• Stroking a cat or dog can reduce your stress levels, study finds
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    Caroline Allen

    Stroking a cat or dog can reduce your stress levels, study finds

    Just incase you needed any convincing.

  • How to Have the Ultimate Alaskan Aquatic Safari
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    Travel+Leisure

    How to Have the Ultimate Alaskan Aquatic Safari

    Alaska’s waters are rich with wildlife just waiting to be discovered on a kayaking adventure.

  • Who Among Us? by Mario Benedetti review – a slippery love triangle
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    The Guardian

    Who Among Us? by Mario Benedetti review – a slippery love triangle

    Hugely cherished … the Uruguayan novelist Mario Benedetti, who died in 2009. Photograph: Marcelo Casacuberta/APMario Benedetti was a hugely cherished writer in his native Uruguay, amassing a bibliography of some 80 books by the time of his death in 2009, but he was not translated into English until recently. Now Nick Caistor has translated two short, splendid novels, both built around love triangles in which a woman – regretfully, cautiously – leaves her husband for another man.In Springtime in a Broken Mirror, published last year, that wrench is made more poignant by the fact that the abandoned man is imprisoned abroad, a political prisoner. In Who Among Us? the setup is more straightforward, but still the woman’s choice to leave is a fraught one. Alicia’s 11-year marriage to her childhood sweetheart Miguel has given them two children, but it has faded and they are tired of each other. The disruptive element is their old friend Lucas, who charms and provokes both parties. But he is only disruptive because he is allowed to be. Dull, placid Miguel never quite got over the fact that Alicia married boring old him. Alicia even tells her lover about the infatuation: for Miguel, she explains, Lucas is “a kind of picture above the bed. When he embraces me, when we make love, he knows you’re there like a guardian angel.”> Lucas takes pains to show where his narrative differs from what actually happened, and interrogates the very idea of fiction writingThe book opens at the moment of crisis. Miguel, in an act of flamboyant self-harm, has engineered a meeting between Alicia and Lucas, who fled abroad when Alicia chose Miguel over him. What follows is told through four documentary elements: first a self-pitying diary by Miguel, in which he claws over the wounds of his marriage; then a letter written to Miguel by Alicia, confirming his worst fears, that she is definitely leaving him for Lucas; and finally a short story written by Lucas that fictionalises Alicia’s arrival in Buenos Aires, and what happens between them there.The fourth voice is a series of footnotes to that same story in which Lucas takes pains to show where his narrative differs from what actually happened, and interrogates the very idea of fiction writing: “I don’t know how to tell myself stories,” he writes. “I know how to recognise the story in what I see or experience. Then I distort it, I add or subtract.” This was written in 1953, but it suits our current literary climate to a tee.This ingenious play of differing perspectives makes a simple, familiar story of betrayal something far more slippery and enticing – notwithstanding the fact that it is primarily the two men’s stories we get. Alicia makes her decision, and has her letter, but mostly she is the object of the men’s attention. Springtime in a Broken Mirror, too, fractures its telling to give everybody’s side of the story, but these narrative devices are not deployed merely for the sake of it. Both books are utterly fresh, at once heartbreaking and charming. Here’s hoping we’ll soon have more of Benedetti’s back catalogue to read.• Who Among Us, translated by Nick Caistor, is published by Penguin Modern Classics (£8.99). To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £15, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

  • Sharon Stone warns people about the early signs of a stroke
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    Caroline Allen

    Sharon Stone warns people about the early signs of a stroke

    She wants to share her story with others in a bid to help people to spot the signs of a stroke early.

  • How to grow foxgloves
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    The Guardian

    How to grow foxgloves

    Digitalis sown now will bulk up before autumn and be ready to plant out next spring. One of the many joys of foxgloves is that they appear just as spring’s flurry of blooms has disappeared and the garden is waiting for summer to take off. It can be a surprisingly dull moment in the garden, with all the yellowing leaves of tulips among the tired aquilegias. But the spires of foxgloves unfurl to raise your eye away from the dying back below. Combined with ferns, astrantias, dusky cranesbills and cultivated cow parsley, Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’, they make the most of dappled shade and please the bees with it. This moment is long gone. In fact, many will now be setting seed. If you don’t have your own plants, this is the moment to start sowing. Digitalis sown in the next month or so will bulk up before autumn and be ready to plant out next spring. They are surprisingly easy to grow from seed, for a fraction of the cost of mature plants. If you have the common foxglove, Digitalis purpurea, tap it as you pass by and it will scatter itself where it pleases. If, however, you want to sow some of the many and glorious cultivars, or try your hand at some of the perennial foxgloves, you will need to buy seed. Digitalis seed is tiny and needs light to germinate. Whether you are scattering in the garden or on to a seed tray, it is very important the seed does not get buried. With seed trays, it is best to pre-water and then sow on top. Gently press the seeds into the damp compost and leave the trays somewhere bright, but slightly shaded. Seed germinates between 15C and 18C, but if the seed tray is left in full sun, the temperatures may soar and scorch the germinating seedlings. Seeds should germinate in 14 days. When they are large enough to handle, prick them out into modules or 9cm pots. Go for D. purpurea and the lovely, pure-white D. purpurea forma ‘Albiflora’ – or, if you want both colours, D. purpurea ‘ Pam’s Choice’, with its white flowers and purple insides. D. purpurea and cultivars are biennial, so they need to be sown or allowed to self-seed every year, so there is a fresh batch next spring. They prefer light shade, so if your garden basks in a little more sun, try the perennial Mediterranean species such as D. grandiflora or D. lutea, which are shades of buttery pale-yellow. Then there is also the cross between D. purpurea and D . grandiflora, D. x mertonensis, which is soft strawberry-pink, or D. ‘Sutton’s Apricot’ which has whipped cream added to its colour scheme. All digitalis are very toxic if eaten, so wash your hands after handling if you want to use them as cut flowers.

  • The Real Hero of the New Corvette C8 Is Its Luxe, Cockpit Interior
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    Esquire

    The Real Hero of the New Corvette C8 Is Its Luxe, Cockpit Interior

    Among other things, it’ll make you a fan of buttons again.

  • Working out with your partner could improve your relationship
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    Caroline Allen

    Working out with your partner could improve your relationship

    It makes sense. Exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy.

  • From the Crusades to robotic cases, the surprisingly interesting 1,000-year history of luggage
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    The Telegraph

    From the Crusades to robotic cases, the surprisingly interesting 1,000-year history of luggage

    It seems ridiculous that we put a man on the Moon before anyone had the idea to add wheels to our suitcases, but until 1972, tourists were still lugging their gear around by the handle.

  • Richard Branson on watching Apollo 11 in his pyjamas, the future of space travel and Elon Musk
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    The Telegraph

    Richard Branson on watching Apollo 11 in his pyjamas, the future of space travel and Elon Musk

    Last December I was in the Mojave Desert watching the launch of Virgin Galactic’s first flight into space. Hundreds of heads raised, hundreds of eyes focused; silent thoughts willing the tiny, streaking orange dot to move faster, higher. And then those long-awaited words: ‘364,000 feet. Virgin Spaceship Unity, welcome to space!’ The crowd erupted with joy and relief. Overwhelmed by tears, I bowed towards the ground, my head in my hands.

  • The Great Successor by Anna Fifield review – the secrets of Kim Jong-un
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    The Guardian

    The Great Successor by Anna Fifield review – the secrets of Kim Jong-un

    From spoilt child to ruthless dictator ... farce sits alongside horror in this excellent study of the North Korean leader. Wishful thinking is an underappreciated yet potent force in western foreign policy. When Kim Jong-un inherited his family’s dictatorship in North Korea at the age of 27, there were widespread predictions that his youth and Swiss education would make him an enlightened reformer. Who could experience the benefits of western democracy and not want it for their own country? The same optimism accompanied the rise of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, a British-trained ophthalmologist, and that of Mohammed Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia, who liked to hang out with tech entrepreneurs in California. All three dauphins have proved more bloodthirsty and implacable than their fathers. Growing up in the cosseted confines of a ruling dynasty and being treated as a demigod from birth can warp the humanity out of anyone. Kim is a special case – the third-generation dictator of the world’s most totalitarian state, one armed with nuclear weapons. How this chubby tyrant sees the world makes an enormous difference. As his venture into nuclear diplomacy with Donald Trump (another spoiled princeling with limited empathy) hangs in the balance, there is no better time to read a new biography of him. Anna Fifield’s The Great Successor is elegantly written and exhaustively researched. Fifield tracks down everyone outside North Korea who has met Kim, from school friends to servants to family members in hiding under false names. She has been reporting on the Korean peninsula since 2004, making a total of 14 trips to the world’s most reclusive state. The story Fifield tells, as befits the supreme ruler of a bizarrely unique country, is vivid to say the least. One of the character witnesses is Kenji Fujimoto, a Japanese sushi chef who replied to a job advertisement on a whim in 1982 to go to work in North Korea. He ended up slicing fish for Kim Jong-il, the current dictator’s father, for 15 years. The rice was produced in a special area of the country and picked one grain at a time by female workers tasked with ensuring each was flawless and of equal size. Fujimoto was a playmate to the lonely Jong-un, who spent his early years behind the high walls of a leadership compound in Pyongyang, his every caprice catered for (including a real car at the age of seven, and a Colt .45 pistol at the age of 11), but with only his introverted older brother and much younger sister for company. Fifield finds Fujimoto (a pseudonym) in a small Japanese mountain town where he is supposed to be lying low. He comes to meet her at the train station wearing a black bandanna decorated with a white skull motif, purple-tinted glasses, an oversize watch and a diamond-encrusted ring – “more rapper bling than low-profile witness protection scheme”, as she observes drily. His business card has a picture of Kim Jong-un embracing him on one side and, on the other, states: “If you want to talk about North Korea, call me.” For sheer oddity, Fujimoto is outdone only by Dennis Rodman, the retired basketball star from the mighty Chicago Bulls team of the 1990s. Rodman, struggling with an alcohol problem and trying to leverage his past glory into paid work any way he can, finds himself the only man on Earth personally acquainted with both Trump and Kim at a time when their two countries seemed on the brink of war. He had appeared twice on Trump’s reality show The Celebrity Apprentice, and was the second-choice Chicago Bull to go to Pyongyang in 2013 as part of a wheeze by Vice News to get close to the young North Korean leader (an obsessive Bulls fan). Michael Jordan hated flying. The deeply weird relationship between the faded hoops legend and the communist despot is the book’s uproarious comic interlude between murders and nuclear bomb making. Rodman arrived for a gala reception in his honour dressed to the nines, in grey T-shirt, black jacket, hot pink scarf matching his pink and white nail polish. In his big speech before the Brilliant Comrade, he declared: “Marshal, your father and your grandfather did some fucked-up shit. But you, you’re trying to make a change, and I love you for that.” Everyone held their breath, until the young dictator raised his glass and smiled. It is a reasonable bet that the Kim’s interpreter glossed over the rougher edges of Rodman’s message. The American ended up sharing a drunken karaoke night with his host. Rodman sang “My Way” while Kim went with James Brown’s “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine”. Camp farce sits uneasily side by side with the horrors of Kim’s consolidation of control. He killed many of the old party faithful who had helped smooth the transition of power after his father’s death. He reportedly had a top general executed by anti-aircraft gun for the crime of falling asleep when the leader was speaking. He had his uncle arrested and denounced as “despicable human scum” and “worse than a dog” before being executed. He had his half brother, Kim Jong-nam, killed by VX nerve agent at the check-in queue at Kuala Lumpur airport. The binary ingredients of the poison were administered by two women who were told they were taking part in a TV prank show. Fifield’s revelation that the murdered sibling had been a CIA informant is just one of the many new details in the book. And Kim expanded the gulags for lesser offenders built by his father and grandfather, Kim Il-sung, and added some of his own. Kim also completed the family project, building a working nuclear arsenal, including a hydrogen bomb and ICBMs capable of reaching the continental US. Fifield agrees with the expert consensus that it is fantasy to expect he would now give up this “treasured sword” for any economic incentives. But she is optimistic a deal can be struck that could cap the growth of the arsenal. For that to happen, however, it would help if his negotiating partner would find a mid-point between threats of annihilation and overwrought flattery. . The Great Successor: The Secret Rise and Rule of Kim Jong Un is published by John Murray (£20). To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £15, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

  • 'Game of Thrones' cast defend final season at Comic-Con
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    AFP Relax

    'Game of Thrones' cast defend final season at Comic-Con

    The "Game of Thrones" cast leapt to the defense of its much-maligned final season in front of a boisterous crowd at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday, blaming the backlash on negative media coverage. "It made sense to me," said the actor, before being interrupted by a heckler.

  • Simon Yam stabbed in shock attack
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    Cinema Online

    Simon Yam stabbed in shock attack

    64-year-old Hong Kong celebrity Simon Yam was stabbed in a shocking public event today.

  • What happened next to 'Thrones' characters? The cast explain
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    AFP Relax

    What happened next to 'Thrones' characters? The cast explain

    Cast members of "Game of Thrones" appeared at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday to discuss the HBO fantasy epic's controversial final season.

  • 50 years ago, humanity's first steps on another world
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    AFP Relax

    50 years ago, humanity's first steps on another world

    Fifty years ago on Saturday, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans in history to set foot on the Moon, an event watched on television by half a billion people. On Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence is due to deliver a speech from the Kennedy Space Center, from where Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins, the third crew member took off. It is within this charged context, with President Donald Trump publicly questioning NASA's plans to return to the Moon to test technology for Mars, that the US is celebrating the anniversary of the epoch-making Apollo 11 mission.

  • What links prayers at 6am with 0 degrees longitude? The Weekend quiz
    Style
    The Guardian

    What links prayers at 6am with 0 degrees longitude? The Weekend quiz

    Please make it be the right answer… Photograph: Getty Images Photograph: FangXiaNuo/Getty Images/iStockphoto The questions1 Which Nazi leader died in Paddington in 1981? 2 What are produced at La Masia and La Fábrica? 3 In publishing, what does ISBN stand for? 4 Adopted in 1625, what symbol is the Dannebrog? 5 Gabriele Münter was a founder member of what expressionist group? 6 What was nicknamed the Honourable John Company? 7 Which country separates Guyana and French Guiana? 8 In what novel is Constance unhappily married to Sir Clifford? What links: 9 Asgard and Midgard, in the form of a rainbow? 10 Singer O’Dowd; outlaw McCarty; slugger Ruth; bank robber Nelson? 11 Statant; sejant; rampant; passant; dormant? 12 Victoria Embankment; Cardiff City Hall; Colchester station? 13 Khumbu icefall; Kangshung face; Hornbein couloir; Hillary step? 14 Prayers at 6am; 0 degrees longitude; 2, 3, 5, 7, etc? 15 Prince of Morocco (Au); Prince of Arragon (Ag); Bassanio (Pb)?Blue sky thinking. Photograph: Getty Images Photograph: yupiyan/Getty Images/iStockphoto The answers1 Albert Speer. 2 Footballers (academies of Barcelona and Real Madrid). 3 International Standard Book Number. 4 Danish flag. 5 Der Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider). 6 East India Company. 7 Suriname. 8 Lady Chatterley’s Lover. 9 Bifrost (bridge in Norse myth, linking gods’ realm and Earth). 10 Young nicknames: Boy George; Billy the Kid; Babe Ruth; Baby Face Nelson. 11 Attitudes of animals in heraldry: standing; sitting; rearing; walking; lying down. 12 Statues of Boudicca. 13 Parts of Mount Everest. 14 Prime: canonical hour of prayer; prime meridian; prime numbers. 15 Caskets chosen by Portia’s suitors in The Merchant Of Venice: gold; silver; lead.

  • Stephen Collins on Boris Johnson – cartoon
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    The Guardian

    Stephen Collins on Boris Johnson – cartoon

    Stephen Collins cartoon

  • Mark Hamill Puts Conan O’Brien’s Comic Book Cred to the Test (Video)
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    The Wrap

    Mark Hamill Puts Conan O’Brien’s Comic Book Cred to the Test (Video)

    Conan O’Brien is a comic, but how well does he know comic books?The late-night host’s nerd cred was put to the test Friday at San Diego Comic-Con by none other than sci-fi superstar Mark Hamill.After a roaring standing ovation, the “Star Wars” legend — who was in San Diego promoting his new Netflix series “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” — took a seat to administer the “Comic-Con Citizenship Test” to Conan. In light of all the political discourse around citizenship, the test was designed to determine if Conan really belonged in San Diego.Also Read: 'The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance' - Look Behind the Gelfling Apocalypse in Comic-Con Clip (Video)“I know everything about Comic-Con,” Conan, who has hosted his show from the convention the last five years, boasted.“You have much to learn my young padawan,” Hamill replied, channeling Yoda from “Star Wars.”After a softball opener about “Avengers: Endgame,” the citizenship test questions got tougher and more obscure.President Trump, who questioned the citizenship of four progressive Democratic congresswomen earlier this week, came up several times, including in this fill-in-the-blank question: “If Superman arrived today, the President would tell him …”Check out the video above to find out the hilarious answer to that question and many more.Hamill proved he had comic chops as well.“I was here years before I met George Lucas. And it was the year they said, ‘you know there’s going to be five thousand people here,” Hamill recalled. He then dryly delivered the punchline: “And how many will be women?”TheWrap is in San Diego all week long for Comic-Con 2019 — check out all of our ongoing coverage here.Read original story Mark Hamill Puts Conan O’Brien’s Comic Book Cred to the Test (Video) At TheWrap

  • 'Veronica Mars' Season 4 Ends With an Explosive, Game-Changing Shocker
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    Entertainment Tonight

    'Veronica Mars' Season 4 Ends With an Explosive, Game-Changing Shocker

    Did that really just happen?! What the final (heartbreaking) 10 minutes of the season means for the show moving forward.

  • How One Singaporean, Against the Odds, Chose to be a Single Dad. And Succeeded
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    RICE

    How One Singaporean, Against the Odds, Chose to be a Single Dad. And Succeeded

    Why not?The post How One Singaporean, Against the Odds, Chose to be a Single Dad. And Succeeded appeared first on RICE.

  • John Boyega likes to match his fragrance to his outfit
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    Cover Media

    John Boyega likes to match his fragrance to his outfit

    Actor John Boyega was recently named as the first-ever male brand ambassador for perfume company Jo Malone London.

  • Kylie Jenner didn't start Kylie Cosmetics to make money
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    Cover Media

    Kylie Jenner didn't start Kylie Cosmetics to make money

    The billionaire beauty mogul has now expanded into skincare, with her new collection Kylie Skin.

  • George Takei Says Trump’s Comments About Muslims and Immigrants Are ‘an Echo From My Childhood’
    Style
    The Wrap

    George Takei Says Trump’s Comments About Muslims and Immigrants Are ‘an Echo From My Childhood’

    George Takei didn’t mince words when talking about the current political climate on Friday, telling a packed crowd at Comic-Con 2019 that statements made by Donald Trump — and Trump’s border policies — are “an echo from my childhood.”Takei spoke during the panel discussion for AMC’s “The Terror: Infamy” at Comic-Con 2019. The second season of the anthology series “The Terror,” which Takei stars in and also serves as a consultant, is set in a Japanese internment camp during World War II, much like the camps Takei and his family were imprisoned in from 1942 to 1945.When asked during the audience Q&A how he feels about statements made by Trump about immigrants, or the detention centers on the border , Takei was blunt. “When Donald Trump was campaigning for the Republican nomination, and among his other statements he called for a complete and total ban on Muslims coming into this country, I heard an echo from my childhood,” he said.Also Read: 'Game of Thrones' Star Conleth Hill Calls Final-Season Backlash 'a Media-Led Hate Campaign'Takei continued, saying that Trump’s statements such as calling Mexican immigrants “Drug dealers, criminals, rapists,” hit him particularly hard. He compared those comments to his own experience, saying “the power of that generalization” about Japanese-Americans in the 1940s “was, people with this face are potential spies, saboteurs.”There was, Takei continued, “no evidence for that sweeping generalization,” adding that what Trump “said about Muslims was a sweeping generalization.”“For me that mentality was the same,” he concluded. “It didn’t change me. I recognized it.”The audience gave Takei a standing ovation for his comments.“The Terror: Infamy” airs during the upcoming television season and also stars Derek Mio, Kiki Sukezane, Cristina Rodlo, Shingo Usami, Naoko Mori and Miki Ishikawa, and C. Thomas Howell in a recurring role.TheWrap is in San Diego all week for Comic-Con 2019 — check out all of our ongoing coverage here.Read original story George Takei Says Trump’s Comments About Muslims and Immigrants Are ‘an Echo From My Childhood’ At TheWrap

  • The Game of Thrones Cast Just Responded to Backlash and THAT Petition
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    Harper's Bazaar

    The Game of Thrones Cast Just Responded to Backlash and THAT Petition

    Stars speak out at San Diego Comic Con.

  • Maisie Williams: No, Jon Did Not Help Arya Kill the Night King
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    Harper's Bazaar

    Maisie Williams: No, Jon Did Not Help Arya Kill the Night King

    PLEASE give Arya credit where credit is due.