1. With an increase in the popularity of dystopian YA novel to film adaptations, it was only a matter of time until we returned to the original dystopian society in The Giver. I read this groundbreaking novel by Lois Lowry in the sixth grade and I was awed by it’s power. I didn’t know books like this could exist and it very much changed how I looked at reading. It was suddenly fun and exciting; an escape. No wonder it is one of the most challenged books in the literary world. It questions the very root of our existence.

    When I heard one of my favorite books was being adapted, I had the same reaction any fan would: at first excited and then outraged. They wouldn’t do it “right”. Readers, especially young readers, are very protective and possessive of their favorite stories. I am no different. It was a quiet production, probably because of the book’s age. It isn’t as relevant as Divergent or The Hunger Games, but little do these 15-year-old fans know that those books wouldn’t exist without The Giver.

    I was nervous as the release date approached, anxiety spreading through my veins any time a trailer ran at a commercial. It was all wrong. Why were there holograms and drones in my perfect world of The Giver? Nonetheless, I braved the theater with my boyfriend and best friend at my sides, ready to experience either the best or worst two hours of my life.

    After leaving the theater, I was left feeling surprisingly satisfied with how it all turned out. Though I wasn’t satisfied with the way the director decided to interpret the book visually, the way the story was adapted and the actors were cast was on point. The expert execution out weighed how different the world looked than the way I imagined.

    One of the most important qualities in this story is the subtle integration of color in young Jonas’ life, meaning his community lives in a black and white world, both figuratively and literally. How would the movie possibly portray that with grace? Once again, I was silenced in that theater. Black and white faded to a subtle black/sepia filter which bled into faded color which suddenly transformed into rich colors and textures. You are left thinking when did it stop being colorless? It was wonderful because the viewer could feel the transformation Jonas was going through; a true feat of cinematic brilliance.

    Ultimately I was left with my tail between my legs, embarrassed to have doubted the film all the way to the end. I didn’t even want to admit I was wrong when we left the theater because of how adamant I had been that it would be almost sacrilegious to the memory of this novel. Here I am to tell you that I was wrong. The Giver was everything it should have been.

    Written By Sydney Weinshel

  2. With their highly anticipated debut album, Alex and Sierra are taking the music world by storm. With their soulful take on pop music, these two lovebirds have the potential to reinvent our idea of pop music. It does’t have to be all auto-tune and DJ remixes.

    "Scarecrow" is the first single released from their album entitled It’s About Us, “because it’s about us,” Sierra Deaton explained with a giggle during a free event at Tyson’s Corner. They have since released two more singles, “Little Do You Know” and “Just Kids”.

    These two were the winners of The X Factor USA season 2. It was revealed after the finale that they were the top voted act every week for the entire season, an X Factor first. They were also the only contestants in the history of The X Factor to hit number one on iTunes while still contestants on the show.

    Written By Sydney Weinshel

  3. Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye are giving the men of country music a taste of their own medicine in their breakout single “Girl In A Country Song”. In a world where women are treated like property or extras in the lives of men, Maddie and Tae have written an anthem for the women of country music.

    These days most music coming out of Nashville has a certain “bro-country” style to it. All we hear about is drinking beer, tailgate parties, and hitting on women. Maddie and Tae are rejecting the “tan-legged Juliet” stereotype and asking when this became the norm in country music. Conway and George Strait definitely never did it this way back in the old days.

    Written By Sydney Weinshel

  4. There is a place called “The Magic Realm”. I’ve written about it in passing, but I’d like to take the time to explain it myself. The origin of the magic realm is in a quote by Robert McCammon in his book Boy’s Life. He explains a place called the magic realm. It is a place inside of you that emerges in moments of emotion when you experience something that touches you so deeply it catches you off guard, it almost scares you, and makes you take a look at who you are and the world around you. It makes you sad and introspective and nostalgic for something you can’t pinpoint. 

    There is something special that happens in a theater, when the lights dim and the screen emerges from the darkness. We, for the briefest of moments, step outside of who we are as a person, and we enter a world someone else has created. For the briefest of moments we are united in a single place: the magic realm.

    Some people enter it more often then others. Like with everything else, people are affected in different ways. Others may not be touched by a time or a place like I am. You may not be touched by the same song or the same person. However, there are certain moments in our lives that are universal entrances into the magic real. The Fault In Our Stars is one of those universal entryways.

    TFIOS, as it is so commonly referred to in the fandom, is without a doubt a film that will touch us universally. Very few times in history can we say something can define a decade or a generation, but that is what John Green has achieved here. The Fault In Our Stars has the capacity to change everything for us. It is the love story that will define us, that will live in infamy, and will change the way we look at and respect the love between two 17-year-olds.

    We have been in desperate need for something truly magical in a generation so falsely represented by the remakes and sequels of the world. TFIOS is more powerful than Romeo and Juliet. It is more powerful than Titanic. It is even more powerful than The Notebook. John Green has created a love stronger than all of the eighteen loves Nicholas Sparks created put together.

    But The Fault In Our Stars isn’t just a love story. It isn’t a cancer story. It isn’t even a cancer love story. It is a life story. We put things in these little boxes with labels and don’t let them be what they really are: human. TFIOS is humanity in it’s most simple form. It is about living with a pain that demands to be felt. It is about living within your infinity because you really do have an infinity to live. It is about the love between people, not just the romance of two young and naive teenagers.

    That is what we’ve been missing: a story about falling in love with the life you’ve been given. Hazel may fall in love with Gus the way we fall asleep, slowly and then all at once, but she fell in love with the way he lived his life first. She fell in love with living because of him. That is what is important to note.

    So, for yet another moment, I entered the magic realm. When I did, I felt a shift. I felt the weight of the film, the great magnificence of what was created and the great majesty of what was to come. I felt the impact of the story and knew in my heart it would affect everybody this way. It would make everyone believe in life in a way we never thought possible. Thank you to John Green for knowing what we needed and putting those immeasurable thoughts down on paper. You saved us.

    Written By Sydney Weinshel

  5. Color the (Hair)bow

    I’m going to start by saying that I love a nice head of colorful hair. It tells me a lot about a person by the color that they are willing to dye their hair and I am a firm believer that if you love your hair then you will love your life (for the most part).

    Lately, it seems that everywhere we turn we can find an outrageous shade of red or the softest lavender walking past us on the sidewalk, giving us some serious hair envy. Celebrities are at the forefront of this trend, making normal colors a dull thing of the past. 

    It’s important to pay respects to the trendsetters because without them the masses would never have even jumped on the bandwagon (myself included). 

    Let’s #Throwback to old school Avril Lavigne. When I saw that she dyed her hair hot pink, I about died. Hot pink being my favorite color in my fashionably-confused middle school days, I rushed to the salon to get my own hair streaked with hot pink. BIG MISTAKE. My hair is curlier than the late Shirley Temples’ and it was a hot pink mess. But even though my own experience was an episode out of American Horror Story, I still heart Avril for inching me and the rest of the world toward our colorful hair destiny. 

    Next up on my list of RHCW’s (Revolutionary Hair Color Wearers) is Bad Girl RiRi. She debuted her fire red mane and I swear you could hear the gasps of women everywhere. This was it. Their chance to wear unnatural red hair color without society tapping them on the shoulder like that friend we all have, whispering in our ear “We know that isn’t your natural hair color.” Rihanna, we thank you and your firetruck red hair.

    The list goes on: 

    Nicole Richie rocking Lavender like its her job.

    Katy Perry sporting blue locks.

    Lady Gaga brightening up our day with sunshine yellow

    Colorful hair isn’t for everyone. After my hot pink streak fiasco, I waited about 5 years before ever sticking my foot in the rainbow hair pool. But when I got back in the game, it was pretty bada$$. 

    This is me rocking the turquoise tips two years ago and I don’t care what anyone says, I felt like a bajillion bucks. 

    Your hair is part of who you are, so be creative. Its fun to see a rainbow of different hair colors on people of different ages. Have fun with your hair because it can always grow out, be cut, or re-dyed. Life’s to short to have a boring hair color. 

    Written by: Cheyenne Adler

  6. Since Ed Sheeran made headlines with Taylor Swift last year he has quickly risen the ranks of pop royalty. He has had the opportunity to collaborate on dozens of projects from people like Taylor Swift to Elton John. But what is the real test here? Who is the reigning queen of pop royalty? Who is so fierce and fabulous all the peasants kneel at her very presence? Lizzie McGuire of course!

    Sorry! I meant Hilary Duff.

    Duff’s comeback album will be what dreams are made of and Ed’s manic pixie dream boy music is going to make this fairytale come true. This is the best pop music news ever. I’m thinking a little mix of “Lego House” and “Why Not” or a mashup of “The Math” and “Sing”.

    Duff said the song had an “earthy, indie-pop vibe.” So while we are all melting into a puddle of feelings as we listen to it repeatedly while reading The Fault In Our Stars and watching Dirty Dancing, SheerDuff will be laughing their way to the bank. All we really know is that it’s happening and it will be magic. Now we just wait and see.

    Written By Sydney Weinshel

  7. Glee began as an island of misfit toys; a place for the freaks, geeks, jocks, and cheerleaders to go and sing and feel a little better about themselves. I’ve grown up with these characters, I’m their age, I began high school with them and I cried when Cory Monteith passed.

    The show has had its ups and downs, struggling to keep up when the core characters graduated and moved away. Its goal of continuing the legacy of the New Directions through new characters was a flop, making the show a cliche.

    After the passing of the beloved Cory Monteith last summer, it was decided that the sixth season would be the final season. I believe that decision reinvigorated the show, returning it to its’ roots, scrounging up the last bit nostalgia they could.

    Everything about this show has been leading up to Rachel Berry’s debut on broadway as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. I’ve got to say, there were many moments following the 100th episode that made me tear up, even full on sob in yearning for my younger years. The heart wrenching tributes to Finn, the return of so many beloved characters, the reunion of the core members of Glee Club, all of it makes me feel like I was part of something special, getting to watch these people become who they are.

    As the curtain rose for Rachel’s opening night, I felt like this was the beginning and end to something so incredible. Although there is still time left in the 5th season and a whole final season to come, this was the episode fans had been waiting for since the show premiered my freshman year of high school. Rachel had made it, she had achieved that which only a select few do. She made us all believe in magic on that stage and not because she was good, great even, but by virtue of the fact that she was standing there at all.

    The only thing to top off such an incredible episode was the birth of Will Schuester and Emma Pillsbury’s first child, a boy, and naming him Daniel Finn. The episode, which was all about love and acceptance and validation, truly achieved something magical last night. They made us all believe in ourselves, in Rachel, in love, and in New York.

    Written By Sydney Weinshel

  8. Are you ready to be a NARSissist?

    This may seem like a weird question, but not for those who have heard of the famous Nars Instagram account under the witty handle, Narsissist. This is the official account for the make-up brand and let me tell you, it does an amazing job of portraying the luxurious and high class nature of the brand. All make-up lovers beware…you will become addicted to this account.

    It’s hard for me to pick just one thing that I love about this particular Instagram account so I’ll pick three! 

    1) You get a behind the scenes look into the world of Nars make-up. 

    2) You can see how colors will look on you

    3) They have fun with it!

    So come on! Become a Narsissist already!

    Written By: Cheyenne Adler

  9. Going To Hell is the second full length album by punk rock band The Pretty Reckless, producing 3 singles, which has followed their successful breakout record in 2010. The only music to be released between the albums was an EP, featuring 3 new tracks and two live tracks, in 2012 while they were on a headlining tour.

    The making of this sophomore record has been a roller coaster ride for the band. They were victims of Superstorm Sandy, losing 2 years of hard work when their New Jersey studio was destroyed along with all their recordings, equipment, and guitars. They rallied together and took another year and a half to recreate an album worthy of the four year wait.

    Going To Hell pulls inspiration from religion, specifically Catholicism, with references to priests, Heaven, Hell, prayer, confession, sex, death, and absolution. It is a cohesive collection of 13 original tracks and two acoustic covers that represent the band as they are now, not as they were when they busted into the rock scene.

    While their first album was semi-autobiographical, with each song standing strong yet alone, their second album tells a story of corruption and religion. The sound, fans will note, is significantly different from Light Me Up. It is much more representative of their sound as heard live with raw vocals from Taylor Momsen and a more elaborate production sound featuring a bigger sound from an array of instruments.

    One of the more haunting tracks on the album is “Sweet Things” featuring not only Momsen’s vocals, but Ben Phillips’ as well. The dynamic is reminiscent of the title track on their EP, Hit Me Like A Man. In the same way they shared that song, “Sweet Things” tells the story, from the perspective of both Momsen and Phillips, of sex and the corruption of youth. The track is haunting; nightmarish even.

    The wait for this album was well worth it, allowing the band to create an album that was impeccably produced, well written, and even well curated. Each song was carefully chosen and placed within the record to create an evocative commentary on religious beliefs and practices.

    Written By Sydney Weinshel

  10. A long time ago we used to be friends, but I haven’t thought of you lately at all. These lyrics are EVERYTHING. So is the show they so accurately accompany. In 2004 the CW premiered a television show that would launch a cult following for years to come. Though the show was suddenly canceled after three years, fans remained devout to the show, calling themselves Marshmallows. That show was Veronica Mars.

    Nearly ten years after the show’s cancellation, Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a movie adaptation of the beloved show. Their goal was $2 million dollars. That goal was met a mere 10 hours after launching the campaign. The campaign ended a month later with 91,585 donors raising $5,702,153.

    The Kickstarter campaign broke several records. They broke their first record by raising $1 million dollars in less than 5 hours. In less than 24 hours they raised their goal of $2 million dollars. It also holds the record for the most backers of any Kickstarter campaign.

    The movie was released (in theaters and on digital copy) exactly one year and one day from the initial launch of the campaign and it was perfection. As a fan who joined the game 10 years too late, I had a fresh memory for every one-liner, minor arc character, and LoVe feel.

    The movie brought back some of the most minor characters and even made some of them important to the film (Gia was the villain? Gia is smart enough to be the villain?). There was an amazing cameo from Kristen Bell’s hubby, Dax Shepard. The only recast in the film was Carrie Bishop (originally portrayed by Leighton Meester) and I was very impressed by that. For the movie to be great, everyone needed to proverbially come home.

    In classic V. Mars style, the film made reference to some of the most fangirl worthy lines and moments from the show’s run. There were also a few surprises for the Marshmallows. Logan is in the air force now, Veronica is still with Piz (gag me), Mac is working for Kane Software, and Weevil is a freakin’ dad! WEEVIL IS A DAD!!!!!!

    A few dissappointments: no word (not even a reference to his status) on Duncan. Where is he? Is he still on the lam? How’s his daughter by Meg? What about Parker? Did she and Mac stay friends? Don’t you usually keep in touch with your college roommate? What happened to Veronica while she was at the FBI? When did she transfer to Stanford? Why hasn’t she met Piz’s parents yet? Who is the new leader of the PCHers? SO MANY QUESTIONS!

    But of course, those were all minor holes compared to the masterpiece of moments that made up this fil. These were the 10 best moments from the film (in order):

    1. Veronica referring to herself as a marshmallow
    2. LoVe referencing Logan’s infamous drunk speech about their love being epic
    3. James Franco’s viral video cameo
    4. Keith Mars’ reaction to seeing Veronica taking a message
    5. Veronica verbally bitch-slapping Madison Sinclair and later actually bitch-slapping Madison Sinclair.
    6. Weevil as a dad
    7. Deputy Leo punking Veronica
    8. Dick’s flask belt
    9. "We Used To be Friends" being sung by a street performer
    10. Logan is in the Air Force *swoons*

    Besides one to many references to the Piz/Veronica sex tape (don’t even get me started), the film was a raging success filled with easter eggs for Marshmallows, essentially any fangirl’s wet dream.

    Written By Sydney Weinshel