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At Last, ‘The Rings of Power’ Forges Ahead With Sauron Unmasked

The universal challenge of making a prequel is that some events are set in stone—or, to use a more appropriate term for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, forged. Viewers of the extravagant Amazon series should already know that 19 rings of power will be split between the races of elves, dwarves, and men, and that all of them can be controlled by the One Ring in possession of the Dark Lord Sauron. But while Sauron looms large throughout much of Middle-earth’s expansive history, we have yet to put a face to the name. With the exception of The Fellowship of the Ring’s stunning prologue, in which he lords over his enemies in the heat of battle with some [technical termkickass armor, the most enduring image of Sauron is as a giant, disembodied eye in Mordor.

Of course, all of that would have to change with The Rings of Power, the first J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation to incorporate the iconic villain as a genuine flesh-and-blood character who deceives the elves into forging the rings in the first place. Part of the thrill of the show’s first season was sussing out who, exactly, he was. The Sauron theories have been spilling out for weeks, but it’s not until the season finale, “Alloyed,” that The Rings of Power finally shows its hand: He’s the Stranger! Or at least, that’s what the mysterious, white-clad trio of the Nomad, the Ascetic, and the Dweller believe.

The Stranger-Sauron reveal is the very first scene of “Alloyed,” and The Rings of Power uses the rest of the episode to poke holes in that assertion. For one, the Stranger hasn’t crossed paths with anyone of significance aside from the wholesome harfoots, so having him appear before the elven smith Celebrimbor by the end of the season seemed like a reach. (Surely The Rings of Power wouldn’t wait until the second season to give us a taste of the titular rings?) What’s more, Sauron supposedly appears in “fair form” to the elves, and with all due respect to the Stranger, he looks more like Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Unless the Stranger was given a Queer Eye makeover and a much-needed bath, he can hardly be seen as fair.

So let’s turn our gaze to other candidates—chief among them, Halbrand. From the beginning of the series, the case against Halbrand being Sauron has been that it would be too obvious. (One of the first things he says to Galadriel: “Looks can be deceiving.”) But having Sauron hide in plain sight as the character who is, initially, the most suspicious in The Rings of Power’s ensemble would be its own kind of brilliance. Halbrand initially makes you a bit wary with a mysterious backstory in which he’s the king of the Southlands by birthright, but he never actively seeks out power. In fact, it appears Halbrand would much rather be an anonymous smith in Numenor—from the audience’s perspective, he is coaxed into reclaiming his homeland by Galadriel. Either Halbrand’s going along for the ride, or he’s tricking others into believing he’s a passive participant in order to get exactly what he wants.

After all, following the ill-fated battle in the Southlands—now transformed into the ruinous Mordor—Galadriel takes Halbrand to Eregion so he can be healed by elven magic. If Halbrand really is Sauron, then Galadriel just gave him a front-row seat to the eventual forging of the rings. The biggest hint of Halbrand’s true intentions is when he’s alone with Celebrimbor, first appealing to the smith’s ego by admiring his work, then all but laying out how mithril can be alloyed with another ore to create something powerful. “Call it a gift,” Halbrand tells him with a mischievous look.

Once Celebrimbor repeats a phrase in front of Galadriel that Halbrand uttered— “Not of the flesh, but over flesh,” which she already heard from the orc leader Adar—the alarm bells finally ring. Galadriel’s suspicions are confirmed when she has an elf archivist look up the history of the Southlands, and a scroll reveals that the lineage of the Southlands’ king was broken over a thousand years ago. Halbrand isn’t who he claims to be, and while he’s gone by many names over the ages, we can finally say with certainty: This is Sauron. (The Stranger, meanwhile, is basically the antithesis of Sauron: He saves the harfoots from the Nomad, the Ascetic, and the Dweller, and it’s greatly implied that he’s none other than our beloved Gandalf.)

Robbie Coltrane: Harry Potter actor dies aged 72

Actor Robbie Coltrane, who played Hagrid in the Harry Potter films, has died aged 72.

He also appeared in ITV detective drama Cracker and the James Bond films Goldeneye and The World Is Not Enough.

In a statement, his agent Belinda Wright confirmed the actor died in hospital near Falkirk in Scotland.

She described Coltrane as a “unique talent”, adding his role as Hagrid “brought joy to children and adults alike all over the world”.

“For me personally I shall remember him as an abidingly loyal client. As well as being a wonderful actor, he was forensically intelligent, brilliantly witty and after 40 years of being proud to be called his agent, I shall miss him.

“He is survived by his sister Annie Rae, his children Spencer and Alice and their mother Rhona Gemmell. They would like to thank the medical staff at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert for their care and diplomacy.

Coltrane was made an OBE in the 2006 New Year’s honours list for his services to drama and he was awarded the Bafta Scotland Award for outstanding contribution to film in 2011.

Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe paid tribute to Coltrane in a statement, saying: “Robbie was one of the funniest people I’ve met and used to keep us laughing constantly as kids on that set.

“I’ve especially fond memories of him keeping our spirits up on Prisoner of Azkaban, when we were all hiding from the torrential rain for hours in Hagrid’s hut and he was telling stories and cracking jokes to keep morale up.

“I feel incredibly lucky that I got to meet and work with him and very sad that he’s passed. He was an incredible actor and a lovely man.”

Writing on Twitter, Harry Potter author JK Rowling described Coltrane as an “incredible talent” and “a complete one-off”.

Actor Stephen Fry, who appeared alongside Coltrane in Alfresco, tweeted: “Such depth, power and talent: funny enough to cause helpless hiccups and honking as we made our first TV show Alfresco. Farewell, old fellow, you’ll be so dreadfully missed.”

Fellow Alfesco actor Hugh Laurie, who also starred alongside Coltrane in Blackadder, recalled their time spent sharing car rides between Manchester and London. “I don’t think I’ve ever laughed or learned so much in my life”, he tweeted.

And Blackadder star Tony Robinson described Coltrane as “such a sweet man… so talented as a comic and as a straight actor”. Posting on Twitter about his favourite episode from the period sitcom, he said: “It was all down to you mate.”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described Coltrane’s death as “very sad news”.

“He had such range and depth as an actor, from brilliant comedy to hard-edged drama. I think my favourite of all his roles was Fitz in Cracker,” she said. “Robbie Coltrane, Scottish entertainment legend – you will be hugely missed. RIP.”

The official James Bond Twitter account called him an “exceptional actor whose talent knew no bounds”.

Broadcaster Richard Coles added: “Very sorry to hear Robbie Coltrane has died. We shared a dressing room once and he had the biggest pants I have ever seen, which he wore with tremendous flair. We were friends from then on.”

The Scottish star, whose real name is Anthony Robert McMillan, was born in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire, in 1950.

Coltrane was the son of teacher and pianist Jean Ross and GP Ian Baxter McMillan, and was educated at independent school Glenalmond College in Perth and Kinross.

The actor’s career began in 1979 in the TV series Play for Today, but he came to prominence in A Kick Up the Eighties, a BBC TV comedy series which also starred Tracey Ullman, Miriam Margolyes and Rik Mayall.

He also appeared in the 1983 ITV comedy Alfresco, with Fry, Emma Thompson, Siobhan Redmond and Hugh Laurie.

By 1987 he had a leading role in Tutti Frutti, about Scottish rock and roll band The Majestics, which also starred Emma Thompson and Richard Wilson. The year before he was in British crime film Mona Lisa, starring Bob Hoskins.

Being The Best At What He Does The Yacht Mogul Created His Success With Instagram Alone

Dennis Suka, widely known as The Yacht Mogul took his craft to Instagram where he instantly caught the attention of many- a catalyst for his great success as a luxury yacht broker. So naturally, CELEB asked Suka, “why yachts?”

“It’s the highest point of luxury, of privacy, of high-end individual people,” he shared. He was attracted to the exclusivity that comes with yachts, continuing to add, “It’s not only buying a yacht, it’s maintaining a yacht. It’s expensive. So, when you get to this world, you know that you are in the world of the 1 percent.”

Did you know that the cost of maintaining a yacht is 10 percent of what it initially cost? “If the yacht is 100 million it means that each year it takes 10 million (euros or US dollars) to maintain it,” explained Suka.

From The Marina To The Meta

Born in Greece, always surrounded by Yachts, Suka was inspired to be someone in the industry early on.

The Yacht Mogul began on Instagram in May 2018 after Suka made his leap into the social media world. He chose to make an Instagram account to showcase his passion and grow his success. “Of course, I had to pick the name. And, because everything I do in my life, I like to be the best in what I do,” hence, the title ‘yacht mogul.’

Referring to his work ethic he added, “I give it all in order to become the top.” And, he doesn’t say this arrogantly. Suka’s attitude is humble yet confident, sharing with CELEB, “Basically, in every industry, there is a mogul, the one that is on the top. I wasn’t on the top like that, but somehow, of course, I gave the name because I had the reason and I knew that I would be there.”

The Yacht Mogul does more than just showcase luxurious and beautiful boats on his platform. He is also a broker. In fact, the first yacht that he had the opportunity to sell, he sold in a week.

“I can say that 70-80 percent of my clients are located in the United States.” Suka also works closely with European clients, everyone strictly from his platform. He told CELEB that Instagram is “the only way for me,” when selling yachts, boasting 1 million followers on his account.

As a broker, Suka is independent which allows him to work with any client whom he wishes. “So if a client wants one yacht, I’m not limited to one company. So, I work with every company.” He added, “All I want is that the client is satisfied with the yacht, with the price, with everything. Because my point of view is not selling one yacht to one client. My point of view is satisfying one client so when he wants to sell this yacht and buy another one or build a new one, he doesn’t think about any other broker. Because he knows that he will find everything by contacting me. I will do everything for them.”

The Yacht Mogul has his heart set on giving a client their dream yacht whether it means finding it or building it, he will make it happen, no matter the time of the day (literally).

Coming Soon To A Marina Near You (If You’re Lucky)

Naturally, CELEB was curious about any future projects that Suka has up his sleeve.

“I have a really nice yacht, big one, over 100 meters with an Italian designer,” Suka told CELEB. However, he’s kept his silence on the major details for now because “in order to make a noise you have to find a quiet place and a quiet time.” He doesn’t believe in allowing his work to be diluted by the busyness of other happenings. “I decided to launch it after the yacht show so I know that it will be something big.” He’s waiting for his “quiet time,” said Suka.

Committing to being unique and standing out, Suka told CELEB, “I am not a designer, but the way the designers do that, I am working every step to make sure that every project is special. Every project is different.”

The University of Texas Creates Literary Course for Taylor Swift Songs

Image commercially licensed from: Unsplash

Swifties, I think you need to move to Texas.

The University of Texas at Austin offers students the opportunity to study Taylor Swift’s songs alongside works by literary legends such as Shakespeare, John Keats, and Robert Frost.

Currently, the school offers an undergraduate course called The Taylor Swift Songbook, which will be offered this fall as part of the liberal arts honors program. This comes after the singer delivered remarks at a commencement exercise at New York University last spring following a Swift-themed class at the school.

UK professor Elizabeth Scala told CNN that she chose Swift because the pop star writes her own music and the lyrics emphasize the same techniques in classical poetry.

“This is a course on her songs as literary writing and the ways a popular and award-winning writer uses the same literary devices, figures, and tropes of traditional poetry in her work,” she stated. “It is not about celebrity or fame.”

Students learn about Swift’s songs along with the writings of Western literary icons.

“They’ll be asked to analyze and contextualize common practices and problems across the centuries,” Scala stated.

Scala, a self-proclaimed Swiftie (as Swift fans call themselves), says her goal is to use a modern lens to educate students about literary traditions.

“I want to take what Swift fans can already do at a sophisticated level, tease it out for them a bit with a different vocabulary, and then show them how, in fact, Swift draws on richer literary traditions in her songwriting, both topically but also formally in terms of how she uses references, metaphors, and clever manipulations of words,” Scala stated.

“I’ll be showing students that these operations and interpretative moves one makes when reading her songs are appropriate to all forms of writing.”

Read also: Taylor Swift Receives Honorary Degree at NYU, Delivers Speech to Graduating Class 2022

Taylor Swift: A Literary Legend

And being contemporary, Scala has made an Instagram for the class where she uploads Swift trivia and asks questions to fans.

The class will mainly center on songs from Swift’s more recent albums. However, students are allowed to discuss older songs, according to Scala.

She added that nearly all the music is posted online, and the songs are accessible on Apple Music and Spotify, so students don’t have to spend money for the music.

The course will discuss gender, authenticity, fans’ influence on artists and writers, and how language history and linguistic traditions enhance the reading experience, per Scala.

“I think it’s important to connect the curriculum to the present, but I’m not willing to cede the past. This is my way of sneaking the older material back in with relevance,” she said.

This is not the university’s first introduced celebrity-themed class. In 2015, UT Austin made a class titled “Beyonce Feminism, Rihanna Womanism” to navigate Black feminism.

Read also: Nicki Minaj Scores First Top Solo Track of Her Career