Monday, July 30, 2012

Opening Ceremonies of the 30th Olympiad

Friday night was a huge night for the U.K. With the Olympic games visiting the country for the third time, these opening ceremonies were incredible and something you didn't want to miss.

The show directed by Danny Boyle, director of Slumdog Millionaire, had thousands of performers, all of which volunteered their time for practices and to be a part of the ceremonies.

Boyle's production followed the history of the U.K., from the pastoral times, to the industrial revolution, to the new era of technology, marked by the invention of the World Wide Web.

The ceremonies closed with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron by young high school athletes, to symbolize the next generation of great Olympians.

Sir Paul McCartney closed off the ceremonies with a performance of "Hey Jude" that had the entire arena singing "Na na na nananana, hey Jude" by the end of the show.

Fireworks from across the city illuminated the night sky around the arena, making for an unforgettable opening ceremony.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Charting JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy

We all know JK Rowling as the acclaimed author of the Harry Potter series, but now she will release a book geared toward adults.  On February 24, 2012 most people received the news--for the first time--that Rowling would be writing another novel.  She tweeted from @jk_rowling, "As you may have heard, I have a new book out later this year. Very different to Harry, although I’ve enjoyed writing it every bit as much." That tweet aroused much speculation because immediately after people read it, they created their own predictions.  These predictions, however, were put to rest when, around two months later, Little, Brown (the publishing company responsible for Rowling's new book) finally released an official synopsis of the book: "When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.  Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty fa├žade is a town at war.  Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.  And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?  A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other."


As you can see, Rowling's new book sounds less fantastical than Harry Potter without lacking the wit and nuance for which she is well known.  The synopsis of her new novel incited both anticipation and backlash in large numbers of fans.  Many of them--myself not included--desire Rowling to write another Harry Potter book, or at least a book greatly similar to it.  I take the opposite stance;  I say that Rowling wants time to develop out of the Harry Potter image she still has not parted with, and I fully support The Casual Vacancy not only because it seems very intriguing and realistic but also because it will probably help her be more widely recognized as a diverse writer, as opposed to a one-hit-wonder.  I'm not sure if anything can top the success or respectability of Harry Potter, but are people really going to deny JK the opportunity to try?


The Casual Vacancy will be released on September 27, 2012, and it is available for pre-order from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Analysis of Emmy Nominations

The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards will be presented on September 23, but the nominations were released last week.  There were many surprises, not the least of which was the surprise hit, American Horror Story, receiving the most amount of nominations (17) tied with Mad Men.  Below is a summarized list of the nominations and some of my thoughts on who may, or should, win.

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
Boardwalk Empire
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
Homeland
Mad Men

This category is definitely between the highly praised veteran show Breaking Bad and the new spy thriller Homeland, which the critics find very ingenious.  My favorite is the British hit Downton Abbey, but it would be a long shot.

OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
30 Rock
The Big Bang Theory
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Girls
Modern Family
Veep

This category really belongs to Girls, the new risky HBO comedy that succeeded with flying colors this season, its first.  Modern Family won the Emmy the last two years, but its most recent season was definitely a low point for the show--maybe because of Sofia Vergara's horrible acting.

OUTSTANDING MINISERIES OR MADE FOR TELEVISION MOVIE
American Horror Story
Game Change
Hatfields & McCoys
Hemingway & Gellhorn
Luther
Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia

Ah, so this is how American Horror Story got all of those nominations; it was submitted as a miniseries instead of a drama series (It wouldn't have picked up many nominations as a drama, considering its mediocre reviews compared to the high praise of other dramas.)  As for this category, it's a tough one to predict, but I'll go out on a limb and guess Sherlock.

OUTSTANDING REALITY COMPETITION PROGRAM
The Amazing Race
Dancing with the Stars
Project Runway
So You Think You Can Dance
Top Chef
The Voice

The Amazing Race wins every year.  Enough said.


For a more complete list of nominees, including actors, directors, writers, and hosts, visit http://www.metacritic.com/feature/2012-primetime-emmy-award-nominees



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hope from Horoscopes

    Wake up in the morning, grab a cup of coffee, and sit down with the newspaper. This is the average American's morning routine. In that newspaper (hopefully a Sun-Sentinel or TeenLink) there's of course business news, travel, entertainment and…horoscopes?
    As wallets grow thinner and times get tougher, more and more people turn toward horoscopes for hope. They provide insight on finances, family, romance and health. People look toward the future to help with their present.
    The ancient Greeks are credited with horoscopes and astrology. They believed that a person's life was pre-determined and could be predicted by looking at the positions of celestial bodies and constellations at the time of a person's birth. It is necessary to first look at a person's past before predicting their future.
    Horoscopes tend to be bundled with tarot cards, psychic readings, and crystal balls. Astrologists caution that zodiac readings hold more truth than cootie catchers, but that is up to the reader to decide.
    Curious about how accurate these horoscopes were, I did a Google search and clicked on the first link. Instead of reading mine in the morning, however, I read it at night, after my day had ended. I figured it would be best to compare the reading with how my day had actually gone. Surprisingly, it was very accurate. I continued to do this every night for a week, and about half were right.
    While horoscopes might be fun ways to predict your future, it is important to not get too wrapped up in what they say. One night I read that I was supposed to have met a new love interest at a party. Not only am I not in love with anyone at the moment, but I also did not go to a party that day. Needless to say, astrology is not an exact science.
    Whether you read them, believe them or scoff at them horoscopes are popular culture. Newspapers, magazines, websites and Twitter accounts are dedicated to these readings. For some, they are valuable tools. For others, they could not be more useless. Call me crazy, but I think the ancient Greeks might have been on to something.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Louis C.K. Helping The World One Small Annoyance At A Time



After 27 years of being a comic, Louis C.K. has gained massive amounts of success in the last few years.  His self-deprecating humor is full of sex jokes, many of which make audiences shake their heads while laughing, and jokes about his life raising his two young daughters.
His stand up comedy, such as "Hilarious" and "Live At The Beacon Theater" is uncensored and has moments of him seeming to be a genuinely horrible human being, something that haters won’t be able to get past.  But when people give him a chance, it is clear that Louis C.K. doesn’t mean harm to other people.  For example, when one joke took a turn for the worst when he made a comment about having sex with children, he laughed to himself, and said, “That’s just me saying something terrible just because it makes me laugh that it upsets you, that’s all that is.”
His comedy is also riddled with jokes that may offend certain groups of people if taken too seriously, but he is always sure to make it clear that he hates nobody more than people who are racist or homophobic. 
The best part of Louis C.K. is how stripped down and real he is.  Under all the fame and comedy, his fans can tell that he is a real person that understands how everyone thinks.  Buying his stand up show, “Live At The Beacon Theater,” is a refreshingly easy process.  The five dollar special is only sold through his website, and there are no gimmicks or newsletters that you are automatically signed up for, until you un-check the tiny box.  Louis C.K. knows what normal people can’t stand to go through, like a complicated website that will overcharge you and spam your email for years, so he eliminates it for his fans. 
Similarly, people that want to buy tickets for his comedy shows must go through his website.  The best part is that any tickets that are sold on other websites, for above face value, will be deactivated.  Finally someone is doing something about the ticket scalper epidemic. 
Besides being a comic genius, Louis C.K. is great because he is a real guy, who not only notices the small things that drive everyone nuts, but he is trying to do something about it.   


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Katy Perry's Part of Me 3D Adventure: Colorful & Inspirational

To us, it all started with her single hit "I Kissed a Girl", but for Katy Perry it wasn't a simple overnight success story. Working for many years to pursue her dream of becoming an artist, Katy embarks us on her first tour and biggest success yet, California Dreams Tour. "Katy Perry's Part of Me" gives you a backstage pass to not only her tour, but her career, personal life, and the commitment to her fans. Katy shows her transformation from a major-Christian guitar strummer to pop-sensation and world record holder for the most number one hit songs in an album. But under all her colorful candy wardrobe, Katy gives her fans a glimpse of her troubled relationship with comedian Russell Brand. Through it all, Katy stays loyal to her fans and reminds us, through her lyrics, that we are all special and "fireworks".

Check out her movie in 3D and in theaters now.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Mad Love"

So it's summer, and everything just kind of drags on, normal things becoming a bore. I got tired of Netflix, the internet, tv, so what did I do? I picked up the first book in sight. It was "Mad Love", by Suzanne Selfors. The story revolves around Alice Amorous, daughter of a renowned romance novelist, who was hospitalized secretly due to a mental illness. Suddenly, she meets a guy named Errol who claims to be Cupid, and she is under the compromise to write the tragedy of him & Psyche's romance. Alice however, doesn't believe in Cupid, but she decides to help Errol out anyways. I found it a humorous, refreshing book. Not sappy like most romance novels, or full of corny puns. Any teenager (most likely girls) with time on their hands & and nothing to do, would enjoy this modern take on an ancient love story.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Savages: A Movie For The Simple Minded

I walked into the movie theater with hopes high for the viewing of the movie Savages. It seemed as if this movie was going to be highly suspenseful and dramatic with a cast filled with Blake Lively and Salma Hayek.

I turned out half asleep and skeeved out from the unrealistic poly-amorous love triangle they put Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson in.

Clearly false claims of "movie of the year" drew me in to the downright unrealistic plot line of best friend drug dealers and shared girlfriend getting caught up in a fight for their life and love against a Mexican drug cartel.

The beginning seemed promising until my entire view of Blake Lively was changed within the first five minutes. She overacted smoking marijuana, simulating more of the effects of heroin rather than weed.

The tri-relationship started becoming more of a bromance on the race for their lover which leaves you wondering if they're going to ditch the girl and run off together. That would've been a more interesting ending than what they actually left us with.

The acting felt corny, making it obvious that they were smoking cat nip or legal herbs. In the end, the suspense and drama were totally shot and somehow turned into some kind of romantic comedy.

My expectations for this movie were extremely high and I was utterly disappointed in way they carried out the so called drama.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Call Back to the Classics


I remember one day when I was in sixth grade, I was reading one of those stereotypical "teen girl books" while our substitute teacher read a book that looked older than anyone in the room.

I asked her about it, and she said, “I’m trying to read all of the classics.”

Her comment confused me for a long time. I wondered what made certain books classic, and who decides what books get this title. It seemed odd that she would take a task upon herself that had such inherent ambiguity.

Only recently has it occurred to me that the label classic isn’t as important as the fact that if people are still reading a piece decades, or in some cases centuries, after its first publishing, then it might be worth reading.

Labels are often deceiving. This label, however, is nearly always well-deserved.

This summer, I decided to read the novels that have sparked intellectual repartee for years. I’ve found these critically acclaimed pieces to be entertaining, thought-provoking and beautifully crafted.

If you find yourself in search of something to add to your reading list, here my top picks:

1. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Humans are innately terrified of the unknown, and the biggest unknown is the future. Holden Caulfield’s future is up in the air. He has virtually nothing going for him, and when an opportunity presents itself, he throws it away with his cynicism. While he isn’t the most likeable narrator, he represents the insecurities and worries that we all possess, making Catcher a novel to which nearly everyone can relate.

2. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

This apocalyptic sci-fi novel satirizes the lunacy of human nature, and the illogical actions of man. Vonnegut spins his tale through concise chapters with quirky headings like, “A Tentative Tangling of Tendrils,” “Vice-president in Charge of Volcanoes” and “Bicycles of Afghanistan.” With Vonnegut’s imagination conjuring mysteries like Bokononism, Ice-Nine, and the island republic San Lorenzo, it’s best to go into this one with an open mind.

3. 1984 by George Orwell

1984 was written thirty-five years prior to its title year as a representation of what Orwell believed the world could be like in 1984. Now that we’re twenty-eight years beyond that point, many disregard Orwell’s warnings, and even mock his inaccuracies. George Orwell is not a fortune-teller; whether the novel takes place in the year 1984, 2012, or five million doesn't matter. What’s important for the reader to realize is that while 1984 is very entertaining, it was written not just for the reader’s enjoyment, but also to stop a treacherous fate that humanity could potentially be hurdling towards.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Elizavita Ephemeris, The Name Says It All


Ephemeris: a table of values that gives the positions of the astronomical objects in the sky at any time. Now, while I don’t know if the composer, opera-diva-in-training, and self-proclaimed Flower Alchemist can do that, she sure can hit a high note.
Born in the Big Apple (New York City for those who don’t know), raised in Russia, spending time in an Italian monetary, and currently writing in the United States, this shining star has been singing since she was young.
With “Beatrix Runs” debuted on 1/24/12, it’s been a new sound in the pop focused world.
Her song ‘Dreamer’ was given away for free at Starbucks one day, and since then it has been on the top 25 on my I-pod; and not just the song, but the whole album. With not one note missed and music that reaches inside you and just touches your soul, her lyrics are meaningful and from the heart.
Her songs are available to listen at her website, http://elizaveta.typepad.com, but will be going down soon. It’s worth a listen, even if opera isn’t something you’ve been into before. I wasn’t.