I understand the gift of rare friendship. Fortunately, I’ve had the same five best friends for as long as I can remember. We all met at different times, but it was eight years ago that we all came together and established ourselves. Like every other clique in the eight grade, we gave ourselves a name. Taking the first letter of each of our names, we formed the word Dakota and would forever be known as the “Dakotas” or “Daks” for short.
The six of us are so different. One is a diva, one couldn’t hurt a fly, and another is into theatre. One has a very business state of mind, one is a party animal, and another wants to travel the world. We all have very different interests and personalities, but at the end of the day, we all have a little bit of each other. We understand the importance of our friendship and what it means to have held onto it for so long. We know who our bridesmaids will be, and we know who the Aunts to our children will be. We also know how lucky we are to have done very little to find that gift of rare friendship.
Through the years, we’ve compared ourselves to the girls from Now and Then, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and, our personal favorite, the four best friends from Sex and the City. But what we have discovered is that we are completely unique from these groups of friends. We are the Daks. We are rare. And we have something very few women ever encounter in their lives.
When I first saw the cover of the novel, The Girls from Ames, I knew I had to read it. This would be one more group of friends that we could compare ourselves to.
The novel, by Jeffrey Zaslow, follows a group of eleven women who grew up in Ames, Idaho and have been best friends since childhood. Now, they are in their forties and are still best friends. Zaslow introduces us to each woman personally, and offers stories from their pasts that have shaped them into who they are today. Every reader will find at least one that they can relate to and laugh along with their childhood days and read as they grow into older, more mature women.
Zaslow captures their hardships and their struggles, always following up with how the eleven girls are there for each other. During their college years, one of the girls passed away. Some of the others couldn’t even make it to her funeral. Readers will cry in sympathy for the girls not getting any closure, but will be brought back to smiles when we learn about how they cope. We learn about some of the women’s struggles with breast cancer, and losing children. No matter what the hardship is, each woman is able to overcome it through the power of her friendship with the other girls from Ames.
In their later lives, we are introduced to all their husbands and children, and we learn about their careers and their ventures to live in other states. We see how they keep in touch and hear stories from reunions.
While Zaslow is an outside source of these women’s deep friendship, he is also a journalist. Therefore, the novel is not as personal as it could be if it was written by one of the women themselves. It is more of a brief history of their lives rather than a deep personal memoir. However, being a male, who does not understand the friendships women create, he does a wonderful job of getting their stories across and showing the importance of their unique and rare friendship.
If you have a group of friends like the girls from Ames, this novel will make you want to jump up and hug each of them and inform them of their importance to your life. If you do not have a group of friends like them, it will certainly make you wish you did. And regardless of your personal friendship situation, the novel will definitely highlight the power of friendship and its ability to change lives. It will bring hope that friends truly can last a lifetime, even when everything else in your life is falling apart.
A mom clutches the New Moon hardcover in front of me. Adolescent girls behind me wear black shirts with Edward Cullen emblazoned on their chests. Am I the weird one of the bunch? The vampires are back in the second installment to Twilight, but they have taken a back seat to make room for the wolves.
Directed by Chris Weitz, New Moon continues where the first film left off: High school student, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) settle into their bittersweet relationship, while the vengeful vampire, Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre) still chases after Bella for the demise of her vampire mate, James (Cam Gigandet).
During Bella’s birthday party, when the occasion should be a happy one, everything goes awry with the reminder that Edward will always put his human girlfriend in danger. And when the inevitable break-up comes, Bella deals with it in agony after Edward leaves her in the middle of the forest. She turns to her best friend, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) to take her mind off of her pain, yet her vampire ex remains in the back of her mind. The more Bella puts herself in danger, the more she realizes Edward will appear as an illusion.
Meanwhile, Jacob undergoes obvious changes himself. His transformation from a teenage boy to super wolf almost looks cult-like in Bella’s eyes. Even though Jacob shows off his strength and agility in front of Bella in the beginning, she has a difficult time figuring out his behavior change. Jacob can hint at being a wolf, but it is up to Bella to piece the information together from the past.
Just when Bella starts “healing” from her break-up, a surprise visit from Edward’s sister, Alice (Ashley Greene) pulls her back into the vampire world. To make matters worse, Jacob tells Edward over the phone that the Swan residence is in preparation for a funeral, and Edward assumes the worst has happened to Bella.
Ridden with guilt, Edward cannot live with himself and travels to Italy, where the powerful vampire clan, Volturi, resides. Edward wants to ask the Volturi to kill him, but will they? Once Bella finds out, what can she do even if she arrives on time to save Edward?
Aside from the trailer spoilers that give away most of the plot, New Moon is not for anyone looking for surprises. For fans of the Stephenie Meyer books, this movie is for them; it is not for middle-aged film reviewers or those who do not understand the melodramatic tone of the books. New Moon, surprisingly, is better than Twilight.
Despite the film running over two hours long, parts of it seem rushed. Does anyone believe that Bella, stewing in her depression, sits on a chair in front of her window for months? If this movie is supposed to develop Jacob as a worthy candidate to woo Bella in the future, it is sorely failing. Jacob and Bella seem like nothing more than friends, so here is hoping that Taylor Lautner has a stronger romantic chemistry with Kristen Stewart in Eclipse, the third movie in the series. If not, at least Robert Pattinson and his hair will appear more in the next one.
FUN FACT: RCG mag EIC, Nikki Roberti is on “Team Edward.”
By Ali Coad
Dear John is the newest novel turned movie to come from popular novelist Nicholas Sparks. He is perhaps best known for his novel The Notebook, which was adapted into a major motion picture starring Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. In this novel, Sparks continues to leave readers impassioned and invested in the simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-mending story of John Tyree and Savannah Curtis. Sparks captures the reader’s attention with a subtly simplistic writing style. He always seems to leave the reader hungry for more. Needless to say, I devoured this book.
When I heard that this book was going to be adapted into a movie, I was very excited. Then I heard that Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried were starring and the already highly anticipated movie was instantly fast-tracked to a “must see.” I only hope that this film doesn’t disappoint and remains true to the story that Sparks wrote.
The tale beings with Savannah, an innocent and naïve young woman, falling irrevocably in love with John, an angry and isolated soldier. They meet on a hot summer day while John is on leave and Savannah is building houses for the homeless in Wilmington, NC. John said it was love at first sight, and upon their first meeting, when they first made eye contact, “[He] felt something click, like a key turning in a lock.” Savannah, as we discover later in the book, felt the exact same way. But John and Savannah are still a very long way from happily ever after.
John is soon forced to return to Germany, where he has been stationed for the war, and Savannah and John are equally heartbroken. They remain faithful in their relationship and continue to talk through weekly letters and sporadic phone calls. Days pass at impossibly slow rates, only making their time apart more unbearable. Finally, the time has come for John to return home. Then September 11 happens. He is forced to choose between the love of his life and the duty to his country.
As expected, Sparks leaves the reader reaching for tissues. The emotional journey ends favorably but not expectedly, and not before he takes the reader on a series of twists and turns. Hopefully, the film adaptation of Dear John, directed by Oscar nominated filmmaker, Lasse Hallstrom, does the novel justice. The book was quite the page-turner, and I’m expecting the movie to be just as good. The theatrical debut is set for February 5, 2010, just in time for Valentine’s Day!
by Courtney Miller
It feels so exhilarating reading a stranger’s secret. Seeing the deepest, scariest parts of someone else’s life in raw form makes you feel privileged and guilty at the same time. That’s what Frank Warren does with his Post Secret books, collections of postcards people mail anonymously to mailbox 13345.
“PostSecret Confessions on Life, Death and God” is Warren’s latest book. The secrets inside all connect to life, death or god, and all the postcards were displayed in the “All Faiths Beautiful” exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum. People have been able to put to words and to express through art the questions (and answers) they are afraid of, the regrets they have, the pieces of themselves they hide and so much more.
Reading the thoughts other people need to share but can’t tell their most loved ones truly does make you feel those two things: guilty and privileged. The guilt is because you feel invasive, as if you had no right to know what you now do. As if you should be peeking through your hands instead of openly absorbing the material. But you feel privileged because they are reaching out and it seems like they are reaching out to you specifically. You become someone who can understand and someone who will find a way to relate to their secrets.
There’s no judgment when reading PostSecret. Maybe it’s because there are no faces or maybe because readers know they will be connecting to the writers, but there’s no need for critical analysis or any scrutiny at all. And when people mail their secrets, they are facing them without smoke and mirrors anyway. Head on. It’s a chance for recognition and redemption for some.
Warren says PostSecret began as dream and an art project. The art is a major part of what makes the books a success. The physical postcard allows the secret to take shape—abstractly, bluntly, personally. Some people scrawl marker over bought postcards. Others painstakingly design a piece that will embody their secret. Whatever the manner, it has heart. There’s extreme meaning behind each confession. It’s more than a little inspiring.
But sometimes, you get hit in the face hard with realization or sudden understanding of hardship and denial. About a third of the way through the book, I found a secret that barreled straight into me: “It’s not God who doesn’t care, it’s us.” It was written on a close up photo of two damaged pairs of shoes, what looked like the aftermath of a bomb. The PostSecret books remind us of how we love and hate and how we could do better. They show us the power a 28-cent postcard has to change someone’s life.
If you have a secret that you’ve never told anyone but you really want to get it out, mail it on a postcard to PostSecret, 13345 Copper Ridge Rd, Germantown, Maryland 20874.
The man behind the most famous dolphin in pop-culture is now trying to reverse the popularity of dolphins as entertainment and leads a fight to try to stop the dolphin cruelty and inhumanity that exists in Taiji, Japan. Dolphin trainers and dolphin brokers frequent the small fishing town of Taiji to buy and partake in the merciless dolphin barter.
In order to bring the issue of dolphin capture and slaughter to the forefront of society, former dolphin and “Flipper” trainer Ric O’Berry enlisted the assistance of director Louie Psihoyos, and together they collaborated on the documentary entitled “The Cove.” The Oceanic Preservation Society alongside dolphin, acoustic, and diving experts, goes beyond the “keep out” signs in a deadly cove tucked away in Taiji to illuminate the utter cruelty done to dolphins. “The Cove” convincingly presents dolphins as human equals, capable of humanly intelligence, thus showing the negative impacts of watching dolphins perform stressful routines for viewing pleasure.
The documentary incorporates suspenseful footage of late-night Taiji cove pilgrimages in an attempt to reveal what happens behind the barred premises. International dealings with the politics behind the dolphin issue continue to be debated, but together O’Berry and Psihoyos (and many other contributors) built “The Cove” in hopes of highlighting the dolphin issues in Taiji, Japan.
Images from www.thecovemovie.com
From Hogwarts to Brown, transferring schools isn’t the only thing Ballet Shoes, and played the voice of Princess Pea in Kate DiCamillo’s Tale of Despereaux, which was released in 2008. Now, you can see her in print ads for the high end fashion line, Burberry. is doing these days. In 2001 she started off her career as Hermoine, in the ever so popular Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Since then, she has starred in the next five movies in the Harry Potter series, acted in the television film
Emma Watson went from being the typical young teen wearing t-shirts and jeans, to a fashion icon. She has been on the cover of London Fashion week! No matter where she is or what she is doing, her outfits are stunning. On the Late Show with David Letterman Emma sported a creme-gold dress outlined in black with a unique necklace-type collar. At the in London, she was dressed in a white gown with sequins covering the chest. multiple times and is part of the Burberry campaign, which means modeling at
Her attire is always original and never too revealing. Emma Watson is never spotted wearing the same dress to an awards show as another celebrity. And she doesn’t wear trashy dresses, as do other celebrities close in age — plunging too deep at the chest and cut to short above the knees.
Emma Watson is a great fashion role model for teen girls. Many of her outfits are custom made, but her style can be created at recessionista price by highlighting certain elements of her style.
So what’s next for Emma Watson? According to a Teen Vogue interview, she is uncertain if she wants to continue her career as an actress. She fell in love and had a strong connection with the character Hermoine, but if she doesn’t feel that way about another character maybe she’ll become a doctor or an english teacher. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have Emma Watson teach your writing class?
by Kelly Grenfell
I know almost all the words to Akon and Kardinal Offishall’s “Dangerous” song, a majority of the dance moves to Miley Cyrus’ “Hoedown Throwdown,” and am even willing to give Leighton Meester a chance with her latest hit“Somebody to Love.” I’m eclectic. And I prefer to ignore my peers’ opinions when it comes to my musical taste.
But how do I justify my latest downloads when the artists are making negative tabloid headlines? In other words, should I care when my musical taste becomes a moral dilemma for worldly debate?
Two artists who frequent my Top 25 Most Played playlist include Chris Brown and Michael Jackson, whose private lives seem to be far from clandestine lately.
I remember I was a sophomore in college when Chris Brown’s “Run It” was topping charts and permeating the airwaves. The first, in a long line of singles released by the youth of yesterday, Brown’s vocal chords are incredible, and I’ll “forever” unite his lyrics with memories from my undergraduate days.
As for the King of Pop, I was in my high school dance class when I was first introduced to his musical talent in “Beat It.” However, it didn’t take long before I was the proud owner of his History: Past, Present, and Future album, and was taping every TV documentary on his life and family. I was obsessed, and continue to be because I believe his work remains untouchable.
But what about the legacy of Jackson’s personal life? Or what of Brown’s anger management issues and recent assault charges? Even after the numerous charitable donations, and hospital visitations, there still remains disturbing allegations. If these two performers were regular Joes, their behavior would hardly be dismissed once brought before the media spotlight. Scrutinized, criticized, and possibly even ruined in reputation; their lives would be the perfect demonstration of the “one bad decision” scale all too well.
But what about our beloved musical artists? Surely the “one bad decision” scale would outweigh their charisma as well? History would seem to show this just isn’t the case, and I am one of the fans guilty of making it a double standard.
As a consumer we compartmentalize. We have to in order to feel comfortable purchasing albums in public. It’s an unfortunate twist on the forgive and forget mentality. But then again, maybe our reasoning isn’t completely without merit. Maybe we’re too hard on the regular Joes of society, and should be giving them an opportunity for redemption like the musical talents we call inspiring. After all, we’re all human.
Perhaps its because artists are in the spotlight more, that the world expects them to be upholding a better demonstration of dignity already. Perhaps the double standard in their flawed decisions is in part created by the double standard we demand of their everyday actions to begin with. Perhaps in the end, we are more to blame then we realize for the vicious cycle of injustice we call reality.
Although personally my musical purchases will continue to remain separated from the media’s search for sensational headlines, I believe the moral question remains and needs to be resolved by individuals on a case-by-case basis. We should care about what we are listening to, because it speaks volumes about our character. Choose your downloads wisely, and remember your role and responsibility as a consumer.
by May Chan
Warning: Ritalin is optional after seeing Where the Wild Things Are. On its opening weekend, the Spike Jonze directed film opened at number one. No surprise there, considering the hype surrounding it with Urban Outfitters clothing lines, skateboards, and web ads, but did the movie, based on Maurice Sendak’s children book, really pull this movie reviewer’s heartstrings? Yes, a little.
For anyone who has never flipped through Sendak’s story, this film may seem disorienting. Max (Max Records), the unruly protagonist in his signature wolf uniform, acts out for the first ten minutes of the film when he sees his divorced mother (Catherine Keener) spending time with her boyfriend (Mark Ruffalo) in the living room. The climax hits when the mom chases Max to the front door, tries to pick him up, and he bites her. Literally.
Max’s mother sends her son to his room without dinner, yet what is waiting in his room is nothing ordinary: only his imagination.
A picturesque backdrop of a forest, followed by an oceanic thrust into a sailboat, leads Max to travel to a foreign island, filled with six beasts each different in their personalities. Max watches these creatures carefully and sees one beast covered in light fur stripes, screaming as it terrorizes huts. That would be Carol (James Gandolfini).
After meeting Carol, Max joins the rest of the hairy gang, including Alexander (Paul Dano) Douglas (Chris Cooper), Ira (Forest Whitaker), Judith (Catherine O’Hara), and The Bull (Michael Berry Jr.).
The fun really begins when Carol declares Max as the their king after the boy convinces the wild things that he was king back home and he has the ability to crack their brains. No kidding.
For those who grew up reading the children’s 1963 classic, the line, “Let the wild rumpus start!” should reawaken anybody’s inner child. Then, the thrashing and running around like a loose canon makes sense. Before, the dragging of Max’s pouting induced fits could irritate even that crying baby in the movie theater you love to hate.
Director Spike Jonze’s reimagining of the larger-than-life wooly costumes for the beasts translates well into the film, especially when audiences see the characters in these breathtaking landscapes, fueled by the mind’s changing weather.
And of course, let’s not forget the soundtrack that captured Max’s every emotion of wanting to disappear. Anyone surprised that the film was not driven by The Arcade Fire like the trailer led on? The music heavily relied on Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to deliver the lingering sentiments, and the playful music works in laying out the moody environment.
In the end, will children love Where The Wild Things Are if they have never read the book? Will adults, who read the story, enjoy it?
This all depends on viewers suspending their disbeliefs, because really, having talking creatures “argh” at you in every scene better be worth the moral or some coming-of-age lesson that cannot be summed up into words yet. Whatever that may be, sit in the theater and take it all in and wish hopelessly that someday, that sort of place exists, where six wooly mammoths can bring order to chaos.
Suddenly things clicked. That’s how rising singer/songwriter, Lena Stein described the first time she switched from playing electric guitar to acoustic. And now around a year later, Lena has been rocking it out on her beloved guitar she fondly calls Toby.
A 16-year-old junior at Concord Academy, a small private high school is Massachusetts, Lena writes her songs from the heart, basing her lyrics on events and situations that personally have effected her, not just as an artist, but as an individual. Currently a local performer who lives for open mic nights and talent shows, not only is this young talent constantly pursuing a means to share her music with the world, but she also believes in the power of following her dreams.
REALITY Check Girl Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Nikki Roberti, had the opportunity to interview Lena as she described her love for and active interest in performing her original music.
REALITYCHECKGIRL: When did you first start your music career? What inspired you?
LENA STEIN: I’ve been singing and performing and loving music my whole life, but I’d say I started getting really serious about it the beginning of sophomore year. I’d been playing electric guitar for a couple years and it just wasn’t the right fit for me. My guitar teacher recommended I switch to acoustic, so my parents got me an acoustic guitar and suddenly things clicked. I actually started practicing. I started by learning every single Taylor Swift song. And within months I was good enough to start performing. I’d been writing songs for years, but for the first time I could sit down and write the music too, which really opened so many doors for me.
RCG: Do you write your own songs? Where do you get your inspiration?
LS: I write all of my own songs, and all of them are about my life. The best material is stuff that I’ve gone through or am going through, because that’s what I know best and can explain the best. I write my songs pretty randomly, actually: I’ll go for a month without writing anything and then something will just spark and I’ll write three or four songs in a week. I don’t really believe in setting aside time to write, or sitting down and saying, “I’m going to write a song now” because usually that material comes out sounding forced.
RCG: Why do you enjoy creating music? What is your goal and what is the driving force behind your ambition?
LS: Part of what I love about writing songs and singing and performing is being able to work things out in my head. If there’s something bothering me or upsetting me and I can’t figure it out or can’t figure out how to deal with it, sometimes the process of writing about it helps me sort things out. Another thing about writing is how honest you get to be. So often people keep how they feel bottled up inside, but writing lets me be open and honest with myself. I recently went through a break-up and wrote a song about how I’m so not over that guy. I could never say it to his face, but I still get to let it out and be honest in a song.
RCG: What are your plans for further pursuit of your education?
LS: No matter where my music takes me, I definitely plan on going to college.
RCG: What is it like before you get on stage?
LS: I’ve only had stage fright once. It was before my first real performance at my school talent show and I was basically freaking out in my seat, thinking everyone wouldn’t like it, or that I would mess up horribly. But after I got off the stage I just had the biggest rush in the world, and I couldn’t wait to perform again. Since then, I’ve always been pumped before I get up to perform. I think part of that comes from having so many new songs to share, and being eager to put each new song out there as soon as it’s ready.
RCG: What is the most important thing to you? What gets you through the day?
LS: My family and my best friends are the world to me and they get me through everything. I’m really close with both of my parents, and I always have them to come to about anything, from boys to school to drama with friends. Ultimately, music is what gets me through the day. By junior year, everything is go, go, go! And sometimes it’s hard to see past the paper due next week. But for me, I’ve always had music and my long-term goals to look forward to. I have to admit I’m a bit of a day dreamer and I whenever I’m spacing out, I’m thinking about songs I want to write or shows I want to play or recordings I want to make. It helps me not get too sucked into high school drama.
RCG: What is your favorite song you’ve written? Why?
LS: Well probably my all-time favorite to date is “Something Makes Me Stay” because it got my through one of the hardest break-ups I’ve experienced. I just felt like in three and a half minutes I summed up everything that was left of the situation. But right now I’m really enjoying my newest song, “Soon” because it’s about a break-up I went through recently. I see him in the halls and all over school and I just hum it to myself and it reminds me to play it cool and just rise above the situation.
RCG: What are you currently doing to further your musical career?
LS: I’m just playing locally when I can trying to get my music heard. The internet has been a great resource for spreading the word. My next step is making a website, which will be up in January ’10. Also, I’m working with a local producer/music named Casey Barth, I’ll be putting together my demo with him this year.
RCG: How would you describe yourself? What makes you unique?
LS: I think what makes me unique is that I always know that no matter how terrible things seem, I have the capacity to be completely, honestly happy. I can laugh so hard I cry and I can cry so hard I laugh and both of those things have let me open myself up to other people and to music and to life. In music, there is nothing more important than being honest, and just telling your story. I love telling my story and putting myself out there to see if anyone else can relate.
Suddenly things clicked. That’s how rising singer/songwriter, Lena Stein described the first time she switched from playing electric guitar to acoustic. And now around a year later, Lena has been rocking it out on her beloved guitar she fondly calls Toby.
As a 16-year-old junior at Concord Academy, a small private high school is Massachusetts, Lena writes her songs from the heart, basing her lyrics on events and situations that personally have effected her, not just as an artist, but as an individual.
“If there’s something bothering me or upsetting me and I can’t figure it out or can’t figure out how to deal with it, sometimes the process of writing about it helps me sort things out,” Lena said. “So often people keep how they feel bottled up inside, but writing lets me be open and honest with myself.”
She said she has been singing and performing her entire life, but it wasn’t until her switch to acoustic guitar that Lena started really writing and pursuing her talent as a singer/ songwriter. The way she started playing was by learning every Taylor Swift song.
And similar to how Taylor Swift writes about specific people and situations, especially about boys who’ve broken her heart, Lena uses her music to not only express her emotions about situations, but also as a means to cope.
“Right now I’m really enjoying my newest song ‘Soon’ because it’s about a break-up I went through recently,” Lena said. “I see him in the halls and all over school and I just hum it to myself and it reminds me to play it cool and just rise above the situation.”
Currently a local performer who lives for open mic nights and talent shows, not only is this young talent constantly pursuing a means to share her music with the world, but she also believes in the power of following her dreams.
Lena’s music is what get’s her through the day, however she does find the support of her friends and parents to be a strong encouragement through everything in her life. Amidst all the papers and homework due dates like every high school junior experiences, Lena said focusing on her music is what helps her endure what she describes as the “go, go, go!” pace of high school.
“I have to admit, I’m a bit of a day dreamer and I whenever I’m spacing out, I’m thinking about songs I want to write or shows I want to play or recordings I want to make,” she said. “It helps me not get too sucked into high school drama.”
Although her main hope and focus for her future is in her music career, Lena said she understands and appreciates the value of education.
“No matter where my music takes me, I definitely plan on going to college,” she said.
Lena is currently working with local producer Casey Barth in the recording process for her first demo this year. Fans can also look forward to the launch of Lena’s Web site in January 2010.
“In music, there is nothing more important than being honest, and just telling your story,” Lena said. “I love telling my story and putting myself out there to see if anyone else can relate.”
Click the links below for videos of Lena performing!