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The best Halloween costumes of 2016

Stars nailed them, per usual, but us normals did, too

5:44 PMWhether or not you still or ever did dress up for Halloween, it’s not hard to appreciate a good costume. Of course, there are people who wouldn’t recognize a solid one if it were literally walking down the street in front of them. That said, we’re not here to drag people either, so we’ll just keep Khloe Kardashian’s name to a minimum Monday.

5. The Entire Cast and Crew of ESPN’s His & Hers

We realize that the homer element to this making the list is very high, but come on, look at that photograph. This show’s parody game has been on point, but what made Monday particularly special was the complete holiday revamp of the set, designed after the movie they were spoofing, Boyz n the Hood. Sitting on the stoop, with the lawn chair and all the side props, up to and including a pack of Newport cigarettes, it was just tremendous design and execution. Also, if you’ve got people asking if Jemele Hill was playing Eazy-E in your mentions, you know that this type of cultural education is still important.

4. Gucci Flip-Flop

I have no idea who this person is, and it doesn’t really matter. A couple different things to note here. Aside from the joke, which I’ll explain in a second, the actual execution of the garb appears to be tremendous. One of the most annoying things about costumes in general is the ability to actually party in them can be tough once props get involved. But my man appears to have no problems on that front, either. Looks sturdy and clean, so let’s ride out.

As for the item itself, this is hilarious. The now iconic lyric from Future’s 2015 track Thought It Was A Drought took on renewed relevance when news spread earlier this month that Basketball Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen and his wife, Larsa, would be splitting up. One of the reasons cited for the split was her relationship with one Future, which … is and was awkward. Yeah. So, shoutout to Gucci flip-flops. I like that homey completed the look with the hat, too.

3. LeBron James As Jerome from Martin

I say Jerome in the house, in ya mouth!!!!

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

This is nothing short of excellent. We’re not even counting the epic troll job on the Golden State Warriors that his actual party included. Let’s stick to the costume. He dropped a cool $5,000 to have it custom-made, according to TMZ, which seems well worth it, to be honest. I don’t even have the time to delve into the cultural importance of the character of Jerome, never mind the show Martin itself, but there were a lot of characters on that show overall. Jerome was easily the funniest.

2. Blue Ivy, Beyoncé and Tina Knowles as Salt N Pepa

A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

Where do we start. No. 1, the costuming is 100 percent perfect. But in case you couldn’t tell from the initial image, Bey took you through every aspect and application of it, effectively creating a look book for her Halloween costume, which is just such a next level idea anyway. She did this via video, which had the song Push It as the background music. Jay Z’s complementary look was excellent, and that one shot of her and Blue apparently just eating breakfast in their costumes adding that family touch makes you remember just how cool they all are.

1. White Privilege

If both of these hadn’t happened, neither of them would be on the list. But the fact that they both exist made the combo factor impossible to ignore. No. 1, whoever this guy is who found a way to put this all together is a genius. His cape game is also very wavy, it appears. But the Snow White Privilege costume offers a good look, a tad more intellectually, about exactly what the problem with it is. And with character appropriate phrases on her dress (“The Palace Police Never Stop Me”) is particularly well done. Why does it matter? Two words: Jason Walsh.

President Barack Obama makes NBA, NFL picks

and throws in some discussion about the rap game, too

5:05 PM

We all know how much President Barack Obama loves sports. In many ways, it’s probably his most appreciated asset, if you will, among regular Americans who don’t particularly obsess over, say, politics or race. He doesn’t have any moments like former President George W. Bush trying and failing to dribble a basketball (although Obama did throw up a bunch of bricks once while shooting with kids at the White House) and he’s made picking his NCAA basketball tournament bracket a thing every year he’s been in office.

Someone even wrote a book (The Audacity of Hoop) about how his relationship with basketball, which he played in high school, shaped his entire approach to building his cabinet and establishing relationships from the Oval Office in more ways than just love for the game.

Anyway, on Friday, he decided to make some more predictions, and let’s just say that in his last few months in office, he’s not exactly making any daring picks. On SiriusXM’s Sway In The Morning show, the 44th president picked the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Finals and the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Mind you, he won’t be seeing either of these teams at the White House should this happen — he’ll be gone by then.

But seriously, Obama? The Dubs and the Pats? Those are the most lamesauce vanilla picks out there, fam. That’s what someone who’s never heard of any team in either league does. Perhaps more importantly, though, was his discussion on hip-hop. The president showed a decent command for the rap game, and even had jokes.

“I think the young guys, Kendrick [Lamar] and Chance [The Rapper] are doing amazing work,” he said. “I love Drake and the girls love Drake, so he’s commercially just doing great and unbelievably talented. And you know, Jay-Z’s still the king. He’s got a track record, same with Kanye [West]. So, you know, there’s a lot of talent out there, but what I look at is, who’s breaking new ground? Kendrick and Chance, those guys are doing just amazing work, and they’re wonderful young men.”

Better picks in music than in sports, but hey, on all fronts, that’s about as good as you’re ever going to get from a sitting president.

Daily Dose: 10/28/16

Let’s talk about the ‘inner city’ and where black people live

12:00 PMWe got a new podcast popping this week from the squad. This time, Cousin Aaron and JT are talking about sneakers and sports fashion in our latest offering titled “What Are Those?!” Check it out here.

Did you know that not all black people live in the inner city? Did you know that not all inner cities are ghettos? Did you know that conflating all three of these things contributes to a harmful mindset that causes many Americans and others across the globe to believe that people of color aren’t even aware enough of their own condition to be given agency of themselves in larger society? Oh, you didn’t? Well, now you do. On Thursday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump proved that all of what I just said, is news to him.

I have not seen Gone Girl. Nor have I seen Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I have no plans to see The Girl On the Train. I have seen My Girl, The Other Boleyn Girl, Girl 6, Working Girl and perhaps most importantly to my life, His Girl Friday. I should probably get out more. But when it comes to books, adding that word to the title is smart. Why? Because people still infantilize women, seemingly no matter what. That said, there is data on how well these books do, and let’s hope the trend continues. FiveThirtyEight’s Emily St. John Mandel breaks it down.

Remember that dude who freaked out on Russell Westbrook? Well, there’s a Vine (R.I.P.) to prove it, and the exchange was a rather familiar one, for many people. Anyway, the man who did it was obviously not only put on blast, but also moved from his courtside seat. Now, my man would like to apologize. And the details are hilarious. Dude is apparently a part-time comedian, and somehow channeled that in saying sorry. Then, of course, he blamed the whole incident on Westbrook. What a world.

We’ve discussed this at length already, and I probably will for the rest of my life. But again, the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals last season, and LeBron James made the greatest play in the history of said series to lead them to victory. Of course, the guy on the other end of that play was Andre Iguodala, who couldn’t find a way to elevate over, through, around, whatever the great J.R. Smith and ended up getting rejected. Listening to Iggy talk about it is rather interesting. ESPN’s Chris Haynes reports.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Remember those people who decided they were going to take on the feds with guns and horses and took over that wildlife refugee in Oregon? We don’t even really remember what that was all about, but guess what, they got off! That’s not surprising, but apparently the decision caused a scene. Also, not a shocker.

Snack Time: If you’re not aware, people with disabilities need to have sex, too. Just because you’re in a wheelchair, or otherwise, doesn’t mean you somehow shut it down. Check out this documentary about a place that handles that.

Dessert: I just want to note Monday is the worst possible day of the week for Halloween. Safety first, kiddos.

R.I.P. Vine, the great

It changed more than social media — it changed storytelling

6:00 PMWhen we’re all sitting in rocking chairs and communicating with our grandchildren however we will in those days, we’ll probably recount how we first rebelled against Facebook, how the world opened up via Twitter and how SnapChat made us all want to act goofy with filters. But the true nature of Vine’s game-changing status in storytelling history will likely be forgotten in due time.

On Thursday, Twitter announced that it would be doing away with the looping video service, an announcement that instantly had everyone in their feelings about their favorites from over the years. Vine, quite frankly, has been the best social media platform of its time, from an efficiency standpoint. Started in 2012, Twitter bought it before it even launched. Within months, it was all the rage with the kids, so to speak. But its popularity wasn’t falsely gained.

As a medium, it was genuinely brilliant. At first maligned as too quixotic, too short and just too pointless to actually be effective, it turned out to be revolutionary. A video as long as 15 seconds via Instagram suddenly felt like a movie if you couldn’t find a way to make it work. The very nature of the concept of editing was suddenly and completely in play for a medium that was typically reserved for on-the-spot documentations of random events. Vines were full-fledged stories in six seconds. Often so complex that you had to watch them again to grasp their true meaning.

They were funny. They were creative. Often, they featured people of color. King Bach flipped his Vine fame into an actual acting career. People like Sara Hopkins had to leave their *actual* broadcast careers because the social media game just made more sense.

In the sports realm, it forced the hand of every major professional franchise and, to an extent, television networks, in the context of rights footage. Taking a Vine of a highlight made it much easier than turning on the tube to wait for something, or watching an ad before seeing a play the instant it happened if you weren’t already there.

It was a noun, a verb, an adjective and a platform. It held Q-Tip and Kleenex status. After a while, I called every single video I saw on the internet that was short a Vine. It was just easier, and nine times out of 10, it was true. As someone who is certainly not a business person in the venture capital and tech industry world, there’s no way for me to say if shutting it down is a smart move.

But as a storyteller, I’m glad I was there when it was around. Attention spans might have gotten shorter, but the ability to convey a message only got stronger.

Oddisee opens up to Brownbook

The Sudanese-American rapper breaks down his purpose in the game

1:45 PM

It starts with a traditional Sudanese greeting, an exchange that while it doesn’t necessarily surprise his interviewer certainly appears to be new. That’s how Oddisee, née Amir Mohamed el Khalifa, introduces her to his world, one which is closely connected to his home country of Sudan.

“No one pursues music, professionally,” the former Diamond District rapper starts off. “We are children of the diaspora. There’s no security in anything other than the typical jobs of doctor, lawyer, engineer, pharmaceutical, you know? These are what Sudanese people do. They don’t music. You do that as a hobby. All of my cousins who are doctors all play an instrument. They all love music. They all record themselves at home. But they went to school and they got ‘real jobs,’ you know? I’m the black sheep of the family who did it professionally.”

The rest of the interview is a fascinating look into what is blackness, in the context of the intersection of African and American lives, a topic that throughout his career, Oddisee has tackled with aplomb. His latest lyrical album Alwasta, released in March, “takes its title from the Arabic colloquial term to mean ‘the plug.’ The term ‘wasta’ comes from the Arabic word ‘wasat,’ meaning ‘middle’ or ‘middleman,’ and describes a member of the community who acts as a connector using his or her wealth of social currency,” according to his label.

If you haven’t gotten a chance to spin his latest, The Odd Tape, give it a crack. It’s a perfect instrumental addition to a busy day, from a guy who not only takes his music seriously, but also is in it for the creation of art at its base level.

The entire interview with Brownbook magazine is a fascinating look into the process of one of the most laid-back and fascinating cats in the entirety of the game.

Daily Dose: 10/27/16

The first lady will join Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail in North Carolina

1:20 PMThis happened on Wednesday in an NBA game, and I can’t think of a situation that’s been more emblematic of my and many of my friends’ and colleagues’ careers in this business. Seriously.

We’ve got to believe that, at this point, Donald Trump is just trying to save the brand. While his own advisers are admitting that they’re behind in the presidential race, he’s on television, with his family by his side, no less, claiming that he thinks he’s going to win. On Wednesday, instead of being on the campaign trail less than two weeks away from Election Day, he’s cutting ribbons in Washington, D.C. Let’s not forget, if he loses, he’s still got businesses to upkeep. If he’s killed his reputation on that front, yikes. The Trumps sat down with Good Morning America.

In North Carolina, the history of the battle for voting rights is long, lengthy and complicated. As a state in general, its past is one that speaks almost singularly to what has been the American experience since inception and such has been the case recently, too. Now that we’re in the home stretch before people hit the voting booths, however, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is breaking out the heavy hitters. On Thursday, she’ll be joined by first lady Michelle Obama in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Expect a banger of a speech from the first lady.

For girls, there are obstacles to learning at every path. Not ones inherent to them, but ones created by educational systems because of patriarchy that block their lanes to success by steering them in directions that don’t have as much potential as those for boys. This rings particularly true in math, where, according to a new study, teachers are still consistently rating girls as less able in the classroom, when it comes to perception. FiveThirtyEight’s Carl Bialik breaks down exactly how this conclusion is come to by the offenders.

If you don’t know Sevyn Streeter, you might want to familiarize yourself. She’s been around the girl pop circuit for some time and has also been a thorough songwriter for many artists who you might probably consider to be more famous. Anyway, she was slated to sing the national anthem Wednesday night in Philadelphia for the 76ers’ season opener. Then, right before she was scheduled to perform, the organization told her she couldn’t wear a jersey that said, “We Matter,” on the court. She called the team out on it. The Sixers then had a cheerleader do it, instead. ESPN reports.

Free Food

Coffee Break: The concept of black male sexuality is one that I don’t think America will ever be able to truly handle in my lifetime, but as time passes, things have improved? Maybe. Either way, you need to read this essay on exactly how when it comes to a very specific organ attached to us, well, pop culture still can’t deal.

Snack Time: There’s a rapper out there named Ralofamgoon, which is just … yeah. Anyway, instead of going to strip clubs and throwing money, he’s started doing this at homeless shelters. There’s a lot to unpack with that decision.

Dessert: This new video from The Avalanches will melt your heart on a brisk day.

Daily Dose: 10/26/16

A wild night in Cleveland ends well for Ohio

11:36 AMSo, we’re building a new podcast studio of sorts here at The Undefeated, so prepare yourself for a lot more in that space and a far larger variety of personalities. Should be fun, kiddos.

There are certain parts of the GOP that are melting down right before our very eyes. On Tuesday night, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich appeared on Fox News host Megyn Kelly’s show and completely went off the hinges. He claimed she was “fascinated with sex” (which, in itself, should not be a problem either way, yet we digress) and accused her of a liberal bias. Let’s not even get into Gingrich’s personal history when it comes to matters of the bedroom. Anyway, the exchange is must-see footage and Kelly’s walkoff line is genuinely incredible.

By the way, if you plan on snapping a selfie after you vote, be careful. We get it. There was a time when the concept of wearing an “I Voted” sticker was enough, but those days are over. It’s 2016 and if you haven’t blessed “The Gram” with your ballot choices, then you obviously aren’t about that political life. In all seriousness, the problem with said move is that in some places it’s not allowed, but it varies from place to place. Justin Timberlake did it and set off a bit of a controversy. Here’s a breakdown on where you can and cannot snap yourself voting.

The World Series started Tuesday night and the Tribe is off to a hot start. The Cubs, relatively heavy favorites, looked absolutely stunned yet because of pitching matchups are certainly not out of it. But the whole journey with getting there is a different one for Cubs fans. Many almost exclusively self-identify as lovable losers to the point that maybe the notion of that changing is too much to handle. Which, to be honest, is why they can be so annoying anyway, but whatever. FiveThirtyEight’s Oliver Roeder contemplates whether he really even wants them to win.

The NBA season tipped off Tuesday night and the jokes were flying on Twitter. The Cleveland Cavaliers had their not-so-little ring ceremony and then absolutely dismantled Derrick Rose and the New York Knicks. The Golden State Warriors also got completely blown out by the San Antonio Spurs, a result that had quite a few people laughing at the team so stacked that even in a video game you might call shenanigans on playing with them. Most of the rest of the league gets started Wednesday night, and here’s ESPN’s Zach Lowe’s breakdown of six intriguing players to watch.

Free Food

Coffee Break: We all know how much Questlove is obsessed with music. So, when The Roots get an opportunity to play with bands or artists he really likes, it’s definitely a treat. It was Phil Collins on Tuesday night, when Questo had to tackle one of the most iconic drum fills in music history. Let’s just say he was really pumped. Here’s the full show.

Snack Time: I told y’all a while back that P.K. Subban heading to the Nashville Predators was going to be a great thing for his personal brand. Update: I was exactly right, and Tennessee loves this dude.

Dessert: This is a story about black parenthood that is definitely worth your time.