By Olivia Shur, Staff Writer
When thinking of artists that pour their heart into their music, Britney Spears is usually not at the top of the list. However, with the release of her newest album, “Britney Jean,” that is soon to change.
Regardless of her rocky roller-coaster ride through the past 14 years, Spears has never failed to release catchy, bass-pumping, roll-all-the-windows-down pop bangers. However, that’s all they really were: formulaic pop songs sure to rake in the millions. Add some controversial music videos with intense dance numbers and lavish sets, and the sell is guaranteed.
“Britney Jean,” however, reveals a more emotional, personal side of Spears that listeners haven’t really heard before.
For the first time, Spears co-wrote every single track on the album, as opposed to 2011’s “Femme Fatale” in which she contributed to a whopping total of zero tracks.
Spears’ newfound voice is evident in songs like the ballad, “Perfume,” in which Spears sings of still longing for a lover that is now in-love with someone else. Spears adds bitterness to the song, making it more personal but still with her trademark sassiness.
Spears also shows some sisterly love on the track, “Chillin’ With You,” in which she collaborated for the first time with her younger sister, Jamie Lynn.
Other collaborations on the album include “It Should Be Easy,” with pop guru will.i.am. The song itself has more of a dance vibe than classic pop, while the song’s lyrics are simple and sweet, and not as vulgar as some of Spears’ lyrics usually are.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is “Tik Tik Boom” featuring rapper T.I. The song, with a slow back-beat and blatantly sexual lyrics, will have listeners turning it down whenever their parents are slightly in earshot.
The fierceness that is expected out of a pop queen like Spears is also evident in the album’s smash hit, “Work B**ch.” The song is an ode to Spears’ long journey as a pop sensation.
If fans are disappointed with the lack of lavish sets and dance-heavy videos, then no fear. With sharks, hot cars and tributes to many of Spears’ former dance numbers, the video for “Work B**ch” makes up for it.
For Spears’ first time co-writing each and every track, the album isn’t necessarily bad. While it’s lovely to get a glimpse into Spears’ personal thoughts and feelings, the songs do fall a bit flat. One possibility is Spears simply does not have the vocal strength that rival pop-stars, like Beyonce and Christina Aguilera, possess; both of whom have the ability to bring audiences to tears with their ballads. Both have also released songs that are more stripped-down, like Aguilera’s classic tear-jerker “Hurt” and Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy.”
Though Spears’ vocal abilities have a reputation for being everywhere to barely acceptable, no one truly knows if the superstar has the ability to hit the notes – and this album could’ve been Spears’ opportunity to do so.
Watch Britney Spears’ “Work B**ch” below:
By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
It’s about to be finals week and I’m stressing. I heard this myth once that college was supposed to be super fun with parties and football games and really chill class schedules, but that’s not the case at Boston University.
All I can think about are my 20-page papers, editorial projects and exams. And then, when I have the urge to give up, I get up, go into the kitchen and grab some Funyuns… and chocolate covered pretzels, and why not grab some Santa shaped cookies and heat up the pizza rolls and whatever else I can carry with me to the couch?
So basically, I have a feast — like straight up “the Last Supper,” with just with me and my textbooks, all in the hopes of de-stressing.
But honestly, can stress actually make us hungry for junk food? Let me tell you, #thestressisreal.
According to Kevin Laugero, a Research Nutritionist at the Western Human Nutrition Research Center/ARS/USDA and a Professor of Nutrition at the University of California Davis, we don’t actually eat more overall, we just alter what we eat. It’s no wonder why salad eaters switch to some good ol’ Velveeta mac and cheese during finals week.
The study, published in Popular Science compares human food habits with that of rodents, which is a little demeaning, but strangely accurate. Scientists have studied rats coping mechanisms with stress by cramming them into Plexiglas tubes or small areas (kind of sounds like a cubicle at the library, huh?)
When cooped in a small area for hours, scientists found that the rats lost their appetite for any type of healthy food, but were much more willing to eat junk food. I’m guessing the premise of “Ratatouille” may have some odds against it.
When animals get stressed they need additional energy to power through to escape being hunted. So, their bodies produce cortisol. This hormone triggers glucose stored in the fat and muscle and this is what motivates animals to find food that has the most calories in it. Similarly, we have comparable eating habits when it comes to stress, except we’re not running away from a predator — we’re running away from finals and trying to find comfort in a large tub of pistachio ice cream or what have you.
The thing is, stress does in fact affect us and our eating habits. To the extent that it affects 80 percent of the population, according to Popular Science. We’re all a little stressed out. Especially with finals approaching, don’t you just feel like you can take over the world when you’re “carbing” out? Well, at least until you go into a food coma, stress out about that and binge again…
Watch the video below to see something that might feel vaguely familiar to finals week:
By Katie Bernatchez, Staff Writer
Holocaust movies are often shown as heartbreaking stories of oppressed Jews versus ruthless Nazis. These may be the polarized extremes of World War II, but German families, neither fighting the war nor suffering in camps, lived in constant fear, poverty and eventually, a deadly war zone.
“The Book Thief,” directed by Brian Percival, is about a pre-teen girl who avoids Nazi culture, finds her voice and faces the harshest reality of life: death itself. It’s the classic coming-of-age tale in the cruelest of circumstances.
Sophie Nélisse stars as Liesel, a 12-year-old put into foster care when her mother is punished for being a communist. She is welcomed into the modest home of Hans and Rosa Hubermann, played by Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson. Although initially bullied for her illiteracy, reading and writing eventually shape the events of Liesel’s childhood, which occurs in a time of book burning and censorship in Nazi Germany.
The talented cast, music by John Williams and an authentic backdrop bring the story of Markus Zusak’s novel to life. Nélisse gives an impressively mature performance, but Watson and Rush are the true standouts, able to evoke complexity in characters that could easily become caricatures. Nico Liersch embodies childhood naivety in the role of Rudy, Liesel’s best friend, and Ben Schnetzer is captivating in his unfortunately few moments as Max, a Jewish refugee living with the Hubermanns.
The most powerful scenes occur when this Nazi-defying family comes face to face with their society’s expectations. The effects of Nazi brainwashing are felt when Liesel and Rudy must watch books burn and sing the national anthem, and these effects grow stronger as full-scale war draws nearer.
The final scenes, however, feel rushed and choppy with a strange narration by Death personified. As with the story’s theme itself, words, rather than events or scenery, are the most moving. “I want to grow up before I die” is one especially heartbreaking line from Rudy.
Thankfully, it’s not a two-hour long sob-fest. Rudy’s romantic pursuit of Liesel and the Hubermann husband and wife banter provide genuine laughs.
Tackling events the size and importance of the Holocaust is no easy task, but “The Book Thief” is successful, portraying the impact of the war on both large and small scales. The expectations of Nazi culture are pervasive, and when they invade the lives of the characters we care about, the film becomes a moving experience.
The filmmakers also made editing choices in adapting the original novel, which may upset fans of the book, but the film itself feels complete. Including every minor detail would detract from the hope, despair, love and friendship at the heart of the story.
“The Book Thief” is a fresh perspective on the event that has compelled and horrified us for decades. The film is suitable for viewers as young as the main characters with a PG-13 rating but ultimately “The Book Thief” balances the heaviness of the era with the lightness of adolescence.
By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
I’m the worst liar. It sounds silly to admit because “everyone lies,” but I don’t have a knack for it. I’d divert my eyes, start to giggle or smile and run away.
A lie, for me, is kind of like stilettos. They are super cute, but if you wear them for six hours, they get tiring. You get blisters and callused heels and it’s almost not worth it. I’m a wedges girl myself, but those who like the long heels prepare themselves. And while girls prepare with band-aids and insoles, fibbers do their part to prepare too.
As painful as heels are, it’s much easier to pretend like those Louboutin’s don’t hurt after years of prep and practice. In the same way, people who lie are prone and do it more easily if they’ve prepped themselves with dialogue, scenarios, cue cards — you name it. Even on the spot lies have to be formulated somehow.
The fact of the matter is, it takes more effort to lie than to tell the truth, and why? Because it takes more brainpower to be a sly fox than to be an innocent sheep.
Brain imaging studies show just that. Xiaoqing Hu, a psychology doctoral candidate at Northwestern University, discovered that lying takes more of a mental effort than telling the truth because being honest is actually a natural default, and in order to come up with a dishonest response, we have to activate it.
In this study, Hu and his team asked volunteers ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions about themselves like their birthday or where they’re from. In some cases, they were told to tell the truth and in and in other cases, they were instructed to lie.
It was found that volunteers took longer to answer the question when they lied, but they actually were much faster to respond when they were telling the truth. However, when the researchers informed the volunteers what the study was about and were instructed to lie as best as they could, the results were different. Volunteers responded much quicker than originally and they lied even faster when they had time to prepare. Volunteers were almost as quick as when they said the truth, so now we can’t even tell! Great.
Hu’s next plan is to test the time it takes volunteers to lie with preparation to when they tell the truth.
The thing is, it’s much harder to keep up with all the lies over the years. It takes cognition, memorization, spontaneity… So, I guess honesty is actually the best policy, unless you get better at the latter.
To watch some true craftiness, see the video below:
By Andy Powers, Staff Writer
If Paul Walker, star of the action-packed “The Fast and the Furious” franchise, had arrived on the scene a few decades ago, his death might have even been considered cool. It seems like the James Dean estate milked out all the cool there is to be had in a high-speed death.
“The Fast and the Furious” movies are a celebration of what some consider “cool.” The franchise never concerned itself with pedestrian issues like plot or character development. Instead the movies let us escape to a world of beautiful people doing beautiful things with beautiful cars and sweet, sweet nitrous oxide. “The Fast and the Furious” movies were one of the last bastions of unadulterated fun on film.
Paul Walker’s character was so damn cool that you couldn’t help but rev your engine as you left the theater parking lot. Nothing made you feel more connected to humanity than seeing another idiot doing the same in his Camry two spaces over. If that isn’t a legitimate role of cinema, then what is wrong with our culture?
James Dean may have his poster in half the dorm rooms across the country, but no one has the patience to actually make it through “Rebel Without a Cause.”
Even after doing the same thing for 10 years, Paul Walker brought in nearly $800 million last spring with “Fast & Furious 6.” Who is the real movie star? If there’s any justice in the world, the release of “Fast & Furious 7″ this summer will prove that we still have room for cool.
By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
Thanksgiving is the one time of year when you can eat as much as you want and not feel guilty about it. Naturally, it’s one of my favorite holidays. There’s so much to choose from at Thanksgiving dinner; from turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing to arroz con gandules, ensalada de papa and jamon…well, I grew up in Miami, so that’s my tradition #fakehispanic.
But at the end of the night with two (or maybe three) helpings, don’t you just feel like going into a food coma? We tend to blame it on the turkey because that’s our tradition too. Eat lots of turkey and then blame our sleepiness on eating so much of it. What if I told you that our tradition of accusing the turkey for our “after-dinner hibernation” is just a myth? I know, mind blown.
Now, before you go crazy like a headless turkey, just remember, I’m helping you out because who wants to miss out on the main course? So eating turkey can make you sleepy, but so can other types of meat like chicken or beef. Turkey has this amino acid called tryptophan, which our bodies use to build proteins and help us function properly. It’s used to make serotonin, which is a chemical that affects our sleeping patterns. So, we’ve found the culprit, right?
Actually, no. Remember, lots of foods we eat contain tryptophan, other than meat, like eggs, fish, soy and spinach and I certainly don’t feel like dropping into a deep sleep eating tilapia. What makes eating turkey on Thanksgiving any different?
Well, on top of turkey, we’re eating a lot of carbs, which triggers a release of insulin. These carbohydrates give us a higher amount of insulin than normal and with all the pumpkin pies, Snickerdoodles and pudding, we’re probably getting the highest levels of insulin we’re had all year.
The increase in insulin is important because insulin helps amino acids to cross the blood-brain barrier, and thus, we get a rise in serotonin and melatonin in our brain. Because these both regulate sleep, we’re at a higher risk of getting a food baby and knocking out. Eating a lot can make you tired too, just saying. The real culprit isn’t turkey or tryptophan, it’s insulin (dun dun dun).
I know, you feel betrayed and think that there’s no way to escape a food coma, so just give in. Unbutton your pants one notch, take a nap if needed and go back for dessert, because who wants to miss out on the one day a year where you can eat lots of turkey and gravy and top it off with the best dessert ever, flan (if you’re in Miami).
If you still feel like you’ve been jipped since you can’t call out the turkey anymore, don’t worry, you’re not the only one who’s gotten tricked. Charlie Brown feels the same way about tradition, but while you’re watching, sit back, put a pillow over your stomach (and welcome that food baby), while you have another piece of pie, just for kicks
By Amy Gorel, Staff Writer
Thanks to tools like MuckRock and the Freedom of Information Act, government documents are made availible in an effort to have a transparent government, to an extent.
A man named Conor Skelding recently requested documents from the FBI that detailed a government investigation of Isaac Asimov, former BU professor-as well as a rather famous sci-fi author.
While I don’t know the reasons behind Skelding’s request for this information, the documents give some perspective on the public’s indignation at the NSA these days.
The reasoning the documents provide for investigation are as follows:
1. Asimov was born in Russia (though he came to America when he was three, and was naturalized by the time he was eight years old).
2. He was in academia as a biochemist (they were looking for ROBPROF, an academic in the field of microbiology).
3. He wrote for Sci-Fi Magazines which did some “blind” publishing for the Communist Party (CP) in the states.
4. His name was on a list from the 1950s of people who the CPUSA should contact for recruitment-but it doesn’t say if he was contacted or not.
Solid enough evidence? Well, the FBI didn’t think so and no, there was no further investigation into the matter.
But the government’s command of information is nothing new. The Cold War brought about a great deal of Soviet paranoia-calling out the communists-in America, especially during the 1950s. When Asimov was considered as a potential face of ROBPROF, a code name for a Soviet spy, it was already the 1960s and some of the craze had died down. However, this was the time when the government was looking for people who were inflaming the anti-war movement-which, according to BU Professor William Keylor, was assumed to have been fueled by the communists.
Nevertheless, the fact that the government had an entire file on him was probably not known to Asimov. They listed his address, phone numbers, wife, educational history; they had all the details of his private life.
So when the Edward Snowden ordeal became public and everyone started realizing just how much information the NSA had on each and every American-as well as foreign subjects it was investigating-it should have been no surprise.
Maybe you’re slightly uncomfortable with the government being privy to all those Google searches of cats you do every day, but this is nothing new: there’s just a new platform for you to submit information out into the world for the government to find. And anyways, why would the government care about how many times you’ve colored in the Koalas to the Max photo?
By Hannah Landers, Staff Writer
Burglary, arson and murder are all considered to be pretty terrible crimes, but one look at any number of ranting articles on the web could have one believing that there is no atrocity more heinous than that of the “selfie.” Yet they’re out there, and multiplying by the second.
Though the term itself has become a recent phenomenon, selfies have long been a staple of social media.
Come with me now to a simpler time, when Myspace reigned supreme in the kingdom of the internet. Ah, yes, I can see it now: the profile layout that you carefully selected after hours of scouring the web, that Dashboard Confessional song with just the right amount of angst for profile’s music player and, most importantly, your profile picture.
You spent time on that photo, if not in staging it then in scrupulously selecting it from all those photos you took at your cousin’s wedding where your hair looked, like, so good. Myspace gave us the selfie, and we all embraced that sweet little nugget of vanity in our arms like it had come from the holy womb of Kate Middleton herself.
In fact, if we really want to “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” this into the depths of history, any artist who has ever produced a self-portrait has engaged in the not-so-sacred practice of selfie-dom. Yes, these portraits vary in their realism (I’m looking at you, Van Gogh!) and require a certain level of artistry, but doesn’t every great selfie? Today, the tricks-of-the-trade are a soft-focus filter and a steady hand.
And really, vanity is the social media endgame no matter what you’re posting. Sure, your Instagram might not be flooded with photos of your face, but it’s still a collection of the things that you see, the things that you experience. No matter what you’re posting about on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram, it all comes down to the bare-bones fact that you’re commanding followers and strangers all across this great internet nation of ours to care about you.
Therefore, there’s nothing really so egregiously arrogant about wanting to share your cheesin’ mug with the rest of the world. Selfies should be something to praise, not to condemn. You’re looking and feeling good, and you should be encouraged to share that positivity with the rest of the world. Selfie on, Garth!
By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
We’ve all heard it—we’re in the electronic age. From finding out that our friends from home are engaged at 21 on Facebook, to following people on Instagram who have killer style (but they don’t even go here), or reppin’ some of the cutest DIY posts your friends have pinned for Thanksgiving.
The thing is, well, isn’t it kind of odd that people can see what we do and like what we’ve liked? It’s not for us, but if you think about it, it totally is. Even companies like Hulu and Facebook are getting real personal with advertising products and websites that are geared to what you like.
If you’re ready for another revolutionary advertising tactic, Japan has it for you. Neurocam and its new app were introduced at the Human Sensing 2013 conference in Yokohoma, Japan.
Advertisers can tell what we like based on a headband system that attaches to your head and holds an iPhone next to your temple. Hitting the soft spot, huh? Well, this headset knows you better than you know yourself with the help of EEG sensors.
The camera on the headset records whatever you’re viewing, so when you see those Jimmy Choos and can’t contain yourself, the sensors will pick up on those spikes of interest through the brain scan.
The spike value ranges from one to 100, so once the data gets to a value of 60, the EEG sensors will claim whatever you’re viewing as something of interest to you. That’s when the phone’s camera will start to record, in five-second GIFs, the image you’re viewing (like a Tardis teapot in commemorating the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary).
I told you it’s a little weird, right? Well, advertisers are going to use this to their advantage, which I don’t have too much of a problem with, but my wallet just might. Advertising titan Dentsu is supporting the Neurocam through Dentsu ScienceJam. They think it can help to determine what goods interest people and also help in urban development planning.
The thing is, when I see a commercial for the Kia Soul while I’m on YouTube and literally scream because I’m obsessed with those Kia hamsters, only I see this side of me. I don’t know how I would feel if Kia can actually see how many times I’ve watched the commercial because it’s right there on the screen when I’m browsing online. I’m sure they’ll keep showing the commercial to me until I buy the car…oops.
Don’t you just want to buy the car now? Yep, totes.
By Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Staff Writer
The North End: a tiny slice of Europe just a T ride away. You know it’s there, but the appeal of delivery and the unwillingness you have to get out of bed keep you from actually spending the $2 to visit Boston’s Little Italy.
The North End is actually a college student’s best friend. With delicious food at this price, you’ll never order Domino’s again. Or maybe you will but either way here’s our quick-and-dirty guide to eating cheap in the North End:
GET A LOAF OF BREAD: Bricco’s Panetteria
Hidden in an alleyway off Hanover Street, Bricco’s bakery serves up the best baguette in the North End. Crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside, still-warm-and-toasty bread is yours for under three dollars, and you know it’s fresh — you can see that heavenly ciabatta coming out of those fire-burning ovens as you order.
DRINK SOME COFFEE: Caffe Dello Sport
Caffe Dello Sport is one of the secret gems of the North End, with straight-from-scratch cocoa you can see those beautiful servers shave straight into your mocha. Make sure to visit Caffe Dello Sport on a game day (Italia, obviously) — the place is crawling with locals and it’s quite the scene. Grab a latte or a drink and enjoy that classic Italian American Ambiance.
EAT A CANNOLI (and not the one you think): Maria’s Pastry
Everyone’s heard of Mike’s Pastry. The line stretches around the corner, and the cannolis are good – but not worth an hour out of your day. Modern, down the street, now boasts a line that rivals Mike’s as the official Mike’s replacement. Maria’s, which rests on the edge of the North End, makes a chocolate-dipped cannoli that might beat Mike’s without the wait. And come December, don’t forget to pick up a homemade Panettone, an Italian Christmas tradition.
TREAT YO’SELF (and don’t break the bank): Giacomo’s Ristorante
Giacomo’s almost always has a line, but if you suck it up and eat like a grandma (as in, at 4 p.m.), you can get into Giacomo’s with little-to-no wait time, and trust me: it’s worth it. At $16 a plate, you get more than enough of the most refined, silky, homemade lobster raviolis in a garlic cream sauce I dream about at night. Not to mention, all bottles of wine are $18 — and you can take those suckers home with you after the meal.