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Danielle Adams

King cake takes the crown

Traditional Mardi Gras dessert remains a favorite

King cake season is almost over as Fat Tuesday is fast approaching. This dessert is typically served during carnival season, lasting from Epiphany Eve to Fat Tuesday.

The king cake is actually a brioche: a sweet, bread-like dough that is rolled and twisted into an oval shape and then typically drenched with icing and topped liberally with three colors of dyed sugar. The colors are traditional Mardi Gras colors: green represent faith, gold symbolizes power and purple stands for justice. Sometimes beads are also placed on top as decoration.

The name of this sweet treat comes from the bible’s three kings who visited baby Jesus on the 12th night. Catholic tradition celebrates the visit of the three kings to Christ Child on Jan. 6, Epiphany Eve. The practice of baking a cake to honor the Magi dates back to 12th century.

The oval shape of the king cake represents the journey of the Magi. A trinket is usually hidden in the cake. The trinket was traditionally a bean, these days, however, the most common trinket is a small plastic baby doll (to represent baby Jesus). Due to concerns about sanitization and choking hazards, many bakeries now include the trinket separately from the dessert.

In times past, the person who found the trinket was declared king for the day and was pronounced to have good luck for the coming year. Nowadays, the person is usually required to perform some sort of obligation, such as hosting the next Mardi Gras party.

The term Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday and refers to the practice of eating rich and fatty foods before the fasting season of Lent, hence the tradition of this indulgent treat

Amanda Knox acquittal appealed

Prosecutors convinced of guilt

Amanda Knox might be put on trial once again. Italian prosecutors remain convinced that Knox and former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito are guilty of the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy.

In 2009, American Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were convicted of sexual assault, murder and simulating a burglary at the first level of trial. However, according to Italian law, she would not be considered guilty until a verdict was confirmed by higher courts. During her appeal at the second level of trial, questions were raised towards the prosecutor’s theory about the crime and quality of evidence. An independent review cast doubt on DNA evidence, and the appellate court ruled that prosecution’s case did not stand up. In October of last year, the original conviction was overturned; Knox was found innocent of murder and was released from prison. Sollecito’s conviction was also overturned.

Italian prosecutors have filed an appeal to the highest court seeking a new trial for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. The Supreme Court will not hear any new evidence; though, they will rule strictly on the appeal presented by the prosecution and whether or not proper legal procedures have been followed. If granted, prosecutors could retry Knox in absentia. Knox could face extradition if convicted. Knox is not required to attend the Supreme Court hearing.

In the original case, the prosecution suggested that the killing was a result of a situation combining drugs and rough sex gone awry involving the victim, the two defendants and a third man, Rudy Guede. The victim was found in the house the she shared, semi-naked with her throat slit. Guede was found guilty of participating in a homicide and is serving a 16-year sentence.

Lawyers and family of Amanda Knox are not concerned, stating that the appeal was expected. Knox’s defense has appealed the same case asking the Supreme Court to overthrow her conviction on slander charges.

Sienna Miller flaunts baby bump

Actress reveals news on red carpet

Sienna Miller, never one to discuss her private life with the press, has yet to officially announce her pregnancy. She did, however display what is undoubtedly a baby bump last night at “W Magazine’s” Ever Changing Face of Beauty event.

A form fitting Boss Black gown hugged Sienna Miller’s bump. Chunky gold Pamela Love jewelry, a messy quiff and minimal makeup completed the star’s stunning look.
Miller’s sister Savannah spilled the beans about the pregnancy last month in on Twitter, and Miller’s step-mother Kelly Hoppen has also confirmed the news.

Last week, the 30-year-old actress was photographed leaving Groucho Club in London, wearing what appeared to be an engagement ring. Rumors of an engagement to British actor Tom Sturridge are unconfirmed. Miller walked the red carpet solo last night and was not wearing the supposed engagement ring.

Miller’s relationship with Jude Law was widely publicized and criticized in the tabloids. In 2004, they became engaged, and in 2005, Law publicly apologized to Miller for having an affair. Miller and Law tried to salvage the relationship but ultimately parted ways in 2011. Miller began dating Sturridge shortly after the split.

Actress, model and fashion designer Sienna Miller is known for her roles in “Alfie,” “The Edge of Love,” “Factory Gir”l and “Layer Cake.” She is the Global Ambassador for International Medical Corps and has traveled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti with them. She is also an ambassador for the UK branch of the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

Dave Matthews Band returns to the scene

Band announces 2012 tour, new album

Dave Matthews Band is hitting the road again this summer after a hiatus in 2011. The band will kick off their tour at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in Woodlands, Texas on May 18 before making their way around the country.

Due to the overwhelming popularity of the Dave Matthews Band, their summer tour will feature numerous two-night stands and one three-night stand throughout the tours length. The band sold more concert tickets than any other act on the planet the first decade of this century, according to Billboard Boxscore. On its 2010 tour alone, DMB sold over 1 million tickets.

The 39-stop tour includes Hangout Music Fest in Alabama and three nights over Labor Day weekend at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington where they’ve headlined 40 shows since 1997. Dave Matthews will wrap up the tour in Mountain View, California on Sept. 9.

Members of the Dave Matthews Band Warehouse Fan Association can purchase tickets for the summer tour as early as Thursday, February 16. Tickets for the general public go on sale March 9

Announced supporting acts for the tour include Allen Stone, The Avett Brothers, Blind Pilot, Brandi Carlile, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Delta Spirit, Edward Sharpe, Fitz and the Tantrums, Gary Clarke Jr., The Head and the Heart, Lettuce, SOJA and Tower of Power.

The band recently began working on its new album, reuniting with producer Steve Lillywhite who worked on their first three studio albums and the underground Lillywhite Sessions. The new album is expected to be released this year.

The Grammy-winning band has sold over 17 million tickets and a collective 37 million DVDs and CDs combined, making them one of the most successful touring bands in history.

LightSquared denied network

NTIA rules interference inevitable

LightSquared received a severe blow on Tuesday when the Nation Telecommunications and Information Administration ruled that LightSquared will inevitably interfere with other devices. As a result, the FFC is proposing to lift the conditional permission for LightSquared to operate and indefinitely suspending its authority to operate all celphone towers.

LightSquared is a company that developed a wholesale 4G LTE wireless broadband communications network that is integrated with satellite coverage. The company’s plan was to build a nationwide high-speed cell phone network based on satellites and ground transmitters. This plan could be a way to enhance competition and speed up deployment of mobile broadband in the U.S. However, using these high-powered ground transmitters in a spectrum intended for low powered signals from satellites is causing interference with existing networks such as GPS.

Since 2002, LightSquared has been working with the NTIA and the GPS industry to avoid interference between the LightSquared and GPS networks. Last year, LightSquared was granted a conditional waiver to move forward under the stipulation that the company demonstrated that it could first solve the interference problem.

On Tuesday, as reported by The Hill, the president’s top adviser on telecom issues said there is “no practical way” to prevent the network from disrupting GPS devices. Even if LightSquared could fix the problem, “The time and money required for federal, commercial, and private sector users to replace technology in the field and the marketplace… cannot support the scheduled deployment of terrestrial services proposed by LightSuared.”

LightSquared maintains that that NTIA findings were based on flawed studies, and it will continue working to find a resolution with the government and the GPS industry.

Westminster Dog Show warms hearts

Pekingese takes best in show

The 2012 Westminster Dog show staged its 136th showing Feb. 13-14. Pooch lovers everywhere look forward to this all-breed benched conformation show that takes place at Madison Square Garden in New York City every year.

A Pekingese named Malachy won best in show at the Westminster Dog Show 2012 after taking 1st place in the toy group. This is Malachy’s 115th best in show ribbon. The Peke triumphed over Beckham, a black cocker spaniel whom won the coveted best in show last year.

Other surprise wins included a dalmation named Ruffiana, taking the prize in the non-sporting group. This is the first time in well over 101 years that a Dalmatian has taken home a top honor at the Westminster Dog Show.

Captain Crunch, a German shepherd, won first place in the herding group. German shepherds are always popular at the annual dog show. Other crowd favorites included a Brussels Griffon named Tina Fey and Banana Joe, an Affenpinscher.

Winners in the other groups include: Gleishorbach a Dachsund in the hound group, an Irish Setter named Red Handed in the sporting group, a Doberman Pinscher named Veni Vidi Vici  in the Working Group and in the terrier group, a Kerry Blue Terrier named Chelsey.

Martha Stewart was proud to announce that her dog, a Chow Chow named Ghengis Khan, won best of breed. Other proud owners include a couple from Washington state. Brad Slayton and Debbie Parsons held their wedding at the Garden after their dog Major, a Tibetan Mastiff, won his breed on Tuesday.

In order to qualify for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, a breed must meet American Kennel Club criteria, and the dog participant must be registered with the AKC. There are currently 185 breeds and varieties eligible for Westminster.

2012 Grammys unexpectedly pair musicians

Musicians join forces at award show

The 2012 Grammys provided some eclectic musical performances this year, pairing past performers with contemporary artists.

In their first performance together in over 20 years, the last surviving Beach Boys’ co-founders Brian Wilson, Mike Love and Al Jardine performed at the Grammys with newer members Bruce Johnston and David Marks. The band put on a lively performance of “Good Vibrations” surrounded onstage by surfboards and large video screens showing colorful psychedelic patterns. The Beach Boys were introduced by a couple of contemporary bands. Indie rock trio Foster the People did a rendition of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” and pop rockers Maroon 5 covered “Surfer Girl.”

Chris Brown, David Guetta, Lil Wayne, Foo Fighters and Deadmau5 came together in a tribute to electronic dance music. Chris Brown led the way singing “I Can Only Imagine,” while David Guetta jumped behind the turntables. Lil Wayne rapped his verse of the duet. After the song was finished, the Foo Fighters emerged to perform their hit single “Rope,” which then transitioned into Deadmau5’s electronic glow-in-the-dark set.
Pop reggae artist Rihanna gave a high energy performance of her Calvin Harris produced hit, “We Found Love;” after, she was joined by Coldplay’s Chris Martin for a much more subdued performance of “Princess of China.” The full British pop rock band then came onstage to play “Paradise.”

R&B singer Alicia Keys and bluesy Bonnie Raitt joined forces to honor the late Etta James with their rendition of “Sunday Kind of Love.” The pair performed with only a keyboard and guitar backing their vocals. Glen Campbell was joined onstage by Blake Shelton and The Band Perry for what may have been one of his last televised performances. Other acts included Tony Bennet and Carrie Underwood, who performed “It Had To Be You” and Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean who performed their duet “Don’t You Wanna Stay.”

Glen Campbell receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Country legend gives farewell performance

Glen Campbell was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 54th Annual Grammys last night. In June 2011, Campbell, who has suffered short-term memory loss for years, announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  He released his final album “Ghost on the Canvas” last fall and  is currently in the middle of his farewell tour after 50 years in the business.

Country stars The Band Perry and Blake Shelton joined together in a tribute to Campbell at the Grammys. The sibling trio performed their rendition of “Gentle on my Mind” and Shelton sang a verse of “Southern Nights” before the country legend himself appeared onstage for his first live television performance since the diagnosis. Campbell and company sang “Rhinestone Cowboy,” Campbell’s first Number One Record and largest selling single.

The 75-year-old singer’s voice was strong, but the effects of the disease were mildly apparent when he fumbled on some of the lyrics. The audience didn’t seem to mind. Everyone was on their feet – Lady Gaga was seen clapping along, while Joe Walsh and his wife Marjorie danced in the aisle and Paul McCartney fist pumped energetically.

Campbell’s decision to keep performing after the Alzheimer’s diagnosis is unprecedented, says the Alzheimer’s Association. The singer is aided onstage with three teleprompters and is supported by his family. Three of his children have joined his current band, with sons Cal and Shannon on drums and guitar, while his daughter Ashley plays keyboard, banjo and violin. Campbell’s children strive to provide as much comfort and support as possible, “I just try to make him feel like he is surrounded by people that love him on stage,” Ashley told CNN.

Bon Iver unexpected winner at award show

Winner makes awkward acceptance speech

Bon Iver caused quite a stir at the 2012 Grammy Award show last night. After the indie folk band won two awards last night, many are wondering, who is Bon Iver?

Bon Iver’s self-titled sophomore album won the award for Best Alternative Music Album, and the band also took the award for Best New Artist, beating out the Band Perry, Skrillex, J. Cole and fan favorite Nicki Minaj. The Bon Iver song “Holocene” was nominated for song of the year and record of the year, losing, of course, to Adele’s “Rolling In the Deep.”

The Best New Artist winner is in fact, not so new. The band was founded in 2007 by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon and also includes Michael Noyce, Sean Carey and Matthew McCaughn. The name Bon Iver comes from the French phrase bon hiver, which means “good winter.”

The band began gaining popularity in late 2008. Several Bon Iver tracks have been featured on television shows such as One Tree Hill, Grey’s Anatomy and House. The band performed on The Late Show with David Letterman in December, 2008 and collaborated with St. Vincent to contribute the song “Rosyln” to the New Moon soundtrack in 2009. Bon Iver won Best International Breakthrough Act at the Brit Awards in 2009.

Bon Iver has performed at several well known music festivals, including Lollapalooza, Bonaroo, Austin City Limits and is set to headline at Sasquatch! 2012 festival. Bon Iver Frontman Justin Vernon has produced and collaborated with other artists, including Kanye West.

Vernon has publicly bashed the Grammys and other award shows, proclaiming them “ridiculous” in a New York Times interview.  In the same interview, Vernon criticized not only award shows but the artists themselves, claiming that many of the nominees have compromised their art. Bon Iver declined to perform at the Grammys; Vernon told Billboard that they were asked collaborate with other artists and “play music that had nothing to do with [their album],” which the band strongly felt would comprise their integrity.

Vernon voiced his discomfort in his acceptance speech, saying that the award was hard to accept because, “There’s so much talent out here… and there’s a lot of talent that’s not here tonight.” He also admitted that he was “a little bit uncomfortable.” One can’t help but wonder if he was, perhaps, a bit embarrassed as well.

Grammys 2012 full of surprises

British singer rolling in awards

The 2012 Grammy Awards were dominated by British singer Adele. The singer took home six Grammy Awards last night, winning in every category she was nominated in. The 23-year-old also set a new record for youngest artist to take home the “Big Three” – Record and Song of the Year for “Rolling in the Deep” and Album of the Year for “21.” Adele was named Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards two years ago.

Keeping up with the trends, this year the Grammys 2012 show included electronic dance music (EDM) for the first time. Dubstep artist Skrillex (Sonny Moore) won three of the five awards he was nominated for. Another electronic artist, deadmau5, played a prank on Skrillex by showing up to the Grammy Awards sporting a t-shirt with Skrillex’s phone number and the phrase “U Mad Bro?” underneath. Later, he performed with the Foo Fighters in a collaboration of rock and EDM.

The Foo Fighters won five Grammys last night, including Best Rock Album for “Wasting Light.” Best Country Album went to Lady Antebellum for the second year in a row, this year for “We Own The Night.” Chris Brown took home his first Grammy, R&B Album of the Year, for “F.A.M.E.”

Newcomer Bon Iver triumphed over rapper Nicki Minage and country trio The Band Perry for Best New Artist. Clearly shocked, lead singer Justin Vernon made a sincere and awkward acceptance speech after winning Best New Artist. The Indie folk band also won the award for Best Alternative Music Album. The band declined to perform at the award show, but Minaj performed her new single “Roman Holiday,” while performing a baffling sort of exorcism in the show’s final act. Noticeably absent from the award show was rapper Kanye West, who won four awards, including Best Rap Album for “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” but oddly he did not show up to receive them.