people to the White House to make sure they know how special they are. The President and I and everyone on this stage, we know how extraordinary you guys are,” she told the students. “And these folks are here today to honor you and to hopefully inspire you. They’re also here with an important message for you about what it takes to succeed, not just on Broadway, but in life.”

Obama also showed off some of her dance moves with singer Gloria Estefan and choreographer Sergio Trujillo, who taught one of the workshops.

Actors Kristin Chenoweth, Matthew Morrison and Whoopi Goldberg, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and Broadway legends Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Schwartz also joined the festivities.

At the event, called “Broadway at the White House,” the students got to learn about various aspects of musical theater, including acting, composing, dancing, costume design and, of course, singing, which Obama joked is “something I know nothing about.”

The day began on a somber note, with Obama acknowledging Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris and holding a moment of silence to honor the victims.

“Our thoughts and prayers of course are very much with the victims, their families, and all of the people of France. And we will continue to keep them in our hearts in the days ahead,” she said. “As my husband said on Friday, this was an attack not just on France, our dear friend and ally, but on all of humanity and our shared values. And as we mourn, we know that we must continue to show the strength of those values and hopes that the President spoke about when he talked. And the beauty is that all of you here, our young people that are here, you all reflect that passion, that creativity. You all are a part of those values that the President talked about. That’s what we’re protecting. We’re protecting what you all represent.”

According to the White House, the event will be part of a TV special, “Broadway at the White House,” airing on TLC on Thanksgiving.

You can see more photos of the event below.

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WaPo: GOP In Panic Mode Over Carson, Trump

Less than three months before the kick-off Iowa caucuses, there is growing anxiety bordering on panic among Republican elites about the dominance and durability of Donald Trump and Ben Carson and widespread bewilderment over how to defeat them.

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Aziz Ansari Just Said The Sweetest Thing About His Parents

Aziz Ansari’s real parents, Shoukath and Fatima, are in Master of None, his new Netflix comedy show. Actually some might say they are stealing the show, in a good way, of course! Yesterday, Aziz, 32, took to Facebook with this sweet post about his dad. Can we have an “awwww,” please?

 

 

My dad took off most of his vacation time for the year to act in Master of None. So I'm really relieved this all worked…

Posted by Aziz Ansari on Wednesday, November 11, 2015


 

Go ahead, parents, send this one to your kids!

 

Check out Aziz Ansari on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon talking about Master of None.

 

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Chats with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Johnny Van Zant, Pentatonix’s Avi Kaplan, Ben Rector and Widespread Panic’s John Bell, Plus We/Or/Me and HPnB/Dan Zanes Exclusives

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A Conversation with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Johnny Van Zant

Mike Ragogna: Johnny, the new one is titled Lynyrd Skynyrd Live In Jacksonville. Using the old term f there’s really such thing as a blast from the past, this would be it, right?

Johnny Van Zant: Yeah, you know, it was something that we talked about doing for a while. Actually we had the thought a few years ago but it just never panned out. This year it worked for us. We did it in a really cool place down here, an old theater that’s been here for years called the Florida Theatre, it holds about eighteen or nineteen hundred people. We did it over a period of two nights and it was a great time. We went back and tried to have as much fun doing it and doing it in the same order as it was on the record, which was really cool because “Sweet Home” starts out Second Helping. [laughs] For that particular part of the show it was like, “Okay, we’re starting the show with ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ which we never do,” so it was a hoot. Then we had a bunch of songs that we’ve done in a medley because there are so many great Skynyrd songs but we’d never played them all together. We were up in Canada earlier this year at a sound check and we went through the whole thing, so when we got prepared we finally booked the dates and we had a great time. It was awesome for me…I was home every night. [laughs] The bands were awesome, they were there from all ages, that was a pretty cool thing to see. I hope the fans love it, man. We had a good time doing it, I’m looking forward to seeing what the response of the fans are.

MR: You have a couple of dates left in November, right?

JVZ: We just have those few shows, we usually try to take off this time of year and spend it with our immediate family instead of our Skynyrd Nation. Try to catch up on things.

MR: What have you learned about your first two albums from the tour and playing the songs often?

JVZ: Probably just tempos and stuff like that. We were like, “Wow, that was recorded really fast!” Either in our old age we’re getting slower or we we’re just like, “Wow, that’s really booking it on the album.” There’s just different little intimate parts where you go, “Wow, okay, maybe we could’ve done this,” or “Maybe we should’ve done that,” but again, man, it was just a blast going back. For us just doing our record set, of course you play “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” so we’ve been playing those for a long, long time, but then you have songs like “Curtis” and “I Need You” which was really cool because the band’s never done “I Need You” live. It was really cool to go back and do that one, it’s a great song. Looking at the fans singing along with it was awesome.

MR: I imagine you guys might have discovered a couple of new favorites.

JVZ: You know what, we hadn’t done “Poison Whiskey,” which was really neat. We never figured it would go over that great live, and I don’t know if it was just particularly that night, but it just went over really well that night. Those two nights, I should say, because it was done over a period of two nights.

MR: You said it was a multi-generational crowd. What do you think is leading the younger crowd to Lynyrd Skynyrd other than their parents introducing them to you?

JVZ: Yeah, forcing them to listen to it. [laughs] I always go, “Did your parents force you to listen to it?” and you’d be surprised, a lot of them say, “No, I love the music!” I think it’s just that Skynyrd songs are timeless. “Free Bird” is timeless, “Sweet Home” is timeless, they’re just timeless songs. I think people relate to Skynyrd, it’s a working class band. They’re just songs with messages. To this day there’s never been a song written that didn’t have a message.

MR: It’s been said that you guys were the smartest southern band there ever was when you came around.

JVZ: [laughs]

MR: Songs like “Workin’ For MCA” were pretty controversial, considering it was your home label. What kind of memories are coming back to you from those days as you revisit these two albums?

JVZ: Well, I think just a band getting its act together and growing as a band. There was an album called First And Last that was put out years later that was done before these two albums, but these were the first two albums that were successful. Of course, Pronounced… came out and “Free Bird” did pretty good for that record, and when “Sweet Home” came out it flip-flopped and made people start catching on to the first record from “Sweet Home.” They went back and went, “Wow, there’s another record out there called Pronounced…” and both of them went rapidly platinum and the band just exploded from there.

MR: Was it like Al Kooper was a member at the time?

JVZ: Yeah, he was. He guided the band. Al’s a great musician. If it wasn’t for Al Kooper there might not be a Lynyrd Skynyrd. He’s the one who found us at Pinocchio’s in Atlanta, Georgia and signed us to Sounds Of The South through MCA, brought the band to attention.

MR: “Sweet Home Alabama” is probably your classiest, most classic single, whereas “Free Bird” has grown even beyond you; it’s not just the band’s anthem, it’s a southern anthem. What was that?

JVZ: Way back when, there was FM radio, and jocks used to say, “Man, we love “Free Bird” and “Stairway To Heaven” because we can put it on and use the bathroom and when we come back it’ll still be playing.” [laughs]

MR: So you have DJs’ bowels to thank for this.

JVZ: Yes, there’s a lot of them out there that appreciate those two songs. That was a time when radio played whole albums instead of just singles. Singles were new to FM radio when “Sweet Home” came out. The biggest single for Lynyrd Skynyrd was actually “What’s Your Name.” That was the highest charting single for Lynyrd Skynyrd, which kind of amazes me because “Sweet Home” was a single, too, and it’s the one that’s been played for years and years in movies, we’ve got our buddy Kid Rock who had it in his song “All Summer Long,” along with “Werewolves Of London” by Warren Zevon. It’s just amazing to me. It’s pretty funny, we were over in Europe a few years ago and we’re all Beatles fans so we went on The Beatles’ Liverpool tour, we rented a bus and took our crew and we had a guide telling us all about their houses and, “Oh, this is the field where ‘Strawberry Fields’ was written.” We went to John Lennon’s house and there were these kids in the neighborhood on their bicycles and they said, “Hey, who are you?” because they could tell we were some band. We were like, “Lynyrd Skynyrd” and somebody said, “Yeah, ‘Sweet Home Alabama,'” and one of the kids spoke up and said, “Oh yeah, Kid Rock’s ‘Sweet Home Alabama!'” [laughs] We were laughing our butts off. We said, “Thank you, Bobby, for introducing us to some eight year-olds in London.”

MR: But that points out that you have an international audience. What is it about Lynyrd Skynyrd that gives it this kind of presence?

JVZ: I think it’s just common people, man. People love the songs. You hear a song like “Simple Man” or “That Smell” and people relate to it. Hell, these days “Saturday Night Special” with all the gun stuff going on, it’s just relatable man. There’s an old saying, “Hey, the music will be around a lot longer than we will.” That’s a cool thing about playing music, that music will be here long after we’re gone.

MR: Johnny, what advice do you have for new artists?

JVZ: I don’t know, man, it’s such a difficult time, first of all if you’re going to do this have plan A and plan B. So many people are great singers, great players and never make it, so have that plan B, but follow your dreams and work hard at it and keep your nose clean, that means don’t be into drugs and drinking and all that stuff, man, because that’s ruined a lot of my friends and almost tried to ruin myself with it. Just keep at it, man. If you believe in yourself, give it a time period and see what you can come up with.

MR: In your case, it’s really also been about family, hasn’t it?

JVZ: It has. We always tell people when we were young we didn’t have six hundred channels and video games and computers and iPhones and stuff, we had an old swing set out in the front yard and that was our entertainment. We would listen to the Grand Ole Opry and the Ed Sullivan show and learn the songs and go out and sing them on the swing set during the day. That was our entertainment, it was very common. We weren’t a rich family, but we were rich in family. We didn’t have a lot of money, but hell, money don’t make you who you are.

MR: I imagine the pain doesn’t go away, the loss of Ronnie and everybody in that crash.

JVZ: Oh yeah. October twentieth was thirty eight years, I believe, and it just doesn’t seem that long. I guess time flies, but it just really doesn’t seem that long to me. It still seems like yesterday.

MR: Since you guys planted those seeds, look at all that’s sprouted. You ended up with not just your band, but Rossington Collins, 38 Special, Skynyrd left a mark.

JVZ: Yeah, and hopefully we still keep on keepin’ on. We’re getting ready to start recording for a new record and all that good stuff, it’s what we do. I had a conversation with Gary Rossington the other day, he’s had some heart trouble, so he said, “I went out by my lake and I’ve been kind of meditating and I figured out what’s really important to me–my grandkids, my family, and playing guitar.” I went, “Yeah, that’s pretty much all of us.” That’s what we love. You asked me what it is about Lynyrd Skynyrd; I think it’s that the fans see who we are. There’s no faking it or trying to be something else. No makeup–no offense to anybody who wears it. But as far as artists go, if you see us on the stage, that’s who we are and when we come off it’s still who we are.

MR: So you’re still okay with being the Kings of Southern Rock?

JVZ: [laughs] You know what, man? I have to put the Allmans in there, too.

MR: [laughs]

JVZ: We all grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, so there was something in the water. Hey, that’s a good song title, I may use that. [laughs]

Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne

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A Conversation with Pentatonix’s Avi Kaplan

Mike Ragogna: Avi, on your new self-titled Pentatonix album, you’re exploring some new technology and stretching out a little more vocally. So how did you approach this album differently than past projects?

Avi Kaplan: In terms of production, I think that the goal for this album was to show how we write songs and how eclectic we are, but it’s also an album to really compete in the pop world. As for the new technology, we actually haven’t used too much more than our other albums, we’ve just been a little bit more liberal with some different types of effects, some filters and reverb. What we wanted to do was push the boundaries a little bit, but also make sure that anything we do on this album is something we can recreate live. That is something that is super, super important as a band. Regardless of what we do on the album, we want to make sure that we can do every single track justice.

MR: How did these songs come together?

AK: Our record label put us with a bunch of different songwriters, we wrote in duos and trios. Honestly we just wrote a bunch of songs, I’d say around forty, and then at the end, we just chose the ones we thought accentuated what we do best.

MR: Were there any songs or their recordings that really pushed you?

AK: I think that with originals, everyone is going to be more emotionally invested, so with these songs I wouldn’t say that it was trying to figure out how it was done but actually getting everyone to agree on how it should be finished.

MR: Avi, Pentatonix recently won the Grammy for Best Arrangement, Instrumental Or A Cappella. That has to relaunch you differently than if you were still going the independent route, like after the group’s initial Sony signing years ago. How did that propel you as a group creatively or professionally?

AK: Professionally, I think it made us feel like we had been doing the right thing. It felt so good, we were so proud of it. I wouldn’t say that we’ve gotten any new opportunities because of it, but it’s really just an amazing thing for us to have under our belt, and for us to be able to say as an a cappella group and as individual artists.

MR: What’s the relationship between Pentatonix and its fans? Are you aware of who they are in the bigger sense?

AK: Absolutely. Our fanbase is definitely a family. A lot of them have been with us from the beginning, really. I feel like one of the reason it’s so close is because we’re an a cappella group in the pop industry, we’re trying to compete with all of these acts, we’re obviously going to be the underdog in every way. Our fans also feel that way, they want to be able to prove to the world that they can make us everything that we think we can be. We’ve gone on this journey together and just gotten so much closer. We love to say that our fans are the nicest fans in the world. They’re just the most supportive. It’s really just an amazing family, we’ve become friends with our fans, we know them by name and by face, it’s just a really beautiful thing.

MR: What do you think has evolved over the course of the records? Can you see a difference between where you started and where you are now?

AK: I think that overall, we’ve just come a little more into our own as artists trying to figure out our sound. Even this album was a little experimental, trying to figure out exactly what our sound is. I think we’re still refining it, but through all these processes, all the albums we’ve done and all the things we’ve done, I think we’ve just been refining our sound, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

MR: What are your thoughts on Pentatonix’s association with Cracker Barrel?

AK: Well, first of all, I love Cracker Barrel. We all love Cracker Barrel. I know that the trio who grew up in Texas went to Cracker Barrel growing up, Kevin’s from Kentucky, he went to Cracker Barrel all the time, we’ve been to Cracker Barrel as a group, I’ve fallen in love with it, I love southern food, I love southern comfort, I just love the vibe. As a group I feel like it totally resonates with what Cracker Barrel stands for and the vibe that they have. As far as how it came about, they’re fans of the group, we’re fans of Cracker Barrel, it just kind of worked out.

MR: Are there any fun or interesting collaborations that will happen in the future with the organization? Maybe surprise some Cracker Barrel crowd one night with an impromptu performance?

AK: That’s exactly what’s going to be happening, we’re doing surprise performances at Cracker Barrels, singing for fans, eating some food, it’s going to be a really great time. At the end of the day when you put together a scene in Cracker Barrel it’s going to be amazing.

MR: “First Thing’s First” is a great song, it’s like, “Okay, you want to get rich and all that, but first thing’s first, get your house in order, get your heart in order.” That’s sort of the message of Pentatonix in a lot of ways, isn’t it?

AK: Absolutely. The thing about it is we really pride ourselves in being grounded and really keeping the right things in the forefronts of our minds and our hearts, it’s something that we really care about as a group and want to continue, and something we really want to extend to our fans and really anybody. We want to have a positive message. There’s a lot of music out there that isn’t positive, it doesn’t really talk about the greatest things. When it comes to music in general I personally feel that music is around to bring life to others, and I feel that that’s what we personally try to do nonstop with our voices. Singing is such an organic and vulnerable and humble thing, it just makes sense. If we were trying to be cocky and talk about terrible things I feel like it just wouldn’t make sense with what we do. It’s just our vibe and what we care about.

MR: And that theme carries through when you listen to something like “Ref” or “Misbehavin,” which, if you listen to the lyrics, of course, you’re not misbehaving.

AK: Yeah, it’s funny because when you hear the aesthetic of “Ref” or “First Thing’s First,” you think it could be a little bit of a cocky song or talk about some bad things, but it really doesn’t, the messages behind both of those songs are really great.

MR: By the way, I think “Ref” might be my favorite song on the album. With regards to a relationship, saying, “I’m not going to be the ref here,” is a subtle, cool concept. I don’t think I’ve heard that said in such a way before.

AK: Honestly, I was so happy and proud of everyone in the group for the writing we did.

MR: If you only had time to show a person one song on the album, what would that one song in your opinion be?

AK: Man, that is really, really tough. I would say either “Cracked” or “Na Na Na.” I think both of those are really our vibe, really our style and it kind of accentuates the happiness and the fun in “Na Na Na” and the seriousness and the soul and grit in “Cracked.”

MR: Now that you have set the bar at this level of songwriting, does it tend to make you want to stretch the boundaries even further? I’m not suggesting taking on anything like religion or politics, but are there bigger concepts that you’d like to tackle?

AK: I think we’re always trying to expand. As far as religion and politics, I don’t think we’d ever take a stance on that type of thing because honestly everyone in the group is very, very different. We all have the same values, but we don’t all agree on the same issues. We wouldn’t ever do anything that would make anybody uncomfortable. If there ever was something that we felt really strongly about, like music in schools, that’s something we can all get behind, if there was ever an issue that we all felt really passionate about and could all get behind, one hundred percent we’d expand and really take a stance on that.

MR: Of course, you all have music education when you were in school.

AK: Yeah, we were all classically trained, I was actually an opera major in college, Scott was a pop music major, Mitch had actually just graduated, he was going to be a music major, Kirstin was a music theater major in college. Kevin was actually pre-med and East Asian studies but he has been doing music and is an extremely amazing talented musician, he’s classically trained, he played at Carnegie Hall, he’s done a lot of great things in music.

MR: I think a big point in the debates on music education in school is the grade school level. Did you all have grade school music programs?

AK: I’m sure we all did music in grade school. I know that I was in band, I played trumpet, Kevin was in Orchestra, he did cello, the trio definitely did choir in grade school as well.

MR: Who oversees the vocal arrangements?

AK: You know, we actually have a different overseer for every arrangement because we all have such different and eclectic musical styles and tastes. For instance, if we’re going to be covering an R&B song I would say that Scott would take over for that sort of thing. If we’re doing a real chill, vibe-y, emotionally type of thing, or if it’s choral and has a lot of beautiful harmonies I would say I would arrange it. Kevin is the leader when it comes to beats and all those different groove changes and stuff. Everybody has a different strength. It might even just be because of what song it is. If Kevin’s super in love with a song he can lead that one, you know?

MR: I’m sure people have thrown all kinds of musical comparisons at you guys.

AK: Oh yeah, there are a bunch of different groups that people talk about, absolutely.

MR: Have you taken any cues or inspiration from any of those notes?

AK: Absolutely. I would say that I’m the biggest a cappella nerd of anybody, I would say that I listen to a cappella groups more than anybody else. I know that we definitely have our own style but there are times where we say, “Oh my gosh, we should definitely have a Take Six moment here,” or “We should do an old school Manhattan Transfer-y type of thing here.” We definitely have knowledge of that stuff and we do a bunch of different styles, we like to lean in different directions, it’s a lot of fun. At the end of the day, if it wasn’t for those groups doing their thing and having those different styles, we really wouldn’t be here.

MR: I think this is a great time for Pentatonix because there are so many boundary-pushing productions out now that are grounded in pop.

AK: Honestly, it’s really cool that they’re getting more creative and experimental when it comes to production, but also you’ll notice that while there are a bunch of dance songs out there a million tracks in them, there’s also stuff like Adele, or this new Drake song that are very, very minimal. There’s a lot of minimal tracks coming out and that’s something that’s very exciting for us because at the end of the day we have five voices, one who beatboxes and sings at the same time. It’s really cool to know that there are some tracks out there that are pretty minimal that we could definitely compete with.

MR: Pentatonix’s That’s Christmas To Me is one of the best-selling Christmas albums of recent years. Just thought I’d mention that.

AK: Yeah, it’s surreal to hear that.

MR: And on your new album, you have a New Year’s song that accentuates its complicated vocal arrangement. Was it fun to record?

AK: That was a lot of fun to sing! It was really cool, actually. I run an a cappella camp and we actually brought in the A Cappella Academy Choir, which is all of my students. That was really amazing to have them sing on that song, so it was extra fun to record that.

MR: So you’re into mentoring?

AK: Oh absolutely, running that camp is definitely my favorite thing that I do in my life right now.

MR: Avi, you fell right into my devious trap! What advice do you have for new artists?

AK: I would say to really, really think about what your strengths are, play to those, doing try to compare yourself to other people. If music is your heart, put everything you possibly have into it. Don’t let any opportunity go by, make sure you do everything possible to make sure that you can succeed in it. Not everyone has success in music, not everyone gets rich and famous from it, but at the end of the day you can remember why you’re doing music, to bring life to others and to lift people up. Just keep that in mind.

MR: So what’s coming in Pentatonix’s future?

AK: Honestly, there are so many different thing that we want to do. We really want to have a hit song on the radio, we’re working on that now, more touring, expanding our fanbase, there are so many things we want to do.

Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne

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A Conversation with Ben Rector

Mike Ragogna: Ben, your brand new album Brand New went Top Ten! And you’re positioned in the Top Ten on like five other Billboard charts. You’re a superstar!

Ben Rector: You’re kind to say that. I’m not sure I’d agree, but I’m really glad people have enjoyed the record!

MR: Alright mister, how did you do it? Did it have something to do with your voice, maybe the songs?

BR: I hope so. I’m not sure what else I’ve got going on that people would buy the record for!

MR: Okay, so it took a few albums and singles, but what would the documentary say about how you got to this level of superstarfulness? Leave out no detail!

BR: If there were a documentary, it probably wouldn’t be terribly exciting, as it’s mostly been slow and steady growth over the past 8-10 years. I started traveling and playing music professionally early on in college and ever since it has grown steadily. There wasn’t one thing that drastically changed my trajectory or brought a whole bunch of new fans on board at once, I think it’s just now getting to the place where it’s a little more visible.

MR: Kidding aside, it’s like “Make Something Beautiful” is the theme of the album, as in when something goes wrong in life, you’ve got to make something beautiful. Can you pull the curtain on some of these songs, how you came up with some of their topics and maybe a story or two of their creation?

BR: So glad you noticed that song! Basically, for this record, I wanted to make a first record again. The longer you do something, the harder it is for it to feel fresh and new, the way it did when you were starting out. I wanted to get back to when I was in college skipping class to write songs, looking forward to Thursday afternoon when I’d drive to another state and play for free hoping I’d sell enough CDs to pay for the gas home. That’s the central theme of Brand New, which is also the single. I actually wrote that song after the record was finished, it always ends up that a few weeks after you’re done with an album something special shows up and usually there’s no time to record it. Since that had happened a few times already, I built in a little extra time to see if anything like that would show up, and thankfully it did!

MR: By this point, and since you released the last couple of albums yourself, do you enjoy recording and releasing albums yourself? Are you at least grinning a teensy bit that you beat the system and sold thousands of CDs without a major label?

BR: It’s definitely really satisfying to see something work and find an audience without a machine behind it. On paper there definitely shouldn’t be as many people coming to shows and buying records as there are. I’m really grateful people are seeking it out!

MR: Who are some of your favorite artists and who inspired you creatively?

BR: I love a lot of old singer songwriters, James Taylor, Paul McCartney, Randy Newman, Billy Joel. I love new music too, but those are probably my favorites.

MR: What’s your favorite song on the album and don’t claim, “Oh, they’re all my children, I couldn’t do that,” because that won’t work.

BR: I think mine is probably “The Men That Drive Me Places.”

MR: In “Almost Home,” you lost your shoes in New York City. And there’s a guy talking obnoxiously on a flip phone in “The Men That Drive Me Places” who’s from where? New York. Is there something with you and New York?

BR: That’s a great question! I think both of those were actual events. I did lose a pair of shoes in New York City on a tour, and my best honest guess about where Howard was from was New York. I don’t know if that means that me wanting to mention it is just evidence that New York is cool and iconic?

MR: I love that you wrote a song about a huge gathering…you know, in “30,000 Feet.” Is this yet another New York City song? Maybe about the Halloween parade? By the way I’m kidding.

BR: At first, I didn’t understand the question, and I now see that it is a pretty good pun.

MR: I can’t help it, sorry. What advice do you, Mr. Ben Rector, have for new artists?

BR: Spend as much time and energy as you can getting better at writing songs, that’s what will separate you from other artists–at least in my opinion. Work hard and having high expectations for your work.

MR: And lastly, how do you think you’ve grown as an artist?

BR: I think on this record cycle my goal was to be able to soak things in a little more. It’s easy for me to focus on what needs to improve or what isn’t good enough about a show or a record or anything really, and I’m realizing I don’t want to look up in ten years and realize I spent all my time worrying and none of my time enjoying what is a really rare and awesome season.

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WE/OR/ME’S “THE LONG GOOD-BYE” EXCLUSIVE

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photo credit: Liza Mitchell

According to We/Or/Me aka Bahhaj Taherzadeh…

“‘The Long Good-Bye’ is a song about detachment. We live out our days as if in constant denial of our own mortality. We attach ourselves to this world as if we will never leave it. We bury ourselves in jobs, in relationships, in so many things that tie us to a reality that is in truth temporary and fleeting. This song is an acknowledgment of the ephemeral nature of our lives, but it has never felt sad or morbid to me. It is about embracing the unknown and letting go of the worries and attachments that we carry around in our daily lives.”

website: http://weorme.com/

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A Conversation with Widespread Panic’s John Bell

Mike Ragogna: John! Mr. Panic! How did your new one, Street Dogs, come together?

John Bell: We’ve been moving in a direction of capturing on our studio recordings as live a feeling as possible. It’s a departure from what we’ve done in the past, because we do so much live stuff with our regular touring performances, and those recordings are available as well, but still, in sometimes if you get too bogged down in the technology of the studio things can tend to homogenize. There’s a tendency to maybe lose some of those moments that just pop up spontaneously, so we’re making an effort to keep that in the mix, so to speak. We just made a conscious effort to do these songs one at a time and keep as much of everybody’s original performance on a track as possible. To a large extent, we accomplished that. Some of the tunes were brand new, so they were put together in a more studio, traditional way, but for the most part even the vocals we cut mostly live while the band was playing. More of the spontaneity comes through, there’s more of a magic moment in there when you’ve played the song enough to know how to be in the groove but you haven’t played it so much that you’ve over thought it.

MR: You’re a very respected group.

JB: By some. [laughs]

MR: And you’ve been together for thirty years. To me, that shows respect for each other in the band. What do you think has kept Widespread Panic going strong?

JB: We started out together pretty green. This is the first and only band that I’ve ever been a member of. For years we just had each other as far as our musical support and our performance experience and songwriting experience. We were already pretty solidified before we got into the whole record industry and some of that stuff that would jostle a band in its early beginnings loose. We already knew we could count on each other, everything else was more of an outside world than the world we were aspiring to. There was some early glue there that I think helped out. Beyond that, our mission is to perform music on stage and have fun doing that and do it in an improvisational sense, so it’s always fresh to us. You’ve got a blueprint of how you’re going to approach things before you go on stage, but then the thing kind of takes on a life of its own. That freshness takes the boredom out of the situation. It’s like going to sleep every night; you know you’re probably going to dream, but you don’t know what’s going to happen.

MR: Nicely said. Improvisation is so much more common in jazz and blues, your New Orleans style is pretty unique.

JB: All those musical genres fill up at the same family reunion. They’re cousins, blues and jazz. Rock ‘n’ roll is…oh, I don’t know, just the less intelligent cousin.

MR: [laughs]

JB: But the elements of improvisation are the same. You have to have a certain command of your instrument, even if that’s vocals. The next thing is you’ve got to be listening, and able to hear five other guys at once and what conversation is taking place at the time and be able to enter into that conversation without interrupting. And to be able to let go a little bit. Be in control, but at the same time let go and flow with what’s happening, because it’s not all under your control. All that’s under your control really is being a mindful steward of what you’re doing.

MR: You start the album with “Sell Sell,” and that seems to set the paradigm for the whole record. Why did you choose to start with it, other than my theories?

JB: You know, I respect anybody’s interpretation of how things are laid out. I can tell you that we didn’t really think about it in terms of making a statement or anything. Basically, we looked at the songs that we had accumulated for this record and tried to come up with an order that seemed to flow and have some cohesiveness. We just decided that one seemed like a good way to kick-off the first sounds you hear when you put on the record.

MR: So I’m over-thinking it when I see connections between many of these songs?

JB: Well there is something; by the time you get in to do a record, it’s a snapshot of the band’s collective mindset, where you are in that period of your career or your life together. There could be some underlying subliminal cohesiveness that we’re not even aware of ourselves.

MR: You’re also an old fan of folks like Dr. John, Van Morrison and you’ve even cited George Carlin as an influence.

JB: First record I ever bought, yup. Class Clown.

MR: Do you think that that set your humor and view of the world?

JB: By the time it got to that album and some of his work as he continued to evolve, he was more than a comedian. There was a funny, cynical philosopher kind of guy in there, too. Kind of like Lenny Bruce, close, but not as caustic, and a little bit easier to understand. I bought the record because I think I was eight or nine and he was doing this funny thing where it looked like he was putting his finger up his nose. You used to buy albums for their covers and then see what was inside. But there’s a rhythm in the way he tells a joke, the way he colors a scene for you, and obviously there’s the way words can be looked at differently and fit together in a way you hadn’t used them in everyday language. Those were the things that were coming through, but again I was just a kid, I didn’t know things were coming through, but when I look back I can say listening to comic records–Firesign Theatre was another one–it was just kind of blowing up your mind and letting you know that there are other ways to treat our Americanized English language.

MR: “Street Dogs For Breakfast” and “Poorhouse Of Positive Thinking” seem like they could’ve been written after a George Carlin show.

JB: [laughs] This is an interesting bit… Those came from Jojo’s brain. So I don’t know, play with that. I’m not trying to blow the theory, but I didn’t want to silently sound like I was taking credit for those.

MR: How has the group evolved over the years? What has changed from the beginning until now?

JB: Hmm. Something I take for granted: for years we were flying by the seat of our pants as far as where we were gigging, where we were staying, the equipment we were working with. For years now we’re working on a level where we don’t worry about any of that stuff now. We’re thirty people on the road and usually it’s eighty or ninety percent of the same faces on every tour. It’s been like that for a while so you’re very grateful and there’s a point where you might have taken it for granted, but that makes it so you can get out and just focus on the music. But that’s been in place for probably twenty year, twenty five years. But that’s a big deal, having the stability and professionalism behind the scenes. I also go to bed earlier. We don’t go out after the show and raise hell ’til sunrise.

MR: Dirty Side Down was one of your most critically-acclaimed albums, and then you took five years off. Was that a reaction to it being your most critically-acclaimed album?

JB: We really don’t think in terms of a timetable or anything. We spend a lot of time on the road, we try to spend as much time with our families as we can when we’re not on the road. Deciding to go in and put another record out just pops up when you get the itch. It doesn’t seem that long to us, because your last album feels like a new album for about a year, and then we did pre-production on this thing about two years ago, then we came back and recorded it. This album’s been finished since February and now it just came out. For us it doesn’t seem like five years, it seems like two years if you look at it formulaically like that, but beyond that we don’t really even think about it. We put out and album when we feel like putting out an album.

MR: Yeah, and then thirty years go by and you’re not really thinking about that either.

JB: We’ve got material out there, because of the new way that music is listened to, over the internet. All of our shows are available to download and listen to the day after the show. You can pluck the songs out or you can buy the whole show. Then sometimes we go in with some of the live material and put it through a full studio ringer and create a live album like that.

MR: I think it’s great that Widespread Panic has realized how to support yourselves with your music on the internet by selling the concerts, et cetera, whereas a lot of other seasoned bands still haven’t figured out what to do next.

JB: We’re lucky that there would be an interest to buy the show, or buy multiple shows of the tour or listen to it on the couch while it’s streaming in your living room, or do pay-per-view. We’re really lucky that the way we did our stage show was that every show was going to be different. It’s not like we’re going to throw the same fifteen songs at you every night. These last three nights we played probably seventy songs and there wasn’t a repeat in the whole night. I guess what I’m saying from a marketing standpoint is we’re fortunate that the way we approach it we’ve got a different product every night that somebody might be interested in buying.

MR: What do you care about in music these days? What are you listening to? Are there contemporaries you listen to or is it mostly the stuff that you already love?

JB: Mostly, my personal teddy bear of a collection, the stuff that I’m familiar and comfortable with. But there’s so much out there. Lately I’ve been trying to get back and listen to some older stuff–like Woody Guthrie kind of things–start just revisiting the stuff of the past that were the building blocks of folk music, which overlapped with the emerging rock ‘n’ roll scene. Things that I might have overlooked. I’m just being curious about the musical lineage.

MR: Would that include folks going forward like Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie and Joni Mitchell? Folk music was the role model for most of the singer-songwriters who became popular in the sixties and seventies.

JB: And there’s something of a refined revival going on with Americana, where it’s more traditionally based and song based, there’s a little storytelling going on. If I’m trying to listen for new stuff I’ll watch Austin City Limits or there’s an NPR station on North Carolina that I listen to on a radio app on my iPad. They play stuff I’ve never heard, but they’re one after another, just blasting it. It’s called WNCW. I think they’re out of Asheville.

MR: Do you see yourself developing something out of that? Is there a future John Bell album inspired by this music?

JB: Oh, no plans along those lines. I was just trying to answer your question as truthfully as possible. Along with my Van Morrison and Leon Russell and Zeppelin and Talking Heads, that’s where my ears have started reaching out and finding some interest. I always feel fortunate that I’m still a fan and I can get excited by listening to the radio just like when I was a kid.

MR: And there are a billion internet stations to listen to.

JB: Oh yeah. I remember the fascination of having a short wave radio and that was like magic, when you got something you were really lucky, you’d be listening to some wack stuff from the Soviet Union or something. But here with the internet you can dial up stations all over the world clear as a bell. It’s amazing.

MR: What does the future look like for Widespread Panic? You said you put together projects when you feel like it, but there’s still a marketing side involved. How do you balance those?

JB: You coordinate things so they don’t get in each other’s way, but beyond that it’s just a byproduct of doing what we’re doing. Basically we’re writing songs, living our lives and we get on stage and play music and thankfully people are still coming out to support that or else we wouldn’t be able to do it at all. We write together, which is a blast. We’ve got the live and studio forms to put those down for people to look at. Beyond that the rest is just a byproduct of what we’re doing. Dare I say it’s an art form.

MR: You had Duane Trucks join the band for a little bit, filling in for Todd Nance. Fill me in on that.

JB: We’ve just been playing with Duane for a little bit. It’s basically a personal affair, so I’ll just leave it like that, but I will tell you to go out and have a kid enter the fold that’s half your age is really a gas. He comes with none of the cynicism that we’ve created in our worlds. His enthusiasm level is huge. Being from the Trucks family, and a generational music family his respect for music and his knowledge of how to communicate verbally as well as the way he plays, it’s really refreshing.

MR: Is there any mentoring going on?

JB: Yeah, him to us! No, the best thing we can do for him is mention movies and say, “You haven’t seen that yet?” Harold & Maude, Being There, stuff like that.

MR: Do you also like Robert Klein?

JB: Oh definitely.

MR: That was a really great period for comedy and comedy albums. It was like people were using their brains in addition to outrageousness.

JB: Oh, it was wild. I was exposed to Firesign Theatre when I was in high school but as I became a little better read going through college I’d listen to these things and there are contemporary literary references and things like that that I had no idea were underlying these bits. There were also references to pop culture that I wasn’t really privy to at the time. Firesign Theatre was kind of psychedelic comedy.

MR: Tom Lehrer did that, too. I’m getting off track here, though.

JB: Man, you’re right on track. I got kicked out of class in first grade for bringing in That Was The Year That Was. Man, if you listen to something like “Who’s Next?” about the proliferation of the atomic bomb, a couple of the players in the script are different, but it’s still very applicable to what’s going on today. It’s amazing.

MR: I think what’s going on politically today is pretty amazing. The parallels, some of the same fights and some of the weird stuff that’s happening in politics, it’s like the late fifties again.

JB: I don’t know, maybe when things were in a bit of a boom status before the housing crash and stuff like that, in times when the majority of folks are doing pretty okay and they don’t want their boat to be rocked, I think they might tend to not be so loud with airing their grievances and finding fault with other folks and stuff like that, but it seems like when times get pinched some of these old wounds hadn’t really healed and those same patterns bubble back up out of frustration.

MR: What advice do you have for new artists?

JB: Oh, wow. Try not to get distracted by any of the other byproducts that come up with what your artistic intentions are to begin with. The original inspiration is what got you locked in in the first place. If you’re a painter or a sculptor or a musician or poet, you’re excited because something’s happening through you and you’re getting to experience something kind of magical. If you’re able to sustain that and involve that receptivity in yourself as an artist and you do it long enough that people start to notice and you’ve got “a product” some other distractions can come in and really muck up what the original inspiration was. You can do both. You can stay in your artistic mindset and if the business part becomes a part of it, that can have a life of its own, too. But it’s easy to get distracted. You’ve got to keep exposing yourself to that feeling. Keep some breath in it, water those seeds.

MR: So I guess we’ll be talking again in five years?

JB: Maybe so. Who knows, there’s no big plan sketched out. As long as it’s fun and serving our collective soul, then there’s no reason not to do it. It’s helping with the quality of life. Our lives. Take it or leave it.

Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne

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HOT PEAS ‘N BUTTER & DAN ZANE’S “AMISTAD” EXCLUSIVE

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According to Hot Peas ‘N Butter’s Danny Lapidus…

“‘Amistad’ is a video that has been a long time in the making and has been a labor of love. The general theme of the song is friendship and how friends are always there for each other…It features Hot Peas ‘n Butter’s new friend…Dan Zanes, who lends his awesome voice to the song and his awesome self to the video. While recording the song, we really hit it off and we are so proud to call Dan a true friend. He was the inspiration for this song and for the theme of our new album Put Our Heads Together.

“Every new year that we make music for kids and families we realize a little more how important our community is and how important it is to stand by your friends. Friendship has been a continuing theme for Hot Peas ‘N Butter all along.

“The recording of ‘Amistad’ at P.O.D. Noise Studios in NYC, was enhanced by performances by Clifford Carter on keyboards [Bill Evans, Paul Simon, James Taylor]; Rich Mercurio on drums [Sara Barreilles, Idina Menzel, Enrique Iglesias]; Oz Noy on guitars [Chick Corea, Eric Johnson, Warren Haynes]. HPnB band mate Francisco Cotto performs on bass. Lead vocals were by the two artists and real-life friends: HPnB leader Danny Lapidus and Dan Zanes. Lapidus also produced and mixed the song.”

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Listen To The Spoof Of Ben Carson’s Hip-Hop Radio Ad

STRAIGHT FIRE … would be less painful on your ears.

Dr. Ben Carson’s presidential campaign released a cringeworthy hip-hop song last week called “Freedom.” The radio spot is slated to air over the next two weeks in Detroit, Atlanta, Memphis, and in several other markets with large black populations. If you haven’t heard the actual ad, listen to it here for free (although it might cost you your appreciation of rap music forever).

The blame for this audible torture shouldn’t be assigned solely to Ben Carson, nor to its rapper, Aspiring Mogul. No, the real offender here is Carson’s campaign manager; whoever was behind the scenes making this nightmare a reality.

Unfortunately for music lovers, Carson’s campaign manager decided to drop a track of his own. This follow-up rap radio ad, titled “Panderdom,” is much less subtle in attempting to appeal to young, black voters. Listen to the parody below.

Also on HuffPost:

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Will Smith Sends Sweetest Birthday Message To Daughter Willow

Before she was whipping her hair back and forth, Willow Smith was her father Will Smith’s little bean. 

The actress and artist turns 15 this Halloween, and to show her how much he cares, Papa Will penned perhaps his most meaningful words since he and Jazzy Jeff made the “Fresh Prince” theme song. Smith took to Facebook to thank Willow for “correcting” his heart and teaching him to love “without constriction or condition”:

Happy Birthday, my Bean. 15 years old today!! When you were born it took about 2 seconds to realize that I was willing…

Posted by Will Smith on Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Smith family has been in the business of making adorable messages lately. Will also sent his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, a message that melted everyone’s heart, and Jada reciprocated with a sweet post for Will.

The Fresh Prince’s message to Willow is too much, though. Ah, so many feels! Can Will please just use his ”Men in Black” mind eraser to take away all these feels?

Also on HuffPost:

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What Back to the Future Got Right… and Wrong

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By Peter Diamandis

Twenty-six years ago, Marty McFly and Doc Brown climbed into their time-traveling flying DeLorean and set the controls to the distant future — October 21, 2015 — which happens to be today.

This is a fun blog about the predictions that Back to the Future got right, the predictions they got wrong, and the amazing technologies we have today that they just completely left out.

For a $ 40 million budget, it’s pretty amazing what they achieved. So as you read these correct predictions, think about how you might have profited from these areas if you took action on them 26 years ago.

PREDICTIONS THAT BACK TO THE FUTURE GOT RIGHT

Brain controlled / wireless video games

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“You have to use your hands? That’s like a baby’s toy!”

3D movies

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McFly being eaten by a holographic “Jaws.”

Handheld tablet computers

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McFly gets handed a tablet.

Videoconferencing

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McFly videoconferencing with a coworker.

Augmented & Virtual Reality wearable technology

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Marty Jr. viewing an incoming phone call in his glasses.

Wall mounted widescreen TVs with multiple TV channels

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Marty Jr. watching six TV channels simultaneously.

Hydroponics

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Marty Jr. reaching for fruit from the retractable garden in his kitchen.

Biometric Scanners (fingerprint scanners as locks)

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“Thumbing” to pay for the taxi fare.

PREDICTIONS THAT “BACK TO THE FUTURE” GOT WRONG

Here are the technologies that aren’t quite here (yet).

Flying cars: While there are a number of companies like Zee.aero, Terrafugia and AeroMobil hard at work, this still may need an XPRIZE to give us the flying car.

Power clothing (self-drying, self-tying shoelaces): While not released, Nike claims it will release a pair of self-tying laces this year (2015) in commemoration of the movie.

Ubiquitous fax machines: For whatever reason, fax machines were a big deal in Back to the Future. They are basically a relic of the past now.

Hoverboards: Though a few companies have rigged gigantic magnets to simulate real life hoverboards, we haven’t found a way to make a practical, scalable version yet…

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Mr. Fusion: While many teams are claiming to get close to net-positive energy fusion, no one has yet… and even when they do, it’s unlikely to fit in the back of my car.

Well… a time machine: Though I wish we could all drive DeLoreans rigged with time machines, unfortunately, the laws of physics still prevent us from jumping around the space-time continuum at will.

A FEW AMAZING THINGS WE HAVE TODAY THAT THEY MISSED

So what did Back to the Future (potentially) miss? At least, what amazing technology do we have today that they didn’t highlight?

Rapid, cheap whole genome sequencing and editing: We now have the ability to sequence a full human genome for under $ 1,000. The technology is developing at 3x the rate of Moore’s Law. We now have the ability to cheaply and precisely edit the genome with CRISPR/CAS 9. This will open up a new frontier of health and longevity that will have enormous implications on the future.

3D Printing: You can 3D print just about anything these days from 300 different materials (including plastics, metals, concrete, chocolate and human cells) Complexity is free and scalability is inherent.

Emergence of AI: We are in the early days of Artificial Intelligence. Tens of billions of capital are being poured into an AI “arms race” over the last decade. One fun recent example is Tesla’s “autopilot” software upgrade that just came out. It can drive you autonomously on the highway.

On-Demand Economy: Amazon is working on same-day delivery mechanisms (possibly using drones). Uber has become ubiquitous as the simplest, most reliable way to get around.

GPS: We really take for granted how good the GPS units in our phones really are. They receive up-to-the-second traffic data, route us to the shortest path, and even give us “street view” or satellite imagery to investigate what a place looks like before we get there.

Private Spaceflight and Hyperloop: While Back to the Future flaunted flying DeLoreans, I’m proud of where we are with private spaceflight and the start of Hyperloop.

Visit XPRIZE at xprize.org; follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+; and get our newsletter to stay informed.

Peter Diamandis is the Chairman and CEO of XPRIZE.

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Your Fall Music Playlist pt. II

October has been a bit busier than expected, so this list features music from the past two weeks. Starting next week it will also include a Soundcloud list as well to include more electronic music, remixes, and upcoming artists.

An army of empowered female voices, nostalgic rock, and hip hop artists have been dominating the new releases this month. Part two of this October series was composed while traveling between Amsterdam, London, and Bologna. In Bologna, my favorite track was already playing in the hotel lobby.

Best New Track – Autograf, Janelle Kroll “Metaphysical”

This track seems to perfectly usher in the imminent transition between fall and winter, featuring the soulful and comforting vocals of Janelle Kroll. It always takes time for an artist to grow into their own, and it seems Kroll has arrived at this point, relaxed and ready. Since her feature last year on Dennis Ferrer’s track “Mind Your Step” (which confirmed that her sound can elevate the dance floor) she has made a slew of strong collaborations, no doubt increasing her demand as a vocalist. There has been a new song almost every other week this fall, and hopefully they will continue.

Other music added to the list –

Queso -Pell
Forbidden Knowledge – Raury

All I Wanna Say – Lontalius
Fly Down – Stephen

Never A Woman – White Sea
The Game & Skrillex : El Chapo

To view and stream the October playlist so far- CLICK HERE

I am really interested in featuring new artists as well as established acts as part of this ongoing series. If you hear something that you love, or are releasing new music yourself, please send it to sb@iamseanbradford.com and you might see the track on the next list.

Any songs from October so far that should have made the cut?

photo is of street art in Shoreditch, London, UK

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MOSS–Ep.19


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Updated on every Monday





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Ep.17


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Ep.18


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A Brief History of Ellen DeGeneres’s Amazing Halloween Costumes

A brief history of Ellen DeGeneres’s  amazing halloween costumes.

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A Fan Got A Tattoo Of Jose Bautista’s Bat Flip

Jose Bautista’s bat flip on Wednesday night during Game 5 against the Texas Rangers was phenomenal and enjoyed by millions of people who aren’t named Sam Dyson.

One fan enjoyed Joey Bats’ bat flip so much that he wanted to make sure he would never forget that moment. And how would he do that? Get a tattoo of it, of course.

“I have heard and seen some crazy stuff in the last 24 hours but this one takes the prize home!!” Batista wrote in an Instagram post about the fan’s ink on Thursday.

From now on, every time this person gets changed in the morning, they will see Joey Bats tossing the hell out of a bat after hitting a series-clinching home run.

Maybe this will inspire a Rangers fan to get a tattoo of Sam Dyson giving it up? 

 

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LOVE MAKER — Ep.18

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Updated on every Thursday





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Ep.16


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Ep.17


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Hilarious Hoverboard Fails: Watch These People Eat Dirt

The future is now. And the future hurts. 

These hover board users learned that the hard way. Watch them hilariously fall while trying to stay upright on the mystical device that is the self-balancing scooter.

Seriously, what are these things? As if we needed something even more daunting than the Segway.

Regardless, they do look pretty fun — if you can last more than two seconds. But it’s unlikely that any of these people will be joining the ranks of this hip hover board dance crew anytime soon.

You kids and your newfangled technology.

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‘Pan’ Fails To Take Flight At The Box Office

LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Pan” produced no Neverland magic at the box office.

The fantasy, which cost an estimated $ 150 million to produce, earned $ 15.5 million in its opening weekend, according to Rentrak estimates Sunday making it one of the worst bombs of the year. Early tracking did not look promising for the Joe Wright-directed film but still predicted that “Pan” would open at least in the $ 20 million range.

The PG-rated epic, sold as a Peter Pan origin story and a lavish visual feast, has had a bumpy ride from the beginning, starting when actress Rooney Mara, who is white, was cast as Tiger Lily, who is historically Native American. The film, starring Hugh Jackman and Garrett Hedlund, also had been pushed from July to October. It has not been well-received by critics, either.

 ”Pan” now ranks among 2015’s biggest flops, including “Fantastic Four” and “Tomorrowland.” International earnings don’t look promising either. The film brought in a weak $ 20.5 million. For comparison, “The Martian” earned $ 58.1 million.

“This had a lot going against it,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for Rentrak.

He also believes competition in the family market from the Halloween-themed animated feature “Hotel Transylvania 2” hurt “Pan.”

“Family films always have an audience, but that audience is extremely fickle and hard to please, just like the kids who go to these movies,” Dergarabedian said. “You just never know what’s going to resonate.”

Sony’s high-wire spectacle “The Walk” also stumbled in its first weekend in wide release, after debuting on IMAX screens last week. The tale of Philippe Petit’s tight-rope walk between the towers of the World Trade Center earned $ 3.7 million this weekend, bringing its total to $ 6.4 million. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in film directed by Robert Zemeckis.

Not all was bleak at the box office, though. Ridley Scott’s space adventure “The Martian” earned a solid $ 37 million in its second week in theaters, nabbing the top spot once more. Its domestic total now stands at $ 108.7 million.

“Hotel Transylvania 2” took second place in its third weekend with $ 20.3 million, bumping its total to $ 116.8 million. “Pan” came in at No. 3.

Nancy Meyers’ workplace comedy “The Intern” earned $ 8.7 million, and the border thriller “Sicario” brought in $ 7.4 million, rounding out the top five.

Outside the top 10, “Steve Jobs,” the biopic of the late Apple CEO directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin, opened in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles to a powerful $ 520,942. Its $ 130,000 per-theater average ranks as the best of the year and should bode well for the film’s expansion across the next two weeks.

“This is a movie everyone’s talking about, and now they’re going to be talking about it even more,” Dergarabedian said.

___

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “The Martian,” $ 37 million ($ 58.1 million international).

2. “Hotel Transylvania 2,” $ 20.3 million ($ 22.7 million international).

3. “Pan,” $ 15.5 million ($ 20.5 million international).

4. “The Intern,” $ 8.7 million (14.8 million international).

5. “Sicario,” $ 7.4 million ($ 6.4 million international).

6. “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” $ 5.3 million ($ 16 million international).

7. “The Walk,” $ 3.7 million ($ 5.2 million international).

8. “Black Mass,” $ 3.1 million ($ 2.6 million international).

9. “Everest,” $ 3 million ($ 8.1 million international).

10. “The Visit,” $ 2.4 million ($ 2.6 million international).

___

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Rentrak:

1. “The Martian,” $ 58.1 million.

2. “Goodbye Mr. Lover,” $ 32 million.

3. “Hotel Transylvania 2,” $ 22.7 million.

4. “Inside Out,” $ 21.6 million.

5. “Pan,” $ 20.5 million.

6. “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” $ 16 million.

7. “The Intern,” $ 14.8 million.

8. “Everest,” $ 8.1 million.

9. “Fack ju Gohte 2” and “Er ist wieder da,” $ 7.3 million.

10. “Lost in Hong Kong,” $ 7.2 million.

___

Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.

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10 Moments From The ‘All That’ Reunion That Were All That

Ready yet? Get set. It’s the “All That” reunion! 

It’s been more than 20 years since the show first aired on Nickelodeon, and even after all that time, ’80s and ’90s kids still have a special place in their hearts for “All That.” Now, thanks to Nickelodeon’s “The Splat,” ’90s shows are coming back every night on TeenNick, so, in honor of that, the show’s cast, Kel Mitchell, Lori Beth Denberg, Danny Tamberelli and Josh Server, all reunited at New York Comic Con on Saturday to make our dreams come true.

Awwww here it goes! Here are 10 of the best moments:

 

1. Kel says he and Kenan have talked about bringing back “Good Burger.”

Mitchell already told The Huffington Post he and Kenan are working together again, but now we have more details. After being asked whether there would be more “All That” or “Good Burger,” Kel said he and Kenan have been talking.

 

2. Kel and the cast turned up. And made a video to prove it.

A video posted by Kel Mitchell (@iamkelmitchell) on

During the panel they talked about old sketches, their favorite characters and even how the got on the show. So, yeah, they turned up.

 

3. We finally know what happened to the Big Ear of Corn.

The big ear of corn was a key cast member on “All That,” perhaps the most important one of all. And now we know Danny takes care of its corn babies.

 

4. About 10 minutes in, Kel says he still loves orange soda.

Josh Server is surprised it took this long to happen.

 

5. Ed (Kel) finally shared the secret of the Good Burger sauce to Lester Oaks Construction Worker (Kenan).

Kenan was at “SNL” but Kel still shared this video of the two discussing the secret sauce.

 

6. Lori Beth Denberg gave us some vital information.

Watch out for that warm apple juice, people.

 

7. The cast says their favorite guest stars were Chris Farley, Aaliyah, TLC, Sinbad and the Spice Girls.

No argument.

 

8. Lori Beth and Danny talked about their slime PTSD.

“You have very little traction with slime in your butt crack,” said Denberg.

 

9. The cast says Chris Farley once wrecked the set so he’d only have to do the scene once.

Josh Server says it was awesome.

 

10. Oh, and this happened:

It is the best day.

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These #WorstCollegeParty Tweets Are Guaranteed To Give You Flashbacks

College parties are the best. The beer is terrible, the cops show up, you wake up feeling like you got kicked by a horse … uh, wait, what were we talking about?

Jimmy Fallon‘s favorite #WorstCollegeParty tweets are guaranteed to give you flashbacks to your college days. Let’s just hope they’re better than these:

Party on, people.

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You Can Help Pick This Year’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Inductees

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just announced this year’s nominees for induction into its ranks. The 15 nominees — including Janet Jackson, Nine Inch Nails, The Smiths and Chaka Khan — span many genres, styles and time periods, though to qualify, they have to have released their first album or single at least 25 years ago. 

Here’s the full list of nominees, in alphabetical order:

  • Chicago
  • Cheap Trick
  • Deep Purple
  • The Cars
  • Chaka Khan
  • Chic
  • The J.B.’s
  • Janet Jackson
  • Los Lobos
  • Steve Miller
  • N.W.A.
  • Nine Inch Nails
  • The Smiths
  • The Spinners
  • Yes

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — located in Cleveland, Ohio — doesn’t have a set number of slots open for induction each year, though a representative said that they usually aim to admit five performers, plus several more in other categories. 

The final list of inductees will be determined by votes from more than 800 musical artists, professionals and historians from around the world; each will be able to select up to five of the nominees. 

In addition, fans everywhere will be able to vote for inductees online — including right here:

The five artists that get the most votes from online fans will be added to a “fans ballot” that will be tallied along with the ballots from the Hall of Fame’s panel.

The names of the inductees will be revealed in December, and the actual induction will take place April 2016 in New York City. 

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Kendall Jenner Goes Braless In Sheer Shirt

Throughout her time at Paris Fashion Week, Kendall Jenner has proven that she likes to keep things sheer.

The supermodel was seen wearing yet another see-through item of clothing for Shiatzy Chen’s runway show on Tuesday. Jenner went braless under a sheer pink shirt with delicate floral designs, paired with a metallic silver skirt and matching, lace-up shoes.  

The 19-year-old hasn’t been shy about showing off her nipple ring, which she says she got during a ”rough time.”

“Honestly, it hurt, but wasn’t as bad as everyone made it seem, and maybe because everyone hyped it up and I thought it would be really, really bad,” she told the New York Post. “Then it wasn’t as bad as I expected.” 

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Claire Danes Reveals The ‘Homeland’ Crew’s Running Joke About Carrie

Warning: Very, very mild spoilers ahead.

“Homeland” is back in full force — not halfway through the first episode we saw Carrie Mathison drawn back to the CIA, unfortunately for her. In an interview with People, Claire Danes explained her character’s growth at the start of Season 5.

“[Carrie] is doing very well, she has a gorgeous, smart German lawyer boyfriend and she’s really connected to her child and she’s really happy — for about five minutes,” Danes said. 

“Then she’s kidnapped — again.” Again! 

Unlike other shows, where a character might be kidnapped once and scarred for life, getting thrown in an unmarked van has become a routine on “Homeland.”

“We were joking that Carrie should have a drawer full of kidnap hoods next to her delicates, she’s got so many,” Danes told People. “Some mesh, some jersey.” 

“Homeland” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime.

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Leaked ‘Game Of Thrones’ Video May Be Your First Look At Season 6

Filming of “Game of Thrones” season 6 is well underway. Thanks to the obsessive sleuthing of the fandom and some sneaky paparazzi work by enterprising locals, we already know a lot about what’s in store (including the fact that Jon Snow almost certainly did not stay dead). But we haven’t seen any footage from the set — until now. 

On Tuesday, Spanish fan site Los Siete Reinos posted a covertly shot video showing what seems to be a sword fight outside the Tower of Joy. The video looks like it was taken on a cellphone, a long distance from the set at the 900-year-old Castillo de Zafra, so you can’t make out much. But there’s clearly man-to-man fighting going on. Take a look:

Los Siete Reinos — Spanish for “The Seven Kingdoms” — posted still photos from the same sequence. They, too, are blurry and shot from afar. But the lack of detail didn’t stop “Game of Thrones” fan site Winter is Coming from speculating that the characters fighting are Ned Stark and Arthur Dayne, and that the woman in white standing near them is Ned’s sister Lyanna. 

Fans have suspected for some time that season 6 would include the Tower of Joy sequence. Casting calls for the show included a posting for a character called Legendary Fighter, who many believe is Ser Arthur Dayne, a famed Dornish member of King Aerys’s Kingsguard. The casting call said the character “carries a hugely famous sword on his back.” In “A Song Of Ice And Fire,” the book series upon which “Game of Thrones” is based, Dayne wields a sword called Dawn, which was forged, likely from a meteorite, thousands of years ago before the events of the series. 

The Emmy-winning fifth season of “Game of Thrones” brought the show’s plot nearly to the end of the events depicted in the books George R.R. Martin has published thus far, so even diehard readers are in the dark about much of what will take place in season 6.

But the fight at the Tower of Joy is an exception. We got some of the story — or at least Ned Stark’s memory of it many years later — in the first book, A Game of Thrones

The story goes that near the end of Robert’s Rebellion, Ned Stark and six of his companions rode to the castle in the Red Mountains of Dorne, where Prince Rhaegar Targaryen had taken Lyanna Stark after “abducting” her. Rhaegar had named the castle “The Tower of Joy.” When Stark et al. arrived, they encountered three members of the Kingsguard — Dayne, Ser Oswald Whent and Lord Commander Gerold Hightower — guarding the entrance.

A brutal fight ensued. Even though the knights of the Kingsguard were outnumbered, they managed to kill five of Stark’s party. Ned Stark later said that Dayne would have killed him, too, had his old friend Howland Reed — father of Bran’s traveling companions Jojen and Meera Reed — not saved his life. When Stark and Reed entered the tower, they found Lyanna dying in a “bed of blood.”

Here’s where things get really interesting. Before Lyanna died, she made Stark promise something. He never revealed what. But fans think that it concerned Jon Snow — who, the theory goes, was actually the child she had with Rhaegar. The bed was bloody, by this thinking, because Lyanna had just given birth. She made her brother promise to claim that Jon was his own son to keep him safe. 

There’s a bit more evidence for the R+L=J theory scattered throughout the books. But it all ultimately rests on the Tower of Joy sequence. Which is assumedly why “Game of Thrones” creators Daniel Benioff and D.B. Weiss chose to film the sequence for the next season. It could be their way of confirming, once and for all, the theory that Jon Snow is the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna.

It’s still not clear how the sequence will fit into the show. Season 5 began with the first flashback of the series — a childhood memory of Cersei Lannister’s. But everyone present at the fight is dead by the time season 6 starts — except Howland Reed. Many fans believe that Reed — who hasn’t yet made an appearance in the books — will reveal what transpired, and therefore Jon’s parentage, at some point in the last two books.

Maybe that’s what will happen in the show, too. But casting info makes it clear that this isn’t the only flashback we’ll see in season 6. So the prevailing theory instead is that Bran Stark will use his mysterious and growing powers to look back in time, and that the fight at the Tower of Joy will be seen through his mind’s eye.

The strongest evidence of this theory? Isaac Hempstead-Wright, the actor who plays Bran, was allegedly spotted at the Castillo de Zafra this week. At this point in the series, Bran is in a cave north of the Wall, thousands of miles from Dorne, so there’s basically no way he’s going to travel to the Tower of Joy in person. 

The bottom line? Jon is the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna. And we’re finally going to get confirmation this spring. 

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Justin Bieber Opens Up To Complex Magazine About Being Arrested

Justin Bieber is Complex magazine’s latest cover star.

The 21-year-old, who was photographed by David Black for the mag, opens up about everything from his infamous arrest in Miami to how he deals with all the critics. 

Speaking about that time he urinated in a bucket at a club, the Biebs said, “Honestly, I think the pissing in the bucket wasn’t as big as people made it seem. Just because, dude, think about it. Imagine, you hear that fucking Ozzy Osbourne pisses backstage. Immediately, ‘Oh, he’s a freaking rock star!’ As soon as I do it, ‘He’s being a brat.'” 

He continued, “Dude, what is bratty about pissing in a bucket? I had to go piss — we all have to pee.” He has a point — we all do have to pee, but at least most of us have the decency to do it in a restroom, even if said restroom is on the opposite side of where we are. 

The singer also called out the Miami police (who arrested and charged him for DUI and drag racing last year), saying, “they just wanted press.”

“I never was speeding; I never was drag racing … The cop supposedly wanted to be famous for arresting celebrities, and someone had heard him say that prior to that,” he said. “He was like, ‘Put your hands on the hood!’ I was like, what? I lifted my hands and I was like, ‘What do you mean, what’s going on?’ He was like, “I told you, put your hands on the hood! Now you’re under arrest for resisting arrest!'” 

“I felt it, dude. I was just like, Oh, they’re trying to get me right now at any cost. I went in, and I’m telling you, that 24 hours sucked. It was really cold. That was the worst part.” Poor Biebs.

To read the whole interview, head over to Complex

 

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‘Who’s The Boss?’ Star Danny Pintauro Reveals He Is HIV-Positive

On Saturday night’s episode of “Oprah: Where Are They Now?“, former child star Danny Pintauro revealed that he has been living with a big secret for more than a decade: He is HIV-positive.

Everyone remembers the young, blond-haired Pintauro as Jonathan on the family sitcom “Who’s the Boss?” For eight years, Pintauro played the son of a driven single mother, winning over audiences with his nerdy charm. But, in the years after “Who’s the Boss?” ended, the once-lighthearted little boy grew into a complicated young man trying to live a private life in the public eye.

In his sit-down with Oprah, Pintauro — who goes by “Daniel” now — begins the interview by sharing his long-held secret.

“I wanted to tell you this a long time ago, but I wasn’t ready. I’m ready now,” Pintauro says. “I’m HIV-positive, and I have been for 12 years.”

Part of why Pintauro hadn’t spoken publicly about his health before, he says, is because he wasn’t sure if people were ready for a conversation of this magnitude. “It’s just a big deal, you know? It’s not something that people are really talking about right now,” Pintauro says.

This isn’t the first time Pintauro has revealed a private detail about his personal life. In 1997, when he was a college student, Pintauro came out as gay — but he hadn’t exactly planned to. “I was outed,” Pintauro says. “It wasn’t by choice.”

The actor says that a tabloid reporter called him back then saying the paper was going to out him whether he cooperated or not. His former “Who’s the Boss?” co-star, Judith Light, encouraged Pintauro to participate as a way of controlling the conversation. “It was the best thing,” Pintauro says now. “‘They can’t misquote you,’ she said. ‘And as long as you give really responsible and mature answers, it can’t be a bad article.'”

And, as Pintauro realized, it wasn’t. “Believe it or not, the ‘National Enquirer’ actually did a really fantastic, heartwarming article about it,” he says. “I was shocked.”

Pintauro says he regularly underwent routine HIV testing every six months. Then, in March of 2003, his whole world changed.

“I was living in New York at the time and completely clueless to the idea that I was positive. I went in for a regular checkup,” Pintauro says. “It was just regular blood work. You go in, and you sort of waited two weeks on pins and needles — or at least I did, because I was just terrified of the idea of getting HIV.”

Having come out of a two-year relationship, Pintauro admits later in the interview that he had been looking to explore more sexually and began using crystal meth as a means to that end. “I was doing crystal meth, which completely ruins your immune system. I’d been doing it at that point very briefly, but it was three weeks or so, off and on,” he explains. “I had just come out of a two-year relationship, and I discovered in that relationship that there was more I wanted to explore sexually. Crystal meth takes away your inhibitions… And if you want to explore that adventurous side, taking the drug is going to put you there.

 ”I was experimenting,” he continues. “And believe it or not, I thought that I was being safe in that encounter. I know exactly when it happened.”

Though Pintauro doesn’t go into those details, he does say that he doesn’t remember the man’s name. “I regret not knowing that, because that person has completely changed my life,” he says.

Even though antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) had been introduced by the time Pintatuo was diagnosed, dramatically increasing the lifespan of those with HIV and reducing their risk of transmitting the infection to others, Pintauro was still devastated by his diagnosis. He struggled to make sense of his feelings.

“It was terrifying, and there was a sense of relief,” he says. “It’s backwards. You’ve spent so much time terrified that you’re going to get it, and then you have it. You don’t have to be terrified anymore.”

Today, Pintauro lives with his husband, Wil Tabares, in Las Vegas, and works as a restaurant manager. He told Oprah that his dreams in life are to open a bed and breakfast with Tabares, live a long life and be a beacon of light that can help make a difference to others along the journey. Pintauro also shared an important message for other men in the gay community.

 ”What I want my community to realize is we need to take better care of ourselves,” he says. 

“Oprah: Where Are They Now?” airs on Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.

For more from “Oprah: Where Are They Now?”, visit wherearetheynow.buzz.

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If The U.N. Global Goals Were A Spotify Playlist

The United Nations approved of a list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals aimed at tackling poverty, climate change and other issues. And now we’ve all got our work cut out for us. 

As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated, the SDGs are a “to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for success.

If the SDGs seem a bit daunting, you’re not alone. So we at HuffPost Impact have developed an easy explainer for each SDG — as told by a Spotify playlist. Check it out below!  

 

If The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals Were A Spotify Playlist


GOAL 1: NO POVERTY


“Hands” by Jewel

Eradicating poverty, which is currently defined as people living on less than $ 1.25 a day, in all forms, everywhere. 

 


GOAL 2: ZERO HUNGER


“Hunger” by Rhye

Eliminating hunger by increasing agricultural production and providing foods that are rich in nutrients.

 


GOAL 3: GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING


“Physical” by Olivia Newton-John

Supporting programs focused on wellness, exercise and mental health to promote healthy, long lives.  

 


GOAL 4: QUALITY EDUCATION


“Be True to Your School” by The Beach Boys

Providing equal education opportunities to both boys and girls by creating safe and inclusive learning environments. 

 


GOAL 5: GENDER EQUALITY


“Run the World (Girls)” by Beyonce

Ending all forms of gender discrimination to empower women to assume an equal role in every aspect of society.  

 


GOAL 6: CLEAN WATER & SANITATION


“So Fresh, So Clean” by OutKast

Proving global access to clean and affordable drinking water by reducing pollution and improving water resource management.

 


GOAL 7 AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN ENERGY


“Here Comes the Sun” by Nina Simone

Ensuring access to reliable, renewable and up-to-date energy services. 

 


GOAL NO. 8 DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH


“9 to 5” by Dolly Parton

Creating equal and decent employment opportunities that increase economic growth.

 


GOAL NO. 9 INDUSTRY, INNOVATION & INFRASTRUCTURE


“Started From the Bottom” by Drake

Developing strong infrastructures to support industrial and economic growth.

 


GOAL NO. 10 REDUCED INEQUALITIES


“Imagine” by John Lennon

Reducing inequality both within and between countries by increasing regulation, encouraging equal opportunity, and facilitating migration.

 


GOAL NO. 11 SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES


“Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato

Designing inclusive and safe communities by creating affordable and sustainable housing and transportation.  

 


GOAL NO. 12  RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION


“You Get What You Give” by New Radicals

Ensuring sustainable consumption through recycling and resource management. 

 


GOAL NO. 13 CLIMATE ACTION


“When a Fire Starts to Burn” by Disclosure

Combating and raising awareness for climate change on a local and global level.

 


GOAL NO. 14 LIFE BELOW WATER


”I Follow Rivers” (The Magician Remix) by Lykke Li

Conserving the oceans, seas and marine wildlife to promote sustainable development.


 


GOAL NO. 15 LIFE ON LAND


“The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh)” by The Tokens

Protecting natural habitats and forests, combatting desertification and preserving biodiversity.

 


GOAL NO. 16 PEACE, JUSTICE AND STRONG INSTITUTIONS 


“Get Together” by The Youngbloods

Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies by actively combating violence, human trafficking and corruption.

 


GOAL NO. 17 PARTNERSHIP FOR THE GOALS


“Come Together” by The Supremes

Strengthening international ties to implement policy changes around the world.

 

Check out the full playlist below:

 

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Ending Toxic Relationships

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Ladies and Gentlemen, let me decree: The age where you stop putting up with people’s bullshit is 36. It may come well before then, but I know for sure the beaten, bloody corpse of giving-a-damn breathes its last miserable breath on your 36th day of birth.

Too dramatic? You’re right. I’m an artist. I get emotional sometimes. Let me try this again.

This year on my 36th birthday, I received a phone call from someone purporting to wish me well; but I was instead met with an out-of-nowhere onslaught of anger, bitterness and passive-aggressive insults. I tried desperately to save the conversation, to walk away from the call with some sense of positivity, but the wounds were too deep and the history between us too complicated.

Which is when I came to a necessary but painful realization: the relationship needed to end immediately. I wished the person well and hung up the phone. I will probably never speak to them again.

Put very simply, if a relationship (whether it be a friend, a family member or a significant other) makes you feel bad, you shouldn’t be in it.

That’s not to say that relationships aren’t complex and multifaceted, and not every interaction will be sunshine and rainbows. It’s simply to say that too often we tend not to take care of ourselves for the sake of a friendship. Too often we feel like it’s our price of admission, that in order to get the few moments of good, we have to put up with the long hours of bad. But I’ve come to realize that this way of thinking ultimately is a disservice to both sides.

Many toxic relationships have a destructive push/pull dynamic. Call it a form of co-dependency. One person needs to feel like the caring one, the other needs to feel like the destructive one, and both sides are miserable. It’s human nature, but it’s ultimately an unhealthy cycle because it creates a relationship without stability.

It used to be that I’d try to approach every toxic relationship as a puzzle that hadn’t yet been solved. It was a game I played with myself on the road to trying to be a good person; maybe if I look at the relationship in ANOTHER way it will change, maybe I’m not being patient enough, maybe I need to choose my words more carefully. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

But that’s when I discovered that I was, myself, contributing to the push/pull dynamic. My previous thinking always assumed the other person was the destructive one; but in reality I was being equally destructive. In my subconscious effort to not feel bad while being in a relationship, I did the unfair thing of pulling them closer while simultaneously pushing them away.

In a toxic relationship, each party continues to inflict their own negative behaviors upon the other person, which ultimately makes both people feel worse. There are indeed one-sided toxic relationships, where one party exclusively subjects the other to their bad behavior, but the mere fact that the “innocent” side keeps the cycle going means there is some equal amount of responsibility for its toxicity.

In short — we do it to each other.

And that is the single most important thing to understand when you break off a toxic relationship. Ending it doesn’t mean the other person is “bad” and you shouldn’t look to assign blame. There are no winners, and there are no losers. Sometimes, two people just aren’t good for each other. It’s as simple as that.

Ending something so familiar can be tricky. Sometimes its a matter of ripping the band-aid off, sometimes its a matter of quietly slipping away. No matter the method, remember to be kind to yourself and to the other person. Be sure to leave open the idea that there may come a time where your paths could cross again under happier circumstances. Allow them to go off and find what makes them happy just as you need to find what makes you happy.

When it comes down to brass tacks, every relationship that you have in life should make you a better person, just as you should contribute positively in return. We somehow tend to forget that along the way, when, in fact, our personal fulfillment should never be up for negotiation.

Episode 3 of my web series Keith Broke His Leg is a humorous take on toxic relationships; and shows a rather… unsanitary… way of ending the cycle. Take a look:

Keith Powell is an actor, writer, and director. He is most known for his role as Toofer on 30 Rock. He has had recurring roles on About A Boy and The Newsroom, and created, wrote, and directed the original web series Keith Broke His Leg (www.GetBroken.com).

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Ryan Reynolds’ Friend Tried To Sell Photos Of Baby James, And It Was Crushing

Ryan Reynolds experienced a betrayal of a particularly hurtful kind after the birth of his daughter, James. 

“A guy that I’d known for my whole life, one of my closest friends growing up, he had been shopping pictures of my baby around,” Reynolds told GQ for the magazine’s latest issue. “I kind of got in front of it, which is good. But it was a slightly dark period. A bad couple of weeks.”

The “guy” was a close friend of Reynolds who he has known for 25 years. 

“It was like a death. It was like one of those devastating things to find out,” he said, adding that the person did it for the money and didn’t think he’d get caught. “It was, like, so kind of shocking. There isn’t really a conversation to have. It’s just, ‘Oh, well, now I’m never going to see you or talk to you again, unfortunately.’ That’s kind of how it worked out.”

Fatherhood has been a life-changer for the “Deadpool” star, who welcomed James with wife Blake Lively last December. 

“I’ve learned that an inordinate amount of clichés are completely true,” he added. “Like, there is this kid here that I would walk through fire for. Or, maybe not fire. Like, a very hot pavement, I’d walk through. A shag rug.”

Read more over on GQ.com

 

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“Everest” Is a Stunning View of Man vs the Elements

Movie Review – Jackie K Cooper
“Everest” (Universal Pictures)

“Everest” is a movie of grandeur and beauty. This is because cinematographer Salvatore Totino made the mountains of Nepal his star and created one breathtaking sweeping shot after another. If ever a movie justifies the large screen, 3-D experience this one does, for this is a visual film from beginning to end. Because of this emphasis on the scenic the depth of the characters’ stories are trimmed, but it doesn’t matter. You still have a totally visceral experience due to the majesty of the mountain.

The story is based on the true experience of two teams of mountain climbers who head to the top of Mount Everest in the early months of 1966. Leading the teams are Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) and Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal), two men who have a lot of experience making this climb. The film focuses on the initial meetings with the climbers and continues through the descent from the top of Everest. In between there is a lot of drama and death.

Even though there is not a lot of depth to Clarke’s character this is his breakout role. He is the leading man of this movie and you never forget it. He has been circling stardom for some time now and this movie is where he gets that one big break. As his wife Jan, Keira Knightley brings an emotional clout to the story another less talented actress might have squandered.

There is a rich, supporting cast in this film. Robin Wright is a cold, standoffish wife, Josh Brolin is a brash Texas moneyman, Emily Watson is the business person behind the climb, and Michael Kelly is Jon Krakauer, the man who wrote a book about the climb. Gyllenhaal is touted as being one of the stars but his too is mainly a supporting role.

The film raises the question as to why people would attempt such a wild adventure as climbing Everest. They certainly aren’t kids off on a fling as they all appear to be over forty. But the answer is never found or shown. The mountain is just there and it is the highest point in the world. And as one character gloomily reflects, “The mountain always gets the last word”.

The film is rated PG-13 for violence.

“Everest” is worth seeing because of the visual beauty and daring camerawork involved. The story itself is a downer and makes the folly of such a trek the idea you remember most. If you do decide to see it make sure you get the 3-D, large screen treatment. It is so involving you leave the theater checking for frostbite.

I scored “Everest” an icy 7 out of 10.

Jackie K Cooper
www.jackiekcooper.com

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The Truth & Trump: A Short Quiz

The truth sometimes appears to be an ever-changing kaleidoscope to presidential candidate, Donald J. Trump.

Let’s take a short quiz.

1. What happened when Macy’s and Trump severed ties?
a) Macy’s dropped Trump.
b) Trump claimed he fired Macy’s.
c) Trump said it was mutual.
d) Trump’s lawyer looked into suing Macy’s and Trump called for a boycott.
e) All of the above.

Answer: All of the above. Trump claimed both b) and c). It’s difficult to understand if Trump terminated Macy’s, why team Trump would ever consider suing or calling for a boycott? Confusing, isn’t it?

2. When Trump said of Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes; blood coming out of her wherever,”what did Trump claim he was referencing?
a) He meant to say “whatever.”
b) Her nose.
c) Her ears.
d) All of the above.

Answer: All of the above. Midol for everyone, please.

3. What did Trump claim was the truth about this comment he reportedly made to Rolling Stone magazine concerning Carly Fiorina: “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”
a) Rolling Stone publisher edited and “screwed up” the article, which Trump found “disgusting.”
b) He was talking about her “persona.”
c) He said it as an “entertainer.”
d) All of the above.

Answer: All of the above. Very entertaining.

“Anyone who doesn’t take the truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.” – Albert Einstein


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Get Ready To Capture Pokémon In The Real World With Your Smartphone

The Pokémon franchise is venturing into augmented reality for the first time, Nintendo announced Thursday, so soon you’ll be able to catch ’em all in the real world.

The offering, called Pokémon GO, will function as an interactive game that lets players use their iPhones or Android devices to “catch” Pokémon as they go about their lives.

“Pokémon GO will use real location information to encourage players to search far and wide,” a press release says. “Pokémon GO’s gameplay experience goes beyond what appears on screen, as players explore their neighborhoods, communities, and the world they live in to discover Pokémon alongside friends and other players.”

The whole concept sounds a little like Pokémon meets geocaching, the interactive treasure-hunting game whose finds are hidden in the real world.

Part of the newly immersive experience will involve wearing Apple Watch-like tech called the Pokémon GO Plus. Users can keep the Bluetooth-connected device on when their phones are stashed away, and it will vibrate and flash if a virtual Pokémon is nearby.

The Pokémon GO Plus looks a little like a Happy Meal toy in the official photos, although The Verge has some close-up shots from a Nintendo press conference in which it seems a bit nicer. It’s unclear how much the device will cost.

This isn’t the first version of Pokémon on smartphones. Nintendo partnered with Japanese game-maker DeNA earlier this year to bring original titles featuring its famed characters to the iPhone. The first Pokémon installment, a puzzle game called Pokémon Shuffle, was released in early September. 

The move to smartphones is a notable departure from Nintendo’s past strategy, which relied heavily on selling its own game consoles and devices. The Japanese company has struggled over the past few years after disappointing sales of the Wii U.

Pokémon GO will be available for free in the App Store and through Google Play. The game will permit in-app purchases, a big moneymaker for some other apps. Players of the free Candy Crush Saga spent more than $ 1.3 billion on in-app features like extra lives and moves in 2014. 

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Jon Hamm And Jennifer Westfeldt Split After 18 Years As A Couple

You may have already lost count of how many celebrity couples have broken up this summer, but here’s one more right as Labor Day brings an unofficial close to the season: Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt have split after 18 years as partners, according to a statement they released Monday to multiple outlets.

“With great sadness, we have decided to separate, after 18 years of love and shared history. We will continue to be supportive of each other in every way possible moving forward,” the couple said.

People Magazine claims that the last time the two attended a public event was at the “Wet Hot American Summer” Netflix premiere’s after-party in July.

The two released a statement back in April denying rumors they had broken up.

The month before, Hamm completed a rehab stint for alcohol and noted Westfeldt had supported him during his struggle.

 

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‘Family Feud’ Was Out Of Control In Steve Harvey’s ‘Tonight Show’ Return

Steve Harvey has encountered some wild contestants on “Family Feud” before, but on Friday’s “Tonight Show,” the craziness values were tripled. 

Harvey returned to the show to play another round of “Feud” with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, and things got out of hand fast. From the start it was clear that none of the contestants had any idea what they were doing. Fallon was answering like he was on “Jeopardy,” no one knew when to huddle up and The Roots even cheated.

This just proves that when it comes to amazing “Tonight Show” segments, Steve Harvey hosting “Family Feud” is always the No. 1 answer.

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. EST on NBC.

 

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Donald Trump Is Setting The GOP Agenda

Every Republican presidential contender is playing Trump’s game. And losing at it.

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Couple Spoofs ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘Star Wars’ And More In Nerdtastic Pregnancy Announcement

This couple’s pregnancy announcement is totally nerdtastic.

Excited announcers: PJ Tamayo and Allison Jones

Due date: January 2016

Announcement method of choice: The parents-to-be created an epic fake movie trailer, with nods to their favorite fantasy/adventure series like “Harry Potter”, “Doctor Who” and “Star Wars”

Ready or not?: PJ and Allison are already anticipating how their lives will change when they have a baby. They give parenthood a spot-on description: “the most epic adventure of all time.”

Added bonus: The baby already has some special big sibs — dogs Riley Kate and Ronan Dex.

 

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Khloe Kardashian Is A Show-Stopper At James Harden’s Birthday Party

Khloe Kardashian looked positively gorgeous at James Harden’s birthday yacht party. 

The 31-year-old and her entire family were there to celebrate the Houston Rockets player’s 26th birthday on the Fantasea Yacht in Marina Del Rey, California, Tuesday. Kardashian turned heads in a sheer, sparkling bodysuit and white slit skirt, with a pair of nude Christian Louboutin pumps (and white sneakers in hand). 

Of course there was a photo booth on board, and the reality TV family shared a handful of the black-and-white photos on Instagram. 

A photo posted by Khloé (@khloekardashian) on

A photo posted by Khloé (@khloekardashian) on

A photo posted by King Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

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Michael Jordan’s Tune Squad Uniform From ‘Space Jam’ Is Hitting The Auction Block

Michael Jordan’s most important uniform — you know, the one he wore while saving the earth — is hitting the auction block this fall.

Starting on Oct. 1, fans of Jordan and the 1996 sports entertainment classic “Space Jam” can bid on the actual Tune Squad uniform Jordan wore during the making of the movie. Despite there being “signs of wear” and “minor staining” on the uniform, it’ll be available for bidding through online auction house Invaluable via Los Angeles-based auction house Profiles In History.

Invaluable estimates the price to fall between $ 10,000 (the starting bid) and $ 15,000, but in the past, Jordan memorabilia has been auctioned off for upwards of $ 100,000

Think you can afford it? 

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3 Reasons Tightening Movie Theater Security isn’t the Answer

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Visiting an actual movie theater for the first time in years was a strange, if not relatively unpleasant experience. The snack bar girl itched red welts on her arms that made me wary of seat cushion bedbugs. Movie previews advertised a phone app alerting older people with sensitive bladders when a boring scene came on so they could go pee.

The fact that hatchet wielding, gun toting maniacs have chosen movie theaters as locations for bloodbaths in Aurora Colorado (12 killed/ 70 injured/ Batman/ 2012), Lafayette, LA ( 2 killed/ 9 wounded/ Trainwreck/ July 2015) and Nashville, Tenessee (1 hatchet scraping/Fury Road/August 2015) feels slightly absurd. Mainstream movie theater audience members in the majority of theaters across the country are often the elderly, children and other individuals with an occasional old school fetish for real movie theaters. Movie theaters are no longer locations that seem ingrained in the American psyche. Few people can imagine themselves being bludgeoned in a movie theater, because fewer people go.

Tightening Big Brother style security in these locations will ensure even fewer people go, and movie theaters will deteriorate more. It is an ineffective, knee jerk, band aid reaction to what is hopefully a passing copycat lunatic fad. However, theaters across the country are setting new security measures in stone.

Regal Cinemas recently instituted mandatory bag checks in its 156 theaters nationwide. Showcase Cinemas (owned by National Amusements), in Connecticut completely banned backpacks and packages. Off the charts security measures ranging from metal detectors to TSA scans in movie theaters are being proposed by everyone from legislators to CEO’s.

Tighter security measures may border on civil rights violations, paves the way for 1984 brand mechanisms to be put in place in public spaces and deteriorates our chances of retaining our humanity. Turning public places into fortresses ultimately increases tension and escalates, rather than deters, violence.

The appropriate response to surreal madness is not to match it with more surreal madness. Here are some reasons why….

Three Reasons Tightening Movie Theater Security isn’t the Answer


1) Bag Searches are a Killjoy:
There is pleasure left in movie theaters—particularly in art theaters in larger cities that have retained old school style and charm. It’s still possible to sit in a theater and fantasize about being magically transformed into the lusty heroine on the screen, to become transfixed by an elegant landscape, enamored with the amplified echo of ice cubes clinking in crystalline glasses of scotch.

Security rifling through your bags can put a serious damper in the dreamscape of movie theaters. (They also make it impossible to bring bootleg store bought jolly ranchers and sour patch kids through the door.)

More importantly, bag searches just set precedence for more interference. Although airports may be appropriate places for metal detectors, TSA scans and the occasional body cavity search–movie theaters are not.

2) These Responses are Profoundly Ineffective. No axe wielding, gun toting, pepper spray sporting disgruntled American wanna be cartoon villain or psychopath is going to be deterred by a bag search. James Holmes walked out a back door in Aurora to get his weapons and reentered the theater through the same door with them before opening fire. Lafayette’s John “Rusty” Russel Houser had a gun on his person but left and returned through a side door. Vincente Montano, admittedly, did bring his pepper spray and hatchet in two backpacks—but if back checks were instituted, it’s likely he would have found another way.

Doing bag checks is a silly gesture, at best. Movie theater security staff peeking into bags will do nothing to keep weapons out. It will only make patrons more anxious.

3) There are bigger fish to fry here. Ramping up security anywhere a mentally impaired, deranged, racist or psychotic person has gone on a rampage and killed people in the US in recent years would require psycho security in elementary schools, churches, synagogues, as well as movie theaters. Creating more barriers as a reaction to large scale violence is fruitless. Maniacs can slip through the cracks anywhere, and there are no barriers without cracks. Turning ourselves into a well walled country, gives us even less of a chance to address deeper problems and retain our dignity as people. We should not be looking at how to fortify ourselves against gun violence, or mentally ill people running amok, after the fact—but addressing the underlying causes of those issues, first, before the chaos occurs. The fact that we aren’t is sad.

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New Artist Reviews: Kiravell

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Traveling can evoke innovations and creations unlike any other muse. The inundation of new interactions, challenges, textures, tastes, sights, smells and sounds awaken the spirit. Singer, songwriter, and healer, Meniyka Kiravell, has dipped the quill of her mind into the bottomless inkwell of travel. With her quill dripping in inspiration, she created the album Vaudevellia!

Growing up just outside of Detroit, Michigan, she immersed herself in fantasy books and tall tales which bore a love of storytelling and theater. It was not until her time spent at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, however, that she discovered her love and talent for music. Playing in a number of indie bands as well as DJing on her college radio station, she found a passion for many genres of music, constantly exploring new sonic landscapes. “I was into everything I could get my hands on,” says Kiravell. “I’d rock Alice Coltrane one minute and Tchaikovsky the next.”

With the seed of music already planted in her mind, she left her Midwestern home to see the world. Over the course of a decade, she visited over 40 countries, surfing azure seas, broadening her musical influences, and discovering healing techniques from various cultures. She began using her newfound knowledge of healing on herself and experienced successful results. Kiravell eventually settled and found a home in Australia and planned to establish a residency there when her mother fell ill with crippling migraines. When she returned to the U.S., Kiravell employed the healing techniques she had learned on her travels, including Bowen Bodywork, and cured her mother’s ailment.

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Re-connecting with her family through healing became a great inspiration for Kiravell, infusing her spirit with a fresh perspective. Her healing capabilities paired with the sonic discoveries of travel, nourished the musical seed in her mind which soon flourished into Vaudevellia! Translating her experiences into sound, the largely jazz-based Vaudevellia! takes the listener on a journey through Kiravell’s personal life story.

Now established in San Diego, Kiravell’s debut release is also infused with many elements of the world music she experienced on her travels. Her poetic and poignant lyrics describe the cosmic perspective in which she sees the world around her. It is apparent in this album that Kiravell approaches her music with appreciation, humility and an open heart. Playing piano, keys and strings, the opening track “Pache Mama” is a song of reverence for the South American goddess of earth and time, Pachamama. Using worldly percussion and rhythm, the mind is transported to the lush valleys and verdant rainforests of the South American landscape.

Releasing all the songs on the album separately, Kiravell included unique album art and a written vignette about her intentions and motivations behind each track. Vaudevellia! is a well-crafted musical experience that is both humble and extraordinary. Her tales do not preach or teach, and yet somehow we learn from listening. Kiravell expresses her love for all things creative and hopes that this album will be received in the same way.

Website: www.kiravellmusic.com
Bandcamp: https://kiravell.bandcamp.com/
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/kiravell
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/kiravell
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kiravell

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Scoring Big With Prolific Young Film Composer Giona Ostinelli

Like many, I can get obsessive about film music. But long gone are Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Henry Mancini, even John Barry and the astounding Jerry Goldsmith. We just lost the often excellent James Horner. Meanwhile, John Williams is kinda busy with some little Disney project with lightsabers in it. And upstarts like Anne Dudley, Danny Elfman, Herbie Hancock and Hans Zimmer have become established elders. Thus do I scan the horizon for fresh talent.

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Giona Ostinelli

Currently my ear has landed upon Giona Ostinelli, a Swiss composer working in Hollywood, a mere 29 years old but with an impressive 25 feature films to his credit, plus assorted short films (over 30 during just nine months studying at USC!) and new-media projects. You can hear Giona’s work this week in POD, a horror shocker by director Mickey Keating, opening in 10 cities and via VOD. While PODPOD on VOD, that’s catchy — showcases Giona’s gift for eerie tension-building, it wasn’t until I visited his studio that the delightful diversity of the young composer’s palette was revealed. He began by screening and playing his upbeat, aw-shucks, orchestral opening for Arnold Grossman’s The Boat Builder (starring Christopher Lloyd) — and I was like, wait, you’re the same guy? You’re not about just one screechy-spooky note?

“With POD, for the ending, I wrote this piece for a choir,” explains Giona of his efficient 2 1/2-week process of scoring the horror, “and Mickey didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know either, because I got to the end of the movie, and I was sick and tired of hearing my sounds, I wanted something different! So I said, ‘how about a choir?’ I sent it to Mickey, I said, ‘Mickey, you’re allowed to hate me for what I’ve done with the ending — because it’s totally different from the rest.’ So I sent it to him, and he was like, ‘that’s an awesome surprise!’ He didn’t expect it, and it worked great.”


Talking POD

Indeed, viewing POD — which is not unlike a meaner, scarier, extended X-Files episode (two siblings check on their brother in a secluded Maine house: and what they find ain’t pretty) — one does not sit around thinking “choir” — and right away, that’s the aura of Giona: an innovator. He seems to have “surprise” coded into his DNA. I ask about scoring horror — does the director impose certain obligatory stings and so forth?

“He always invites me to his place,” says Giona of Mickey, “to his editing bay, and then he shows me the film. He’s like, ‘Here’s my idea, roughly, how it is — just take it, and surprise me!’ So I was working on it, and he has these flashbacks, and I was like, ‘Why don’t we try to do something cool?’ I know that sound design is going to cover that, to a certain extent — but when I watch a film, and I see that type of thing, I would like it to be pressing! (Giona makes a disturbing mouth noise) So I was like, why not take the chance and do it?”

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Mickey Keating and Giona Ostinelli

This attitude serves Giona well — he takes the chance and does it — and he and I enthuse over our love of Dave Grusin’s winning score for The Goonies: which, it turns out, inspired us both to rush headlong toward the arts. Heh.

“I remember, when I was a kid, saying, ‘I want to do this!'” gushes Giona. “I started playing drums when I was five, piano when I was almost nine, doing choir when I was 16, playing in many bands — metal bands, rock bands, blues bands, jazz trio — you can see in the types of films I do, I always do different genres. (laughs) I always wanted to do film music, but growing up in Switzerland, it’s not a career choice. In Switzerland you either become a banker, a lawyer, or a doctor.”

Or Jung, I add (though that job application proves fairly stringent).

“Or a watchmaker!” adds Giona’s concert-pianist partner — and we all grin knowingly: watches — how 20th-century!

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I elicit a laugh from Giona by imitating the beloved Danny Elfman style (conveniently: “Oompa-Loompa, Oompa-Loompa…”), and he admits he’s a big soundtrack buff, raving up Thomas Newman: “His sounds are so amazing,” he says, emphasizing Saving Mr. Banks, “but for some reason, I love tons of his scores, but that one! Thomas Newman, you listen to him, it’s very simple, and it sounds great. Then you go to Hans Zimmer, he has 200 tracks, it sounds great — a completely different style.”

Giona is practically gasping as he enthuses: “I like listening to scores, and I buy so many! How did they get this sound?!”


Giona Ostinelli’s Soundcloud

On cue, Mickey shows up to join his composer (see videos for the guys in action), and the two rave up their partnership on POD but also Ritual (2013) and the forthcoming Darling (2015). “We’ve known each other for so long,” says the world-weary 25-year-old, “that the whole process is really creative. I feel like so much of the process of working with composers and editors, there’s this learning curve. But me and Giona can just riff back and forth.”

“And also, the cool thing about Mickey,” adds Giona, “not many people do this, but working with Mickey is like family. It’s always the same editor, same sound designer, same cinematographer, and we all know each other. It’s so cool! You feel part of a family, and you’re not afraid to experiment.”

“Yeah, it’s great,” agrees Mickey. “And I mean, it really helps create a process. It doesn’t seem so formal. The movies are all sort of hand-made and home-grown, and that’s what’s exciting about them.”


Talking Darling

“I’m finishing Darling, and Mickey’s finishing editing Carnage Park,” chimes in Giona, contrasting both the visuals and sounds of the former (lensed in New York), and the latter (lensed in the California desert).

“What’s great about it is they’re such different films,” adds Mickey. “Darling‘s so weird, but classical and ambient, and Carnage Park‘s like a Peckinpah western with the sensibilities of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and stuff. So they’re all different subgenres of horror, and it’s so cool to be able to have somebody who can just do it all!” Mickey gestures to his friend, Giona.

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“I’m sure that if I wouldn’t try to push myself,” sums up Giona, “to do drama, to do comedies, dark comedies, trying to do a romantic film or Christmas film–“

Two Christmas films,” I remind him.

“–two Christmas films. If I wouldn’t try to push myself, and go to places that I’m afraid of, that I’m not comfortable in, then I wouldn’t be so good even in the horror genre. But because I always try to explore as much as possible, then everything becomes useful.”

POD is now playing in select theaters, and on VOD.

Photos courtesy of Giona Ostinelli unless noted

Videos by Gregory

Giona Ostinelli Official Site

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Donald Trump Collects Fees Insisting ‘This Is Not A Fundraiser’

NORWOOD, Mass. (AP) — Donald Trump held a $ 100-per-person campaign event — which he repeatedly insisted wasn’t a fundraiser — outside of Boston on Friday evening as he backpedaled on his previous pledge not to accept contributions for his campaign.

“This is not a fundraiser tonight, just so you understand,” Trump told reporters at the sprawling Norwood property owned by local car dealership owner Ernie Boch Jr. A combination of die-hard fans and those curious to see the spectacle were treated to food from chef Tony Ambrose and a live cover band, in addition to a speech from the billionaire businessman and Republican candidate.

 

 

Trump said the money raised was only being used to offset the costs of the event and said people attending could choose to pay whatever they wanted.

That’s despite multiple signs that were posted at the property’s entrance telling those arriving, “Please have cash ready or make checks payable to: Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.” and “Entry Fee $ 100 Per Person.”

 

 

The event comes as Trump has reversed course on his early pledge to self-fund his campaign entirely.

“I don’t need anybody’s money,” he said in his announcement speech, declaring: “I’m using my own money. I’m not using the lobbyists. I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich.”

But Trump’s tone has changed in recent weeks as he’s warmed to the idea, adding a contributions page to his website and attending a fundraiser held by a super PAC supporting his candidacy.

“I actually like the idea of investing in a campaign,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday. “But it has to be no strings attached.”

 

 

Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said earlier Friday the campaign had received tens of thousands in small-dollar donations in the last eight weeks from people eager to contribute to Trump’s effort. But he said the campaign had not made any efforts to solicit money and said contributions would remain “a very small portion” of the campaign’s funds.

Boch said the event had “started out as a fundraiser because (that’s) the usual thing for candidates.” But Boch added: “It wasn’t like that with Mr. Trump. He likes the idea of having people come in. So the money was not what he was interested in.”

Speaking to attendees under a giant tent on Boch’s yard later in the event, Trump continued to boast about all the contributions he claims he’s turned down.

“I feel a little bit like, ‘What’s going on?'” he said. “We’re turning down millions of dollars.”

He also launched into a personal attack against Huma Abedin, a top aide to Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has recently been swept up in the controversy over Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

 

 

Trump, mispronouncing Abedin’s first name as “Uma,” suggested Abedin had shared classified information with her husband, former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned after sending explicit images of himself to women he’d met online. Trump called Weiner a “perv,” and “one of the great sleazebags of our time.”

 

 

Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill responded with a statement saying, “Trump has spent the summer saying offensive things about women, but there is no place for patently false, personal attacks towards a staff member.”

“He should be ashamed of himself, and others in his own party should take a moment to stand up to him and draw the line for once,” Merrill said.

 

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Here’s What The MTV VMAs Looked Like In 2005

It was only a decade ago,  but photos from the 2005 MTV VMAs feel like they happened in another lifetime. 

Held at the American Airlines Arena in Miami for the second year in a row, the 21st annual VMAs were a weird storm — literally — as many of the pre-show actives were canceled as Hurricane Katrina hit Southern Florida, passing over Miami.

With the 2015 VMAs days away, let’s remember that 10 years ago Diddy hosted, Green Day took home Video of the Year, Kanye West nabbed Best Male Video, and The Killers were named Best New Artist. Also, pop-punk was heavily repped. 

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Kim Kardashian Goes Topless For Sultry Magazine Cover Shoot

She may not have always been comfortable posing in the nude, but these days, Kim Kardashian is confident in her birthday suit. 

The 34-year-old took to Instagram Thursday afternoon to share a few new sultry photos from her September cover shoot with C magazine. In the black and white images, the “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” star covers her chest with her forearm as she looks off into the distance. Her brunette locks are slicked back and she’s sporting smoky eye makeup. 

Inside the issue, the expectant mother of one talks about balancing her many business ventures and being a parent. 

“If I’m working on an individual project, like my fragrance, I will only work on it if I’m 100 percent passionate about it, because that takes me away from my family,” she said. “I base my whole schedule around my daughter and my husband — that’s how life is now.” 

The reality star added that motherhood “taught me how to prioritize. And I was forced to take a break for awhile. I never liked downtime, but I decided I enjoy it — that’s when the fun ideas come about.” 

To read the whole interview, head to C magazine

 

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This Is The Kind Of Bullsh*t You Face As A Woman In The Music Industry

With the help of women on Twitter, a music critic has shed light on an uglier aspect of the industry she works in.

Jessica Hopper, music and culture critic and senior editor at Pitchfork, sparked a conversation on Twitter when she asked women and “other marginalized folks” among her almost 28,000 followers when they first felt like they “didn’t ‘count'” in the music industry. 

What came after was a disturbing look at what women face in the industry as Twitter users shared their experiences of sexism and misogyny. Many who are musicians, journalists, photographers and crew members explained that they were often not taken seriously and frequently mistaken for groupies or girlfriends.

Others highlighted the crude comments and casual sexism they experienced on a daily basis.

The most unsettling examples of misogyny came from Twitter users who bravely spoke up about being sexually assaulted, and the troubling reactions they received afterwards. 

Though the majority of the responses highlighted sexism in the music and journalism industries, Hopper’s tweet also motivated others to share their experience with sexism in other fields and with racial stereotypes. Since receiving so much feedback, Hopper has shifted the conversation and asked women about their accomplishments in the music industry and other fields using the hashtag #WomenInMusic.

Considering the obstacles they overcame for these accomplishments, these women deserve a round of applause.

H/T Newsweek

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Trump: ‘Making America Hate Again!’

Trump’s official campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again!” Perhaps he should change it to the headline above.

The Huffington Post has made an editorial decision to put Trump articles in the Entertainment section instead of the political section. This seemed like a good idea at the time.

Admittedly he is the class clown — and the schoolyard bully. Oddly, also the teacher’s pet. But his toxic mix of egotism, cynicism and racism simply isn’t entertaining. It is, however, still a spectacle.

His now infamous tirade about Mexicans being criminals and rapists is well-known.

Recently two cowardly young thugs in Boston allegedly urinated on and used a metal pole to beat a 58-year-old sleeping Hispanic homeless man, fracturing his nose and causing other serious injuries. One of them reportedly told the police “Donald Trump was right, all of these illegals need to be deported.” (Apparently, the two assailants checked his immigration status before brutalizing him.) A news person asked Trump for his reaction, and Trump reportedly said “That would be a shame” adding this remarkable statement, “I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again. But they are very passionate. I will say that.”

His supporters chanted “USA! USA! USA!” when some protesters were thrown out of a Trump event in Phoenix — as if they were cheering at Wrestlemania.

This week at a press conference in Iowa, several times Trump ordered Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos, a respected journalist and an American citizen, to “Sit down,” as if Ramos were a dog being ordered by his unkind master to “Sit.” Trump also added to “Go back to Univision.” Then Trump nodded at one of his security guards who escorted Ramos out of the room.

In the hallway, a Trump supporter further humiliated Ramos telling him “Get out of my country.” Ramos responded with restraint, class, and dignity.

The delusional Donald has often claims that he will win the “Hispanic” vote. This assertion might be just another Trump empty promise. A recent Gallop Poll shows among Hispanic voters, he has the highest disapproval rate (65 percent) of any GOP candidate.

Apparently he is looking to carry Asian vote as well. Here’s Trump mocking them and doing a racially stereotypical impersonation of “these people”:

While Trump may not carry Latinos or Asians, he will likely carry the racists’ vote. It isn’t surprising that Trump is receiving endorsements from white supremacy groups and neo-Nazis. David Duke, former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, has reportedly called Trump the best of the GOP candidates.

In an interview with Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, Trump reportedly said “I don’t need his endorsement; I certainly wouldn’t want his endorsement” and added “I don’t need anyone’s endorsement.” When asked if he would repudiate the endorsement, Trump is quoted as saying “Sure, I would if that would make you feel better.”

That doesn’t make me feel any better.

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INTERVIEW: Patricia Clarkson on Learning to Drive

The first time I saw Patricia Clarkson onscreen was in her feature film debut in Brian De Palma’s 1987 crime epic The Untouchables. The subsequent decades have seen the hugely talented Clarkson rack up a truly impressive list of credits working alongside some of the most popular and well-respected actors and filmmakers of all time, in the process garnering considerable acclaim for her work on both big screen and small (she took home two well-deserved Emmy Awards for guest appearances on the HBO skein Six Feet Under).

For her latest project, the luminous Clarkson stars in Isabell Coixet’s Learning to Drive, a charming slice-of-life fable co-starring Sir Ben Kingsley. The film, inspired by a 2002 New Yorker article by Katha Politt, casts the actress as Wendy, a recent divorcee who forms a unique and unlikely bond with Darwan (Kingsley), a Sikh driving instructor. What follows are some highlights from my conversation with Clarkson about the film, her relationship with Kingsley, and the continuing difficulties for women in Hollywood:

I was just talking to my colleagues about how we don’t get these kinds of stories very often. I know this film spent something like 10 years in development.

I spent nine years trying to get this movie made alongside Dana Friedman. The wonderful Dana Friedman. It was a journey.

Talk to me about that. What was it about this story that you said, “I will stick with it.”

I was so enamored of the essay in The New Yorker, and I love Katha Pollitt. She’s many things but she’s a poet at heart to me. She’s written one of favorite poems of all time, called “Small Comfort”. Read it sometime. You’ll see.

I’ll seek it out.

But I was so enamored of this story. It resonated. It stayed with me. Then I found that Dana Friedman had commissioned a script by Sarah Kernochan. Sarah Kernochan really took the short story and ran. I think she had Katha Pollitt’s blessing to just…She took this story and made it a movie.

It kept the integrity of Wendy…The character in the essay was Filipino, the driver. But Sarah Kernochan had friends in the Sikh community, and decided to make the driver Sikh, which I thought was very beautiful. The culture, I knew a little of and now I know a lot of, which is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I just thought she captured…Sarah had the heart of Katha in her, the essence of Katha, and really made it a movie. Made it a funny, witty, poignant movie in equal doses of comedy and tragedy. And I just thought it was unusual. It was surprising, and unusual, and had beauty to it. Great comedy. Like, real. I thought some of the circumstances in this film were genuinely funny, that grownups would find funny.

It’s funny: as the film has opened and people have seen this, I know this is is an adult film, but my nieces and nephews have seen it and loved it. I’ve had some young friends go to see it and they love it. Love it. So, I do think, while this is a movie about middle-aged people, it resonates far greater. But I just…I wanted this story to be seen. I wanted people to laugh and hopefully cry, simultaneously.

I knew I just wanted to be a part of this and I didn’t give up. But it’s a tough movie to get made. But it was worth the journey. It was worth the journey. It really was. I actually arrived at a better place to play Wendy nine years later. I really did. [laughs] I had nine more years of life and love and loss. I was ready to play Wendy by the time we started rolling that camera, when I don’t know that I really was nine years ago.

This is a contention that I have, and I’d love for you to confirm or disconfirm it. I think that Hollywood does not allow us to be a part of the process that women go through as they get older, in the same that way that we have the opportunity with men. For example, we’ve seen Robert De Niro go from young man to distinguished older actor. We’ve seen that entire process. I feel like those same opportunities are not available to women.

They’re not as abundant as they are to men. And that’s sadly just the nature of this industry. It is a male-dominated industry. It is an ageist industry. That will never change, sadly. I mean, it’s changing. Maybe a hundred years from now, somehow the scales will tip and it’ll be all female, female-dominated and driven films. Maybe, you know. God, I wish I could stay alive another hundred years.

You can bemoan it, but you also have to just accept it, rise above, and make your own opportunities. I do think that with the rise of independent film, and not just…I grew up in the heyday of independent film with all these beautiful distributors, Miramax and October Films, the rise, the real hotbed of independent filmmaking. But what’s happened now is something better.

Independent films have started to become commercial. They’ve started to enter the Oscar race. They’ve started to enter all of these award races. They’ve started to become the hot films of the year. They’ve lifted…More people now go to art films than before. It really was a very select group. And now cities all over the country have art houses. It used to be really New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. It was just the big urban cities.

But now there are more and more art houses, and people go! And so with the commercial aspect of these films, the financial wooing and winning of these films, it has made independent viable. It’s opened up doors. More doors have opened up, and so more doors have opened up to women. Women, we have great stories to tell. And people go to see them. People want to see them.

I have to tell you, this film: I’ve had more people wanting to see this film than any film I’ve done in a long, long time just because. First of all, our incredible distribution company, we have an amazing distribution company, and we have these amazing producers who stepped in and got the film made. Because of them…They’ve actually invested in this film, which is even better. They’ve decided to put their money where their mouth is.

Briefly, I’d love for you to discuss how you formed your relationship that’s just so beautiful and poignant with Ben Kingsley. What was that process like, the give-and-take?

What it starts from is a very deep and mutual respect that Sir Ben and I have for one another. We’ve known each other for a long time. We worked together on Elegy, a beautiful film we made. Have you ever seen Elegy?

I have, yeah. It’s fantastic.

A beautiful film we made together. We played lovers, and if you ever want to bond with someone, play their lover. [laughs] So, we have mutual respect and admiration for one another and a friendship that came out of that and a love for Isabel Coixet that came out of that. We worship Isabel Coixet. We really do. She is delicious and divine.

Out of all of that, out of the process of Elegy, we formed this bond, and I wanted to bring that bond to this movie because I knew we had to rock and roll. I knew we didn’t have a lot of time, a lot of money. We had to be joined at the hip in a way but to keep our disparate world. We had to keep our separate worlds in this film, which was essential, that we didn’t blur Patty and Sir Ben with Wendy and Darwan, that we kept distinct lives, separate lives in this little, tiny confined space, which is very hard to do.

But Sir Ben and I showed up, ready-to-go. I had this film in me for nine years. We had the blessing of the whole Sikh community. Anyway, he came ready. I remember the first time I saw him in the turban in the mirror, and I looked over, and he looked so beautiful. I said, “Oh my God.” I looked at him and I said, “We’re shooting a film.” There’s Darwan. I had my hair in my ponytail. I was in my green dress. I looked at him. I said, “Oh my God.”

 ”Is this real?”

“You’re here. We’ve arrived. We’re ready to shoot.” [laughs]

That’s amazing.

It was just a long time coming, you know? It was hard. It was a long process to get to, but that’s what I love most about this film, is that it has all of these remarkable women involved in it, as you know. Thelma Schoonmaker, Sarah Kernochan, Katha Pollitt, Isabel Coixet, Dana Friedman, our producer.

But it was two very young men named Gabriel and Daniel Hammond, starting a new company, who chose…They could have made any hot film. They could have had hot stars, hot people. They chose to make this beautiful film as their first film. They chose to write a check, a big one, for a small movie, and chose to be our producers and come on board. And that’s how this film got made, in one stroke.

And so that’s why I continue in my life. I continue in this business because somebody will say yes. They will. [laughs]

****

Many thanks to Patricia Clarkson for her enthusiasm, her candor, and her time. Learning to Drive is now playing in select theaters, and I heartily recommend seeking it out for a quirky, unique, and ultimately satisfying experience. For more movie talk, be sure to check out the latest episode of the MovieFilm Podcast at this link or via the embed below:


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TRACE — Ep.8

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Updated on every Wednesday and Friday





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MOSS — Ep.8

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Updated on every Monday and Thursday





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AMANZA — Ep.7

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Updated on every Monday and Wednesday





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Jon Bon Jovi Singing Ballad In Chinese Does NOT Give Love A Bad Name

You probably know Jon Bon Jovi as the larger-than-life rock star whose vocals have filled stadiums. But we betcha didn’t know he’s actually pretty darn good at Chinese, too. 

(Or at least singing in Chinese).

Yes, the 53-year-old artist sang Teresa Teng’s popular ballad, “Yue Liang Dai Biao Wo De Xin,” or “The Moon Represents My Heart.” The singer, who recorded the song for Chinese Valentine’s Day — which took place last week — manages to sing it beautifully in Mandarin, while somehow maintaining his very recognizable Bon Jovi flair. 

Listen to the artist get in touch with his softer side and sing an emotional rendition of the song. Then, notice that your jaw has probably dropped to the floor because you were unaware he was capable of singing in Chinese. 

Seriously, what can’t he do? 

 

Also on HuffPost: 

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5 Times John Green Offered Advice Everyone Should Follow

John Green has a way with words, even when they’re not on the pages of his best-selling books. 

Between building up his Nerdfighter community with his brother, Hank, and racking up more than 4.5 million Twitter followers, Green has found time to offer words of wisdom in interviews and vlogs, through Tumblr posts and Reddit “Ask Me Anything” sessions. In honor of his 38th birthday on August 24 (which the author is celebrating by matching donations to Water.org), we’ve gathered some of his most inspiring messages. From talking about dating to opening up about mental health, here are five times John Green offered some wonderful nuggets of wisdom.

1. When he had the perfect response to a fan whose boyfriend said she was too smart for him.

In a video from 2010, Green responded to fans after asking them on Twitter if they were dealing with any problems. “My boyfriend says I’m too smart for him, but I really like him. Should I start acting stupid?” a fan asked. After turning into “a giant squid of anger,” he gave the best answer.

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The Venn diagram of boys who don’t like smart girls and boys you don’t want to date is a circle.” 

2. When he offered some kind words to a fan on Tumblr.

A 22-year-old fan with cerebral palsy who identifies as bisexual reached out to Green on Tumblr, asking “How are we to deal with prejudice that comes from within our own families?” Though Green began his humble reply by stating he didn’t know “how to give advice,” he offered an inspiring message.


I don’t know how to give advice but I just want to say that you are a human being, and you are important and cared for. Neither your disabilities nor your sexual orientation make you less human than any other person–you are complex and important and worthy of love. There are people–and I’m very sorry if such people are in your family–who seek to dehumanize the other. Maybe the are [sic] scared and maybe they are acting out systemic biases they inherited and maybe they don’t know how to include you in their overly narrow definition of personhood, but that is not about you. That is not your fault. You are not broken or wrong; the social order is.

 

3. When he gave advice for those figuring out what to do with their lives.


Study broadly and without fear. Learn a language if you can because that will make your life more interesting. Read a little bit every day. But most importantly try to surround yourself with people you like and make cool stuff with them. In the end, at least in my experience, what you do isn’t going to be nearly as interesting or important as who you do it with.

 

4. When he opened up about his mental health.

During a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session, a fan asked Green if he had any advice for “people who suffer from depression and the like.” The author answered by talking about his own mental health before closing with some encouraging words.


There is hope. There is treatment. You are not alone, and while I know the struggle feels at times completely hopeless and futile, there is a far shore for the vast majority of people, and I wish you the best.

 

5. When he talked about what makes someone a “nerd” — and why it’s a good thing.


I love nerds! I am obsessed with nerds. I have a great affection for people who are intellectually engaged with the world, and who, who don’t treat everything superficially. And I think when people talk about nerdiness, what they’re really talking about is smart people who are trying to think hard about the world, and I don’t think that’s an insult, I think that’s a great thing.

 

And as a bonus, here’s one last quote from Green that might not count as wisdom, but still serves as some pretty solid advice.

Happy birthday, John!

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The Best Celebrity Advice from Mondays with Marlo

We’ve had so many wonderful celebrity guests over the years, and they’ve all left us with a little something to remember. Whether it was a lesson, a bit of advice, or even just a funny story, they shared something we all can relate to; the little things that get us through the day. So we decided to collect a few of our favorite celebrity tips and share them with you. Celebrities – they’re just like us, only famous!

Check out our guests in the video above:

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First Nighter: A. R. Gurney’s “Love & Money” Doesn’t Buy Happiness

When Love & Money begins with Cornelia Cunningham (Maureen Anderman) confronting lawyer Harvey Abel (Joe Paulik) over the disposition of her will, it looks as if the new A. R. Gurney play is going to be substantive. Cornelia, you see, is planning to leave her impressively large gobs of money to charities, and this has Harvey worrying that her heirs–two grandchildren never seen–will contest the stipulations.

The assumption about Gurney’s intent, however, is misplaced. A dramatist who often pulls back from the more shadowy implications of his plots, Gurney withdraws from those here so forcibly that patrons may experience a mild form of whiplash. In the end, the comedy (?)–a co-production of the SignatureTheatre and the Westport Country Playhouse, where Mark Lamos, who directed, is artistic director–is a minor trifle.

Your enjoyment of it will hinge on how fond of trifles you are. Love & Money is so mildly amusing as it passes that I’m writing this review as fast as I can so that even more of it won’t fade from my memory before I finish.

Cornelia is rich, all right. The study–that Michael Yeargan has designed–where the action takes place and featuring its view of a staircase hung with tasteful landscape painting, confirms her wealth. Due to how wrong her late husband and two late children went as a result of being well heeled, Cornelia is convinced that money only corrupts. So she’s giving it away to Save the Children, et cetera.

Harvey’s concern is that Cornelia’s grandchildren will object, and when she assures him they have already been mollified, he surprises her by producing a registered latter from a man claiming to be the son of her late daughter Louisa, whom Cornelia claims never married or had children. Hardly has the missive come out of its envelope when the doorbell rings and in quick time the letter’s sender arrives–an African-American named Walker Williams (Gabriel Brown), who’s been nicknamed “Scott” because of his declared passion for F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Any committed theatergoer familiar with John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation (there can’t be many who aren’t) will immediately wonder about Scott’s authenticity, but it sure looks as if Cornelia hasn’t spent much of her moolah on theater tickets.

To Harvey’s consternation, Scott ingratiates himself with Cornelia by way of the love for Fitzgerald that she shares. He also shows her a typewritten letter he says he received from Louisa after she’d left him with his father’s family and moved to France. There’s also the overall charm he smilingly dispenses. It does seem strange, though, that with all his passion for Fitzgerald, he doesn’t know the word “badinage.”

Oh, well, he does get around Cornelia, but when Harvey has to leave for lunch with his girlfriend, Scott doesn’t fare so well with Cornelia’s crusty cook Agnes Munger (Pamela Dunlap) and with Juilliard student Jessica Worth (Kahyun Kim). She’s stopped by to test a spinet Cornelia is offering to donate to the school

It turns out Cornelia had the instrument converted to a player piano some time earlier so she could program it with many of the Cole Porter songs she adores. (Did Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda love Cole Porter? Undoubtedly they all knew each other in Paris, but I digress.) The talented piano offers Jessica an opportunity to sing one of the 1913 Yale grad’s less well-known ditties, “Make It Another Old-Fashioned Please,” which Kim does nicely. When Harvey returns from lunch with news relevant to Cornelia and Scott, he seizes–with an important aim in mind–the opportunity to reprise “Get Out of Town,” another of Porter’s wry ballads. Like Kim, Paulik makes his unexpected rendition an attention-getter.

About this time, Gurney decides to wind up his tale to fit today’s trendy intermission less 90-minute format. In the name of a spoiler-free Love & Money account, no details will be listed as to how he does it. Certainly, nothing will be revealed about whether Scott is who he claims to be or whether Cornelia really cares one way or the other or whether Harvey prevails in his distrust of Scott.

But it’s fair to say that a work with the elements of a more probing examination of the haves and the have-nots definitely dwindles into something that couldn’t be more light-hearted and gay in the now nearly forgotten sense of the word. This, when money is blatantly prominent among the great contemporary American themes.

With Lamos deftly capturing Gurney’s curious mood, the cast members can’t be faulted. Anderman, who only leaves the stage for a short time when Cornelia goes to enjoy a cold-soup lunch with Scott, is lovely. Paulik does the hard-nosed lawyer well and then gets hilariously unstarched when he goes into his song. Brown is clever at keeping everyone guessing about what Scott is up to. Dunlap’s no-nonsense maid is right on the, uh, money, and Kim takes full advantage of her scene.

(Just wondering: Has Gurney given Scott the name Walker Williams because “Walker” is the designation accorded men who escort wealthy ladies when the husbands aren’t available? There is definitely the implication that Scott could turn into one of those odd characters.)

It may be that many ticket buyers will be as wowed by this addition to Gurney’s long play list as Cornelia is wowed by Scott. Others are very likely to leave their seats thinking a baffled, “Huh?”

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Woman Sees Donald Trump In Her Vegan Butter

I can’t believe it’s not Donald!

Jan Castellano was getting ready to have some breakfast when she almost lost her lunch. She opened a tub of Earth Balance Organic Spread with plans to put the vegan butter on her toast — only to see what she claims is the image of Donald Trump looking right back at her.

It wasn’t necessarily appetizing, but it was entertaining.

“This was pretty much before I had coffee, so I was easily amused,” Castellano, 63, told The Huffington Post. “I needed to put on my glasses to make sure it was him.”

Castellano, of Wildwood, Missouri, says she wasn’t thrilled to see The Donald, mainly because “he is everywhere these days.”

She thought about saving the Trump-enhanced spread and sell it on eBay “so I could donate the money to Hillary Clinton.”

But short-term hunger won out over long-term wealth.

“It was the only butter I had, so I had to make the sacrifice,” she explained.

Currently, only Trump’s eye and part of his mouth remain in the tub, and Castellano hopes his campaign “melts away like butter” as well.

HuffPost reached out to Earth Balance to see if the Trump face was intentional, but the company had no comment. 

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Ben Higgins Named The Next ‘Bachelor’

Ladies, line up, because there’s a new Bachelor in town … and he’s a fan favorite.  

Ben Higgins, who was “Bachelorette” star Kaitlyn Bristowe’s third choice, was named the new star of “The Bachelor” on Monday night’s episode of “After Paradise.”

The 26-year-old was pretty much a shoo-in to star on the upcoming season after Bachelor Nation supported his campaign following his exit from “The Bachelorette” on July 13. Although, Season 11’s Nick Viall did give Higgins a run for his money. 

“I think he would be a great choice […] I have a lot of respect for Ben H. He is as sweet as everyone thinks he is,” Viall told HuffPost’s “Here to Make Friends” podcast earlier this month. “I might be giving myself too much credit, but Ben kind of reminds me of when I was 26.” 

Higgins seemed to be everyone’s No. 1 choice. Even Amy Schumer called into “After Paradise” to wish him luck. “Find love, and then send some my way, OK?” she said.

The software salesman is excited to begin his journey on the show. “It’s incredible. People like me don’t get opportunities like this,” Higgins told Harrison. “I never thought that this opportunity would be something I could have.” 

Higgins will be on “Good Morning America” to chat more about his upcoming season on Tuesday morning. 

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LOVE MAKER — Ep.7

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Updated on every Tuesday and Thursday





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Girl Bullied Over ‘Star Wars’ Gets Weird Al On Her Side

A girl bullied for loving “Star Wars” has the Force and Weird Al Yankovic with her.

Layla Murphy, 8, met the parody star at a concert recently after the 501st Legion, a “Star Wars” costume group with a charitable streak, helped her out.  

Layla is yet another young girl who was teased at school for liking Star Wars amongst other "boy" things. As a result of…

Posted by The 501st Legion on Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Girls at Layla’s Norfolk, Virginia, school teased her, saying that “Star Wars” was for boys, CNN reported. She eventually asked her mother if she could stop wearing her “Star Wars” gear, including an R2-D2 jacket.

“She was asked if she was turning into a boy,” her mother, Nicolette Molina, told CNN.

A member of the 501st Legion who had met Layla at a fan convention was told of the kid’s troubles by Molina and summoned the Internet to send Layla support and “Star Wars” souvenirs. It was all to reassure Layla to be herself.

Then the 501st came through with perhaps the coolest gesture of all.

“Taking it one step further, Layla became the next recipient of the custom Stormtrooper armor originally built for another girl (Katie Goldman) who was in a similar situation,” the group wrote on Facebook.

A fully costumed Layla met Yankovic, who apparently mingles with denizens of the galaxy far, far away …

 … and is also known for his “Star Wars” parodies, MTV noted. 

Don’t listen to those bullies, Layla. “Star Wars” can be enjoyed by the entire universe.

H/T Uproxx

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Ex Machina Again?: Hour of the Wolf Movie Review of The Machine

2015-08-23-1440362178-3165223-The_Machine_410.jpgThe Machine, Dan? The Machine? Surely you must mean Ex Machina, the dark, sensual drama about a young programmer falling into the thrall of an eerily human-like android, the film that grabbed so much attention earlier this year. That’s the film you’re talking about, right?”

No, no I’m actually talking about The Machine, another film entirely. But in an curious way, I’m talking about Ex Machina as well, because it turns out there are some interesting parallels between the two films, in sufficient quantity that I think it’s well-worth discussion. Click on the player to hear my review, or right-click the link to download.

Hour of the Wolf Movie Review of The Machine

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Supercut Of Awkward Celebrity Interviews Is Cringe-tastic

Celebrity interviews can often be tedious affairs in which a journalist or host asks basic questions about a star’s current project and receives (very) basic answers.

But every once in a while, a conversation goes off the rails. It’s way more interesting, isn’t it?

To demonstrate, Samuel L. Jackson, Amy Schumer, Jesse Eisenberg and others appear in this compilation from WorldWideInterweb. You may not know all of the reporters’ names but you’ll soon know their discomfort.

H/T Time

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Donald Trump Can Be Stopped — Draft Kim Kardashian

With Donald Trump leading the presidential race in the Republican Party by a “huge” margin, the Democratic Party needs to get serious here and produce a world-class elite candidate who can compete down at this level.

The obvious choice is Kim Kardashian.

Kim would wrest media coverage away from Trump. On recent evenings, all three networks of CNN, MSNBC and Fox News abandoned their prime-time news programs, and instead cut away for lengthy segments to a live video feed of Trump giving speeches. Flipping channels provided no relief because they all showed the exact same thing, like a presidential address. Trump was blabbing on and on about his own magnificence without saying a single word of substance, and all three news networks remained locked onto it.

Kim could give speeches that say absolutely nothing as well, but she could deliver them in a bikini.

Now that would trump Trump.

Plus, Kim is far more qualified to be president than Trump. She is way more famous. Her reality TV show was far better than Trump’s. And Kim has 35 million followers on Twitter compared to Trump’s paltry four million followers. It’s not even close.

The presidential debates between the two would really distinguish the best candidate to lead this nation. Trump would start by asserting that Kim is not a “10.” But this would not go over very well because the voters would see that Trump just attacks opponents without any basis in reality.

Trump would then seek to impugn Kim’s moral integrity by reminding everyone that she made a sex video. Kim, however, would turn the tables on Trump and create a you’re-no-Jack-Kennedy moment that would achieve presidential debate history by challenging Trump to make his own sex video and post it online so voters would have a basis for comparing the two candidates.

Actually, this is not such a bad idea. After all, with Trump proclaiming that voters should just “trust” him that he would be a good president based upon his personality instead of having to present any specific policies, voters do need some sort of a way to assess his ability to perform.

Now, some say that the Democratic Party should just stick with its current front-runner, Hillary Clinton. But Hillary has some very big problems in this new upside-down universe. She is intelligent, experienced and accomplished. That’s not good. Hillary also has thought through many difficult issues facing this nation and she has developed smart policy positions on how she would seek to solve these issues as president. Big mistake. It’s just difficult to see what all that dull and boring stuff has to do with anything.

So the Democrats need to rise to the occasion here and kick-off a movement to draft Kim.

Trump versus Kim will be the greatest spectacle of our time. The news networks will achieve record ratings and, of course, record profits. It will be the greatest reality TV show ever.

And a sad day for democracy.

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AMANZA –Ep.6

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Updated on every Monday and Wednesday





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23 Year-Old Jordanian Singer Songwriter Jaafar Smashes Into the US with His New Single ‘Sixteen’

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Jordanian chart-topping singer-songwriter & producer, Jaafar, discusses his new single “Sixteen” and his upcoming debut album. Jaafar’s Website.

I wasn’t looking for a different type of music to listen to. My loyal readers know I love metal, hard rock, 80s, hip hop, rap and reggae.

Then pow. Jaafar, who is from Jordan, landed in my speakers. Now I can’t get his “Sixteen” song out of my freakin’ skull. “Sixteen” tells of a girl aged only 16 in a war torn area just dreaming for a better tomorrow and the hope of reaching her 18th birthday.

Jaafar is cute, too – you know, for a dark haired boy. 😉

Your much anticipated single “Sixteen” is on iTunes. What did it take for you to get your music on there?

I really just wanted to make my music readily available so I put it up on iTunes as well as most major online music stores and streaming services. The point was for the song to be easy to find, download, and stream. Getting paid for downloads really depends on several factors, like how much the store takes off the top and if you’re on a label or not.

What’s the difference between touring with someone else and funding your own tour? Which do you prefer? Tell us about the cities you have played and visited.

I think it’s any artists’ dream to headline their own tour. That’s the goal, at least for me. Opening for another artist or playing a festival is great too, though. That’s exposure to an audience that may not have ever heard of you or your music before. My favorite part of what I do is definitely performing live; it’s a big thrill. I’ve played in some incredible places and on some iconic stages around the world. Earlier this year I played at the Fonda Theatre in LA, which was amazing. I’m from Amman, Jordan so to play in the entertainment capital of the world in a venue with such great history is a big deal to me. When I saw my name on the marquee it was very surreal. My manager sent me a picture a couple of weeks later with the Rolling Stones name on the same marquee, THE ROLLING STONES, that’s crazy! Another memorable show that I’ve played was in the historic city of Jerash in Jordan last summer. I played on the North Theatre… that stage has been there since around 165 AD!

What is it about Miami that keeps you grounded, why did you decide to move there?

I moved to Miami originally because I had been working sporadically with a producer who was based there, and I felt that was a good way for me to get in to the music scene there. Also, I was accepted in to the University of Miami, so I went there to pursue my undergrad degree. Miami has been really great to me in many ways. I’ve been able to meet and work with a lot of talented people. Some of them, legends whose work I grew up listening to, and others who were sort of coming up in the Miami music scene at the same time I was. I was very proactive about making music and soaking up knowledge from the people I was working with during my time in Miami. I moved there in 2010, and in the short time I was there I really feel like I learned and grew a lot.

What is your day like in the studio when you are recording? Do you have daily routines such as voice warm-ups, certain work-outs?

I like to record in the afternoon. Otherwise, I don’t have any energy. I’m not one of those guys who can start a recording session at 11:00 PM. There are definitely some routines I have and little things I do, especially if I’m recording vocals. I’ll often go on complete vocal rest, cut out caffeine and dairy, and basically avoid anything that might irritate my voice. Most importantly though I try to just take it easy and avoid stressful situations, which is easier said than done!

Have you ever been stopped on the street by fans?

Let’s be honest, it’s always nice when someone comes up to you and is genuinely excited to meet you and talk to you about your work. People at parties and restaurants have come up to me to tell me they ‘love the music’ or ‘can’t wait to hear what’s coming next’ sort of thing. So far I’ve only had very positive and respectful interactions with people. It hasn’t got anywhere near the point where I can’t walk down the street without being mobbed though. There’s still a certain level of privacy I have and I enjoy that. If one day that is no longer the case, then that’s what I signed up for, and as long as people are listening to my music it’s all worth it.

What /who inspires you to do the music that you do?

With a lot of the songs that I’ve written for this album in particular, I was inspired or should I say affected by what’s going on in the world today. Lyrically and in terms of subject matter, there’s a lot of commentary on the state of humanity and the deterioration of society. It’s not all doom and gloom though, it’s important to always hold on to hope and I think the music portrays that aspect as well. Sonically, this album is a departure from my older material. Strangely enough though, I only now feel like I’ve stumbled upon ‘my sound’, which if I could describe in simple terms is a fusion of Middle Eastern and Western Pop-Rock sounds.

What did you do for a living prior to your music career?

I’ve always done music. I feel like it’s a part of my identity as opposed to just a profession. Before recording this album, I was a student at the University of Miami. I actually started recording the album while I was still at school. Throughout my time at school I was always making music and actually put out two successful singles in my country while studying in America. ‘Sixteen’ I would say is my first international effort.

Being from the Middle East and crossing over to the United States, what hurdles have you jumped through?

I wont lie and say that it was easy leaving Jordan. I’m still not entirely used to it to be honest. More than anything else, being away from my family, friends, and the city I grew up in was a big adjustment for me. Aside from that, being in the music business itself, I feel I jump though hurdles on a daily basis. There’s a lot of ugliness that comes with the beauty of making music.

How do you feel about your followers on that social media? How has the response from your fans help your music?

Honestly, it’s very weird to see a number on social media and believe that those numbers represent real people, even though they do. It’s great that people follow me and care what I have to say. The lack of real human interaction on social media just makes it all seem unreal to me though. When someone sends me a drawing they’ve done of me, or leaves a kind comment on my page that makes it a little more real. I really appreciate that sort of thing. The fact that someone takes time out of his or her day to connect with me is humbling.

What did it feel like the first time you were on stage in front of an incredibly huge audience?

It’s really hard to describe. It’s a high that is unparalleled and one that you don’t ever want to come down from. Watching people’s reactions and emotions while they enjoy your music and sing along to melodies and lyrics you’ve written is an addictive thing.

Tell us how you give back to the youth and the community, either here in the States or in Jordan.

Firstly I try to raise awareness through my music. I’m not into writing music about being in the club. “Sixteen” for example, is about children during wartime; Killed, left alone, misplaced… There is no greater injustice in the world. I also try, like anybody who can should, give back to any community I’m in. I try to donate things like food, clothing and toys to local charities whenever I can; my parents always taught me the importance of that. In today’s world I don’t think that’s enough though. I do feel like I could be doing more, and as a result I have been looking at different charities, not only on a local level, to get involved with.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me! I’d like to ask anyone who hasn’t yet heard my music to please check out my current single “Sixteen”. To those of you who have reached out with such nice words, THANK YOU! You’re support and encouragement is not lost on me. Look out for new music soon and I hope to see you on the road in the not too distant future!

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This Theory Perfectly Explains Why ‘The Hobbit’ Movies Were So Bad

Look, some of us liked “The Hobbit” trilogy. They’re not the perfect movies, but it’s a perfect adventure. Oh, and there’s a dragon who’s a total baller.

Other people, however, didn’t really appreciate the films. In fact, they really hated them.

And that’s how frenemies are made.

The criticism has been that the movies were overly exaggerated, there was too much CGI and it didn’t need to be stretched into a trilogy. Now, a fan theory suggests the films were actually meant to be a little ridiculous and needlessly drawn out.

The Theory: “The Hobbit” films were bloated with CGI and long-winded because they represent Bilbo’s own exaggerated retellings of his adventure.

Redditor Questionbdp posed the idea as “internal justification” for why the movies were a “disappointment,” and it actually makes sense. The Redditor explains:


What Bilbo actually experienced during his adventure with the Dwarves was probably far less significant and monumental than the movies make it out to be, because the movies show how Bilbo retells his adventures, not how he actually lived them.

The theory goes on to say Bilbo probably felt bummed after he returned from his adventure to find all the other Hobbits didn’t care and were selling off all his stuff. (You nasty Hobbitses!) Because of this, he makes his story larger than life and “events which only filled a small book turned into three separate movies.”

Commenters called the theory “brilliant,” and one even joked, “Lol, Peter Jackson, is that you?”

Speaking of Jackson, even he says “The Hobbit” movies were meant to be a different tone than “Lord of the Rings,” but could this be the reason why?

In J. R. R. Tolkien‘s original stories, Bilbo authors his own memoir, There and Back Again, so it’s entirely possible that he embellished a bit. The dude was pretty good at making stuff up when explaining how he escaped the Goblin tunnels to his Dwarf bros, after all. And how else would you explain Legolas running up a crumbling tower?

Image: YouTube/MakeAGif

Ugh … #SMH.

Jackson said he doesn’t have regrets when it comes to the films, so we’re thinking he either completely missed that Legolas scene, or perhaps there’s a bigger plan at work.

Please let there be a bigger plan at work.

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Deez Nuts Endorses Bernie Sanders And John Kasich For Presidential Nomination

Deez Nuts, the 15-year-old presidential candidate who has attracted national attention after polling better than some Republicans seeking the White House, tried to exercise some political muscle on Saturday,  endorsing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Democratic presidential primary and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) in the Republican presidential primary.

Deez Nuts told In These Times that he endorsed Sanders because “he almost completely agrees on me with social issues and even some on fiscal issues.”

Deez Nuts, whose real name is Brady Olson, clarified that he was endorsing himself in the general election. He cannot constitutionally be president because he is too young but in a recent Public Policy poll, Deez Nuts polled better than several Republican presidential candidates.

No word yet on who will get the endorsement of Sydneys Voluptuous Buttocks, another presidential candidate.

 

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Harry Styles Falls Again Because It’s The Story Of His Life

Reuniting his butt with the floor once again, Harry Styles took another tumble at a concert in Toronto on Thursday.

It’s just the latest chapter in Style’s epic battle against gravity, which seems to have been going on for a while now:

Recently, during a time we assume he wasn’t falling to the seat of his pants, Styles and One Direction released the video for their new single. It’s called “Drag Me Down.”

Yeah, “Drag Me Down.” Has there ever been a more appropriate song title in the history of music?

Image: Tumblr

Doubt it.

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Emma Watson Celebrates Special ‘Harry Potter’ Anniversary

Emma Watson has completed work on the upcoming movie musical Beauty and the Beast and her last day on set fell on a very special anniversary.

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What If George Costanza Was In A Lifetime Movie?

In June, Jason Alexander finally shed light on why the writers of Seinfeld decided to kill off George’s fiancé, Susan.

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Mike Epps Talks ‘Soaking’ Up Richard Pryor Role, Hints At Timeline

After a long casting process, it appears Lee Daniels’ Richard Pryor biopic is set to begin production soon.   

The late comedian will be played by Mike Epps. According to Epps, the all-star cast — which includes Eddie Murphy, Oprah Winfrey, and Kate Hudson – is scheduled to begin filming in March 2016. 

“We start prepping in January, and start shooting in March,” he said during an interview with The Huffington Post. “Eddie Murphy’s playing my father, Oprah Winfrey’s playing my grandmother, Kate Hudson’s playing my girl, and I’m playing Richard Pryor.”

Epps went on to share how preparing for the role of Pryor, who died in 2005, has required him to delve into the many layers of the late comedy legend.

“Right now, I’m just really soaking it up. I’m just a sponge right now,” he said. “Just doing a lot research on the history of Richard Pryor. Trying to figure out the things that I need to figure out to play certain scenes. How I need to feel. What state of mind I need to be in, because this guy was a roller coaster, man. It wasn’t easy. [He was] close to something that’s scientific — broken down into a whole lot of different ways.”

As the 44-year-old actor gears up for the iconic role, he is also busy promoting season 2 of Starz’s original series, “Survivor’s Remorse.” The comedy series, which is produced by NBA superstar LeBron James and follows the life of a young professional basketball star, Cam Calloway (played by Jessie T. Usher), as he navigates his newfound fame, wealth, and personal relationships.

While the show addresses relevant topics surrounding the lives of professional athletes, Epps — who plays Calloway’s uncle, Julius — says the show isn’t just relatable to people in the world of sports.  

“The whole show itself is relatable to anybody that’s in show business because it’s ‘survivor’s remorse,’” he said. “So the whole thing about money, family, and friends, and love and all that — it all ties in together.”

“Survivor’s Remorse” premieres Saturday August 22 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT

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Take Your Love Life Into the Woods (And I Don’t Just Mean Sex Outdoors)

2015-08-21-1440186047-1294493-ID10073595.jpgIs your love life the romantic equivalent of a suburb? All plotted and predictable bits of grass and shrubbery; quiet, controlled, and so boring you want to blow your brains out? Time to leave the suburbs—and head into the woods.

This lesson comes to you by way of an unlikely source: Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Into the Woods.” The main story line is this: a childless baker and his wife, in a land far far away, are sent into the woods by a witch who promises to lift the childless curse she put on them if they bring back a few ingredients. Sort of like a very dramatic, life-or-death errand run. And it will require bravery, brains, and a little trickery to get it done.

The baker is a nice enough guy, but he’s a victim—of a spell, of circumstance (none of this is his ‘fault,’ etc.). Not the manliest of men. But all of that changes when he heads into the woods, which, here and in every other fairy tale, represent all that is dangerous and risky and unpredictable about the world and ourselves.

The baker’s wife follows her husband into the woods and is struck by what she sees. She sings in “It Takes Two”:

You’ve changed.
You’re daring.
You’re different in the woods.
More sure.
More sharing.
You’re getting us through the woods.

You’ve changed.
You’re thriving.
There’s something about the woods.
Not just
Surviving.
You’re blossoming in the woods.

She’s getting hot for him again, plain and simple. Not only because he’s being decisive and exhibiting a stronger, more manly appeal, but because, well, they’re not where they were. They’re not stuck in their little hovel with their same old worries and habits and flaws. They have risen to a new occasion.

At home I’d fear
We’d stay the same forever.
And then out here—
You’re passionate
Charming,
Considerate,
Clever…

The woods has tested their relationship, and revived it. Then, together they go and rip off poor Jack by trading him five magic beans for his aging cow. But that’s another story.

My point is this: We spend so much time seeking comfort, order, predictable assurance in our lives and our relationships that we mistakenly beat back what remains of the woods with a lawnmower and call it adulthood.

In her fantastic book Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel tells us that “the challenge for modern couples lies in reconciling the need for what’s safe and predictable with the wish to pursue what’s exciting, mysterious, and awe-inspiring.”

We expose the deliciously dark shadows of mystery and domesticate every last bit of wild within us. Responsibility. Maturity. And with it goes our wilder, untamed, but undeniably exciting nature, our lustiness, our sensuality, and our passion.

Here’s how to get back into the woods:

Embrace uncertainty. One of my colleagues, Matthew Walker, coach and author of Adventure in Everything, teaches this concept in his workshops. He says that what we endeavor to do in our lives, careers, and relationships is made that much more rewarding if it has an uncertain outcome. Meaning: When you only go after what has a certain, predictable result, you don’t get a fraction of the fulfillment from it. If you’re single, it means throwing yourself in the dating wilderness and seeing it not as a chore or a dreaded, horrible thing, but as an adventure.

Explore fantasy. This is what Fifty Shades of Grey did for hundreds of thousands of wives (and husbands, too). It didn’t have to be a literary masterpiece to do what it did: Lured people into the woods of their erotic imaginations. Sure it felt a little wrong—that’s why it worked. Erotica is one way to do it, but even more fun is talking about your own darker urges, and possibly trying them out for real.

Go somewhere a little risky. Skip the tame pool-side excursion and opt for an adrenaline-inspired adventure (whether it’s literally hiking thru the woods, or rock climbing, etc.). You need to be somewhere vastly different than you’ve been. You may bring the partner you have known, but he (or she) may look a little different on the journey. A friend of mine goes away with her husband to far-flung places like Egypt and Peru every year. Seeing him in unfamiliar settings and sharing adventures keeps their relationship alive. If you’re single, take a solo trip. The sheer adventure of travel opens you up to all kinds of romantic interludes.

Create some distance. Perel writes, “There’s a powerful tendency in long-term relationships to favor the predictable over the unpredictable. Yet eroticism thrives on the unpredictable.” Do something out of character. Get dressed up, wear a new perfume, change your hair—whatever. Tell your partner you have plans, but be vague. Or, have him meet you at a restaurant where you haven’t been. Allow some silence, distance, mystery, and you reintroduce a little of the initial chase you had when you were first courting. Let him guess what you’re up to. Be coy. Sly. Inviting. As opposed to, say, peeing with the door open. Start acting like the person you were before you had a partner—the very person he or she was attracted to. Put yourself somewhere where he has to come find you. It’s hard to long for someone when they’re sitting right there. Make him follow you into the woods.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Proust

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Why Are Lesbian Movies Still Terrible In 2015?

Jenny’s Wedding is a 2015 independent film written and directed by Mary Agnes Donoghue. Jenny (Katherine Heigl) decides to marry her live-in gal pal, Kitty (Alexis Bledel) — but Jenny’s conventional Midwestern family has long since been under the impression that Jenny and Kitty are just roommates.

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Trump Excels at Business, But He Has No Business in International Politics

Listening to Donald Trump’s egotistical take, you’d think his loud business personality translates perfectly into international politics. Mexico acting up? No matter; he’ll hop on the phone and curse Mexico out. China spiffing us in trade deals? Who cares! A solution is a phone call and an immature insult away. “Your country sucks, China!” Problem solved.

Except while that might work on TV, it would backfire in reality. As several commentators have already pointed out, Trump’s “refusal to act diplomatically [would be] catastrophic for the lead diplomat of the United States.” Diplomacy requires subtlety, tact and restraint — something everyone from Sun Tzu to Henry Kissinger agrees on. But screaming insults like a petulant toddler? That sort of behavior is best left on The Apprentice.

I’m not saying business experience has no place in politics. It obviously does. Outsiders bring valuable insights into the political process, and a more realistic representation of how business works — stressing restraint and negotiation over needless offense — translates extremely well into international diplomacy.

But Trump’s view of how his own bombastic business personality would play in the political realm is remarkably shortsighted. He speaks of countries as if they were individuals, and he acts like solutions to complex problems lie in three-word slogans. That pithy ideology might work for Trump’s personal life, but it would spell disaster if adopted by the president of the United States. In Trump’s worldview as presented thus far, one gets the impression that Israel-Palestine can be solved by a few stern phone calls and maybe a fancy steak dinner afterwards. If that fails, then bombs should do the trick. Yeah right.

Obviously, Trump’s oversimplification of international relations has appeal. Most people don’t have the background knowledge, the patience, or the time to truly consider the intricacies of, say, the development of ISIL. As Robert Greene writes in The 48 Laws of Power, short mantras have an intrinsic draw, a resonance that longer, more nuanced takes on things just don’t have. And that’s fine — for the average citizen. But the president of the United States, wielding a governmental branch clothed in immense executive power, should have a more thorough understanding of foreign policy.

He or she should understand that illegal immigration is not a problem the Mexican government alone can control, or that empirical evidence suggests undocumented immigrants actually commit less crime than native-born Americans. He or she should acknowledge that a disgusting phenomenon like ISIL has complex political, religious, and historical underpinnings that will not be, cannot be, dismantled by a few well-placed explosives — rhetorical or military. A responsible president should know that criticisms of China and Japan for manipulating currency should be restrained and qualified, to acknowledge (for example) Japan’s two decades of careful economic policy aimed at counteracting slumping fiscal performance. And so on.

Because in foreign policy, jabs aren’t taken lightly; and unlike in Trump’s business affairs, insulting a country ticks off a heck of a lot more people than the one person on the other side of the phone line.

Business isn’t simple; foreign policy isn’t either. If Trump wants to be taken seriously by the general electorate, he should demonstrate the nuanced understanding of foreign policy exemplified by candidates ranging from Jeb Bush to Hillary Clinton.

As things stand now, the world is far too dangerous and complex a place for Donald Trump to be at its helm, his hand hovering over the nuclear button, ready to shout “you’re fired!” at anyone who ticks him off.

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Donald Trump In Alabama: Bring It On

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Republican front-runner Donald Trump on Friday joked, “I know how Billy Graham felt” as he addressed the largest crowd yet of his thriving presidential campaign.

“I would like to have the election tomorrow,” Trump crowed. “I don’t want to wait.”

Thousands of Alabama voters came out to hear the New Yorker bring his message to the Deep South. The 40,000-seat Ladd-Peebles Stadium was about half-full when Trump began his speech.

Trump was welcomed by an array of Alabama politicians, including Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, who praised him for the attention he’s drawn to immigration issues. And Trump led off his speech with more criticism of immigrants living in the country illegally, drawing loud cheers when he repeated his promise to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

 He reiterated his intention to end “birthright citizenship” for children of immigrants here illegally.

Trump also attacked the Obama administration’s deal with Iran to restrict that country’s nuclear program, calling it “so sad.”

 

And he promised to “repeal and replace Obamacare” — the health care law that’s President Barack Obama’s singular domestic achievement.

Before Trump arrived, his fans — some carrying signs, others wearing T-shirts supporting the billionaire businessman — spoke of his outsider status in a crowded field dominated by former and current elected officials as the song “Sweet Home Alabama” blared from loudspeakers.

 

 ”Donald Trump is telling the truth and people don’t always like that,” said Donald Kidd, a 73-year-old retired pipe welder from Mobile. “He is like George Wallace, he told the truth. It is the same thing.”

Wallace, a fierce opponent of civil rights, served as governor of Alabama and sought the presidency multiple times.

Kidd said Trump is a “breath of fresh air,” and praised him as a businessman with common sense.

Savannah Zimmerman, a 27-year-old registered nurse from Mobile, agreed. “I think he appeals to us Southerners because he tells it like it is and he has strong opinions. That is the way we are here in the South,” she said.

Mary Anne Bousenitz, 59, a retired psychiatrist from Tuscaloosa, said she isn’t offended by the insults Trump has directed at women, like “dog” and “bimbo.”

“I’m not married to the man and it’s not like I’m going to have to sit across a turkey at the table with him,” she said.

Interest in the candidate forced organizers to move a planned rally from the Mobile Civic Center, which holds about 2,000 people, to Ladd-Peebles Stadium, a 40,000-seat football stadium.

Before the rally, Trump tweeted: “We are going to have a wild time in Alabama tonight! Finally, the silent majority is back!”

During the height of the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon sought the backing of the “silent majority,” widely considered to be Americans who stood behind the Republican president and weren’t getting the attention that protesters attracted. Trump has derided elected officials and cast his candidacy as an outsider’s bid.

The Bush campaign on Friday night e-mailed thousands of supporters in Alabama, denouncing Trump as a Republican presidential candidate. The campaign statement said that Trump favors partial-birth abortions, supports restrictions on gun rights and backs laws that infringe on states’ land rights.

 

 

“Trump’s positions are deeply out of step with the Alabama way of life,” the campaign said in the email. “We know Alabama cherishes life, especially the life of the unborn.” 

Right to Rise USA, the super PAC supporting Bush, tweeted photos of a plane, with a banner ad bashing Trump and promoting Bush, flying over the stadium, before Trump’s rally.

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She Makes Movies

Pioneering movie director’s Dorothy Arzner recent death reminds us that still today too few movies are directed or produced by women. It wasn’t until 2009 that the first Oscar for Best Director went to a woman! Match the woman with her accomplishment:

____ 1. Probably best known for her stunning Broadway production of The Lion King.
____ 2. In 2009, the first woman to receive an Academy Award for Best Director.
____ 3. An actress turned director and producer, her movie Awakenings was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in 1991.
____ 4. The winner of two Oscars, she wrote more than 100 scripts.
____ 5. A pioneering director who co-founded her film company in 1949.

A. Frances Marion
B. Ida Lupino
C. Penny Marshall
D. Julie Taymor
E. Kathryn Bigelow

A screenwriter whose career started as a journalist and an artist, Frances Marion wrote more than 100 scripts. Befriending actress Mary Pickford, Marion directed her first film in 1921. Marion achieved greater success as a screenwriter than as a director, winning two Oscars — one for The Big House and one for The Champ. The latest remake of The Champ, based on her script, was in 1979 starring Jon Voight, Faye Dunaway, and Rich Schroder. Later, Marion taught screenwriting at the university level.

At a time when good roles for women actors were hard to come by and many actresses completed for the roles that were available, Ida Lupino decided that she would direct movies. Pioneering director Lupino co-founded a film company named Emerald Productions. In 1949, she finished directing a movie that she co-wrote, Not Wanted. After writing, directing and producing films in the 1950s, she worked in television, directing episodes in more than 100 shows including The Untouchables, Mission Impossible and The Fugitive.

Penny Marshall made a name for herself as Laverne in the television situation comedy Laverne and Shirley. Turning her hand to directing and producing in 1985, she became the first female director to have a film that grossed $ 100 million at the box office (Big). She then became the first female director with two movies that grossed over $ 100 million at the box office with A League of Her Own. Her film Awakenings was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in 1991, but did not receive the award.

Probably best known for her Broadway production of The Lion King, Julie Taymor has directed feature films, directed Broadway plays, and developed puppets and masks for productions. The Lion King received eleven Tony Award nominations and won two awards — for Best Director and Costume Designer. Her films include Frida and Across the Universe.

The first woman to receive an Academy Award for Best Director, Kathryn Bigelow has directed short and long films. The 2009 Best Director award was for her work on The Hurt Locker which also won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Bigelow was inspired by her father, who liked to draw cartoons but did not pursue his dream of being a cartoonist. She did follow her dream, studying art, but then intentionally changing her focus to film – to be able to influence more people. Bigelow has worked in television as well as in film.

Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. These women who make movies are profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. We enjoy the fruits of their hard work and benefit from their significant contributions to our arts and culture.

(Answers 1-D, 2-E, 3-C, 4-A, 5-B )

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67 Times Rappers Name Dropped ‘Donald Trump’

Rappers love Donald Trump. 

Despite his many controversial stances in his presidential campaign platform, his name is synonymous with extreme wealth in the hip-hop world. Since the 1980s, rappers have mentioned Trump in their lyrics — in some cases have named entire songs after him.  

Many rappers have praised his wealth, comparing their finances and fiscal aspirations to that of the multibillion dollar business mogul.

“I buy cars with straight cash, have meetings with Donald Trump,” said rapper Ludacris in his 2003 song, “Hip Hop Quotables.” 

But it doesn’t stop there.

“Trump is 90s hip-hop all day,” Comedian Mike Yard told host Larry Wilmore in a July episode of “The Nightly Show.”

Yard pointed out that Trump loves gold, has his own vodka and pulls “gangsta” moves like publicly giving out a U.S. Senator’s phone number. 

“He’s like the 50 Cent of the Republican party,” Yard said. “All he needs is to get shot nine times and he’s golden.”

Since Trump has yet to drop a mixtape, we’ve compiled 67 hip-hop songs over the last 25 years that mention the mogul’s name in the video above. 

Enjoy!

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‘Simpsons’ Co-Creator’s Sweet Memorabilia Up For Auction

The art and artifacts collection of Sam Simon,”The Simpsons” co-creator who died this year, will be auctioned by Sotheby’s this fall. As you might expect, it includes some cool vintage Simpsons memorabilia.

Simon helped create “The Simpsons” in 1986. He left the show after its fourth season, but kept the title of executive producer. Before his death from colorectal cancer in March at age 59, he left his $ 100 million fortune to charity

Sotheby’s is selling Simon’s collection of fine arts and memorabilia to benefit the Sam Simon Charitable Giving Foundation. The collection includes souvenirs from 19th century boxing matches and pin-up art, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

But we know you’re here for the Simpsons-themed goods. Simon’s custom Simpsons jacket will be on sale, along with a funky pinball machine. The New York Times reports the game says “Hey, man, I’m an underachiever, too,” in Bart Simpson’s voice. 

 The collection reportedly includes a Simpson’s yarmulke, and an Itchy & Scratchy-themed bag. 

Sotheby’s will offer Simon’s “Simpsons” memorabilia at a dedicated sale in New York on Oct. 22. Other items in his collection will be auctioned as part of 11 other sales this fall.

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Petition Calls For Jon Stewart To Moderate A Presidential Debate

Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” retirement is barely two weeks old, but there’s already a push to bring him back to the airwaves next year — this time as moderator of one of the upcoming presidential debates

“Over the last 16 years, Jon Stewart has played an influential and iconic role in covering U.S. politics and media,” the petition on Change.org reads. “We believe he should continue that tradition as a moderator at one of the 2016 Presidential Debates.”

The petition notes that Stewart has interviewed 15 heads of state, 22 members of the Cabinet, 32 U.S. Senators and seven members of the House of Representatives, as well as “scores of other political leaders from this country and around the world while establishing himself as the most trusted person in (satirical) news.”

In addition, the petition points out that with Stewart serving as host, “The Daily Show” won Peabody Awards for its coverage of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. 

So far, more than 120,000 people have signed the petition addressed to the Commission on Presidential Debates, the nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that sets the locations and chooses the moderators for each debate. 

Neither the CPD nor Stewart have commented on the petition. However, the organization spells out the qualifications on its website: 


“The moderators are selected by the CPD. The CPD uses three criteria to select its moderators: a) familiarity with the candidates and the major issues of the presidential campaign; b) extensive experience in live television broadcast news; and c) an understanding that the debate should focus maximum time and attention on the candidates and their views. The moderators alone select the questions to be asked, which are not known to the CPD or to the candidates. They do not meet with the campaigns, nor do the campaigns have a role in moderator selection.”

 

At least one presidential hopeful has signed the petition:

Stewart has said little about his post-“Daily Show” plans, but his next big public appearance will be as host of WWE’s SummerSlam on Sunday.

He also reportedly intends to be active in animal rescues. Earlier this year, Farm Sanctuary announced that Stewart and his wife, Tracey Stewart, “bought a farm in New Jersey with the intention of providing a home for farm animals rescued from cruelty.”

But the creators of the petition are hoping to bring him back to television at least one more time. 

“(S)orry for pestering you so early in your retirement, Mr. Stewart!” an update to the petition reads. “I hope you take all of this as a compliment and see how grateful these supporters are for your work.”

 

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PRETA — Ep.6

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Updated on every Tuesday and Friday





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Ep.4


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Ep.5


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Copyright ⓒ 2015 RollingStory Inc.

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John Cena Grants 500th Wish For The Make-A-Wish Foundation

John Cena, #FTW!

The “real-life superhero” and WWE star now has yet another good-guy accolade under his belt: he’s just granted his 500th wish for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Cena, who’s long held the title for the celebrity who’s granted the most wishes through the charity, appeared on NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday to mark the milestone moment. He granted his 500th wish to an 8-year-old boy named Rocco Lanzer.

Rocco, who was diagnosed with leukemia in January, is a huge fan of Cena. “He’s nice and strong and inspirational,” he told Today of his idol. “He reminds kids to never give up.” 

Earlier this year, the wrestler visited the boy in the hospital, but Rocco said he hadn’t been feeling his best that day. “I didn’t get a chance to talk to him like I wanted to, and I hope someday I could meet him again,” he said. 

On Wednesday, Rocco’s wish came true. 

Cena showered the child with gifts, including ringside tickets to see him at “Monday Night Raw.”

The wrestler also had some words of encouragement. 

“He’s a very brave young man and a true fighter,” Cena said of Rocco. 

Cena, who was recently named the the second-most charitable athlete in the world by DoSomething.org, has said in the past that his commitments to Make-A-Wish trump most other priorities in his life. 

“It’s something that I’ll bend my schedule around,” he said in 2012. “I’ll make time for the wish and then do everything else later because whatever it is, it’s not as important as making a child’s or a family’s experience. It’s just been a great thing.”  

 

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11 Fun-Not-Your-Average-Grandma-Inspired-Events-to Celebrate Grandma on August 22, 2015

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Grandma passed away on August 1, 2015, just 21 days before her 90th birthday on August 22nd. I had it all planned. I was to travel to my hometown Chicago to celebrate this joyous milestone. My Grandmother played a major role in my growth and development into womanhood. I am thankful for the love and support she poured into our family and I have vowed to continue to live her legacy.

In keeping the spirit of Grandma alive, I have curated a list of eleven events that are taking place across the United States, on August 22, 2015, which I somehow, some way tied to my Grandmother who was also the youngest of eleven children:

  1. I know if fellow Native Chicagoan, artist and music producer Kanye West knew my Grandmother, he would be calling her, “Grandma, ” too. Maybe Kanye would have adorned her with a fresh pair of the Yeezy Boost 350 Black being released on her birthday!
  2. Nothing says “Family,” like Kindred the Family Soul, the talented married duo have six kids, just like my Grandmother, and will be performing in Wilmington, Delaware at the World Café Live.
  3. If Grandma read the lineup to the Billboard Hot 100 Music Festivalhttp://www.billboard.com/hot-100-music-festival held in Long Island, New York, she would probably not recognize artists like, The Weekend, Fetty Wap or Jason Derulo but maybe Lil Wayne. I believe the key to Grandma’s mental well-being was due to her continued interaction with the youth. My Grandmother had a youthful spirit, please believe it!
  4. The FYF Festhttp://fyffest.com in Los Angeles has a diverse lineup of artists to include; Frank Ocean, Solange and D’Angelo, but I know my supporting Grandmother would have been proud of Sean Carlson who started the fest in 2004 at the age of 18, if he was her grandchild.
  5. What the Funk? Keeping it Funky with DJ Spinna and Rich Medina, who will be spinning Funky James Brown exclusives and Fela Kuti Afro Beats at The Echo in Los Angeles. I can imagine Grandma Making it Funky back in the day!
  6. “People Get Ready,” for Afro Punk 2015http://afropunkfest.com in Brooklyn, NY. This two-day event will highlight the legendary Grace Jones. At 67 years old, I believe Grandma would belt out her trademark laugh and tell Grace, “Girl you know you’re crazy, you still look good.”
  7. R-E-S-P-E-C-T Aretha Franklin during her performance at Chene Park in Detroit on Saturday. Check out Ticketmaster for more details. Aretha is known to enjoy cooking for her family. I will miss Grandma’s Peach Cobbler and my favorite chicken and cornbread stuffing aka “dressing, ” is what we called it.
  8. MommyCon will be held at the DC Convention Center and it is dedicated to unite modern parents and mothers-to-be. Back in the day, the village stepped up to help one another, especially young mothers. I am grateful for the role my Grandmother played alongside my Mother.
  9. The 2015 DMC USA DJ Finals will be held at Webster Hall in NYC, where the top 10 turntablist champions will compete and it is hosted by the legendary Kool DJ Red Alert! Growing up in Grandma’s house, there was music often playing in the basement (before the flood) and I cannot recall one time when she yelled out “turn that music down.” Thanks for supporting the arts Grandma!
  10. B Love, a romantic short film written and directed by Shahari Moore, my fellow high school classmate. The film will be showing during the Black Harvest Film Festival at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago. I suspected Grandma would have been fast asleep by the time I was to leave out to see this film. Please support indie films!
  11. Jill Scott and BJ the Chicago Kid will be performing in Oakland, California at the Fox Theater. I know the three-time Grammy Award Winner has a new album out but I would be sure to play her song, “Blessed,” on Grandma’s birthday, just so I can sing along and omit the word “two,” in her verse; “My grandma almost lived to see ninety two, I’m so blessed Yes Yes Yes Yes.”

Whatever you decide to do or wherever you decide to go on August 22, 2015, please keep the spirit of LOVE with you and HAVE FUN! HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDMA!!

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The Real Donald: Excerpts From Trump’s Books On Women, Marriage, Sex And More

Before he jumped into the presidential race and the media frenzy that comes with it, real estate mogul Donald Trump preferred to communicate with the American people via a more intimate medium — the simple written word.

The Huffington Post has reviewed nearly a dozen books by and/or about Trump, including one by John O’Donnell, a former executive in Trump’s business empire, and one by Tim O’Brien, a longtime journalist and former HuffPost editor. Reading through these works, which go back a full 25 years, one gets a better sense of the businessman’s macho persona, his taste for extravagance, his views about women and his rise to the top of the New York City social scene. All quotes are Trump’s words except where noted otherwise.


On marriage

“A good marriage is like negotiating an important deal: You have to consider all the factors, thoughtfully and thoroughly. If you were investing a large part of yourself and your fortune into a venture, believe me, you’d make sure you thought about it for a long time first. That’s how I see marriage. It’s serious, and it’s important. I don’t approach it any more haphazardly than I do a very important deal. In fact, considering the amount of deals I’ve made compared to the number of marriages I’ve had, I’d say I’m quite cautious about marriage. You should be, too.” (Think Like A Billionaire, Donald Trump with Meredith McIver, 2005)

*

“For a man to be successful he needs support at home, just like my father had from my mother, not someone who is always griping and bitching. When a man has to endure a woman who is not supportive and complains constantly about his not being home enough or not being attentive enough, he will not be very successful unless he is unable to cut the cord.” (The Art of the Comeback, Donald Trump with Kate Bohner, 1997)

“If he doesn’t lose the ballbreaker, his career will go nowhere.” (The Art of the Comeback


On prenuptial agreements

“There are basically three types of women and reactions. One is the good woman who very much loves her future husband, solely for himself, but refuses to sign the agreement on principle. I fully understand this, but the man should take a pass anyway and find someone else.” (The Art of the Comeback)

On women

“I was always of the opinion that aggression, sex drive, and everything that goes along with it was on the man’s part of the table, not the woman’s. As I grew older and witnessed life firsthand from a front-row seat at the great clubs, social events, and parties of the world — I have seen just about everything — I began to realize that women are far stronger than men. Their sex drive makes us look like babies. Some women try to portray themselves as being of the weaker sex, but don’t believe it for a minute.” (The Art of the Comeback)

*

“I remember attending a magnificent dinner being given by one of the most admired people in the world. I was seated next to a lady of great social pedigree and wealth. Her husband was sitting on the other side of the table, and we were having a very nice but extremely straight conversation. All of a sudden I felt her hand on my knee, then on my leg. She started petting me in all different ways. I looked at her and asked, ‘Is everything alright?’ I didn’t want to make a scene in a ballroom full of five hundred VIPs. The amazing part about her was who she was — one of the biggest of the big. She then asked me to dance, and I accepted. While we were dancing she became very aggressive, and I said, ‘Look, we have a problem. Your husband is sitting at that table, and so is my wife.’

‘Donald,’ she said, ‘I don’t care. I just don’t care. I have to have you, and I have to have you now.’ I told her that I’d call her, but she had to stop the behavior immediately. She made me promise, and I did. When I called I just called to say hello, and that was the end of that. But the level of aggression was unbelievable.” (The Art of the Comeback)

*

“One woman, who was socially prominent, was getting married, and I had bumped into her on Fifth Avenue while she was exchanging wedding gifts. I had my limousine nearby, and she asked if I could give her a ride back to her apartment on Park Avenue. I said absolutely, not even suspecting that within five seconds after the door closed she would be jumping on top of me wanting to get screwed. I said, ‘You’re getting married next week, and I’m going to your wedding.’

‘I don’t really care,’ she said. ‘ I never liked him that much anyway, and you know that.’ I was really in a quandary, because she is a truly great-looking and sexy woman.” (The Art of the Comeback)

*

“Women have one of the great acts of all time. The smart ones act very feminine and needy, but inside they are real killers. The person who came up with the expression ‘the weaker sex’ was either very naive or had to be kidding. I have seen women manipulate men with just a twitch of their eye — or perhaps another body part.” (The Art of the Comeback)

*

“There’s nothing I love more than women, but they’re really a lot different than portrayed. They are far worse than men, far more aggressive, and boy, can they be smart.” (The Art of the Comeback)

*

“I don’t know why, but I seem to bring out either the best or worst in women.” (The Art of the Comeback)

*

“I love women. They’ve come into my life. They’ve gone out of my life. Even those who have exited somewhat ungracefully still have a place in my heart.” (The Art of the Comeback)

*

“She’s just a woman. She can’t take the business.” (As quoted in Trumped!, John R. O’Donnell with James Rutherford, 1991)

*

“I don’t need this, some woman crying. I need somebody strong in here to take care of this place.” (Trumped!)

*

“She is really something else. God, what a body she has!… She’s a beautiful girl. Just a beautiful girl. Fucking gorgeous. An incredible body, just an incredible body. The girl is so physically fit. Beautiful face. A beautiful, beautiful girl.” (Trumped!)

*

“It’s all about the hunt and once you get it, it loses some of its energy. I think competitive, successful men feel that way about women.” (As quoted in TrumpNation, Timothy L. O’Brien, 2005)

“Sam Jackson should have gotten the Oscar for [‘Pulp Fiction’], not Travolta,” Donald mused. “My favorite part is when Sam has his gun out in the diner and he tells the guy to tell his girlfriend to shut up: ‘Tell that bitch to be cool! Say: “Bitch be cool!”’ I love those lines.” (O’Brien, writing in TrumpNation)

*

“I think that putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing. There was a great softness to Ivana, and she still has that softness, but during this period of time, she became an executive, not a wife… You know, I don’t want to sound too much like a chauvinist, but when I come home and dinner’s not ready, I’ll go through the roof, okay?” (TrumpNation)

*

“You know, it really doesn’t matter what they write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” (TrumpNation)


On beauty pageants

“Nobody cares about the talent. There’s only one talent you care about, and that’s the look talent. You don’t give a shit if a girl can play a violin like the greatest violinist in the world. You want to know what does she look like.” (TrumpNation

On publicity

“Publicity is important because it creates interest in my hotels, residential buildings, and other projects. But sometimes it gets out of hand, and my every move is scrutinized by the press to the point of absurdity… The Trump Organization is in some ways like the Disney Company: Image means a great deal to me. If people don’t associate my name with quality and success, I’ve got serious problems.” (Surviving at the Top, Donald Trump with Charles Leerhsen, 1990)


On his youth

“I was especially carefree. I had a comfortable little studio apartment on Third Avenue in the city, and I maintained a lifestyle that was fairly commonplace then but that now, in an age when people are worried about dying from sex, is hard even to imagine. I didn’t drink or take drugs, as far as stimulants go, I’ve yet to have my first cup of coffee. But I was out four or five nights a week, usually with a different woman each time, and I was enjoying myself immensely.

Wild things happened all the time back then, and nobody thought very much of it. For instance, one day a friend called me at the office and said he needed to set up a date for a certain well-known married woman. This woman was visiting from out of town and was, he said — using a typical swinging-seventies expression — ‘really hot.’

I had a girlfriend at that time, and so did he, but I knew a guy named Ben who was very worldly-wise. Ben, I was sure, could serve as this woman’s escort and be discreet about it… She turned out to be the wife of a man who was then the prime minister of a major country. I’d heard stories about this lady, but I never thought much of them until that night. We met at the house of the friend who’d phoned me. After we’d all chatted for a while in the living room, the four of us who already knew each other drifted out to the kitchen, leaving Ben and Madame X in the living room to get better acquainted. Which they did. In fact, when we drifted back in, about ten minutes later, she and Ben were involved in an incredibly torrid scene on the couch. I remember standing there and thinking to myself, ‘Well, Donald, you’re not in Queens anymore.'” (Surviving at the Top)


On Michael Jackson’s sex life

“Somehow, Michael feels comfortable with me. I asked him how he was doing, and we started talking about his life, including his sex life. I was somewhat surprised when Michael told me he had a new girlfriend. I congratulated him and asked, ‘Who is it?’ He was very shy and looked down into his napkin, then put the napkin over his face and said, ‘Trump, Trump, I don’t want to talk about it, I’m so embarrassed.’ I chided him. ‘Come on, Michael,’ I said, ‘tell me who your new girlfriend is.’ When he finally looked up, he said that it was a girl named Lisa Marie.” (The Art of the Comeback)


On onerous litigation

“Litigation in the United States has gotten totally out of control. It has actually become an accepted business practice for people to use the court’s time, money, and energy in order to effect deals, break up deals, and receive money unjustly. I know people who virtually can’t function without starting a lawsuit, thinking that this will give them the upper hand in even the most simple of negotiations. Politicians ought to be ashamed of themselves for perpetuating this ridiculous situation. Court systems have become backlogged for years with superfluous cases.” (The Art of the Comeback)


On germaphobia

“I happen to be a clean-hands freak. I feel much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as often as possible. Recent medical reports have come out saying that colds and various other ailments are spread through the act of shaking hands. I have no doubt about this.

Almost nothing bothers me more than sitting down for dinner at a beautiful restaurant and having a man you’ve just seen leaving the men’s room, perhaps not even having washed his hands, spot you and run over to your table with a warm and friendly face, hand outstretched. You have a decision to make. Do you shake this total stranger’s hand, or do you insult him by saying that you would rather not? I have done both, and nothing works. If you shake his hand, you then get up to rewash your hands and inevitably somebody else comes over to you to shake hands. If you don’t shake his hand, he walks away with a long face, totally insulted, and bemoans for the rest of his life how that bastard Donald Trump would not shake his hand.” (The Art of the Comeback)

On his fear of AIDS

“It was painfully obvious how ill at ease he was in public situations. In part, I think it was really beyond his control. He was preoccupied by a fear of communicable disease, especially AIDS. Sometimes he’d joke about it, but he went so far as to warn a high-ranking Trump’s Castle publicist to avoid the Jacuzzi in the luxury health spa there because he considered it a potential breeding ground for the deadly virus.” (O’Donnell, writing in Trumped!)

*

“What went on in Studio 54 will never, ever happen again. First of all, you didn’t have AIDS. You didn’t have the problems you have now. I saw things happening there that to this day I have never seen again. I would watch supermodels getting screwed, well-known supermodels getting screwed on a bench in the middle of the room. There were seven of them and each one was getting screwed by a different guy. This was in the middle of the room. Stuff that couldn’t happen today because of problems of death.” (TrumpNation)


On his “tremendous fear of baldness”

“For Donald, image and reality were always in conflict. The Windsor knot in his tie was always pulled tight to his throat. At the same time, he let his sand-colored hair dip down to his eyes and curl over his ears and collar, and he plastered it on the sides with a greasy gel that he believed fostered hair growth. He had a tremendous fear of baldness. He swept his hair across the front of his head like a man trying to hide a thinning patch. He once observed to Mark that he considered baldness a sign of weakness. He gave a tube of the gel he used to Mark, warning him, ‘The worst thing a man can do is go bald. Never let yourself go bald,’ as if nature could be circumvented through sheer force of will.” (O’Donnell, writing in Trumped!)


On boxer Mike Tyson

“Tyson sat down in Donald’s corner office hundreds of feet above Fifth Avenue and the two men chatted for about fifteen minutes before the boxer got to the point. Donald recalled their conversation in detail.

‘Mr. Trump, could I ask you a question?’ Tyson asked.

‘Whatever you want, Mike,’ Donald responded.

‘Are you fucking my wife?’

‘What?’

‘Are you fucking my wife? Everyone’s telling me that you’re fucking my wife.’

Tyson then pulled out a copy of a Vogue magazine that featured a picture of Ms. [Robin] Givens wearing a Trump Princess hat from Donald’s yacht.

‘Everyone’s telling me that you’re fucking my wife and I think you’re fucking my wife,’ Tyson said.

‘Mike, let me tell you something: I never ever even thought about it. And I heard those rumors and they’re disgusting. In fact, I called you a couple of times to tell you that I heard those rumors and it pisses me off. And I never, ever even thought about it. She’s your wife, she’s with you, she’s loyal to you, and it’s total bullshit.’” (O’Brien, writing in TrumpNation)


On dealing with setbacks

“Finally, the ceiling was installed. One Saturday, Donald went up to have a look, accompanied by Steve, some of our hotel executives and a group of contractors. Donald looked up at the ceiling as if it was the first time he had seen it; then he looked at Steve. ‘What the fuck is this?’ he said. ‘Who said to make this ceiling so low?’

‘You knew about this, Donald,’ Steve replied. ‘We talked about it, if you remember, and the plans –‘

Suddenly Donald leaped up and punched his fist through the tile. Then he turned on Steve in a rage. ‘You cocksucker! Motherfucker! Where the fuck were you? Where was your fucking head?'” (O’Donnell, writing in Trumped!)

*

“’Where’s my wife? Get Ivana down here,’ he said. When she arrived, Donald turned on her fiercely. ‘How could you close one of my tables on the busiest fucking night of the year!’ he shouted. ‘I can’t believe you could be so stupid. Do you know how much money I’m losing here? Stupid! You’re costing me a fortune! This is the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever seen!’” (O’Donnell, writing in Trumped!)

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Kelly Clarkson Announces She’s Pregnant With Second Child

Congrats to Kelly Clarkson and husband Brandon Blackstock!

The original “American Idol” winner announced she’s pregnant with her second child during her show at The Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. 

Clarkson and Blackstock welcomed daughter River Rose in June 2014, and the 33-year-old has spoken openly about wanting a big family. In 2011, she told the Daily Beast she saw being married with four kids in her future, and in 2013, she upped the ante and told Jay Leno she wanted five children.

 Congrats!

Also on HuffPost: 

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Remembering Phyllis Diller

Three years ago today my pal Phyllis Diller died. She was 95.

She always brought something positive to this party we call life, as a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, copywriter, stand-up comic, actress, pianist, painter, author– and as my friend.

Phyllis and I would talk on the phone nearly every night, and go to dinner or an event a couple of times a week. She was like family to me, and we had often said we would have chosen each other as relatives. I have hundreds of fond memories of her. Here are a few of them.

There were many high-profile events, including a birthday dinner party that Barbra Streisand hosted at her home for her manager, Marty Erlichman, in September of 2010. Phyllis and Streisand had a friendship dating back to Streisand’s earliest days in show business, and they genuinely adored each other. The evening of the party, Streisand was wearing a layered white lace dress that had a slightly shredded look. Phyllis was asked to speak. She stood and said, “I was greeted here tonight by Barbra– who was wearing an unmade bed!” It was the biggest laugh of the evening, and Streisand loved it.

We sat with Don and Barbara Rickles and Elliot Gould and his date. When we first arrived, Rickles delighted Phyllis with three one-liners:
“Phyllis Diller, check yourself into a home already!”
“Call the morgue– one of them got away!’
“This is the only person in show business who thought Bob Hope was funny.”

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Phyllis and me in “The Bob Hope Salon” at her home. The portrait was a gift to her from Hope.

While parties and events were great fun, our preferred evening was at Phyllis’ home on Rockingham in Los Angeles, where we would play “Diller Gin,” a game she invented with some screwy rules. We would also usually play after any night on the town, even following the Streisand party. We would play for a penny a point and listen to jazz. No matter how tired she was, she always seemed to have time to beat me out of a couple of bucks at the card table. We were often there until midnight or later, with her beloved cat “Miss Kitty,” sleeping on a third chair at the table.

In addition to playing gin, we would drink it, martinis being her chosen delivery system. Phyllis would boast that she taught two people to drink, Elliot Gould and me. And I always would add that it wasn’t so much that she taught us to drink– rather she drove us to it!

Phyllis did enjoy her cocktails. She also thought gin was medicinal, preventing many common ailments. She certainly benefited from multiple doses. One person she clearly failed to teach to drink was Roseanne Barr. One evening in December of 2010, we were going to a dinner party in a private residence. When I picked up Phyllis, everyone was quietly tiptoeing around. Karla, Phyllis’ personal assistant, whispered to me that Roseanne was asleep in a guest bedroom, and they didn’t want to wake her. Roseanne and Phyllis had a couple of martinis during the late afternoon. The 58 year old Rosanne passed out and the 93 year old Phyllis went out. When we returned to Phyllis’ home around 5 hours later, Roseanne and Karla, were in the kitchen eating a pizza that they ordered. Karla went to assist Phyllis, and Roseanne and I sat in the kitchen. Roseanne explained that she was not accustomed to drinking martinis. That was apparent. She looked like a pigeon that got caught in the middle of a badminton game.

Phyllis and I would often have dinner at either her home or mine. We also would frequently go to an unpretentious little place by the beach in Santa Monica called the Golden Bull. This was a regular hang-out for Phyllis, and we had countless dinners there. One night we arrived around 6:00 PM. Our waitress, Kiki, asked Phyllis whether she wanted soup or salad. Phyllis inquired what kind of soup they had, and Kiki listed several. Then Phyllis asked what kind of salad, and Kiki went through that list. Phyllis hesitated, thought, asked again, and was in a dilemma as to what to order. This went on far longer than necessary. I loved to make her laugh, so I put down my menu, looked at her and said They close at 11.” Phyllis cackled so loud and robustly everyone in the place heard her and laughed at her signature laugh.

That gag became a standing joke with us. Anytime someone was making a long-winded speech, onstage too long, or otherwise consuming too much time, Phyllis would whisper to me “They close at 11.”

Phyllis could sometimes be very stubborn. Thankfully I was one of the few people from who she would accept advice. At one point she needed to replace her pacemaker, but was refusing to do so. One of her staff members frantically called me and asked me to intervene. I spoke with Phyllis and bluntly said “Are you out of your $ ##!! mind?” She calmly replied that she didn’t want to live to be 110. After much back and forth, I appealed to her vanity, and told her how much the pacemaker would increase her circulation, bring a rosy glow to her complexion, and improve the looks of her legs too. The pacemaker was immediately replaced.

Phyllis had done a special guest spot on the Bold and Beautiful at CBS in early 2012. Lee Bell was a close friend of Phyllis, and Lee co-created the series with her late husband, William J. Bell. After the shoot, Phyllis called and told me that she had her makeup done at B&B by one of the best makeup artists in town. She said, “Bernie, I don’t want to go home and wash my face– take me to dinner.” She was not the type to waste anything, even makeup.

One night we were having dinner with George and Erin Pennacchio in a restaurant in Encino. George is the “Entertainment Guru” for KABC television in Los Angeles. Phyllis proudly announced to Erin “I did my own makeup, and it only took me 5 minutes.” I loved to kid her, so I sarcastically suggested, “Next time take 10.” Phyllis laughed loudly, and then gave me the single finger salute, a gesture she frequently bestowed upon me.

In early 2012, we had a chili dinner at Phyllis’ home with Thomas Lauderdale, founder and director of a little orchestra of good cheer called Pink Martini. He was a huge fan, and the next day he called me and asked if I thought Phyllis would consent to record the Chaplin tune Smile with them. Phyllis and I were going somewhere that night, so I told him I would ask, and I did. She sought my advice, and I recommended that she do it. Pink Martini is a remarkable group with huge and loyal following, playing major venues around the world, including the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall. Phyllis trusted my input, and asked me to handle it for her, which I gladly did. Thomas and I quickly worked out the details.

In late January, Thomas, his sound engineer, and I were in Phyllis’ home, which was somewhat suitable for recording. Thomas tried to accompany her on Phyllis’ piano, but it presented continuity/editing problems in her attempts to get through the full song. Phyllis suggested that she sing it acapella and that they later add the instrumentation in the studio. When I later played it for Phyllis, she said to me, “They will play it at my funeral.” (Listen to it at the end this remembrance.)

Phyllis was born on July 17, 1917. I hosted her 93rd birthday in my home, attended by approximately of 100 of her friends. I asked my friend, Los Angeles Councilperson Tom LaBonge, if he could do something special for her. He delivered, and presented Phyllis with a Proclamation from the Mayor and entire City Council making her birthday “Phyllis Diller Day” in the City of Los Angeles. The presentation was exclusively covered by the TV show Access Hollywood.

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I joined CouncilpersonTom LaBonge and former LA Mayor Richard Riordan in presenting Phyllis a Proclamation declaring her 93rd birthday “Phyllis Diller Day” in the City of Los Angeles.

For her 94th, Terry Ebert-Mendozza and Joe Mendozza had a surprise birthday dinner at Spago in Beverly Hills. In addition, Sherry Hackett, Buddy’s widow, organized another grand birthday affair at Sherry’s beautiful home.

For her 95th, Ruta Lee called me and asked what we should do for Phyllis’ birthday. Phyllis health was declining, so we decided to have a small pot luck dinner at Phyllis’ home. Debbie Reynolds, Ruta Lee and her husband Webb Lowe, Alex Trebeck and his wife Jean, and I all met at Rockingham with covered plates in hand. Phyllis looked great, still had her signature laugh and we all had a wonderful time.

Phyllis had no fear of death or anything else. She often told me she was ready to “fly away like a little bird,” and she did. On August 20, 2012, she died peacefully in her home. Her son, Perry, was at her side, and he immediately called me to tell me we had lost her. The music and laughter ended.

I still have some keepsakes in my car– the remote control for her front gate, her sunglasses, and a box of her tissues, a constant reminder of my friend Phyllis.


“Phyllis Diller lived with style and grace,
And Phyllis Diller died with a smile on her face.”
— Bernie Shine
.


Click on screen to hear Phyllis singing Smile.

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MOSS –Ep.6

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Ep.4


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Ep.5


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Theater: “Hamilton’s” Miranda Is The New Biggie Smalls? No, He’s The New Sondheim!

HAMILTON *** 1/2 out of ****
RICHARD RODGERS THEATRE

Hamilton. You’ve heard of it, I think? Yep.

So I can skip the preliminaries, like the plot description or explaining what’s exactly going on here and cut to the chase. [Here’s my review of the Off Broadway run if you’re one of the four people who hasn’t heard about Hamilton already.]

Is every Broadway show going to include freestyling from now on? Of course not. And Lin-Manuel Miranda isn’t the next Biggie Smalls. He’s the next Sondheim (or to avoid such dizzying expectations, he has the talent to follow in Sondheim’s footsteps). Hamilton isn’t The Blueprint slapped onto Broadway. It’s a full blown Broadway musical, with elements of Brit-pop and girl group sounds and good old-fashioned show tunes and yes of course rapping in various styles.

Listen closely and what you’ll hear above all is a fresh new voice that is building on Sondheim’s legacy: the whip-smart lyrics, the marvelous word play, the intelligence, the building of melodies that are catchy but never banal, the deployment of lines and hooks like depth charges that repeat again and again throughout a song and throughout the show until they have a remarkable power and emotional intensity. In short, Hamilton has a lot more in common with Sunday In The Park With George than It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.

This isn’t to downplay the central accomplishment of creating the first great musical that employs hip-hop. But he’s not just doing a hip-hop show that’s playing on the Great White Way. They did Tango Argentino on Broadway and people loved it, but it’s not like every show now includes a tango salon. One-off shows in a particular style don’t change Broadway. But a full-on Broadway musical that incorporates a style that’s fresh to its audience (albeit one long-established) can change it. Miranda has grafted a strand of hip-hop onto Broadway’s DNA and it’s going to stick. The same happened with Hair and Grease and others embracing rock and roll. That genre of music and style of singing became part of Broadway’s vocabulary, just as jazz and r&b and country and other genres have intertwined with old style belting over the years.

Some great Broadway talents simply can’t sing in a rock and roll style. They’d be useless on a show like Newsies. Others can’t do country or jazz or soul. Not everyone belongs on The Wiz revival. It has nothing to do with age or talent; some people just don’t have the voice or affinity for certain genres. (You hear it time and again when opera stars make the awful mistake of tackling pop tunes.) And operetta is beyond many — that’s clearly why the delightful musical On The Twentieth Century hasn’t been done in dog years. One needs a particular refined skill to assay it. And yes one needs a very refined skill set of swagger and excellent enunciation to tackle the complex lines and internal rhymes of Hamilton and hip-hop in general. Not every Broadway wanna-be has this in their quiver. But from now on, they’re going to have to try.

We all know why some say hip-hop makes sense for this particular show. The Founding Fathers were bad mother f***ers! They laid it on the line! They were scrappy and bold and risking it all with their backs against the wall and looked down upon as Johnny Come Latelys by their betters! In short, maybe it’s sort of a fluke that the style works so well for an era once enshrined by the very old-school musical 1776.

Wrong. Hip hop works for this show because Miranda wrote it and he’s good and because he used hip-hop as a vehicle for revealing character and pushing the story forward. Imagine a musical set in France, a show about the court of the Sun King where withering put-downs and dexterous word play were prized above all. Hip-hop? Freestyling? It would work like a charm. Imagine a show about scientists, maybe the Manhattan Project or a show about Isaac Newton or Galileo or maybe string theory. In science, scholars debate and claw at one another. Creating a vivid, convincing picture of your theory is important. And tearing down someone else’s idea is just as important a skill as building up your own. A rap battle? Makes perfect sense. A show about newspaper reporters today or during the tabloid era of the 1970s or back in the Roaring 20s when (I hear) reporting was glamorous and fun and actually paid well? Yes, I can imagine hip-hop working well there too because who savors language and slang and cutting retorts more than reporters? A hip-hop Taming Of The Shrew? It’s probably already being written. A hip-hop musical for the American Revolution is no more incongruous than rock n roll as a source for the music in Spring Awakening, a show based on a German play from 1891. So let’s put to rest the idea that hip-hop will only work once in a blue moon or when whomever took an option on the movie Straight Outta Compton brings it to Broadway.

In the same way, the diverse casting of almost everyone but white guys to play these iconic roles works not because of any particular political context it creates. It works because color blind casting (or here, color-centric casting, casting with purpose and in celebration of color, not mindlessly pretending it doesn’t exist) works for everything from Shakespeare to Arthur Miller because when the material is classic and the performers are good, new layers will always be revealed. Indeed, it only works when the performers are good because no show works unless the performers are good. And this cast is great.

NOTE: Here’s casual video of Lin-Manuel Miranda and the delightful Jonathan Groff entertaining the hundreds waiting in hope of winning a $ 10 front row seat to the show. Something like this happens every day outside the theater. Try as you might to hate a show with all this hype and with endless stories in media outlets that never talk about Broadway, but when you see something cool like this, darnit, you just can’t.

Okay, so on with the show. Hamilton is an orphaned immigrant, penniless but intellectually vibrant and desperate to contribute, desperate to take part in the American Experiment. His first friend when arriving in New York is the cautious Aaron Burr. Their lives are intertwined as each succeeds and plays a major role in the Revolution, with Hamilton somehow always one step ahead of Burr and so on and then in comes Lafayette and Washington and Jefferson and King George gets huffy and you know the rest.

Hamilton is sprawling and messy and deliriously ambitious and flawed — of course, it’s flawed! You can’t push boundaries without stumbling briefly here and there — and very exciting. I saw it at the Public and held back on raving. Sometimes the bolder a film or TV show or novel, the more you want to catch your breath and hold off. A second viewing of a movie, waiting five or ten episodes into a season, living with an album for a while, all of that can make a huge difference. Sometimes, flaws become more pronounced and the shock of the new becomes less shocking. Other times, a second viewing of a movie or repeated spins of an album deepen your appreciation and bolster your confidence that this is indeed the shit. Hamilton is indeed the shit.

When I saw it at the Public, I knew it would be among my favorite shows of the year. But I felt it could be better in varied ways. If nothing else, the cramped space of the original venue was not ideal for the heavy wooden set design of David Korins. It felt a little dark and oppressive. In this transfer, almost everything on Broadway is better. Miranda — who wrote the book, music, lyrics and stars as Alexander Hamilton — refined and tightened every element of the show. (I would dearly love to see a breakdown of all the changes lyrically and musically and book-wise.) The performances are sharper and more powerful. The set can breathe. The audience is ecstatic, electric. The Producers and The Book Of Mormon were super-charged smash hits that broke through to the popular culture that is now usually indifferent to musicals. Rent was an obvious precursor in the game-changing game of stamping rock and roll as music that belongs once and for all on Broadway. But I have to go back to Angels In America for a show that felt this charged and this important both culturally and politically and especially theatrically.

And what a cast! Anthony Rapp was in the audience the night I saw it. And just like Rent, I’m certain this show has launched the careers or boosted the fortunes of any number of performers on stage. Christopher Jackson as George Washington has gained in stature since the Public. Before, his Washington seemed to fade into the background. Now he looms like a fatherly presence, wise and a little intimidating.

In the dual roles of the brash Hercules Mulligan and the reserved James Madison, Okieriete Onaodowan remains a droll pleasure. Is it possible Leslie Odom Jr. is even better as the wily, put-upon Aaron Burr? His story feels more balanced and empathetic, more of a mirror to Hamilton instead of just a foil. Burr reflects the cynical modern politician and Hamilton the ideals of passion. Yet he’s not just a bitter Salieri. If Burr hadn’t fired that fateful, fatal shot, he’d be remembered more highly. And no one seeing his show-stopper “The Room Where It Happens” — it stops a lot, this show — will forget how Odom captured Burr’s ambition and insight and frustration over being bested yet again.

Certainly Renée Elise Goldsberry couldn’t have improved as Angelica Schuyler, the woman who sacrificed her attraction to Alexander Hamilton so her sister could be happy and her family’s fortune secure. She is incandescent, both enchanting at good ole Broadway belting and sensational at rapping. Goldsberry has verve and punch and diction so crystal clear (thank you, classical training in the fundamentals!) that her flow puts most everyone else to shame. Of course, Daveed Diggs steals the show as both the outrageously fun Marquis de Lafayette in Act One and the aristocratic, combative Thomas Jefferson in Act Two. He’s hilarious in the first act and then tops himself with the second-act opener “What’d I Miss.” Miranda naturally is the heart and soul throughout, singing with the shy awkward voice of a teenager and gaining in confidence throughout without ever calling attention to the slowly evolving growth of our protagonist.

And I’d like to make a personal apology to Jonathan Groff for the modest doubt that was in my heart. Brian D’arcy James was so…so delicious as King George at the Public that I was crushed when he left for Something Rotten and bummed that friends wouldn’t be able to see his indelible turn. How would they get someone with enough star power to put over such a fun, if secondary role? Well Groff has the star power and I’ve been a fan of his on every conceivable level since Spring Awakening. But still I thought, “Damn, I wish James were still in it. He was perfect.”

Then out comes Groff and he’s a sheer delight as well. He’s of course younger but this works perfectly, emphasizing the spoiled child aspect of King George. Groff delivers completely in the part, which emphasizes what a gem Miranda created and how good Groff is when given material this sterling. Plus the Brit-pop nature of his tunes are a savvy respite from the delightfully dense, but sit-up-and-pay-attention rap lyrics that dominate the show. Along with Goldsberry’s singing at key moments and some other islands of pure singing, Groff’s scenes allow the audience to catch its breath. I guess someone else down the road will make the most of it too, but now I want everyone to catch Groff in this role. Who’d want to miss a sexy, slightly mad King George? Not me.

If King George and his signature tune “You’ll Be Back” and the monarch’s other reprises were merely the comic pleasures they are, that would be enough. But typically for this show, they’re so much more. Along with tunefulness and full-on comic relief, like everything else in this rock solid creation, George’s tunes advance the plot, provide context and underline the high-wire nature of what the rebellious colonists are attempting.

Think about what they accomplish. The King’s petulance and expectation of unquestioning allegiance makes clear why they would rebel. His unnerving threats to crush them militarily make clear how fraught with danger the situation would prove. George’s malicious glee over the utter mess that faces them after “winning” — having to create a new nation and government from scratch, deal with foreign powers, appease the various factions that only found common ground when they had the common enemy of England and so on — illuminate how in fact the easy part was winning freedom and it could all so easily fall apart, especially with England ready to undermine it at every tunr. And his utter bemusement over Washington voluntarily stepping down from the reins of power (King George had no idea such a thing was even possible!) nudges us again to remember how unusual self-rule and elected leaders and a peaceful exchange of power was for both the US and the world. All of this is conveyed subtly and with élan in tunes that you would kill for and lyrics that are sparkling and which combine in the hands of an artist like Groff to create musical theater heaven.

Most every complaint or concern I had melts away in the flush of excitement in seeing the show a second time. I appreciated anew how a lesser talent might have used hip-hop so each Founding Father could boast endlessly about himself. In fact, most of the time, everyone is rapping about someone else. Burr is the narrator so he’s usually commenting on Hamilton. And Hamilton raps about Burr and Jefferson, Jefferson raps about Hamilton, the Schuyler sisters rap about the men in their life and so on.

And how smart the show is. Like Sondheim, Miranda revels in arcana that might seem an unlikely source for musicalizing (a song about the federal banking system? ) and yet consistently brings it to life with the same passion and attention to detail that Hamilton and the rest savored at the time. Miranda and director Thomas Kail have done an excellent job of modulating the flow. Whereas the first time I saw the show, the finale felt dragged out and simply wrong, this time it moved much more quickly and felt earned. (Maybe it was just a second viewing when I knew what to expect but I imagine a change in pacing and trims here and there are responsible.) Ditto the fate of Hamilton’s son in a duel that cruelly echoes his own fate and various other plot points. The first time, I found it unnecessary and drawn out. This time, thanks to improved work by actor Andrew Chappelle and perhaps some tightening and trimming of his big scene(s), it works better.

Mind you, I remain utterly indifferent to the choreography of Andy Blankenbuehler. It leaves me just as cold on Broadway as it did at the Public. It doesn’t hurt the show, simply because it feels like mere background, something one can simply ignore. I can’t think of a single scene where the endless popping and modern moves of the chorus added emotionally to the events taking place (though director Kail uses them well for crowd scenes and transitions).

Ditto the set, which is far less oppressive in the big space of the Richard Rodgers. Less oppressive but not less interesting. It’s a wooden walkway that encircles the back and sides of the stage and i mostly underutilized. People are often positioned up there to stand and observe the proceedings below but essentially they just fade into the background. Similarly, rolling wooden platforms very rarely come into play and the one visual flourish that made good use of them has been cut. I’d sooner see it all removed and no audience would be the wiser. The costumes of Paul Tazewell are excellent throughout, with the notable exception of the female dancers in the chorus. I still don’t understand the artistic choice that has some of them wearing pants and vest akin to the men while others are unnecessarily in what are essentially undergarments.

Certainly the musical direction and orchestrations of Alex Lacamoire work in ways large and small to get across the gorgeous score while supporting the actors and allowing the lyrics (surely among the wordiest in Broadway history) to breathe. Not to mention embodying a range of styles with nimble conviction! It’s extraordinary work I am ill equipped to parse but appreciate nonetheless as boundary pushing in its own right.

Less positively, Phillipa Soo as Eliza Schuyler and the future Mrs. Hamilton remains a weak link both dramatically and voice-wise. It’s clear why her big number “Burn” is one of the few in the show to receive tepid applause. To be fair, it is in part a combination of playing the less interesting role of dutiful wife and playing it opposite Goldsberry who becomes an undeniable star in front of our eyes. And only more careful listening will prove this, but I think the melodic lines of Eliza may also be the only awkward and weak ones in the otherwise excellent score. On the bright side, Soo holds the spotlight at the finale much more convincingly, thanks to the improvements made by Miranda and Kail.

And you know what? All those cavils are exciting! The choreography and the set and even one of the leads aren’t ideal? And the show is still terrific? As I said before, it’s a treat to see Miranda in this role and his innate likability shouldn’t be underestimated in putting the show forward. But I still think the prickly role he has created will draw even better performances from other actors down the road; he is great casting and I wouldn’t miss him in it for the world. But unlike say John Cameron Mitchell and Hedwig where it was hard to imagine others tackling that part (an idea that now seems silly, but still), it’s not only not silly to imagine other actors playing Hamilton, it’s fun. He’s created a great role in a great show and people will be playing that part for all its worth for many, many years to come. And that’s only counting the actors who will appear in this production.

THEATER OF 2015

Honeymoon In Vegas **
The Woodsman ***
Constellations ** 1/2
Taylor Mac’s A 24 Decade History Of Popular Music 1930s-1950s ** 1/2
Let The Right One In **
Da no rating
A Month In The Country ** 1/2
Parade in Concert at Lincoln Center ** 1/2
Hamilton at the Public ***
The World Of Extreme Happiness ** 1/2
Broadway By The Year 1915-1940 **
Verite * 1/2
Fabulous! *
The Mystery Of Love & Sex **
An Octoroon at Polonsky Shakespeare Center *** 1/2
Fish In The Dark *
The Audience ***
Josephine And I ***
Posterity * 1/2
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame **
Lonesome Traveler **
On The Twentieth Century ***
Radio City Music Hall’s New York Spring Spectacular ** 1/2
The Heidi Chronicles *
The Tallest Tree In The Forest * 1/2
Broadway By The Year: 1941-1965 ***
Twelfth Night by Bedlam ***
What You Will by Bedlam *** 1/2
Wolf Hall Parts I and II ** 1/2
Skylight ***
Nellie McKay at 54 Below ***
Ludic Proxy ** 1/2
It Shoulda Been You **
Finding Neverland ** 1/2
Hamlet w Peter Sarsgaard at CSC no stars
The King And I ***
Marilyn Maye — Her Way: A Tribute To Frank Sinatra at 54 Below ***
Gigi * 1/2
An American In Paris ** 1/2
Doctor Zhivago no stars
Fun Home **
Living On Love * 1/2
Early Shaker Spirituals: A Record Album Interpretation ***
Airline Highway * 1/2
The Two Gentlemen Of Verona (Fiasco Theatre) ***
The Visit (w Chita Rivera) ** 1/2
The Sound And The Fury (ERS) **
Broadway By The Year: 1966-1990 ***
The Spoils * 1/2
Ever After (at Papermill) **
Heisenberg *** 1/2
An Act Of God **
The National High School Musical Theatre Awards ***
Amazing Grace *
The Absolute Brightness Of Leonard Pelkey ** 1/2
Cymbeline (Shakespeare in the Park w Rabe and Linklater) ***

_____________

Thanks for reading. Michael Giltz is the founder and CEO of the forthcoming website BookFilter, a book lover’s best friend. Trying to decide what to read next? Head to BookFilter! Need a smart and easy gift? Head to BookFilter? Wondering what new titles came out this week in your favorite categories, like cookbooks and mystery and more? Head to BookFilter! It’s a website that lets you browse for books online the way you do in a physical bookstore, provides comprehensive info on new releases every week in every category and offers passionate personal recommendations every step of the way. It’s like a fall book preview or holiday gift guide — but every week in every category. He’s also the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the industry take on entertainment news of the day and features top journalists and opinion makers as guests. It’s available for free on iTunes. Visit Michael Giltz at his website and his daily blog. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his radio show, also called Popsurfing and also available for free on iTunes.

Note: Michael Giltz is provided with free tickets to shows with the understanding that he will be writing a review. All productions are in New York City unless otherwise indicated.

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John Leguizamo Says High School History Makes Latino Students Feel ‘Invisible’

Latino contributions to U.S. history remain largely absent from high school history books, and John Leguizamo is doing something about it.

The 51-year-old actor and comedian sat down with HuffPost Live’s Alyona Minkovski Tuesday to discuss his upcoming film “American Ultra” and his upcoming comedy project “Latin History for Dummies.”

Over the years, Leguizamo has had success with autobiographical one-man shows like “Freak” and “Ghetto Klown,” in which he details his life experiences as a Latino growing up in the U.S. These projects, he told HuffPost Live, arose partly because he felt Latinos were underrepresented in the media.

“It was like, I’m watching TV and I’m watching movies and listening to radio and we’re invisible,” Leguizamo said. “I was like, where are all the Latin people that I hang out with and goof with all day and talk about politics and talk about art?… So I started writing my own stuff, I wanted to see my people the way I saw them.”

On the topic of Latino visibility, the comedian showed particular concern for the absence of Latinos in U.S. history education — despite research that shows Latino students exposed to ethnic studies perform better in school. 

“Just imagine, you’re a white kid and all of a sudden everybody’s Latin and everything they’re teaching you is Latin and you don’t hear anything about yourself or about your contributions,” Leguizamo said. “You don’t know hear about George Washington, you don’t hear about Thomas Jefferson and you feel like you haven’t contributed anything. How would you feel? How would you think of your future? How would you think of your participation in American culture?”

“You feel like an invisible person screaming in the woods and nobody hears you,” he added. “And it’s really weird and unfair because we had huge contributions.”

Watch Leguizamo discuss Latino contributions to U.S. history above. And watch the full segment below to hear the actor’s thought on who is to blame for the lack of Latinos in film. 

Also on HuffPost: 

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Xavier Dolan Is On The Run In New Clip From Thriller ‘Tom At The Farm’

French-Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan is back in front of the camera in his latest film, “Tom at the Farm.” The psychological thriller, which debuted at the 2013 Venice Film Festival and finally opens in the U.S. this week, marks the first time the 26-year-old writer-director-actor has ventured into a genre film.

In his follow-up to “Mommy,” “Tom at the Farm” follows the death of Tom’s (Dolan) lover Guillaume. When Tom travels from the city to the countryside for the funeral, he learns that the family knows little of his existence. While Guillaume’s mother (Lise Roy) was expecting a visit from her son’s non-existent girlfriend, the brother Francis (Pierre-Yves Cardinal) quickly understands who Tom is and is adamant to keep his late brother’s sexuality from their mother, even with violence.

In an exclusive clip from the film, scored by Oscar-winning composer Gabriel Yared (“The English Patient”), Tom attempts to escape the family farmhouse after an abusive altercation with Francis.

 

“Tom at the Farm” opens on Aug. 14.

Also on HuffPost: 

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Palin’s Shameful Silence on Trump’s Misogyny

Alaska’s quitter governor and the Tea Party’s queen diva Sarah Palin uses her Facebook page to comment on all things political, including touting Donald Trump’s candidacy for the presidency. But when it comes to Trump’s outrageously sexist comments about her former colleague at Fox News, Megyn Kelly, Palin has remained shamefully silent about El Donaldo’s latest round of misogyny.

So much for Mama Grizzly solidarity with conservative women like Kelly, with whom Palin once declared: “We are the women’s movement!”

2015-08-09-1439160938-2930558-Palinangry.jpg

When Trump recently assaulted John McCain — who plucked Palin from obscurity in August of 2008 to join him on the Republican ticket — it was an entirely different matter. Palin immediately came to Trump’s defense, calling him a hero and blaming the scuffle on the media. It was an act of betrayal directed at McCain — and yet another instance of her blatant duplicity — that only Palin could pull off.

Trump, of course, has been nothing more than a serial sexist when it comes to his constant attacks on women: He has called women “ugly,” “fat,” “dogs,” “slobs,” “bimbos,” “extremely unattractive,” ad infinitum, all leading up to his allegation this weekend that Kelly was menstruating during the Republican presidential primary debate Thursday tonight.

I guess in Palin World, that all makes you a “hero.” So be it. But as virtually every major player in the current Republican line-up for president has called Trump on his latest remarks, Palin still hasn’t brought herself to take the high road. Just before the Presidential debate last week, Palin gave yet another bizarre interview in which she said that she advised Trump [3:11]:

I’ve already told him. I said: Keep it up! America appreciates that you’re calling it like you see it. He’s telling a lot of truth. And really helping educate and lead the other candidates because they’re going to have to step up their game and quit sounding like politicians.

I wonder what “truth” she thinks he’s now telling?

In addition to being beholden to Trump — he’s the only current candidate, with the possible exception of Ted Cruz, who would ever utter her name publicly — I’ve been told that there’s some inside back-story to Palin’s glaring lack of solidarity with Kelly. According to a source once in Palin’s inner-circle in Southcentral Alaska, Palin was livid at Kelley two years ago when the latter interrupted Palin in an interview in which Palin went into what seemed like a crack-addled rant about Obama and the American economy.

No one holds a grudge like Palin. In June, Palin was overtly critical of Kelly for interviewing Jill Duggar Dillard and Jessa Duggar Seewald on her Fox News program. Two weeks later it was announced that Palin had been dumped from her position at Fox News.

That Palin is an exceedingly dull blade goes without saying, but even she must have noted the timing of Fox’s decision.

Trump just blew some seriously needed oxygen into Palin’s sinking political platform by indicating that Palin would serve in a cabinet-level capacity in his administration–which o