Friday, December 21, 2012

The Devil—should NOT feel guilty

I know I am late on this one, so forgive me, but I just read Lauren Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada and I must say—I don’t know how I feel about it.

I was excited to read something that I could quasi-relate to—a book about a recent college graduate, looking for a job in print and landing one that “a million girls would die for!” I can relate to that because I landed a job that “a million LGBT persons would die for!”

Andy Sachs just landed herself a job as an assistant to the notoriously demanding, Miranda Priestly, the editor of the powerful and popular fashion magazine, Runway. Although my job entails none of the following, Andy is pretty much a servant to Miranda, who at times, can give her the most outrageous and nearly impossible tasks.

However, Sachs has a job that not just the fashion conscious would die for, but really anyone who just graduated college would die for. The job tasks are completely extreme and the work environment the least desirable, she is still an extremely lucky person.

That is why—getting to my main point of this post—I still don’t understand why we are made to feel bad for Sach’s boyfriend.

Alex, in the beginning, turns out to be the perfect partner. He is absolutely excited for Sach’s new opportunity, he is a hard working educator and he absolutely adores Sachs. However, as I continued to read further into the book, I found myself getting aggravated with him.

As most journalists can account for, sometimes the job can be demanding. It requires long hours, over time and sometimes, even dropping plans to cater to a never-ending news network. The same goes for Sach’s job. She is the assistant to the highest of high in magazine publishing and in the novel, it is noted that one year working for Priestly could guarantee Andy a job anywhere.

So when Sachs has to work late nights to make sure that she is stable in her career, her boyfriend is off pouting away because his girlfriend is one of the small percent of college graduates that got a job (finally!) and can’t spend every waking moment making him happy and paying attention to him.

What makes me angry is if this ever happened to me, I wouldn’t apologize for my actions. My career comes first—it is the one thing that stabilizes me, helps me stay afloat and gives me money to stay alive. It is also an opportunity like no other, something I spent thousands of dollars at University to study up on, so why would I put my career in jeopardy to pay every last second of my attention on a partner?

I may sound cold here, but something about Alex annoyed me. He didn’t understand Andy’s career demands and he made her feel selfish and downright terrible for being a working-woman in an era that still isn’t fair.

I understand, in a way, where Alex is coming from. Of course when one is in a relationship, they want to spend time with their significant other, however, to put pressure on someone’s career and ultimately have them choose between a job and a relationship is absolutely unfair.

It gives the message to women that relationships come first, your job comes second, which can ultimately lead to the stereotype that women belong at home.

Now, I understand that this was a type of “re-telling” of an experience that the author had in her first post-college job and granted, she stayed with her career and the boyfriend and her ultimately called it quits—but that doesn’t dismiss the idea that women are often pressured to give up their careers to take care of the household.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Shining Bright Like a Diamond—Lights!

By Angela Thomas

Forgive me; I am a few days late on this one. With the Thanksgiving holiday (more like Black Friday preparation), I have been a bit busy to write this review.

On Tuesday, Nov. 20, I got the chance to see Lights perform live for the second time at the Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia. If you have something else to do besides read this blog, in short: she was amazing as always.

Honestly, this girl comes in one tiny package but boy can she belt out a tune. I personally don’t think her tracks give her voice justice because she can hold and belt out a note better than most pop singers—not to mention she is absolutely adorable and a style icon.
Photo: Angela Thomas

Lights has a knack for picking some amazing opening acts. Last October, The Ambassadors opened for her. I think both my friend and I got headaches from jamming to their song, “Unconsolable.” (Go check it out…like…NOW!) This year, she had The Arkells open for her and let me just say—amazing. Not only were their originally tracks incredible but they performed a killer rendition of Hall & Oats “You Make My Dreams Come True” with special guest—Lights! It was awesome and had the entire crowd dancing. You can check out a performance here  on the Arkells Youtube page.

However, Lights was center of the show. Every song she performed live was just fantastic and she put on an extravagant show. Not only does she have amazing vocals but she has keyboard skills that would make any musician envious. Her music reaches out to everyone—that is the best aspect about her. Ages ranged completely in terms of her audience but it was apparent that the youth dominated the show. Lights has this great way of reaching out to these young kids with her music and her style. They were memorized by her and knew every lyric to her songs.
Photo: Angela Thomas

She performed some of her trademark songs like “Second Go,” “Ice,” and “Drive My Soul” while playing new songs off her album, “Siberia,” including her new single “Timing is Everything.”

Overall, the concert was amazing. I am excited to see what is next for her career!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why it annoys me when people say my rights don’t matter

By Angela Thomas

I am gay—there I said it. I’ve been gay for quite some time now. I have gay friends, I have a gay family member, and my job is extremely gay—pretty much my life is a big LGBT smorgasbord.

I voted for Obama four years ago and today, I did the same thing. I am not at all a single-issue voter but in front of everything, I believe human rights come first. I can’t get married in the state of Pennsylvania. I can get fired in the state of Pennsylvania for being gay. I don’t have the same rights that heterosexuals take for granted. I am a second-class citizen.

I didn’t choose this. Why would I choose to be gay? Why would I want to be something that most people hate? I am not confused, I never was. God (whoever he/she is) has blessed me with so many amazing opportunities, so if God “hates fags,” then why has he/she given me so much? My sexuality developed just like everyone else’s. There is nothing wrong with me. I had the privilege of receiving a good education, I file and pay my taxes on time, I work a full-time job, I am a respected neighbor in my town,  I pay my own bills—I do everything you do, except I love and am attracted to the same sex.

I was once asked why marriage equality was so important to me because “civil unions” are the same thing. Well, if I were to get a civil union with my partner in Pa., it might not be recognized in other states. The federal benefits are completely different-I can’t take leave to care for my sick partner, gain access to social security survivor benefits. My taxes are a whole other story as well. So no, it is not the same.

I was asked to take down a status I wrote yesterday. I jokingly said that anyone I know who votes for Mitt Romney, is not allowed to my wedding. However, half of me was not joking. You are supporting a candidate that is against everything I am. He is not only against my sexuality but my gender. He is against my lower-middle class family. He is against my relationships. He is against my fellow LGBT military service men and women. He is against protecting me from sexual orientation-based hate crimes.

For a while now, I have been told that same-sex and LGBT inclusive issues shouldn’t be a big issue. I disagree. I am telling you right now that my equality matters. My gay family members who have been together for 30-something years—yeah, their equality matters. My best friends and acquaintances who are LGBT—their equality matters. My co-workers—you guessed it! Their equality matters.

My equality matters. If you can’t agree with that, then you can’t agree with my relationship, you can’t agree with my life and you certainly are not my friend. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Teaching an old dog new tricks

By Angela Thomas

Like so many Americans, my dog was the highlight of my week. After working long hours in retail, I would put the key in the lock, open the door and there would be my adorable boxer dog, Emma—toy in mouth—greeting me at the door with her famous “wiggle butt.”

My family lost Emma last December to heart cancer. Her loss was something that strongly resonated with my family. My dad lost his best friend, my mom lost a daughter and I lost a sister. Emma was such a special dog to us. She never drooled, she rarely gave doggy kisses and she managed to be as well behaved as possible. We were cat people after all—we never experienced those sloppy dog kisses and the need for unending attention.

She was the friendliest, happiest and most playful pup. She loved her squeaky toys and she loved her hulahoops. She loved her French fries and her bacon. She begged like she was a starving dog and ate like a pig.

She was the bomb-dot-com in other words.
Grogan and the famous Marley!

A few months after Emma’s death, I was perusing through a bookstore in West Chester, Pa., and discovered Marley & Me by John Grogan. I had heard about the movie and refused to watch it. I just couldn’t go through that pain again.

Almost a year after her death, I sat down and read Marley & Me for a week. I laughed and I cried. Grogan wrote a book that any dog lover could relate to. But the book also focused on the journey of family and the important lessons of life. Marley grew with the family—teaching them responsibility, unconditional love and loyalty.

I could relate to Grogan both on a journalists level and on a personal level. After Marley’s death, he wrote a column about his beloved dog. After Emma’s death, I couldn’t seem to get closure. I missed Emma and I wanted to do something in honor of her so I decided to use my journalistic voice as a means to do so.

I wrote about the benefits of adoption. Emma came from Boxer rescue in Pennsylvania. She was abused and abandoned and came to us with optimism. She taught us so many lessons, especially on love. I interviewed a representative from Boxer Rescue and a representative form The Humane Society of Harrisburg. It took me two weeks to write the article and 1,000 words later, I had closure.

I suggest that not only as an animal lover, but as a human, check out Marley & Me.  I promise you, it will change your life.

To read my article on animal rescue, go here

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"What you're doing is important," Stevie Martin-Chester.

I was that friend—that friend that was in the crowd, cheering my college buds on as they received their awards. I was that friend who nominated their friends for awards because of their dedication and hard work.

I was also that friend that didn’t get awards.

It isn’t that I didn’t do well in school; I did as fine as I possibly could. I was involved in a lot—especially my university’s newspaper. I dedicated a lot of time to that, to the point where I had no life.

I just never received any recognition. There were days where I would call up my mom and ask if there was something wrong with me? Was I not good enough? She would always reassure me that it just wasn’t my time to shine yet.

Mom, you were right.

After graduating, I headed straight into the temp. agency because I needed money and I needed experience. I applied to newspapers and I applied for other writing jobs but nothing stuck. I started to feel like maybe I should give up and hope that my temp job turned into a permanent job.

However, my mom wasn’t so ready for me to give up. On a Sunday morning, my mother urged me to apply for a job as staff writer at the Philadelphia Gay News. They were hiring ASAP because there editor of 6 years, Sarah B. was leaving to take a job in Washington D.C. and their current staff writer, Jen C. was being promoted to editor.

So on that Sunday morning, I send in a resume and 3 clips. The Monday after, I received a call from Jen asking me to interview. I left my current job earlier on Thursday to interview with both Jen and Sarah at 3 p.m. Now let me tell you, both these ladies are amazing human beings in and out of the journalism world. I’ve aspired to be like both of them ever since I discovered PGN, so to meet them was a fantastic experience in itself.

That night after my interview, not sure what kind of impression I made, I was asked in an e-mail to write a news article from a press release. After having both my mom and my best friend, Sammi read it; I sent it, praying to whatever God that I at least made an impression.

I wasn’t sure and I hated that. However on Friday, while at work, I received a voicemail from Jen, asking me to call her back.

Now the next series of events was hard for me to digest and still is. She offered me the job. Me? But I though other newspapers didn’t want me? I thought I was just doomed to interview for the rest of my life. However, they wanted me and I wanted this job more than anything in the world.

As someone who is out and proud in the LGBT community, this job has been a dream come true.

I watched my friends receive amazing awards and now, they were watching me and giving me the support I need.

Needless to say, this job has been an amazing experience so far. I’ve interviewed a handful of people already including Lar Lubovitch, world-renowned choreographer and dancer, Gilbert Baker, inventor of the rainbow flag as the LGBT symbol, State Representative Babette Josephs, Franny Price, Director of Philly Pride Presents, as well as others.

The PGN staff is probably the funniest and coolest bunch of people ever and my editor, Jen, is the nicest person.

It has been awesome to see my dreams come true. PGN made me feel like I wasn’t alone at a time in my life when I thought I was. They gave me a newspaper that was just for me and those in my community. Now they’ve given me a voice and for that, I am ever grateful.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Feminists Before, Jane & Jesse are here

By Angela Thomas

Lauren Conrad is just the “it” girl; the girl you hated in high school because she was everywhere. Fashion designer, retired reality TV star, and author of the hit book series, L.A. Candy, is hitting book shelves for the second time with her second installment of L.A. Candy, Sweet Little Lies.

I must say, my women’s and gender studies classes have ruined me with literature. Reading Conrad’s second installment, my veins pumped with anger at the stupidity and naivety of the lead female character, Jane. For once, it would be nice to show a strong female character in these “chick-lit” type series; however Conrad has fallen into the same loop. My best friend, Janene, described Jane’s character as that “girl who readers know the decisions that she should make before she makes them.” As readers, we are constantly wanting to yell at Jane, “no, no! Don’t believe them! Don’t love him! Don’t be friends with her!” However, we must allow Jane to make the mistakes in order for her to learn her lesson.

I think it is even more frustrating when we see Jane blame herself for her boyfriend’s drunken and cheating antics. The strongest that reader’s see Jane at is when she breaks up with her boyfriend, Jesse, after he shoves her to the floor after another drunk night for him.

I guess I am a little disappointed that Conrad has not written about a strong female character. She is in the position to. This really makes me wonder how autobiographical this book is. I know the series is rumored to be based off of Conrad’s experience, and she does bring the attention to readers that reality TV does not always tell the truth.

Conrad’s book does a good job representing exactly what it is, pure entertainment. Women and men who loved the Gossip Girl series, will absolutely love this series. It is full of back-stabbing friends, shopping, relationships, and juicy gossip! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Whip It: Inspiring Youngins’ to bring out those old skates everywhere

By Angela Thomas

If there ever was a book that young, thrift-store shopping, grunge-music loving, hipster teenagers will grasp onto it, Shauna Cross wrote it.

Cross, a former “derby doll,” is the author of the brilliant, slightly autobiographical book, Whip It, which was famously later adapted into a movie starring Ellen Page, Drew Barrymore, and Kristen Wiig.

Whip It tells the story of Bliss Cavendar, an indie, music-obsessed, Skyper t-shirt-wearing, and eagerly awaiting her departure from her small-town, teenage girl who allows readers to fall in love with her instantly. Bliss has a way of communicating with readers and making us feel like we are indeed her best friend (besides, Pash, her gorgeous and equally independent best friend).

What I love about Bliss is that she is just like the rest of us as teenagers, desperately seeking some place cooler. When Bliss and her beauty-pageant-obsessed mother go on a shopping spree in Austin, Texas, Bliss comes into contact with her future in a vintage shop. Spotting a flyer for the roller derby, Bliss becomes determined to attend one of these derby games. After Pash scores a car and the two of them score a great excuse to get out of Austin un-detected, they attend a derby game in pursuit of meeting their heroes and meeting a few cute boys. When Bliss is informed by her soon-to-be-derby-pal, Malice, about derby tryouts, Bliss moves towards a future as “Babe Ruthless,” the popular derby girl for the sexy but always losing, Hurl Scouts.

As readers, we are cheering for Bliss to accomplish her dreams. We are afraid for her heart (especially when she falls for the bad boy, Oliver), we are afraid of her controlling and image-obsessed mother from taking away Bliss’s chance of becoming a derby star, and we are especially afraid for her when Bliss takes on the scary and ultra-competitive, Dinah, on the track.

Cross brings to life a story of a teenager, who although is different, still strives to achieve greatness. Bliss is an inspiration to any teenager out there who feels different because of the way they dress, the music they listen to, or the things they enjoy. She encourages teens to go for what they want, even if everyone is routing against them and that is exactly what readers need. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Marina and The Diamonds dazzles fans in Philly

By Angela Thomas

It is rare that a 27 year old performer can be described as adorable, however Marina & The Diamonds not only proved that wrong but she also put on an adorable show.

On Friday, August 17, Marina & The Diamonds hit Philly with a pink-colored BANG at The Theater of Living Arts. After her 2012 release of her second album, Electra Heart, Marina and her diamonds ( an affectionate name for her fans) went on a US tour.

Fans lined the streets, some donning a heart shaped beauty mark, which is a trademark of Marina and her “primadonna” image coming off of the success of her second album. Once inside, fans hurried to the stage, eager to see their favorite Welsh singer in full bloom.

“Hello Philly!,” Marina shouted to her diamonds after singing “Homewrecker” and “Lies” off of her second album, Electra Heart. Marina’s set was every princess’s dream, with a velvet lounge chair, a pink background, and a primadonna costume change. She dazzled fans as she danced around the stage, shaking hands and throwing water at the fans.

 Marina received the biggest applause when she sang her hit single “I am Not a Robot” off of her premier album, The Family Jewels as well as “Primadonna” off of Electra Heart. Fans sang along, showing their adoration.

Marina not only is a trendsetter in music but also in style. She is best known for her unique but beautiful vocals and pop-icon style, wearing anything from vintage to couture. Coming all the way from Wales, Marina & The Diamonds are among a long list of talented individuals from the United Kingdom who have set off the US wave charts. Philadelphia was the second-to-last stop on Marina’s US tour and we sure hope it is not the last. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

The story that needed to be told

By Angela Thomas

Julie Anne Peters always seems to write about the same characters: two lesbians, one out, one not-so-out. However, this time, I think Peters has an original story! Never in my years as an avid reader have I read a story about two lesbians in an abusive relationship. Usually, it is the same old story where two girls see each other across the hallway, their eyes lock, the one not-so-out girl questions her sexuality, breaks up with her boyfriend and hooks up with the out girl. This time, Peters has the same two characters but we get the notion that these two aren’t going to have a smooth road ahead in their pending relationship.
The two girls, Johanna and Reeve represent  the small group of lesbians in their school. Reeve is that girl we all know; the one with the posse of lesbians, the beauty queen, the girl every bi-curious woman wants to test their sexual tendencies with. Johanna is the quiet lesbian, reveling in her singleness, being an all-around good student, and avoiding the nearest GSA. Johanna also harbors a massive crush on Reeve.
What I like most about the book is that anyone can relate. Most of us will willingly admit to having a crush on that one person that just makes the whole world stop for a few seconds. Only a select few will admit that on the occasion that we are in a class that is boring or dazing off at work, we will create scenarios in our head which involve our crushes and ourselves. Readers get a glimpse into the desperation, lonliness, and lust that Johanna has for Reeve.
Throughout the book, I found myself hanging on to different clues that Reeve wasn’t a good person for Johanna to fantasize or want. For one thing, Reeve was extremely rough with her friends and would randomly slug them in the face or kick them. However, once Johanna and Reeve started connecting, Reeve’s abusive nature was apparent. Also, while reading, I found myself getting frustrated with Johanna. She blamed herself for all of Reeve’s physical actions. She risked everything; her best friend, her job, her volunteer opportunity, for this girl who stole and mentally and physically hurt her. 
Rage was that story that needed to be told and I am glad it did. Abuse can happen in any relationship, despite sexual orientation. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Same Sex in the City: A Book for the lonely

By Angela Thomas

On one random day, my best friend and I decided to take a bus and the subway to Philadelphia in order to escape the annoying bureaucracy of our school. We were planning on just doing homework in the parks like any other school student.

On our way to Rittenhouse Square Park, we stopped into the enormous Barnes & Noble to look at the extremely and unfortunately small Gay & Lesbian section. That’s when I discovered it; my dream book. It was sitting there amongst all the lesbian erotica, waiting for me to pick it up and take it home. However, that was surely not happening for $15.99 (and it was paperback as well!)

So what is this amazing book? “Same Sex in the City” by Lauren Levin and Lauren Blitzer.


 You see, I took a Chica Lit English seminar class this past semester and my goal was to find a lesbian chick-lit novel. Well ladies and gentlemen, I found it on that amazing day. A week later, I ordered it off of Amazon for a much cheaper price. I’ve been searching this past semester for a lesbian novel that included women like me; femme. I normally hate labels but I would say that I can be defined as femme. I enjoy shopping, shoes, clothing, make-up, perfume, etc. and reading about other women who enjoyed these things while also enjoying sex with women was tantalizing to say the least; a little of my own “erotica” in a way.

“If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it,” Toni Morrison is quoted at the beginning of chapter one. This quote was pretty much the mission of my “coming out.” Levin and Blitzer take me back to the days of scanning the aisles of Borders and not standing too close to the gay and lesbian section (but close enough to see what lesbian novels there were.) Even now, reading a novel about women in their middle 20s and their coming out process are hard to find. Never in my 25 years of existence have I ever read a novel’s first 17 pages and felt like crying “THANK YOU, UNIVERSE!”

What I really loved most about Levin and Blitzer’s novel is that they reiterate the whole “label-less” message. Although I can absolutely and confidently label myself as a lesbian, it isn’t always necessary to label yourself as any type of sexuality. Sexuality is fluid and sometimes not black or white.

Blitzer (left) and Levin (right)

 The novel also does an amazing job of not painting one picture of a “lesbian.” We’re all familiar with the Kate Moennig/ Shane image of lesbians but many times, lesbians can’t be defined as having a “look.” You wouldn’t believe how many times my partner and I would be at a lesbian nightclub, see two femme lesbians together, and squeal with joy. We come in all different sizes and shapes. What is appealing is that the book does not just pertain to “femme” girls. The text talks about all different “labels” of lesbians.

The novel reminds me a little bit about Dan Savage’s It Gets Better except this novel is geared towards women who are attracted to women. It is like one big “pow wow” of lady-lovers reaching out to other lady-lovers. However I have to disagree but agree with something the novel touches on and that is experimentation. At one point, Levin and Blitzer encourage women to get drunk and make out with their best friend. I know from first hand experience that this doesn’t always go over well. Experimentation is normal but do it carefully because you might hold someone’s heart in your hands. However, for first-timers, this book gives good advice on how to approach your first time with the same-sex.

 In this world, it is hard to feel a part of every day life, especially for the younger generation of the queer community. Books like Levin and Blitzer’s really help the youth realize that they are truly not alone. Pick this book up, read it, and realize that sometimes, things aren’t as they seem and usually, you’re not alone. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Help: Inspirational or not?

By Angela Thomas

I’ve recently just finished the book, The Help by Kathryn Stockett. That being said, I am not sure how I feel about the controversy over the book. I understand the point of view about the book having the same old “white woman helps and saves black woman.” However, I found the two women of color characters, Aibileen and Minny to be the strongest characters in the book and although Mrs. Skeeter helped Aibileen and Minny with their book, it was ultimately Minny and Aibileen who helped themselves. I haven’t seen the film adaptation of the book, so I am not sure how they portray all the characters and stories. I think what Stockett was trying to prove was that conditions for women and men of color were terrible. The way they were treated was (and still is) disturbing. Stockett was just trying to bring light to a harsh situation.

The book was thoroughly enjoyable for me and had me laughing at some parts and tearing up at some. I don’t think I’ve ever hated a character like Hilly but she was also a fictional character that represents many non-fictional people today. Celia Foote was one of the most amazing literary characters I have ever read. Her compassion, her innocence, who colorblindness, and her strength were extremely inspiring. This novel is absolutely recommended! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Circumstance": More than meets the trailer

By Angela Thomas
It is rare to watch a piece of cinema that in itself was a huge risk. It is even rarer to watch a film in which the actors and actresses have risked not only their reputations but lives as well.

It took me exactly one year to get my hands on a copy of “Circumstance,” but I finally did it. I saw a preview for the film last summer while checking out the various Hulu film trailers. The film offered a few things that interested me; Iranian youth culture, potential love story between two women, and a risk. While watching the trailer, one could get the premise of the film by assuming it is a story of two Iranian women coming to terms with their sexuality and feelings for one another. However, “Circumstance” was so much more than that. “Circumstance” was a risk, and huge one that director, Maryam Keshavarz took.

Sarah Kazemy (left) who portrays Shireen and Nikohl Boosheri (right) who portrays Atefah
Photo courtesy of
“It’s all about being trapped in the system,” Keshavarz said in an interview. Not only were these two women, Atefah (Nikohl Boosheri) and Shireen (Sarah Kazemy) thrown into a society where women are not treated as equals and judged by their class, but also have to appear to play along with society’s norms while having romantic and sexual feelings for one another.

The story behind “Circumstance” was originally Keshavarz’s Master’s thesis at New York University. Keshavarz’s professor encouraged her to write about what she knew. As a teenager, Keshavarz was familiar with the underground culture. Although the film is based in Iran, because of the content of the movie, Keshavarz was forced to find another location.

Keshavarz (far right) directs Kazemy and Boosheri
Photo courtesy of
“There are a lot of similarities,” Keshavarz said about picking her new location, Lebanon, to film “Circumstance.” Because of the exposure the film was giving to Iran, its youth culture, its inequality; it was a huge risk for the crew and actors to take. None of them would be allowed to visit or go back to Iran.

The film really did surprise me. Expecting a lesbian story, I instead received a background on Iran and the underground culture. Most of my opinions of Iran come from the media. I suspected it was conservative country but I had no idea there was an underground culture. The youth are no different from our youth here or anywhere for that matter.

What I loved most about the film was the theme of equality. The fact that the youth in the movie are willing to risk everything in order to get the message out that human rights should exist by exposing the film, “Milk,” which was about the first openly-gay Mayor, Harvey Milk, to the country of Iran was inspiring. But even more engaging was that Atefah and Shireen were two best friends just like any other girl; they liked to shop, go to parties, socialize, dance, and enjoy life—however with restrictions from their society. It is no different from any other country and that is what I liked about the film. Keshavarz wasn’t just exposing Iran but she also linked this movie with the way other country’s societies are because no society is perfect.

This movie is a must see for everyone. It isn’t a film to make viewers hate the country of Iran but to point out that many countries don’t preserve the rights and equality of their citizens. “Circumstance” is a lesson that everyone regardless of race, sexuality, gender, religion, etc. should be treated equally.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Johnny who? Hello Eva Green! Dark Shadows surprises long time fans

By Angela Thomas
The Cast of Dark Shadows
Photo courtesy of:

 It’s rare that I go to the movies. To be fair, it is not the movie content but really the prices. However, when I do go, you better believe there will be some magic involved, i.e. vampires, witches, and werewolves.

A week ago, long-time Dark Shadows fan, my mom, asked me to accompany her to see the movie. You see, while the rest of the world thought vampires were “too dark” of a subject, my mom huddled up watching her favorite vampires appear on the small screen. Many don’t know that Dark Shadows was once a TV drama in the 60s. Directed by Dan Curtis, the TV series was a fan favorite.

Now, famous and quirky director and producer, Tim Burton, has taken it upon himself to adapt the TV show into a film based off of the original series. Question is, has he done a good job?

After the movie was over, my mom just looked at me and said “that was nothing like the television show,” but she wasn’t surprised, this is Hollywood after all. It isn’t that Tim Burton didn’t do a good job but when something is supposed to be “based off of” a television show or book, you expect that to be true. According to my mom, the only things that held true were the names.

But as a newcomer into the Dark Shadows world, I must say that I enjoyed this piece. Although Johnny Depp usually catches my eye because of his brilliant acting, I wouldn’t say that he was the star. Going into the movie, I even expected youngster, Chloe Moretz to steal the spotlight but even she didn’t do it for me. My attention was focused on Eva Green who portrays the evil and seductive witch, Angelique Bouchard. Not only is Green extremely beautiful but she was extremely creepy in the film.
Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard
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The set, the make-up and costuming would be the best aspect of this film. Burton does an amazing job of making human actors look ethereal or animated. However, after looking at a few reviews of the film, the one that stood out to me the most was Movie Fone’s. I must agree with them in my disappointment with not hearing Danny Elfman’s music throughout the film. Burton and Elfman go together, one without the other is like macaroni with the cheese; disastrous and sad. The script was also something to be missed. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll understand me when I say “When the heck was Carolyn turned into a werewolf?” These instances as well as others were a few to question the writing on the movie.

Again, although I have a lack of knowledge on the original TV series, Dark Shadows was a new Vampire story for me. I enjoyed it for what it was meant to be, which is entertaining. However, I understand what it feels like to be a diehard fan of something only to see it adapted on the big screen in a totally different way. If you’re a fan of the Gossip Girl book series, you’ll know what I mean!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Ting Tings rock the Troc, mesmerize fans with music

By Angela Thomas, News Editor, The Quad
On Friday, April 13, a versatile group of fans lined up outside of theTrocadero Theater in Center City, Philadelphia to see The Ting Tings perform live. One fan held a sign, asking The Ting Tings if she could play the guitar during their 2008 hit single, “Shut Up and Let Me Go.”
Interacting with fans outside of the theater, the excitement was apparent. One fan said that they were excited for The Ting Tings to play.
“It was my birthday two days ago, so my friends bought my ticket for my birthday,” the fan said. Like that fan, my Ting Tings ticket was also bought for my birthday.
While excitingly waiting outside of the theater on a warm and sunny day, we discussed the songs that we hoped The Ting Tings would play. Songs like “That’s Not My Name,” “Soul Killing,” and “Hit Me Up Sonny” were the few named out of many that fans hoped would be played. Sadly, the only thing that disappointed me during the concert was the lack of presence of my personal favorite, “Soul Killing.” However, the concert as a whole was one of the best that I have seen.
While most fans were dancing along to The Ting Tings most popular song off of their debut album, “We Started Nothing,” which was released on May 16, 2008, that sign-holding fan was brought up to the stage to play part of the guitar riff to “Shut Up and Let Me Go.” Before bringing the lucky fan on stage, The Ting Tings teased the audience, playing the beginning part of the song and encouraging fans to clap along before diving hard-core into the song, where loyal fans sang their hearts out to The Ting Ting’s most known tune.
This is how their entire set was—encouraging and adoring their fans.
The Ting Tings released their second album, “Sounds from Nowheresville” in March of this year. The album, one of their strongest, launched The Ting Tings’s current tour around the United States and the world.
Bringing with them a fresh sound that does not stray too far from their original, The Ting Tings opened up with their song, “Silence,” off of their second album. Lead singer and guitarist, Katie White, hopped onto the stage, encouraging the audience to be silent while Jules de Martino, guitarist, drummer, and vocals for the band, began playing the beginning guitar riffs for their song, “Silence.” Audience members were drawn to White’s seductive, powerful voice as she sang the lyrics “hold, hold your tongue now and let them all listen to your silence.” As the song sped up, fans were blasted into the core of the song, jumping and dancing around to the beat.
The whole show was electric from then on, with de Martino and White playing and singing in harmony under the bright and flashing strobe lights.
“Thank you Philly for having us,” White shouted to the audience. “This is the best crowd we have had on tour.”
The Ting Tings played a collection of songs from their debut album and from their new album.
The petite White danced and belted out the words to “Hit Me Up Sonny” off of their new album, “Sounds fromNowheresville,” getting down on the stage to shake hands and sing to the fans. De Martino joined in with supporting vocals, casting out adoring fans who were excited to see both talented musicians back in the music scene.
Many jokes were thrown around by fans, and even while standing in line, there was the occasional out-of-tune admirer cranking out the lyrics of “That’s Not My Name,” which by popular opinion is the Ting Ting’s most recognized and entertaining song. However, as fun as the song is to sing, it is even more amazing to listen to White sing it.
If there ever was a band that was exhausted after a show, it was probably The Ting Tings. The band “brought down the house.” Their show was an energetic mix of both the old and the new, bringing together both the young and the old to enjoy this band’s eclectic music and unique style.
Overall, The Ting Tings brought a style that was both familiar and unique to a crowd that was mesmerized by the music.
*Article originally published in The Quad.

Dev mixes pop-rock and hip-hop styles, charms crowd in Center City

By Angela Thomas, News Editor of The Quad.
“The album is finally out,” popular singer, Dev, shouted to the audience during her April 17 concert at The Trocadero in Center City, Philadelphia.
She was known for the longest time as the girl who provided the back-up lyrics for The Catarac’s and Far East Movement’s top 40 single, “Like a G6.” Now, Dev is making big waves for herself, producing and singing top-40 songs with artists like Enrique Inglesias and Fabolous.
Her debut album, “The Night the Sun Came Up,” was released in March of 2012. However, before her debut album was released, Dev teased fans with singles like “Killer,” “In the Dark,” and “Bass Down Low,” before releasing her very own anticipated album.
The 22-year-old pop sensation performed both songs from the new album as well as performing the song thatskyrocked her to fame, “Like a G6.” She mixed things up a bit by including techno and dubstep tracks into her songs, with fans screaming, jumping, dancing, and enjoying themselves. Although her partners during both “Like A G6” (TheCataracs and Far East Movement) and “Naked” which featured Enrique Inglesias, were both absent during the performance, Dev made the song her own and did a fantastic job without either artists.
Dev has started a trend in the music field, creating a pathway for young women with a unique style to enter the industry with no shame. Her collective sound can range from hip-hop to pop-rock while providing an indie-edge to her image.
During the show, Dev thanked her fans as well as dedicating her song, “Perfect Match,” to her fiancĂ©, Jimmy Goreckiand her baby daughter, Emilia Lovely. Dev brought an energy to the audience that was like no other, laughing and joking with the DJ on stage, dancing with her back-up singers, and waving, blowing kisses, and shaking hands with her fans. She was endlessly thanking her fans for making her the artist she is today.
Dev has three more gigs left in Pennsylvania. She will be performing at York College of Pennsylvania on April 26, at The Crocodile Rock CafĂ© in Allentown, Pa. on May 2, and The Community Arts Center in Williamsport, Pa. on May 7. For more information, visit
*story originally published in The Quad

Dan Savage and partner publishes life-saving book, inspires youth

It is amazing how something can randomly catch your attention.
A few weeks ago, I was standing at the computer lab in my University’s library when, while waiting for a PDF to download, I browsed the “popular books” section where the University displays the new books they have received. One in particular caught my eye and a flash back appeared when that same book was at a Borders 50% off sale and it still wasn’t cheap enough for me to buy. What book was is, you ask? “It Gets Better” which was edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller.
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I’ve been drawn to the “It Gets Better” project and have watched countless videos from celebrities, youtubers, and strangers. The project is an inspiring one and watching all of those videos made me realize that I was never truly alone and that there are hundreds of us out there living gay and okay lives.
However, the book did bring up some memories for me as a straight ally in a huge high school where sitting with the gay kids meant that you got orange juice and milk cartons thrown at you daily. Till this day, I still have a twinkling of remorse whenever I hear one of our torturer’s names.
The book, edited by the amazing Dan Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, has countless letters from politicians, religious leaders, social workers, high school kids, college kids, celebrities, etc talking about the rough times, the good times, and the much better times of being a LGBTQ person of society.
What I enjoyed most about the book was sense of reality because sometimes, things do not get better but they also do not get worse. A passage from Gabrielle Rivera was absolutely riveting to me because Gabrielle starts out her letter with “as a gay woman of color, I just want to let the youth know that it kind of doesn’t get better.” (45) However, Rivera follows with “you get stronger.” Rivera does a good job at pointing out that the straight and upper-class celebrities that tell youth that it does get better, really have no idea what they are talking about because some of them have never been in a bullied child’s “shoes” so-to-speak. I love the reality of her passage because yes, it does get better for some people but some people do not have the resources to make life better but although things do not get better for them, they gain strength from the experience.
I especially loved the letters from religious leaders. One in particular by Bishop Gene Robinson, was especially inspiring considering all the hateful messages religious leaders can have towards the queer community. Robinson wrote, “”It gets better, I promise. And it is getting better all the time. Things are changing. So if you’re considering hurting yourself, please don’t. God wants you to live…so hang in there. Be strong. And know that despite the messages you get…God loves you beyond your wildest imagining and only wants the best for you.” (31). Robinson is the first openly gay male to hold the position of Bishop of New Hampshire.
Dan Savage, picture above, is co-edited of the book, It Gets Better
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It Gets Better is one of the books that should be in every high school and college library. In fact, the great thing about Dan Savage is that on the It Gets Better website, for $25, Savage will donate a book to a public library, which is wonderful for students, who like me, can barely afford their textbooks let alone a book that is life-saving.  Savage and Miller do a great in putting together this book of positive and affirming messages, telling the LGBTQ youth that things get better, you get stronger, and there are people out there who love them. I can only imagine the lives this book could save if it was in high school libraries across the country and world.