Sunday Nov 23, 2014

Bruno Mars Sang Backup While Mystikal Rapped On 'SNL'

Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson turned the "Saturday Night Live" stage into the funkiest dance club in New York City last night during the performance of their new hit, "Uptown Funk." But for Mars and Ronson's second song, a very unexpected guest joined the duo. For "Feel Right," Mars took the backseat...
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TV

Bruno Mars Sang Backup While Mystikal Rapped On 'SNL'
Sunday Nov 23, 2014
Bruno Mars Sang Backup While Mystikal Rapped On 'SNL'

Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson turned the "Saturday Night Live" stage into the funkiest dance club in New York City last night during the performance of their new hit, "Uptown Funk." But for Mars and Ronson's second song, a very unexpected guest joined the duo. For "Feel Right," Mars took the backseat and joined his backup singers while rapper Mystikal took over. For those who remember, Mystikal is the rapper best known for the early '00s songs "Shake Ya Ass" (or the edited version, "Shake It Fast"), "Danger" and "Bouncin' Back." Mystikal is back and used his aggressive rap-yelling to bring a lively James Brown-esque vibe to the "SNL" stage for "Feel Right." Watch the full clip above as Mystikal raps and Mars twirls and sings in the background, trying to pretend he's still not the star of the show. This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/23/bruno-mars-mystikal-snl_n_6207202.html

Cameron Diaz Answers Weird Questions In 'SNL' Monologue
Sunday Nov 23, 2014
Cameron Diaz Answers Weird Questions In 'SNL' Monologue

Cameron Diaz hosted this weekend's episode of "Saturday Night Live" in promotion for the upcoming remake of "Annie." Diaz kicked off the show with a sub-three-minute monologue that felt like it had been cooked up an hour before she hit the stage. After talking about lighting up the "big turkey" in Rockefeller Center, Diaz fielded several silly questions from the "SNL" cast, like "I think you're hot," "Was filming 'The Other Woman' so much fun?" and "Is Shrek just as grumpy in real life?" After answering all of them seriously, sex with Tony Danza came about and that was Diaz's cue to wrap it up. Watch the clip above. This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/23/cameron-diaz-snl-monologue_n_6207270.html

Podcast murder mystery 'Serial' hooks fans worldwide
Sunday Nov 23, 2014
Podcast murder mystery 'Serial' hooks fans worldwide

For 15 years, nobody outside Maryland cared much about the murder of a South Korean-born high school teen, supposedly at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, the son of Pakistani immigrants.Now, it seems, everyone does. The perplexing tale of Hae Min Lee and Adnan Syed is at the heart of "Serial," an hour-long weekly podcast that's become an unlikely global Internet phenomenon. Fans speak of being "addicted" and "obsessed" with the program.Those who caught the bug early can't wait for Thursdays, when fresh instalments drop. Latecomers binge on past episodes. It's been downloaded more than five million times from Apple's iTunes store, where it's a Top 10 hit in the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, India, South Africa and Germany. - Who's telling the truth - It can also be heard on the show's www.serialpodcast.org website. Between episodes, online chatter rages on social media. Reddit hosts an exhaustive "Serial" discussion board. Bloggers speculate who's telling the truth -- and who might not be. "Serial" is a spin-off from "This American Life," a long-running and hip US public radio series that's famous for quirky topics and laid-back story-telling style. Its runaway success -- as a podcast, no less -- has taken its creators by surprise. "We kind of expected to be in the sleepier realms of the podcast world," senior producer Julie Snyder told AFP on Tuesday in a telephone interview from New York. We were hoping for good numbers. But we were not at all expecting so many people listening and writing about the show and having a lot of interest about the show," she said. "And it's international. We didn't plan for that at all." Serial" comes across as part investigative journalism, part police procedural, part soap opera, with a nod to the 19th century serialized novels of Charles Dickens and Emile Zola. Hae and Adnan -- everyone in "Serial" is called by their first name by narrator and journalist Sarah Koenig -- are high school sweethearts who keep their love a secret from their conservative immigrant families. In the opening episodes, both come across as bright all-American teenagers -- popular, getting good grades, holding down part-time jobs, looking forward to prom night. But when romance turns to break-up, Adnan, overcome by anger, strangles Hae and, with a pal, buries her in a shallow grave, where a passerby finds her three weeks later. At least, that's the version that prosecutors gave jurors at a six-week trial that ended with Adnan getting a life sentence in a Maryland penitentiary, where he remains at the age of 32. Koenig revisits the case in forensic detail -- interviewing witnesses who sometimes contradict themselves, pursuing neglected leads, chatting regularly by phone with the imprisoned Adnan, who maintains he is innocent. - Looking for a fix - One "Serial" fan is Emily Best, an indie film crowdfunding consultant, who binged-listened to the first seven episodes while driving non-stop across the entire state of Kansas. When Thursday came around with episode eight, she told AFP by email, "we were up early in the morning like junkies looking for a fix." In California, teacher Michael Godsey revealed this week that he is using "Serial" in lieu of Shakespeare in his high school English class this semester. "In fact, it's been more fun, more engaging, and more conducive to learning ... than anything written by Shakespeare, Joyce, or anybody else," he wrote on his blog. "By far." Unclear is whether "Serial" might turn up fresh material that would compel judicial authorities to reopen the case -- and Snyder said that's not the point of the show, either. "We've said from the beginning that we don't know where it's going to end," she added, ahead of Thursday's release of episode nine. "Serial" is likely to run for about 12 episodes overall, but the producer cautioned: "We don't know for sure, because we are still doing the reporting." Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Afghanistan's first fun park brings joy amid war
Sunday Nov 23, 2014
Afghanistan's first fun park brings joy amid war

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Excitement builds in the queue forming behind the barbed-wire security fence outside Afghanistan's first amusement park as children in bright clothes clutch their parents' hands and hop from foot to foot in anticipation of the pleasures waiting behind the high concrete blast walls. For the thousands of families who have visited Kabul's City Park since it opened during a national religious holiday weekend in October, it is a rare escape from lives blighted by war, death and misery. Squealing children hardly know where to look as they race through the gates. Inside, they find large friendly characters that look almost, but not quite, like Minnie Mouse and Tom the cat from Tom and Jerry — all dancing together and dispensing hugs. Traditional fairground rides — including a Ferris wheel and bumper cars — attract the older kids, while a carousel, face painting and games keep younger children happy. "It's very nice, everything is very beautiful, the carousel horse ride is nice," said 6-year-old Sadaf through a gap-toothed grin as she had her face decorated like a mouse. Set at the foot of the snow-capped Hindu Kush mountains, next to the filthy Kabul River and near a zoo famous only for its abused, one-eyed lion, City Park is one of few places residents of the Afghan capital can take their children for a relaxing day out. The city of almost 6 million people is a virtual fortress. Major buildings are protected by concrete and barbed wire, roads are choked with traffic as former thoroughfares are blocked to prevent suicide bombers reaching potential targets like the Presidential Palace. Gun-toting security forces guard almost every street corner. Afghanistan has been at war for more than 30 years, and while U.S. and NATO combat troops prepare to leave next month, the Taliban insurgency shows no sign of abating. Few families in Kabul have been untouched by the violence, said Almas Qaseemi, the park's deputy general manager. "The park is a place for entertainment, and there is not much of that in Afghanistan." "We have a great feeling when we see our people forget their sorrows for a few minutes and smile when they come here," Qaseemi said. Thousands come every day, he said, peaking on the weekly Friday holiday at close to 10,000. The park is set on 10 hectares (24 acres) of land owned by the Kabul Municipal Government and leased for five years to a private company called Mufkora — which means "concept" in English. Rahela Kohistani, the municipality's cultural director, said that $1.5 million has been invested in the park with the municipal authority taking 26 percent of profits and the rest going to Mufkora. "So far we are happy, and it seems that people are happy, too," she said. For Ishfaq Ahmad Adeb, 20, who spends his days at City Park as Tom the cat, and 18-year-old Omid who plays Minnie Mouse, the children's joy rubs off. "When the children see me in this outfit, they really believe that Minnie Mouse has come to Kabul," said Omid. "They laugh and try to shake hands with me, they really enjoy it." Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Bill Cosby Says He Won't Answer To 'Innuendos'
Saturday Nov 22, 2014
Bill Cosby Says He Won't Answer To 'Innuendos'

Before Bill Cosby took the stage at a sold-out theater in Melbourne, Florida on Friday night, he broke his silence on the recent sexual assault allegations. While speaking with Florida Today, the 77-year-old comedian addressed the claims and revealed his reason for silence. "I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn't have to answer to innuendos," Cosby told the publication. "People should fact check. People shouldn't have to go through that and shouldn't answer to innuendos." In addition to the Florida Today interview, Cosby's lawyer, Marty Singer, released a statement to ABC News on Friday about his client: "This situation is an unprecedented example of the media’s breakneck rush to run stories without any corroboration or adherence to traditional journalistic standards. Over and over again, we have refuted these new unsubstantiated stories with documentary evidence, only to have a new uncorroborated story crop up out of the woodwork. When will it end?" Cosby has previously refused to answer questions regarding allegations that he sexually assaulted several women. In an interview with NPR's Scott Simon broadcast on Nov. 15, Cosby shook his head and remained silent when asked to respond to the claims. Cosby also refused to respond to the AP's Brett Zongker regarding the allegations, saying, "No, no, we don't answer that." He later requested, still on the record, that the AP interview be "scuttled." For more from Cosby, head to Florida Today. Singer's full statement is available at ABC. This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/22/bill-cosby-innuendos_n_6204248.html

Movies

Cameron Diaz Answers Weird Questions In 'SNL' Monologue
Sunday Nov 23, 2014
Cameron Diaz Answers Weird Questions In 'SNL' Monologue

Cameron Diaz hosted this weekend's episode of "Saturday Night Live" in promotion for the upcoming remake of "Annie." Diaz kicked off the show with a sub-three-minute monologue that felt like it had been cooked up an hour before she hit the stage. After talking about lighting up the "big turkey" in Rockefeller Center, Diaz fielded several silly questions from the "SNL" cast, like "I think you're hot," "Was filming 'The Other Woman' so much fun?" and "Is Shrek just as grumpy in real life?" After answering all of them seriously, sex with Tony Danza came about and that was Diaz's cue to wrap it up. Watch the clip above. This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/23/cameron-diaz-snl-monologue_n_6207270.html

Woody Harrelson Didn't Know Liam & Chris Hemsworth Were Brothers
Saturday Nov 22, 2014
Woody Harrelson Didn't Know Liam & Chris Hemsworth Were Brothers

Everyone knows who Chris Hemsworth is. Not only does the actor play Thor, but he was just named People's Sexiest Man Alive. Woody Harrelson, however, didn't realize that his "Hunger Games" co-star Liam Hemsworth was the "Thor" star's brother. In an interview for "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" from last year that's been making the rounds again, Harrelson has the major realization that the Hemsworth brothers are related. As Liam is talking to the interviewer, whose first name is also Chris, about his brother's upcoming film, you can see a look of astonishment cross Harrelson's face. “Jesus, I never got that he was your brother,” Harrelson says to Hemsworth. “Until just now. I honestly never put that together." Harrelson may have helped solved one of TV's greatest murder mysteries earlier this year in "True Detective," but when it comes to last names, things go right over his head. Watch the interview above and fast forward to 3:52 to witness Harrleson's discovery. H/T MTV. This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/22/woody-harrelson-hemsworth_n_6204944.html

This 'Ouija' Parody Is So Perfect It's Scary
Saturday Nov 22, 2014
This 'Ouija' Parody Is So Perfect It's Scary

He didn't do it for the Vine. Social media star Nash Grier totally killed it in his recent parody of the horror flick "Ouija." Like the movie, the video focuses on a group friends holding a seance for their dead friend Debbie. In this version, the dead girl was Grier's girlfriend, but when she starts sending messages to the other members of the group instead of him, you find out that Debbie has a few more secrets besides playing with a Ouija board. The 16-year-old Grier is mostly know for his Vine videos, but with this latest parody trending on Twitter almost immediately after its release, he may soon be taking over YouTube, too. This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/22/ouija-parody_n_6204890.html

Director Lou Ye's 'Blind Massage' sweeps Chinese 'Oscars'
Saturday Nov 22, 2014
Director Lou Ye's 'Blind Massage' sweeps Chinese 'Oscars'

Chinese director Lou Ye's drama starring blind amateur actors as massage therapists scooped top honours at the Golden Horse Film Awards in Taiwan on Saturday, touted as the Chinese-language "Oscars"."Blind Massage," a portrayal of the romance and dreams of visually impaired massage therapists, was the biggest winner, with six gongs out of seven nominations. It scooped awards including the coveted best feature film, best adapted screenplay and best new performer for Zhang Lei, herself a visually impaired masseuse. "It took a long time to shoot the film. I want to thank everyone for their contributions and I want to thank the blind actors who are not here," Lou said after receiving the best film award at a glitzy ceremony in Taipei's Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. Lou was previously best known for his politically charged love story "Summer Palace", which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival without government approval in 2006 and led to him receiving a five-year ban on film-making in China. Veteran Chinese actor Chen Jianbin walked away with most personal awards, setting a record at the Golden Horse awards for winning both best leading actor and best new director for playing a farmer in his directorial debut "A Fool". He also bagged best supporting actor for his role as a homesick soldier in Taiwanese director Doze Niu's military drama "Paradise in Service". "I want to thank the Golden Horse jury for giving me this encouragement ... I will continue to shoot more and better works with this encouragement," he said. Taiwan's Chen Shiang-chyi beat the critics' favourites -- Chinese stars Gong Li and Zhao Wei -- to claim the best leading actress title for her role as a lonely middle-aged woman struggling with family and work problems in "Exit". "I want to thank the director for choosing me to play this role or I won't be standing here today... I love Taiwanese films and as a member of Taiwan's film (industry) I am happy to win the 51st Golden Horse best leading actress award." Another surprise winner was Hong Kong's Ann Hui for directing "The Golden Era," which is based on the real-life story of a famed Chinese female writer in the early 20th century. "I didn't expect to win ... I don't know what to say," Hui admitted her surprise after receiving her third best director statuette. She last won the award in 2011 for the family drama "A Simple Life". However, Chinese director Diao Yinan's cop thriller "Black Coal, Thin Ice," which led the pack with eight nominations and was a favourite for best film, took only the best art direction award. Taiwan's hit baseball movie "Kano", which had six nominations including best film and best actor for Japan's Masatoshi Nagase, walked away empty-handed. China is traditionally a strong contender at the awards, but has faced increasing competition from Taiwan and Hong Kong in recent years. This year mainland films and actors dominated the nominations in major categories and fared well. Nearly 40 films were nominated for the 51st edition of the Golden Horse Film Awards, which are styled on the US Academy Awards but are decided by a jury along the lines of the Cannes film festival. Chinese American actress and director Joan Chen chaired the jury this year. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Winners at the 51st Golden Horse film awards
Saturday Nov 22, 2014
Winners at the 51st Golden Horse film awards

List of winners at the 51st Golden Horse film awards in Taiwan: Best Feature Film: "Blind Massage" Best Director: Ann Hui, "The Golden Era" Best Leading Actor: Chen Jianbin, "A Fool" Best Leading Actress: Chen Shiang-chyi, "Exit" Best Supporting Actor: Chen Jianbin, "Paradise in Service" Best Supporting Actress: Wan Qian, "Paradise in Service" Best New Director: Chen Jianbin, "A Fool" Best New Performer: Zhang Lei, "Blind Massage" Best Original Screenplay: "Meeting Dr. Sun" Best Screenplay Adaptation: "Blind Massage" Best Cinematography: "Blind Massage" Best Visual Effects: "The Midnight After" Best Art Direction: "Black Coal, Thin Ice" Best Makeup/Costume Design: "Brotherhood of Blades" Best Action Choreography: "As the Light Goes Out" Best Film Editing: "Blind Massage" Best Original Film Score: "Coming Home" Best Original Film Song: The Road We Pass, "The Continent" Best Sound Effects: "Blind Massage" Best Documentary: "Cotton" Best Short Film: "The Hammer and Sickle Are Sleeping" Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year: Jimmy Huang Lifetime Achievement Award: Tian Feng Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Events

Director Lou Ye's 'Blind Massage' sweeps Chinese 'Oscars'
Saturday Nov 22, 2014
Director Lou Ye's 'Blind Massage' sweeps Chinese 'Oscars'

Chinese director Lou Ye's drama starring blind amateur actors as massage therapists scooped top honours at the Golden Horse Film Awards in Taiwan on Saturday, touted as the Chinese-language "Oscars"."Blind Massage," a portrayal of the romance and dreams of visually impaired massage therapists, was the biggest winner, with six gongs out of seven nominations. It scooped awards including the coveted best feature film, best adapted screenplay and best new performer for Zhang Lei, herself a visually impaired masseuse. "It took a long time to shoot the film. I want to thank everyone for their contributions and I want to thank the blind actors who are not here," Lou said after receiving the best film award at a glitzy ceremony in Taipei's Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. Lou was previously best known for his politically charged love story "Summer Palace", which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival without government approval in 2006 and led to him receiving a five-year ban on film-making in China. Veteran Chinese actor Chen Jianbin walked away with most personal awards, setting a record at the Golden Horse awards for winning both best leading actor and best new director for playing a farmer in his directorial debut "A Fool". He also bagged best supporting actor for his role as a homesick soldier in Taiwanese director Doze Niu's military drama "Paradise in Service". "I want to thank the Golden Horse jury for giving me this encouragement ... I will continue to shoot more and better works with this encouragement," he said. Taiwan's Chen Shiang-chyi beat the critics' favourites -- Chinese stars Gong Li and Zhao Wei -- to claim the best leading actress title for her role as a lonely middle-aged woman struggling with family and work problems in "Exit". "I want to thank the director for choosing me to play this role or I won't be standing here today... I love Taiwanese films and as a member of Taiwan's film (industry) I am happy to win the 51st Golden Horse best leading actress award." Another surprise winner was Hong Kong's Ann Hui for directing "The Golden Era," which is based on the real-life story of a famed Chinese female writer in the early 20th century. "I didn't expect to win ... I don't know what to say," Hui admitted her surprise after receiving her third best director statuette. She last won the award in 2011 for the family drama "A Simple Life". However, Chinese director Diao Yinan's cop thriller "Black Coal, Thin Ice," which led the pack with eight nominations and was a favourite for best film, took only the best art direction award. Taiwan's hit baseball movie "Kano", which had six nominations including best film and best actor for Japan's Masatoshi Nagase, walked away empty-handed. China is traditionally a strong contender at the awards, but has faced increasing competition from Taiwan and Hong Kong in recent years. This year mainland films and actors dominated the nominations in major categories and fared well. Nearly 40 films were nominated for the 51st edition of the Golden Horse Film Awards, which are styled on the US Academy Awards but are decided by a jury along the lines of the Cannes film festival. Chinese American actress and director Joan Chen chaired the jury this year. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Winners at the 51st Golden Horse film awards
Saturday Nov 22, 2014
Winners at the 51st Golden Horse film awards

List of winners at the 51st Golden Horse film awards in Taiwan: Best Feature Film: "Blind Massage" Best Director: Ann Hui, "The Golden Era" Best Leading Actor: Chen Jianbin, "A Fool" Best Leading Actress: Chen Shiang-chyi, "Exit" Best Supporting Actor: Chen Jianbin, "Paradise in Service" Best Supporting Actress: Wan Qian, "Paradise in Service" Best New Director: Chen Jianbin, "A Fool" Best New Performer: Zhang Lei, "Blind Massage" Best Original Screenplay: "Meeting Dr. Sun" Best Screenplay Adaptation: "Blind Massage" Best Cinematography: "Blind Massage" Best Visual Effects: "The Midnight After" Best Art Direction: "Black Coal, Thin Ice" Best Makeup/Costume Design: "Brotherhood of Blades" Best Action Choreography: "As the Light Goes Out" Best Film Editing: "Blind Massage" Best Original Film Score: "Coming Home" Best Original Film Song: The Road We Pass, "The Continent" Best Sound Effects: "Blind Massage" Best Documentary: "Cotton" Best Short Film: "The Hammer and Sickle Are Sleeping" Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year: Jimmy Huang Lifetime Achievement Award: Tian Feng Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

YouTube goes online for second Music Awards
Friday Nov 21, 2014
YouTube goes online for second Music Awards

The YouTube Music Awards are undergoing an overhaul for their second edition next year, scrapping a star-studded gala and instead looking at videos' online buzz.The blockbuster video-sharing site in November 2013 debuted the YouTube Music Awards, with a livestreamed show from New York that appeared aimed at creating a next-generation, new-media successor to the MTV Video Music Awards. The YouTube inaugural awards have had more than 54 million views but received a mixed reception among social media users. One common criticism was that the awards lacked a unique YouTube flavor, with rap superstar Eminem -- no stranger to accolades -- chosen as Artist of the Year. YouTube, which is owned by Google, said Wednesday that instead of a physical-world show, which in 2013 was hosted by director Spike Jonze, it would transform the site for one day in March 2015 to present the awards. "For one special day, music will be the headline act on YouTube," the company's official blog said. "We'll take this moment to celebrate the biggest and emerging artists through new and unique music video collaborations with top directors and creators," it said. While eager to reach out to music lovers, YouTube will scrap the inaugural awards' methodology of counting votes from fans. Instead, the YouTube Music Awards will use metrics that already exist on the video-sharing site to determine popularity, a company official said. The second awards ceremony will aim to be forward-looking by identifying videos that are expected to generate buzz in the coming year, rather than honoring past performances, the official said. The decision to hold a second round of the YouTube Music Awards comes as the company promotes a new subscription service. The company last week introduced YouTube Music Key, which will allow subscribers to listen to music without advertisements and without an Internet connection. Through YouTube Music Key, Google is seeking a greater slice of the online music business and to compete more forcefully with the likes of Spotify's streaming service, Apple's iTunes and Pandora Internet Radio. YouTube promised to debut a number of videos by prominent artists in the coming months ahead of the awards. Unlike many prizes, the YouTube Music Awards have been international in scope. At the inaugural edition, the South Korean pop group Girls' Generation, which has a wide following in Asia, beat out Western superstars to win Video of the Year for "I Got a Boy." Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Our Invite Must Have Gotten Lost In The Mail
Friday Nov 21, 2014
Our Invite Must Have Gotten Lost In The Mail

What did you do last night? We were eating takeout in our pajamas while watching "How to Get Away with Murder." Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, on the other hand, had a blast watching The 1975 in concert. Bitter? Who, us? The dynamic duo let loose with pal Ellie Goulding mere days before they're both set to take the stage at the American Music Awards Sunday night. Lucky for us, they shared it all on Instagram: The 1975 at The Palladium. @selenagomez @elliegoulding A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on Nov 11, 2014 at 12:49am PST Yeah you wanna find love, Then you know where the city is. @selenagomez #the1975 A video posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on Nov 11, 2014 at 12:52am PST Swift had been having all sorts of fun lately with her girlfriends, sitting courtside at Knicks games with supermodels Karlie Kloss and Kate Upton and actress Amanda Seyfried. Of course, the pop pincess has ample reason to celebrate: We did it!!! Thanks to the the BEST #Swifites in the WORLD #TS1989 OFFICIALLY crossed the 2 million mark. We think you all are TOTALLY BAE. — Taylor Nation (@taylornation13) November 20, 2014 Taylor Swift is the 1st woman in Billboard history to replace herself at no. 1 on the Hot 100: http://t.co/bppEXoyQOV?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000619 pic.twitter.com/K4IwaQQ33U — Forbes (@Forbes) November 20, 2014 #ShakeItOff is OFFICIALLY @RIAA certified 4x platinum. YES!!! #ThePowerOfTheSwifties pic.twitter.com/k7X28DZtXC — Taylor Nation (@taylornation13) November 21, 2014 Just invite us next time, will you, Tay?? This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/21/taylor-swift-selena-gomez-night-out_n_6199258.html

8 Things You Didn't Know About Vincent Van Gogh
Friday Nov 21, 2014
8 Things You Didn't Know About Vincent Van Gogh

The work of post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh has been widely celebrated in the time since his death, at the age of 37, in 1890. In recent years, two Academy Award-winning films featured his work -- "Lust for Life" and "Midnight in Paris" -- though the Dutch artist died believing his life's work was a failure. Legend has it that the artist only sold a single painting in his lifetime, and van Gogh was no star in the art world. He lived a life plagued by self-doubt, crippled by numerous behavioral conditions. When van Gogh completed "The Starry Night," arguably some of his finest work, the artist didn't even think it was any good -- a sentiment the world's initial response seemed to confirm. However, in 1941, the painting became part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City; in 1973, a museum in Amsterdam opened with its primary commitment to house works by van Gogh. A recent Vanity Fair article called into question the details surrounding van Gogh's final years and untimely death. Accordingly, The Huffington Post examined more of the unknown. Here are eight things you didn't van Knowgh: 1. Vincent van Gogh apparently placed lit candles in his hat so he could paint at night. (Your browser doesn't support iframe)It is not exactly certain that van Gogh painted with candles lining the brim of his straw hat -- in one letter to his brother, Theo, van Gogh mentions "Starry Night over the Rhone" was painted "actually under a gas jet" -- but the story is often repeated. In another letter to his brother, van Gogh stated, "It often seems to me that the night is much more alive and richly colored than the day." If the stories are true, van Gogh would seek out cafes at night to paint, wearing his candlelit straw hat beside other customers. In a letter to friend and fellow artist Anthon van Rappard, van Gogh wrote about a fable in which a candle represents a woman and a moth a man: Viewed thus, men don’t play a very noble role -- well, but that is in fact the case. It doesn’t apply in general, though, because ... does the candle burn for the sake of the moth? If one knew that -- well then -- it might well be worthwhile committing suicide that way. Image: Flickr user Asia Datnova 2. Although it has been believed that Vincent van Gogh committed suicide, he may have been murdered. The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographers Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith released a book in 2011, called Van Gogh: The Life, which claimed that van Gogh did not commit suicide but rather a local teen bully murdered him. Art historians have still not fully embraced this theory -- the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam still lists his death as a definitive suicide -- but Vanity Fair published an article in November 2014 that featured a forensic scientist's skeptical take on the possibility that van Gogh shot himself, due to the artist's inability to hold the gun so close to his body and the absence of burn marks on his hands. As pointed out in Naifeh and Smith's book; the gun was never found, the easel van Gogh claimed to be painting on was never recovered and the walk van Gogh claims to have taken from a wheat field to an inn where he was staying is unbelievably long for someone with a fatal wound (it was about a mile). Though speculative, the author's also discuss van Gogh's paintings around the time of his death as far too lighthearted and that van Gogh made it clear he was against suicide in various letters. For what it's worth, the idea van Gogh committed suicide did come straight from van Gogh himself, as at the inn he claimed that he wanted to die and refused medical help, saying to his brother, "The sadness will last forever." Images: WikiCommons 3. Somebody else might have cut off Vincent van Gogh's ear. (Your browser doesn't support iframe)First off, the entirety of van Gogh's ear was not removed. A portion of his left earlobe was cut off. According to a report by Le Petit Journal, just three days after the incident, van Gogh did in fact give a part of his earlobe to a prostitute, but whether he cut the earlobe off himself is highly questionable. Van Gogh had been living with friend and fellow artist Paul Gauguin at the time of the incident. Gauguin was an expert fencer. The two would often fight violently, and the night van Gogh's earlobe was cut was no exception. Although the two both claimed that van Gogh had cut the earlobe off himself, this may have been to cover up shame on the Dutch artist's part. Also, van Gogh may have had a tendency to lie. Van Gogh liked Gauguin more than Gauguin liked him and van Gogh's brother, Theo, had gone so far as to bribe Gauguin to keep living in the house. For some reason, van Gogh claimed he had no recollection of the night, although he did write to Theo: "Luckily Gauguin ... is not yet armed with machine guns and other dangerous war weapons." Image: Flickr user Herman Schouwenburg 4. Vincent van Gogh painted "The Starry Night" while peering out the window as a self-admitted patient at the Saint-Paul asylum in Saint-Rémy. In January 1889, van Gogh was discharged from a hospital in Arles following the incident that wounded his left ear. However, he felt as if his mental health had not recovered and a few months later, in May, van Gogh checked himself into the Saint-Paul asylum. As the Van Gogh Museum points out, Theo van Gogh wrote his brother shortly after: It pains me to know that you’re still in a state of incomplete health. Although nothing in your letter betrays weakness of mind, on the contrary, the fact that you judge it necessary to enter an asylum is quite serious in itself. Let’s hope that this will be merely a preventive measure. As I know you well enough to believe you capable of all the sacrifices imaginable, I’ve thought that there’s a possibility that you may have thought of this solution to encumber less those who know you. While in the asylum, van Gogh painted many of his now classic works, including "Irises," "The Olive Trees" and "The Starry Night." Van Gogh referred to "The Starry Night" as a failure. He wrote to his brother about paintings, stating that he would be mailing several his way. (Theo tried without success to sell the paintings). Van Gogh noted that the painting "says nothing to me." It was not even "a little good," he wrote, like other paintings mentioned in the letter. Without enough postage to send all the paintings he had intended, "The Starry Night" was left out of the package. 5. Growing up, Vincent van Gogh would walk by a tombstone with his own name, due to the early death of his infant brother. Van Gogh was born and raised in Zundert, Netherlands. His father, Theo van Gogh, was named pastor of a Dutch Reformed church in 1849. Van Gogh's brother by the same name, Vincent, died at the age of 1 and is buried in the church that still stands today. Zundert still celebrates itself as the birthplace of van Gogh. The town includes Vincent van Gogh Square, commemorative statues of van Gogh and his brother, Theo, and a Vincent van Gogh house. The original house on the Zundert main street at Markt 29 was unfortunately torn down. Image: Getty 6. Vincent van Gogh didn't start painting until he was 27 or 28, but his oeuvre included nearly 900 works -- an average of about 2 per week -- before he died at 37. Before he pursued painting, van Gogh attempted to be a lay minister, teacher and art dealer, among other professions. Then, as Van Gogh Gallery points out, he wrote his brother, Theo, in late December 1881: Theo, I am so very happy with my paintbox, and I think my getting it now, after having drawn almost exclusively for at least a year, better than if I had started with it immediately ... For, Theo, with painting my real career begins. Don't you think I am right to consider it so? Van Gogh created almost 900 paintings and more than 1,100 works on paper before his death. Prolific, yes, but van Gogh may have had a form of epilepsy (which he was diagnosed with in his lifetime) and a behavioral condition called hypergraphia which causes those afflicted to have an intense need to write, or, in van Gogh's case, paint. 7. The distinct yellows that Vincent Van Gogh used in his paintings have faded and browned over time. Van Gogh used a signature yellow in his paintings that was made possible by the industrial revolution and a new pigment called chrome yellow, a "toxic lead chromate and like many of the pigments of the period was chemically unstable." Unfortunately these yellows, used in paintings such as "Bedroom in Arles," have significantly faded and browned over the years and so contemporary viewers aren't quite seeing the original luminance of the works. This change is permanent, according to Koen Janssens, the leader of a group of researchers who tested samples of the browning paint. "To reverse this chemical reaction would likely cause more damage to the paintings,” he said. Images: Getty 8. The oldest living person met Vincent van Gogh in her lifetime and remembered him as "dirty, badly dressed and disagreeable." Born in 1875, Jeanne Calment had the longest confirmed human lifespan when she died in 1997 at 122. She lived her life in Arles, France, where van Gogh spent time in 1888. During that year, van Gogh came to a shop Calment's uncle owned to buy paints. Calment later described van Gogh as "dirty, badly dressed and disagreeable." Calment was 12 or 13 at the time and, according to a New York Times obituary, also said van Gogh was "very ugly, ungracious, impolite, sick -- I forgive him, they called him loco.'' BONUS: Vincent van Gogh painted over 30 self-portraits, but photographs of the artist may exist. The portrait (at right) is an oil painting by van Gogh, completed Dec. 31, 1886; the photograph (at left) was also taken in 1886. It was bought at an antique store for $1 in the early 1990s. Forensic scientists believed they confirmed it was an original photograph of van Gogh in 2004. The Van Gogh Museum did not authenticate the photograph at the time and only a handful of photos of van Gogh at a much younger age have been deemed real. The address below the photo has also been called into question as it marks a Canadian location, and van Gogh never lived outside of Europe. The eyes seem a bit unfamiliar, but maybe it just takes an impressionist's vision to fully see the resemblance. Images: WikiCommons This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/21/vincent-van-gogh-trivia_n_6181630.html