K-pop: A fad or will it stay?

Oppa Gangnam Style!

By: Marina Ignatyeva

Ever since “Gangnam Style” went viral on Youtube, the South Korean rap star Psy skyrocketed into U.S. super stardom. He brought the spotlight onto Korean pop, otherwise known as K-pop, which has already been massively popular all over Asia. The funny video, the crazy horse dance and the fact that the catchy dance song is performed by a fat guy in an outrageous suit appealed to the American public, which has a long history of loving bizarre Youtube videos. Korean media and Psy’s entertainment company, YG Entertainment (one of the biggest and most influential companies in Korea and Asia), hail this as a victory for K-pop, and that Korean artists are crossing over to the U.S. market after years of trying. I think this raises the question of just how permanent this success is.

Korean artists had been trying to debut in America for years. In 2005, R&B sensation Rain, who starred in Ninja Assassin, tried to debut. He even appeared multiple times on the Daily Show, and had funny dance offs with Stephen Colbert. After him came the pop princess BoA, who is a huge star in Korea and Japan, and Seven, another popular solo artist. All three of them released songs that were aimed to be similar as the American music at the time, and all three of them aimed for the sexy dancer/powerful vocalist image. All three of them reached only very limited degrees of success. A more successful debut was by the Wonder Girls, who opened for the Jonas Brothers on their 2009 tour. They managed to be more popular than those before them, and even released a recent song featuring Akon. However, at the end of the day, the majority of Americans did not even know that K-pop existed.

If tailoring to the U.S. market did not work, what does Psy’s success means? I believe it reflects that the U.S. Youtube users discovered a hilarious video that went viral. To most of the viewers, K-pop is “Gangnam Style”. It does not matter that Korean music is very broad, or that there are better songs than Psy’s hit. They do not try to understand the lyrics, nor do they care that Psy has been releasing songs with deeper meaning and better sound since 1993. In a sense, Psy had locked himself up in a very limited song type, and he will have a very hard time diversifying without losing his success. This probably means that K-pop is a fad, but only time will truly tell.

‘Elles’ exhibit at Seattle Art Museum raises questions regarding its success

Defying conventions

By: Marina Ignatyeva

The Seattle Art Museum is currently the site of one of the most exciting projects in the world. SAM partnered up with the Centre Pompidou, France’s largest modern art museum, to bring a tiny portion of their radical all-female artist exhibit to the United States. It kicked off on October 11, 2012, and will continue until January 13, 2013. Like the Centre, the Seattle Art Museum has taken down all the works by male artists, and decided to showcase only the works by women in the entire museum. SAM and the surrounding universities are also hosting various workshops and lectures by feminists.  This is why the exhibit is called “Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris”. This was done to facilitate discussion about gender discrimination in the art world, and in life, as well as to help viewers explore the meaning of being a woman.

While the overall response has been high praises, there has been a division between mainstream news sources and the more independent sources about the success of the Seattle Art Museum’s exhibit. When Centre Pompidou held their “Elles” exhibit, it was a conscious effort to create gender equality, and resulted in the Centre buying massive amounts of art pieces to balance out the gender breakdown of its collection. The Seattle Art Museum heavily borrowed from the Centre Pompidou, as well as other prominent galleries around the United States, to supplement its lack of pieces by women. Mainstream news sources such as the Seattle Times put emphasis on how the exhibit is exploring what constitutes being a woman, and shows a blend of artwork from different time periods to show how the concept of femininity is not set in stone. It also provokes discussion regarding discrimination against women in the art world.

Independent news sources such as The Stranger, a Seattle newspaper, question about how long this equality will last at the Seattle Art Museum. Both types of news sources agree that the blatant gaps in some of the exhibits at “Elles” indicate just how small the collection of art by women is compared to the usual display of works by male artists. This is understandable, since the Seattle Art Museum does not have the massive resources of Centre Pompidou to purchase new pieces for this exhibit. This is also worrisome. An article in The Stranger wonders if any of the pieces borrowed for “Elles” will be purchased, or if SAM will go back to displaying mostly male artists’ works of art. This would send a message of “lets celebrate feminism, but then go back to the gender-biased status quo”.

 

Why Hollywood Should Encourage the Return of the NC-17 Rating

A chart of the MPAA rating system.

The MPAA Rating System, from G to NC-17.

By Patrick James Quinn.

How often have you seen parents buying movie tickets for teens to a film that is clearly too adult for them? Or a little kid cowering in a theater during a disturbing horror film?

The MPAA’s R rating is generally respected for its mature content. It is also tremendously broad in its scope. “The King’s Speech” is rated R for some language, while “Crank: High Voltage” bears the same rating for frenetic strong bloody violence throughout, crude and graphic sexual content, nudity and pervasive language.

Parents often don’t have the time or concern to properly research what it is their teens are wanting to see. And even if parents refuse, teens tend to find a way to get tickets, perhaps through older siblings or friends’ parents. As a rule, the R-rating requires an accompanying parent or legal guardian for anyone under 17, but many theaters don’t enforce this.

The NC-17 rating expressly states that no one 17 and under will be admitted, which would serve to separate a lighter R rating, such as the previous example of “The King’s Speech” from a far more graphic and arguably adult film such as “Crank: High Voltage” or innumerable other titles that push the envelope in terms of acceptable content for younger viewers.

The reason Hollywood avoids using the NC-17 rating is that it is often misconstrued as pornographic, heavily affecting a film’s box office performance. This misconception is because the rating was originally a simple X, which the porn industry began using because the MPAA could not trademark the single letter. In 1990 they changed the rating’s name, but the correlation had already been made. “In the minds of Hollywood studios, theater owners and parents groups, if a movie was NC-17, then it was pornography,” says Frank Paiva of MSN.

However, in the last few years Hollywood has become bolder in its ratings, releasing films such as “Shame” (2011) or “Killer Joe” (2011), both of which boast A-list stars like Matthew McConaughey or Michael Fassbender. “What we currently have is a system that’s slightly flawed in the reluctance of filmmakers and distributors to use the NC-17. What they’ll do is cut and trim and try to cram a movie into the R rating category so that it escapes the NC-17, and that’s not a legitimate use of the system. We end up with a very broad R category.” says John Filthian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners.

Examples of such trimmed-down films are “South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” and “Boys Don’t Cry.” “Blue Valentine” was originally branded as NC-17, but this rating was overturned after an appeal.

As films continue to push the boundaries of graphic, adult content, the encouraged return of the NC-17 rating would not only aid in protecting young and impressionable minds, but also inform adults, guardians, and general film-goers of a movie’s subject matter via a more specific rating system.

The Blue Fox Drive-In Theater ‘s Fight to Survive Digital Conversion

Written by Patrick James Quinn.

Neon Sign for the Blue Fox Drive-In

The Blue Fox Drive-In’s iconic neon sign.

OAK HARBOR, Wash. – The Blue Fox Drive-In is has entertained since it first opened in 1959. But with the mandatory switch from 35mm to digital projectors looming after New Year’s in 2013, that all may be coming to an end.

The Blue Fox Drive-In has been owned and operated by the Bratt family since 1988. The Bratts have been working for the whole of 2012 to raise the $60,000 to $80,000 for the new digital projector. If they are unable to raise the funds, the Blue Fox‘s screen will go forever dark.

In the late 1950’s, when drive-ins were at their peak of popularity, there were 4,000 to 5,000 in operation in America. According to drive-ins.com,  there are now only 366 open in the United States today, and those numbers are dropping. The Blue Fox is one of the last of its kind, and without our help it may join many of its closed predecessors.

Movie studios are switching for many reasons. Sending out digital copies of the films is infinitely less expensive when compared to the cost of making and shipping the heavy celluloid prints and repair of any damage. “The price of silver, heavily used in film processing, soared from $5 an ounce to about $25 this year,” says deadline.com, “The firm says that at one point distributors used 13B feet of film a year, equal to five trips to the moon and back. By 2010, though, film usage was down to about 5B feet.” This is mostly due to theaters progressively making the change to digital.

Other reasons for the digital switch is filmmakers taking advantage of the more flexible format. Christopher Nolan, director of the latest Batman trilogy, often uses the IMAX format for grander shots and action sequences in his films. Peter Jackson, director of the upcoming Hobbit trilogy, shot the films at 48 frames-per-second, which traditional 35mm projectors would not be able to display. The steady rise and popularity of 3D and the new sound system Dolby Atmos also encourage digital conversion.

Major theater chains such as Regal or AMC have mostly, if not completely, switched to digital already. It is the independent theaters or drive-ins that have only a few screens that will struggle with the ultimatum they’ve been dealt.

The Blue Fox Drive-In has been a staple of the Pacific Northwest. Families come from hours away to enjoy the atmosphere and watch the movies. To help save the Blue Fox Drive-In, visit its website at http://www.bluefoxdrivein.com/apparel.html.

Coursera is Changing Online Learning, Higher Education

Written by: Stephanie Hsieh

Coursera.org, an independent educational technology company founded by two Stanford professors, is using online learning to bring free higher education courses to students all over the world…for free.

Coursera.org's logo.

Bringing the Ivy League to your laptop.

Coursera partners with universities from throughout the world, including multiple Ivy League institutions. Professors from partnered universities create the courses, which cover everything from Computer Science to History. Courses are offered to students free of charge and taught primarily through video lectures. Quizzes, assignments, and peer assessments are also submitted online. Given the ease and range of courses that can be offered through Coursera’s system the website almost seems too good to be true. Indeed, some experts are cautioning that a potential down side to Coursera’s educationl offerings is that it’s unclear whether online learning is as effective as the traditional face-to-face kind.

Even so, there is evidence that those worried about the quality of online education need worry no longer. In September 2010 the US Department of Education released a detailed report that analyzed the results of 45 published studies on the subject and concluded there was convincing evidence that at the very least online learning could be, on average, as effective and learning face-to-face. Hybrid methods that combine both online and face-to-face components have been shown to be even more effective than using either method alone.

Another potential down side to Coursera is that not all courses offer certificates of completion. This means that despite completing a course, students may not be able to prove to future employers or academic officials that they have taken and completed. However, this too may soon no longer be a problem as universities are beginning to incorporate Coursera offerings into their curriculum. Just this month Antioch University, a private liberal arts institution based in Washington that has campuses in five states, began allowing Coursera courses to be taken by its students for college credit. The University of Washington, a public research university also based in Washington state, has also stated its intentions to allow Coursera courses to be take for credit by its students, as long as further requirements are met.

All of this is just the beginning of Coursera’s enormous potential as an educational game-changer. Technological advances are improving the delivery platform for online courses and allowing for greater personalization of material. These advances are also allowing educators to gather enormous amounts of data on how their students learn, the analysis of which will allow them to fine tune and improve the learning experience. One thing is absolutely certain about Coursera: with over a million students from 196 countries enrolled in over a hundred courses, the website proven that people around the world are eager for a way to broaden their higher education experience.

Coursera doesn’t intend to stop there. It has expansion in mind as it intends to partner with more schools, widening the range of courses offered even more and bringing more accredited institutions into the fold of online learning. With all this in mind it seems that Coursera, and websites like it, may be on the road to changing the face of higher education as we know it.

Three Summer Hairstyles

Wavy Hairstyle

Summer Waves

Written by:Brittany Bluford

Summer is right around the corner, so bring on the chilled drinks, maxi dresses, and a new summer hairdo. Although I embrace change, the search for a new hairstyle has proved to be as hard as finding the perfect outfit. Once upon a time, when I wanted a new look, I turned to color to add some spunk to my style. These days my hair isn’t so forgiving, so I’ve had to find alternate ways to switch up my look. If you want to break away from your comfort zone this summer, I have three new hairstyles for your tresses.

1. Accessories aren’t just for your neck, wrist and arm, so give your hair some glam by adding a scarf. This simple addition is great if you want to mix it up without completely changing your style. I have a variety of scarves from Target; they have patterns, lace and solids. Whether your hair is up or down, just add a scarf. With the summer heat, this is a fashionable way to keep hair out of your face. Also, it can cover up a bad hair day and make it appear as if you spent a lot of time on your hair. Naptural 85 has a great video on 10 ways to tie a silk headscarf. http://www.naptural85.com/blog-content/2012/5/13/10-ways-to-tie-a-silk-head-scarf.html.

2. While you’re enjoying the waves at the beach, try putting some waves or curls in your hair. The braid out has been around for a while, but I’m a slow adopter to new trends. I’ve never worn my hair curly, but I’m in love with the braid out results. After washing and moisturizing your hair, let the cornrows do the rest of the work. The next morning unravel your hair and it will be full of defined curls. To add a cherry to the sundae, the braid out lasts for days and can easily transition into a wavy up-do. There are many different ways you can achieve a wavy hairstyle. Check out the hair gallery at Essence http://www.essence.com/hair/.

3. This next style gave me a complete step out of the box. The braided bun has grown to be one of my favorite low maintenance styles. There’s no dryer, flat iron or list of products required. It was inspired by MsVcharles’ You Tube video. Make sure you check out her easy, detailed step-by-step video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dNZWgyO5WE). All you need is a pack of braid hair and a few braid ties. If your hair length permits, you may not need any braiding hair. After twisting and securing your faux hair, attach it to your head with the option of a top, middle or low bun. What I love about this style is it’s protective, and it really makes a statement. Feel free to add a scarf to this look!

Summer is the perfect season to try something daring, bold and different. Why not start with your hair? A braided bun, curls, and a scarf are great ways to make a change to your look.

7 Ways, 7 Days to Turn Junk into Jewelry

Earrings created from Credit Cards

Credit Card Earrings

Written by: Brittany Bluford

 

Make earrings using a spoon?

It may sound impossible, but jewelry can be made using typical household items or things labeled as trash. There are many resources available making crafters and non-crafters think twice before heading to the garbage. From safety pins to spoons, here are seven ways to turn trash to treasure.

  1. 1. Design plastic earrings using old credit cards or bottles to add a little flair to Monday’s meeting.
    Designing credit card earrings are quick, easy, and require little expertise. You simply cut the credit card into strips, place it on a wooden board for support, hole punch, and attach to an earring hook. Also, there are many different variations to these earrings.
  2. 2. Use wire as support for beads to liven up Tuesday’s work wear.
    Beads are a common product used to make necklaces and bracelets, and many people have wire around the house. Measure the amount of wire needed, trim, string on beads, crimp and remove excess wire. Using the wire is a great way to get rid of junk and make something crafty.
  3. 3. Create a stand out necklace using a lock or spare keys for a little hmph in Humpday.
    If you’re continuously moving and end up with a bunch of keys you don’t need, a necklace is a great way to re-use items. You can string on multiple or a single key to create the necklace. Also, to make it more personalized use glitter or paint to decorate the key.
  4. 4. Assemble safety pins and beads to make friendship bracelets to hand out at Thursday’s girls’ night out.
    It takes little time, beads and scissors to create a safety pin bracelet, and there are many different kinds and patterns. Once the pattern and style is chosen, you can create the bracelets.
  5. 5. Recycle old spoons into pendants or bracelets to dress up your casual Friday outfit.
    Spoons can be used in a variety of ways to make jewelry. One way is a pendant necklace. Bend the spoon back and forth until it breaks, use forceps to make a hook on broken part, put on a chain and design it anyway you like.
  6. 6. Transform broken china into a broken plate necklace and wear it to your next Saturday dinner party.
    A broken china necklace is a great way to recycle a damaged dish. Cut out the pieces, foil and solder, join the pieces, add a clasp and embellish.
  7. 7. Modify coins from change to pendants and wear them as you complete Sunday’s errands.
    A creative alternative to spending pennies is to make a necklace. Find a hard surface, create a hole in the coin, straighten the warped spots, put a jump ring through the hole, and thread a chain through.

There are many more items that can be used to create jewelry, but these seven materials are a great place to start.

Houston Farm-to-Table Restaurant Celebrates 1-year Anniversary

Seared Grass served at Sorrel Urban Bistro

Seared Grass served over Local Vegetables

Written by: Brittany Bluford

Houston– July 19 carries many historical events: Apollo II orbited the moon, Christa McAuliffe was chosen for space flight and XXVI Olympic games opened in Atlanta, Georgia. A Houston restaurant also shares a memorable moment on this popular date.

On July 19, 2012 Sorrel Urban Bistro, the farm-to-table eatery named one of the Top 10 New Restaurants in the U.S., will celebrate its 1-year anniversary. To commemorate 365 days of success, Sorrel wants to carry a message of gratitude to its loyal patrons with a celebration. The event, which will be 9 p.m. -11 p.m. July 19 at 2202 West Alabama, will feature Ciroc Liquor tastings, complimentary hor d’ oeuvres and a cash bar.

The 1-year celebration, open to regular guests and first timers, will take place in the warm, fine dining atmosphere, so attendees can expect to enjoy all the familiar features of the Bistro that has made it a success this past year. The dining room, bar area and covered patio will be open for Houstonians to mingle and celebrate.

Sorrel has a lot to celebrate. Owner, Ray Salti and Executive Chef Soren Pedersen’s vision was to bring everyday farm-fresh dining to more Houstonians, and each week the restaurant serves hundreds of guests. Also, the restaurant has gained the support of local media, business and publications.

“We wouldn’t have made it this far without our customers. It’s not about us, but it’s about them. Sorrel Urban Bistro doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to Houstonians, and we hope they come and celebrate,” says Salti.

The 9 p.m.-11 p.m. slot is usually reserved for reverse happy hour Tuesday thru Saturday, but it will still be a happy two hours for the guests who attend this year. Black Razz Chocolate Kiss and The Wolfberry Lemon Fizz are two of the cocktails made especially for the anniversary party.

Sorrel entered the Houston scene July 2011 with a vision to bring farm-to-table dining to the area. It’s hard to believe that a completely different concept would be welcomed to Houston with open arms. After less than a year, the bistro has gained an impressive Twitter and Facebook following, and has a great number of visits each week.

Sorrel Urban Bistro’s mission is to serve high quality, moderately priced meals in a charming, welcoming atmosphere, and the restaurant continues to stand behind its promise with the support of Houston, its staff and sourced farms.

Voyager 1 May Soon Cross into Inter-stellar Space

Voyager 1 May Soon Cross into Inter-stellar Space

by Jacqueline Dennison

Voyager 1 Space Probe

     Once a pioneer of our solar

system’s giant planets, NASA’s

Voyager 1 may soon be the first

man-made space probe to

venture beyond our Solar System

and into inter-stellar space.

     Recent data suggests that

Voyager has entered the outer

edge of the solar system, an area

teeming with charged particles

believed to have originated from

our neighboring stars. Readings of

particles from our own star have

slowed, another indication that Voyager is close to breaking the solar boundary.

Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at California Institute of Technology, has

given an optimistic view of Voyager’s journey. “The laws of physics say that

someday Voyager will become the first human-made object to enter interstellar

space, but we still do not know exactly when that someday will be,” said Stone.

“The latest data indicate that we are clearly in a new region where things are

changing more quickly. It is very exciting. We are approaching the solar system’s

frontier.”

Voyager 1 is travelling through the heliosheath, the turbulent outer edge of the

solar system where charged particles from the Sun are very active.

“From January 2009 to January 2012, there had been a gradual increase of

about 25 percent in the amount of galactic cosmic rays Voyager was encountering,”

said Stone. “More recently, we have seen very rapid escalation in that part of the

energy spectrum. Beginning on May 7, the cosmic ray hits have increased five percent

in a week and nine percent in a month.”

Since its launch in 1977, Voyager 1 has traveled to over 18 billion kilometers

from the Sun. Its sister probe, Voyager 2, is about 15 kilometers from the sun.

Between them, the two probes have visited the giant planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus

and Neptune, as well as 48 moons. Both Voyagers each carry a gold-plated copper

record that plays various sounds from Earth, including greetings in 55 languages.

The golden records, put together by a committee headed by astronomer Carl Sagan,

were included for any extra-terrestrials who may come into contact with the Voyager

probes.

“When the Voyagers launched in 1977, the space age was all of 20 years old,”

said Stone. “Many of us on the team dreamed of reaching interstellar space, but we

really had no way of knowing how long a journey it would be — or if these two vehicles

that we invested so much time and energy in would operate long enough to reach it.”

When Voyager ventures into inter-stellar space, it will mark a milestone in

human space exploration.

 

 

You’ve Graduated, Now What?

 

College graduate holding "Now What" sign

College Graduate

By: Brittany Bluford

Millions of college students will walk the stage, get their diploma, and enter the real world looking for one thing…a job. Unfortunately, recent college graduates have a higher chance of being unemployed than finding a job. The typical time it takes a recent graduate to find a full time career is one year, but there are three alternatives for jobless graduates to invest their time in and add to their resume.

  • Internships

Internships provide on–the-job training in a particular career or field. Although they are common for college students, they are a great option for recent graduates. These on-the job training opportunities have grown in popularity because they offer flexibility experience and look great on resumes. Recent graduates can dedicate a few hours a week to internships and the rest to their job search. Both paid and unpaid internships are available, and there is a possibility of being offered a job at the end of most internships.

  • Volunteer Work.

There are several local and international volunteer organizations looking for professionals with certain skill sets. Commitment ranges from regularly to once a month, and there are hundreds of volunteer areas. Different areas include: fundraising, administrative and special events. You can choose to contribute to a great cause alone or in a group. Also, your volunteer experience can be included on your resume if it’s relevant to your career goals. Check your local volunteer database for opportunities.

  • Networking

Have you been lucky to find a great opportunity because you knew a friend of a friend? Remember the girl who got a job because she knew the right person? The saying goes, it’s not what you know, but who you know, and it’s proved to be true in many cases. Life is all about connections: shaking the right hand, starting a conversation with the right person and handing out business cards to the right people. Take advantage of the alumni events your college gives. Also, there are many groups that connect graduates with professionals in their field. Today’s technology allows networking through social media. LinkedIn is a fairly new site designed for students, graduates, group and professionals to make connections. The network also allows your connections to write recommendations for potential employers to view.

These options are a way to occupy time after graduation and still become a more attractive job candidate. Whether you intern, volunteer or network, you are much closer to landing your dream job.