Steelers hopeful for new Bell deal by March 6

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said he is optimistic that the team “can find common ground” with star running back Le’Veon Bell on a new contract and hopes a deal is reached by March 6, the last day for designating a franchise player.
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NFL Insiders predict free agency: Will Le’Veon Bell be a Steeler in 2019?

The running back could be on his way out in Pittsburgh — but maybe not this season. Can the Steelers work out a long-term deal? Our NFL Insiders weigh in on the biggest topics of the offseason.
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Lake Bell Takes a Break From Mommy Duties at Bonpoint

TIME OUT: Lake Bell is taking a break from her busy home life as mom to two young kids — her youngest is just eight months — and checking out her first Paris Fashion Week in the process. “My husband [tattoo artist Scott Campbell] was like, ‘look, you have not gotten out of the house very much, all you do is work and mom and work and mom, and I think you should take this opportunity to go to Paris and enjoy,’” she explained at the Bonpoint show Wednesday afternoon.“It’s very spicy at home right now, that’s a euphemism for very insane. Wonderfully chaotic is what we say.”
Bell has been a fan of the brand since her formative years. “My mom donned me in Bonpoint head to toe since I was little. She is a designer and has a very European sensibility,” she explained.
While hands-on motherhood is her topmost priority right now, the actress and director is also busy on the work front. Her comedy “I do…Until I don’t,” which she wrote, directed and starred in, came out last September, and she is currently working on the pilot for a new show about marriage, called “Bless This Mess,” which begins

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Kristen Bell Applauds 2018 SAG Awards' All-Female Presenters

Host Kristen Bell teases the all-female presenters ahead of the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards airing Sunday, Jan. 21 on TNT & TBS!
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The Future of Veronica Mars: Kristen Bell, Rob Thomas on Current Revival Plans (That Almost Happened!)

Veronica Mars, Kristen BellIt’s been 13 years since Veronica Mars burst onto TV screens and introduced audiences to Kristen Bell. The show ran for three seasons across UPN and The CW until 2007, but cancellation…

E! Online (US) – TV News

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Kristen Bell & Idina Menzel Performing for Disney Special

The "Frozen" stars dish on working together and performing for "The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration" at the Disneyland Resort.
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Kristen Bell & Idina Menzel Performing for Disney Special

The "Frozen" stars dish on working together and performing for "The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration" at the Disneyland Resort.
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Dax Shepard Reveals the Downside of Being Married to Kristen Bell

Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard, Film Independent Spirit AwardsKristen Bell has no filter, and it’s one of the many reasons Dax Shepard loves her. But, as the El Camino Christmas actor confessed on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! Wednesday, it’s also…

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Kristen Bell Gets Real About Monogamy And How Hard It Can Be

“I’m quite positive we are not meant to be monogamous.”
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Kristen Bell And Dax Shepard Just Took Their ‘Game Of Thrones’ Obsession To New Heights

“Words cannot express our horniness for the ‘Game of Thrones’ premiere.”
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John Stamos Has No Mercy When Apparently Throwing Shade At Drake Bell

The “Drake & Josh” feud reaches a new level.
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So Josh Peck Got Married And Apparently Didn’t Invite Drake Bell

It’s going to take some time to understand why Josh Peck seemingly didn’t invite Drake Bell to his wedding. 

The former Nickelodeon star married his longtime girlfriend Paige O’Brien in Malibu, California, this weekend surrounded by friends and family. His “Grandfathered” co-star John Stamos made the cut, appearing in a handful of wedding photos, but it appears his former TV stepbrother was persona non grata. 

Bell, who starred on the hit Nickelodeon series “Drake & Josh” for four seasons in the early 2000s, was extra salty on Twitter when photos of Peck’s happy day came pouring out on social media.

“When you’re not invited to the wedding the message is clear….” he tweeted and later deleted, according to E! Online

“Loyalty is key,” he continued. “ALWAYS remember where you came from.”

A post shared by Josh Peck (@shuapeck) on

A post shared by Josh Peck (@shuapeck) on

It’s unclear whether we have a future feud on our hands, or if Bell’s invite got lost in the mail. The two have seemingly remained close since their Nickelodeon days, with Bell making a guest appearance on Peck’s sitcom “Grandfathered” last year. 

They also regularly stay up on each other’s social media pages ― Bell even shared a throwback photo of himself and Peck from the “Drake & Josh” days just last week. 

We’re gonna choose to remember this Drake and Josh.

HuffPost has reached out to Peck’s representatives and will update this post accordingly. 

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This Bride-To-Be Made A Wedding Dress Out Of 200 Taco Bell Wrappers

One bride-to-be is taking her love for Taco Bell to the extreme. 

Diane Nguyen is going viral after creating a wedding dress from 200 (new, not used) Taco Bell wrappers. The delicious stunt is for Taco Bell’s new “Love and Tacos” contest, which will send one lucky couple ―hopefully Nguyen and her fiancé, Nick Ward ― to get married at a Taco Bell in Vegas.  

“It’s time to spill the beans. We have been engaged for 4 years, and together for 10,” Nguyen wrote in an Instagram post for the contest. “Taco Bell has been there through the years, from the after school runs, to late meals after work (or a night of partying). Our love for each other is as cheesy as a quesadilla.”

She added, “We’re nachos getting married, it’s going to be a Las Vegas tacover. Lettuce celebrate our love at the Taco Bell Chapel in Vegas, cuz we are ready to guac and roll.” 

Nguyen told The Huffington Post via email that the gown was inspired by the likes of “Project Runway,” “Ru Paul’s Drag Race”  and “Face Off.” It took roughly five to six hours to make. Her fiance’s sister, Patra, also helped create the dress, as did a kind Taco Bell manager. 

A very nice manager donated 400 wrappers to us in exchange for a combo meal purchase,” she said. “We already had the other materials (hot glue, an old corset, and a white sheet) on hand, so it cost around $ 10!” 

Nguyen said that she and Ward became friends in high school, though they only started dating at the end of college. 

“When the time was right, I asked him out and we are still tormenting each other ten years later!” she said. “We’re always goofing around and love to incorporate our friends into our shenanigans.” 

#relationshipgoals achieved.

A post shared by Diane Nguyen (@dianesaurusrex) on

Though the two didn’t originally set out to get married in a Taco Bell, it’s now become their mission to win the contest and make it happen. But even if they don’t win, they have their whole lives ahead of them, probably filled with tons of fun shenanigans and Taco Bell runs. 

“It’s been a fun ride and we’re both excited to see where life takes us,” Nguyen said. “Crappy high-five partners for life.” 

If you’d like to vote for the “nacho average couple” in the Taco Bell contest, head here. Voting ends on March 5. 

The HuffPost Lifestyle newsletter will make you happier and healthier, one email at a time. Sign up here.

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Wrights 451067 Disney Tinker Bell Iron On Applique-Tinker Bell 2.5 in. x 3.75 in. 1-Pkg

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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

    2015-11-09-1447107228-5974387-LynyrdSkynyrdPronouncedSecondHelpingDVDcoverlr.jpg

    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

    ******************************

    2015-11-09-1447102751-4900295-4KQ_zXs9uwIJwAs7R8QSLNW8mZfyoGplAr_L_LKtpI.jpg

    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

    ******************************

    2015-11-09-1447104260-5517623-cd_9ba23afb8a9c48deab8104b4b8de69bd_large.jpg

    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.

    ******************************

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

    2015-11-09-1447104978-6140352-weorme72dpi.jpg
    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/

    ******************************

    2015-11-09-1447108686-5717822-91pXsQEBFL._SX522_.jpg

    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

    ******************************

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

    2015-11-09-1447104501-7453039-HPB_Vol7_Amistadweb.jpg

    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.”

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.




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    The Love Story Of Peter Pan And Tinker Bell, As Told By Peter

    “Second star to the right!” She called out, laughing.

    Her voice carried easily over the autumn wind as we flew above the confusion of lost boys, giggling girls, and parents trying desperately to remember. We were not flying very high, but the lights and people seemed so small and far away that, for the moment at least, the world below us looked like a miniature toy carnival.

    “Second star to the right! That’s what it feels like!” She said, and she took my hand in hers, kicking her feet in the air as if running and, throwing her head back, laughing. The wind turned her long hair into a ribbon of fiery gossamer, trailing out behind us.

    “No hand holding.” Said the bored voice over the speakers and she dropped my hand with a petulant huff that carried frustration layered with a relief at the easy excuse to let go.

    It’s coming soon, I thought sadly. Our reason for being here. Our Goodbye.

    Moments later, we slowed, seats gently rocking into one another with creaks and groans as the great spider of machinery lowered its chain web of swings back to earth.

    “That is the only ride I want to go on!” She said, jumping out of her seat and launching at me in a fiercely quick hug. She was as exhilarated as I was anxious.

    “Let’s go explore,” she said. Then she twirled around, waving me to follow before skipping off on her tippy toed wings into the confusion of cotton candy.

    ***

    Tinker Bell came to me in the midwinter of my twenty seventh year.

    I had left Neverland long ago by that time. My life was one of goals and deadlines, of power and responsibility, of control over one’s own destiny. I had grown to see the mantra of “never grow up” for what it was: a cartoon fallacy. I walked away from childhood willingly, eagerly, and as happened so frequently in the stories of the aged, before I realized what I had left behind.

    The eternal minutes of years cast my soul into a new body, one that was much larger and slow than my soul remembered. That body was led by a series of unfortunate events to a bleak hospital wing where it paced in the hallway like a madman. As I waited for Death to visit my family as it had when I was a child, I recognized it immediately as the worst and best night of my life. It was in that ward, on December 27th, when she appeared as if by magic, right when I needed her most. I remember the time as if the clock is still hovering in front of me bathed in a pall of blue light. It was 7:04 PM. On that exact day, at that exact time, I looked into the soft, brown eyes of the girl who would become my very deepest love.

    When I first kissed her, when she finally- after what felt an eternity- floated into my arms, the rest of the world dimmed, its color draining away for the brightness that was this magical fairy. On that day, I forgot the foolish and false importance of wife, house, and job. I forgot the goals of adulthood- or that there was even such a concept as strange and foreign as “grown-up.”

    On that day, I met my Tinker Bell, and she called me back to Neverland.

    ***

    Screams descend from the rickety roller coaster and the caramel scent of kettle corn settles in my throat like a coating of pitch, think and cloying and making me feel as though I am suffocating on sugar. Tinker Bell floats before me, laughing in the rush of kids who call and shout to their friends. She acts for all the world as if this were the only place she was meant to be.

    I want nothing more than to be away from this wretched madness. I want quiet. I want space so that I’m not shoved in the back by a dramatically gesticulating seven year old who will just die if he doesn’t get funnel cake. I want to be lying in the dark with Tinker Bell’s head on my chest, listening to her slow dreaming breath as I hold her, gently kiss her head, and try desperately to sleep for a few more minutes before the wine-dark dawn descends. I want to be anywhere but here. But more than that, I want to be with her. And here with her is better than anywhere without her.

    So instead of my quiet darkness, we float together through the cacophony of blinking, candy apple lights as I try to draw breath through the thick air, try to smile, and try not to fear.

    “What about the Ferris wheel?” I say, pouring as much syrupy happiness into the question as I can manage. “That’s kind of like the swings.”

    She looks at me as if I’d just suggested that she eat a large and particularly purple sea creature.

    “Ferris wheels are boring!” she groans, and just as I’m about to protest, her face makes its remarkable night-to-day change, radiating a smile that dims the lights around us.

    “Let’s go see the animals!” she shrieks, grabbing my hand and skipping forward lightly, pulling me as if I’m a rag doll.

    She’s always been able to pull me, magically casting me about like a toy despite her tiny size and my much greater weight, and age. She need only grab my hand and I could be lifted into the sky on her magical fairy dust laughter.

    At least, that’s how it had been. Before. Lately, we flew less often. I weighed considerably more these days, and she cast me about considerably less.

    But now I can feel her throwing me about, can feel the warmth of her hand in mine, pouring into my arm like sparkles, cascading down and up my spine to make my feet feel light and my hair stand on end.

    The power of Tinker Bell’s touch.

    I don’t want to let go of her hand. I want to squeeze it, clutch it. I want to pull her towards me and bury her in my arms, to close my eyes and breath the winter scent of her hair as I used to. But instead I look down at her hand holding mine and can see the awkwardness seeping into the corners of my vision like fire eating a picture. As soon as it had started, the moment passes, and she lets my hand fall away.

    Such is life with Tinker Bell. Lifetimes of seconds, wrenched away from me as we float above the world. Together and ever growing apart.

    The reek of cotton candy slowly gives way to the dark, earthy scent of straw and manure as the shouldering crowds are replaced with tiny shrieks and strollers creaking in mud ruts. Tinker Bell skips ahead with a laugh and I look at the hand she released, suddenly heavy with it’s great ring of guilt.

    There is a woman wearing my guilt ring’s pair. A woman who is sitting at home doing something wonderfully mundane, like reading Jane Eyre for the 137th time, or cooking kale and lentil soup with the burner on high and way too much cumin. She is a woman connected to me by years of love and awkwardly unspoken distances. A woman humming a Lucy Kaplansky song to herself while her husband floats through a blinking, shrieking Neverland with his fairy girl.

    I can feel the weight of this guilt pressing down on my shoulders and head like a wet, wool blanket, muggy in its damp, accusatory heat.

    It is this weight, I think to myself, that makes me too heavy for Tinker Bell to cast about anymore. But even as I think it, I know it’s not true. It’s not my fear and guilt that is pulling her away. It is her.

    She is changing.

    As much as could be expected from a girl. And such is the price you pay when you fall so deeply in love with someone so young.

    ***

    Despite my best efforts to be a better person, the sight of ducks and sheep makes me think of food.

    “We could get something to eat,” I suggest, unsurprised at the slight crack in my voice that I’m pretty sure only I heard.

    She speaks, and something about meat and gluten is lost in the sudden honking of a donkey who has had just quite enough pulling on that particular ear, thank you very much.

    “Well,” I say, trying to make my voice into the epitome of an ironic joke, “you don’t want to ride, and you don’t want to eat. I’m not sure what we’re doing here.”

    Despite my attempt at feigning humor, I sound how I feel: petulant and whiney. She rises from petting a white angora bunny and looks at me with eyes full of confusion and concern, and only very lightly sprinkled with hurt.

    “I wanted to spend time with you.” She says. “Just with you.”

    She tilts her head slightly in the way that has always announced a thought on the verge of a decision, then she smiles and brushes my lips with a quick and quiet kiss so tender that it feels like she is dressing a wound.

    Maybe, I think, she is dressing a wound, a great wrenching wound of choices and betrayal. And my face flushes with embarrassment and that heavy weight of wet, hot guilt.

    The truth is this: As much as I love my wife, her life would be forfeit for the life of my Tinker Bell. It hardly matters that she would likely say the same- she has the same conflicts and demons, the same choices. The thought of those choices fills me with warmth, and love, and wretched self-loathing.

    Tinker Bell, oblivious, aware, giggling, flutters to the maligned donkey to stroke it gently, calming it in that way she has of calming everything she touches. She smiles and skips and laughs, flying from animal to animal as if breakfast never happened, as if the earthquake never shook her heart, as if her world didn’t come tumbling down around her over mustard and basil omelets and stupid-for-gods-sake-why-does-everything-have-to-be-called-heirloom tomato slices.

    Unlike me, she is happy. She can be happy because she is young. Today is a goodbye, and this type of goodbye is easy for the young. In a sense, this type of goodbye is the entire purpose of being young, and it never catches the young by surprise.

    It caught me by surprise, though. Springing out of no-where at breakfast- at least I saw it at breakfast. Looking back, it’s obvious now that it really started the moment I first laid eyes on her.

    How long since I’ve felt the weight of her pressed down happily on my lap? How long since she carelessly threw her arms around my neck, knowing that if she lost her balance, I would catch her? How long since I had a stolen moment of her love in evening’s quiet darkness?

    Yet this morning, as if the past were a mythical land where forgetting was sugar, she graced me with sweetness. This morning, she came to me and, tasting her careless love, I wept inside for its sudden bitter tinge.

    It was on her tongue as well. Squirming uncomfortably on the lap she used to rest on so well. Telling jokes to laugh about instead of kissing my stubbled cheek. Sitting awkwardly, as if trying to finish a distasteful chore. She would never admit it, but she tasted the bitterness as strongly as I.

    That moment on my lap, unlike countless moments before, was different. Something had changed- she had changed. From the dark closet of her young mind was pulled an invisible gown of realization that, once donned, could never be stripped from her. We both felt that garment on her, together, in that same, shimmering moment.

    Suddenly, she bolted off of my lap, turning in a dramatic show to suggest that we “do something fun” and that we “spend time together.” Awkwardness darkening the scene like spilled ink.

    ***

    And so we ended up here, Tinker Bell and her Peter, floating from the petting zoo back to the chaos of cotton candy, as I try to carry this weight of guilt and search for my happy thought that will keep me flying.

    But I can’t find my happy thought because the only thought I have is that Tinker Bell is leaving me forever. The only thought I have is the knowledge that things are… different.

    “Let’s go in the funhouse!” I say, less for an honest suggestion than as a dressing to staunch the flow of my tears.

    “Ha!” She barks, throwing her head back. “There’s no way you’re getting me in there with you!”

    I just begin the descent into the cavern of her insinuation when a voice calls out to her, using her birth name.

    “Cecilia! Cecilia!”

    Tinker Bell turns, smiling.

    “Hi, Alexa!” She beams, and the two girls dive into a pool of conversation- about boys, and music, and Jenny McIntyre’s red suede pumps- as if they had been swimming together in the words for the past half hour.

    Feeling as substantial as a ghost, I dissolve into the funhouse to join my brethren of forgotten specters. The irony of the dark cavern filled with crooked, rubber skeletons and scratchy speakers howling their silly groans and wails is actually soothing. I trudge through tight corridors lit in sickly green, barely aware of the fright that I am expected to feel, but growing ever more afraid as I come closer to the exit that will eject me back into the real world where things really are scary and confusing.

    I pop out of the funhouse at the same time as two boys who squeeze roughly past on the staircase, weaving through the crowd like gazelles to bound off for another rapid adventure. When I reach the girls, who are still somewhere in the middle of a conversation in a foreign language, it becomes apparent that I was not missed.

    “I can’t,” Tinker Bell says, nodding to me as if I had not just returned, “I’m here with my dad.”

    “Hello, Alexa.” I say, and I note that I sound as strangely old and formal as every parent who’s ever talked with a child’s friend.

    “Hi Mister C,” she says, turning back to her recruitment mission even before she hits “mister.” “Cecilia, you have to come! He asked about you!”

    Tinker Bell groans and, for the first time, looks uncertain and afraid.

    That, I think, is my cue. This is our goodbye.

    “You should go, sweetie,” I choke.

    It isn’t what I want to say. Even buried in the tomb-green lights of the funhouse, I wanted to come up with something more meaningful. I wanted to say something like: It’s all different now, you’re different. My lap is no longer your favorite seat. I can’t sleep holding my little girl as she breaths on my chest. I’m no longer your Peter Pan, my love, and it’s time for you to be another’s Tinker Bell. It’s different now, and even if you won’t admit it, I have to. That is my role, to tell you that it’s okay, that it’s time for you to fly away. But I want you to know, my sweet, magical pixie, that I will always be here for you, if ever your wings get tired.

    I wanted to say this, to tell her of my love for her, to lift her in a hug and smell her hair one last time, but I’ve left Neverland. I’ve become a grown-up and grown-ups are cowards who hide their truths in platitudes, so I cover a sudden choking sob with a yawn and say:

    “Go on, sweetie, go meet this charming prince of yours. I’m pretty tired anyway. Have fun and call us if you need a ride home.”

    Delighted terror drifts down from the Ferris wheel as she looks at me, head tilted in lights that turn her hair into a copper flame that singes my heart.

    “I love you daddy,” she whispers, throwing her arms around my neck and kissing my cheek quickly. I breath in her winter scent as she lets go and flies away on her tippy toed wings into the confusion of cotton candy.

    She never turns back to see the tears fall to the cheeks of her aged Peter.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.




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    Kristen Bell And Dax Shepard Are Teaching Their Toddler The Ways Of Westeros

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    Now it seems their love for all things Westeros is rubbing of on their daughter. In an interview with People, the couple revealed that their 2-year-old daughter Lincoln has picked up the GOT lingo.

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    “She didn’t understand a lick of it, but it really made me happy.”

    Someday little Lincoln will understand.

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    The sketch included long, uncut “Birdman”-style shots, a shout out to J.K. Simmons’ “rushing or dragging” speech in “Whiplash” and just the right amount of slapping to confirm that this is definitely not the Oscars. Watch below.


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    Body Solid KBS105 Kettle Bell Set Singles 5-30

    Body Solid KBS105 Kettle Bell Set Singles 5-30


    In training rooms across America, from urban fitness centers to basement gyms, hard-core lifters and fitness enthusiasts are pushing themselves with Kettlebells. Best described as cannonballs with handles, these iron spheres originated in Russia as the muscle-building tool of choice for Red Army soldiers and athletes.Kettle Bell Set Singles Includes 6 Kettlebells ranging from 5 – 30 lbs in 5 lbs increments Cast Iron with a tough, black, enamel finish Handles on heavier kettlebells are large enough to accommodate both hands Handle are steel reinforced for durabilitySet includes: (1) 5 lbs, (1) 10 lbs, (1) 15 lbs, (1) 20 lbs, (1) 25 lbs, (1) 30 lbs Weight: 105
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    Body Solid KBS275 Kettle Bell Set Singles 5-50

    Body Solid KBS275 Kettle Bell Set Singles 5-50


    In training rooms across America, from urban fitness centers to basement gyms, hard-core lifters and fitness enthusiasts are pushing themselves with Kettlebells. Best described as cannonballs with handles, these iron spheres originated in Russia as the muscle-building tool of choice for Red Army soldiers and athletes.Kettle Bell Set Singles Includes 10 Kettlebells ranging from 5-50 lbs in 5 lbs Increments Cast Iron with a tough, black, enamel finish Handles on heavier kettlebells are large enough to accommodate both hands Handle are steel reinforced for durabilitySet includes: (1) 5 lbs, (1) 10 lbs, (1) 15 lbs, (1) 20 lbs, (1) 25 lbs, (1) 30 lbs, (1) 35 lbs, (1) 40 lbs, (1) 45 lbs, (1) 50 lbs Weight: 275
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    Aluminum Table Bell A Great Table Decor

    Aluminum Table Bell A Great Table Decor


    Aluminum Table Bell features authentic aluminum metal, polished and refined, to ensure quality. Remains like new even after years. Great table decor for home and offices.Features: Material: AluminumColor: SilverExhibits special liking for nautical decorationA class apart giftInvolving decoration that attracts everyoneDimensions: 6″W,5″H
    List Price: $ 23.99
    Price: $ 23.99

    K Bell 85162 The Girls Socks-Scrapbooking Girl -White

    K Bell 85162 The Girls Socks-Scrapbooking Girl -White


    KBELL-The Girl Socks- These socks are adorable! These socks celebrate personal passions and favorite pastimes of women everywhere- The socks are made of 60% cotton/38% polyester/2% spandex and are size 9-11 (fit US shoe size 5-8)- Imported- Dimensions:- Height: 8-25- Width: 4- Depth: 0-15 SKU: NMG58268

    Price: $
    Sold by Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

    Tinker Bell Ballet Slippers

    Tinker Bell Ballet Slippers


    Peter Pan Tinker Bell Ballet Slippers Dance The Night Away! These lovely cloth light green slippers feature white faux-fur, a silver strap and a Tinker Bell cameo. Available size: Fits child shoe size 10-11. Ballet Slippers measure: 8” long from toe to heel; 3” wide at widest part of shoe (inside ball of foot area to outside edge); and 2.5” wide at heel. To get your child’s foot measurements we recommend having your child stand on a piece of paper, trace around them, and then measure the tracings with a ruler. An official Peter Pan & ©Disney product.
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    Wedding Bell Blues: 100 Years of Our Great Romance with Marriage

    Wedding Bell Blues: 100 Years of Our Great Romance with Marriage


    Bargain Books are non-returnable.Love and marriage, horse and carriage, they may go together in that old classic croon… But in twentieth-century America-hang on tight-the horses have run wild and it's one bumpy ride! Welcome to the world of Wedding Bell Blues, a romp through our endless fascination with that most august of domestic institutions: marriage. Celebrated (and bemoaned) in every medium imaginable, weddings and marriage are as much a part of life as birth, death, and taxes. Hundreds of nostalgic images, from advertisements to magazine covers to movie posters, display the full range of romance and allure of real and fictional brides and grooms. Seasoned advice from the likes of Archie Bunker to turn-of-the-century marriage manuals lend a note of unsolicited, and often absurd, guidance to the uninitiated. Whether you're already hitched, have been, or vow never to be, tying the knot will hardly look the same again.
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    Kristen Bell, Jenna Dewan And More Pose Nude For Allure

    Kristen Bell and Jenna Dewan-Tatum aren’t afraid to bare all for Allure’s much-anticipated “Nudes” feature.

    Last year, Jennifer Morrison, Naya Rivera, Clare Bowen and Christa Miller stripped down for the magazine, and this year Bell and Dewan are joined by Nia Long and Minnie Driver in the pursuit of nothing but the naked truth.

    Both Bell and Dewan-Tatum are new moms who both welcomed daughters in 2013. And though it’s been less than a full year since Dewan, 33, gave birth to Everely in May, she said her husband Channing Tatum was a big supporter of her decision to take it off for Allure.

    “Chan was really on board with it— he knows I’m very comfortable in my own skin,” she told the magazine.

    Meanwhile, 33-year-old Bell, who is just coming off the enormous success of “Frozen,” told the magazine, “I talk a big game about being comfortable in my skin. I wanted to put my money where my mouth was.”

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    For more with Kristen Bell and Jenna Dewan-Tatum, as well as Nia Long and Minnie Driver, head over to Allure.

    Style – The Huffington Post
    FASHION NEWS UPDATE-Visit Shoe Deals Online today for the hottest deals online for shoes!

    Rebecca Taylor Takes Over LA, Kristen Bell Talks Boots: The Trend with Victoria Recaño on Zappos

    Shop the looks you saw today: http://zapwow.me/pD1M

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    Comment below to let us know what you think!

    In this episode of The Trend on Zappos.com, luxury lifestyle expert Victoria Recaño goes behind-the-scenes with fashion designer Rebecca Taylor to find out what makes her the go-to designer for young Hollywood. Kristen Bell also swings by to talk about her thoughts on footwear. See superb styles from Rebecca Taylor and Ralph Lauren, as well as appearances from Kim Kardashian, Randy Jackson, Kathy Griffin, Emma Roberts, and more! Stay fabulous, stay in the know, and keep up with The Trend.

    The Trend is presented by Zappos (http://zapwow.me/pf3C) where you can shop all the brands you saw here today, as well as all the latest trends in fashion. Zappos carries everything you need from shoes and clothing to hats, accessories, beauty, and more!

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    Tissue Bell Streamer

    Tissue Bell Streamer


    Cure the Wedding Bell Blues with Stunning Wedding Decorations! Wedding planning made easy with Wedding favors and decorations. Make sure you have everything you need for your wedding with all the best wedding decorations and favors. 24′ long. A dozen 3″ white tissue bells connected by ribbon. Made in the USA. Unique wedding favors and decorations for your big day! We have all the wedding decorations and supplies that you need to make your wedding or bridal shower an event to remember. Part of Decorations > Streamers
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    K. Bell Socks K. Bell Ladies Love To Play Golf Footie Socks White/Lt Blue

    K. Bell Socks K. Bell Ladies Love To Play Golf Footie Socks White/Lt Blue


    K. Bell Socks Ladies Love to Play Golf Footie Socks Add a little color to your game! K. Bell Socks has a reputation for great designs and a quality product. K. Bell Socks Ladies Love to Play Golf Footie Socks feature: Original sport novelty socks combining fashion with function Love to Play and crossed clubs woven top of foot Super soft interior for superior comfort Tight weave mesh forefoot for exceptional breathability Reinforced toe and heel provide lasting durability Fits womens sizes 9-11 Ribbed top bands are comfy Perfect for golfing and casual wear Machine Wash A* Tumble Dry 84% Modal A* 9% Polyester A* 5% Rubber A* 2% Spandex K. Bell Socks…Fun Fashionable Socks!

    Price: $
    Sold by The Golf Warehouse