April 18, 2013

By JAKE O'CONNELL | Associated Press

Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge, "Twelve Reasons to Die" (Soul Temple/RED Distribution)

"Twelve Reasons to Die" unites Wu-Tang Clan vet Ghostface Killah with Adrian Younge, one of music's brightest young composers. The album's 12 cinematic tracks trace the trials of a masked Mafioso who is resurrected after his remains are pressed into a dozen vinyl LPs.

Playing like a graphic novel, the Ghostface persona jumps off the page. But aside from the requisite gear gloating (lion skin Wallabees, Black Panther hoodie made of panther skin), his signature impromptu patois is all but absent. Instead, Ghost is in the type of pure storyteller mode last heard on the breakneck hood-noir of his song "Shakey Dog."

Ghost's controlled and committed wordplay is the ideal accommodation for Younge's lush accompaniments. Probably best known for composing the score of the classic Blaxploitation spoof "Black Dynamite," an emphasis on stuttering organs and bleating brass carries over here, along with tight breaks and operatic hood nymphs who float in and out the story.

At times the arrangements approximate RZA conducting live musicians (he executive produces and narrates), but Younge also appears versed in the back catalogs of titans like David Axelrod and Ennio Morricone.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 18, 2013

 

ARIES

Ease into the week (to the best of your impatient ability). Monday's about steadiness and showing how rock-solid you can be. By Tuesday and Wednesday, though, your orbit is definitely gaining speed, and your quick thinking and wit make for some real opportunities. In what areas will you direct your efforts? Around the end of the workweek, home and your comfort zone are important. Make sure you're renewing yourself amid life's bustle. As for the weekend, create a great date or find a fabulous party -- you're on fire, especially when it comes to romance!

 

TAURUS

Charge into your week on Monday, when your willpower (plus a little extra charm) can get you nearly anywhere (or anyone!). By Tuesday and Wednesday, the cosmic energy's more at odds with your nature, and you could find yourself doing something out of character -- making a sudden snap decision or just wasting time. But you find your pace again and then some at the end of the workweek; it's a stellar time to make your wishes and hopes known. (Try it in both a work and a romantic context!) As for the weekend, you'll need to take care with how you express yourself. Meet them halfway!

 

GEMINI

Monday's about being consistent -- show 'em you do indeed have the ability to follow up and follow through. Tuesday and Wednesday are much more free-form and creative; your social side's out to play, and people are loving you and your many-splendored ways. Is that love in the air? With you around, signs point to yes! But beware of moodiness or being at odds with someone close to you at the end of the workweek. Get centered and control yourself. As for the weekend, it looks both light-hearted and brainy. Find stuff to feed both your heart and head.

 

CANCER

The odder the idea, the more you should consider it on Monday. By Tuesday and Wednesday, communication is in the stars for you, but that doesn't mean it's automatically smooth. Take care to make yourself understood, especially with family or a significant other. Then, at the end of the workweek, all your signature traits are highlighted -- you're super tuned in, and the chance of romance is high! Just think twice before taking things personally, and watch for changing moods. As for the weekend, a dramatic change for the better is in order.

 

LEO

Yes, you're good at what you do, but make an effort to recognize others on Monday, too -- it's all about balance. By Tuesday and Wednesday, though, things tend to balance themselves, and you're pretty much a treasure to those around you, whether in work, play or love. Hint: Ask them for their input on a certain decision -- they'll love it, and it could be surprisingly helpful. At the end of the workweek, go deeper and sustain any and all efforts. Rock-steady looks great on you. As for the weekend, you're burning hot. Get creative, and get connected!

 

VIRGO

A little difference matters a lot on Monday. Be proactive and make a minor but positive change. By Tuesday and Wednesday, work or communication issues surface -- could it be that your usual attention to detail is slipping? Reread, double-check and check in, whether it's with your boss, a friend or a certain someone. You're warm and wonderful at the end of the workweek as the give-and-take of life nurtures you, and you nurture it. Interpersonal connections, new and old, flourish now. As for the weekend, your best-laid plans may go astray -- but maybe in a great way. Be open to it!

 

LIBRA

Good manners count on Monday, and you might have to do more than your fair share in this regard. Take the high road -- you look good up there. On Tuesday or Wednesday, a one-on-one looks extremely productive. Will it be a brainstorming session, a negotiation, a heart-to-heart? Bring a new idea to whatever kind of meeting you set up. At the end of the workweek, you're focused on moving existing concepts along, tweaking and creating wiggle room (whether on the job or personally). Make plans to catch up with friends and family this weekend; those bonds need nurturing, and the nurturing can be fun.

 

SCORPIO

Do your best to practice detachment on Monday -- trying to force an issue may not go well now. By Tuesday and Wednesday, you can get a better read on all sorts of situations; all you need to do is look closely, particularly before you leap (and particularly if money and other people are involved). A lesson from the past can help, too. An unusual experience creates a real bond at the end of the workweek, building work relationships or intensifying romantic ones. Seek it out if you dare (knowing you, you do!). As for the weekend, avoid work and actively de-stress.

 

SAGITTARIUS

Buckle down and deal on Monday; the stars reward steady stuff like finishing a project, calling your family and exercising. And never fear -- things get more interesting by Tuesday and Wednesday, even alarmingly so. Life looks busy now, and the potential for change is tremendous. If you want to move from talk into action, now's the time! At the end of the workweek, it's the thought that counts. Turning things over in your mind, or with a certain party, is extremely productive now. As for the weekend, anything new pleases you, and you just might take a risk -- maybe in the area of romance!

 

CAPRICORN

Monday's about both work and play, so create a balance in your (probably very busy) day. By Tuesday and Wednesday, the stars put the emphasis on the 'give' part of give and take. Count your lucky stars, and show the universe your thanks for what you've got. You might donate your time or hard-earned cash, and show your love to your loved ones (and, heck, even to strangers!). At the end of the workweek, are you a social butterfly or focused on one person in particular? Once again, create a little balance. And time off is actually more productive than working this weekend. Take a break!

 

AQUARIUS

If you're less than thrilled on Monday, the ennui shouldn't last long -- by Tuesday and Wednesday, your energy's sizzling hot. All things romance-related have a fire under them now, so get some sweet stuff cooking! The end of the workweek looks rather emotional. Will you be the master of your ups and downs -- perhaps by exercising, meditating or simply sorting through stuff in your head -- or let them master you? As for the weekend, bring your creative powers to bear when it comes to a relationship. A bright idea saves the day!

 

PISCES

Monday's about sharing your thoughts and feelings, as well as hearing those of others. You may want to keep stuff to yourself a bit on Tuesday and Wednesday, when all things are in flux. Go with the proverbial flow -- you're great at it. Be sure to keep those options open. At the end of the workweek, love's the focus -- who are you seeing and how do they look right about now? If you're wearing rose-colored glasses, recognize it and enjoy the view. As for the weekend, your health is highlighted. Get rest instead of partying and eat right -- you know the drill.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 18, 2013

By Stacy A. Anderson

Associated Press

 

WASHINGTON (AP) – Alicia Keys says she wants to spark a global conversation about HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The Grammy Award-winning singer met with women who are part of an HIV program at United Medical Center in the nation’s capital Monday to discuss their experiences with the virus, including the fear and stigma associated with the disease.

Keys, who has also traveled to Africa and India to meet with women who have HIV, said she felt connected to the women there and here because “they looked like they could be my sister, or they could be my aunt, or they could be my cousin.”

And now, she said, she wants to “bridge” the gap between domestic and international conversations about the virus.

Keys is working with the Kaiser Family Foundation for “Empow­ered,” a campaign launched last month to educate women about HIV and provide grants to community-based projects that will do that.

According to Kaiser, one in four of the 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States are women. Women of color account for about two-thirds of new HIV infections among women.

“Black women are disproportionally affected, making up for the majority of all new infections,” Keys said. “That’s a must-have conversation.”

The campaign includes outreach through public service ads, social media and community programs. It encourages women to learn about HIV and AIDS, talk with family and friends, protect themselves and loved ones, get tested, prevent spreading the disease and stay on treatment.

Keys is also leading the Empowered Community Grants program with Kaiser and AIDS United that will give up to $25,000 grants to community-level projects that focus on women and HIV.

“To identify those community-based organizations is a very important part of the puzzle,” Keys said.

Valerie Jarrett, a White House senior advisor who has worked with Keys in the past on women and health issues, said she supports “Empowered” because it is part of President Barack Obama's vision for comprehensive health.

“You really have to have a holistic and comprehensive approach to this and what’s so special about what Alicia is doing now is that it will highlight how every single person can play a role in this,” Jarrett said.

The campaign is scheduled to run for five years and publish a report annually on women’s experiences with HIV and AIDS and examine cultural changes regarding education, misconceptions and the stigma associated with the disease.

Keys has been an advocate for lesser served countries for more than a decade. She is co-founder of Keep a Child Alive, which provides AIDS treatment, food and other support to children and families affected by HIV and AIDS in Africa and India.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 18, 2013

LONDON (AP) — New­comer Taiye Selasi and established best-seller Zadie Smith have been named to Granta magazine’s list of best young British novelists — a once-a-decade roster with a reputation for predicting literary stars.

The lineup of 20 writers under 40 announced Monday also includes Sarah Hall, Adam Foulds, Kamila Shamsie, Adam Thirlwell and Helen Oyeyemi.

The list includes 12 women and eight men, whose roots stretch from China, Bangladesh, Somalia and Canada to London and the north of England.

The best known is probably Smith, 37, who shot to fame in 2000 with her debut novel “White Teeth” and has gone on to write novels including “On Beauty” and “NW.”

One of the least known is 33-year-old Selasi, a London-born, Boston-raised writer with Ghanaian and Nigerian parents who has been mentored by Toni Morrison. Her first novel, “Ghana Must Go,” was published last month.

The list also includes Naomi Alder­man — author of three novels and creator of a zombie-themed fitness phone app — and former pro basketball player and six-time novelist Benjamin Markovits.

Granta editor John Freeman said the list demonstrated “that the novel has a bold, brilliant future in Britain.”

The Granta selection, chosen by a panel of writers, editors and critics, carries weight because the magazine's first selection, in 1983, proved prescient. Among the original 20 were future heavyweights Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, Salman Rushdie, Pat Barker, Kazuo Ishiguro, Graham Swift and Ian McEwan.

The 1993 roster included Ben Okri, Alan Hollinghurst, Jeanette Winterson and “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” author Louis de Bernieres.

Smith and Thirlwell both appeared on the 2003 list, along with “Brick Lane” writer Monica Ali and “Cloud Atlas” author David Mitchell.

Jonathan Ruppin, web editor for the Foyles bookstore chain, said the 2013 selection was “a fascinating and very promising list.”

“If you look at that first list (in 1983), the accusations of publishing being a bit parochial and white and middle class — you could make that claim. This list does reflect the huge diversity of ethnic backgrounds that are now recognized as part of the literary world.

“It’s also nice to see names who have a few books under their belt and they’re acclaimed but have not really racked up the readers yet — writers like Ross Raisin, Helen Oyeyemi, Naomi Alderman and Kamila Shamsie,” he said.

The 2013 list, in alphabetical order: Naomi Alderman, Tahmima Anam, Ned Beauman, Jenni Fagan, Adam Foulds, Xiaolu Guo, Sarah Hall, Steven Hall, Joanna Kavenna, Benjamin Markovits, Nadifa Mohamed, Helen Oyeyemi, Ross Raisin, Sunjeev Sahota, Taiye Selasi, Kamila Shamsie, Zadie Smith, David Szalay, Adam Thirlwell, Evie Wyld.

Work by all the authors is published in the latest issue of Granta.

Granta also has twice compiled lists of young American novelists, in 1996 and 2007. The earlier list included Jonathan Franzen, David Guterson and Jeffrey Eugenides, while Jonathan Safran Foer, Nicole Krauss and Gary Shteyngart were on the 2007 edition.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 18, 2013

(AP) – Musicians beware: Tracy Morgan will host the Billboard Music Awards.

Billboard announced Wednesday that the 44-year-old will host the awards show on May 19 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

The former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” cast member says in a statement that he’s honored to host the show.

Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars and Miguel will perform at the awards show. Prince will receive the icon award and will also hit the stage.

Morgan adds in his statement: “And how can you say no when Prince is going to be there!”

The Billboard Music Awards will air live on ABC at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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