Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Will Include 103 Stages

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will feature 103 separate stages.

Each one will be available in Omega and Battlefield forms, open for 8-player battles, and can have stage hazards turned on or off.

A new Stage Morph option will allow for players to choose two stages before a battle, with the stage transforming from one to another during the fight.

The game will feature roughly 900 music tracks, with about 800 of those drawn from the stages themselves.

This story is developing…

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The Many Style Stages of Justin Bieber: See the Fashion Evolution

Justin BieberThere once was a time where a certain teenage heartthrob snatched our souls with his “Baby Baby Baby” hit.
It’s hard to believe the Justin Bieber we know is know today now…

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The Many Style Stages of Justin Bieber: See the Fashion Evolution

Justin BieberThere once was a time where a certain teenage heartthrob snatched our souls with his “Baby Baby Baby” hit.
It’s hard to believe the Justin Bieber we know is know today now…

E! Online (US) – lifestyle

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Unwelcome Sound on Germany’s Stages: Musicians Who Boycott Israel

Performers who support a movement protesting the treatment of Palestinians are clashing with German sensibilities.
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Ukrainian tycoon stages £40m West End theatre bid

The second-richest man in Britain is in talks to add to his collection of trophy entertainment assets by swooping to buy the Theatre Royal Haymarket, one of the West End’s most prized playhouses.
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Beyonce stages surprise Destiny’s Child reunion

Pop superstar Beyonce has reunited Destiny’s Child for a surprise performance.
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Han Solo film ‘in final stages’ of post-production

Post-production of the standalone film about Han Solo is in the “final stages”, according to its director Ron Howard.
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Hèrmes Stages Beverly Hills Exhibit in Nod to Heritage

The veil is being lifted on Hèrmes at a temporary exhibition that opened to the public Saturday at the company’s Beverly Hills boutique.
“Harnessing the Roots,” curated by Bruno Gaudichon, begins in the back of the Rodeo Drive store and starts with the story of bridles and the house’s history with horses and the equestrian world.
“For Hèrmes, it is the first time that we open the veil because we are rather discreet on our past,” said Menehould de Bazelaire, Hèrmes artistic director of cultural patrimony, who was in town from Paris for the opening. “We don’t want to be proud of what was made before by Hèrmes. We always want to remember to be proud of what we will make tomorrow. It’s our challenge.”
Visitors in the exhibition’s first room are greeted with a terracotta horse dating back anywhere from 2500 to 1900 BC, which is juxtaposed with a 19th century Hèrmes bridle just a few paces away. Both pieces come from the Émile Hèrmes collection, with the terracotta statue the oldest piece of the group.
“This was the idea of Émile Hèrmes when he started his private collection,” de Bazelaire said. “He wanted to create a bridge between the past, the origin

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University Of Westminster Stages BA Show

The University of Westminster showcased 11 Bachelor of Arts graduates whose fashions spanned from boudoir prettiness and disco glamour to Victorian drama.
Suzi Lee’s collection stood out with her confident use of color – royal blue, burgundy, orange, black, white and blush shades – for shapes including extreme gathered pants that could have looked clownish if not for the sporty, safety-clip buckles and the topper: a fluid bomber jacket.
Lingerie and corsetry details were elegantly deployed by Catriona Wilson, who used layers and layers of delicate chiffon, silk and tulle in a line-up of pretty dresses and one lovely coat comprised of multiple layers of sheer fabrics.
Also impressive was Lauren Audrey’s collection that channeled all the glamour of Studio 54 via silver over-the-knee-boots, a pleated cheerleader skirt in pink lamé and a bedazzled cropped satin varsity jacket.
The padded looks in Joshua Crabtree’s men’s wear collection were well executed, with hooded jackets and capes puffed out in nylon, and rubberized cotton used in a great overcoat and a jacket with military pockets.
William Dill-Russell experimented with proportion, using Victorian details and fabrics, like stiff taffeta and brocades, to amp up bustles, sleeves and frock coats.
Holly Priestly demonstrated a sophisticated use of texture and color

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Controversial Artist Stages A Fake Shipwreck, Sells ‘Treasures’ For Millions

Artist Damien Hirst always aims to shock.

Having already exhibited a dead shark in a vitrine of formaldehyde, a severed cow’s head on which live maggots feasted, and an 18th-century skull covered in platinum with over 8,000 diamonds, you might wonder just how, exactly, Hirst plans on living up to his own hype.

After a 10-year hiatus from making art, Hirst has made his best bid, in the form of an underwater art show depicting the remains of a fictional shipwreck. The show is called “Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” and in typical Hirst fashion, it’s not cheap. According to The New York Times, “Treasures” cost the artist millions of dollars to produce and Parisian collector François Pinault millions to present. (Neither gave exact figures.) In turn, the cheaper works on view will cost potential buyers around $ 500,000 each, with the big-ticket items costing a cool $ 5 million.

The exhibition revolves around a mythical story of a shipwreck that, according to Hirst’s story, was discovered off the coast of eastern Africa in 2008. The wreckage allegedly contained a bounty of treasure once belonging to a freed Turkish slave who rose to riches during his lifetime between the first and second centuries. When his ship, the “Unbelievable,” went down, his trove of sculptural objects were lost for centuries. 

Until recently, that is, when divers salvaged some of the barnacle-encrusted pieces from the debris. To add to the mystique of his self-spun mythology, Hirst actually filmed people recovering the sunken goodies from the sea. The shipwrecked treasures ― now on view in Venice ― include massive, kitsch carvings depicting pharaohs, mythical figures, sea beasts and goddesses ― many of which curiously resemble contemporary pop figures like Rihanna and Pharrell.

For Hirst, who has long been obsessed with mythology, the exhibition is a very elaborate exercise in the importance of imagination.

“Believing, it’s different from religion,” the artist told the Times, reportedly over and over. “It’s what we need to do today. When you’re an artist, everything you do you think is about the world we are living in today. And now with all the liars running our governments, it’s far easier to believe in the past than it is in the future.”

For some, Hirst is the ultimate maximalist, his exorbitant visions transcending both good taste and bad in their sheer enormity. His work aims to literally take the viewer’s breath away, showing that art can be as spectacular as a blockbuster film, without the mediation of a screen.

As The Guardian put it: “It takes a kind of genius to push kitsch to the point where it becomes sublime.”

For others, however, Hirst’s show resembles nothing more than a shock artist’s attempt at a comeback, generated less through ingenuity than through obscene amounts of money. The Telegraph called the show “a spectacular, bloated folly, an enormity that may prove the shipwreck of Hirst’s career,” adding that it was “characterised by lifeless surfaces, lurid emotions, and vile, excessive details, such as a couple of toadstools growing on the base. Ugh.”

When overblown excess and unabashed grandiosity so viscerally conjure associations with the current U.S. president, Hirst’s longstanding eye for opulence feels, at best, tone deaf and, at worst, emetic. Although optimism and imagination are clearly the aims of Hirst’s under-the-sea adventure, the end result feels more like a last-gasp display of extravagance as gaudy as Trump Tower.

Hirst’s work will be on view at the Palazzo Grassi until Dec. 3.

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Cynthia Rowley Stages Fall 2017 Fashion Show in Shenzhen, China

SHENZHEN – The sweatshirts were emblazoned with “Cali/New York” and “Empire State of Mind” was thumping in the background, but Cynthia Rowley’s fall 2017 runway show unfolded thousands of miles from the U.S. over the weekend.
The designer swapped her New York Fashion Week presentation for one in China to on March 18, and it was one of the highlights of Shenzhen Fashion Week, an event organized and funded by the Shenzhen People’s Government with WME-IMG. Having shown her resort collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia last May, Rowley said she believes in growing her global audience by staging shows in new cities.
“We manufacture in Shenzhen, so we liked the idea of giving love by showing in the same city,” said Rowley, whose home furnishings line launched in China last year. “It’s almost like creating our own vertical economy: Being able to distribute in the same place, rather than just making and shipping out of here.”
RELATED: Shenzhen Fashion Scene Emerges From Factory Capital >>
The lineup — a mix of new looks made exclusively for the trip and pieces from a lookbook released in February — featured an array of party dresses and separates with Rowley’s signature dazzle. Jewel-toned ribbons sat atop models’

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Graco Baby Travel Lite Crib with Stages Bassinet – Nyssa

Graco Baby Travel Lite Crib with Stages Bassinet – Nyssa


This Graco Baby Travel Lite Crib with Stages Bassinet – Nyssa is perfect for parents who want to keep their sleeping infants closer longer. It features a two-level bassinet that adjusts as baby grows, while the quilted mattress pad keeps baby comfy and cozy. There is a canopy on this Graco portable crib in Nyssa design with soft toys to shield baby from light and create a soothing environment.
List Price: $ 131.99
Price: $ 131.99

British Designer Claire Barrow Stages First Solo Art Show

CLAIRE’S CREATIVITY: British designer Claire Barrow will be taking over East London’s M. Goldstein gallery for her first solo art show in April.
Titled “Bed, Bath & Beyond,” the mixed media exhibit will feature 17 pieces in ink, neon and acrylic.
The works juxtapose modern daily anxieties with medieval fables and religious iconography.
Barrow references the ritual of baptism against the daily habit of taking a shower or the fear of germs within a series of canvases, neons, shower curtains and toilet rolls.
“My initial reference point was social anxieties in British modern life. Then I was researching imagery from the Renaissance and Christianity’s depiction of hell, baptism and rebirth, so I started thinking about the similarities between that and the modern rituals of washing and feeling clean or free of guilt,” Barrow told WWD. “Once I had began painting and drawing, though, it was very much coming from my own imagination, I began referencing my feelings and instincts rather than taking any kind of direct visual inspiration.”
The NewGen recipient,who debuted her label as part of Fashion East during the spring 2013 season, has always blurred the lines between art and fashion.
“Every piece I create has art on it, there is a complete crossover

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The 10 Stages of the Yom Kippur Fast, as Told by Amy Schumer

The Yom Kippur fast is a sneaky one. The Jewish people were smart and decided to ease us into it by celebrating Rosh Hashanah the week prior. It’s almost like they assumed the more food they could provide us with during that holiday, the less painful the lurking fast would be 10 days later.

Turns out it’s not really less painful, because, like the hangover you’re enduring in your 10 am lecture Friday morning after a Thursday night out, we all knew this was coming. How is it that just 10 days ago we were all blissfully enjoying endless amounts of challah, consuming more jars of honey than a drunk Winnie the Pooh and now we’re fasting for 25 hours?

Yes 25 hours — not 24, because the Jewish people weren’t satisfied with the limits of a “normal” day, and thus, the extra hour of “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” nonsense resulted in a 25 hour fast. Talk about going above and beyond.

If you’re looking for someone who feels your pain, I’m sure you have several friends enduring the same gnawing hunger inside of their abandoned abdomens. However, if you need a greater sense of communal misery beyond your usual circle during this hangry time, we turn to the only woman who can provide a voice of sanity and reason in crises like these: Amy Schumer.

Stage One: Extreme Confidence

2015-09-21-1442868804-4631440-amy1.gif
GIF Courtesy of giphy.com

This is gonna be a freakin’ breeze. You’ve juice cleansed, cabbage dieted and gone an entire day eating only, like, one Chipotle burrito and four pretzels once, so you’re basically a pro. It’s hour one and with g-d’s blessing and your insane willpower, you are feeeeeeelin’ it.

Stage Two: Lying to Yourself

2015-09-21-1442868863-9408623-amy2.gif
GIF Courtesy of giphy.com

You’re totally fine. Like, seriously, totally fine. You’re not even hungry. Actually, you’re full. You definitely woke up this morning and had breakfast and not just gulps of air. You’re totally okay, you’re more than okay — you are absolutely great.

Stage Three: Irritability

2015-09-21-1442868902-4989942-amy3.gif
GIF Courtesy of giphy.com

You’ve been sitting in services listening to the rabbi drone on in a language you still haven’t mastered despite 13+ years of Hebrew school and being bar mitzvah’d. You thought perhaps ~prayer would save you~, but the food that should be satiating your craving is instead being replaced by the annoyance filling you up inside.

Stage Four: Exhaustion
2015-09-21-1442868945-9700882-amyfloor.gif
GIF Courtesy of giphy.com

You’ve stuck it out at synagogue for as long as humanly possible, and you’re finally headed home to LAY. You have no food, no energy and nothing keeping you alive at this point. You feel like a limp noodle. OMG noodles. The couch looks inviting. Ugh, but your bed is also your bed. Honestly, at this point, the floor will do just fine.

Stage Five: Hysteria
2015-09-21-1442869048-4287714-amyhysteria.gif
GIF Courtesy of giphy.com

LOL THIS IS SO FUNNY IM SO HUNGRY AND LITERALLY CANNOT FEEL THE LIMBS OF MY BODY OR ANY PART OF MY FACE JUST LIKE THE WEEKEND SAID! LOL HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA WHAT. YES, MY COFFEE TABLE IS DEFINITELY EDIBLE. MMMM THE TASTE OF MAHOGANY.

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Original post by Becca Soverinsky for Spoon University – Michigan.

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The 8 Stages Of Watching ‘Batman & Robin’ On Netflix

For whatever masochistic reason, the film “Batman & Robin” is trending on Netflix, and has been for a few weeks or so. Helmed and steered clear off a cliff by Joel Schumacher, “Batman & Robin” stars George Clooney as the caped crusader with nipples on his batsuit.

One of the plot points is that Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred is dying, and you see him in various scenes privately wincing from some unknown pain. Well, it’s clear now that just being in this movie was probably physically paining the actor who played Alfred, Michael Gough.

It’s an awful movie. And I fell for watching it.

It began like any other Saturday: no pants, a vague sense that I had embarrassed myself the night before, and the urge to drown my brain in some mindless Netflix viewing.

Thus began the eight stages of watching “Batman & Robin” on Netflix.

 

STAGE 1 – Optimistic Amnesia

Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I remember! I mean, it was goofy, I remember that much, but maybe it’s goofy in a “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” kind of way.

 

STAGE 2 - Regret

I’ve made a huge mistake.

 

STAGE 3 – Confusion

Who green-lit this? OMG, they just go-go-gadgeted ice skates from their boots. And now they’re fighting hockey team henchmen. Did Robin just pull out a laser gun? This feels wrong …

 

STAGE 4 – Uncomfortable Laughter

The only entertaining thing is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ice puns, because by comparison to the rest of the so-bad-it’s-funny film, those are high quality hilarity.

 

STAGE 5 – Pun Delirium

You no longer have a reasonable grasp on reality and your brain is quickly liquifying. 

 

STAGE 6 – Full-On Joker Dementia 

You’re a zombie. A jolly, smiling zombie.

 

 STAGE  7 – Discombobulation

The standard notions of direction and position have lost all meaning. You are lost in a multi-dimensional spacial hellscape for which there is no escape.

 

STAGE 8 - Death

There’s no chance of resuscitation at this point. Like telling your friends you’ll stop out for “just one beer.” Once you’ve begun, it’s already too late.

 

 

Anyway, hello from heaven! It’s pretty nice up here! It’s all the Arnie puns you can handle, you get to watch Joel Schumacher try to direct his way out of a paper bag for all eternity, and the batsuits don’t have nipples! 

PARADISE.

 

Huge thanks to fellow lover of puns Kate Bratskier for taking a flurry of photos for me and being so … cool.  She snows what’s up. (Also, apologies to Kate Bratskier for the previous sentence.)

 

 

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Ralph Lauren Stages Children’s Fall Fashion Show at Central Park Zoo

CUTE OVERLOAD: New York’s Central Park Zoo was transformed into a Neverland-themed playground for Ralph Lauren’s kid’s fashion show on Wednesday night as stylish uptown moms and their tots flooded the outdoor space to watch several dozen pint-size runway models show off looks from the fall collection. In addition to 12-year-old Levi Miller — who stars alongside Hugh Jackman and Rooney Mara in the upcoming film “Pan” — the cast also included 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler of “Dance Moms” fame. “There are a lot of rising stars here,” said David Lauren, executive vice president of advertising, marketing and communications for the company, after the show. “We cast through friends and family, but there are a couple of young people that are aspiring actors and actresses. When we did this years ago, Jennifer Connelly walked the show. And of course [tonight] there is Levi [Miller], who’s gonna be the biggest star in the world soon.”
The boys and girls collection included tons of preppy staples — such as American flag sweaters, plaid skirts, varsity jackets, herringbone blazers and sock-less loafers aplenty — but a cool skater vibe also ran throughout the looks. There were slouchy jeans, cargo jackets and hoodies accessorized with beanies, fingerless gloves and

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The 5 Stages Of Grief For The TV Show You Just Finished Binge-Watching

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t use TV to suppress our emotions. But it’s not an ideal world, so let’s do what we need to do to get through the day!

Binge-watching can be very helpful during a life crisis situation when you need to not feel your feelings and invest in a fake person’s drama instead. This is all well and good (or actually, not good but we’re doing it anyway) until you hit the last episode of the show, and your world away from your real life is suddenly no longer.

You have to leave the West Wing. Or Stars Hollow. Or Lockhart-Gardner, or Capeside, or Pawnee. And go back to your own surroundings, with the credit card debt that’s piling up and the texts you didn’t respond to because actually locking down a date for the drinks you’re supposed to have with your casual friend from college seemed so overwhelming that you just closed your eyes and sat on your phone as though that would make the row of emojis she sent self-destruct.

Maybe your looming unaddressed problems haven’t yet fully come back into consciousness. All you know for sure is when the episode cut to credits, your stomach drops like the one time you rode Superman after your friends peer-pressured you on a sixth-grade trip to Six Flags and you regretted it as soon as the coaster started its upward climb. (Trauma from middle school may or may not be a top thing we’re repressing with television.)

This gut-dropping feeling will usually be very uncomfortable and precipitate a period of grieving for the show you just watched. Yes, you’re missing the series itself: after upwards of 15 hours a week of a show over an extended period of time, the characters really do start to feel like your friends (or FRENEMIES Paris Geller I’m looking at you) and the communities really do feel like your home (still dreaming of living in Capeside — the creek by Dawson’s house truly is picturesque.)

But besides the actual show, you’re probably also missing the safety of immersing yourself in a reality that’s not your own — which can make the withdrawal all the more painful. Fiction is powerful, you guys, and so is the human ability to repress!

Your emotional stages will probably look something like this:

1. Denial
willgardnerdenial
There’s really no denying the fact that you’ve watched a series finale. But there are plenty of ways to deny that your time with the show is really over. If you’ve just spent months binge-watching a show that the rest of the world’s already been caught up on, for example, you still have a lot of show-related media to consume … right? “I can read all the recaps!” you might think. “Let me find those those think pieces I bookmarked when I was worried about spoilers.”

Then you will do this. Anxious feelings will begin to creep closer to the surface. Then you will discover DVD extras ripped to YouTube. You will watch all of those. Then you will find fan videos recommended by YouTube. You will watch all of those. And as the last montage of Josh and Donna scenes set to a Coldplay song ends, you will worry for a second that you’ve really reached the end. Then you will read some fan-fic.

When your frantic googling of the show’s title with various permutations of the word “scene” (“the good wife bar scene,” “the good wife elevator scene,” “the good wife car scene”) finally brings up all previously clicked links, you’ll start to feel dread approach the center of your chest. But before it really settles in, your body’s defense mechanisms will turn it into…

2. Anger
joshdonnaanger
With no new input from your TV show coming in, you’re left at this point to consider all the ways the series ultimately wronged you. Why is that the way it went down with Luke/Lorelai, Will/Alicia, Pacey/Joey, Leslie/Ben or Jim/Pam? Why will I never be able to see what it looks like for Josh and Donna to be in a functioning relationship as adults who actually respect each other? I invested all that time and you’re not even going to bring back Zosia Mamet’s character for one single scene in the last season of “Mad Men”? I acknowledge it wouldn’t have really made sense but she was an interesting companion for Peggy.

Eventually, your brain will realize this anger is all just because you’re facing the reality of no new episodes. Then the fury will transition into disbelief at yourself.

3. Bargaining
paceyjoey2
Why did I watch so many episodes so fast? I could have made this show last for three more months. I legit skipped my friend’s boyfriend’s birthday party to watch six episodes two Saturday nights ago. If I hadn’t done that, I would have gone to a birthday party that it was really kind of a faux pas for me to miss in the first place and I would also still have six more episodes to watch. Why did I regularly stay up two hours past my ideal bedtime because I had to know what was going to happen with Pacey and Joey even though I walked around tired for literally a month?

Why am I worthless.

4. Depression
roryjess
Remember how TV was distracting you from your real-life problems? This is a cool stage where all of those come bubbling up to the surface and demanding you take actionable steps toward fixing them if you ever want to stop crying on the subway. You may stumble around with dead eyes for a couple weeks and make bargains with the snooze button each morning. You might lie there and wonder what’s going on with Rory’s journalist life, or if she ever gets back with Jess.

Eventually, you’ll hit a point where you have to make some changes: find a new job, move to an apartment with cheaper rent, break up with the “not a boyfriend” sucking all the energy out of your soul. Hopefully this will give you a nice life reset, allowing you to move into new situations that are fine for a few months — before throwing new crisis curveballs your way.

This is when the delayed depression wave will hit. You thought you’d finally moved forward, but now you need your comfort show more than over. Things are looking very, very bleak.

5. Acceptance
brookelucas
Then you’ll find out “One Tree Hill” is on Netflix. You’ll go to Season 1, Episode 1 and press play.

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Capucci Stages Comeback

The fabled couture house Capucci is staging a ready-to-wear comeback for fall with new investors and designers.

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15 Emotional Stages of a Black Friday Shopping Trip

You’ve got your list in your hand and you’re in a crowd of eager shoppers, armed with coffee and the holiday spirit. For you, Thanksgiving week is but a blip on your long, well-scheduled hunt for the best Christmas presents ever.

Black Friday in particular can be an emotional roller-coaster ride, from when you wake up until you’re happily wrapping gifts at home. In the spirit of making holiday shopping merrier, we’re partnered with Sears to take you through the emotional stages of a Black Friday shopping trip.

1. Am I Still Asleep? I Think I’m Still Asleep.

What’s going on? Why is it dark out? Where am I? A pumpkin pie-and-tryptophan hangover coupled with a 4 a.m. wake-up call can do a number on the psyche. You gaze at your pillow longingly … lovingly. But this is no time for weakness! Pull yourself out of bed, make a beeline for the coffee maker, and make haste. To the mall!

2. I’ve Got A Plan, And I’m Sticking To It

Just like Santa Claus, you’ve prepared your list and checked it twice. You have your plan, and it’s rock solid. You know exactly what you’re going to get, how much you’re going to spend, and you’ve even mapped out stores for the fastest routes. This is how it’s going to work: You’re going to get in and get out, and then have the Best. Nap. Ever.

3. I Am … Mildly Frustrated
car office space
You’ve arrived at the mall and it’s so packed with minivans that you must drive into a parallel universe to find a parking space. You keep your cool and welcome the opportunity for a brisk march toward our reality, the reality that is Black Friday.

4. Christmas Is In The Air, Christmas is Everywheeeeeere!

You finally get into the mall and you remember what this is all about. Christmas carols. Ornaments. The smell of evergreen pine needles. PRESENTS! You are feeling so holly-jolly.

5. Jackpot.

That too-expensive, vanilla goodness perfume that your mom desperately deserves is marked as 60 percent off. And, bonus, it comes with a new car! a complimentary tote bag. Oh, snap! Double-gift! Cross Mom off that list.

6. Oooh, Shiny Things…

A “SALE!” sign is winking at you from your favorite clothing boutique. Would it be crazy to take two minutes from your carefully planned itinerary to check out the racks? Isn’t Christmas about giving back to yourself, too? Besides, It’s getting cold, so it’s not unreasonable to say that you need that scarf-and-mitten set…

7. I’ve Totally Got This.

Ugh, this line. The upside? Extra time to regroup. While you wait, you consult a map to draw an even more efficient route, and you use your phone to reserve your sister’s present to shave off some time. You could teach a master’s course in multitasking.

8. I Swear I Wrote This Down…

How quickly everything crumbles. Your little brother — did he want the home jersey or the away jersey? was it the team’s quarterback or running back? is this guy even on the team anymore? There are far more options than you ever imagined. You look around frantically. Which one are all the other customers buying? Did he want the most popular one? Or is he more the “root for the underdog” type? You stand in front of the racks, paralyzed with indecision.

9. ::stomach grumbles::

You desperately need nourishment, but when you get to the food court, every line is spiraling around the corner. The tantalizing smell of pretzels, Thai food and pizza makes you faint with anticipation.

10. Aww, Babies! Kids! Christmas!

When you’re getting gifts for your little nieces and nephews, you seek solace in the piles of stuffed animals. You hug each giraffe, teddy bear and piglet to see which is the cuddliest. You feel that this is very important. Next thing you know, you’re stumbling into the picture-book section and get totally sidetracked flipping through the page of illustrations. Do they have chairs here?

11. Ohhhhhhh. No.

How could this have happened with your perfectly laid plans, all of your lists, and your map? You forgot that you pulled Great Aunt Louise in the Secret Santa and that you need something under $ 25 for the office Yankee swap.

12. I Deserve A Pat On The Back

You see across the way that soaps, candles, and hand lotions are BOGO (buy one, get one free for the uninitiated), and they come wrapped in pretty Christmas bows. Two birds, one store; you’ve settled both the office party and Great Aunt Louise. You nailed it. You are Black Friday royalty, so just give yourself the crown now.

13. Praise To The Mall Gods!
You’re sweating, shopping bags are making indents on your hands, arms and shoulders, but you spy a “gift wrapping station” sign. Praise the gods of the mall. They take everything off your hands, and with a little donation, they’ll even carry everything to the car, wrapped up all nice. Whatever did you do to deserve this?

14. Do You Mind If I Just … Lie Down Here?

Do you think if you tipped a little extra, the gift-wrapping attendant would also carry you to the car? It’s just a question.

15. I Am Content And Life Is Complete.

You made it to the car in one piece. The gifts are all wrapped and carefully stacked on your backseat. Just as you turn on the car, a radio station is playing, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and you sigh a breath of relief. “You know what?” you say aloud. “I will.”

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Comedy – The Huffington Post
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How to Master the 5 Stages of Life

If someone were to play the movie of your life before your eyes, what would strike you? My movie would play an impoverished childhood in a Romanian village, rising to fame as a singing sensation, escaping to America with $ 40 in my pocket (I spent the other $ 40 I had on a Chanel No. 5 perfume on the plane), my poor, frail parents passing away before their proper time, meeting and marrying my soul mate in a matter of weeks, children running in the halls of our first home, building a small empire, and my husband’s last breath from lung cancer, among other tragically nostalgic glimpses. But what would strike me would be the incredible flux of my life. Just like you, I have both endured onerous burdens and triumphed over unthinkable challenges. That’s because life is seldom monotonous; it is a symphony of measures and beats and sweet strings that form a grand orchestra — a cadence of unexpected experiences and shocking surprises. To hear the many, wild melodies of our lives is to live richly.

Indeed, life is composed of phases that carry different energies: some brilliant, others terrible. But the cycles continue nonetheless. Nothing begins that does not end and nothing ends before something new begins. We can analyze these periods and break them down into five stages that accompany our years on earth. Understanding our present standing helps us not only to best handle situations that may be out of our control, but to anticipate the next installment to come. It is when we don’t see the greater reason behind our circumstances that we become trapped in them. But when we acknowledge the role of universal timing, we can take steady steps towards our ideal reality. With each cycle comes a novel lesson, and it is in our full benefit to know what to expect during every era of life. We can’t fight the current, but we can ride bravely through it towards calm shores.

Reflect on the five phases of life below and recognize your current course to progress onto your next personal chapter:

Stability. Stability is marked by consistency and continuation of prosperity. It is a time in which abundance and fruition pour in steadily. Stability equals predictability. For many people, stability is having a home, a family, and a reliable job. It is the invaluable comfort of knowing that things are in order. When we feel stable, we have a sense of what tomorrow will bring. Reap the delight of precious balance, as it is also fleeting. Stability is the joyful peak of all life phases and we must grip it as firmly as possible. Solidity is what we seek in our spirit.

Chaos. Chaos is the opposite of stability. It is discord and unease and usually signals a major turnaround. Walls come crashing down, often abruptly. But chaos is not always negative. I experienced complete disorder when I first came to America and had to sleep on a family member’s couch for several weeks. The discomfort was transient and led me to a much better life. Chaos is temporary but necessary to regain stability. Order reemerges from chaos as new foundations are formed. While passing through a chaotic chapter, it’s imperative that you remain well-grounded in your aims and ambitions. Don’t allow outside influences to deter you from your goals and desires, for they will manifest if you continue to focus. Anticipate a more peaceful period to follow a surge of turmoil.

Movement. The stage of movement is hectic but rewarding. It is one of enthusiasm and exuberance, excitement and fresh possibilities. This may be the start of a new career brimming with responsibilities, welcoming a new addition to the family, commencing a new relationship, or relocating to a new home. In the phase of movement, you must launch yourself forward with the full momentum of the moment. This is not a time to wait or glance back to the past — it is a time to take all that you are given and apply it towards your potential. You’ll recognize you are in movement when, suddenly, you find yourself in the midst of much lucrative activity.

Stagnancy. Alas, we all reach the still waters of stagnancy. Things slow down; you may feel alone, isolated, frustrated, and confused as to what your next steps should be. Hard as we may knock, doors of opportunities do not open. The phase of stagnancy should not be one of desperation but of reflection — of careful meditation on your upcoming moves when the appropriate moment returns. Stagnancy is a time to turn inward, to concentrate on self-improvement and personal evolution. Pause your efforts while you roam within your esoteric realms, resolving old issues and emotions. When the pace picks back up again, you will feel better prepared and more secure in yourself.

Adaptation. Adaptation is the intermittent phase between phases. We must take time to become familiar with internal and external conditions, whether they be of the stable or chaotic type. Even moving into a new home with your family, your source of stability, requires mental, physical, and sentimental adaptation. We often forget that we are creatures molded after our environment; nature designed us to survive under a great multitude of strains. Take time to adjust to recent changes and events. Study your surroundings and decipher how to make the most of them, all the while reassured by the truth that you are equipped to thrive through most anything.

Although certain phases pass more smoothly than others, recognizing the tides of life grants us the inner fortitude to confront our circumstances with awareness and acceptance. After all, hope is a simple reminder that momentary sorrow is a prelude to lasting joy.

To smooth transitions,

Dr. Carmen Harra

To connect with Dr. Carmen Harra on Facebook, click here.

For more by Dr. Carmen Harra, click here.

To visit Dr. Carmen Harra’s website, click here.

For more on life lessons, click here.
GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
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Musical Theater Composer Joe Kinosian and Murder for Two at New World Stages in New York

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Having just turned 30 last fall and about the same time hit his 10th anniversary as New Yorker, the busy musical theater composer, writer and actor Joe Kinosian should feel a satisfying sense of arrival. All those years of hard work and bright dreams this past year culminated in his and his writing partner Kellen Blair’s show, Murder For Two (the CD of which is available on iTunes and in stores), arriving to great acclaim here in New York following its wildly successful premiere at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Murder For Two is a deeply silly and entertaining evening, with smart, fast, funny songs and a story that follows an ambitious young police officer as he attempts to unravel the Agatha Christie-style murder of a famous, if also famously reviled, New England mystery novelist. It seems like everyone at his birthday party on the night in question had reason to want him face down in the onion dip, including the nine member boys choir bizarrely brought in as the entertainment for the evening. But perhaps that turned out to be of a piece as six of the wee choristers themselves had earlier met a comically tragic end, eulogized by the three survivors in their number “A Lot Woise,” a delightfully specific “list song” explanation of why though of tender years, they don’t bat an eye at merely one fresh corpse, even though:


Stuff like this could be depraving us, it’s a little late for saving us,
Cause we’ve seen a lot woise.

We seen a chump who held his breath for longer than an hour once,
Saw my granny in the shower once, and we’ve seen a lot woise!

We seen a baby being born one day, we seen a fat guy eating corn one day,
We saw a boat while watching porn one day, we’ve seen a lot woise.

Did I mentioned that all the suspects are portrayed by just one actor? A role, or should I say a baker’s dozen of roles, that Joe created for the Chicago run, and whose many imaginary shoes he has recently stepped into again at New York City’s New World Stages replacing Jeff Blumenkrantz, himself an actor-pianist-composer, who embodied The Suspects starting when the show arrived for its Off-Broadway run presented by Second Stage uptown. Oh yeah, and both actors play all the piano accompaniment during the entire show, not infrequently seeming to leap into the air to replace their counterpart at the keyboard and seamlessly, jauntily play right on without missing a beat.

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COMPOSER JOE KINOSIAN, in front, at the piano with his castmate, BRETT RYBACK, in MURDER FOR TWO at NEW WORLD STAGES — Photo by Joan Marcus

Kinosian and Blair clearly must have sent each other into similarly balletic paroxysms as they developed the broad outlines of the show, including whodunit, one fateful day at a series of coffeehouse work sessions. When asked about his inspirations as he developed the musical tone and styles of Murder For Two — especially, notes Kinosian, the “four-handed” parts where both performers are playing the keyboard at the same — he doesn’t miss a beat: “Oh, the Marx Brothers, for sure.” He reverently recounts their musical madness, often of great sophistication or reference actually, in some of their classic films such as 1937’s A Day At The Races where Harpo sits down to give Rachmaninoff’s “C# Minor Prelude” and “plays it so hard that at the end the piano is reduced to rubble.”

It’s obvious that Kinosian’s theatrical and musical sensibilities owe much to a quirkily broad range of beloved influences. He mentions four blissfully creative and formative years at Milwaukee’s High School of the Arts, but also musicians like the Argentine tango composer Astor Piazzolla and the king of the “Novelty Rag,” Zez Confrey, who memorably composed the Scott-Joplin-on-laughing-gas favorite “Kitten on the Keys.”

But, he says, “You gotta talk about my grandma,” who was “an unbelievably brilliant pianist who could play by ear in an incredibly complex way, making things sound like a million bucks.” He describes himself at the tender age of 6 being besotted with the Howard Ashman and Alan Menken musical Little Shop of Horrors and playing the opening doo-wop/Supremes-type musical number for his grandmother on the record player. She immediately played it back at the piano, but in an impromptu Glenn Miller-esque arrangement of her own invention, “filtered through her 1940s sensibility.”

His admiration and love for this woman whose own creative opportunities might in some ways have been foreshortened by circumstance and the times she lived in, only deepens his appreciation for what was so lovingly inculcated in him by her example that “was inspiring and made me really want to do well.”

Kinosian, tall, lean, at ease even on an appallingly bright green sofa in the lobby outside Murder For Two’s theater one evening before his performance, has a quick, appreciative laugh and a devilish schoolboy twinkle in his eye. Murder For Two, for which he shares book-writing credit with Blair, who penned the lyrics, provides ample opportunity for naughty wit, particularly in that in his role as “The Suspects,” he actually plays more females than males.

But his sensibility is not merely all broad strokes and gag lines as each character is delineated with razor-sharp precision and idiosyncratic gusto. This makes keeping track transparently easy and fun for the audience as he switches roles often mid-sentence, if not mid-air on the way back for another turn at the keyboard. All the thousand tics and tacts of each of his characterizations also reveal some of the care and concern Blair and he have taken in the writing process to keep the kooky characters tethered to realities of human character and foible.

During our conversation, he mentioned offhand having just finished reading psychologist Alan Downs’ 2005 primer on internalized homophobia, The Velvet Rage, and wanting to speak with all due care about issues of gender and identity that, he said gently, we sometimes rush through. When asked what about gay culture he might like to change if he could, he says that we should all “go after the people we’re attracted to” in our pursuit of romance, “but try not to be so judgmental” toward each other as gay men.

With no needful contradiction, he embraces as well the special gay perspective of “hilarious honesty,” as he puts it. Those witty barbs so casually tossed off from barstools in tacky Midwestern gay bars, for example, can curdle into mere bitchiness in a flash. But in Kinosian’s understanding, such protective bristlings are at least partially outgrowths of the coping skills of awkward, klutzy boys who would grow up to become creative gay men, but who were reared in well-meaning communities of regretfully incomplete complete understanding of difference and the niceties of original cast recordings.

Kinosian sips his mug of tea and the production stage manager walks by giving him a subtle but unmistakable look which he knows means “it’s now half an hour before curtain, so please wind this interview up and get backstage and into costume.”

Given our conversation about art and identity, mentors and mannerisms, it occurs to me to ask Kinosian who one of his gay heroes is. I wonder will it be sophisticated Sondheim or sad Richard Rodgers, maybe someone of kaleidoscopic aspects like Leonard Bernstein.

“Well,” he says, holding back a smile, “I don’t know if I love all of Paul Lynde’s oeuvre, but I do love him in Bye, Bye, Birdie.” Kinosian is a particularly vocal and warm partisan of the genius of Charles Strouse, the composer of the musical and then film, in which Lynde, somewhat incredulously in retrospect, reprised his Broadway turn as a parent who tries mightily to insist that his children adhere to safely traditional values and customs. “I’m a peace-loving man, Doris!” Kinosian has Lynde’s strangled bark of a laugh, which he calls “lethal,” down pat.

Lucky for theatregoers this year with Murder For Two and hopefully for many years to come, Kinosian’s grandmother taught her talented offspring a more expansive and embracing tune.
Arts – The Huffington Post
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