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'Empire' recap: Coming out and respectability politics

The brothers of “Empire” are all over the place, for better or worse. In the latest episode, Hakeem, Jamal and Andre each take important steps on their personal journeys.

With Hakeem, we can put the brooms away; he’s finally acting his age, not his shoe size.

While in the studio, working on a Cookie-produced legacy album for Lucious, Hakeem throws a fit when his mother calls him out for rushing his rap. Lucious lays the smack down, rejecting his normally passive role for one more authoritative (more lion-like, if you will). Playing Dr. Phil, he forces his son to speak candidly about his anti-Cookie feelings.

In one of the rawest moments of Hakeem’s storyline to date, he says he felt abandoned during Cookie’s stint in jail and jealous of her love of Jamal. It’s the first time he’s been able to articulate his emotions -- signs of a changed but still barely legal man.

But if you thought this apparent maturity was self-motivated, think again. Pulling the strings is Camilla, his cougar...

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Wardrobe drawn from 'House of Cards' being offered for sale

Few of us might want to be like Frank Underwood, but maybe we'd like to dress like him?

Here's your chance. An Amsterdam-based company,, will be offering wardrobe items exactly like those worn in Season 3 of "House of Cards" within hours of the season's release Friday by Netflix.

So yeah, if you've longed to dress just like Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood or Robin Wright's Claire Underwood, this is the place for you. The list of items will be up on their site at 3 a.m. EST on Saturday.

“The show’s characters are largely defined by their wardrobe," says brand marketing director Ruben Trustfull in a press release. "Frank’s power suits help him dominate a room when he walks in, and nobody uses clothes like body armour the way Claire does. Claire wouldn’t be Claire if she dressed like Hilary Clinton.”

The site already has the wardrobe from Season 2 of "House of Cards" up for sale. You can buy a Burberry shirt just like Kevin Spacey wore, for example, for $350 (or a similar...

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A first-timer bar-crawls through Horseshoe Casino

Since opening six months ago, the Horseshoe Casino has illuminated downtown like a beacon of ... well, what exactly?

There are plenty of questions surrounding the Horseshoe Casino's economic viability (the division of Caesars Entertainment Corp. that operates Horseshoe filed for bankruptcy protection in January) and long-term impact on Baltimore, but I decided to leave the number crunching to the economists and the political pontificating to the talking heads. Instead, as a previous patron of Maryland Live, Delaware Park and numerous Atlantic City casinos — and not to mention a nightlife reporter and critic for The Sun — I wanted to finally see the glitzy spectacle in person.

So, my roommate Mike and I — two Horseshoe first-timers — recently ventured to the Horseshoe in hopes of answering one question: Would we, two city-based young professionals living a short Uber ride away, want to spend a weekend night here?

Our plan was simple: Arrive at 9:30 p.m. and bar-crawl through Horseshoe's...

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'Survivor' season premiere recap, 'It's Survivor Warfare'

Time for another season of "Survivor," and much like the past few, it has to have a gimmick. This season, it’s Blue Collar, White Collar and No Collar.

Really? This is the best they can do? And now I’ll have to suffer through at least three episodes where everyone tries to live up to their stereotypes, at least until they get hungry and sleep-deprived enough to forget what they’re supposed to be doing. And then people start getting real. (Whoops, wrong show.)

As we open, Jeff explains that the tribes have been divided by occupation and "approach to life." Gah. I hate this concept, and tonight they’re going to hit us upside the head with it. Repeatedly

The White Collar Tribe (yellow) includes a Yahoo executive, a media consultant, a retail buyer and a college professor. The retail buyer takes pride in making people who work for her cry. I believe she’s my first boss reincarnated. I was her fourth assistant in two years. Oh, and the media consultant and college professor are the same...

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Justin Townes Earle gets a fresh start

On “White Gardenias,” Justin Townes Earle's favorite song from his September 2014 album “Single Mothers,” the narrator is searching for a woman he last saw the previous week. As a slide guitar moans in the background, the Nashville-based folk singer-songwriter wonders, “Maybe she went back to Baltimore.”

She was a real person, Earle explained last week, but the two never met. It was Billie Holiday, a singer he always considered “extremely intriguing.”

“Louis Armstrong showed us how to get behind the beat, and she showed us how far we could take it,” Earle said on the phone from a tour stop in South Carolina. “She rose from the Baltimore waterfront back in her day, which was a terrible place to grow up, to be one of the greatest singers of all time. Now that's pretty [expletive] good.”

For Earle, who headlines a sold-out show Saturday at Rams Head on Stage, personal struggles — like Holiday's with heroin and alcohol, and similar problems from his own past — should not define a life....

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Baltimore-born Ta-Nehisi Coates makes his case

It's a crisp January evening on the campus of Loyola University Maryland in North Baltimore, and on this holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a near-capacity crowd awaits the appearance of writer Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Coates strides to the Reitz Arena stage, eases his 6-foot-4 frame behind the lectern, then peers beyond the stage lights. Surveying the racially diverse audience that has come out to honor King's life and legacy, a broad smile illuminates his face.

"Wow, it's a lot of people out here," he says, surveying some 1,700 students, academics, city residents, clergy and a sprinkling of politicians who are applauding enthusiastically. His beaming parents, relatives and friends occupy a few rows nearest the stage. "I'm very thankful to be here," says the Baltimore-born Coates.

This native son has come home. And Coates — his first name, Ta-Nehisi (pronounced TAH-na-HAA-see), is an ancient Nubian and Egyptian name that means "of the land of the blacks" — has arrived on the...

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