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Now you can rent this insane Beverly Hills party mansion for $475,000 a month


9505 Lania lane house of the day

When real estate mogul Jeff Greene listed his Beverly Hills mansion in November 2014 for $195 million, it made waves as the most expensive home for sale in the US.

Now, it appears Greene is trying to squeeze some value out of the house before it sells. It's been listed as a rental with a jaw-dropping asking price of $475,000 a month, according to Curbed LA.

Known as the "Palazzo di Amore," Greene's home was built for parties. It has an entertainment complex and ballroom that can fit 250 guests, a private-label vineyard, and parking garages for more than two dozen cars.

Greene, who made a fortune when the real estate bubble burst, is worth some $2.2 billion. With its $195 million listing price, his home is by far the most expensive on the US market, beating a Florida home currently listed at $139 million.

Joyce Rey and Stacy Gottula of Coldwell Banker Previews International have the listing.

The Palazzo di Amore is not your ordinary mansion. It's a true party palace, with space to entertain 1,000 guests.

Visitors pass through three sets of gates before arriving at the grand home. The two-story entry has a pair of curved marble staircases.

The 15,000-square-foot "entertainment complex" is what sets this home apart. It has a ballroom with a revolving floor and can host 250 for a seated dinner.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

I just ate the most delicious doughnuts of my life at a New York City car wash


On the corner of 47th Street and 12th Avenue in Manhattan, New York, stands a nondescript car wash. All day long dirty cars go in one end and clean ones come out the other. You've seen hundreds just like it. But this car wash is different. Inside, there's a tiny counter where they serve freshly made artisanal doughnuts. Welcome to Underwest Donuts.

If you didn't know it was there you might walk right past it, not knowing about the deliciousness inside.

underwest donuts 50


But once you enter and walk past the wiper fluid and air fresheners ...

underwest donuts 2


... you find the tiny counter of Underwest Donuts. Opened in October by former Chanterelle sous chef Scott Levine, the little operation specializes in delicious cake-like "sinkers."

underwest donuts 31


The counter is in the hallway, across from the glass windows of the car wash. Patrons and doughnut-makers can watch cars go by all day.

underwest donuts 15


The shop offers a small assortment of homemade — or shall we say car-wash-made — doughnuts cooked fresh every day, with flavors like Coco Raspberry, Espresso Bean, and Cinnamon.

underwest donuts 4


Each doughnut is cooked on-site using fresh ingredients and a classic doughnut-maker. Below, a fresh batch of Coconut Limes was being prepared with a sour-cream batter.

underwest donuts 32


First we sampled the Maple Waffle, which came with a piece of waffle cone. It tasted fresh and delicious with a classic glaze.

underwest donuts 11


Of course we couldn't stop at one. We sampled the Brown Butter glazed doughnut, which stopped us in our tracks. It was seriously decadent, especially for a doughnut made in a car wash. Sweet and rich, this was the best doughnuts we'd ever eaten and absolutely warranted a return trip to Underwest, regardless of its out-of-the-way location.

underwest donuts 35


The shop serves coffee and espresso drinks, and in the summer it plans to have a window to serve customers walking by. We plan to come back to check it out.

underwest donuts 37

SEE ALSO: 30 Bizarre Vending Machines From Around The World

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NOW WATCH: These Dishes Will Totally Change The Way You Order Chinese Food

Watch a man dangle over traffic while fixing power lines in China


Here's video from Shanghai of repairmen dangling dangerously above traffic while fixing overhead power lines. The video was shot by American tourist Tim Jones on a visit to the city.

Produced by Jason Gaines. Video courtesy of Associated Press.

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The 24 real best things to do in Hong Kong


Hong Kong junk boat

Euromonitor International recently named Hong Kong the most visited city in the world by international tourists.

Though it's technically part of China, Hong Kong has its own culture and personality. The cosmopolitan city is spread out over several small islands, many of which are very densely populated and full of incredible attractions, restaurants, and shops.  

We asked locals to send us their suggestions for the real best things to do in Hong Kong.

From gorgeous hiking trails in the mountains to bustling night markets, here are the 24 real best things to do in Hong Kong. 

Have high tea in the elegant lobby of the Peninsula Hotel.

Take the funicular up to Victoria Peak, the highest mountain on Hong Kong island, and look out over the towering city skyline.

Party on a junk boat while sailing through Hong Kong Harbor.

Learn more about junk boats in Hong Kong »

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Here's why 100 million people have gone nuts over 'Fifty Shades of Grey'


anastasia steele fifty shades of grey.JPG

The "Fifty Shades of Grey" movie made $81.7 million on its opening weekend, making it the most successful Presidents Day weekend debut in history and one of the biggest debuts for an R-rated movie. 

Released in 2011, the first book became the fastest-selling novel written for adults of all time, and the three-part trilogy sold more than 100 million copies, putting it in the same class as the "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" series and making its author, E.L. James, over $90 million in one year.

This is quizzical, given that the critical consensus is that both the books and the movie are pretty terrible.

Why have so many people become obsessed with "Fifty Shades" in print and on the screen? 

To untangle that knot, we've gathered possible explanations from a range of reporters, critics, and academics: 

While appearing new and divisive, "Fifty Shades" is an old, beloved story.

If you cut away the light bondage, "Fifty Shades" is the same story as "Beauty and the Beast," which was originally a French fairy tale first published in 1756 before becoming a blockbuster Disney feature. 

So it's kinky, yet familiar. 

"Fifty Shades" fits "the time-honored trope: innocent girl falls for troubled man, endures his anti-social behavior out of belief in his ultimate goodness, and eventually teaches him to be a sociable, polite member of society," writes blogger Joe Bunting

That same "tame-the-ruffian" plot has been endlessly re-fashioned, from "Pretty Woman" to "My Fair Lady" to "Taming of the Shrew" to "10 Things I Hate About You." 

New technology made the book accessible — and hideable.

"Fifty Shades" started as an e-book sensation, which may have helped give it an initial lift. 

"People who like to trace all new trends back to new technology have offered this explanation — that women who wouldn't be seen dead reading smut on the tube could read it on their Kindle, and this launched a whole world of sales," argues Guardian columnist Zoe Williams

It did. While e-books usually account for 20% of Random House's sales, 50% of "Fifty Shades" sales were digital.

Anti-fans couldn't stop talking about it. 

People love to hate "Fifty Shades," argue British feminist lit scholars Sarah Harman and Bethan Jones in a 2013 article for the journal Sexualities, and that's a big reason that the series has swelled in popularity. 

"We suggest that 'Fifty Shades' has ... generated an ironic, even guilty, fandom in which readers and viewers bemoan the series' flaws, while enjoying (sometimes furtively) the texts," they write. 

In this way, "hate reading" the books is a way of deeply engaging with them, as well as telling everybody about your taste. While the haters might dismiss the books as "bad literature," "popular," and "drivel," they're still talking about the books with their friends — making everybody more curious about what's inside. 

It worked for the movie, too. MSNBC editor Adam Howard has said that "Fifty Shades" is a zeitgeist-capturing conversation-driver like another big 2015 release — "American Sniper."

"These are films that become events because of the 'controversy' they generate as well as their box office numbers (which becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophecy)," Howard writes. "They drive audiences into pro- or con- camps that often have little do with a film's merits and much more to do with what they represent for their fans or detractors."

The movie was incredibly well-timed.

Universal was originally going to release the "Fifty Shades" movie in October 2014, but saved it for the Valentine's Day and Presidents Day combo weekend, usually a time reserved for family-friendly romantic comedies

"Fifty Shades" is anything but family friendly. 

"The gamble paid off," BoxOffice.com analyst Phil Contrino tells Variety. "It flies in the face of what you'd expect to be released on that day. It's usually safe and non-offensive dramas and comedies."

The sex is good.

Most sex scenes in books are terrible, says Williams, the Guardian columnist. That's why the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award exists — for authors that describe sex with awkward metaphors and excruciatingly awkward sex scenes, which are often disconnected from the plot.

Then there's "Fifty Shades."

"James' sex scenes are not incidental; they are the meat of the plot, the crux of the conflict, the key to at least one of and possibly both the central characters," she says. "It is a sex book."

In this way, "Fifty Shades" captures something that serious fiction misses: sexuality. As New York Times critic A. O. Scott says, the novel "trashily" and "triumphantly" succeeded in being something that there's a proven market for: pornography. 

The film — in fitting snugly within the R-rating — is much less explicit than the book, but surprisingly relatable.

"The sex scenes are closer to actual sex between two people who like each other than almost anything I've ever seen in a theater," writes Business Insider's Shane Ferro. "They're not even really that good, but they are better than the male-centric sexual cliché that Hollywood usually churns out."

SEE ALSO: Meet the author behind the steamy 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' phenomenon

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Learn what all the fuss is about — here's the regular guy's guide to 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

Starbucks just took premium coffee to a whole new level



Starbucks has launched a new delivery service for fans of its most premium coffee beans.

The service will deliver the beans within three to five days after they are roasted at Starbucks' Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle.

Customers can sign up for a monthly subscription to receive the small-batch coffee straight from the roastery.

Each month, subscribers will receive one 8.8-ounce bag of beans. A one-month subscription (one bag) costs $24 and a 12-month subscription (12 bags) costs $288.

By comparison, an 8.8-ounce bag of Starbucks' premium Reserve blend ranges from $12.95 to $17.95. A one-pound bag of Starbucks' Pike Place blend costs $11.95. 

"Starbucks Reserve Roastery subscriptions are — aside from visiting the Roastery and having our partners scoop the coffee right in front of you — the freshest, fastest and most innovative whole bean coffee experience in the marketplace," Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in a release. 

Starbucks' opened the Seattle Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in December. The company has plans to build 100 cafes globally that will exclusively serve Reserve coffee.

Starbucks is also planning to start a beverage delivery service this year. 

The company is "finalizing plans for two distinct delivery models — one of which utilizes our own people, green-apron baristas, and the other, which leverages the capabilities of the third-party service, Schultz said in a call with analysts last month.

Members of Starbucks' loyalty program will be able to request delivery through Starbucks' new mobile order and pay app, which will be rolled out nationwide this year.

SEE ALSO: Starbucks Baristas Will Soon Deliver Coffee To Your Door

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100 biographies to read in your lifetime


woman reading on bed with a dog

Whether they provide a glimpse into the past or capture the life of a contemporary icon, biographies and memoirs let us walk in someone else’s shoes.

The Amazon Books editors compiled a list of the 100 biographies and memoires that everyone should read in their lifetime.

A few of the titles are admittedly novels (or "authors shrouding their experiences within the cloak of fiction," as the Amazon editors put it) while others are classic biographies, but all of the books are essential reading on some of the world's most famous politicians, comedians, musicians, chefs, freedom fighters, and artists.

From the autobiographies of Malala Yousafzai and Barak Obama to the storied lives of historical titans like Winston Churchill and Frederick Douglass, keep scrolling to see the 100 biographies you should add to your reading list.

  1. "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" by Dave Eggers

  2. "A Long Way Gone" by Ishmael Beah

  3. "A Moveable Feast" by Ernest Hemingway

  4. "A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson 

  5. "American Caesar" by William Manchester

  6. "American Lion" by Jon Meacham

  7. "American Prometheus" by Kai Bird 

  8. "American Sniper" by Chris Kyle

  9. "American Sphinx" by Joseph J. Ellis

  10. "Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt 

  11. "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank

  12. "Autobiography of a Face" by Lucy Grealy

  13. "Autobiography of Mark Twain" by Mark Twain

  14. "Ball Four" by Jim Bouton

  15. "Black Boy" by Richard Wright

  16. "Black Like Me" by John Howard Griffin

  17. "Born Standing Up" by Steve Martin

  18. "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall

  19. "Bossypants" by Tina Fey

  20. "Cash" by Johnny Cash

  21. "Catherine the Great" by Robert K. Massie

  22. "Chronicles" by Bob Dylan

  23. "Churchill: A Life" by Martin Gilbert

  24. "Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice" by Phillip Hoose

  25. "Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness" by William Styron

  26. "De Profundis and Other Prison Writings" by Oscar Wilde

  27. "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight" by Alexandra Fuller

  28. "Dorothy Parker" by Marion Meade

  29. "Dreams from My Father" by Barack Obama 

  30. "Drinking: A Love Story" by Caroline Knapp

  31. "Dust Tracks on a Road" by Zora Neale Hurston

  32. "E=mc~2" by David Bodanis

  33. "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert

  34. "Endurance" by Alfred Lansing

  35. "Everybody Was So Young" by Amanda Vaill

  36. "Helen Keller: The Story of My Life" by Helen Keller

  37. "I Am Malala" by Malala Yousafzai 

  38. "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou

  39. "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer

  40. "Just Kids" by Patti Smith

  41. "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain

  42. "Knock Wood" by Candice Bergen 

  43. "Life" by Keith Richards

  44. "Long Walk to Freedom" by Nelson Mandela 

  45. "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius

  46. "Mortality" by Christopher Hitchens

  47. "My Life in France" by Julia Child 

  48. "Naked" by David Sedaris

  49. "Napoleon" by Andrew Roberts

  50. "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" by Frederick Douglass

  51. "Night" by Elie Wiesel

  52. "Notes of a Native Son" by James Baldwin

  53. "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac

  54. "Open" by Andre Agassi

  55. "Out of Africa" by Isak Dinesen

  56. "Personal History" by Katharine Graham

  57. "Robert A. Caro's The Years of Lyndon Johnson" by Robert A. Caro

  58. "Running with Scissors" by Augusten Burroughs

  59. "Savage Beauty" by Nancy Milford

  60. "Seabiscuit: An American Legend" by Laura Hillenbrand 

  61. "Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher" by Timothy Egan 

  62. "Speak, Memory" by Vladimir Nabokov

  63. "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson

  64. "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" by Richard P. Feynman

  65. "Tennessee Williams" by John Lahr

  66. "The Agony and the Ecstasy" by Irving Stone

  67. "The Andy Warhol Diaries" by Andy Warhol

  68. "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas" by Gertrude Stein

  69. "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" by Malcolm X

  70. "The Basketball Diaries" by Jim Carroll

  71. "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath

  72. "The Color of Water" by James McBride

  73. "The Complete Maus" by Art Spiegelman

  74. "The Complete Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi

  75. "The Diary of Anais Nin" by Anais Nin

  76. "The Diary of Frida Kahlo" by Carlos Fuentes

  77. "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls

  78. "The Gulag Archipelago" by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

  79. "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot

  80. "The Kid Stays in the Picture" by Robert Evans

  81. "The Last Lone Inventor" by Evan I. Schwartz

  82. "The Liars' Club" by Mary Karr

  83. "The Motorcycle Diaries" by Ernesto Che Guevara

  84. "The Professor and the Madman" by Simon Winchester

  85. "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" by Edmund Morris

  86. "The Soul of A New Machine" by Tracy Kidder

  87. "The Tender Bar" by J. R. Moehringer

  88. "The Woman Warrior" by Maxine Hong Kingston

  89. "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion

  90. "This Boy's Life" by Tobias Wolff

  91. "Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr." by Ron Chernow

  92. "Touching the Void" by Joe Simpson

  93. "Travels with Charley in Search of America" by John Steinbeck 

  94. "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand

  95. "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayes

  96. "Updike" by Adam Begley

  97. "Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov)" by Stacy Schiff

  98. "West with the Night" by Beryl Markham

  99. "Wild Swans" by Jung Chang

  100. "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed

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SEE ALSO: 25 American classics everyone should read at least once

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NOW WATCH: Learn what all the fuss is about — here's the regular guy's guide to 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

Here are millennials' favorite neighborhoods in 6 big US cities


The Generationed City project at the University of Waterloo, led by Professor Markus Moos, seeks to understand the social, economic, and geographic characteristics of different age groups in the US and Canada. One of their projects is to map which cities and neighborhoods have the highest concentrations of young adults.

The maps show the location quotients of adults age 25 to 34 for neighborhoods in a number of major North American cities. Location quotients measure relative geographic concentration by comparing the proportion of young adults in each neighborhood to the proportion in the overall metropolitan area.

Higher location quotients, represented by darker coloring in the maps, indicate neighborhoods that have a higher concentration of young adults than the metro area as a whole. In the darkest red neighborhoods, young adults are over twice as common as they are in the overall metro area.

In New York City, much of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens have more millennials than the NYC metro area overall. Hoboken and Jersey City also have some young-adult-heavy block groups:

new york city millennials

 San Francisco and Oakland have higher concentrations of young adults than the overall metro area:

san francisco millennials

Millennials are common in the western neighborhoods of Washington, DC: 

washington dc millennials

 Millennials are highly concentrated on the north side of Chicago:

chicago millennials

 Young adults are a bit more spread out in Los Angeles:

los angeles millennials

 Boston's city core has a high rate of 25- to 34-year-olds:

Boston millennials

To see more cities, and to take a survey furthering the team's research on millennials, check out Generationed City's website here.

SEE ALSO: The era of city-dwelling millennials is coming to an end

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NOW WATCH: Animated map of what Earth would look like if all the ice melted

Axe's new hair product is the best I've ever used


Axe Styling Cream

Axe's new hair product, the White Label cooling styling cream, is by far the best of the brand's new products in the White Label collection.

The cream's price-to-quality ratio sets a new standard for budget hair product — one that I don't think another product will be able to reach for some time.

It's $6.97 MSRP is about half the price of any product near as good as this.

I was able to try the product when Axe sent it to Business Insider for review purposes.

Allow me to rave a bit:

The cream comes packaged in an easy-to-use bottle — which squeezes out more like a sandwich condiment than hair product — making it easy to remove from its tube.

Once you get it out, the pasty white cream takes a bit of effort to rub into your hair. But as long as you apply it root-to-tip, you'll be good. After application, the cream dries quickly in your hair.

The product wears light in your hair, and it looks and feels like there's nothing in your hair at all. It has a smooth matte finish and somehow leaves your hair feeling softer. It's also allows your hair to be restyled throughout the day without losing hold.

The cream doesn't offer the strongest hold — if you're looking to spike your hair up, look elsewhere — but it will give you style and definition your hair naturally lacks. It was perfect for my rather thick, heavy hair.

In a switch from the rest of the Axe product line, this cream has only a light, pleasant scent.

For the price, you should just try it for yourself.

To find out more about Axe White Label and what I thought of it, see my full review.

SEE ALSO: The Only Three Hair Products Men Should Use

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Here's what Jeff Bezos told us about the future of drones in the US


The FAA has released new proposed rules for drone regulation in the United States. Under those rules, Amazon's Prime Air program would not be allowed to operate. In December at Ignition 2014, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget that regulation is the biggest roadblock for his company's future drone plans.

Produced by Jason Gaines. Additional camera by Justin Gmoser and Sam Rega.

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This is what happens to your brain and body when you check your phone before bed

21 mouth-watering dishes served in Facebook's cafeterias


facebook cafeteria

Amazing cafeteria food is just one of many perks that tech workers in Silicon Valley get to enjoy.

The more than 6,000 employees at Facebook's Menlo Park headquarters are no exception.

With 11 spots serving up Asian cuisine, burgers, and BBQ, Facebookers have to choose from any given day.  All of the food is available either for free or at a heavily discounted rate for Facebook employees and guests.

Epic Cafe is the largest of the Facebook 11 eateries. You can find a variety of dishes there, like this surf and turf meal.

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Here's a happy hour meal made up of a bacon kimchi hot dog and black bean sauce fries.

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And here's a fancier dish of duck confit and peach jam.

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A 24-year-old YouTube star just bought a five-bedroom house for $1.4 million


zoella house

Amassing millions of fans on YouTube really does pay off. 

24-year-old Zoe Sugg — or "Zoella," as she's known on YouTube — has paid more than $1.4 million for a five-bedroom home in Hove, East Sussex, according to the Daily Mail.

Sugg has more than 7.3 million fans on her YouTube channel, where she posts style tutorials and videos showing off her latest purchases.

She's created a line of beauty products, published a bestselling book, and now she has her own house, which she'll be sharing with fellow YouTuber and boyfriend Alfie Deyes.

The home is located in Hove, a small town on the southern coast of England. Large gates seal off the property, presumably to keep the YouTubers safe from their hordes of fans.

Inside, the house is spacious and bright.

The couple bought the house in October, but they waited a few months before moving in. "It has been a secret and this is the first time that Alfie and I have lived together," Zoella told her fans in a YouTube video. "We’ve moved into a new place. I didn’t know I owned so much stuff. I’m so excited."

Source: Metro UK, YouTube

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

10 incredible dishes you should try in Brazil


When most people think of Brazilian food, they think of honking skewers of meat from a Churrascaria. But Brazilian cuisine is much more varied than that. Sure, there's enough meat that carnivores will be satiated, but there's also an incredible array of exotic fruits and vegetables from the Amazon, fresh fish, rich desserts, and flavorful stews. 

Here are 10 incredible Brazilian dishes you may not have heard of, but should try:

Pão de queijo: A type of fresh-baked cheesy bread that Brazilians eat for breakfast.Brazilian cheesy breadMoqueca: A type of Bahian fish stew that's made with coconut milk, prawns, small boneless fish, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and coriander.Moqueca Brazilian dishFeijoada: Brazil's national dish is a rich stew made with black beans, smoked pork and a combination of other meats, like bacon, ribs, sausage, and beef. Some versions include kale, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and pumpkin. Feijoada Brazilian dishPastel de nata: A Portuguese egg tart pastry that's often topped with Cinnamon and sugar.Pastel de nata Brazilian foodCaipirinha: “Brazil's national cocktail” is made with cachaça (sugar cane hard liquor), sugar and lime. Variations are made with fresh fruit like pineapple, passion fruit, etc. Learn how to make one here.Caipirinha Cocktail from BrazelChurrasco: Grilled, skewered meats are a Brazilian staple. Brazilians barbecue everything from beef and pork to lamb, chicken, and turkey.Churrasco BrazilBolinhos de bacalhau: Fried salted cod fritters are a delicious, salty snack often served with lime. It's a great snack on the beach.bolinhos de bacalhauBobó de camarão: Also called shrimp bobo, this dish consists of sauteed shrimp in a puree of manioc (cassava) flour, coconut milk, and spices.Shrimp bobo Brazilian dishPitaya: Dragonfruit is just one of the incredible exotic fruits to come out of the Amazon. It's cut up and sold on the streets all over Brazil.Pitaya dragonfruit from BrazilBrigadeiros: These sprinkle-covered chocolate truffles are filled with a gooey combination of condensed milk, chocolate powder, and butter. It tastes like a crunchy ball filled with Nutella.Brigadeiro Brazilian chocolate

SEE ALSO: 22 Stunning Pictures That Will Make You Want To Visit Brazil

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Watch all of this year's Oscar 'best picture' nominees before the big awards show


ralph fiennes the grand budapest hotel

The 87th annual Oscar awards will take place at 8pm EST on Sunday, February 22.

In case you missed any (or all) of this year's best picture nominees, we've put together a list with some notable reviews and where you can get the movies in your own home.

Check them out before the winner is announced.

"American Sniper"

bradley cooper american sniperWhy you want to watch it:

"The film is, simply, a tragedy in which American certainty comes to grief against the rocks of the real world, and it views its central figure as a decent man doing indecent things for what he keeps telling himself is a greater good," writes Ty Burr of the Boston Globe.

Pre-order DVD: $28.98 $17.99
Pre-order Amazon Instant Video: from $14.99 to $19.99


birdman norton keaton fightWhy you want to watch it: 

"This is a strange and beautiful and unique film, one of the best movies of the year," writes Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Order DVD: $30.00 $19.96
Order Amazon Instant Video: $12.99 to $14.99


Boyhood Why you want to watch it: 

"The year's most captivating narrative experiment, and possibly the most engrossing coming-of-age movie in the history of the genre," writes John Hartl of the Seattle Times.

DVD: $39.99 $24.88

Amazon Instant Video: from $2.99 to $14.99

"The Grand Budapest Hotel"

grand budapest hotelWhy you want to watch it: 

"The comedy in The Grand Budapest Hotel is among the broadest yet undertaken by Anderson. But amid the frenzied hubbub, there are intimations of a darker, sadder history unfolding," writes Christopher Orr of The Atlantic.

DVD: $29.98 $11.88
Amazon Instant Video: $9.99

"The Imitation Game"

the imitation game benedict cumberbatchWhy you want to watch it: 

"This film's overall success hangs on Cumberbatch and what is, to date, his finest performance on the big screen," writes Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Pre-order DVD: $29.98 $17.99
Pre-order Amazon Instant Video: $12.99 to $14.99



SelmaWhy you want to watch it: 

"More often than not ... 'Selma' focuses on the one thing we don't expect in a movie about Martin Luther King Jr. - his doubts - and Oyelowo comes through with a deeply felt and quite brilliant performance," writes Ty Burr of the Boston Globe.

Pre-order DVD: $29.99 $17.95
Pre-order Amazon Instant Video: from $14.99 to $19.99

"The Theory of Everything"

The Theory of Everything stephen hawkingWhy you want to watch it: 

"It's an exceptional film, not because of its protagonists' impressive triumphs, but because it honors their struggle," writes Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post.

Pre-order DVD: $32.98 $22.99

Pre-order Amazon Instant Video: $14.99



Whiplash music schoolWhy you want to watch it: 

"Ultimately, 'Whiplash' isn't just about jazz - and it's not necessary to be a fan of the music to enjoy the film - but about life," writes Calvin Wilson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 

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11 Japanese customs that are shocking to foreign travelers


Japan has a unique culture that has a very strict code of etiquette. 

There are specific ways to eat noodles, good practices for accepting gifts, and certain rules to follow so that you avoid insulting a host. 

This complex web of social rules and traditions can be overwhelming for those traveling to Japan, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the things that foreigners find most shocking when visiting the country. 

Here are 11 customs you should know before traveling to Japan. 

1. The number four is avoided at all cost. 


In Japan, the number four is avoided because it sounds very similar to the word for death. In the same vein as the number 13 in Western culture, the number four is extremely unlucky and is used as little as possible. You must always avoid giving anyone something in fours since it can be seen as a very ominous gift. 

Elevators will often be missing a fourth floor — and in some extreme cases, they will not have the floors 40-49. The number 49 is especially unlucky, as it sounds similar to the phrase which means “pain until death.” 

The practice of avoiding the number four is called “Tetraphobia,” and is common in many East Asian and Southeast Asian regions. 

2. Blowing your nose in public is considered rude. 

Blowing your nose in public is not only seen as rude, but simply disgusting. Instead, people will generally sniffle until they find somewhere private. If you simply must blow your nose, it is recommended that you do so as discreetly as possible. 

The Japanese are also repelled by the idea of a handkerchief. 

3. Tipping can be seen as insulting. 

Tipping is considered rude — and can even be seen as degrading. Tipping will often cause confusion, and many people will chase after you to give you back your money. 

If someone has been particularly helpful and you feel absolutely compelled to leave a tip, Rough Guides suggests leaving a small present instead. 

4. Walking and eating is seen as sloppy.

women eating ice cream in Japan

Although walking and eating is often convenient and widely accepted in many Western cultures, the practice is looked down upon in Japan. Many also consider it rude to eat in public or on the trains. 

There are just a few exceptions to this rule, including the fact that it is okay to eat an ice-cream cone on the street. 

5. There are designated people who will push you into a crowded subway car.


Oshiya, or “pushers,” wear uniforms, white gloves, and hats and literally push people into crowded subway cars during rush hour.

They are paid to make sure everybody gets in and doesn’t get caught in the doors. 

6. People will sleep on the trains with their head on your shoulder.

If someone falls asleep with their head on you shoulder in Japan, it is common practice to just tolerate it. People have very long commutes and work dreadfully long hours, so many will often fall asleep on the train. 

"There is a tolerance that if the person next to you falls asleep and their head kind of lands on your shoulder, people just put up with it. That happens a lot," Sandra Barron told CNN

7. There are toilet slippers for the bathrooms. 

Japanese slippersIt is customary to change into slippers when entering a Japanese home, a traditional restaurant, temples, and sometimes museums and art galleries, according to Rough Guides. Basically anytime you come across of row of slippers in Japan, you should just put them on. 

There are even special toilet slippers kept inside the bathroom, so you’ll take off your house slippers and put on the toilet slippers.  

8. You must always bring a host a gift.

It is an honor to be invited to someone’s home in Japan, and if this happens you must always bring a gift. The gift should also be wrapped in the most elaborate way possible, and lots of fancy ribbons are suggested. 

You should also never refuse a gift once offered — but it is good practice to strongly protest the gift at first. 

9. Pouring you own glass is considered rude. 

It is customary in the US (and many other countries in the world) to serve others before you serve yourself, but in Japan you are never supposed to pour yourself a drink. If you have poured for others, another guest will hopefully see that your drink is empty, and pour for you. 

You must also always wait for someone to say “Kanpai” (cheers) before drinking. 

10. Slurping noodles is not only seen as polite — but also means that you have enjoyed your meal. 

Slurping noodles in Osaka, Japan

Slurping is considered polite in Japan because it shows that you are enjoying your delicious noodles — in fact, if you don’t eat loudly enough it can be mistaken as you not enjoying your food

Slurping noodles isn’t entirely for the sake of politeness, but also to avoid having a burnt tongue. Japanese soup and noodles are generally served steaming hot, hot enough to burn, and slurping helps to cool down the food.

But unlike some other Asian nations, it is still considered rude to belch at the table

11. Sleeping in capsule hotels that aren't much bigger than a coffin is very common. 

China first capsule hotelCapsule hotels are used as cheap accommodations for guests who purely want a place to sleep — and are most often used by businessmen working or those who have partied too late and have missed the last train home. 

The sleeping quarters are small capsules that are not much bigger than a coffin, and the beds are stacked side-by-side and on top of one another. The concept has been around in Japan since the 1970s, but has begun to spread to a few other countries around the world

The hotels are a cheap alternative to a hotel, since a bed costs only $65 a night, but should be avoided for anyone who suffers from even slight claustrophobia. 

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Priests are observing Ash Wednesday by posting #ashtag selfies on social media



Priests are celebrating Ash Wednesday by posting a slew of "ashtagged" selfies to Instagram and Twitter. 

Believers traditionally mark the Christian holiday, which denotes the beginning of Lent, by smearing ceremonial ashes across their forehead. Now, they're also snapping selfies.

Though the #ashtag selfie trend began last year, it didn't gain steam until this year's holiday. 

Of course, some on Twitter have objected to the flagrant display of faith. "Don't think They approve of all these #ashtag selfies. Something about letting your good deeds be seen by God rather than paraded on Twitter," one user tweeted Wednesday morning. 

Greg Hills, associate professor of Theology at Bellarmine University, chimed in saying, "I've racked my brain trying to justify, theologically or otherwise, #ashtag & public displays of ashes. I've got nothin."

"That said, I don't at all want to detract from something that may, for some, make for an even more meaningful Lent," he added. 

Check out some of our favorite #ashtags below.


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I went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and it's definitely the wildest party of the year


This year marked my fourth time as one of the over 1.2 million people at the hottest free party in the country: Mardi Gras.

But even though I've gone to New Orleans to celebrate the epic festival for the past several years, each year it surprises me with just how crazy it is. Mardi Gras truly is the wildest party of the year.

Today marks Ash Wednesday, the last day of Mardi Gras, so I thought I'd share my "Mardi Pardi" experience. 

I arrived on February 10, the week before Fat Tuesday, to find that Mardi Gras festivities were already well underway. There had been regular parades since January, and there were daily parades in the week leading up to Fat Tuesday. 

Mardi Gras Floats

I started out at The Boot, one of the best college bars in America, which is a haven for Tulane and Loyola students as well as other visiting college kids. I found that the area was flooded with campers and Winnebagos parked outside the landmark bar. I even saw a police officer help some fraternity brothers get a keg on top of their camper

The Boot Mardi Gras

And then I headed to the parades. This is when the trees become filled with beads while the streets become filled with — well, I'd rather not know. In the future I'll be sure to wear closed-toe shoes. 

Throughout the week my friends and I found ourselves walking most places because many of the streets were blocked off and cabs were scarce (Uber, please get more drivers in New Orleans). 

Mardi Gras parades

People camp out for hours along St. Charles Street, which is where the majority of parades take place, to secure a prime viewing spot. However, my friends and I managed to find great parade spots and score lots of swag despite arriving just minutes before the parades reached us. 

Mardi Gras Each float, called a parade Krewehas its own story and theme. In addition to throwing beads, the people on the floats also toss different items at the crowd: I got a free Vegas-themed purse from the Krewe of Nyx, while the Krewe of Muses tossed shoes into the crowd. 

Mardi gras nyx pursesMy favorite parade, however, was the Krewe of Tucks, which oddly tosses plungers and toilet brushes into the crowds. I saw a man on one of the floats holding one of the coveted plungers. We made eye contact, he pointed at me, and had me chase the float for my prize — totally worth it. 

Mardi Gras Krewe of Tucks

On my last day we went to the infamous Bourbon Street. We were greeted with signs saying "Mardi On!" and people dressed in all sorts of costumes. I donned a purple tutu. First we headed to Pat O'Brien's bar, a popular spot for 20-somethings, to meet up with friends and get some hurricanes, a signature Mardi Gras drink.

Mardi Gras

There were Christian protesters everywhere, but this year I found their messages to be much nicer than they had been in previous years. 

Bourbon street Mardi gras

We ended our day on one of Bourbon Street's balconies, the best place to be in my opinion. We sipped hurricanes and tossed beads to people in the street below. 

Mardi Gras

SEE ALSO: 10 delicious foods that you can only eat in New Orleans

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Science explains how to make a long-distance relationship actually work


long distance relationship

Today, about 3 million married Americans and as many as half of US college students are in a long-distance relationship— but don't feel too bad for them.

Scientific studies show that couples in long-distance relationships can be equally, if not more, satisfied as geographically-close couples. Not only that, long-distance couples are more likely to share meaningful thoughts and feelings, and therefore, experience a deeper sense of emotional intimacy, according to one study of 63 college students.

But not everyone can thrive in this kind of romantic commitment.

Emma Dargie, a PhD student in clinical psychology at Queen's University who has studied hundreds of long-distance daters, says that the single best advice for maintaining a healthy, long-distance relationship is communication.

"Establish the needs of each partner early on, practice working towards meeting those needs, and give feedback about which needs are still being unmet," Dargie told Business Insider in an email.

These needs can include agreeing on anything from on how often the couple communicates to how frequently they take time to see each other in person. In fact, it's important to set dates for meet ups, Dargie said. Going long distance with no end in sight can be trickier.

"Those who are certain of when they will be in the same city as their partner … seem to cope better with the distance," she said.

The hardest part

Dargie, along with a team of researchers at Queen's University, published a paper last year that compared relationship quality between long-distance couples and geographically-close couples.

long distance relationshipIn their study, the researchers gave 474 females and 243 males in long-distance relationships a series of questions on topics including intimacy, commitment, communication, and sexual satisfaction (or lack thereof). The researchers asked the same questions of 314 females and 111 males who lived near their partner.

In the end, Dargie and her colleagues found no difference in the quality of the relationship for either type of couple. Oddly enough, they found that for long-distance couples, the farther apart each partner was from the other geographically, the higher their level of satisfaction, intimacy, and communication was.

This suggests that the hardest part about long-distance relationships is not the distance itself, Dargie said.

"According to our research, it's not necessarily how far apart you are or how little you see your partners," she explained. "It's more about the discrepancy between your expectations for relationships and the reality of your current situation."

In addition to her research, Dargie is an expert on long-distance romance from personal experience. In fact, part of the reason she began researching this type of relationship is because she was in a long-distance relationship at the time.

"There was not, and still is not, a great deal of research on the topic, so my partner and we were just stumbling through as best we could. Ultimately, that relationship ended," Dargie said. "Although it would be tempting to blame the long distance for that dissolution, I now see that the relationship had just run its course."

Technology to the rescue

iphone facetime head tiltWhile long-distance relationships are nothing new and faraway lovers have historically stayed in touch via letters and phone calls, recent technology — especially the internet — means it's possible to regularly see and communicate with your partner even if you can't be with them physically.

The study of 63 couples, published in the Journal of Communication in 2013, found that digital media, like video chatting and texting, may help couples achieve healthy long-distance relationships — at least among younger daters. (The average age of research participants was 21, and the authors cautioned in the paper that "the sample of tech-savvy college students may limit the generalizability of the conclusions.")

The study analyzed 876 diary entries detailing the couples' day-to-day interactions. Roughly half of the couples were in long-distance relationships. Although the people in a long-distance did not interact as frequently throughout the day, their interactions were longer and more intimate.

"If being geographically apart is inevitable, people should not despair," Crystal Jiang, an assistant professor at City University of Hong Kong and coauthor of the paper, told the Huffington Post. "They are capable of communicating intimacy."

Some more advice

drew barrymore in going the distance movieIn any relationship, but especially in long-distance relationships, it's important to understand that your partner has a life outside of the relationship. While making time for talking and being together is crucial, it's also important to spend time with friends and family.

"There is likely little that people will be able to do in order to change their long distance status, but if they devote their time to filling their lives with good people and fun activities, that absence may feel less pronounced," Dargie told Business Insider. "Plus, that gives much more to talk about during phone and/or Skype dates!"

SEE ALSO: Here's why marriage is harder than ever

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Dramatic video out of China captured a manhole explosion that sent a 5-year-old flying in the air


Here is a video of a five-year-old boy thrown in the air after a manhole exploded underneath him.

The boy can be seen playing on roller-skates before dropping the firecracker into the manhole, which violently explodes underneath him before he has time to move away. He escaped with only injuries to his leg. 

Produced by Jason Gaines. Video courtesy of Associated Press.

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