Associated Press AP

Now Kim Kardashian Is Involved in Kanye West and Drake’s Feud: ‘Never Threaten…Our Family’

Just because Kanye West and Drake stopped throwing shade — at least in public forums —at each other a handful of months ago doesn’t mean they’ve reconciled. West made sure that everyone knew exactly that when he took to Twitter yesterday, where he called out Drake for everything from trying to clear a sample of one of his songs to texting Kris Jenner and “playing all these industry games.” Oh, right, and Kanye also suggested that Drake is “trying to take food out of [his] idol’s kids’ mouth” as in the three kids that West shares with Kim Kardashian.

West’s reigniting of their feud started when he tweeted a screenshot of a text message from someone named “Free.” In the text message, West was asked whether or not he wanted to approve Drake’s sample of his 808s & Heartbreak track “Say You Will.” (Drake used the sample in his 2009 So Far Gone mixtape track “Say What’s Real,” which is presumably due for a reissue on its 10th anniversary, as Billboard notes.) West didn’t immediately share his answer but he did tweet the screenshot of the request with the words, “This proves sh-t faker than wrestling.”

He then demanded an apology from Drake “for mentioning the 350s and trying to take food out [his] idol’s kids’ mouths.” West also revealed that he has been contacting Drake since his GOOD Music artist Pusha T entered into a feud with Drake, when Pusha T dropped the bombshell that the Toronto rapper has a secret son (which Drake later admitted to on his own album, Scorpion). “Been trying to meet with you for 6 months bro,” West tweeted. “You sneak dissing on [Travis Scott] records and texting Kris [Jenner] talking bout how’s the family.”

What is more hilarious: picturing Drake’s text thread with Kris Jenner or the fact that this whole time Kanye could have walked a few doors down to talk to Drake in person? (They both live in the same Hidden Hills enclave of Calabasas.) The verdict is out, but things quickly became less amusing when West brought up Drake’s child, Adonis Graham.

Apparently, Drake has been thinking that West is the one who informed Pusha T that he had a son — and West took the opportunity to set the record straight. “I told you I ain’t tell Pusha about your son,” he tweeted. “It’s all love bro bro but don’t play with me. You stay too close to be playing all these industry games bro. Sending purple emojis when I’m dealing with mental shit. I need my apologies now. Not through Scooter [Braun] either. Not through Travis [Scott]. No tough talk either. This ain’t about who could pay to have something done to somebody. This man to man bro. This been bothering me too long… Stop this already bro. You getting people hurt out here. And over what.”

Kanye’s call out actually worked because shortly after he tweeted that he had spoken to Drake. “Drake finally called,” he tweeted. “Mission accomplished.” One thing, however, didn’t get resolved: “By the way,” West tweeted of the sample Drake was hoping to get permission to use, “not cleared😂.”

As for Drake’s response to all of this?

PHOTO: instagram.com/champagnepapi

The drama doesn’t end there, though. Later in the night, West tweeted that Drake called “trying to threatened me.” Enter Kim. “@drake Never threaten my husband or our family,” she tweeted. “He paved the way for there to be a Drake.”

She continued, “My husband is the most brilliant person, the most genius person that I know. He has broken so many boundaries, everything from music, stage design, fashion and culture and will continue to change the world.”

So stay tuned — we have a feeling this isn’t the last of this saga.

Skinmiso’s Pore Beauty Nose Mask Is the Most Satisfying Blackhead Treatment

You know how sometimes you see someone whose skin is so dewy and luminescent that you can only gaze, transfixed (while also murmuring a silent prayer to the skin care gods to bless your own complexion in a similar fashion)? That was me—often—whenever I met with Soko Glam founder Charlotte Cho. Her knowledge of K-beauty is vast and unending, but there’s one recommendation I always go back to. “This is really good,” she once told me as she passed me her go-to product for eliminating blackheads. Naturally, I ripped it open the second I got home. Two years later, I still tell everyone who raises the subject of blackheads to try it immediately.

Before you ask, I’m not talking about pore strips. I’ve tried plenty of those before, and while it’s undeniably satisfying to watch them peeling pockets of gunk away from your skin, they also leave my nose looking red and irritated. I feel similarly about those pull-off charcoal masks that superglue themselves to your epidermis and refuse to let go. Great for viral videos, not so great for your face. The blackhead treatment that finally won me over is the far gentler (but equally satisfying) Skinmiso Pore Beauty Nose Mask.

Soko Glam sells the masks in a 10-week set—the idea being that you use one of the 10 packs once a week. Thanks to my inability to stick to a schedule for anything not related to food, I tend to space them out more, which means the $20 treatment lasts even longer for me.

There are three steps, which I realize sounds like a lot of work, but the results are fully worth it. (Plus, you spend most of the time marinating in essence, which involves no active work on your part.) In the pouch labelled “Step 1,” you’ll find an essence-soaked sheet mask cut in the shape of a pore strip. This is the Blackhead & Whitehead Removal Mask, which you’ll drape over your nose for 10 minutes. The formula is packed with ingredients that help quickly soften your blackheads and draw them to the surface, prepping them for far easier extraction. You may experience some mild tingling—don’t be alarmed. “This product is different compared to traditional pore strips because it does not adhere to your nose to strip away dead skin cells and clogged pores,” explains Diana Chen, Soko Glam’s senior merchandising manager. “It loosens up the debris in your pores.”

You’ll notice this as soon as you remove the mask and go in with the individually packaged cotton swab (if you have a comedone remover, that works even better). Using light pressure, run it over your nose and watch a bunch of gunk come pouring out. I can’t really think of a better way to describe it than that. If you enjoy watching pimple-popping videos and examining the aftermath of a pore strip session, you’ll love this.

Then, it’s time for the second step—another 10-minute mask. Wipe the gunk off your nose, then cover it with the Pore Tightening & Soothing Nose Strip, which performs the all-important step of soothing your skin and minimizing the appearance of your pores. Any lingering redness from your extractions will melt away under its ministrations. And to cap it off, step three: a tiny pouch of transparent gel labelled “Essence” that you apply with your finger. The formula has the velvety slip of a primer and blurs your pores into soft-focus nonexistence. Usually, by the time I’m done, the rest of my complexion looks a bit lackluster in comparison. Can your pore strip accomplish that? Somehow, I doubt it.

Kate Middleton and Prince William’s Family Christmas Card Is So Cute, It Hurts

Kate Middleton and Prince William’s Christmas card is here, and it’s the cutest thing you’ll see all day.

The photo, which Kensington Palace shared to Twitter and Instagram on Friday (December 14), features the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge alongside their three children—Prince Louis, Princess Charlotte, and Prince George—smiling and sitting on a moss-covered tree. Prince William is dressed casually in a checkered button-down while Middleton opted for a preppy sweater and jeans. Princess Charlotte is wearing a cute navy outfit; Prince George is in jeans; and Prince Louis is so adorable in his baby sweater.

“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are pleased to share a new photograph of their family,” Kensington Palace wrote on Instagram alongside the family pic. “The photograph, taken by Matt Porteous, shows The Duke and Duchess with their three children at Anmer Hall. This photograph features on Their Royal Highnesses’ Christmas card this year.”

Check it out for yourself, below:

It’s been quite the year for Middleton and Prince William. They welcomed their third child, Prince Louis, in April. Middleton took several months off before making her first post-baby appearance in October at the Croft Forest School in Paddington’s Recreation Ground.

The photo for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Christmas card was snapped at their wedding reception in May. “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are delighted to share a new photograph from their Wedding Reception at Frogmore House on 19th May,” Kensington Palace wrote. “The photograph, which was taken by photographer Chris Allerton, features on Their Royal Highnesses’ Christmas card this year.”

It’s been reported that Markle, Prince Harry, Middleton, and Prince William will all spend Christmas together this year with the queen.

Related Stories:

Kate Middleton Drove Herself to Buckingham Palace—Is That Common?

Kate Middleton Drove Herself to Buckingham Palace—Is That Common?

Kate Middleton Has Only Worn a Tiara Eight Times—See Them All Here

To 3D Or Not To 3D – Buy The Right Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Ticket

Spider-Man is back in theaters, but this time it’s a whole new ballgame. Unlike Spidey’s previous cinematic adventures, Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is an animated film that focuses on the story of Miles Morales and a ragtag group of Spider-People from across the multiverse. What the movie does have common with other Spider-Man films is that it comes with a 3D showing

If you’d like, you can read CinemaBlend’s official review of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but this review is solely based on the 3D technology. This Spidey film has lots of fun with other dimensions, but does it conquer the almighty third dimension? Without further ado, let’s swing right into it and see if this 3D made our Spider Senses tingle or if it left us hanging by a thread. (You know, because of spiders and webs and stuff.)

Animation just lends itself better to 3D than most live-action movies and if you combine that with the high-flying action of a superhero movie, then you’ve got a recipe for success. I can’t think of a superhero better suited to 3D than Spider-Man. He’s an incredibly mobile character, swinging above the most famous city in the world. There are lots of things to show off in a 3D space, and when used properly, the technology can generate films that make you feel like you are right there flying through New York City with the Web-Head.

You can tell that a lot of planning and effort when into the 3D of Spider-Verse. This isn’t something that the directors and tech team just slapped onto the film. There are lots of great visuals to behold, and the 3D adds lots of depth between the characters and their surroundings. If there is a downside, it’s that there are some spots where it’s apparent there wasn’t much 3D going on, but it hardly outweighs the rest of the scenes that are using 3D at its full capacity.

Probably the most famous aspect of 3D is the idea that images from the screen leap out at the audience. Oddly, Spider-Verse doesn’t utilize this trick often or at least not in an obvious way. While there are scenes where debris will bounce off the screen, it was usually too fast or subtle to have an impact. However, the movie does have some clever uses with a splatter effect that hits the “camera,” such as the juice from Peter Parker’s burger or Miles Morales’ spray paint hitting the corner of the screen.

For a movie that works so hard to emulate a 2D comic book, there is an incredible amount of 3D depth on display. The many buildings and long streets of New York City seem like they go on forever, while even the hallways in Miles’ high school seem to stretch on for miles (or maybe that’s just how high school feels.) The beyond the window effect really shines in the climactic third act, where some really trippy and thrilling visuals take place. I won’t spoil them here, but they were awesome and the 3D helped add a suitable amount of chaos as it balanced many effects at once.

Brightness in 3D can be tricky. The tinted 3D glasses naturally make things darker, and a good amount of it depends on how well your movie theater is taking care of its 3D projection. At least for me, I felt my showing could have been a little brighter. Spider-Verse is a very colorful movie, and I was hoping to see those visuals pop a bit more than they did. I certainly never had trouble seeing what was happening, but New York City boasts so much neon lighting that it could have stood to blast off of the screen more.

A great way to test how good the 3D is in the film is to be counterproductive and take off your glasses. If there’s a lot of blur on the screen, that means there’s a lot of 3D present on the screen. Spider-Verse has many scenes with a healthy level of blur plastered over the whole screen. However, there were a few that didn’t seem to have any 3D at all. These scenes were mostly tight close-ups of character’s faces.

It’s easy to get a little sick during a 3D film, especially one with so much fast-paced action, but Spider-Verse isn’t too difficult to follow. Even during some of the most complex and busy action scenes with multiple Spider-People at once swinging around, I was able to keep up with the action. That being said, there were some moments in the film where things were moving too quickly for the image to remain solid, but it was never distracting.

When all is said and done, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a great experience in 3D. It’s extremely well put together with action that is easy to follow as Miles and the crew leap and swing through the concrete jungle. Overall, the 3D conversion holds up really well. There are some minor hiccups with brightness, but if you know a theater that has a good 3D projector, than Spider-Verse in 3D is well worth the price of admission.

How Will You See Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse?

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Christmas Card Is Truly Breathtaking

Kensington Palace shared the photo Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are using for their Christmas card this year, and it’s breathtaking. The shot is from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s May 19 wedding reception. Markle is wearing her stunning white Stella McCartney dress, her and Prince Harry’s backs turned to the camera as they watch a firework show. Is this an ad for a Disney movie or a Christmas card? I’m not sure, but either way I’m completely captivated.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are delighted to share a new photograph from their Wedding Reception at Frogmore House on 19th May,” Kensington Palace shared on Instagram alongside the new pic. “The photograph, which was taken by photographer Chris Allerton, features on Their Royal Highnesses’ Christmas card this year.”

Take a look at the photo for yourself, below.

With everything Markle and Prince Harry have accomplished in 2018, it’s hard to believe this photo was only snapped a few months ago. Their royal wedding was followed by a busy, engagement-filled summer and fall. Markle went on her first solo outing with Queen Elizabeth II in June. Then, four months later, she and Prince Harry embarked on a royal tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga, and New Zealand. Right before this trip, Kensington Palace announced Markle and Prince Harry were expecting their first child.

“Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019,” the palace posted to both Twitter and Instagram on Monday, October 15. “Their Royal Highnesses have appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public.”

Related Stories:

Meghan Markle Is Being Mommy-Shamed and She Hasn’t Even Given Birth Yet

Meghan Markle’s Best Fashion Moments of 2018

Prince Harry Is Reportedly “Going All Out” to Protect Meghan Markle for This Heartbreaking Reason

Into The Spider-Verse End Credits Scene: Who That Is And Why It’s Important

Nowadays, it feels weird when a superhero movie that doesn’t have a mid/end credits scene attached, but Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse doesn’t count itself among this bunch. Following behind Sony’s collaboration with Marvel Studios to have Tom Holland’s Spider-Man hang out in the MCU, as well the studio using Venom to kick off a Spider-Man-less cinematic universe, Into the Spider-Verse is a more family-friendly offering, though certainly not lacking in action and excitement. Oh, and it’s also already been confirmed it won’t be a standalone tale.

It’s been announced that both a direct sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and a female-centric spinoff are in the works. It’s hard to say when we’ll see either of these projects, but Into the Spider-Verse‘s end credits scene did subtly set the stage for the sequel through a character who’s been a part of the Spider-Man mythos for several decades. Read on to find out who this individual is, what they did in the end credits scene and why they’re important not just in the comics, but to the future of the Into the Spider-Verse film series.

Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse are ahead! Proceed at your own discretion.

Featuring six Spider-heroes is a hell of a way to kick off a new superhero franchise, seven if you count the Peter Parker Spider-Man from Miles Morales‘ universe (voiced by Chris Pine) who was killed by Kingpin early into the movie. But Into the Spider-Verse‘s final minute had one last hero to introduce after a touching tribute to both Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the creators of Spider-Man. Enter Miguel O’Hara, a.k.a. Spider-Man 2099, voiced by Oscar Isaac.

Over in Nueva York, a female hologram clues Miguel on some of the events that went down in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, with monitors in the background showing off all the Spider-people we met in the main story. Miguel claims he was only gone for a couple hours, but he missed a lot. Fortunately, the multiverse is still intact, and as the camera pans back to fully show Spider-Man 2099, we see him putting on a wrist device that, according to the hologram, will allow him to travel through the multiverse and ideally keep him from glitching out, which is what happened to all the Spider-heroes visiting Miles’ universe. When asked where he wants to go first, Miguel answers “The beginning.”

Cut to Earth-67, a.k.a. the Earth where the 1960s animated Spider-Man TV series takes place. Even if you never watched that show, its theme song has been an ear worm for decades, and nowadays it’s gained a new following thanks to screenshots being used as meme material. Arguably the most famous of these memes is the ‘Spider-Man pointing at Spider-Man’ still, and that’s just the situation Miguel O’Hara finds himself in upon arriving on Earth-67. Spider-Man 2099 tries to recruit Spider-Man 67 for some kind of mission, but the two instead just get into an argumentative pointing match as a cop and J. Jonah Jameson watch nearby.

So that’s our introduction to Miguel O’Hara on the big screen, but who exactly is he? Well, as his superhero moniker suggests, Miguel hails from the year 2099, and although it’s labeled as Earth-928 within the Marvel multiverse, it’s also considered to be a possible future for the main 616 universe. Created by Peter David and Rick Leonardi in 1992, Miguel became the head of the genetics program Alchemax, where he was tasked with creating super-soldiers for the megacorporation.

However, when Miguel decided he wanted to leave Alchemax, he was tricked by the CEO, Tyler Stone, into taking an addictive drug called Rapture that only Alchemax was allowed to distribute, so if Miguel moved on as he intended, he would be sold out to the police. Not wanting to be blackmailed, Miguel remembered that his own genetic code was saved within one of Alchemax’s machines, so he could use it to free himself from Rapture’s grip.

But because this machine had been sabotaged by one of Miguel’s subordinates, it ended up making his genetic code 50% spider. And following the rules of comic book science, that resulted in Miguel gaining Spider-Man-like powers, albeit with some differences, like having enhanced vision and hearing instead of a spider-sense, and his hands and feet having spider-talons.

As one would expect, Miguel became Spider-Man 2099, and while he originally wanted to cure his strange condition, he soon embraced being a superhero and took the fight to all the gigantic, sinister corporations who were hurting the people, including Alchemax. Of course, since this is the future, this meant that Miguel also fought futuristic adaptations of classic Marvel villains. Eventually he met the original Spider-Man, and in the recent past, they reunited when Miguel was stranded in the present (i.e. nearly 100 years in the past for him). Outside of the comics, Miguel’s most prominent media appearances have been in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, as well as the Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and Spider-Man: Edge of Time video games.

As far as why Spider-Man 2099 was included in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller told CinemaBlend’s own Eric Eisenberg that even though Miguel O’Hara didn’t fit within the main story, he’s an interesting enough character that they wanted to highlight him. Miller explained:

We wanted to get 2099 in there because he’s such a cool character, and he didn’t fit into the story that we were telling around Miles. But we wanted to have him there to sort of open up the world even farther, and was the the easiest choice to have that guy because he is so cool and also funny and also a great actor. And he has Central American heritage, and he sounds like a guy from New York. You’ve got to have a flaw somewhere! He was so up for anything out of that one too. So we were so lucky to get to work with some of these people.

Co-director Peter Ramsey also clarified to Eric that the entire Spider-Man 2099 scene was a “very late addition” to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but he and the other creative minds wanted it to look and feel different from the rest of the movie. Co-director and writer Rodney Rothman added:

We knew we wanted to do a coda scene, and we knew we wanted to try to do one in our own style that would be distinctive. We wanted it to hopefully be as distinctive as the rest of the movie was trying to be. We liked taking a serious, badass futuristic Spider-Man, and then putting him in his nightmare.

So what does Spider-Man 2099’s appearance in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse mean for the future of this franchise? Well, aside from Miguel being another cool character to highlight whose chances of ever appearing in a live action movie were slim, it also looks like he’ll be one of the principal characters in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. While the Spider-heroes in the first movie were being exposed to the multiverse for the first time, it seems like Miguel and his holographic companion (possibly a version of either Dana D’Angelo or Xina Kwan, two of Miguel’s romantic interests in the comics) were already familiar with parallel realities before the Kingpin of Miles’ universe activated the super collider.

To that end, if Spider-Man 2099 will indeed be one of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2‘s co-leads, it stands to reason that he’ll eventually find his way to Miles Morales’ universe and recruit him for this mission that’s underway. What exactly this mission entails is unclear (one logical guess is preventing all of the realities from fracturing), but I’m guessing that rather than the action being set on Miles’ home turf again, it’ll see the teen hero traveling to other universes. Maybe he’ll reunite with some or all of the Spider-heroes from Into the Spider-Verse, or maybe there will be an all-new lineup accompanying Miles and Miguel, but if the filmmakers felt it was so important to feature Spider-Man 2099 in a coda scene, there’s a strong chance that he’ll get more time in the limelight in the coming years.

If you haven’t already, be sure to read CinemaBlend’s review of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and stay tuned to any updates about the sequel or spinoff. As for movies on the way, look through our 2019 release schedule.

Blended From Around The Web

 

An Insider’s Guide to Abu Dhabi—High and Low

GULF COURSE Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
GULF COURSE Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Photo: Christopher Pike for The Wall Street Journal

FOR THE LAST few years, Abu Dhabi, the capital city and largest emirate of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has been steadily stealing visitors away from its flashier neighbor, Dubai, enticing them with a growing collection of cultural attractions. The biggest bait, a 260,000-square-foot Louvre opened last year on Saaidyat Island, a short drive from Abu Dhabi city. If all goes well, a Guggenheim designed by Frank Gehry will soon follow, as well as Norman Foster’s Zayed National Museum, named for Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who became the first president of the UAE upon its federation in 1971. Some 200 islands—many man-made and linked by bridges—comprise the emirate, along with the mainland’s expanses of red-tinged desert, where men have been hunting with falcons long before the UAE existed. Here, four locals help visitors suss out the key sites and scenes.


A Savvy Traveler’s Guide to Abu Dhabi

From desert excursions to a blockbuster museum, the top sites and scenes of this Persian Gulf capital

A falcon demonstration at Qasr Al Sarab resort in the Empty Quarter desert southwest of Abu Dhabi.
Christopher Pike for The Wall Street Journal

An Insider’s Guide to Abu Dhabi—High and Low

The Art Curator

Dyala Nusseibeh

Director of Abu Dhabi Art

PREHISTORIC PALMS / Al Ain Oasis Human settlement in this oasis—about a two-hour drive east of Abu Dhabi’s center—dates back to the Stone Age. It contains some 150,000 palm trees irrigated by a natural water system created centuries ago. Hessa bint Mohamed St., alainoasis

SEA CHANGE / The Corniche The Corniche is no longer the simple beach front area I remember. Now it is much more a space for public entertainment with open-air concerts by contemporary and traditional musicians.

BASIC BOUNTY / Bu Tafish The setting for this historic seafood restaurant is no-frills, but the fish is always fresh and delicious. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Street

PORT CRAWL / Warehouse421 A warehouse district by the port of Mina Zayed, it’s now an art destination, hosting lively events and exhibitions year-round. warehouse421.ae

An Insider’s Guide to Abu Dhabi—High and Low

The Chef

Khulood Atiq

Author of ‘Sarareed: Emirati Cuisine from the Sea to the Desert’

CURRY WITH A VIEW / Ushna This bright, modern Indian restaurant has stunning views of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque from the terrace. Souq Qaryat Al Beri

Ushna Indian restaurant.
Ushna Indian restaurant. Photo: Christopher Pike for The Wall Street Journal

ISLE OF CHEETAHS / Sir Baniyas Island Once abandoned, this island 150 miles off the coast of Abu Dhabi (part of the Al Gharbia region of the country) is dominated by the Arabian Wildlife Park and filled with gazelles, cheetahs and giraffes. anantara.com/en/sir-bani-yas-abu-dhabi

TIME TRAVEL / Qasr Al Hosn This gleaming watchtower, the oldest stone building in Abu Dhabi, showcases the history of the country through artifacts. Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum St., qasralhosn.ae

THRILL RIDES / Yas Island There’s no better place for families than Yas Island, home to both Ferrari World and Warner Bros. World theme parks. ferrariworldabudhabi.com, wbworldabudhabi.com

An Insider’s Guide to Abu Dhabi—High and Low

The Real Estate Developer

Nadia Zaal

Co-Founder and CEO, Zaya Real Estate

ON THE HORIZON / Zaya Nurai Island The chic private-island resort (a 10-minute boat ride from Saadiyat Island) features villas that give you endless horizons. Or buy a day pass and go for a meal and showstopping sunset views. From about $750 a night or $120 for a day pass, zayanuraiisland.com

A Water Villa at Zaya Nurai Island.
A Water Villa at Zaya Nurai Island. Photo: Christopher Pike for The Wall Street Journal

PERSIAN BLUE / The Shore Abu Dhabi has such clear, beautiful waters. My favorite beaches include Al Bateen and the coastline that curves around Saadiyat Island.

SMALL SCALE / Al Sayyad Restaurant This restaurant in the Mina Zayed port, with only four tables, serves the freshest fish. It’s not luxury but offers a very authentic dining experience. Mina Fish Market, Al Meena

DESERT ISLAND FOOD / Al Maryah Island Just northeast of Abu Dhabi, this island is a new culinary hub, with world-class eateries like Zuma and Robertos. zumarestaurant.com, robertos.ae.

The Artistic Director

Bill Bragin

Executive artistic director of the Arts Center at New York University Abu Dhabi

An Insider’s Guide to Abu Dhabi—High and Low

FOREIGN LEGION / Tourist Club Area This neighborhood is filled with older architecture, small shops and a little bit of grit and funk. Al Sham is an excellent little bakery for manakeesh (Levantine flatbread). Al Zahiyah

KARAK BREAK / Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre Rather than coffee, I’d send people to the food court here for karak, chai with sweetened milk. Go after a stroll through the gold souk. Sultan Bin Zayed the First St., Madinat Zayad Mall

DUBAI DAY TRIP / Alserkal Avenue I love making road trips to this district in Dubai. It’s lined with galleries, Cinema Akil, the Fridge (live music), the Junction (theater) and the Flip Side, a vinyl shop.

Cinema Akil in Dubai, about an hour’s drive from Abu Dhabi.
Cinema Akil in Dubai, about an hour’s drive from Abu Dhabi. Photo: Christopher Pike for The Wall Street Journal

BUY THE BOOK / ‘Table Tales: The Global Nomad Cuisine’ This makes a great souvenir. More than a cookbook, it’s a social history of the city told through portraits of residents from different nations. homemadeinad.net.

Plus, Don’t Miss…
General view of Mawal at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi.
General view of Mawal at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Christopher Pike for The Wall Street Journal

Qasr Al Sarab This palatial resort in the Rub’ al-Khali desert offers up-close-and-personal visits with falcons, spa and hammam treatments and a standout breakfast spread. From about $570 a night, anantara.com/ Afternoon Middle Eastern Tea at Al Meylas Lounge An elegant lounge at the Four Seasons hotel, it serves an assortment of British standards and local nibbles, such as medjool dates and scones with clotted cream. Maryah Island, fourseasons.com / Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque The largest mosque in the UAE has what’s reportedly the largest handmade carpet in the world. Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed St, Sheik Zayad Mosque / St. Regis, Corniche An opulent beach resort set on Corniche Road, it’s decked out with a sprawling swimming pool, butler service, several restaurants and “the world’s highest suspended suite”—on the 48th and 49th floors—which serves a “brunch in the clouds” to 50 diners on the last Friday of every month. From about $200 a night, stregis.com / Mawal With lofty ceilings and red Moorish tones, this Lebanese restaurant at Emirates Palace hotel is all glitz and glamour. West Corniche Rd, kempinski.com/en/abudhabi/emirates-palace

Ariana Grande Hits The Highest Of High Notes In Her ‘Seasons Of Love’ Cover With Frankie

Serious question: Does Ariana Grande ever sleep? While we patiently await tonight’s arrival of “Imagine” — the umpteenth song she’s dropped this year — the Sweetener singer is keeping fans fed with yet another new release.

This time, Ari teamed up with her brother, Frankie, to cover the Rent classic “Seasons of Love.” In the accompanying video, the siblings — along with Frankie’s friends Ben, Jon-Erik, and Dominic — take to a candle-lit studio to belt the Broadway tune from behind the mic. Frankie sings a full-verse solo that showcases his shockingly impressive range, while Ariana returns to her Broadway roots by tackling the powerhouse solo sung by Joanne in the musical. To absolutely no one’s surprise, she nails those sky-grazing whistle notes with ease.

In a press release, Frankie gushed, “I am beyond honored to have worked on this incredible project with my best friends in the world including my wonderful sister. Thank you Ariana for vocal producing as well as adding your magical voice to this beautiful song. I am so happy that I got to sing with you on one of our favorite Broadway songs from one of our favorite Broadway shows, RENT! “

Following the cover’s release on Thursday (December 13), Ari returned the love by tweeting, “How beautiful does @FrankieJGrande sound? I’m so proud of him and the year he’s had. The whole thing makes my heart so full. Thankful I got to be a part of it.”

The Grande siblings’ “Seasons of Love” cover was recorded to promote Fox’s live version of Rent, which airs in January 2019 and counts Vanessa Hudgens, Tinashe, and Jordan Fisher among its stars. Kiersey Clemons is taking on the role of Joanne in that version, and Ari’s definitely given her something to live up to!

Start Buying Furniture the Millennial Way—or Risk Missing Out

ARE YOU EXPERIENCED? New digitally native brands are obsessed with making the customer experience painless, in large part because they fear a social media backlash.
ARE YOU EXPERIENCED? New digitally native brands are obsessed with making the customer experience painless, in large part because they fear a social media backlash. Illustration: Tommy Parker

“BASICALLY, I DIDN’T see a risk,” said Eddy Banuelos of paying $1,045 for a sofa he’d never sat on or touched. The couch in question, an 86-inch model, handsomely tailored in a gray called Crushed Gravel, came from the website of new furniture company Burrow. It paid for the shipping and was prepared to cover return costs, too, if the 24-year-old Chicago pharmacy student found the sofa wanting upon arrival. A year later, Mr. Banuelos reports that his comfy divan has held up well, and he shrugs off what some might call a leap of faith: “I thought it was worth a try.”

Call it the millennial decorating difference. More-mature Americans, who didn’t learn their ABCs on an LCD screen, cringe at the prospect of an unwanted sofa hulking in their homes, and the anxiety of coordinating its removal. “Older people still like to see and feel, especially with a significant investment,” said Jennifer Mapes-Christ, a consumer-goods analyst with Freedonia Group. Millennials, on the other hand, “are in that digital universe, integrated into the idea of buying and returning and it’s not a big deal.”

For shoppers of a certain age, that need for tactile testing is a huge deal. That and an unfamiliarity with “millennial brands” that market via social media are keeping them from taking advantage of the efficient, direct-to-consumer, mostly digital companies disrupting the furniture, mattress and housewares industries. People over 45 buy only about a third of Brooklinen’s luxury bedding, for example. Still, that 4-year-old company, which opened its first pop-up shop in New York only last month, says it recently reached cumulative sales of $100 million with a strategy common to these upstarts: competitive prices, a carefully tweaked customer experience and generous return options that minimize risk.

Brooklinen accepts returns of 7-piece bedding sets (linen, starting at $423, shown here) for 365 days, minus $9.99 if you’ve washed them.
Brooklinen accepts returns of 7-piece bedding sets (linen, starting at $423, shown here) for 365 days, minus $9.99 if you’ve washed them.

Sites like Brooklinen are obsessed with keeping buyers satisfied for mostly one reason: the threat of social media backlash. A disgruntled purchaser can tweet dissatisfaction that goes viral. “That’s death!” said Edgar Blazona, founder of BenchMade Modern, which sells custom sofas through its website. “We do everything we can to not get that scenario. Sometimes it stings, it’s expensive, but we do it to inspire confidence.”

Another obsession? Uncluttered web interfaces. Companies that interact with customers mainly via the internet seek out an aesthetic that’s more editorial than commercial. Products are crisply silhouetted against white backgrounds, airily presented in rows of two or three. Language is spare and charismatic, as in 5-year-old furniture brand Article’s note on their newsletter email: “We’re not clingy: you can unsubscribe at any time.”

Some non-millennials have already discovered the millennial sites. This spring, Larry Olmsted, 52, bought a nine-piece patio dining set of coated aluminum from Yardbird, a Minnesota-based brand selling outdoor furniture. “The site itself is better and more well-thought-out than mainstream sites I looked at,” said the Hartland, Vt., author. He found the year-old company’s narrow selection—another telling sign of millennial retailing—limited, but in a good way. “Trying to sort the options at Wayfair and Overstock was oppressive.”

Sites like Yardbird typically launch with a non-mind-numbing offering and expand collections as they grow. Newcomer Dims. currently offers just four tables by five up-and-coming designers and will add seating in early 2019. Joybird, acquired by Lay-Z-Boy this summer, began in 2014 with 10 collections and, after reporting $55 million in annual sales in 2017, now offers 35.

The prevailing aesthetic tends toward the contemporary and clean-lined, hardly everyone’s taste. “The once-niche modernist market overall has grown significantly in the past decade,” said BenchMade Modern’s Mr. Blazona, but he’s not opposed to selling a rolled-arm love seat if demand merits it. “As our customer demographic evolves, ages or broadens, we would certainly consider adding more traditional styles.”

Simple decision trees help you make your choice, as do generous policies about mailing customers material samples: Sixpenny will send gratis one wood sample ($5 each for more) and swatches of all of their 37 fabrics.

Transparency rates highly for a typical millennial site. Along with the specifications for its assembly-required tables, sofa and platform bed, Floyd includes line drawings depicting exactly what pieces will arrive and in how many boxes. At Burrow, a model photographed recumbent on one of its couches is helpfully identified as being 6 feet, 1 inch tall, preventing surprises of scale.

Love of planet is a factor, too. When Yardbird co-founder Jay Dillon researched factories in Asia to source his furniture, he was so appalled by plastic litter he saw along the waterways that he vowed to incorporate the stuff into his product. His site reports that Yardbird used 30,000 pounds of intercepted ocean plastic in its outdoor furniture and packaging in 2017 alone. Joybird partners with conservation groups and says it plants more trees, reportedly 389,896 to date, than are used to manufacture the furniture sold.

The responsive customer service typical of these brands begins on their respective sites. “I love the chat boxes,” said Tara Blackman, 30, an ad-technology sales executive who’s bought several large pieces, including a $2,000 coffee table, sight unseen. “They’re the little thing that pops up and asks, ‘Can I help you?’ ” Many companies email you a transcription of your chat so you won’t get caught in a “but your customer service said…” debate.

Simple graphics compare the efficient direct-to-consumer model to the conventional retail supply chain. Mr. Blazona, an alum of Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware , describes the typical retail-store process: “A wholesaler buys a sofa from a factory for $1,000, marks it up to $2,000 and sells it to a retailer, who doubles the price again,” he said. “So you’re buying a $4,000 product that in reality cost $1,000.” By cutting out middlemen, these millennial brands can use higher quality materials but still keep prices reasonable, he said. And they can pay shipping, often saving customers hundreds of dollars.

Even as these brands roll out bricks-and-mortar shops, the model stays intact. They favor smaller 2,000- to 4,000-square-foot showrooms as opposed to the 50,000 square-foot mazes of mainstream retailers. “Less inventory, less rent overhead…often translates into lower-cost product,” said Mr. Dillon, who opened a 3,800 square-foot store in suburban Minnesota a year after launching his site.

The condensed supply line speeds up distribution. Brooklinen can deliver its bedding within two days. Burrow sofas ship out of their North Carolina factory the same week they’re ordered, said owner Stephen Kuhl. While Pottery Barn’s site estimates its made-to-order sofas and chairs in performance velvet will take from 6 to 9 weeks, BenchMade Modern’s Los Angeles factory is currently shipping custom sofas in 21 days (up from its typical 10-days, due to holiday demand).

Pottery Barn’s brand president Marta Benson defended the chain’s turnaround. “In some cases our quote times have grown to six weeks because we have a lot of demand for our quality of upholstery,” she said. “Disrupters have the benefit of single-category focus, digital-marketing focus and a clarity of message. We’re multigenerational, multichannel, multidimensional and have a decades-old reputation.”

These new brands attempt to offset their youth by reducing buyers’ risk. Casper mattresses set the standard in 2014 when it offered free shipping on delivery and return, and offered customers 100 days to decide whether their foam mattress, shipped rolled-up in a manageable box, made them a happy sleeper. Brooklinen will exchange sheets or refund returned sheets (minus $9.99) for 365 days, no matter the reason.

If you don’t like that nonrefundable sofa you had made to order by retailers like West Elm and Crate & Barrel, you’re selling it on Craigslist or giving it to your sister. BenchMade Modern, whose sofas are customizable to the inch, pays shipping for delivery and return within 100 days, no questions asked. “There’s some guilt with returning a $2,000 sofa,” said Mr. Blazona. “It’s OK! It’s in our business model.”

When asked if she’s heard of Casper, Brooklinen, Article or Burrow, perhaps via Instagram or Facebook , Suzann Kresse, 61, said simply, “I’m not on any of that stuff.” Yet the radiology technologist from Jefferson Township, Penn., said she’d consider buying a sofa she hasn’t sat on, given the sort of shipping and return policies these companies offer. “I work five to six days a week. If they had good pictures and I could read the specs, sure, I’d try it over going to a store. Quite frankly, who has time?”

7 ‘Millennial’ Design Brands to Know

Cutting out the middleman is as old as commerce itself. But if you’re not on social media, you likely haven’t heard of these direct-to-consumer companies shaking up the furniture industry.

Start Buying Furniture the Millennial Way—or Risk Missing Out
The Inside

The Inside’s co-founder and CEO, Christiane Lemieux, sold her lifestyle brand DwellStudio to e-commerce behemoth Wayfair in 2013. The design tastemaker now shares her travels to places like Milan and Marrakesh with 152,000 Instagram followers as she collects vintage textiles. The Inside’s 20 different furniture styles can be made to order with more than 100 proprietary upholstery patterns. The company carries no inventory and produces each product in the U.S., like the $299 Ink Melio Screen above, in under three weeks. theinside.com

Start Buying Furniture the Millennial Way—or Risk Missing Out
Yardbird

“We’ve worked hard to edit the outdoor-furniture industry down to the 10 designs most consumers look for,” said Yardbird co-founder Jay Dillon. The coated-aluminum bistro set below costs $1,097, including a 10-year warranty. Even with Yardbird’s 30-day trial policy for returns (charging $99 for return shipping and restocking), its return rate (excluding instances of damage) is 1%, compared to the roughly 2% average for bricks-and-mortar furniture stores, according to the Home Furnishings Association. yardbird.com

Start Buying Furniture the Millennial Way—or Risk Missing Out
Revival

Debuting last fall with one-of-a-kind vintage and original handmade carpets from Turkey, Revival’s prices are up to 10 times lower than comparable rugs at conventional U.S. retailers. Average price of a 5-feet-by-8-feet rug? $400. “Our Turkish team works with local craftsmen to customize product in response to demand for things like soft pink tones,” said California-based co-founder and CEO Ben Hyman. The business, planning to launch a similar model in India, predicts $1.6 million in gross sales by year-end. revivalrugs.com

Start Buying Furniture the Millennial Way—or Risk Missing Out
Dims.

The furniture brand launched in November with just four minimalist Taiwan-made tables. The pieces are designed by emerging global talents like Swede John Astbury and Korean Kyuhyung Cho, who created the ash-wood Caldera table below, $350, to help democratize the industry. The Dims. ethos includes subsidized delivery costs. “Unlike a lot of online furniture brands, we don’t pad our prices to offer ‘free shipping,’” said founder Eugene Kim. “We show how much it costs to ship a product and then pick up half the tab.” dimshome.com

Start Buying Furniture the Millennial Way—or Risk Missing Out
BenchMade Modern

“Our sweet spot is the older millennial looking to buy something that will last,” said founder Edgar Blazona, who points to better construction and materials to justify the highish prices on his eight customizable upholstered collections. All pieces—like the Skinny Fat chair above, $1,241 including delivery—feature a zipper where the leg bolts into the frame so you can eyeball the craftsmanship. A 100-day return policy also includes shipping. “I think we’ve gotten back one or two pieces ever,” said Mr. Blazona of the 3-year-old company. benchmademodern.com

Start Buying Furniture the Millennial Way—or Risk Missing Out
Burrow

Founders Stephen Kuhl and Kabeer Chopra reverse-engineered Burrow’s modular furniture, available in five colors, so it could ship from their North Carolina factory in UPS boxes and be easily disassembled and moved later. “I had a big inherited sofa that needed a second person to move,” said Chicago grad student Eddy Banuelos, who bought a three-seater and ottoman like the one pictured ($1,490). Delivery is free and return shipping within a 30-day trial is covered if you’ve held on to the packaging. burrow.com

Start Buying Furniture the Millennial Way—or Risk Missing Out
Article

Article, one of the most senior digitally native companies, was launched by four computer engineers in 2013 and has reached gross annual sales of $100 million. Its catalog of more than 2,000 modern Scandinavian, midcentury and West Coast furniture designs includes the Culla Spindle queen bed below, for $899. An ETA calculator on each product page estimates delivery time for your zip code, and a flat shipping fee of $49 covers delivery and returns within 30 days applies. “How do we do it?” reads the site. “We’re wizards. Just kidding: we’re obsessed with efficiency.” article.com

WHAT I’D NEVER, EVER BUY ONLINE / Shoppers of a Certain Age Come Clean

“I’d worry that a sofa might be uncomfortable and bad quality,” said Laurie Kantor Finn, 52, co-founder of a tech-education studio for children in Los Angeles. “Whenever I’ve bought a sofa, I’ve gone to 50 stores and sat on every one.”

“I’d want to touch and feel a piece of upholstery. Maybe If they sent fabric swatches—if I had that second tier, after a visual, of evaluating—I might do it,” said James Dale, 61, a management consultant in New York. ”But then again, I still think returning a chair or sofa would be painful. You’ve got the service elevator, etc. It’s not easy to manage.”

“I don’t buy any home furnishings online,” said over-50 Denise DeGennaro, a managing editor at a book publisher in New York. “I really like to go shopping for houseware things with my sister. It’s almost like a hobby.”

“I order a lot of things online—kitchen appliances, sheets, towels,” said Margaret Appleton, 55, an obstetrician-gynecologist from College Station, Texas. “But I wouldn’t order a mattress because I would want to lie on it. My son did get his online.”

“Sheets are so personal, and I really think you have to touch and feel them,” said Tammy Farley, a mid-50s co-founder of a hotel-consulting firm from Atlanta, Ga. “I am a hot sleeper and need percale sheets that feel crispy to keep me cool at night. I can only be sure I will like them if I can touch them.”

More in Design & Decorating