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  I'm so sad that the "Barefoot Diva" Cesaria Evora died this weekend. I came across her work 3 years ago, and have been addicted ever since. If you're a stranger to her music, you must check it out--especially "Yamore," a song she recorded with Salif Kaite. Her voice is otherworldly, but I'm also enamored with who she was. Raised in an Orphanage in Cape Verde, she started singing in bars when she was just 16 years old for free booze, and eventually parlayed her talents into a career as a Grammy-winning, world-traveling musician.

I adore Christmas music. It’s a good thing I do, since I have ears and I’ve been known to turn on the radio/watch television/enter retail stores in the months of November and December. I love holiday songs of almost every stripe: classic, indie, dog bark-y, the list goes on. There’s just one kind I cannot hang with: “sexy.” Sexy—and I mean “sexy” in quotes, all shiny and red like a maraschino cherry—has an awkward place in holiday music.

On December 13, 64 people were arrested at a punk show that was raising money for a local orphanage in the Aceh province of Indonesia. Those taken weren’t charged with a crime or brought before a court, but were arrested for having mohawks, tattoos, earrings, and wearing dark clothing. Basically for being “punk.” These men and women, most in their early twenties, were taken to the Aceh State Police School for “reeducation.

Pariah is the coming-of-age and coming-out story of seventeen-year-old Alike, played by Adepero Oduye, a former pred-med student turned actress. Alike is caught between worlds; she lives in a nice brownstone in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where her parents are in deep denial about their daughter's lesbian identity. Mom Audrey (Kim Wayans) wants her to dress more like a nice girl who goes to church on Sunday, while her dad Arthur (Charles Parnell) is a cop who knows deep down his daughter is gay but doesn't want to admit it.

Last month, BUST had the pleasure of checking out Caithlin de Marrais at a couple of her NYC shows. De Marrais, the former frontwoman for beloved indie band Rainer Maria, released her second solo album Red Coats this fall (available on End Up/Polyvinyl), and it's a real gem. The record is full of gorgeous tunes anchored by her airy, lilting vocals. De Marrais' voice is really the star of the show. Sometimes husky, sometimes sweet, she can turn a low-key track into a slow-burning, emotional jam.

Blonde Redhead frontwoman Kazu Makino has organized some pretty stellar musicians for a good cause: We Are the Works in Progress is a 14-song compilation album to support Japan's efforts to rebuild and heal after  the 2011 tsunami.  The album features exclusive tracks, remixes, and new versions of songs-- many of them works in progress themselves-- from artists such as Karin Dreijer Andersson (Fever Ray, The Knife), John Maus, and Deerhunter.

As IF you needed a reason to go downtown tomorrow and celebrate the amazing movement that is waking up America.  Lou Reed & Patti Smith are scheduled to play on Saturday, December 17th – the three month anniversary of Occupy Wall St., the birthday of Bradley Manning, and the 1 year anniversary of the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi – the act that sparked the Arab Spring. Beloved New York band, Dean and Britta will be hitting the stage right before Lou, so make sure to be there on time! WBAI will broadcast the event that starts at 12 noon EDT.

Calling all students and recent grads! Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) and V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls, have kicked off their second annual Winter Break Challenge (WBC), and they’re asking for your help. The challenge urges students across the country to submit their campus' sexual-violence policy to the Campus Accountability Project’s database, in an effort to analyze the current strategies and reform them. By taking time out of your winter break to register at www.safecampus.

Hands down, Mariah's “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is the best Christmas love song ever. But Princess Superstar’s “Xmas Swagger” might give Mariah a run for her money. This new holiday jam is simple--it's a list of all the things Princess Superstar loves during the holiday season: from beaded sweaters, to kissing under the mistletoe, to Justin Bieber, to hot cocoa (the warm beverage), to hot Coco, Ice-T’s wife. Watch Princess Superstar stroll around 125th Street in New York City spreading Christmas cheer, below, and buy the song here.

For the past 11 years, the Toy Industry Association has crowned a "Toy of the Year," enlisting consumers, retailers, and journalists to help decide which toy/game deserves the title. There are 11 categories (including "Active Toy," "Boy Toy," "Educational Toy"), each with a winner--but only one toy/game can win the mother of all the awards. The awards seemed innocuous enough until I checked out the categories. First of all, toys are divided into “boy” and “girl” designations, which is unnecessary. But the nature of the toys is more disappointing.
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