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.