2014 was a great year for fans of pop culture and books. We learned the stories behind the making of a classic, had a young girl tell us what she's "learned," and even learned the secrets of modeling that Tyra could never have taught us. We've rounded up the best of these just in case you're looking for a last minute gift or the next pick for your book club.
1. "Yes Please" - Amy Poehler
Getty Images/Sonia Recchia
For: A fledgling feminist in her twenties who could use a good laugh and some sound advice from a Smart Girl, or anyone who needs to hear that it's okay to feel the way they're feeling.
Memorable Quote: "Because what else are we going to do? Say no? Say no to an opportunity that may be slightly out of our comfort zone? Quiet our voice because we are worried it's not perfect? I believe great people do things before they are ready."
(Bonus quote: "I have the Angelina Jolie of vaginas.")
2. "Not My Father's Son" - Alan Cumming
Getty Images/Brad Barket
For: Fans of Who Do You Think You Are? or anyone trying to overcome their childhood dramas and are seeking inspiration.
Memorable Quote: "For yes, being a woman, even one with a penis and for the purposes of drama really made me feel that women have been coerced into a way of presenting themselves that is basically a form of bondage. Their shoes, their skirts, even their nails seem designed to stop them from being able to escape whilst at the same time drawing attention to their sexual and secondary sexual characteristics. And I think that has happened so that men feel they can ogle them and protect them in equal measure."
3. "The Woman I Wanted To Be" - Diane von Furstenberg
Getty Images/Valeria Macon
For: The fashionista who knows what she wants, or the woman in your life who wants to 'have it all.'
Memorable Quote: "In my older face, I see my life. Every wrinkle, every smile line, every age spot. There is a saying that with age, you look outside what you are inside. If you are someone who never smiles your face gets saggy. If you're a person who smiles a lot, you will have more smile lines. Your wrinkles reflect the roads you have taken; they form the map of your life. My face reflects the wind and sun and rain and dust from the trips I've taken. My face carries all my memories. Why should I erase them?"
4. "So, Anyway" - John Cleese
Getty Images/Slaven Vlasic
For: The Monty Python fan seeking a crash course in what makes comedy funny and what makes a comedian successful.
Memorable Quote: "So, creatively, I was doubly blessed: constant relocation and parental disharmony. Add to these two gifts the well-established fact that many of the world's greatest geniuses, both artistic and scientific, have been the product of serious maternal deprivation, and I am forced to the conclusion that if only my mother had been just a little more emotionally inadequate, I could have been HUGE."
5. "Uganda Be Kidding Me" - Chelsea Handler
Getty Images/D Dipasupil
For: Chelsea Handler fans suffering withdrawals during this period between her E! show and her upcoming Netflix gig.
Memorable Quote: "There's a difference between being a class act and being classy. Peeing off the side of a Jeep doesn't mean you're not classy, it just means you're a free spirit with a small bladder."
6. "The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year" - Andy Cohen
Getty Images/Nomi Ellenson
For: Any pop culture junkie who wants all the dirt on their favorite celebrities; any Real Housewives fans itching to know which lady is causing the most trouble.
Memorable Quote: "I literally almost called this book Diary of a Name-Dropper. So if you want to play a drinking game while reading this book—and that's not a great idea and only gonna last for so long—take a swing every time you read a name you recognize."
7. "Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's 'Learned'" - Lena Dunham
For: Any guy or Girl who's almost getting it kind of together; anyone whose own thoughts have sometimes been too much for them.
Memorable Quote: "When someone shows you how little you mean to them and you keep coming back for more, before you know it you start to mean less to yourself. You are not made up of compartments! You are one whole person! What gets said to you gets said to all of you, ditto what gets done. Being treated like shit is not an amusing game or a transgressive intellectual experiment. It's something you accept, condone, and learn to believe you deserve. This is so simple. But I tried so hard to make it complicated."
8. "Dancing With Myself" - Billy Idol
Getty Images/Paul Archuleta
For: The wannabe groupie; anyone interested in the not-to-be-believed antics and lifestyles of glam rockers.
Memorable Quote: "After a while, my nose became so bloody that I reverted to smoking cocaine instead. From there, it was all downhill."
9. "Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty" - Diane Keaton
For: Anyone who has ever felt or been told they were ugly or imperfect; anyone who sees themselves aging before a mirror and sighs.
Memorable Quote: "After living with Mr. Lincoln's portrait for several years, I've come to this conclusion: his beauty, like the hidden cast of his right eye, became identifiable only after I included "unsightly" as a possible way of describing a beautiful face."
10. "Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America" - John Waters
Getty Images/Rob Kim
For: Your eccentric friend with incurable wanderlust; anyone who wants to see America from a very different pair of eyes.
Memorable Quote: "I'm alive, I think, and so many of my friends are not. I may be nuts to be doing this, but I'm kind of proud of myself. I am having an adventure. I like my life. Even if I have to stand here for the rest of it."
11. "Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography" - Neil Patrick Harris
Getty Images/Frederick M. Brown
For: The person living a life that seems unworthy of a book and wants to live vicariously through Doogie Howser, M.D.; fans of choose-your-own-adventure books, biographies, and How I Met Your Mother.
Memorable Quote: "If you had known people would be calling you by your character name for the next twenty years, you might have asked for a different one. Thunderbolt Howser, say, or Dr. Feelgood, or Baron von Sexy Ass."
Veteran musician Brian Eno has written a letter urging U.S. leaders to intervene in the growing conflict in the Middle East.
The music producer sent the passionate note to former Talking Heads musician David Byrne, who published it on his official website. In the letter, Eno vents his anger at U.S. leaders for not taking action to stop the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, accusing American officials of supporting the war.
He writes, "I sense I'm breaking an unspoken rule with this letter, but I can't keep quiet any more... I read that the UN (United Nations) had said that Israel might be guilty of war crimes in Gaza, and they wanted to launch a commission into that. America won't sign up to it. What is going on in America? I know from my own experience how slanted your news is, and how little you get to hear about the other side of this story. But - for Christ's sake! - it's not that hard to find out. Why does America continue its blind support of this one-sided exercise in ethnic cleansing? WHY? I just don't get it..."
"Like it or not, in the eyes of most of the world, America represents 'The West'. So it is The West that is seen as supporting this war, despite all our high-handed talk about morality and democracy... The war has no moral justification that I can see - but it doesn't even have any pragmatic value either... I'm sorry to burden you all with this. I know you're busy and in varying degrees allergic to politics, but this is beyond politics. It's us squandering the civilisational capital that we've built over generations. None of the questions in this letter are rhetorical: I really don't get it and I wish that I did."
Eno has also appeared in a video to support the Freedom for Palestine campaign alongside British director Ken Loach, rapper Chuck D and Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters.
Courtesy Everett Collection
Legendary blues rocker Johnny Winter has died, aged 70.
The veteran musician passed away in Zurich, Switzerland, according to Blabbermouth.net, but no more details about his death were available as WENN went to press.
Motley Crue rocker Nikki Sixx was among the first to pay tribute to the star, writing in a post on Twitter.com, "So bummed to hear about Johnny Winters (sic) passing. I spend (sic) many many years soaking up his music late into the night. #Original #TheBlues."
Winter began his music career as a teenager, landing a record deal at the age of 15 with his band Johnny & the Jammers, and he later released his first solo album, The Progressive Blues Experiment, in 1968. He became a big success with his second record, Johnny Winter, in 1969 and was among the performers at the iconic Woodstock music festival that year.
He continued to enjoy success in the 1970s, and turned to production, heading into the studio with Muddy Waters. Three of the albums they worked on together won Grammy Awards. Winters also received a number of Grammy nominations for his own records, but failed to win.
He is believed to have performed with Jimi Hendrix in a number of jam sessions which became unofficial bootleg recordings after they were stolen from the guitar legend's home after his death.
In later years, Winter was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame.
Winter's death comes just weeks before he was due to release a new album, Step Back, which features stars including Eric Clapton, ZZ Top rocker Billy Gibbons and Aerosmith's Joe Perry.
The record is slated to hit shelves in September (14).
R&B superstar Usher has spoken out in defence of his protege Justin Bieber once more as the fall out from the Baby singer's racial slur controversy continues, insisting the youngster is "unequivocally not a racist".
The hitmaker has come under fire this week after two old video clips, filmed in 2009, emerged online showing him using the N-word in a racist joke and singing about joining notorious race hate group the Ku Klux Klan. Bieber has issued two formal apologies to date, claiming it was a "reckless and immature mistake", and his mentor Usher subsequently branded the scandal "unfortunate", but vowed to stand by his 20-year-old charge, stating, "Every person that has grown up, grows up with something. It ain't (sic) just perfect from the beginning."
On Saturday (07Jun14), Usher took to his Instagram.com page to further express his feelings about the situation, which has threatened to derail Bieber's career. He shared a photo of himself with Bieber, and in the accompanying caption, he wrote, "As I have watched Justin Bieber navigate difficult waters as a young man, I can tell you that he hasn't always chosen the path of his greatest potential, but he is unequivocally not a racist. "What he was 5 years ago was a naive child who did not understand the negative power and degradation that comes from playing with racial slurs. What he is now is a young man faced with an opportunity to become his best self, an example to the millions of kids that follow him to not make the same mistakes."
Usher is not the first African-American celebrity to come to Bieber's defence - 50 Cent, Soulja Boy, boxers Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Mike Tyson and actress Whoopi Goldberg have also voiced their support for the youngster. Meanwhile, the embattled singer has reportedly turned to Christianity to help him get through the backlash and was allegedly baptised in a bathtub this week (ends08Jun14).
A long time ago, CBS featured a comedy series about a young man living in New York City, enduring relatable ups and downs of adulthood with his clique of best friends, all the while furthering his journey (be he aware of it or not) toward the eventual union with the love of his life.
Somewhere along that line, How I Met Your Mother tossed out the slanted realism, quirky but honest situations, and devotion to character and story development, and instead opted to have Joe Manganiello take his shirt off in a courtroom. Now, that’s not in and of itself a problem — nobody is here to make that claim. It’s the reality surrounding the toplessness of Alcide Herveaux with which issue should be taken.
Last week, Manganiello revived his recurring character Brad, a law school buddy of Marshall’s who seemed to have up the ante in douchebaggery since we last saw him. Brad went undercover at Marshall’s law firm, using his old pal’s sweet nature against him to muster up some info on the firm’s case against a pharmaceutical company that has been polluting Frog Lake (which exists where in the New York metropolitan area, exactly?). Brad is actually representing the defendants, and faces off with Marshall in a trial featured on this week’s episode.
Where Marshall comes to court prepared, earnest, and ambitious, Brad opts to channel his god-given physique, wooing the jury of, as Marshall (and the title of the episode) will have viewers understand, “12 horny women.” This is where the eye-rolling becomes face-palming.
One dozen adult women, determined by the judicial system to be fit to stand as members of a jury, all systemically fall like helpless victims to the every wink and muscle bulge of a manipulative Manganiello. The judge, as well — whose homosexual urges are played over and over as one wacky punchline — is powerless when Brad struts his stuff. The case is his to lose.
Of all the cheap, thoughtless, idiotic, and lazy ways to give Brad the upper hand in this episode, nothing beats “Brad flexes his bicep and every woman in the room melts into a stammering puddle.” The idea that nobody with two X-chromosomes is safe from the smarmy grin of this unshaven behemoth… it’d be downright offensive if it weren’t so… stupid.
In the end, Marshall manages to prove the lake dangerous by prompting Brad himself, who has admitted to swimming in the polluted waters, to remove his shirt and reveal the skin rash resultant of the chemicals. However, while Brad’s company is found guilty, it is only ordered to pay a small fraction of the desired fee toward cleaning up the natural grounds. However, the silver lining of this story: Marshall’s good nature reminds Brad of why he got into law in the first place and convinces the confused traitor to leave the “dark side” and find his way back into environmental law. It also convinces Marshall to begin upon his own new path: at the end of the episode, Marshall files an application to become a judge for New York State.
He’ll probably get it.
Meanwhile, the Barney/Robin romance (if you can call it that) takes a minor step forward when, in a scene shafted to the last two minutes of the episode — do the writers even care about these people anymore? — Barney admits to wanting to move past his and Robin’s history so they can just be friends. This candor seems to spark something in Robin, although we won’t quite see what it is just yet. Hint: there’s a wedding, eventually.
And finally, and most notably, a reference to The Wire: a flashback reveals teenaged Lily to have been her neighborhood’s Omar Little, whistling “The Farmer in the Dell” whilst sauntering down the alleyways of New York City, emotionally manhandling a frightened young Scooter into joining up with her (little did she know…).
And that’s about the size of it. Marshall a judge, Barney and Robin a couple-to-be, Lily a Michael K. Williams of her own, and Ted… was Ted in this episode? Was he looking for a wife, or something? Is he still on this show?
[Photo Credit: Richard Cartwright/CBS]
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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Glee is a pioneer in the adventurous theory that people like music. In fact, why bother with anything else, like acting or story? The singing talents of the McKinley students stand alone. Taking this into consideration, the Glee Facebook page has released audio tracks of five songs performed by the glee club for our listening pleasure. Included below are a dramatic rendition of "You Can't Stop the Beat" from the John Waters Broadway musical and movie Hairspray, the Go-Gos' "We Got the Beat," "Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead" from The Wizard of Oz, a mashup of the Broadway songs "Anything Goes" and "Anything You Can Do," and Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual."
Glee returns to Fox this Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. ET.
You Can't Stop the Beat
We Got the Beat
Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead
Anything Goes/Anything You Can Do
It's Not Unusual
Source: Glee The Music Facebook Page via AOLTV