Adorable Portraits Explore The Lives Of Big-City Shop Cats

Tamar Arslanian knows that shop cats aren’t just cute, they can play a vital role in a city like New York that can feel a bit cold and brutal at times.

It all started when she started posting photos of two shop cats in her neighborhood — Jack, who lives at a wine shop and Kitty, who resides at a pilates studio — on social media, and was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and interest of her fellow New Yorkers. Many of them had favorite local shop cats of their own.

“It’s then I began to realize how pervasive shop cats were in the city, and the important role they played in adding a touch of warmth – a sense of community even – in a place that can sometimes feel overwhelming and impersonal,” she told HuffPost in an email.

That realization inspired Arslanian to write “Shop Cats of New York,” a book that explores the lesser-known lives of the city’s most adored felines. She teamed up with photographer Andrew Marttila, who shot gorgeous portraits of the book’s furry stars.

Arslanian had some important criteria for which cats she included.

“First and foremost, I wanted to to feel confident the cats were well cared for and beloved,” she said.

As it turns out, she was pleasantly surprised by just how great the cats’ lives seemed to be.

“My biggest ‘ah ha’ was realizing the level of stimulation and attention these cats received in comparison to most house cats, mine included,” she said. “I see my cats for about an hour before work and a few hours in the evenings during the week, but I can’t say I’m actively playing with them for very long. It made me realize the level of enrichment these cats were receiving on a daily basis. In some ways they could be viewed as having fuller lives than most cats living in more traditional homes.”

That’s one reason why Arslanian would like to see more animal shelters and rescue groups be open to adopting out cats to businesses, not just traditional residences.

“Businesses could be vetted as are most adopters, and assessed to ensure the business and cat are a good fit for one another,” she said, noting that of course not all cats have personalities that would be suited to that environment.

See a selection of Marttila’s photos from the book below.

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‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Showrunner Is Already Talking About Future Seasons

Hulu’s soon-to-be-released adaption of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian classic, The Handmaid’s Tale, has yet to premiere, but that hasn’t stopped the showrunner and producers from dreaming about future seasons.

During a panel discussion that took place after a screening of the series’ first episode at Tribeca Film Festival, members of the cast and crew discussed all things “Handmaid’s Tale,” including how the source material for the adaptation of Atwood’s incredibly prescient novel leaves the door wide open for an expanded version of the story for TV. 

“When the book ends, the reaction is fury, because the way it ends is so cut off,” showrunner Bruce Miller told audiences on Friday night. “And so in some ways, immediately, the first thing you think of is ― how are we going to expand this story? Because that’s what your desire is as a reader.”

The book, he noted, is written strictly from the perspective of Offred ― one of the many handmaids living in the theocratic dictatorship known as Gilead, who are forced to function as sexual surrogates for leaders of the republic. In this indeterminate future version of the United States, sterility has become an overwhelming issue, resulting in a return to “traditional” values and widespread subjugation of women, particularly those of lower social standing who are capable of bearing children for more powerful men. 

“The book is so strictly from Offred’s point of view, that you hear about all of these amazing, interesting worlds and all of these parts of all of these things that are going on, but you don’t see any of them going on in the book,” Miller explained. “That, to me, as a TV series [showrunner], seemed like … once you create this world, you have a lot of places to go.”

“I wanted to know more,” he added. “I wanted to know what happens next. The end of the book is quite a mystery, so I get to make it up.”

The first three episodes of the Hulu series certainly center around the life of Offred (Elizabeth Moss), once a free mother and wife who’s now forced to live with, serve and produce children for a high-ranking commander in Gilead’s militant regime. But we’re also given a glimpse into the worlds of fellow handmaid Ofglen (Alexis Bledel), Offred’s best friend from college Moira (Samira Wiley), the commander’s wife Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski), handmaid trainer Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd), and even the commander himself (Joseph Fiennes).

“You might not stay with Offred the whole time,” teased “Lemonade” cinematographer Reed Morano, the director of the first three “Handmaid’s” episodes.

Executive producer Warren Littlefield was more than willing to entertain the idea of future “Handmaid’s Tale” seasons as well:

The landscape of television right now is such an exciting playground for artists. The audience asks, each and every year, to only get more complex in character and more complex in story. Look at who’s up on stage. Each and every one of these actors ― the characters that they play ― there’s so much to explore. Where a limited series is certainly thriving right now in the television landscape, Bruce has years and the struggle continues. God knows it’s relevant. So […] we’ve only scratched the surface in the first 10 hours and our hope is that we leave you with, “Oh, I have to have more.”

“The Handmaid’s Tale” will premiere on Hulu on April 26. Meantime, here are some images from the show to get you excited:

type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related… + articlesList=58e7de23e4b058f0a02f0adb,58eb8840e4b00de141050bef,58d034bee4b0ec9d29de74f5,58989258e4b0c1284f26ea2a,57bc9d60e4b00d9c3a1a67d0,5871549fe4b02b5f85891a49,58ef93ece4b0bb9638e1fcb5,58e65ba3e4b06a4cb31002e5,58d916f1e4b03787d35a6294,58c05330e4b0ed7182696155,58bf30a7e4b0d1078ca1f754

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‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Showrunner Is Already Talking About Future Seasons

Hulu’s soon-to-be-released adaption of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian classic, The Handmaid’s Tale, has yet to premiere, but that hasn’t stopped the showrunner and producers from dreaming about future seasons.

During a panel discussion that took place after a screening of the series’ first episode at Tribeca Film Festival, members of the cast and crew discussed all things “Handmaid’s Tale,” including how the source material for the adaptation of Atwood’s incredibly prescient novel leaves the door wide open for an expanded version of the story for TV. 

“When the book ends, the reaction is fury, because the way it ends is so cut off,” showrunner Bruce Miller told audiences on Friday night. “And so in some ways, immediately, the first thing you think of is ― how are we going to expand this story? Because that’s what your desire is as a reader.”

The book, he noted, is written strictly from the perspective of Offred ― one of the many handmaids living in the theocratic dictatorship known as Gilead, who are forced to function as sexual surrogates for leaders of the republic. In this indeterminate future version of the United States, sterility has become an overwhelming issue, resulting in a return to “traditional” values and widespread subjugation of women, particularly those of lower social standing who are capable of bearing children for more powerful men. 

“The book is so strictly from Offred’s point of view, that you hear about all of these amazing, interesting worlds and all of these parts of all of these things that are going on, but you don’t see any of them going on in the book,” Miller explained. “That, to me, as a TV series [showrunner], seemed like … once you create this world, you have a lot of places to go.”

“I wanted to know more,” he added. “I wanted to know what happens next. The end of the book is quite a mystery, so I get to make it up.”

The first three episodes of the Hulu series certainly center around the life of Offred (Elizabeth Moss), once a free mother and wife who’s now forced to live with, serve and produce children for a high-ranking commander in Gilead’s militant regime. But we’re also given a glimpse into the worlds of fellow handmaid Ofglen (Alexis Bledel), Offred’s best friend from college Moira (Samira Wiley), the commander’s wife Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski), handmaid trainer Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd), and even the commander himself (Joseph Fiennes).

“You might not stay with Offred the whole time,” teased “Lemonade” cinematographer Reed Morano, the director of the first three “Handmaid’s” episodes.

Executive producer Warren Littlefield was more than willing to entertain the idea of future “Handmaid’s Tale” seasons as well:

The landscape of television right now is such an exciting playground for artists. The audience asks, each and every year, to only get more complex in character and more complex in story. Look at who’s up on stage. Each and every one of these actors ― the characters that they play ― there’s so much to explore. Where a limited series is certainly thriving right now in the television landscape, Bruce has years and the struggle continues. God knows it’s relevant. So […] we’ve only scratched the surface in the first 10 hours and our hope is that we leave you with, “Oh, I have to have more.”

“The Handmaid’s Tale” will premiere on Hulu on April 26. Meantime, here are some images from the show to get you excited:

type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related… + articlesList=58e7de23e4b058f0a02f0adb,58eb8840e4b00de141050bef,58d034bee4b0ec9d29de74f5,58989258e4b0c1284f26ea2a,57bc9d60e4b00d9c3a1a67d0,5871549fe4b02b5f85891a49,58ef93ece4b0bb9638e1fcb5,58e65ba3e4b06a4cb31002e5,58d916f1e4b03787d35a6294,58c05330e4b0ed7182696155,58bf30a7e4b0d1078ca1f754

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Artist Shares Poignant Portrait Series On #BeingBlackAndMuslim

A portrait series inspired by a Twitter hashtag on being black and Muslim is exploring the challenges many people face at the intersection of two marginalized identities. 

Visual artist Bobby Rogers published the powerful portrait series Wednesday night on his website and social media accounts. The project was inspired by #BeingBlackAndMuslim, a Twitter conversation initiated in 2014 by the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC). 

”My #BeingBlackandMuslim series was created to challenge the mainstream meaning of what it is to be ‘Muslim,’” Rogers, who identifies as Muslim, said in an email to The Huffington Post. “There is, and always has been, an erasure of Black Muslims from our historical teachings in America, just as there is an erasure of Black and Muslim cultures worldwide.”

There are more than 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, according to Pew Research Center. Muslims make up roughly 1 percent of the U.S. population, at more than three million.

American Muslims make up one of the most ethnically diverse faith communities in the country. A 2017 poll by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding found that a quarter of Muslims in the U.S. are black, with slightly smaller percentages of white, Asian and Arab Muslims.

Some of the earliest Muslims in the U.S. were African slaves, at least 10 to 15 percent of whom are believed to have been followers of Islam. But despite this long history, many black Muslims feel like their converging identities are overlooked in conversations about both racism and Islamophobia.

“The erasure of Black American Muslims undermines efforts towards developing a unified front in the face of our greatest threat,” wrote black Muslim activist Margari Hill in a 2015 HuffPost blog. “Groups working in the field must take into account the ways in which their anti-Islamophobia work alienates Black American Muslims.”

Anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. spiked after the September 11 attacks and has surged again in the wake of terrorist attacks at home and abroad. Much of the work being done to combat Islamophobia has centered around promoting tolerance of immigrant communities, Hill noted, which ignores the experiences of black Muslims “whose Muslim identity is homegrown.”

“With my series I want to show society that Black Muslims have always been an integral part of American history, as well as, Islamic history,” Rogers said.

The artist said his project aims to bring awareness to challenges black Muslims face “as a result of occupying the axes of two of the most marginalized groups in society.” But through exploring these challenges, Rogers said he hopes “for others to understand the true beauty & resilience of being Black and Muslim.”

“When we speak about Islam we should recognize Blackness as an equal and integral part of the conversation, and additionally, truthfully acknowledge the scope of Black Muslims throughout history.”

Scroll down to see more powerful portraits on #BeingBlackAndMuslim:

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Artist Shares Poignant Portrait Series On #BeingBlackAndMuslim

A portrait series inspired by a Twitter hashtag on being black and Muslim is exploring the challenges many people face at the intersection of two marginalized identities. 

Visual artist Bobby Rogers published the powerful portrait series Wednesday night on his website and social media accounts. The project was inspired by #BeingBlackAndMuslim, a Twitter conversation initiated in 2014 by the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC). 

”My #BeingBlackandMuslim series was created to challenge the mainstream meaning of what it is to be ‘Muslim,’” Rogers, who identifies as Muslim, said in an email to The Huffington Post. “There is, and always has been, an erasure of Black Muslims from our historical teachings in America, just as there is an erasure of Black and Muslim cultures worldwide.”

There are more than 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, according to Pew Research Center. Muslims make up roughly 1 percent of the U.S. population, at more than three million.

American Muslims make up one of the most ethnically diverse faith communities in the country. A 2017 poll by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding found that a quarter of Muslims in the U.S. are black, with slightly smaller percentages of white, Asian and Arab Muslims.

Some of the earliest Muslims in the U.S. were African slaves, at least 10 to 15 percent of whom are believed to have been followers of Islam. But despite this long history, many black Muslims feel like their converging identities are overlooked in conversations about both racism and Islamophobia.

“The erasure of Black American Muslims undermines efforts towards developing a unified front in the face of our greatest threat,” wrote black Muslim activist Margari Hill in a 2015 HuffPost blog. “Groups working in the field must take into account the ways in which their anti-Islamophobia work alienates Black American Muslims.”

Anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. spiked after the September 11 attacks and has surged again in the wake of terrorist attacks at home and abroad. Much of the work being done to combat Islamophobia has centered around promoting tolerance of immigrant communities, Hill noted, which ignores the experiences of black Muslims “whose Muslim identity is homegrown.”

“With my series I want to show society that Black Muslims have always been an integral part of American history, as well as, Islamic history,” Rogers said.

The artist said his project aims to bring awareness to challenges black Muslims face “as a result of occupying the axes of two of the most marginalized groups in society.” But through exploring these challenges, Rogers said he hopes “for others to understand the true beauty & resilience of being Black and Muslim.”

“When we speak about Islam we should recognize Blackness as an equal and integral part of the conversation, and additionally, truthfully acknowledge the scope of Black Muslims throughout history.”

Scroll down to see more powerful portraits on #BeingBlackAndMuslim:

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

True ‘Harry Potter’ Fans Will Never, Ever Drink Unicorn Frappuccinos

True ‘Harry Potter’ Fans Will Never, Ever Drink Unicorn Frappuccinos

Accio any other drink at Starbucks.

On Wednesday, the popular coffee brand broke the internet when it debuted its new Unicorn Frappuccino.

The frozen drink is made with mango syrup, a sour blue drizzle, and topped with vanilla whipped cream and sweet pink and sour blue powder.

Naturally, many find the cotton-candy-colored concoction pretty magical.

But the idea of drinking the essence of a unicorn is unsettling to “Harry Potter” fans, who are quick to point out that in the beloved series by J.K. Rowling the drinking of unicorn’s blood isn’t exactly a great thing.

In fact, it’s downright despicable.

Allow this excerpt from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to explain why the drinking of unicorn blood could make your house lose, like, 92,480,234,823,098 gazillion points:

“Only one who has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, would commit such a crime. The blood of a unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price. You have slain something so pure and defenseless to save yourself, you will have but a half-life, a cursed life, from the moment the blood touches your lips.”

Drinking unicorn blood was one of the many ways in which Voldemort, the series’ main antagonist, keeps himself alive.

And thus, lovers of the wizarding world made their feelings about the trendy drink known on the interwebs.

Unicorn #unicornfrappuccino #harrypotter #starbucks #voldemort #humor #drink

A post shared by Serg Beret (@sergberet) on

I hope you enjoy your cursed half life. #unicornfrappuccino #lordvoldemort #unicornblood #harrypotter

A post shared by angie (@angmiracle) on

Yet, despite its taboo nature, some “Harry Potter” fans just can’t seem to help themselves from giving into the power of Starbucks.

Tastes like a sweet tart #unicornfrappuccino #harrypotter #cursedlife #halflife #unicornblood #harrypotter

A post shared by Beautiful, Spooky & Stupid. (@spookykisses) on

They must be Hufflepuffs.

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We All Have The Right To Bodily Autonomy #SAAM

We All Have The Right To Bodily Autonomy #SAAM

If anyone ever tells you that you’re a lesser human being because you don’t want to have sex with them ― cut them out of your life. We all have rights to our own bodies and we all have the right to say no. We should all have the right to autonomy over our own bodies.

When it comes to sexual activity, nothing is more powerful than the word ‘no’. If a person is trying to coax you into something you don’t want, you have the right to say no. If a person you’re with doesn’t make you feel safe enough to say no, you need to cut them out of your life.

ItsBabyJ is here to remind you that bodily autonomy is your right. Just because a person has lots of followers on social media or plays on a sports team doesn’t mean they’re entitled to your body. Reserve the right to say no and reserve the right to your own body.

There is no excuse for inappropriate sexual behaviour. That’s what Sexual Assault Awareness Month is all about. Let’s ditch the excuses and recognize that bragging about sexual assault is a problem. Get outraged about sexual assault and ensure your friends and family are asserting their bodily autonomy.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

We All Have The Right To Bodily Autonomy #SAAM

We All Have The Right To Bodily Autonomy #SAAM

If anyone ever tells you that you’re a lesser human being because you don’t want to have sex with them ― cut them out of your life. We all have rights to our own bodies and we all have the right to say no. We should all have the right to autonomy over our own bodies.

When it comes to sexual activity, nothing is more powerful than the word ‘no’. If a person is trying to coax you into something you don’t want, you have the right to say no. If a person you’re with doesn’t make you feel safe enough to say no, you need to cut them out of your life.

ItsBabyJ is here to remind you that bodily autonomy is your right. Just because a person has lots of followers on social media or plays on a sports team doesn’t mean they’re entitled to your body. Reserve the right to say no and reserve the right to your own body.

There is no excuse for inappropriate sexual behaviour. That’s what Sexual Assault Awareness Month is all about. Let’s ditch the excuses and recognize that bragging about sexual assault is a problem. Get outraged about sexual assault and ensure your friends and family are asserting their bodily autonomy.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

J Balvin, Nicky Jam Say They Changed The Notion That Reggaetón Is Misogynist

J Balvin, Nicky Jam Say They Changed The Notion That Reggaetón Is Misogynist

J Balvin and Nicky Jam have practically become reggaetón royalty in recent years, but they don’t view their brand of reggaetón to be on par with what filled the airwaves in the early 2000s.

Both artists sat down with Billboard recently to discuss their journey to becoming global phenomenons, including why they wanted to change the idea that reggaetón is a misogynist genre for the sake of the many women and children who follow their music. 

During a joint conversation with the magazine, ahead of the 2107 Latin Billboard Music Awards on April 27, journalist Leila Cobo mentioned that both artists had “largely avoided objectifying women in lyrics and video, which is common in reggaetón.” 

In response, the 36-year-old Nicky Jam explained that given their broad audience, they need to make videos “where women look beautiful and conservative and are treated with respect, because the videos are seen by kids and adults.” He added that other reggaetón artists are targeting “one audience,” though he didn’t specify which, and didn’t have the same responsibility. 

J Balvin, 31, added that he felt the need to change the notion that the genre objectifies women because of the women in his own life.

“Plus, we both have mothers, sisters, relatives,” J Balvin said. “Part of what we did is change that misconception that reggaetón is machista and misogynist. On the contrary, women are our biggest fans, and they inspire us.”

Some examples of their portrayal of women in lyrics and music videos include J Balvin’s hit “Ay Vamos,” a song about a couple who fights each other but loves each other in the end. In the video, the artist and his supposed girlfriend try to out prank each other. 

Nicky Jam’s single “Hasta el Amanecer” has lyrics that do seem to have sexual undertones with verses that talk about wanting to be with a woman he just met until dawn. But the music video for the hit features the artist simply meeting a young woman at a laundry mat, trying to get her attention with his dance moves. 

J Balvin and Nicky Jam, who is Puerto Rican but rebuilt his career in Medellín, are both the product of a boom of reggaetón stars coming out of Colombia. The two artists were friends long before their individual success, and continue to support each other as they go head to head in both the music charts and award nominations. 

In a conversation with The Huffington Post, Nicky Jam explained what he feels set Colombian reggaetón apart.

“I just think the music is more catchy, and the lyrics are more cotidianos (day-to-day),” Nicky Jam said in Sept. 2016. “It talks about things that happen on a daily basis. Reggaeton from Puerto Rico is more about dancing music, reggaeton specifically. Now Puerto Ricans are starting to [focus more on lyrics], because they have the ability to do it.”

For J Balvin, it’s always been important to be both a leader in the genre and represent his native Colombia as an urban artist. 

“There’s vallenato, there’s pop, there’s rock [in Colombia] but we need the urban part and thankfully we’ve been able to do it little by little,” the artist told HuffPost in 2014, after the success of his single ‘6 AM.’ “Obviously we’re still in the process of growth, but there’s been a clear vision for the public that there’s good Urban music coming from Colombia for the world.”

Read Nicky Jam and J Balvin’s entire conversation with Billboard here

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The First House Antoni Gaudí Ever Designed Is Now An Incredible Museum

The First House Antoni Gaudí Ever Designed Is Now An Incredible Museum

Antoni Gaudí is known to many as the genius behind Sagrada Família, the monumental church in Barcelona, Spain, that has been called “the most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages.”

Originally commissioned in 1882, Gaudí became the lead architect of Sagrada Família in 1883, working on the astonishingly detailed project right up until his death in 1926. The massive structure was famously only a quarter of its way to completion at that point, nonetheless, tourists have continuously flocked to the monumental feat of art, marveling at the ways various architects have attempted to finish Gaudí’s vision over the years. 

Sadly, those waiting to see Sagrada Família in all its finite glory will have to wait until at least 2026, the projected date for its highly anticipated completion, which not-so-coincidentally will mark the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death. In the meantime, though, fans of the Spanish Catalan architect can soon visit another one of his distinctive designs ― Casa Vicens, the first house he ever built.

What was once a private home in Barcelona, built for the broker Manel Vicens from 1883 to 1885, will be transformed into a museum dedicated to Gaudí this fall. In the 1920s, the tiled house temporarily served as three separate apartments ― arranged by architect Joan Baptista Serra de Martínez with Gaudí’s approval ― but for the last century has functioned as a private home to one family. The Andorran bank MoraBanc bought the property in 2014, and renovations have been underway since 2015, overseen by Martínez Lapeña-Torres Arquitectes S.L.P. and architects José Antonio Martínez Lapeña, Elías Torres and David García.

Casa Vicens, which has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, along with seven other Gaudí buildings, since 2005, will reopen to the public in just a few months. While no set date has been announced, organizers have recently released a batch of images that allow people around the world to tour the yet-to-open, but ever so ornately decorated destination. Enjoy:

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