The Friday Five: Television’s Most Notorious Villains

All our lives, we have heard stories of good versus evil — not just in our childhood books of fairy tales and our adolescent superhero comic books, but also in our contemporary literature, our favorite films and of course our must-watch television shows. This week, we will explore the darker side of some of today’s hit TV series and the villains who wreak havoc for our beloved heroes.

The Friday Five: Television’s Most Notorious Villains

1. The Evil Queen/Regina from Once Upon A Time.
Pictured left, the Evil Queen is the epitome of villainous. On this thrilling fairy tale TV show, in which all of our beloved (and not so beloved) fairy tale characters have been transferred into our world and have forgotten their former lives, the Evil Queen (known in our world as Mayor Regina Mills) does everything she can to manipulate others and maintain power. As the Queen, tricks a lovesick genie into assassinating her husband, takes advantage of a “heartless” huntsman, and kills her own father in order to curse the entire Enchanted Forest. Meanwhile, as her real world counterpart Regina, she schemes against those who pose a threat to her title, meddles in the relationships of the various characters, and uses magic to murder the town Sheriff (who rejected her in favor of her arch-nemesis, Emma Swan).

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2. James Woods from Family Guy.
Note: I am not talking about the actor, James Woods, but rather the character he voices on TV. Although Quahog, the town in which Family Guy takes place, has named quite a few of its landmarks after him, Woods is known to cause trouble every time he comes to town. Whether he’s stealing Peter’s identity or ruining Brian’s television show concept, James Woods is crude, selfish and just plain mean — which always leads to excellent television! Even after a previous episode killed the character off, James Woods has returned and will likely appear in future episodes, creating the same kind of mischief he is usually known for.

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3. Lemon Breeland from Hart of Dixie.
The seemingly perfect Southern Belle, Lemon may consider herself sweet as pie, but she usually comes across as demanding and conniving. Lemon obsesses over wedding plans and ruling the town of Bluebell, Alabama, in every society group imaginable, often ignoring her own fiance (the handsome lawyer George Tucker) and bullying the new-girl-in-town, Dr. Zoe Hart. From hazing Zoe in an initiation process to forbidding her friends from getting pregnant until she does, Lemon is known for becoming unhinged, especially when she doesn’t get what she wants. Although the show tries to show a more sympathetic side through flashbacks and emotional scenes, Lemon is usually portrayed as difficult to get along with, unauthentic, dramatic and completely unlikable. Don’t let the floral dresses and affected speech fool you — her ‘Mean Girls’ style makes her just as villainous as the rest of them!

4. The Situation from Jersey Shore.
Mike Sorrentino, better known as “The Situation,” has always prided himself on being a tough guy. However, throughout the multiple seasons of Jersey Shore (about five too many!), he has established several different roles and characters for himself. He has briefly been the sweetheart, when he seemed to genuinely have feelings for Sammi in the first season, and he often refers to himself as more of a father figure to the rest of the house, particularly in the second season. Mike has also revealed a more somber side, especially toward the end of his days in Italy, during which he separated himself from the group and lamented the fact that no one liked him. The Situation is known to become violent and manipulative, and often threatens in the confessionals that his evil side is about to come out. Always looking for trouble to stir up, The Situation and his multiple personalities could top this list as all five TV villains.

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5. Courtney from The Bachelor.
Perhaps my greatest inspiration for writing this post, Courtney is constantly in the middle of feuds with the rest of the girls (although, to be honest, who can blame her? They’re all competing for the same man’s affections), hogging attention with Ben the Bachelor on group dates, and saying things on confessional like “I want to rip her head off and verbally assault her.” This is the only season of The Bachelor that I have actually sat down to watch, but from the very beginning it was easy to see that she was going to be around for a long time. Why? Her presence in the house provides the perfect drama for serious viewers who believe that the show is actually about true love. After all, how could Ben not see through her crazy eyes and the fact that the other girls are so concerned about her behavior? Personally, I love seeing Courtney stick around, because it means we get to see her say or do something else that’s completely insane.

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Who are your favorite TV villains?

The Friday Five: Couples You Meet In College

As part of my Five People You Meet In College series (see boys, girls, friends and roommates), I would like to address a new topic — the couples you meet in college. Throughout your university years, you will meet many couples in the dorms and beyond. Some (usually the product of a drunken night out) will last about a week; others, much longer. This week, we will explore some of those relationships we witness across campus. Feel free to add your own observations in the comments section!

The Friday Five: Couples You Meet In College

1. Attached At The Hip.
You have rarely ever seen these two apart since they first began dating, and when you do get one of them alone, anything they say is usually prefaced with “My boyfriend and I,” or “My girlfriend says.” You often wonder if the two could ever really exist for more than a day apart, as they are constantly hand-in-hand, associating with the same groups of people and joining the same organizations. The word couple might be used ironically to describe them, because often they appear to be one person.

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2. The Extremely Awkward Couple.
Reminiscent of that bizarre, PDA-ridden goth couple you knew in high school, the Extremely Awkward Couple consists of two people you didn’t realize actually existed in the dating world. Because both of these people were late bloomers when it came to relationships, they try to make up for lost time by showing off just how smitten they are with one another. However, neither one knows how to navigate a relationship among others, and so they often scare off the innocent bystanders with their inappropriate affections and occasional graphic descriptions.

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3. The Oddly-Mismatched Couple.
For these two, the phrase “Opposites attract” has never been more true. Although both people might be equally likable (but not always!) and hold equal value, neither seems to be the other one’s type. When you first hear that they are dating, you wonder how they even met or what they possibly could have had in common. Sometimes, you might even think that one of these people is out of the other one’s league in some way, but usually the members of the Oddly-Mismatched Couple adhere to different interests, personalities and activities. They’re dating? Ha! Certainly they are just playing a prank on us.

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4. On Again/Off Again.
Every time you log onto Facebook, it seems that Jake and Lucy have either broken up or gotten back together. At this point, you’ve stopped counting. Lucy is convinced that Jake is The One and that they are secretly part of some greater overall love story, and there’s something about Lucy that Jake just can’t let go of, so they keep trying for a relationship amidst their constant fighting. A night out with Lucy and Jake can be extremely uncomfortable for their friends, who are never sure if the two are hot or cold. The On Again/Off Again couple might be headed for the altar (and then a speedy divorce), or they might eventually fizzle out when Jake meets a model on vacation that summer, but they are college’s version of Ron and Sammi from Jersey Shore.

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5. The Power Couple.
These two are really going places, and everybody knows it. Neither one needs the other, but together they are unstoppable. Whether this is because of their looks, intellect, talents or campus leadership, the Power Couple is the kind of couple you look at and wonder how two people could be so perfect. Then you ask yourself why you haven’t done more this year, because these two are putting you and your boyfriend to shame. Although they do participate in some organizations together and run in some of the same circles, they also have their separate spheres of influence and wide array of admirers. If the On Again/Off Again Couple can be compared to Ron and Sammi from Jersey Shore, then the Power Couple is the campus equivalent to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

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What are some of the couples you’ve witnessed on campus? Do you and your significant other fall into any of these categories?

Not Your Epic Love Story

We all know that one couple, the one who breaks up and gets back together more often than Lindsay Lohan appears in court. As soon as “Jack and Sally are no longer in a relationship” on Facebook, you can expect a tearful call from Sally, who rattles off all the reasons she regrets ever talking to Jack in the first place. Of course, instead of agreeing with Sally and adding that you “never really liked having Jack around, anyway,” (which is admittedly true — he’s kind of a jerk) you quietly console her with an unlimited supply of tissues and chocolate, knowing that history will repeat itself in a week.

You don’t want to judge Sally — she is human, after all, and she is your friend — but you don’t know how much more of this you can stand to watch. Jack has been a condescending jerk from the very beginning, undermining Sally even in front of her friends, and you can’t see things ending well. As Sally finally vows to move on to someone who treats her better, Jack shows up with his heartfelt apology and plans to to fix the already-broken relationship… and of course, Sally falls right back into his arms.

Everyone thinks Sally is making a mistake, and occasionally someone in your group will tell her so, but Sally shakes her head. “Our relationship is complicated,” she explains, “but we fight so much because we love each other.” It’s possible she sees herself as one half of an adversarial love story like Pride and Prejudice, or perhaps she feels that they are fighting for a relationship with some deeper meaning, but she and Jack try to justify their constant on/off status as the sign of something special. It doesn’t matter what their friends say; the two may not be end-game material, but they will have difficulty letting go of one another.

In a way, Jack and Sally are like the Ronnie and Sammi of your reality world — they can never seem to make it work, but they “love each other” too much to permanently let it go. We all know a Jack and a Sally — hell, each of us has been one or both of them at one point or another — but the phenomenon never stops happening. Often, when people are in these relationships, they mistake their constant struggles with the ideals of fighting for the one they love. After all, isn’t that how all the romantic comedies go?

Of course, we should never pull “real life experience” from a cliche movie genre (as much of a guilty pleasure as it may be), but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t guilty of this. Sometimes, we want so badly for things to be real that we will use whatever we can to justify our irrational thoughts and decisions. We think that if ours is the epic love story that everyone yearns for, we can feel confident in our decisions to crawl back to the exes who broke our hearts, even if that means that maybe they might have been stringing us along the whole time.

My theory, which has been bolstered by both first- and secondhand experience over the years, is that getting back together with an ex is never a good idea (exception to the rule: the reason you initially broke up was for long-distance issues). If things weren’t working out before, they will probably not work out in the future. This has always been my rule. And yes, I have broken this rule in the past (aren’t we all prone to breaking our own rules once in a blue moon?), only to be reminded of the reason that the rule was created in the first place.

I think that often we return to our exes for a few reasons. One: It’s easy to fall into comfortable patterns. We know the person well already, so if we can convince ourselves that both parties have grown in the other’s absence, then we can hope to pick up where we left off. This makes things a lot easier on us; we don’t have to let anyone new into our lives, and we can pull from a larger pool of memories with the person we have returned to. 

Two: The storm always seems lighter when it is long gone. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget all of the struggles of a rocky relationship once it’s over. The analogy reminds me of how we remember the deceased. After someone we loves passes away, we don’t sit around and talk about all of their negative qualities and the not-so-pleasant encounters we had with them. Instead, we reminisce about that person at his or her best. Likewise, we tend to idealize past relationships in such a way, remembering the picture-perfect highlights and blocking out the uncertainty and the fights. We long for another chance with that special someone, knowing that if we just changed a few things around, we could make it last.

However, this is where I reveal the ugly truth to everyone: if a relationship didn’t work out in the past, it won’t work out in the future. Chances are, you are not the exception to the rule. This doesn’t mean that a strong relationship won’t take some work or won’t involve the occasional argument, but if you spend more time arguing and debating going on a break than having fun together and finding ways to compromise, you should not be in a relationship with that person. In other words, yours is not the epic love story you think it is. The sooner you realize that you deserve stability and happiness, the sooner you will find it.

The Freshman 15: College Relationship Tips

With pink and red decor filling the shops, jewelry commercials dominating the airwaves and delicious chocolates hitting the shelves, it is easy to see that Valentine’s Day (or Singles Awareness Day, depending on your perspective) is here. No matter where you go — work, school, lunch, the grocery store — you can’t completely escape this holiday, whether you like it or not.

Regardless of any romantic entanglements this year, I though that this month would be the perfect time to address college relationships in this month’s Freshman 15. Whether you’re single or taken, these tips will help you navigate any college relationship. Tweet this!

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The Freshman 15: College Relationship Tips

1. Don’t force a relationship out of nothing.
I see this happen to college students quite often. A boy and a girl who consider each other somewhat attractive wind up in a compromising situation that leads to some kind of hook-up, and the next day, feel obligated to call it a relationship. Maybe it’s a guilt thing; if things work out, they can later say it was “love at first sight,” that they looked into each other’s eyes and just knew. Or maybe this is just their way of following one of those romantic comedy misconceptions — the idea that a random hook-up will ultimately become your soulmate. It happened to Emily and Oliver in A Lot Like Love, it happened to Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and it happened to Blair and Chuck on Gossip Girl. The truth is, although these types of relationships seem ideal in the movies, that isn’t always the case in real life. Don’t force a relationship out of thin air; accept that some attraction is fleeting. (Editor’s Note: Don’t deny chemistry, either. If you already liked the person and you happened to end up in the aforementioned compromising situation, don’t write things off completely if there might be something there.)

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2. Never trust too easily.
Let’s face it – not everyone has the best of intentions. One difference between high school and college relationships is that in high school, you have a smaller pool of potential boyfriends and girlfriends, and it is likely you have known most of them since you were kids. Therefore, even though people change over time, your judgment in choosing a significant other is probably better because you have known these people for a while. In college, however, you are often thrust into a completely new social circle, and because of this, you don’t know much about the true character of that cute guy you met in the dining hall. You don’t need to be completely paranoid, but be careful when you place your trust in others. Don’t open yourself up to someone who doesn’t deserve it.

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3. Avoid comparisons.
Chances are, you and your significant other will probably tell stories about exes from time to time, and that is totally normal. However, don’t go on too much about your past relationships. There is a reason those ended, and if all you ever do is talk about all the nice things your ex did, your current significant other will probably either feel inadequate or annoyed.

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4. Keep some things to yourself.
Although your friends are probably thrilled for you, they don’t need to hear every last detail about how much you love your significant other or how the two of you spend every second of the day. This is a real life case of “Don’t kiss and tell!”

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5. First impressions will only take you so far.
Yes, first impressions are important in many scenarios, but keep in mind that things can change over time. For example, at my freshman orientation at college, the guy I thought disliked me and was too cool for me wound up becoming one of my best friends. Conversely, there have been times when I met people and thought we would be close, and they ended up disappointing me. You have to be receptive to the way people change, and be open to the fact that some people may surprise you (in good or bad ways).

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6. Go on dates.
This may sound obvious enough, but so many people forget about dating and end up sinking right into a married couple routine. Comfort is great, but in your late teens and early twenties, do you really want to lose all sense of romance? Hanging out in a dorm room all the time can get boring really quickly. Don’t let that happen to you while you are still in college!

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7. Avoid U-Hauling.
In the past, I have cited U-Hauling (or the phenomenon of a relationship moving way too quickly, to the point where you have practically moved in together after a few weeks) as one of the major problems of college relationships. In general, college relationships tend to be accelerated forms of adult relationships — especially when you’re in the dorm rooms — because your social lives begin to meld into your home lives. Early on, it’s likely you will run into each other getting groceries, doing laundry, taking out trash, completing chores, etc. If your significant other’s parents are in town, it is also likely you will meet them regardless of how long you have been dating. While many of these things are inevitable, it is important to maintain some semblance of mystery in the relationship. Don’t spend every waking moment together. (Editor’s note: I would like to credit my friend Jen for introducing me to the whole U-Hauling concept. Her blog entry about it was pretty informative!)

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8. Don’t neglect your friends.
You only have so much free time, so it can be difficult to distribute it equally between your friends and your boyfriend or girlfriend. However, you have to keep your friends in mind — even when your significant other is a temporary fixture (which, chances are, he/she is), your friends are a more permanent part of your life, and if you ignore them completely in favor of “love,” they might not be as willing to take care of you if and when your relationship ends.

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9. Don’t go in with the intention of “fixing” someone.
No one is perfect, but if you go into a relationship knowing exactly what you want to change about the person, then maybe you shouldn’t go into that relationship in the first place. You cannot control other people, and you should never strive to.

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10. Make time for yourself.
Ultimately, you should be your biggest priority. While it is good to spend time with your significant other, you shouldn’t spend all of your time with him or her. It is important to spend some time alone, focusing only on yourself. You have plenty of time to worry about others.

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11. Mind games are only for players.
If someone is playing the jealousy game with you, it is time to end it. Sure, other people may be attracted to you or your significant other, but flattering as it may be, it shouldn’t matter. And you shouldn’t bring it up in the relationship every chance you get. There is never a reason to try and make someone jealous; if you feel the need to play games, then maybe your relationship isn’t working out.

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12. Be careful about letting friendships develop into more.
Although pop culture would lead us to believe that our best friends are our soulmates, we have to be a little more discerning than that. While we may be compatible and comfortable with those people, the state of the relationship completely changes when you try and turn it into something more. If you don’t stay together, then you may be sacrificing a friendship completely by dating that person. The relationship may be wonderful, but you have to distinguish that before you do anything to alter the course of that friendship.

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13. Don’t place all of your self worth in the relationship.
You are worth more than simply who you are with. A relationship can be great, but it isn’t everything that makes up who you are, and you have to remember that. Regardless of whether or not you are with someone, you still have a lot to offer, and your happiness shouldn’t hinge entirely on how one person feels about you.

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14. If it didn’t work out the first time, it probably won’t ever work out.
There is always that one couple who breaks up and gets back together nearly as often as they change outfits. (Think Sam and Ronnie from Jersey Shore.) Regardless of how they feel about each other at the time, the underlying problems are always there, waiting to cause another scene. When you break up with someone, you have to do so knowing that you will not get back together with that person, especially if they commit one of the major deal-breakers: verbal or physical abuse, cheating on you, etc. None of those things are okay, and you should never accept them by returning to the person who wronged you in the first place.

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15. If you aren’t in a relationship, worry about something else.
There are plenty of perks to being single, and even if you do have someone who catches your eye, you should direct your energy toward other things: keeping your grades up, getting involved in things you love and bettering yourself as a human being. Work on accomplishing your goals that don’t focus entirely on other people.

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What are some of your tips for college relationships? Comment below with your own advice. If there are any other topics you would like to cover in future Freshman 15 articles, please let me know!

The Reality of a Second Season

Before I begin, let me admit that reality television is one of my guiltiest pleasures. I watch way too much MTV for my own good, and while I find myself poking fun at a lot of what I see on television, I also find myself continuing to tune in every week.

Nevertheless, as the original Teen Mom cast (first seen on 16 and Pregnant) films its third and final season, and the stars of Jersey Shore relocate to Italy to shoot a fourth season, I begin to question the producers’ decisions to continue a reality show cast past its first season. Yes, they are attracting plenty of viewers, but the shows no longer serve their original purposes.

For example, on 16 and Pregnant and the first season of Teen Mom, we are introduced to a group of girls who had children when they were young, and then we watch the struggles they face as teen mothers. By the second season, the girls have become somewhat of celebrities, and now, as the third season is being filmed, we begin to see the faces of Amber, Maci, Farrah and Catelynn on the covers of tabloids and on the front pages of our favorite celebrity gossip sites. They may talk about their financial problems on the show, but after being paid for several seasons and appearances, how can we really believe that? The show depicts these girls as normal teenagers, but at the same time they are followed by paparazzi and treated as celebrities.

Of course, after three seasons of Jersey Shore, who wouldn’t be able to recognize The Situation from a mile away? In the first season, the characters (I know they are “real” people, but I consider them characters) are just seven strangers with penchants for fake tans and drinking, and the people they meet have no real preconceived notions about them. Now, on the third season, you’d better believe that the girls that Mike, Vinny and Pauly bring home are only there because they know who Mike, Vinny and Pauly are. Snooki may lead you to believe that she is about to find the Guido of her dreams, but in truth she will never find someone who doesn’t know her already for her poof and her love of pickles.

When reality shows go on for longer than a season, they no longer serve their original purpose, and strangers’ reactions to the cast members are skewed by what they already knew about them from television. Instead, they become a place for fans to recognize inside jokes and feel like a part of the cast themselves, regardless of how “accurate” the depiction really is.

The Friday Five: Must-Read Blogs

Ever since my blogging adventures began in April, I’ve tried to become better acquainted with the blogosphere by reading other blogs whenever I have the chance. While some included real world advice to fit a particular niche or audience, others provided smiles and uncontrollable laughter. Today, I would like to commemorate five of these blogs for all of the insights and entertainment they have provided for me. Have a look and read them yourself!

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The Friday Five: Must-Read Blogs

1. Smart, Pretty and Awkward.
For anyone looking for ways to be smarter, prettier and less awkward, this site is for you! Every day, Molly (the genius behind Smart, Pretty and Awkward) posts a memorable quote and three tips relating to those topics. It’s a quick read, but reliable — she always has great ideas to help readers improve their etiquette in the workplace and beyond, as well as interesting articles and websites to check out.

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2. The Jersey Circus.
When Jersey Shore meets Family Circus comic strips, you get Jersey Circus. It’s exactly what it sounds like: screenshots of the wholesome Family Circus, captioned with quotes from Jersey Shore. Some of the comics are so ridiculous that they kept my roommate and me laughing for hours the night we discovered them.

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3. Simple. Organized. Life.
Sometimes it feels like we could all use a break from the clutter that surrounds our lives. Meet Simple. Organized. Life. – a blog dedicated to the reduction of such clutter and the introduction of simplicity. Even if you use it for just a few tips here and there, the blog can be extremely helpful and provide great organizational ideas.

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4. Oh She Glows.
As I’ve learned in my eight months in the blogosphere, the Internet is a wonderful place for food blogs. Angela, the writer of Oh She Glows, provides a unique perspective on how to live a healthy lifestyle. Whether you choose read it for the cool vegan recipes (try the Snickerdoodles, seriously!) or the introspective and uplifting discussions on food and body image, you will certainly gain from this innovative and upbeat food blog.

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5. Hyperbole and a Half.
Originally introduced to me by my roommate, Hyperbole and a Half is a hilarious blog written and illustrated by Allie, who tells elaborate stories about her childhood, dogs and various situations she encounters. The stories are humorously told and depicted, and you can’t help but smile when reading them.

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I’m not sure if my blurbs really do these blogs justice, so go and read them for yourself! 🙂 What kinds of blogs do you find yourselves reading on a regular basis?

What’s Hot/What’s Not: October 2010

Whenever someone mentions October, images of ghosts, witches and haunted houses immediately come to mind. Halloween plays a big role not only in the ways we shop and decorate, but the ways in which we conceptualize an entire month. However, while we may be excited about our upcoming excuse to eat tons of candy and dress however we please, let’s keep our eyes out for other fads and current events in this month’s edition of What’s Hot/What’s Not.

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What’s HOT
Keeping up with the latest trends in Halloween couture.

What’s NOT
Wearing any of these vintage Halloween costumes.

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What’s HOT
Celebrating your college’s Homecoming Week and being surrounded by school spirit!

What’s NOT
The idea that many people are still unable to fully participate.

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What’s HOT
The new seasons of our favorite shows are just starting to get good!

What’s NOT
Just as My Generation was starting to get good, it was canceled! (It was good enough for me to blog about, right?)

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What’s HOT
The lovebugs that were taking over Central Florida seem to be gone!

What’s NOT
Bedbugs are still on the rise. Yuck!

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What’s HOT
Mel Gibson’s removal from The Hangover 2.

What’s NOT
The fact that they even considered casting him!

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What’s HOT
Some stylish ways to stay toasty as the weather cools down.

What’s NOT
Using any of these shoes to keep your feet warm… at any time of the year.

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What’s HOT
Having a new way to rationalize some of our guiltiest pleasures.

What’s NOT
Feeling the need to rationalize them in the first place!

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What’s HOT
Voting in the upcoming elections and having a say in our country’s future.

What’s NOT
Blindly following the masses. 🙂

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What’s HOT
Finding inspirational quotes that get you through the day.

What’s NOT
Being remembered by some of the worst quotes possible.

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What’s HOT
The discovery of water on the Moon.

What’s NOT
The cancellation of our future Moon missions!

What’s HOT/What’s NOT: August 2010

As we delve into the month of August, we enter that transitionary period between a fun, carefree summer and a rigorous, no-nonsense academic year. With back-to-school shopping and first impressions to look forward to, we must keep up with the latest trends and tomorrow’s do’s/don’ts. Read more to find out what’s hot and what’s not this fall, and don’t forget to comment with your own ideas of what’s in style! 🙂

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What’s HOT
Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest hit film, Inception, and pretty much all of the dreamy men who co-star.

What’s NOT
Sleeping the entire summer away!

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What’s HOT
Becoming well known for something you’re good at and inspiring others to follow in your footsteps.

What’s NOT
Following in Kim Kardashian’s footsteps by making a sex tape in order to become famous. (Good call, Montana Fishburne?)

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What’s HOT
The fact that the mid-season finale of Pretty Little Liars airs on Tuesday, August 10, at 8pm on ABC Family.

What’s NOT
Not knowing how to spend the subsequent Tuesday nights.

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What’s NOT
Eminem’s latest work off of his Recovery album, most notably “Love the Way You Lie” (ft. Rihanna).

What’s NOT
All of the backlash his music video has since received.

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What’s HOT
The beautiful city of Miami, Florida.

What’s NOT
The crowd that reality TV shows (ie. Jersey Shore) have drawn to its oasis.

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What’s HOT
The latest tweets from Lord Voldemort’s unofficial Twitter account.

What’s NOT
Having to wait until November for the next Harry Potter movie.

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What’s HOT
The end of a difficult semester.

What’s NOT
The onslaught of exams one must face first.

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What’s HOT
Steve Carrell as a not-so-smart but well-meaning taxidermist/IRS worker with a heart of gold in the surprisingly enjoyable film Dinner for Schmucks.

What’s NOT
The strong possibility of Steve Carrell leaving the cast of The Office after next season. 🙁

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What’s HOT
The beachy summer hairstyle of the braided headband. (Click here for an easy-to-follow video tutorial!)

What’s NOT
These top ten mustache styles that must be stopped.

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What’s HOT
The return of favorite old bands in time for brand new tours (Something Corporate!).

What’s NOT
Not being in town to watch them perform!


The Jersey Shore Misconception

Just last week, the second season of Jersey Shore premiered on MTV to over 5 million viewers. While many people (sadly including myself) tuned in to witness the train wrecks that are The Situation, Snooki, Sammi, DJ Pauly D, Ronnie, Vinny, JWoww and Angelina, I’m sure that many others flipped the channel in disgust. And who can blame them? The cast members have become caricatures of themselves at this point, with their lives revolving around sex, alcohol, hair gel and the now-famous concept of GTL (Gym, Tan, Laundry). Does anyone really take them seriously anymore?

Of course, there are plenty of Italian-American organizations out there who are urging people not to watch the show. Such groups are so offended by the “Guido” stereotypes perpetuated by the Jersey Shore cast that they have even begged MTV to drop the show completely. And from an outsider’s perspective, I can see why these groups might take offense — none of the cast members have much to offer (with the slight exception of Pauly D, because at least he’s a decent DJ) besides the ability to cause a scene and get arrested. Pair that together with the fact that they are constantly trying to represent the young Italian-American community, and it’s obvious that no reasonable person of the same ethnicity would want to be associated with them.

However, what critics fail to recognize is that the Jersey Shore cast doesn’t so much speak negatively about Italian-Americans, but rather about our society as a whole. On the show, Italians and non-Italians display completely trashy behavior that no one who has to live a grown-up life could ever abide by. The cast itself is not even entirely composed of Italians, even though they do try to represent their self-proclaimed “Guido” lifestyles nonetheless. In each episode they interact with a number of people — the girls they bring home for one-night-stands, the guys heckling them at the bars, and various others — to the point where it’s not about poorly representing Italian-Americans anymore. It really just reveals what’s wrong with our young culture in its entirety.

I’m no Puritan, but I can honestly say that the emphasis on drinking and sex is so excessive that it makes me wonder if that’s really all our generation wants to hold onto. How empty must people be for the GTL lifestyle (which, let’s face it, is not even remotely limited to the show) has become their own? When did we stop meeting socially for fun and conversation, and start hooking up with the first person drunk enough to accept us?

Jersey Shore and reality television definitely emphasize a wild lifestyle — perhaps even wilder than our own — but we still seem to be headed in that direction. I’m not saying there’s anything bad about going out and having a good time, but it’s important to remember moderation and to know about more than just how to hold your liquor.

After all, you have a lot more to offer than that. : )

Speak Now (Or Forever Hold Your Peace)

Over the past few months, I’ve come to realize just how important it is to be honest to yourself and to others. It may sound like I’m merely stating the obvious, but my closest friends know just how hard I try not to hurt other people’s feelings — even going so far as to forget about my own — and how little I really do speak up when I feel injustice. Slowly but surely, however, I’ve vowed to make assertion and honesty a much bigger part of my life.

The idea has hit me from multiple directions in the last few days. On Tuesday, as I was getting my fix of The Office, I revisited the “Beach Games” episode, in which the sweet-but-often-stepped-on receptionist Pam Beesly (who often reminds me of myself) finally sticks up for herself. After feeling ignored, unappreciated, and taken advantage of by her boss and coworkers, Pam confesses her discontent to the rest of the office on their beach day. She doesn’t do this at all in a mean-spirited way, but she does stand her ground and states her relief of getting everything off her chest.

Pam wasn’t the only person set free by her honesty. For her upcoming album Speak Now, Taylor Swift has explained in interviews that “track by track, each song is a different confession to a different person.” What I learned from these latest articles was that the theme of coming clean to others was at the very core of Swift’s newest CD, and that she too found the experience of writing these songs cathartic.

While I still don’t think it’s classy to voice every opinion you’ve ever had and believe that it’s better to choose your battles wisely, I do think that when you keep your lips sealed shut, you’re hurting yourself and the people around you. If you’re not happy with certain aspects of your friendships or relationships, and you’re not speaking up about the things that matter, then how can you expect the situation to improve? If you see your friend doing something that isn’t in his/her best interest and you don’t want to hurt them by telling them, then how can you help your friend?

Takethe movie He’s Just Not That Into You as a prime example. Although Gigi the Protagonist has about ZERO chance of settling into a relationship with most of the guys she dates, her friends at work are constantly reassuring her that those guys will call, and then they make up excuses as to why nothing has happened thus far. Or look at the season premiere of Jersey Shore, in which Snooki tries to convince Sammi that Ronnie still has feelings for her, right as the camera cuts to Ronnie, piss drunk in a club, making out with two girls at once. (More on that show in another post!)

The lies we tell ourselves and others, even for the “right reasons,” can hurt us more than they help us. Tweet this!

Whether we’re harboring pent-up frustrations that we just aren’t letting out, or we’re trying to shield others from the truth, it’s important for us to be aware of what’s real and to try to open ourselves up to whatever that may be. It may hurt, yes, but it’s better than living in an illusion. Maybe each of us needs to practice affirmations, or maybe we just need some sort of outlet to express our innermost feelings candidly when we’re afraid of offending others. Maybe this blog is to me what Speak Now is to Taylor Swift — a way for me to convey, as Swift said in her interview, the “things that I wanted to say in the moment that I didn’t.” Hopefully, as time goes on, we can all start saying those things in real life. : )