Karim Hauser’s Instagram account, ‘Mariachi in transit’ sees him place himself as a mariachi in unexpected settings.

More than 300,000 babies have been born as refugees since the start of the Syrian civil war.

If May’s enigmatic teaser trailer for Disney’s upcoming live-action “Beauty and the Beast” left you frustrated and dying to know more, you’re in luck.

Producer Jack Morrissey posted several images on social media Friday that give us some more insight on what the film will look like, including “concept art” for Lumiere and Cogsworth — who will be played by Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellan, respectively.

Actor Josh Gad, who plays Gaston’s sidekick LeFou, shared one image on Instagram of Gaston (Luke Evans) and a crowd at the village lodge.

Gosh it disturbs me to see you Gaston…

A photo posted by Josh Gad (@joshgad) on

And Twitter user @maconodom put together a side-by-side illustrating that the beast in human form, played by Dan Stevens, is pretty spot-on in terms of resemblance to the animated movie.

We have to admit, the pics look pretty good, and the gnarled features and mournful expressions of Lumiere and Cogsworth really convey the sadness of two dudes trapped in home furnishings.

Can’t wait for another magical musical tribute to Stockholm Syndrome!

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Social media giant Facebook makes its Trending feature more automated after criticism it was biased against conservative views.

The new film Southside With You, now in theaters, presents a novel twist on the tried-and-true “date movie” genre by presenting a fictionalized account of the first date between Barack and Michelle Obama as imagined by writer/director Richard Tanne.

Long before entering the White House for two terms was even a blink in either of their eyes, they were two bright and vivacious up-and-comers in the Chicago legal scene, and the film’s charming tale of two people discovering they’re perfect for each would be engaging even if we didn’t know the real world history that was to unfold following the end credits.

Playing the future First Couple are actors Tika Sumpter (who also produced the film) and Parker Sawyers, and they’re easy chemistry both onscreen and off helps make Southside With You such a pleasing diversion. I had a chance to talk to the pair during their recent swing through San Francisco, and here are some excerpts of our conversation:

Tika, you’ve been involved since the inception of the project. Why this story?

Tika: For me, it was the script. It had heart. It was charming. It was smart. At first I only saw the synopsis, and I thought whoever wrote the synopsis is really smart. The perspective is really cool. And to see, we know who they are now but what was the origin of that? What could it have been? That was interesting to me. And I just thought, it was a cool leading lady role.

Someone who is complex and confident. And it wasn’t a romantic film where a woman is chasing after a guy. But she’s actually the prize. And that they’re walking in each others’ shoes and they’re seeing themselves through somebody else. I just thought there was a lot there, and I wanted to do it. So I wanted to create it and make it happen.

Parker, what’s your initial reaction to this script? Are you overwhelmed by how to portray this character or are you excited by the possibility?

Parker: My initial reaction when I got the script, I didn’t understand it. Like, I didn’t know how this would be made in 2015. I thought, I was like, “Man, they’re just talking or walking but there’s no conflict.” But then, as I dug further, and one of the greatest things about the project as an actor is that we had to find nuances in a three, four page dialogue where we’re just walking and talking. I said, “Well where’s the conflict? Where’s the turn? The give and the pull and the push?”

And then I fell more in love with it just as an exercise in acting. But as far as playing the president, or the future president, I don’t know. If you just focus on the script and focus on who they are, 28 and 25. Lawyer, law student. They have so many things going on already that that’s all I have to focus on. “Oh, I have to study to make sure my school loans are in order. I have to clean my house before my grandmother comes.” That kind of thing. “And then I got to go pick up this girl and I got to make a good impression.”

So then, yeah, then the pressure is a little off because you’re just focusing on the guy.

Obviously the Obamas exist as sort of larger than life figures. What did you learn about them that is not necessarily as well known?

Tika: I didn’t know that Michelle’s family was as close as they were. I didn’t know that she, in high school, she went to this magnet high school kind of thing. And I didn’t know that somebody told her that Princeton wasn’t for her. She modeled too. People in Chicago, everybody has that Obama or Michelle story. They’re like, “I used to see her running every morning.”

And she didn’t wear a lot of makeup and her hair was just pulled back and just the simplicity of these two people who, they didn’t know they were going to, well I don’t think, they didn’t know they were going to get to this level of things. And I don’t know if she even wanted to get to that.

And how can you even imagine that, “Oh, one day…”

Tika: That’s such a big dream. I’m sure they had big dreams but that’s like…

That’s the biggest.

Tika: You’re running in the morning in the South Side and it’s like, “Oh yeah, presidency.” You’re not really probably thinking about that. But it was the simple things about her family. I think one story in A Game of Character, that her brother wrote, is her mom and dad, here and there would smoke cigarettes together and they didn’t like that.

They were afraid of losing their parents to a cigarette, cancer or whatever. And they went and smashed up all of their cigarettes and everything like that. Just little stories like that informed me about who they were. Just family.

Parker: Yeah, for me it’s family as well, for Barack Obama. And well, the absence of a family, like a foundation, I suppose. How he moved around from Hawaii to Indonesia and back to Hawaii. Went to school at Occidental and then to Columbia and essentially was by himself. And I think he, I believe he said Columbia, you just sat inside and read books. And really just escaped.

But such a formidable person came out of that that it’s fascinating to me like just the brain that must have been, like a self-correcting, a self-acquisition, a self-psychiatrist almost. Self-therapeutic. Just sort of, “Alright, well who am I and how do I turn that into something good?”

That’s the insight that I found in a young Barack Obama which explains who he is now and explains why he can walk around so confident at 28 and talk to this girl. And so and I wanted to root his confidence and charisma in something. Not just because he’s…

Tika: Cool.

Parker: …cocky and arrogant but in college he’s like, “No, I can do this. I can do that. I can do this. I can do this. Therefore, I’m all right.” That kind of thing.

The juxtaposition I experienced was as I was driving in I’m listening to the news of the day and there’s Donald Trump saying Obama founded ISIS, and then I watch this film and it’s just lovely. And I’m like, where does this come from? What is this disconnect between these quadrants of the electorate? How is it that this one person can be seen so differently?

Parker: There, in the film especially, the absence of privilege is prevalent. It’s just right in front of you. The hole in the car. Euclid Avenue. Very nice street for her to grow up on but it’s not, I just left Martha’s Vineyard yesterday. We had a screening there. And the opulence of it is like — people vacation.

They “summer” there, as verb, growing up. And so, the absence of that and seeing these two on top of race relations back in ’89 and still to this day. You think about all that, and these people made it out. Or, not made it out, but they made it up and up and further up and further up. I think it’s inspiring.

Tika: But also the fact that they didn’t have to go back. They didn’t have to help. They went to Harvard Law. They could have just, they chose to serve the public. They chose to come back and serve the public and not just sit in these high-rises and make all this money. I mean they just recently paid off their student loans eight years ago. So it’s like, they didn’t have to do that. They didn’t have to come back.

Parker: There are some people in certain schools who almost expect to be president and expect to be senator. Or their family expects them to be. And I think Barack and Michelle, and Barack obviously became president, I think he thought that he almost had to as a duty because he probably considered himself still quite lucky. I don’t think there was a war that he had to have, like he didn’t have to dodge a draft or anything. He was probably just like, “I’ve had it pretty good.”

Parker: And I feel like they’re the disconnect, like I don’t know how you can see, or even in the film when you say we’re just basically like a threat of states. Just trying, at everybody’s core, there’s a good person. Like we just want the basic things in life. And, I just don’t see where that connection of this, he’s almost demonized now. And I think at the basis of his foundation, he really thinks people are good people.

And you see that reflected in the film, in the community organizing speech. I think for me, when I look at the presidency of Barack Obama, I look at my kids who, my oldest is nine. And so for him, he’s not “The Black President.” He’s just the president. And I love that for them, their experience moving forward forever is that’s not a thing.

That’s what my daughter said. And she, it’s funny I got the role. We live in London and I got the role. It was last year. And everybody around the neighbor was like, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.” My wife’s optometrist cried. He was just so happy. He’s Indian-British.

But my daughter didn’t understand. And I had to explain to her, “Oh, well he’s president of the United States.” She says, “Yeah, I know.” “The first black president.” And she’s like, “Okay.” But I explained American history and so forth. She says “Oh, wow, good job daddy!” But to her…

Tika: It’s normal.

Parker: And then when Hillary gets in, my daughter will also see a female president.


Many thanks to Tika & Parker for their time. Southside With You is now playing in select theaters, and I highly recommend seeking it out. To hear the audio from this conversation, check out the latest episode of the MovieFilm Podcast at this link or via the embed below:

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Can Odessa become Ukraine’s new hot tourism ticket?

On Wednesday, August 24, Ted Yoder set up a dulcimer in his Goshen, Indiana backyard and turned on Facebook Live, while his wife and five of his seven kids (plus the family’s pet raccoon, Gidget) filmed him and watched from the wings. As he played a smashtastic instrumental arrangement of the 1985 Tears for Fears song, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” thumbs-up icons and red hearts fluttered across news feeds around the globe.

Yoder assumed 1000 people might see his performance online. He’d had some success with posting videos – one of his biggest hits prior to this week, a 2014 cover of The Eagles’ “Hotel California,” snagged more than 96,000 views and got him Facebook verified. Even with a little blue check beside his name, Yoder had no idea his latest rock remake would get so much attention. By Thursday evening, he’d received 33,000 views on Facebook for the Tears for Fears cover; Friday morning, the count stood at 7.2 million. As I publish this today, on August 27, Yoder’s video has received 26 million views and may likely double over the weekend. To put this explosion into perspective, a fan upload of the original “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” music video by Tears for Fears has earned more than 40 million views in five years.

In a phone call Friday morning, Yoder laughed and called his video’s view count, “stinkin’ surreal.” He’d been working on “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” for about a year in his house, only performing the song once in public before deciding to stream it on Wednesday.

“I started picking out the song on the instrument after a friend suggested it to me,” Yoder told me. “That was a huge song in the 1980s, and it sounded like it was made for the dulcimer. I listened to the recording only once or twice to refresh my memory, then pulled in the melody, the bass and chord progression.”

The hammered dulcimer is a traditional favorite of the Middle East, Bavaria in Europe and across Appalachia and the Midwest in the United States, and Yoder happens to be one of America’s dulcimer champions. He lost his job as a sales rep a few days before he won the National Hammer Dulcimer Championship at the Walnut Valley Festival in 2010 and credits his family for convincing him to pursue music full-time. Since then, he’s released several albums, appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered, and built a YouTube channel full of impressive takes on classics – from Bach to The Beatles.

Here’s what I think made Yoder’s version of a Tears for Fears song the one to break the internet:

An element of surprise

We’ve had earbuds full of compressed digital sounds stuck so far into our heads for so long that the experience of hearing a person play an ancient acoustic instrument in his yard without the aid of a DJ, a team of six songwriters, or Taylor Swift’s (née Kanye’s) stylist in tow feels like an exotic, spiritual awakening.

An imperfect yet virtuosic performance

T-shirts, bare feet, crickets, kids, a raccoon (!), tall grass and the setting sun. No PR machinery. No expectations, just artistry. What could have made this video more inviting? Nothing.

Raw, amazing talent

While Yoder’s musicality and dexterity are mind-boggling on the mallets, his rhythmic timing and keen sense of melody are what astonish people when they see the video: this is the kind of magic that happens when a great musician meets a great song.

That damn good song

Thirty-one Junes ago, Tears for Fears took “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” to number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and it’s forever burnished in our minds as a feel-good yet lyrically complex tune. Hearing the 1985 recording’s sparkling intro immediately puts us under a blue sky, on an open road, and behind the wheel with the top down (remember when Curt Smith, the band’s bassist and the song’s lead vocalist, drove an Austin-Healey 3000 in the video?). Yoder’s version paid tribute to the original’s melodic layers and textures (credited to the song’s writers, Tears for Fears frontman and guitarist Roland Orzabal, former keyboardist Ian Stanley, and producer Chris Hughes) and built upon its perfect chorus-bridge-solo-chorus climax.

A chance to fill in the blanks

Bands from the new wave era often paired upbeat sounds with dark lyrics (The Cure, The Smiths, New Order and Tears for Fears are examples; read Mad World by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein for more on this concept); “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” uses this type of light/dark juxtaposition (for an excellent analysis of the song’s dichotomies, check out a review of its recent use in the TV show, Mr. Robot). Yoder’s instrumental performance of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” gave our minds and memories room to stretch out, to reflect upon the lyrics we remember without being burdened by judging a vocal performance. We’ve been trained by celebrity TV judges to judge a voice first and ponder the music later. When Yoder’s video arrived in our news feeds without an agenda (and without singing or lyrics), we did the opposite: we reveled in the freedom to make the song our own again. And isn’t that what the joy of music is about?

“Welcome to your life … there’s no turning back.”

For more information about Ted Yoder, click here.

Tears for Fears performs at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas September 23 and 24, 2016.

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The evacuation of rebels from the town of Darayya holds strategic and symbolic significance for the Syrian conflict.

Stephen Colbert channeled his inner Sauron to explain exactly why Gandalf doesn’t officiate weddings.

The Late Show” host and “Lord of the Rings” superfan broke it down after it emerged English actor Sir Ian McKellen, who played the character in the movie trilogy, turned down an offer to wed Napster founder Sean Parker and his now-wife, Alexandra Lenas, at their Tolkien-esque nuptials in 2013.  

“Damn right, Gandalf doesn’t have time to marry you, Sean Parker!” Colbert began by saying on Friday.

“He is the servant of the secret fire, wielder of the flame or Anor,” he continued, before ramping up the rhetoric.

“He killed the mother truckin’ Balrog, after chasing the ancient immortal demon through the tunnels of Khazad Dum until they climbed to the peak of Zirakzigil where he smote the demon’s ruin on the mountain side.”

So now we know. 

Check it out in the clip above.

Colbert has form in showing off his immense LOTR knowledge, as evident in this clip from early August ― when he answered audience questions on the topic to great effect:

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Aztec Temple 4

Aztec Temple 4 You are trapped in this temple and need find the real exit to escape from there.

(Reuters) – Roberto Bautista Agut will meet fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in Winston-Salem Open final after he outplayed Serbian Viktor Troicki 7-5 6-7(2) 6-2 in a dramatic semi-final that lasted more than two hours in steamy afternoon heat.

(Reuters) – Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn set her sights on a fifth victory this year as she moved to a three-stroke lead after the second round of the Canadian Women’s Open on Friday. Jutanugarn completed the final two holes of her delayed first round in the morning, where she finished at four-under-par, then fired a bogey-free eight-under-par 64 in the second round to move to 12-under and take command.

(Reuters) – Top seed Agnieszka Radwanska put on a dominant performance against double defending champion Petra Kvitova to ease into the final of the Connecticut Open with a 6-1 6-1 triumph on Friday.

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Top seeds Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams face challenging early tests at the U.S. Open following Friday’s draws for the year’s last grand slam starting on Monday.

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – A Rio de Janeiro court will return the passports of three members of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) and they will be allowed to leave Brazil, a source in the Rio state security services said on Friday.

Chrisley Knows BestFamily matters most to Todd Chrisley, and for good reason.
The star of the hit USA show Chrisley Knows Best sat down with E! News to chat about his daughter Lindsie Chrisley’s…

US President Barack Obama expands a national monument off Hawaii, creating the world’s largest marine reserve.

London has just held the UK’s only Halal Food Festival. BBC News looks at how the so-called Muslim pound is changing the British high street.

Kanye West, Kim KardashianKanye West is opening up about his personal and professional life.
In an exclusive interview with E! News’ Ken Baker, West dished about his Saint Pablo Tour, which just kicked off on…

CiaraCiara lives with hubby Russell Wilson and her son Future Jr., so she’s pretty much surrounded by guys. That doesn’t mean, though, that she isn’t all about girl power!

A long-lost demo disc recorded by Paul McCartney that was given to Cilla Black is estimated to fetch £15,000 at auction later.

Militants of so-called Islamic State are on the verge of being ousted completely from their stronghold in Libya’s central coastal city of Sirte.

Iranians bemused by Hollywood-style video in which a US invasion force is destroyed by patriotic fervour.

(Reuters) – Patrick Reed moved one step closer in his bid for a fifth PGA Tour win and an automatic selection for next month’s Ryder Cup as he seized a two-stroke lead after Friday’s second round of The Barclays in Farmingdale, New York.

Apple-BondsThe European Commission is poised to hand down an adverse ruling against Apple next week following a three-year inquiry into the company’s tax arrangements in Ireland, according to Financial Times.

Expectation of an adverse ruling gathered pace this week after the US Treasury issued a stinging attack on the commission’s investigation, saying the EU executive was becoming a “supranational tax authority” that threatened international agreements on tax reform.

The Brussels-based body, led by competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, has been investigating whether Apple’s alleged “sweetheart deal” with Ireland constitutes illegal state aid, which it determined based on its preliminary findings in 2014.

The commission has accused Apple of sheltering tens of billions of dollars by transferring revenue to multiple subsidiaries in Ireland, where it pays a significantly lower tax rate of around 2%, compared to the country’s headline corporate tax rate of 12.5%.

An adverse ruling could result in Apple owing up to $21.2 billion in back taxes, although a previous study placed the figure around $8 billion, and some analysts believe the amount could be as low as $1 billion.

Apple is one of several large corporations accused of tax avoidance in Europe over the past three years, joining the likes of Starbucks, Fiat Chrysler, Amazon, Google, IKEA, and McDonald’s. Starbucks in particular is currently appealing its case in Netherlands, where it was ordered to pay as much as 30 million euros in back taxes.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has insisted that his company fully complies with international tax law, said last month that it would appeal any unfavorable ruling in European courts. Apple has also said it is the largest taxpayer in the world.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Treasury department warned that an adverse ruling against Apple could “set an undesirable precedent.” It also said the European Commission is becoming a “supranational tax authority,” going beyond acceptable enforcement of competition and state aid law.

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