Sharon Stone shows ‘Basic Instinct’ for grad student’s art

Originally published by the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: Sharon Stone shows ‘Basic Instinct’ for grad student’s art – The Los Angeles Loyolan.

We at the Loyolan are inundated with press releases almost every day. Most of the time, the events being promoted are barely relevant to LMU students, if they have any tie-in at all. So whenever one does relate to our University, we take a closer look.

In this case, the press release was about actress Sharon Stone buying a photograph. But not just any photograph – this was an LMU grad student’s photograph.

This was ‘breaking news,’ to be sure. So here, presented with my commentary, is the bulk of the press release.

For Immediate Release: Los Angeles (Oct. 3, 2013) – The Fifth Annual Lady Filmmakers Music, Art & Film Festival exhibited three artists along with artistic dance films this year as a part of it’s art show. Cara Pabst Moran of Arizona, Georgia Bernard and May Charters exhibited their works at the Aidikoff Theater.

Bernard is the LMU student. Why she didn’t get a fancy title, like Queen Cara Pabst Moran of Arizona, is beyond me.

Whilst at the festival waiting to receive her Illumination Humanitarian Award for her film “Femme-Women healing the World” and the Spotlight Award highlighting her career as an actress, filmmaker and humanitarian, Ms. Stone took the time to enjoy the art exhibit.

I’d like to imagine things went approximately like this:

STONE: “Hello, I’m Academy Award-nominated actress Sharon Stone, here to enjoy the exhibit while waiting to receive my Illumination Humanitarian Award and Spotlight Award. I would like to enjoy the art exhibit.”

ARTIST: “Um, OK?”

Georgia Bernard, a local Loyola Marymount BFA student, displayed several photographs and sold a photograph to a supportive Sharon Stone …

STONE: “You there! I’m Academy Award-nominated actress Sharon–”

BERNARD: “Yes, I heard. Would you like to see my photographs?”

STONE: “Certainly! Robert De Niro once called me ‘a supportive Sharon Stone’ on the set of my film ‘Casino’–”

BERNARD: “Right, so, the photographs.”

… once again using her celebrity for good.

“Once again using her celebrity for good” apparently now means “purchasing a piece of art.”

Cara Pabst Moran of The Signature gallery in Arizona and Laguna Beach …

Not content with her existing kingdom, Queen Cara Pabst Moran of Arizona added Laguna Beach to her fiefdom.

… painted live on Saturday and Sunday, completing two beautiful pieces right before our eyes. She too sold one painting.

This isn’t quite clear. Did she sell the painting to Stone, or to another supportive Academy Award-nominated actress using her celebrity for good?

The third artist, May Charters, displayed a painting of her cinematographer dad which was not for sale.

Back to the imaginary encounter:

STONE: “Hold, artist! I’m Academy Awa-”

CHARTERS: “Yes, yes, I loved you in ‘Basic Instinct.’”

STONE: “Well, I, the supportive Sharon Stone, would like to purchase this painting.”

CHARTERS: “Oh, I’m sorry, it’s not for sale.”

STONE: “… But I’m Sharon Stone. Trying to use my celebrity for good.”

CHARTERS: “It’s really just an exhibition. Would you like to take a closer look?”

STONE: “Would that show that I’m supportive?”

All joking aside, Bernard’s work gaining the eye of a high-profile buyer like Stone is great – I’ve got all the Lion pride in the world for an LMU student making moves. The Loyolan reached out to Bernard for comment on the press release through what appeared to be her Facebook page, but we had not heard back from her by publication deadline.

Still, nifty as this may be, is making the purchase of a photograph into “using her celebrity for good” really sending the right kind of message? Sometimes, the best way to do a good deed is to not tell anyone about it at all.

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‘Me time’ beats the fear of missing out

Originally published by the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: ‘Me time’ beats the fear of missing out – The Los Angeles Loyolan.

My roommates and I are entertainers. We love having people over at our house, for get-togethers big and small, and meeting new people both when we stay in or go out. Yet as much as I love it, hosting isn’t my favorite way to spend my Friday nights.

My dream Friday night isn’t full of loud, generic dubstep that no one likes and gives me a headache. It doesn’t involve the desperate, sweaty search for an address to a house party that will be rolled half an hour after I get there. It doesn’t require awkward averted glances when the time comes to designate a driver.

All I want for my perfect Friday night is to be snug on the couch dressed in comfy clothes, with a glass of wine and some popcorn, watching some of my favorite movies. Is that so much to ask?

Sometimes, in the collegiate environment, it feels like it is.

I know what you’re thinking. “What a #firstworldproblem, Kevin gets too many opportunities to go out.” The truth is that I’m hardly the king of parties at LMU (not being in Greek Life will do that to you), but I’m lucky to have a fairly healthy social life with good friends who love getting out and trying new things – especially since turning 21 and being able to enjoy going out to bars. But with all of that comes a discomfort about wasting any time – as if by not going out, I’m losing the opportunities to make all of my best college memories.

Yet what I’m quickly learning is that not taking time for yourself can be hazardous to your health. College doesn’t make relaxing easy, after all. While it may have been simple in high school to stay in with the family on a Friday night, being surrounded by friends who seemingly never stop working hard or playing hard creates real peer pressure.

Plus, even if you get through the gauntlet of guilt often met when suggesting you’d rather stay in, you get drawn into a hangover of ‘didn’t go out’ regret when you see the social media outflow the next morning.

Facebook: “OMG, look at all these pics from last night’s house party!”

Twitter: “OMG last night #actuallystillgoing #wecantstop #wewontstop”

Instagram: “OMG look at this pic of our drinks #nofilter #LA #latergram #youngandbeautiful”

OMG, it can make anyone hate the very idea of staying in. Why am I not partying right now? Oh, right, because “Clueless” just came from Netflix and I have a bottle of Malbec calling my name. Going out? As if!

Ideally, it’s not even a new movie I watch – I’d much prefer one of the favorites, like “The Devil Wears Prada” or “I Love You, Man.” Something fun and funny that will give you the laughs and warm comfort you need after a rough week. You can find plenty of perfect choices in a Redbox or on Netflix Instant – and never forget that TBS shows “Mean Girls” a million times a weekend. It’ll recharge you and give you the energy to go out Saturday. See? You can have it all!

Despite my love for the Friday night in, don’t take any of this to mean I hate parties. I don’t. I am, of course, going to go out again – probably this upcoming weekend, even. I’m just finally realizing the importance of taking a little time for myself, even if it’s just the rare Friday night.

You should try it out, too, if you’re feeling too overwhelmed to breathe. Maybe even this Friday. “Mean Girls” is probably on TBS again, after all.

Acceptance in sports: Not quite there yet

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: Acceptance in sports: Not quite there yet – Los Angeles Loyolan.

In a country that once embraced gay-bashing and made bullying based on sexual orientation popular, it’s hard not to be proud of the recent swell of support for LGBT individuals in this country. Marriage equality is a cultural buzz phrase. The promise of the It Gets Better campaign seems to be coming true for so many young people growing into strong, confident individuals. And in the world of professional sports, NFL players are supposedly considering coming out.

Except, maybe they aren’t.

Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, long on record as a marriage equality proponent, told the Baltimore Sun last week that he knew of “up to four players” in the NFL who were in talks to come out together.

“It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy,” he said. “It would be a monumental day if a handful or a few guys come out.”

An announcement like this was guaranteed to make waves and have LGBT advocates hopeful for real change. So of course, it took all of one day before Ayanbadejo started retracting his statement.

“Potentially, it’s possible, it’s fathomable, that they could possibly do something together, and break a story together,” he told Anderson Cooper on CNN. “And one of them had voiced that he would like to break his story with someone else and not do it alone. … Not all these athletes are in the NFL. Some are in other sports as well.”

He might as well have said, “Hey, so everything I said yesterday? Forget about it. Never mind. My bad.”

Such developments are disheartening, particularly when the world of professional sports could really use a big push forward on the path to acceptance.

Boston University Professor Robert Volk once called professional sports “the last bastion of homophobia.” While I think that’s inaccurate (I’m pretty sure Virginia, which recently passed the Crimes Against Nature law banning sodomy, has “last bastion” status locked down), it does reflect an ugly truth about the heteronormative culture of sports: Things aren’t changing as briskly as it may seem.

Yes, there are allies like Ayanbadejo and Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe petitioning publicly for equal rights. And yes, there are plenty of teams, like the Boston Red Sox and the San Francisco Giants, that made It Gets Better videos to support victims of bullying due to LGBT status. But right now, all this amounts to is a more supportive public face. This begs the question: If this environment is so supportive, then why are gay players not coming out of the nearest closet they find?

The truth is that all the ‘It Gets Better’ messages in the world can’t take gay slurs out of locker rooms in a flash. The Ayanbadejos and Kluwes are incredible allies, but they are two men out of almost 2,000 in the NFL alone. Equality and acceptance are trending topics, but behind the curtain, we have no idea how well these values are truly espoused.

Athletes and pundits need to stop pretending everything is resolved already or engage in wishful thinking about groups of athletes about to come out of the closet. Instead, they should focus on tangible goals that will go a long way to creating the equal culture they so desperately want to believe is already here.In fact, professional sports figures would do well to pay attention to their college brethren. The NCAA took major steps forward with the release of “Champions of Respect,” its guide for creating a more accepting climate for LGBT individuals.

The guide is full of instructions and guidelines for working with LGBT athletes and coaches, it offers great suggestions for coaches and athletes, including educating themselves about LGBT issues in sports and monitoring the use of anti-gay slurs. These things may seem elementary to you and me, but for a culture that has long suffered from these issues, they really aren’t. If the guide is effectively implemented, it could signal real change in the college sports climate.

I get it, I really do: Equal rights for LGBT individuals are having a moment. I’m absolutely thrilled. The idea that we could see major steps forward on marriage equality as early as June is stunning to someone like me, a Texan kid who grew up wondering if there was anyone who understood how he really felt and would stand up for him. But attempting to catch up to the cultural trend in one fell swoop without going through the proper steps isn’t going to work. Equality is most effective when everyone understands not only the what, but the why.

Four professional athletes coming out together is an incredible idea, and one that, if it ever came to pass, would inspire so many LGBT individuals playing sports. But creating false hope, which I’m sure was not Ayanbadejo’s intention, doesn’t inspire, and it doesn’t really help create acceptance. Because the sports world isn’t there yet.

Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepsen

2012 pop music: 2011 redux

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: 2012 pop music: 2011 redux.

Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepsen

Photo Credit: YouTube | CarlyRaeJepsenVEVO

Summer has officially ended, and the popular consensus has arrived: Frequently parodied earworm “Call Me Maybe” by Canadian artist Carly Rae Jepsen is your Song of Summer 2012. By now, you’re probably just a little tired of listening to it – which is natural for songs that you hear almost every day for a full 3½ months. But imagine how Canadians must feel – they first heard the song in September of last year.

This highlights one strange trend that emerged this year with pop music being even more behind the times than usual. Both of the most popular songs of the year – “Call Me Maybe” and Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” – were actually released in 2011, as was the highest selling album of this year, Adele’s “21.” While radio is no stranger to late-peaking hits, it is strange for the gap to be almost a full year after release.

So how did we wind up with pop music in 2012 that was nothing more than 2011 redux? With Adele’s album, we can chalk her continued successes up to being Adele, the savior of modern album sales, and write it off as an aberration. But with “Maybe” and “Somebody,” trying to explain why only leads to more questions.

Both Jepsen and Gotye are from outside the country, which might explain why their songs didn’t make it here earlier. But if that’s the case, why did they become so big anyway?

The songs aren’t exactly the electropop dance songs or ringtone hip hop we’ve come to expect of the radio, so it might have taken them longer to catch on. But if that’s the case, why did they catch on anyway?

Big pop artists like Adele, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé stayed out of the singles game this summer, choosing not to release anything to radio. Compare that to the era of monster singles like “We Found Love” and “Someone Like You” at the end of last year, and it’s easy to see that there wasn’t room for Jepsen or Gotye until this year. But this summer brought big songs from the likes of Rihanna (“Where Have You Been”), Katy Perry (“Wide Awake”) and Maroon 5 (“Payphone”), yet the two scrappy upstarts still reigned supreme.

The best explanation I can come up with is that there is no explanation – at least, no simple one. “Maybe” and “Somebody” seemed to rise to prominence independently due to the promotion from their labels and other Internet success. Whereas Jepsen had Justin Bieber and all his famous friends on her side, Gotye had Walk off the Earth’s five musicians-one guitar viral cover. The songs’ 2011 roots seemingly had nothing to do with their success – all just a coincidence. However, when you realize that the third biggest hit of the year, fun.’s “We Are Young,” was also released in September 2011, you can’t help but feel you’re missing a pattern.

Pop music is obviously cyclical, and there are always going to be transition years. I’d chalk this year up to nothing but radio programmers trying to find a new sound as the dance revival is cooling down. We’ll see more songs in the next year or so mirror the sounds that Adele, fun., Jepsen and Gotye first made popular this year.

Until then, enjoy your last remnants of summer music, including Ellie Goulding’s “Lights,” a song peaking in popularity right now that was first released in – er, 2010. Back to the drawing board.

Nickelodeon

Nostalgia no longer: The ’90s aren’t ‘All That’

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: Nostalgia no longer: The ’90s aren’t ‘All That’ – Los Angeles Loyolan.

Over half a year ago, ’90s nostalgia was at a fever pitch. Nickelodeon launched their block of programming from the decade, designed to celebrate the shows my generation held so dear to our hearts. Magazines like Entertainment Weekly posted tributes to different aspects of the era to their websites every week. It was so popular that for the first “It’s K-OK!” ever in October, I wrote about how the ’90s really were “All That.”

With the recent financial failure of “American Pie” sequel “American Reunion” and the underwhelming performance of “Titanic’s” 3-D rerelease, combined with the blockbuster success of ’80s reboot “21 Jump Street,” however, it looks as though ’90s nostalgia is on its way out of pop culture supremacy as other eras fight for the spotlight.

There were stirs of backlash even in the early days of the ’90s renaissance – mostly critics who said that most things in the period were very trite and wouldn’t stand the test of time. While the defenders of the ’90s fiercely fought back, the truth is those critics were probably far more correct than we’d like to admit. The ’90s were, more than any other decade, the one where fads became incredibly popular.

As a ’90s kid, I loved all these things, but I also have personal connections to all those things. Sure, when the A*Teens’ “Upside Down” comes on at a party, I’m the first one to jump up and start the lip sync. But I can’t defend the song as being particularly good – more the “Call Me Maybe” of its day than a “Somebody That I Used to Know,” speaking in 2012 terms. And while *NSYNC’s Justin Timberlake might’ve been fun in his cute, still-dating-Britney sort of way, 2000s Justin gave us “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” a forward-thinking piece of pop art. Then again, he also gave us “Friends with Benefits,” so take it with a grain of salt.

As far as the relative failures of “American Reunion” and “Titanic 3-D” are concerned, both can be explained away in other terms. “American Pie” was controversial and raunchy when it was first released, but hasn’t Judd Apatow single-handedly neutralized the shock factor of that series? And while our hearts might go on for “Titanic,” why would you pay premium 3-D prices for a movie you can see for free on TNT frequently? It would be the equivalent of a “Mean Girls” rerelease: It’s a great movie that paying 2012 prices for just isn’t worth it.

Even with all these signals of ’90s nostalgia’s untimely demise, there are some signs of life that remain. Witness: The revival of boy bands in the form of British groups One Direction and The Wanted. For quite some time, “The X Factor” judge Simon Cowell has been trying to sell the world on the idea that musical groups are on their way back into fashion. Even before that, Diddy was trying to make it happen on “Making the Band.” We miss you, Danity Kane.

Every facet of the ’90s won’t be remembered with equivalent fondness, and so much of what’s interesting is either oversaturated (like “Titanic”) or has been replaced by something even more extreme (like what happened to “American Pie”). But influences and aspects of every decade have formed the current pop culture landscape – and the ’90s are no exception.

So yes, the ’90s may prove themselves to have been a trivial era filled with silly things and collectibles that we’ll never be able to sell. But the influences of the decade are hardly gone. Years in the future, our children and grandchildren will find “Hey Arnold!” on Netflix or dig up our Britney Spears CDs. They will most certainly think the ’90s were weird. And we’ll agree, all the while beaming with pride.