Gwyneth Paltrow has shared her memories and photos from a family trip she took to Indonesia with her kids Moses and Apple on her weekly blog newsletter. The actress uses goop.com to share lifestyle tips, recipes and lists of her favourite things with fans and friends, but her latest issue is devoted to a recent dream vacation.
She explains, "This past May, a dream of mine came true when I traveled to Indonesia for the first time. Through a very unique travel agency called Momentum (who specialize in adventures) we found an expat named Patti, who has built a beautiful boat that sails around the archipelago.
"Never did I imagine that we would run our hands through the dark ocean at night and watch it light up with phosphorous, see a Komodo dragon in the wild, swim over a massive sea turtle, or be taught to make native dishes in situ. Special thanks to Momentum for treating us and hosting this trip we were incredibly lucky to take, and will never, ever forget."
Her blog features photos of herself and her kids with locals and artistic holiday snapshots of landscapes, food and wildlife.
Paltrow and her children spent four days sailing around the Indonesian archipelago on a "traditional Indonesian trade boat", adding, "Before we set sail off the coast of Labuana, Nasir, one of the crew members who also built the boat, performed an Indonesian ritual for safe passage. Nasir turned out to be a total rock star - singing, dancing and tandem water skiing with me."
The actress and her kids also learned how to turn trash into useful items as part of the trip: "When we would arrive at a new beach, we would all spend 20 minutes picking up the debris that had washed up on shore. Among the refuse are small brown glass bottles, which seem to be everywhere. We saved those and the crew showed us how to turn them into homemade lanterns by filling them with kerosene and making a homemade wick.
"We lit the beach by perching them on the rocks... At the end of the night we lit giant rice paper lanterns and sent them off with a prayer. (Moses is now a pyro thanks to this particular evening)."
Paltrow also shares recipes for some of the local dishes she enjoyed on the boat trip as part of her latest goop.com post.
The Manti Te’o story has many sports journalists feeling the irrevocable sting of not double-checking the details. How could so many professionals, whose jobs are to dig up the dirt and check the facts, miss the detail that Te’o’s inspiration for his Heisman Trophy-eligible 2012 season was a woman who didn’t exist? In hindsight, it seems inconceivable. But the answer is simple. The story in which Te’o lost his girlfriend right after losing his grandmother and right before playing the best football of his Notre Dame career is prime for a movie a la Rudy or Miracle, or, perhaps, a Manti Te’o reality TV show.
Even before the Te’o story began to mimic MTV’s reality hit Catfish: The TV Show, it already seemed prime to spark reality fame for the Notre Dame linebacker. How could anyone resist such an inspirational story? We couldn’t. We’re not wired that way. Throughout the sports and entertainment worlds, it’s evident that we’ve been trained to crave triumph over trouble in every celeb, hero, and role model. Many of our most beloved sports stars are beloved because they succeed after navigating dire straits. Even our favorite celebrities have to have some back story to get us on board. And of course there’s one pop culture behemoth that practically subsists on exploiting stories of adversity: American Idol. The problem is, the more success-after-tragedy tales we witness, the more outrageous these success tales need to be. It’s no wonder we accepted a tragedy like Te’o’s reported double loss; we could practically see the reality TV sob story background reel playing in our heads and it had us salivating.
It’s a factor that explains why Idol made headlines following the Season 12 premiere, when New York contestant Evan Ruggiero told his tale of surviving cancer and having his leg amputated only to be sent home by the judges because he wasn’t ready to compete on the singing series. This wasn’t what we signed up for. We were duped. Where was that gratification of the good feeling after the sad story? Idol always delivers an overdose of that saccharine-soaked hope, giving us multiple contestants a year who defy the odds and restore the American dream; and in some cases these stories produce winners, like Season 11’s Phillip Phillips, who overcame his severe health problems despite wanting to quit multiple times during the show. In past years, contestants with great stories didn't even need to be all that good, like Season 10's Chris Medina, who sneaked by without vocal chops thanks to being selfless enough to play nurse to his brain-damaged fiancée. It’s hard to accept now that only some people get a ticket to Hollywood after facing periods of great sadness. We cling to the notion that there is always a way to surpass even the greatest roadblock, and it appears we need it now more than ever.
Our favorite stars are greatly comprised of sobs-to-smiles stories. It’s nothing new in the sports world, where Te’o is just the cherry on top of a mountain of trying tales: Jackie Robinson defeating the race barrier to join the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, Magic Johnson returning to the Lakers after being diagnosed as HIV positive, Ted Williams being a WWII vet and a 19-time MLB All-star, Josh Hamilton besting his years-long drug addiction to become the American League MVP in 2010, to name a few. Heck, the reason we’re so obsessed with Lance Armstrong and his doping scandal is because we heralded him as a miracle athlete after her survived cancer and won multiple Tour de France titles. And it’s why we’re watching Te’o like a hawk.
These triumphant stories have also become integral to the celeb realm, where putting a 17-year-old from Kentwood, La. in a sports bra in the music video for “(Hit Me) Baby One More Time” was once enough to make a girl a superstar, without digging into her past life. Now, we want it up front. Just look at Justin Bieber, who just surpassed Lady Gaga as the most-followed celebrity on Twitter and who’s managed to make headlines every day this week simply for having the ability to use a cell phone camera and post images to Instagram. He comes from humble beginnings' he's the child 17-year-old Patti Mallette refused to abort despite being pressured to do so. Years of living in low-income housing later, the Biebs was discovered via Youtube, saving himself and his young mother from further struggle. Then there’s the beloved author J.K. Rowling, who added a famous face to her famous name when we learned she overcame crippling poverty with her Harry Potter series and became a celebrity in her own right (you may know Suzanne Collins’ name, but few would see her face and know she wrote The Hunger Games). Demi Lovato went from Disney Channel kid to a household name when her she emerged like a healthy new butterfly on the other side of a stint in rehab for drugs and alcohol abuse, self-mutilation, and a subsequent diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
Even Jennifer Lawrence, who’s award worthy on her own, has gained momentum in the Best Actress race heading into the Oscar season at least partially due to her “inability” (or refusal, depending on how you look at it) to fit into Hollywood culture as-is. In consistently shirking the prescribed Hollywood ways, like accepting her body even if she’s considered “fat” in Tinseltown and refusing to elevate the acting profession above less glamorous ones, she’s actually given herself the highest form of Hollywood currency: a little bit of adversity. If she’s atypical, she’s fighting the odds. And if you’ve been paying attention, we’ve learned to love that.
But do we really need these stories right now? Why are they so prevalent? The aforementioned celebs certainly aren’t the first ones to overcome something and thus earn a place in our hearts (just ask Oprah Winfrey, who came into our lives in the late ‘80s after conquering a horrible childhood that included allegations of rape and, later, a miscarriage in her early teens).
Still, it’s impossible to deny the relevance of the underdog story right now, especially in the face of the Te’o story. We want it so bad, we were willing to believe it blindly. We shouldn't beat ourselves up too greatly: it makes sense in America right now. The economic climate has been bleak since the housing crisis, unemployment rates have steadily risen for the past 10 years, and the future is more precarious than ever. It’s in times like these that entertainment begins to reflect our fears. Looking back at the 1930s, during and after the Great Depression, we saw the emergence of superheroes like Captain America, who overcame his cripplingly tiny stature to become a freedom fighter with a dose of Super Serum, and Batman, an orphan who grew up to own a multi-national corporation and a secret cave of tools for fighting crime. When times are tough, we seek triumph over hardship in entertainment, and that pattern is clearly in effect today. Add to that pattern a hopeless addiction to reality TV and celebs like Kim Kardashian (who lacks any discernible talent, but packs a tawdry back story), and it's not hard to see how we've landed here with a pile of overcomers on a pedestal.
The question that remains is, what will happen next? Now that stories like Te’o’s and Armstrong’s have shattered the shiny surface of the classic underdog tale, are we growing weary of it? Is that why watching American Idol judges crush a cancer survivor’s dreams is a possibility now? Now that the underdog is everywhere, are we moments away from being bored with him?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
[Photo Credit: Getty; WENN]
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There is something particularly unnerving about demon possession. It's the idea of something you can't see or control creeping into your body and taking up residence eventually obliterating all you once were and turning you into nothing more than a sack of meat to be manipulated. Then there's also the shrouded ritual around exorcisms: the Latin chants the flesh-sizzling crucifixes and the burning Holy Water. As it turns out exorcism isn't just the domain of Catholics.
The myths and legends of the Jews aren't nearly as well known but their creepy dybbuk goes toe-to-toe with anything other world religions come up with. There are various interpretations of what a dybbuk is or where it comes from — is it a ghost a demon a soul of a sinner? — but in any case it's looking for a body to hang out in for a while. Especially according to the solemn Hasidic Jews in The Possession an innocent young person and even better a young girl.
The central idea in The Possession is that a fancy-looking wooden box bought at a garage sale was specifically created to house a dybbuk that was tormenting its previous owner. Unfortunately it caught the eye of young Emily (Natasha Calis) a sensitive artistic girl who persuades her freshly divorced dad Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan of Watchmen and Grey's Anatomy) to buy it for her. Never mind the odd carvings on it — that would be Hebrew — or how it's created without seams so it would be difficult to open or why it's an object of fascination for a young girl; Clyde is trying really hard to please his disaffected daughters and do the typical freshly divorced parent dance of trying to please them no matter the cost.
Soon enough the creepy voices calling to Emily from the box convince her to open it up; inside are even creepier personal objects that are just harbingers of what's to come for her her older sister Hannah (Madison Davenport) her mom Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) and even Stephanie's annoying new boyfriend Brett (Grant Show). Clyde and Stephanie squabble over things like pizza for dinner and try to convince each other and themselves that Emily's increasingly odd behavior is that of a troubled adolescent. It's not of course and eventually Clyde enlists the help of the son of a Hasidic rabbi a young man named Tzadok played by the former Hasidic reggae musician Matisyahu to help them perform an exorcism on Emily.
The Possession is not going to join the ranks of The Exorcist in the horror pantheon but it does do a remarkable job of making its characters intelligent and even occasionally droll and it offers up plenty of chills despite a PG-13 rating. Perhaps it's because of that rating that The Possession is so effective; the filmmakers are forced to make the benign scary. Giant moths and flying Torahs take the place of little Reagan violently masturbating with a crucifix in The Exorcist. Gagging and binging on food is also an indicator of Emily's possession — an interesting twist given the anxieties of becoming a woman a girl Emily's age would face. There is something inside her controlling her and she knows it and she is fighting it. The most impressive part of Calis's performance is how she communicates Emily's torment with a few simple tears rolling down her face as the dybbuk's control grows. The camerawork adds to the anxiety; one particularly scary scene uses ordinary glass kitchenware to great effect.
The Possession is a short 92 minutes and it does dawdle in places. It seems as though some of the scenes were juggled around to make the PG-13 cut; the moth infestation scene would have made more sense later in the movie. Some of the problems are solved too quickly or simply and yet it also takes a while for Clyde's character to get with it. Stephanie is a fairly bland character; she makes jewelry and yells at Clyde for not being present in their marriage a lot and then there's a thing with a restraining order that's pretty silly. Emily is occasionally dressed up like your typical horror movie spooky girl with shadowed eyes an over-powdered face and dark clothes; it's much more disturbing when she just looks like an ordinary though ill young girl. The scenes in the heavily Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn look oddly fake and while it's hard to think of who else could have played Tzadok an observant Hasidic Jew who is also an outsider willing to take risks the others will not Matisyahu is not a very good actor. Still the filmmakers should be commended for authenticity insofar as Matisyahu has studied and lived as a Hasidic Jew.
It would be cool if Lionsgate and Ghost House Pictures were to release the R-rated version of the movie on DVD. What the filmmakers have done within the confines of a PG-13 rating is creepy enough to make me curious to see the more adult version. The Possession is no horror superstar and its name is all too forgettable in a summer full of long-gestating horror movies quickly pushed out the door. It's entertaining enough and could even find a broader audience on DVD. Jeffrey Dean Morgan can read the Old Testament to me any time.
You know those nights where you just fall into a YouTube hole watching video after video in the "related" sidebar until you look up and it's 2 AM and you have nothing but a sore mouse finger and tired eyes? Well, when that happens to me, I'm more often then not watching clips of performances from musicals at the Tony Awards. Since stage shows are so rarely recorded, the Tonys offer us a rare occasion to get some of the greatest production numbers on tape. Since we're talking Broadway, the production is absolutely insane. Flying witches, men riding camels, dancing grannies, and tap dancing sailors. It's enough to make your mind absolutely dizzy (and giddy) with craziness.
Before we see Neil Patrick Harris' sure to be amazing opening number at Sunday's Tony Awards show, here are 10 of my all-time favorite, ridiculously amazing Tony Award performance numbers ranked in order of absolutely insanity. (And, no, I did not include Bret Michaels busting his head open on a set.)
Dreamgirls, "And I'm Telling You": Before Jennifer Hudson made it famous in the movie, this power ballad was belted out by Jennifer Holliday on the Great White Way. The only thing crazy here is how good her voice is.
Ridiculousness Rating: 1
Anything Goes, "Anything Goes": Who doesn't love sailors? Who doesn't love a huge tap number? Who doesn't love sailors in a huge tap number? There's a reason this Cole Porter musical picked up the trophy for Best Revival at least year's ceremony (and the tune is still stuck in my head). Oh, and don't be tempted to click on the Patti LuPone version that will pop up after you watch it. She can't hold a candle to Sutton Foster. (Blasphemy!)
Ridiculousness Rating: 2
Evita, "A New Argentina": Speaking of Ms. LuPone, check out her completely insane hairdo when she played the original Eva Peron back in the '80s. My favorite moment (thanks to Broadway legend Seth Rudetsky who pointed it out) is at the end when Patti goes to link arms with her husband but he's a step too far away and she totally whiffs. It's just a millisecond — but now that you know about it, you will always see it.
Ridiculousness Rating: 3
Sunset Boulevard, "As If We Never Said Goodbye": Now we're getting into serious camp territory with Glenn Close performing the big number from Andrew Lloyd Webber's doomed '90s musical. What I love is that there is this huge set filled with extras and props, but the only person moving or singing is Close. She is ready for her Close up, and no one better interfere.
Ridiculousness Rating: 4
Wicked, "Defying Gravity": Wow, this is our second Joel Grey introduction on the list, but by far the crazier production. I mean, one of the women is painted green and she's riding on a broomstick. This video was definitely an influence on Glee's Kurt Hummel in his formative years which explains a lot of his wardrobe choices. As insane as this is, try not to melt like a witch in water when Idina Menzel sours up in the air for her big finale.
Ridiculousness Rating: 5
The Producers, "Little Old Lady Land": Every wonder what The Rockettes will look like when they have walkers? No, I'm sure you haven't — but this musical does. We get Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, and a kick line full of knickers. There's nothing else like it.
Ridiculousness Rating: 6
Hairspray, "You Can't Stop the Beat": Who ever thought a movie by "Pope of sleaze" John Waters would be a crowd-pleasing, family friendly musical? Thankfully, they kept the crazy wigs, wacky costumes, and a drag queen hiding in a huge can of hairspray. There's nothing better than a song with a good tune and a better message... except maybe a drag queen.
Ridiculousness Rating: 7
Grey Gardens, "Revolutionary Costume for Today": This musical — based on a documentary about an eccentric (and possibly mentally ill) mother and daughter related to the Kennedy clan and living in squalor — wasn't a box office hit, but it did win Christine Ebersole a well-deserved trophy for her staunch performance bonkers recluse "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale. (Oh, and if you haven't seen Grey Gardens the documentary or the movie with Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore, get yourself to Netflix, stat).
Ridiculousness Rating: 8
Into the Woods, "Children Will Listen": Into the Woods is probably Stephen Sondheim's strangest musical, and considering he wrote a show about a cannibalistic barber, that is some feat. This medley starts with the show's opening where a bunch of fairy tale characters (including a plastic cow) head into the woods and ends with Claire Huxtable, turning from a witch into a princess who sings the ballad "Children Will Listen." It's a tonal shift that you can't find anywhere else. And Jessica Fletcher introduces the song. I'm surprised someone in the audience didn't turn up murdered.
Ridiculousness Rating: 9
The Boy From Oz, "Not the Boy Next Door": OK, first we have Hugh Jackman in a leopard print shirt and bulgetastic tight gold lamé pants, riding a camel. To repeat: Hugh Jackman, leopard, bulge, gold pants, camel. Then he makes a penis joke. Then he gyrates all over the stage. Then he ambushes Sarah Jessica Parker (seated next to a pre-gray hair Andy Cohen) and drags her up on stage to do some gyrating of her own. I mean, this is Tony zaniness legend, right here.
Ridiculousness Rating: 10
Oh, because I couldn't leave this one out:
Cats, "Memory": It is a woman dressed up as a singing cat!
Ridiculousness Rating: 11
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
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The great thing about The Good Wife is that you think it's a procedural, with each case being wrapped up nicely every week, but by the end of the season you always figure out how everything has been working in conjunction the whole time. The events of each case always have consequences and the actions of one character always have consequences for the other, and all of those things always dovetail nicely into something that puts our protagonist, Ms. Alicia Florrick, into some dicey spot. That's what we got last night in the third season finale when Juliana Margulies and crew tied everything up and made us wait for a resolution next year.
Things didn't fall into place as seamlessly as they have in the past, but thanks to a lawsuit from the firms co-nemesis Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox) and Patti Nyholm (Martha Plimpton) it kicks everything into high gear. This is like the moment in every Batman comic when the villains finally figure out that while they can't defeat the superhero together, but if they team up they might have a shot. The two have been hired by a drug company and an insurance company to put them out of business, because they've been such a nuisance to their clients. From Deus Ex Machina land, we find out that Lockhart Gardiner has big balloon payment on their office and their biggest client is late with his payment, so they're practically on lawyer food stamps.
Everything comes up in the suit: Kalinda's troubles with the law, Will's suspension because of potential judicial bribery, Cary hiring that annoying daddy investigator while at the state's attorney's office, and even Alicia's separation, which finally goes on the record. Yes, it's Peter who saves the firm from the lawsuit and shuts down the allegations of any inappropriate behavior between Lockhart Gardiner and any judges. He wasn't working on behave of his wife's firm because he hasn't worked with what's firm on his wife in a long time. (Sorry, that was one bad pun.) But the lawsuit was just a ruse to distract the firm while Canning and Nyholm steal their main client and potentially put them out of business. Oops! Should have been paying more attention to something other than Will's whining and Diane's wishing she was singing showtunes at some piano bar near Broadway.
Meanwhile, things are going pretty well for Alicia, who goes to see her harpy of a mother-in-law in the hospital for her to apologize and learns that Jackie is sort of losing her mind. Still, the death specter of Jackie signs Peter and Alicia's house over to Alicia's kids for safe keeping. In fact, she and Peter are seeing eye to eye and treating each other like reasonable adults again. On this show, that is akin to having sex, so these two are totally doing it.
What's scary is the evil voice that is on the other side of Alicia's phone. While trying to cash a bunch of old checks for Kalinda, she calls the number on the check and there is a very mean man on the other end. He knows what just called him and is determined to find Alicia. This makes so much sense because, who gets a check for $21,000 and doesn't cash it but keeps it around in a manilla envelope like a bomb that could go off at any moment. Everyone has a least three of those in their junk drawer, right? We find out that Kalinda is on the run from her husband, which, also, duh. Seriously, she always moved to Chicago to get out of Canada for some shady reason (like leaving Canada isn't reason enough) and we never knew what it was, but it was always going to be her husband. That's the big shock, but the shock never came. It was like the shock of Kalinda having like 9 guns and $30,000 hidden in the wall of her apartment behind a mirror. Of course, she has that there. Where else would she put it? Isn't that a standard feature of most apartments where the hallways are lined in birch tree wallpaper (which, I'm sorry, is a million times scarier than The Voice.)
Anyway, Kalinda is trying to leave town, but when she finds out The Voice (which is, indeed, scarier than that Christina Aguilera singing competition) knows where Alicia lives and knows her name. Instead of leaving she decides she's going to pull up her Laz-E-Boy and cuddle up with her gun and wait for company. It arrives but, of course, we don't see who it is.
Who is behind The Voice? Will Kalinda shoot him? Will Lockhart Gardiner Gold Florrick Agos go out of business? Will Alicia get back together with Peter and live in their old house and pretend like he never slept with a hooker? What is going to happen? We have no idea, but this season's finale and its indecision is nicely contrasted with last season's. A year ago we were left with the scene of Peter and Alicia going up in an elevator and stopping at every floor and each time the door opened, we got a glimpse of them making out harder and harder. (Cue having "Love in an Elevator" stuck in your head for the rest of the afternoon.) They were on the rise and we knew just what was going to happen when the show returned in September.
This year we went with Alicia and Will going down in an elevator talking about their relationship. Will asks if it was a mistake and Alicia says no but you know that the romance between them is over. What a great way to deal with the tension but yet still keep it alive in case the show needs a good sweeps week stunt in a year or two. The elevator lands and Alicia says, "Goodbye Will." It's done (until next May!). And that's how we're left, with the end of Willicia (Alicill?) but a ton of other questions that we just can't wait to solve, an elevator going down instead of up. I don't know about you, but I'm loving this sinking feeling.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
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