Thursday, July 10, 2014

Review of Begin Again

Also known as: Keira Knightley can SING, too?! She's actually the perfect human.

Keira Knightley plays Gretta, a songwriter with a british tomboy/Taylor Swift style living in New York with burgeoning rock star boyfriend, Dave (Adam Levine); she meets Dan (Mark Ruffalo) and embarks on a dream indie rock adventure, recording an entire album in the elements on the streets of New York. Hailee Steinfeld, who plays Ruffalo's teenage daughter, is incredible and I can't wait to see more of what she does in the future. James Corden plays the best friend who is comedic and warm and a perfect supporting character. This mixed group of artists, friends, family come together to harness the chaos of life and create something special. Life is just a journey of self-discovery for us all and, without spoilers, I love the ending. They did it perfectly.

If a movie draws an intense emotional response out of me, I know I love it. The entire experience of Begin Again, from beginning through the ups and downs to well beyond the end, was really happy. That seems like a stupid, simple way to describe it, but this movie had me absolutely brimming with happiness during and after. The way music and film can affect people is powerful.

Ruffalo's character comments in the film on how music can add meaning and depth to even the most mediocre moments, which is a really beautiful scene in the middle of a gorgeous film. We all know it's true--why were ear-buds the most important item to have on hand in high school for the time in between classes? Could you go to the gym without your iPod? A walk is calming and enjoyable, but can be arguably more pleasant when experienced with your own soundtrack. You get to be the music producer of your life. Those harmonious moments are what life is made of.

Previously titled "Can a Song Save Your Life?" with the tagline "You're only as strong as your next move" this is a story about feeling lost and how art and friendship can be vital support systems in moving forward. It's a love story to New York, friendship, love, art, to starting over and going back to begin all over again.

The music is available on iTunes and Spotify and I've already played through the album several times. Mainly written by Gregg Alexander, there are some jaw-dropping beautiful lines to be heard, especially in the lovely tones of Knightley and Levine.

Watch the trailer here.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Current Events with Cece

A few days ago, June 30th, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby in the decision of whether or not they should have to provide healthcare coverage for contraceptives.

Sandra Fluke, an attorney running for California State Senate, and a woman who has been speaking out  for access to birth control for years, posted an article detailing the ruling and its' further implications. Her article is a lot more articulate and accurate than any I could compile; if you're interested, check it out. What I'm going to be dealing with is the response to this article and the dangerously far-reaching opinion that "religious freedom" should be placed above individual's rights to healthcare and the total inaccuracies that go hand-in-hand with this view.

Nearly every tweet or comment in reply to Fluke that I read is in agreement with this idea:

Change is hopeless! Everyone, give up your convictions!
Along with a copious amount of personal attacks:

While they don't deserve attention or response (a tweet won't change their personal ideology, unfortunately, something they should take note of) the only way any sort of change can be made on a macro scale is if a large public response occurs. Those with these sorts of views have made their voices exceptionally loud and that isn't getting us anywhere good. The only way to affect change is to speak out. I won't personally reply to rude comments online, but I have to say something. Attention must be drawn to this conversation. 

It is already the law that employers must provide healthcare to their employees--whether or not they should is a different battle--the only argument relevant now is that these businesses with such strong "religious beliefs" are trying to find a way around having to fully comply with that law. Their opinion that some female birth control methods are "abortionaficants" is 100% scientifically and medically wrong. There is not a single fact to support the idea that the morning after pill does anything to a fertilized egg---in fact, there's proof that the pill does NOTHING to an egg that has been fertilized! Hence the title "morning after pill" it only works if you take it a certain amount of time post-unprotected-sex because all it does it merely guard against egg fertilization. It's not a difficult concept to understand. Seriously, Fox News, Hobby Lobby: does NO ONE know how to google?! It is a preventative pill--Not an abortion pill. I'll break it down for you, according to WedMD: 

"Depending upon where you are in your cycle, Plan B One-Step may work in one of these ways: It may prevent or delay ovulation. It may interfere with fertilization of an egg. It is also possible that this type of emergency birth control prevents implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus by altering its lining."

The idea that birth control affects any sort of fetus whatsoever has always been looming beneath the surface as a crazy, far-fetched, and terrifying opinion some have--but now it's having a direct effect on whether or not some women are able to get the healthcare they need. 

Comedian and Writer, Shelby Faro makes good points:

Yet...No one at Hobby Lobby seems to be fussed about covering Erectile Dysfunction pills and Vasectomies. Birth control is a prescription because it affects hormone balances and deals with a myriad of health issues. Viagra is the pill that directly works to make a man able to have sex---but female birth control is referred to as "slut pills"? I'm sure many people screaming "Pay for your own pills! I don't want to pay for you to have sex!" are both totally unaware of all the positive ways these hormonal pills help women's lives and are congruent with that opinion on whether or not Viagra should be covered. However, only one of these things is on the political chopping block right now and I can't see that as anything other than a direct attack on women.

In conclusion, Fluke posted a link to a petition available to allow voices displeased with the court's decision to be heard.

Also, I recently got to meet Ms. Fluke when she spoke at my school (which is cool and important to me):

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


I am not a sports person, but I do love hype. I watch the Super Bowl every year because, while I know NOTHING about football, who doesn't love an excuse to hang out with friends, eat a ton of food, and yell enthusiastically at a TV, while simultaneously sharing in that experience with most of the country? The World Cup is similar, but I do genuinely enjoy watching soccer when I do. I still know very little about it since I don't keep up with it regularly---though, arguably that's not entirely my fault; as the most popular sport everywhere in the world except America, it's not as easily accessible here. I can blame America's total disinterest in anything that isn't 100% inherently American. Also, my own laziness.

Basically, as a not-very-well-informed fan, this is how I've gathered you can properly Do The World Cup:
  1. Pick a team! Any team! Cheer for them with your entire body and soul!
  2. Choosing to favor neither team is also an option which allows CHEERING FOR EVERYONE AND YOU'RE ALWAYS A WINNER 
  3. LOTS OF YELLING (best part) 
  4. Excited/nervous flailing when anyone gets near the goal post (is that what it's called? what it's called isn't important---how loud you yell is!!!!!)
  5. Don't worry about necessarily understanding the rules behind all the fouls and the cards, just enjoy watching people trip each other--or specifically don't enjoy it: get angry and jump up and down YELLING AT YOUR LIVESTREAM 
Following these guidelines will lead you down a path of blissfully ignorant World Cup-ing! Anyone who knows more than me: feel free to suggest more advice! And remember: Google is your friend.

...Especially for finding each team's hotties pre-match. Like Spain's beautiful, Sergio Ramos: 

And Mexico's, Francisco Rodriguez:

Though, we won't see those faces and bods again this World Cup, America plays later today against Belgium and we have...well, we don't really have anyone. But Belgium has:

 So, while cheering for the United States, at least you can still check out the competition. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thicke Headed (and Seriously Messed Up)

Robin Thicke strikes again! His latest single "Get Her Back" is a sort of promising attack on his ex-wife that he wants her back, and he gets what he wants.*


Love is about respect. If someone doesn't want to be with you, you have to respect that. It'd be a different story if this song were a lament about how he missed her and felt bad for how things happened etc. but this is clearly a plea to "Get Her Back"---of course, who would expect Robin Thicke (of all people) to have any respect for what a woman wants? Patton, and every other person on the planet, gets to decide who they do or do not want to be with, for themselves. Just because you want someone doesn't mean you should force yourself onto them. With an intimidating show of blood and violence, this video clearly demonstrates force.

When a relationship ends, I'd presume ESPECIALLY a marriage, the two people must grieve and process on their own in order to adjust and move forward. When one person refuses to leave the other person alone, that is not only disrespectful, it's abusive. It's called stalking and harassing. Not to mention that taking all of this private relationship drama and dragging it into the public eye is extremely manipulative. He's attempting to show the world how worthy he is of her (this actually has nothing to do with her) and make the world feel sorry for him---if the public sympathizes with him (because look at how "vulnerable" he is! He's so genuine! This album--totally created and controlled by him--truly give me a look into what kind of person he is and how his relationship was!!!!) then why shouldn't she?! Now he's turned her into a monster that broke his heart and refuses to accept his sincerest apologies. Which is bullshit.

There is nothing sweet or romantic about threatening: "This is only the beginning." She's obvioulsy made it clear that "It's too soon" and she's done because he "ruined everything" but he just won't leave her alone. Because he wants her back and what he wants is what's really important.

As usual, it bears repeating that this "artist" is 100% in control of what he says/does/releases and he gets to choose how he comes across within his music. Just because he wants to appear vulnerable and genuine doesn't mean he's actual making himself vulnerable. Unless making himself vulnerable to being on the receiving end of a restraining order counts. Thicke is not the first musician to take this route regarding his pursuit of a lover and, unfortunately, I'm sure he won't be the last. That doesn't make it ok and I say we, as a society, refuse to accept this pathetic romanticized stalking into our hearts or our music charts.

*just typing that made me feel slimy, very reminiscent of
**lyrics if you'd rather not watch for whatever reason, one being the fact that watching contributes to views which contributes to him/his ego/his bank account/his perceived popularity etc. but i did watch and it was gross and disturbing the entire time so I basically wish I hadn't

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Happy Juneteenth!

Juneteenth--the holiday celebrated as being the official Independence Day of Black Americans.

I had never heard of it before, but thanks to Twitter, I found the hashtag this morning and did my research into what it was all about. It was in January of 1863 that the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into law, but it wasn't until June 19th of 1865 that the law was read publicly in Texas, informing the slaves there that they were now free. Those slaves had been kept in enslavement for an extra two years, totally unaware that this was now unlawful. At long last, they were finally told they were free people. However, society hadn't changed much---clearly---and, therefore, it was still exceedingly difficult for former slaves to improve their lives, with difficult journeys north and a hard time finding jobs. 

I vaguely remember this fact may have been mentioned in passing throughout a history course early on in my high school career, but it must be stressed that the Emancipation Proclamation did not just come out of the blue and rectify the horrors that had been perpetuated since the beginning of America's founding. It has been a long, hard journey for our country to get to where it is today. And we've still got a lot of work to do. 

The hashtag #Juneteenth quickly grew throughout the day, spreading knowledge and awareness about important black history that is so often forgotten. It was great to watch it unfold, akin to the excitement about the #yesallwomen hashtag of a couple weeks ago (though, hopefully, without all the opposition).

You can learn more about Juneteenth here:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

2014: The Year of Freaking Positivity


I hope it's not just the corner of the internet I hang out in, because there is so much love and acceptance and self-acceptance and that should be shared in by all.

Self-image videos, encouraging posts on tumblr, loving tweets, the week of self-image love on instagram; It's a selfie celebration, out there. These are such great ways to be using this enormous resource we have to connect to each other. I know it may seem small, but it can be important. My friend Alexa has always been a big supporter of the Kindness Campaign, spreading the message that being kind matters because it makes you feel better, it makes another persons life better, and a wave of positivity has to start at the micro level to get bigger and spread out. The smallest things in life can have the biggest impact.

I don't care how stupid or cliche it may sound, I would love, love, love to see more selfies throughout 2014. Life would be so much better if we all loved each other more, or at least accepted each other. Life would be infinitely better if I loved myself more, if we could all love and accept ourselves.

I know that it isn't that simple. There are a lot of disorders and illnesses that can prevent one from being able to truly see oneself properly, I'm not trying to downplay the seriousness of that. But everyone is worthy of love, and so if we could love each other as well as ourselves, wouldn't that make a difference? Just simple compliments, support, encouragement.

Let's talk about it! Conversation is key to making change, we have to keep discussion going. What is one thing you can do to love/accept yourself more?

Whatever is happening, it is such a good thing. Let's keep rockin'.