Gal Gadot, Kumail Nanjiani, Sam Smith confirmed for SNL season 43 episodes

The premiere of Saturday Night Live season 43 is a little over a week away, with Ryan Gosling set to host and JAY-Z announced to perform on the September 30th episode. Now, SNL has confirmed the hosts and musical guests for the next two episodes.

Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot will host the October 7th. She’ll appear alongside musical guest Sam Smith, who will be promoting his as-yet-untitled sophomore album. The following week will see Kumail Nanjiani making his SNL hosting debut. The Big Sick and Silicon Valley actor will be joined by musical guest P!NK.

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Jon Hamm to voice Boba Fett in new Star Wars audiobook

Boba Fett’s one of the great characters of the Star Wars universe, not because he was well-developed or particularly integral to the story, but because he was such a mystery. His face was masked, his allegiances unclear, and his voice nonexistent. But because Hollywood loves an origin story, the prequels filled in his backstory and Star Wars: The Clone Wars has deepened his character that much further.

Well, the demystification continues, as it’s just been announced that Jon Hamm will be voicing Boba Fett in an audiobook version of Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View. The book, an anthology of 40 short stories that are canon in the Star Wars universe, is designed to celebrate the series’ 40th anniversary. Writer Paul Dini’s contribution will center around the infamous bounty hunter, and, if the below quote is for real, Hamm will be delivering some cheesy-ass lines.

You can hear Hamm’s sonorous lilt threaten the galaxies on October 3rd, the same day as the book’s release.

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Film Review: Stronger

A man sits up in a hospital bed, nervously talking to his doctors. We peer down from just above his left shoulder, seeing his tense profile, his hands gripping the blankets, the arms of the medical staff hovering, straightening, tucking. He has lost his legs, and as they start to change the bandages, he begins to scream. It’s routine, a part of his time in the hospital, but that doesn’t make it hurt less. Another face enters the frame, comforting, calming, soothing, but obviously also distraught. It’s just another day in recovery, and it is horrifying, but no one there is alone.

It’s scenes like this one that make Stronger, a deeply affecting biopic from director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) and screenwriter John Pollono, rise above most of its ilk. One could be forgiven for hearing that this is a film about the Boston Marathon bombing and staying away at all costs — such films often aim for inspirational with a capital I and plumb no deeper than that — but to sleep on Stronger would be to rob yourself of two of the year’s best performances, and of a story told not in broad strokes but in tiny, human details. This is a film that flies in the face of expectations. It knows what these movies are like, and it wants no part of that manipulative, greedy storytelling. That is, until the last 20 minutes. That’s a problem that can’t diminish what precedes it, but certainly inserts an undeniably sour note into an otherwise remarkable film.

Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) roasts chickens at Costco, a job that takes an unquestioned backseat to his responsibility to the Boston Red Sox — if he’s not watching in a bar with his friends, they lose. While performing this sacred duty, he runs into a recent ex, Erin Hurley (Tatiana Maslany, in a performance that will hopefully make her as lauded for her film work as she was for her remarkable turn on Orphan Black). Her discomfort at seeing him falls away when he strong-arms the entire bar into funding her marathon run with a “skip a round of Stella, you fat fucks!” As he makes the rounds, she smiles, and you can see exactly how their on-again, off-again thing works. It’s a great beginning to a romantic comedy.

Except, of course, it isn’t. As the usually unreliable Jeff waits at the finish line, hand-lettered sign held high, the film switches to Erin’s perspective as a fireball goes up in the distance. The discovery of Jeff’s injuries, his long road to recovery, and the strain and strength with which it imbues their relationship becomes the focus, a pairing severely frowned upon by Jeff’s mother Patty (Miranda Richardson, alternately great and overplayed, depending on the scene). As Jeff struggles with his new reality and with the expectations he’s now facing from the world, he takes one metaphorical (or literal) step forward for every two he takes back, and the wear begins to show.

While it might not be his most daring performance, it’s possible that Stronger is Gyllenhaal’s best. Green and Pollono are smart enough to see what they have in their star, allowing his faculties for emotional complexity to do a great deal of the film’s heavy lifting. Gyllenhaal says as much with a tight-lipped thumbs-up as he does with a howl of resentment and fury, as much with a fumbling, awkward phone call as a well-told lie. It’s a performance that would be remarkable even without the technical mastery on display. His physical performance is so committed, so natural, that it’s easy to forget that we’re seeing the result of special effects wizardry and great acting. In Gyllenhaal’s hands, Bauman’s entire center of gravity shifts, in more than the most obvious sense. It’s a towering achievement, made all the more remarkable by the actor’s simple, honest, unsparing approach.

He’s joined in that by Maslany, who’s equally as engrossing in a role that offers far less in the way of dramatic fireworks. As a performer, Maslany might be even better suited to Pollono’s detail-rich style than Gyllenhaal. If Jeff Bauman sits at the center of a terrifying whirlwind, it’s Hurley who’s tossed around in the storm, trying desperately to anchor herself and to serve as an anchor for the person she loves. Maslany lets us in on Erin’s need to be calm, be present, be patient, be honest, be supportive, be strong; to be all of the things those we love need us to be when disaster strikes. But as Jeff slams down ever-harder on the self-destruct button, Erin’s struggles evolve, and it’s in these moments that Maslany shines brightest. She lets anger mingle with grief, fear with resentment, love with guilt. Pollono has a clear understanding of this complicated cocktail, and his script allows Maslany to dig deep — rarely has the purchase of an Almond Joy carried so much weight.

It’s the details like that Almond Joy that make Stronger truly special. Aided by Green’s smart, restrained direction, Pollono’s adaptation of Bauman’s autobiography makes its story all the more universal by eschewing judgment, cheap sentiment, and broad brushstrokes. The family cheers when it’s announced that the first bomber has been killed; Erin looks on silently. Later, when she sits quietly with Jeff in his hospital room, a second round of applause erupts from a room down the hall. The bombing itself is seen only briefly until late in the film; when we first catch flashes, it’s used to illustrate Jeff’s panic and pain, rather than to shock or distress the audience. There’s no need to tell us that Jeff is dealing with severe anxiety.

These displays of emotional intelligence and restraint, of looking at the demands we place on the faces of tragedy, make the film’s descent into something more base all the more distressing. It’s unfortunate that the pin on which the film turns centers on Jeff’s meeting with his rescuer, Carlos (Carlos Sanz, in a moving performance that deserves better from the film). Jeff spends the first half of the film trying to be what everyone wants, and much of the second rejecting the burdens placed on him to be “Boston Strong,” albeit in ways both destructive to himself and to those he loves. After meeting Carlos, however, he finds himself inspired to be capital-I inspirational, and when he makes this decision — an admirable and understandable one — the film makes the same one. Sadly, it’s something Jeff is simply better at than Stronger.

Perhaps if there wasn’t so much evidence of smarter and subtler minds at work throughout the film, it would be easier to dismiss the ways in which the story suddenly becomes so much simpler. The music swells. Flags wave. A hero wheels another hero onto a baseball field, and the person of color who rushed into the flames takes a backseat to the good-looking white survivor. It’s not the place of a critic to say what a movie should be, but Stronger spends most of its runtime proving that it’s capable of great depth and insight, before leaving both of those qualities in the dugout. As a crowd swarms Jeff, the film tells us exactly what to feel and why we should feel it, and that would be much easier to swallow if the previous two hours hadn’t managed to avoid that very pitfall.

That frustration colors much of this writer’s reaction to an otherwise exceptional film, but the power of what precedes such a shallow and contradictory turn shouldn’t, and frankly can’t, be ignored. Films of this nature typically play to the cheap seats, demanding your emotions instead of earning your investment. There’s a reason they call them tearjerkers, not tearcoaxers. For the majority of its runtime, Stronger manages to escape the traps that populate such films. It’s worth seeing, and worth your investment. Let’s just hope that next time around, Pollono and Green find a way to stick the landing.

Trailer:

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Newest CoverGirls Issa Rae, Ayesha Curry & 9 Other Times CG Got It Right!

Issa Rae & Ayesha Curry             

Black women spend a lot on beauty products- $7.5 billion annually– to be exact. Yet, we are grossly misrepresented in beauty advertising. In fact, a survey from 2015 found that of all the fashion advertising done for Spring and Summer, 85% of the models were white, and just 5% black. Hold the mascara! However, we can’t ignore when certain cosmetic giants get it right. Enter CoverGirl, who has been consistently using black models for years. When news broke of Issa Rae and now Ayesha Curry being added to the prestigious CoverGirl list, we decided to highlight some other CG beauties, past and present, who have represented us well!

Continue

Actress Zendaya
Singer/Actress Janelle Monae

Actress/Singer/Rapper Queen Latifah

Model-preneure Tyra Banks
Singer/Actress Brandy

Model/Actress Eva Marcille 

America’s Next Top Model Krista White

Model Lana Ogilvie

Model Sheila Johnson

Who is your favorite CoverGirl?
Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing…wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or  

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Holly Miranda covers Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” for gender-swapping singles series Instant Love: Stream

Holly Miranda photo by Ben Kaye

10 Things… is a recurring new music feature in which an artist goes H.A.M. on a particular topic.

For a long time, culture at large has considered gender a binary concept: There is male, there is female, and there is nothing betwixt the two. Of course, this has never actually strictly been the case, and the last few years have seen that limiting definition of sex expand to include a range of identifications. Because in the end, all that really matters is how people love one another, and that can break down any sort of gender barrier the world tries to set up.

That’s why Allison Zatarain and Richard Gottehrer of Instant Records have launched the bi-monthly single series Instant Love. The series features female artists covering famous love songs typically sung by male performers — without changing the gender of the lyrics. Artists like Irma Thomas, Nicole Atkins and Tristen taking on tracks by Van Morrison, Ryan Adams, and Eagles, respectively, putting a feminist touch on iconic songs that “opens a new portal to empowering self-love in women, often the rarest kind,” as the Instant Love manifesto puts it.

The latest portal in the series is opened by Holly Miranda, who tackles the Leonard Cohen classic “I’m Your Man”. Miranda isn’t the sort of whiskey-dazed jazz master that Cohen was, and she wisely makes the song her own, even while keeping the lyrics the same. “‘I’m your man/I’ll do anything you ask me to’ isn’t so much about gender as it is about showing up and being the person your partner needs in that moment,” Miranda says of Cohen’s words.

In her hands, the track becomes a darkly swaying pop song, something that feels like it could’ve soundtracked a troubled but beautiful love in an ’80s romantic drama. Miranda finds ways to maintain some of the smokiness of the original in both her vocals and the melodica bridge, finding that rare and perfect balance between homage and freshness.

 

Take a listen below.

To further highlight the uselessness of strictly adhering to a two-gender system, Miranda has shared 10 Things she hates about binary gender. Or, as she more eloquently put it, “10 reasons why binary gender can suck both ends of my sparkly purple dick.”

Two spirits, five genders!:

two spirits Holly Miranda covers Leonard Cohens Im Your Man for gender swapping singles series Instant Love: Stream

If you were Native American (before the white man came and stole your land and tried to delete your existence), you most likely believed that there were five genders; male, female, two-spirit female, two-spirit male and transgendered. (The terminology changed depending on the tribe.) The two-spirit culture was something that Europeans wanted to erase before it was recorded in the history books. According to American painter George Catlin, the inclusion of all genders “must be extinguished before it could be more fully recorded.” Eventually, Native Americans were forced to dress and act in binary gender roles implicated by the Europeans. However, in Native cultures’ two-spirit people were believed to have a higher level of intellect, to be more artistically inclined, and to have a greater ability than others for feeling empathy and compassion. Imagine how much further along we could be now if our ancestors hadn’t felt the need to erase these facts. Imagine the way non-binary gender might have been embraced now had the Native American’s wider view not been squashed.

Intersex, it’s not THAT rare!:

Intersex is defined as people whose characteristics at birth are not either all typically male or all typically female. According to Blackless, Fausto-Sterling, 1.7% of human births are intersex. This figure includes variations that may not become apparent until, puberty, or attempting to conceive. Less than 2% of the world’s population has red hair. That’s approximately 140 million people. Do you know a redhead? Then you probably know someone who was born intersex.

Bathrooms, really?:

Do you have gender specific bathrooms in your home??? No, you don’t. So just stop. You’re embarrassing yourself and your kids hate you. Let’s focus on something that actually matters; like the fact that suicide is the second leading cause of death among all young people ages 10-24. According to the Trevor Project, that rate is 4 times higher in LGBT youth. So why are we so concerned about bathrooms in schools and public places?

Viking Warriors!!!!!:

female viking warrior Holly Miranda covers Leonard Cohens Im Your Man for gender swapping singles series Instant Love: Stream

The American Journal of Physical Anthropology released a study September 8th, 2017 regarding the sex of a famous Viking warrior from Birka, Sweden. Buried over a millennium ago, the grave was adorned with arrowheads, sacrificed horses and game pieces; it was widely regarded and further exemplified as a “classic male Viking warrior grave” by archeologists and scholarly sources. Bio-archaeologist, Anna Kjellström of Stockholm University, examined the pelvic bone and mandible for the first time and published a study in 2016 stating that these remains are most likely a female warrior. Her statement was deemed controversial and it was suggested that the bones were perhaps of a few people that had been mixed up during excavation.

In response, Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson of Uppsala University, and her team, DNA tested the bones to determine the sex and the potential number of humans. What they found were no Y chromosomes (female) and that it was from one person. The end of the study published by Charlotte and Anna states “The identification of a female Viking warrior provides a unique insight into the Viking society, social constructions, and exceptions to the norm in the Viking time-period. The results call for caution against generalizations regarding social orders in past societies.”

Mind your damn business!:

Seriously. Just do that.

BE LIKE DENMARK!:

Gender dysphoria does not mean that an individual is suffering from a mental disorder; it means they are physically uncomfortable in their own skin — and that’s okay. So why is Denmark the only country to remove “transgendered” from their list of mental illnesses??? COME ON ALREADY!

Because “Guevedoces”:

f3 large Holly Miranda covers Leonard Cohens Im Your Man for gender swapping singles series Instant Love: Stream

In the Dominican Republic city of Salinas one in every ninety children are born with exterior genitalia that is either female or ambiguous at birth. Typically they are assigned girls names and raised as girls until puberty. Due to a genetic mutation called Guevedoces (or “testes at 12”) the development of the external male organ is delayed until the androgen that produces testes and a penis, an enzyme called DHT, is present. Some refer to this as “intersex” but the terminology is debatable given the nature of this mutation. It is so common that most families in Salinas have a family member with this syndrome and it is socially accepted. Imagine if the stigma and shame associated with not falling into two gender roles was erased and we could all live as nature intended us to, whatever, whenever and however that may be for each individual.

“Colors are for everybody!”:

The other day I heard a little kid say this on the playground to a bully who was teasing a little boy for wearing a pink shirt. This kid knows a lot more than most of us! Stop trying to make blue for boys and pink for girls. It’s over. Let that ship sail on by. Who picked out those colors anyways?! Barf.

“It takes a lover to know a lover”:

This a quote that my friend and artist Amber Ibarache embroidered on a baseball cap that is hanging on my bedroom wall. If I had to guess, I would interpret this as meaning, “Open yourself up to love.” How do you know what you like if you haven’t tried it? By having a preconceived notion of who or what your love looks like you may just miss out on some really incredible love. Albeit friendship, romantic or just a moment of love for a stranger on a train. If you can leave that door open, even just a crack you may surprise yourself and find a new kind of love in a form you never could have imagined.

Because David Bowie:

mcdlaby ec001 h Holly Miranda covers Leonard Cohens Im Your Man for gender swapping singles series Instant Love: Stream

Learn more about Instant Love by checking out the series’ website and watching the intro video below.

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JAY-Z reportedly turned down Super Bowl halftime show as a show of solidarity to Colin Kaepernick

JAY-Z only recently began performing songs from his acclaimed new album, 4:44, signaling that he’s now ready for some high-profile performances. He’s set to be the musical guest for Saturday Night Live‘s upcoming season premiere, after all, and many hoped that he might headline the Super Bowl halftime show.

Rumors began circulating earlier this week, however, that Hova turned down an offer to headline the 2018 bill as a show of solidarity to Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who protested police brutality by refusing to stand during the national anthem. Kaepernick, who has since opted out of his contract with the 49ers, polarized fans but gained many supporters, JAY-Z being one of them.

Complex reached out to the NFL about the rumors, and their response is that “no decisions have been made on the performer(s) and we are not going to speculate on particular artists.”

“Along with Pepsi, we know that we will put on a spectacular show,” they continued. “When it is time to announce her name we will do it. Or his name. Or their names.”

It certainly sounds as if someone has been approached, but the jocks are remaining mum for now. Whoever ends up signing up, however, will certainly have some big shoes to film. The NFL claims Lady Gaga’s show last year was “the most-watched musical event of all time.”

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Eddie Vedder debuts new song “Share the Light” from Ohana Fest: Watch

Eddie Vedder took the stage at his Ohana Fest in SoCal earlier this month, where he turned in a surprise-filled set highlighted by numerous covers (George Harrison, Fugazi) and guest collaborators (Fiona Apple, Glen Hansard). The opening minutes of his appearance might’ve been the most intriguing, though, especially for fans hankering for new material.

As we noted previously, Vedder debuted a new song tentatively titled by fans as “Share the Light”. A new, better recording of the performance has surfaced today, offering a more intimate view of what went down. The Pearl Jam frontman can be seen cozying up to an organ for the poignant track, singing, “Don’t hold me down, don’t hold me down.” Watch it up above.

(Read: Top 20 Rock ‘n’ Roll Solo Albums)

From California to Illinois, Vedder’s been spotted all over the US the last few weeks. Last weekend, the alt-rocker busked with some street musicians outside of Chicago’s Wrigley Field. He also recently contributed to the Twin Peaks reboot, appearing on both the soundtrack and in one of the actual episodes.

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Kid Rock down 18 points in new Michigan senate poll

Despite the fact that a legal complaint argues otherwise, Kid Rock vehemently claims he’s not actually campaigning to become Michigan’s next Senator — yet. Of course, that flies in the face of the logic of his own actions, like launching a campaign website, giving a political speech to open a concert, and making the politically pandering declaration “I LOVE BLACK PEOPLE!” Even with the promised support of Mitch McConnell’s GOP group, however, he might want to seriously reconsider his chances, as a new poll finds him trailing the incumbent Democrat by a landslide.

Marketing Resource Group (MRG) released the results of a poll finding that Senator Debbie Stabenow leads Kid Rock, born Robert Richie, 52 to 34 percent. 600 likely voters were interviewed for the hypothetical poll, and the margin of error is plus or minus four percent. The poll asked voters to choose between Stabenow and Rock, using his stagename instead of his given one, proving that simply being a famous rockstar isn’t enough to gain you political capital.

“Kid Rock would have an uphill climb against Stabenow if he were serious about getting into the race,” said MRG President Tom Shields in a statement. “His popularity as an entertainer is not transferring to the ballot.”

Well, thank God for the reasonable folks of Michigan. Then again, that still means upwards of 204 people said they would vote for Kid Rock, so what the hell is wrong with you, Michigan?! Don’t be fooled by this man:

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Dangers of Relaxing Your Hair

 By Mary Wolff

For many women, choosing to embrace your natural hair is a journey of self-acceptance long overdue. For those still using relaxers from time to time, this information may make you rethink that decision.

According to a study published in American Journal of Epidemiology, there are several reasons to consider skipping the relaxer. The report states, “Hair relaxers can cause burns and lesions in the scalp, facilitating entry of hair relaxer constituents into the body. The main ingredient of “lye” relaxers is sodium hydroxide; no-lye relaxers contain calcium hydroxide and guanidine carbonate, and “thio” relaxers contain thioglycolic acid salts. No-lye relaxers are advertised to cause fewer scalp lesions and burns than lye relaxers, but there is little evidence to support this claim. Products may also contain hormonally active compounds, such as phthalates, which are not required to be listed separately as ingredients and are often reported under the term “fragrances” or “perfume”. Not only do these products damage the scalp, the harmful chemicals in the relaxers can actually make their way into your blood stream and affect your health. Anything you put on your skin has the potential to be absorbed much deeper than that the layer of epidermis. The Center for Disease Control has already published a list of chemicals to avoid because they increase the risk of certain cancers. Many hair products, including relaxers, are not as closely regulated by the FDA, so manufacturers could still be using several potential harmful ingredients in their products. A study published in Carcinogenesis, a leading cancer research publication, reported a higher increase of breast cancer in for women using hair dyes and relaxers. While studies are still being performed to examine how these products affect a woman’s health, many have chosen to avoid the risk altogether and embrace their natural hair.

Aside from the dangers of the chemicals found in relaxers, they also have a tendency to dry out hair which can result in damage such as breakage. It can also have an effect on your natural curl pattern leading to a loss of definition after it wears off. From the medical concerns to the hair health issues, there are plenty of reasons to consider skipping your next relaxer treatment.
Sources
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Top 10 Music Festivals: Fall 2017 Power Rankings

It’s September, summer’s gone, and we now know the lineups to most of 2017’s music festivals. If we’re being honest, though, we’re drawing a fuzzy blank as we try to recall the highlights of this year. For starters, it wasn’t a particularly strong outing for reunions, save for Jawbreaker, and even worse, it wasn’t a particularly riveting year for headliners, either, outside of graduation stories for the likes of Lorde or Cage the Elephant.

But it’s more than that. For awhile, we’ve noted how the biggest festivals with the longest histories have lost parts of their identity, namely due to so many of them being owned by the same companies. Because of this, boutique and destination festivals have started to feel more and more appealing, offering slices of culture that extend beyond music.

If it sounds like we’re coming down on music festivals, we’re not. Even outside of the top 10 below, we’ve found many events this year that are doing something special within the festival landscape, from the relaxed, mature vibes of San Francisco’s Outside Lands to the punk rock nostalgia of Chicago’s Riot Fest to the 90’s-inspired mass appeal of San Diego’s KAABOO.

Gripes aside, there are still many special events happening around the world, only the field is more crowded than ever, as we’ve been saying for years. Sometimes you have to make your way through the weeds to find the flowers, though, and these 10 are certainly a dazzling bouquet of sorts.

–Philip Cosores
Executive Editor

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