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    “I’ll only answer this, I am a force of nature. True spit, if I’m self-admitting that and it sounds vain to say that, but I am because I come from an era in my world where you just had to define yourself, who you are and what you do. I happen to be an actor. I happen to be someone that loves to act that also likes to do music, that also likes to speak, that also has an opinion … If I was in the audience and asked, ‘Are you a bad ass?’, what I would suspect is that I respect that person on multi-levels. That guy is an entertainer, that guy is an influencer, that guy has something to say, all that stuff. And the truth is, you know what I mean, I was never born with a silver spoon in my mouth. But I realized that by my talent, I actually can influence. I can say some shit. I can, you know, just put something out there ultimately. When you come from a sort of under-privileged background, oftentimes you feel a little overwhelmed by your education or your lack of. My mom and dad had good education but wasn’t scholars, but they were achievers. You know, they came from Africa, they moved to England, they had a child, and a job, and a home, a council flat. A council flat in Africa was like ‘Are you kidding me? They’ve got something. They were achievers.’ A council flat, in America we call that the projects. Long story short, I’m a product of my mum and dad’s journey from Africa to here. So if that makes me a bad ass now by way of the fact that my mum and dad encouraged their child that landed in England to go ahead and live their dreams, be an actor, be vocal, be stylish, be musical, be whatever. If that makes me a bad ass, then great.”

    — Idris Elba explains how he got to the level of bad-ass-dom during a Q&A following the screening of season four of BBC America’s Luther, on Dec. 2nd. Catch the premiere tonight on BBC America at 9 p.m. EST.

    RELATED: Idris Elba Returns To TV For ‘Luther’ Season 4 [VIDEO]

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    Kia Motors and Uptown Magazine joined forces on the event series ‘Inspirationally Crafted‘ where LA tastemakers were acquainted with redesigned Kia vehicles like the MY16Sorento and where Game Changers including Black-ish Executive Producer Brian Dobbins, Codeblack Films Founder Jeff Clanagan and Designer Nicole King-Burroughs were feted for their ground breaking work and innovative accomplishments at Smog Shoppe in Los Angeles. The event was hosted by Uptown Co-Ceo Len Burnett Jr.

    attend a LA Kia and Uptown Tastemaker Event on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Kia + Uptown Inspirationally Crafted: Game Changers LA Tastemaker Event power leaders (left to right Len Burnett, Jr. (Uptown), Lori Sale, Rhonda Bolton (Kia) and Michon Ellis (LimeGreen Moroch)

    attend a LA Kia and Uptown Tastemaker Event on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.LimeGreen Moroch CEO, Michon Ellis, supports Kia + Uptown Inspirationally Crafted LA Tastemaker event.

    attend a LA Kia and Uptown Tastemaker Event on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.Kia + Uptown Inspirationally Crafted LA Tastemaker Event game changers (left to right George Hayes, Len Burnett, Jr. (Uptown), Natalie Sneed (Kia), E. Brian Dobbins (honoree), Candelaria Powell (Kia), Nicole King-Burroughs (honoree), Rhonda Bolton (Kia), Ella Britton Gibson (Lime Green Moroch), Jeff Clanagan (honoree), Michon Ellis (LimeGreen Moroch), and Roderick Stoker (LimeGreen Moroch).

    attend a LA Kia and Uptown Tastemaker Event on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.Kia + Uptown Inspirationally Crafted: GameChangers LA Tastemaker Event guests.

    attend a LA Kia and Uptown Tastemaker Event on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.Kia + Uptown Inspirationally Crafted LA Tastemaker Event celebrating this year’s Game Changer honorees (left to right E. Brian Dobbins, Nicole King-Burroughs, and Jeff Clanagan).

    attend a LA Kia and Uptown Tastemaker Event on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.Kia + Uptown Inspirationally Crafted LA Tastemaker Event celebrating Los Angeles Game Changer honorees (left to right Len Burnett, Jr. (Uptown), E. Brian Dobbins, Candelaria Powell (Kia), Nicole King-Burroughs, Rhonda Bolton (Kia) and Jeff Clanagan).

    attend a LA Kia and Uptown Tastemaker Event on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.Kia + Uptown Inspirationally Crafted LA Tastemaker Event celebrating Los Angeles Game Changers and checking out the MY16K900.

    attend a LA Kia and Uptown Tastemaker Event on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.Kia + Uptown Inspirationally Crafted: GameChangers LA Tastemaker Event highlighting the brand new MY16K900.

    attend a LA Kia and Uptown Tastemaker Event on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.Kia + Uptown Inspirationally Crafted LA Tastemaker Event (left to right Michon Ellis, LGM; Candelaria Powell (Kia), Natalie Sneed (Kia), and Scott McKee (Kia)

    attend a LA Kia and Uptown Tastemaker Event on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.Len Burnett, Jr., Host of Kia + Uptown Inspirationally Crafted: Game Changers LA Tastemaker Event.

    attend a LA Kia and Uptown Tastemaker Event on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.Kia + Uptown Inspirationally Crafted: Game Changers LA Tastemaker Event power leaders (left to right Rhonda Bolton (Kia), Michon Ellis (LimeGreen Moroch) and Ella Britton Gibson (LimeGreen Moroch).

    attend a LA Kia and Uptown Tastemaker Event on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.Kia + Uptown Inspirationally Crafted: Game Changers LA Tastemaker Event (left to right E. Brian Dobbins (Honoree), Ella Britton Gibson (LimeGreen Moroch), and Len Burnett, Jr. (Uptown).

    attend a LA Kia and Uptown Tastemaker Event on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.Kia + Uptown Inspirationally Crafted: Game Changers LA Tastemaker Event (left to right TBD, Nicole King-Burroughs (honoree)), and Len Burnett, Jr. (Uptown).

    attend a LA Kia and Uptown Tastemaker Event on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.Kia + Uptown Inspirationally Crafted: Game Changers Guest congratulating Game Changer Honoree, Nicole-King Burruoghs.

    attend a LA Kia and Uptown Tastemaker Event on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.Kia + Uptown Inspirationally Crafted: Game Changers Chef Lonell

    attend a LA Kia and Uptown Tastemaker Event on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.Jeff Clanagan Kia + Uptown Inspirationally Crafted: Game Changer Honoree.

    attend a LA Kia and Uptown Tastemaker Event on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.Kia + Uptown Inspirationally Crafted: GameChangers LA Tastemaker Event highlighting the brand new MY16Sorento.




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  • 12/18/15--05:05: Chicago: The Steak Escape
  • UPTOWN_del_friscosIt goes without saying that a glorious topper for a prime piece of beef can range from a rich bleu cheese butter to a decadent beurre blanc, but at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House Chicago nirvana comes in a different form. The “Stairway to Heaven” experience takes place in the four-story suspended wine cellar that offers guests some of the best and most unique wines available, followed by a customized four-course meal specially prepared by Del Frisco’s chefs. Patrons sample a taste of each wine on each level and then take the remainder of each bottle to enjoy over a private, customized dinner.

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    Verdure Watches was founded in 2012 by owner and designer Eddie Johnson. His love of watches started as a child, as he would admire how his father and grandfather sported different timepieces daily. Their sartorial flair taught him the important position that a refined watch plays in a man’s fashion game. “My legacy was being built before I was even alive thanks to those two very important men,” says Johnson, 23. “Their love of watches was embedded in my DNA and I am forever grateful.”

    Verdure means “strength,” which speaks to Johnson’s character and the will and faith he called upon—at such a young age—to launch a brand in the fiercely competitive watch industry. “Trusting in God’s plan for my life has resulted in a business even greater than my wildest dreams.”

    There are plenty of high-profile personalities that also believe in Johnson’s dream. NBA star Chris Bosh, boxing legend Mike Tyson and Grammy-nominated singer/producer Mario Winans all sport Verdure for the line’s unique blend of comfort and elegance. Whether it’s a casual brunch or a board meeting, for a man of a certain taste, Verdure is the cool, new choice.

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    Host Steve Harvey made a huge blunder when he announced Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez-Arévalo, as the winner of the 2015 Miss Universe beauty pageant. In actuality, Pia Alonzo Wurztbach of the Philippines was the winner, with Gutierrez-Arévalo as the first runner-up.

    “I have to apologize,” said Harvey when he realized his error during the pageant that took place at the Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Resort & Casino, Sunday night.

    Sadly, Miss Colombia had already been crowned and was performing the ritual wave to the audience, when Harvey returned to the stage to awkwardly reveal the real Miss Universe.

    “The first runner-up is Colombia,” Harvey said.

    A stunned Miss Philippines looked on.

    “Miss Universe 2015 is Philippines,” Harvey revealed.

    Harvey took immediate responsibility for the botch job, saying to the confused audience, “Listen, folks. Let me just take control of this. This is exactly what’s on the card. I will take responsibility for this. It was my mistake.”


    Outgoing Miss Universe Paulina Vega, who is also from Colombia, removed the crown from Gutierrez-Arévalo’s head and placed it on the rightful winner, Alonzo Wurztbach.

    Twitter dragged Harvey through the mud after the blunder and he tweeted:

    “I want to apologize emphatically Miss Philippians and Miss Columbia. This was a terribly honest human mistake and I am so regretful.”

    The tweet has since been deleted … The spelling mistakes probably didn’t help Harvey’s defense.

    He later posted this message on Facebook:

    “Hey Everyone,

    I made a terrible mistake tonight in announcing the wrong winner and runner-up for the Miss Universe pageant. I know how much pride many countries, fans and most importantly, the contestants take in preparing for this night. I hope that you can forgive me.

    All contestants were amazing but I want to specifically apologize to Miss Colombia and Miss Philippines again and wholeheartedly. You both represented well for your countries, families and yourselves.

    – SH”

    The Miss Universe pageant officials released the following statement:

    Miss Colombia, Gutierrez-Arévalo, remained graceful through the embarrassing ordeal and had the support of her fellow contestants:

    Miss Universe said it was a “very non-traditional crowning moment.”

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    Oprah Winfrey’s new $14 million-dollar ski home in Telluride, Colorado has a luxury feature you won’t find in most homes.


    The one-of-a-kind 8,700-square-foot modern masterpiece built by businessman Bob Wall includes a “wine mine” that holds 1,600 bottles of wine. There’s also a replica mining car that takes guests from the property to the Colorado resort ski trails. And no expense was spared when creating the mining experience. According to listing agent T. D. Smith of Telluride Real Estate Corp., there are “sound effects like you’re moving through a mine shaft and lights that are computerized to flicker like a lantern would in a mine.” The Los Angeles Times reports that this funicular cost $240,000.

    Oprah’s new pad has been featured on the TV show High Tech Homes.

    Other features of the 3.25 acre-property, on the slope side of Mountain Village, that Smith says “melds with nature” include a mud room, a seven-person hot tub, driveway sensors to alert her when a car pulls up, a heated driveway, and a home automation system that can be operated anywhere in the world.

    But O might not even keep ownership of this home for long. KRON4 reports that she’s building a residence on land nearby that she purchased in 2014. The media mogul who is worth $3.2 billion also owns homes in Santa Barbara, California and Maui, Hawaii.

    Keep clicking for a closer look at Oprah’s Telluride ski home.

    [All images: Zillow]









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    Yes, Christmas is around the corner but we’re guessing you haven’t crossed everyone off your shopping list. Here are a few ideas for winning gifts that are sure to impress (although you may be tempted to keep them for yourself).


    jemima code

    The Jemima Code

    This tome by culinary historian Toni Tipton Martin is a fascinating review of 150+ cookbooks by unknown African American kitchen crusaders whose contributions to America’s food history are finally given some shine.

    ideal bartender tom bullock

    The Ideal Bartender

    In 1917, Kentucky born Tom Bullock became the first Black mixologist to publish a book of cocktail recipes. As head barman of the St. Louis Country Club and other tony establishments, the “nectar of his schemings” was revered by aristocrats and dignitaries, including President Theodore Roosevelt.  Over 100 years later, this piece of history has been reprinted for a new generation of “those who enjoy snug club rooms, that they may learn the art of preparing for themselves what is good.”


    Anova Wifi Precision Cooker

    Sous-vide cooking, a technique popular in restaurant kitchens involves, holding ingredients in a water bath at a low, steady temperature. It has been one of those tricks of the trade that once upon a time seemed too high-falutin’ for home chefs. But no more. Anova’s line of immersion circulators makes it easy for amateur cooks to recreate restaurant-quality succulence at home — and because there’s an app for that, to do so with their smartphone.

    Microsoft Band 2

    Kick off 2015 with a new fitness routine. The Microsoft Band 2 is fully with the Microsoft Health Windows 10 Universal App to track everything from your heart rate to sleep quality. Plus, wearers can stay connected on the go because the Band 2 keeps track of texts, emails, and app alerts.



    Singtrix Party Bundle

    Even for those who can’t hold a tune, the Singtrix karaoke machine turns your voice into a thing of wonder. With the flick of a dial, presets like Hi-Trio 2 and Tuned Divas — and the included speaker — will have you sounding like Mariah.

    Microsoft Surface Pro 4

    While the Surface Pro 4 can do everything a laptop can do, this holiday season you can use it to play all your favorite holiday movies on repeat and you can even stream family flicks to the TV or Xbox. Cortana, a digital assistant, and Hello allow for hands-off experiences, too, which makes following recipes or making crafts easier.


    Fulaba-silver-Fulani-earrings-white-bg [576868]

    Silver Fulani Earrings

    Handmade in Guinea, Fulaba’s collection of earrings and bracelets are inspired by the jewelry worn by Fulani nobles for centuries. The twisty Fulani earrings, in a design called bhoylé, come in silver and gold.

    Woodford Reserve’s Master’s Collection

    For the bourbon novice to whiskey connoisseur on your list, a spirit from this annual limited-edition collection release will have everyone saying “thank you.”

    Compiled by Chrystal Parker, Annika Harris

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    Two newborns stole hearts over the weekend, especially their parents’, two Sag celebs celebrated their birthdays, and other stars made a difference in the lives of others.

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    Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson revealed baby Jasmine to the world.

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    Iman Shumpert was proud to turn his duo with Teyana Taylor into a trio with baby Junie.

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    Tyrese teased his fans about his private birthday gala in Los Angeles.

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    Lil Wayne helped Andre Berto spread holiday cheer to a school in Haiti by giving out a ton of toys and Trukfit gear.

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    Ciara showed love for her man Russel Wilson‘s football team, the Seattle Seahawks.

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    Judges Niecy Nash, Emmett Smith, Olivia Culpo, and Perez Hilton posed with Miss Universe Pia Alonzo Wurztbach of the Philippines.

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    J. B. Smoove teased his 50th birthday party, where the Zacapa Rum was flowing.

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    Eudoxie and Ludacris enjoyed some quality couple time.

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    A Waller County, Texas grand jury has decided not to indict anyone in the case of 28-year-old Sandra Bland, who died while in police custody after she was arrested for failing to use her turn signal on July 10, 2015.

    “After reviewing all the evidence in the death of Sandra Bland, a Waller grand jury did not return an indictment in the death of Bland, nor were any indictments returned against any employee of the Waller County Jail,” said Special Prosecutor Darrell Jordan, who is handling the case.

    The grand jury deliberated for eight hours Monday and will reconvene in January to consider other indictments.

    Bland was found dead in her cell three days after being arrested. Officials in Waller County said she hanged herself with a plastic bag. However, her family and others disagree with that assessment and also the grand jury process in Texas.

    “We are not going to allow what they have done in a limited, secret capacity to prevent us from doing what we need to do to get answers for the family,” Bland family attorney Cannon Lambert said to KPRC, a CNN affiliate.

    Before the grand jury came to a decision, Bland’s family in Chicago criticized the grand jury system in Texas because testimony isn’t open to the public.

    “Right now, the biggest problem for me is the entire process,” Bland’s mother, Geneva Read-Veal, said. “I simply can’t have faith in a system that’s not inclusive of my family that’s supposed to have the investigation.”

    Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders revealed his opinion on the racial double standard that was possibly at play in the death of Bland.

    “There’s no doubt in my mind that she, like too many African-Americans who die in police custody, would be alive today if she were a white woman,” he said. “We need to reform a very broken criminal justice system.”


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    R. Kelly‘s interview with HuffPost Live didn’t go as he expected Monday. The singer intended to promote his new album, The Buffet, but then host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani asked how his sexual abuse of young girls allegations had impacted the album sales and Kelly went left.

    According to HuffPost, Kelly asked Modarressy-Tehrani during the 20-minute interview “whether she knew what a deposition was, questioned her intelligence, and threatened to leave and go to McDonald’s before ultimately walking off set.”

    Kelly has one simple message for fans who are hesitant to purchase music from and to support an accused pedophile: “F–k that.”

    “You can’t satisfy everybody,” he continued. “I will continue to do my job until I get fired, and the only people who can fire me are my fans.”

    Hey, R., judging from lackluster sales of The Buffet, it looks as if thousands of “fans” have terminated you already.

    Watch the bizarre interview below.

    RELATED: No Black Man Or Woman Has Any Business Defending R. Kelly

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    Today, Dec. 22nd, marks the 20th anniversary of the film adaptation of Terry McMillan‘s Waiting to Exhale.

    The film was Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker‘s directorial debut, and starred Angela Bassett, Whitney Houston, Loretta Devine, and Lela Rochon as a group of friends navigating the worlds of love and heartbreak.

    Waiting to Exhale also brought a banging soundtrack thanks to hit-maker Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and other R&B legends like Houston and Mary J. Blige.

    In honor of the 20th anniversary, Waiting to Exhale is featured on the Movie of the Day app on iTunes today and is available at 50 percent off the original price.

    To celebrate, here is my favorite Waiting to Exhale scene:

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    By Isoul Harris

    Christmas is a few days away. And you haven’t found that perfect gift for someone? Don’t fret. Here are a few of my favorite things this year. From Bond No. 9’s wondrous new Dubai series to the ultra HD Shield TV media player, there is something here for everyone! Good luck!



    Beats By Dre X Piagalle Edition Headphones

    The funky design of these limited edition headphones are inspired by Stephane Ashpool’s adoration for the historical Parisian neighborhood he calls home.


    Shield TV

    Shield TV is a lightening fast (leads the market in speed) Android streaming media player that plays games, hit shows, blockbuster movies, sports or viral videos, Shield TV is perfect.


    Nicki Minaj: Hip Pop 4 Life

    Superstar rapper Nicki Minaj had an incredible year in her career. Her album The Pink Print was released last December and since then she has won awards and circled the globe on a successful tour. With Hip Pop Moments For Life (Omnibus), learn about Minaj’s rise and how she became one of rap’s most successful figures ever (and it was written by yours truly).


    Chic Buds Premium Power/1 Voice FYL

    Having a full phone charge means everything today, and the sleek and portable Chic Buds Premium Power ($49.99) charges two devices at once. And for the traveler, 1 Voice’s 100 percent cotton canvas backpacks, weekender bags, and messenger bags ($159) all have a built-in battery that can recharge any smartphone four to seven times.


    The Surrey

    Give that special someone a weekend in New York City and stay at one of my favorite hotels, The Surrey. Ultra-stylish and luxurious on the city’s posh Upper East Side, this hotel, with the Michelin-starred restaurant Café Boulud downstairs, is perfection.


    Bond No. 9 Dubai

    Inspired by the Arabian cosmopolitan city, Bond No. 9 introduces Dubai Indigo, Dubai Ruby, and Dubai Emerald, the tony brand’s first trio in a new collection of perfumes (Dubai Indigo is my fave).


    Manhattan Moonshine

    For the distinguished drinker, Manhattan Moonshine is a perfect gift. Packaged in a 1920s-style decanter, the world’s first luxury un-aged whiskey is designed as the perfect whiskey for cocktails. Whiskey Advocate awarded the brand the highest score it has ever given an un-aged whiskey. Cheers!


    UPTOWN_vinoMoet Hennessy Estates & Wines

    Moet Hennessy Estates & Wines presents a collection of gorgeous wines including the Terrazas de los Andes Reserva Malbec, 2013 (19.99)—a full-bodied, versatile winter-red—and the complex and nuanced Numanthia Numanthia, 2011 ($39.99). Both are excellent as gifts or to bring to the plethora of parties you have coming up.

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    UPTOWN is proud to present the UPTOWN SHORT FILM FESTIVAL (USFF), a two-day short film festival in the heart of the Big Apple — Harlem USA. USFF is a platform which expresses diversity found in the latest productions from around the world and presents it to enthusiastic film audiences, aspiring actors, film makers, and industry professionals.

    USFF seeks the next generation of writers, directors, producers, and actors while celebrating innovative storytelling from diverse and inclusive backgrounds. The UPTOWN SHORT FILM FESTIVAL will showcase the best short films and filmmakers from our space, while hosting panels, workshops, and UPTOWN signature celebrations.

    To enter, click here.

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    The City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs presents The Art of Organized Noize exhibit, tracing the legacy of the city’s iconic Organized Noize music label and their Dungeon Family Collection, which includes Outkast, Goodie Mob, Joi, Slimm Cutta Calhoun, Big Rube and more. From their dirt-floor basements to stages around the world, these archival items include photographs, artwork, studio equipment, notebooks, costumes and more. Until Nov. 15.

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    Notables like the Obamas, Oprah Winfrey, Sean Combs, Kimora Lee Simmons and more showed what was most important to them this holiday weekend — family and friends.

    Instagram Photo

    The Obamas wished the nation a merry Christmas with the help of pint-size elves. And Barack and Michelle stole a kiss under the mistletoe.

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    Mariah Carey‘s Christmas was complete with a Santa Claus for twins Monroe and Moroccan.

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    On Christmas Eve, Kevin Hart gave us a taste of what his holiday card with Eniko Parrish would have looked like if they’d taken the time to make one.

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    Teyana Taylor showed off her daughter with Iman Shumpert, Iman Tayla Shumpert, some more.

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    Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, David Oyelowo, Steadman Graham, and more celebrated Christmas 2015 in Fiji.

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    Kimora Lee Simmons‘s brood — Ming, Aoki, Kenzo, and Wolf — enjoyed a festive Christmas.

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    Sean “Diddy” Combs‘s daughters — D’Lila Star, Jessie James, and Chance — most likely received everything they desired under their Christmas tree. But first the girls joined in some holiday antics with brothers Quincy Brown and Christian Casey Combs.

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    Magic Johnson, his wife Cookie, and their children, EJ and Elisa, spent the holidays in the Caribbean.

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    Michael B. Jordan posted a pic of the handsome men in his family for Kwanzaa.

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    Trust Ayesha and Stephen Curry to post a Christmas pic that made us all jealous.

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    Instagram Photo

    “Michelle and I extend our warmest wishes to families across the country celebrating Kwanzaa this holiday season. Today begins a week-long celebration of African-American heritage and culture through family and community festivities. Kwanzaa’s seven principles -– unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith -– are also shared values that bind us as Americans. And in the spirit of the season, we reflect on the blessings of the past year and commit to building a brighter future for all our children. As families, friends, and neighbors come together today to light the Kinara, our family sends our best wishes for a happy and healthy new year.”

    — Barack and Michelle Obama kicked off Kwanzaa on Dec. 26th with a statement released by the White House. The week-long celebration of Kwanzaa ends Jan. 1 and was founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966. Today’s principle is Ujima, collective work and responsibility. Learn more about Kwanzaa and the Nguzo Saba here.

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    Famed jester on the basketball court Meadowlark Lemon passed away at 83 on Sunday, Dec. 27th, in Scottsdale, Ariz., his wife Cynthia Lemon confirmed.

    Lemon gained notoriety playing 24 seasons with the Harlem Globetrotters. He estimated that he played more than 16,000 games with the touring exhibition basketball team CNN reports is known “for its slick ball-handling, practical jokes, red-white-and-blue uniforms and multiyear winning streaks against overmatched opponents.”

    Although Lemon, who was known as the “clown prince” of basketball, was famous for his high jinks on the court, including pretending to spy on his opponents during huddles and throwing water on referees and confetti on fans, he was a rather talented player. Lemon was known for sinking half-court hook shots and throwing behind-the-back passes.

    However, Lemon’s fame extended past the court. He was immortalized by the Harlem Globetrotters animated series during the 1960s and ’70s. He also made appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, Scooby Doo, and national TV commercials. Check out some of Meadowlark Lemon’s moves below.

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    Popping bottles and swigging champagne are the norm on New Year’s Eve, but a smooth glass of wine might be just what you need on New Year’s Day and throughout the rest of 2016. To whet your palate, allow me to introduce you to the luxurious, terroir-driven Kim Crawford Small Parcels collection of wines and the best cuisine pairings. The Small Parcels wines are crafted from exceptional grapes from specific blocks within the best vineyards of New Zealand, making the wines “rare, world-class gems.”

    2014 Wild Grace Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay (SRP $30)

    • Tasting notes: Composed exclusively of the six best parcels from Kim Crawford’s two finest Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay vineyards, Corner 50 and Strathallan, this compelling wine offers bright citrus, apple, pear, and stone fruit plus captivating minerality and baking spices from the oak.
    • Pairing: Seafood, white meats, and “fusion” food

    2014 Kim Crawford Favourite Homestead Marlborough Pinot Gris (SRP $28)

    • Tasting notes: Carefully handpicked fruits with flavors of ripe honeysuckle are complemented by notes of spiced apple crumble and pear.
    • Pairing: Antipasto, fresh seafood, and South East Asian cuisine

    2014 Kim Crawford Spitfire Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (SRP $26)

    • Tasting notes: This wine features intense complex flavours of citrus balanced with ripe tropical fruits of passion fruit and white peach. Crisp acidity and a lingering finish round out this stunning wine.
    • Pairing: Full-flavored seafood dishes, such as pan-seared scallops or crayfish

    2013 Kim Crawford Rise and Shine Central Otago Pinot Noir (SRP $33)

    • Tasting notes: Sourced from the Clearvue Vineyard, the Pinot Noir boasts intensely lifted notes of blackberries and plums. Dried thyme and sweet, spicy oak aromas give this wine an intriguing nose and balances the fruit aromas nicely.
    • Pairing: Wild mushroom risotto, pasta marinara, grilled tuna, venison, and lamb dishes

    [Main image: Shutterstock]

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  • 12/28/15--16:09: First Class Travel Hacks
  • A smiling young woman holding up a passport and generic ticket envelope. The focus is on the passport. [url=/my_lightbox_contents.php?lightboxID=9045867]Click here for more[/url] with this model. Generic ticket envelope was designed and created by me (the photographer).I love the saying that “travel is only thing that you can buy that can make you richer“. And I have learned that you don’t have to actually be rich to travel but some smart tips can have you enjoying the road less traveled in first class style.

    So let’s go places with the travel hacks that will have you balling on a budget.

    Earn Free Travel

    Travel is all about the rewards right? Signing up for credit cards and rewards program is what can earn you free travel to some of the most sought after destinations around the world. Want to go to Paris free? Signing up for an American Express Gold Card can get you there gratis with their travel points program. This credit card comes with a sign-up bonus of 20,000 points or greater with a minimum spend of usually $1000. This is enough to travel from New York to Paris free of charge.

    The minimum spend is what can be daunting for travel newbies and sometimes deters people from signing up for such cards. We want to travel not go into debt trying to do it right? Here’s the other bonus, purchasing or paying for items that you would be buying anyway gets you to the minimum spend in no time flat. Gotta pay for rent or your mortgage right? Pay for it with your credit card and then pay it off at the end of each month. There are no interest charges as you pay your balance in full each month. When buying things like gas or groceries that you would typically pay for with cash or a debit card each month, opt to use your gold card as it will help you to earn even more points. Credit cards like American Express have no annual fee for the first year so you can sign up without paying anything initially.

    Take Several Seats

    If you are traveling by plane and aren’t in first class you can still get the leg room and space you desire. Traveling coach can be comfy by selecting your seats in advance. Many airlines will now allow you to view the seats that are open in the plane allowing you to pick that middle seat with no one on either side. There is also which provides a detailed breakdown of seat availability by aircraft and airline. It also provides information on airline amenities like movable armrests, Wi-Fi availability and more along with color coding the seat selection from great to terrible. You’ll just want to check 24 hours in advance of your flight to ensure the plane didn’t fill up.

    No Hassle Express Check

    Kicking your trip off in comfort sets the mood for a good trip. Those long lines at the security gate are not the business. You can get a priority check in without having a First Class ticket by simply signing up for the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry program. The program provides pre-approvals from the US Customs and Border Protection agency that will get you designated as a low risk traveler. There is a fee involved but it is small when you think of the time frame it covers. The fee generally ranges between $85 and $100 but is good for five years. It will allow you to enter the express lane and those precious toes don’t have to touch linoleum as you won’t have to remove your shoes. The TSA PreCheck program does require some paperwork, a background check and an interview in advance but it is a small inconvenience for the comfort of moving quickly through the lines and into your seat.


    Lounge Around

    If you have scored a first class airline ticket you can often call an airline and request a guest pass to their lounge that will allow you to enjoy the amenities of the lounge without paying the annual fee.

    Charter A Private Plane (On A Beer Budget)

    The best way to avoid long airport lines, the airport pat down and the frustration of traveling in the middle seat flanked by two other passengers is to fly private. This tip is travel hack gold! You can actually charter an entire private jet for as little as $536 for 4 people. JetSuite offers travelers the opportunity to book a private plan if someone has chartered a one-way flight with no return flight. The unbelievably inexpensive deal is less than $134 per person for flights from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. The only catch is that you have to be able to drop everything and go when a flight becomes available.


    Phone It In

    If you are traveling abroad or simply go into an area where your cell phone is roaming you can make free phone calls by simply downloading apps like Skype or Google Voice that will allow you to talk for free as long as you are using Wi-Fi.

    Daycation Time

    Ever hear of a daycation? Well, there is an ingenious site that allows you to book often luxury hotel rooms for between 3 and 8 hours. gives vacationers the opportunity to save money on hotels by only booking them for the time they need. It helps the hotels as it allows them to sell their empty room inventory. So it’s a win, win for everyone. Booking a hotel room for a period of hours used to be viewed as seedy but now should be viewed as sophisticated. Some of the best parts of a hotel are the things that you want to enjoy during the day.

    How many times have you landed at 8am only to find that your hotel room isn’t available until after 3pm? is the perfect resource for travelers who have arrived early and need a place to refresh and relax for a while. It’s a great resource as well to travelers who have a long wait between connecting flights. Why hang out in the airport when you could be getting a facial or watching the big screen in the comfort of a great hotel? is also great for families. Whether your family is arriving early or staying at a lower fare hotel that is lacking in some amenities, booking a hotel will allow you to take advantage of amenities like the pool and game room while having a room to go to change and recharge. has 1,500 hotels available to book during the day. They have locations in London, New York, Milan, Paris, Miami, Rome, Munich, Berlin, Geneva, Brussels, Toronto and Chicago.


    Here are some terrific tips for those that are traveling alone from Toyota Avalon’s First Class Series.

    This post is sponsored by Toyota.

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    We usually look towards New York, Paris, Tokyo, Beijing, or Moscow for New Year’s Eve revelry, but Columbia, South Carolina might have the hottest NYE show this year. Lauryn Hill is set to perform at the fifth annual Famously Hot New Year Celebration (#FHNY) — and the concert is FREE!

    The five-time Grammy winner’s year-long comeback will culminate on Dec. 31st in front of the S.C. State House in Columbia. This is the same location in which the Confederate Flag once stood until this summer.


    South Carolina State House; Image: John Powell

    #FHNY’s mission is “bringing diverse communities together by supporting a #SCStrong fundraising drive for the One SC Flood Relief Fund at Central Carolina Community Foundation, where 100% of donations will go directly to local flood relief organizations,” according to a press release. The celebration, which is “South Carolina’s largest New Year’s Eve party,” includes the largest fireworks display in the two Carolinas, family-friendly events and local attractions, along with the concert.


    Justin Smith & FatRat Da Czar of ColorBlind

    While Lauryn Hill is headlining, three acts from South Carolina will open for her. “Charleston’s Dead 27s will kick off the evening with soulful, vintage rock originals to get the dance floor moving; followed by ColorBlind, a new ‘folk-hop’ project by musicians Justin Smith and FatRat Da Czar with DJ Shekeese the Beast and a full band; and direct support will be provided by the Charleston-based alt-country band SUSTO,” according to the press release.

    Revelers are encouraged to donate to the One SC Flood Relief Fund or text “onesc” to short code at 33923; donations via cash and check will be accepted at Famously Hot New Year entry gates. Guests are also asked to bring non-perishable food items to any of the event entry gates on NYE for donation to Harvest Hope Food Bank; volunteers from the University of South Carolina’s Flood Relief (#UofSCRelief) initiative will staff the donation stations.

    For more information on Columbia’s Famously Hot New Year Celebration, click here.

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