While You Were Out

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Mary Rose Somarriba
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All the pop culture and newsy happenings we can't stop talking about...

Emma Watson’s UN Moment

This week actress Emma Watson unveiled a new UN initiative on gender equality. Its name, HeForShe, suggests getting men more involved in issues of gender equality and is almost reminiscent of Jackson Katz’s Ted talk, “Violence Against Women—It’s a Men’s Issue.” In her remarks Watson asserts that although feminism has gotten a bad rap as being man-hating, real gender equality will be better for both sexes. While we can't be sure we support the HeForShe initiatives until we know what they are, it's certainly nice to be reminded that men must be our allies in making this a better world for our girls.

More Class, Less Ass

Thank you, Vogue September issue. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see three models smiling arm-in-arm on a magazine cover gracing newsstands these days—and not have it be the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Mocking JLaw

The trailer for Mockingjay Part I, the next in the Hunger Games series, received over 4.5 million views upon its release last week—a sign of hope that our country can soon return to watching Jennifer Lawrence fully clothed and in images she consented to sharing. Just another thing to be grateful for this Thanksgiving when it hits theaters November 21.

About that Suspicious Album in your iTunes Account...

Have you heard Songs of Innocence lately? You know, that album that mysteriously appeared in your iTunes playlist this past week, causing you to wonder if maybe your significant other logged into your account to purchase music, thereby revealing a softer, U2-loving side of him you never knew was there? Yeah, turns out that happened to everyone who has iTunes.

U2 thought they were being generous by making their latest album available for free but didn’t realize maybe not everyone would want the gift delivered into their playlists. Was it a little hubristic of U2 to think everyone would love their album? Or a mistake on Apple’s part to be so quick to streamline things? Whoever’s fault it is, Apple has since released a tool that will allow users to delete the album in one click.

While I wasn’t exactly looking for it, I for one don’t mind U2’s intrusion. If musicians were neighbors, Bono would be the kindly older brother of your childhood friend joining your family for a weekday dinner. But if I caught Pitbull trying to sneak into my playlist? That might be a different story.

How to Get Abs Like a Tween

I love Blogilates, but do we really need to be telling 13-year-old girls (the true readers of Seventeen) how to get flat abs fast? A page in its October issue reads "<3 Your Body!" and then "hello, flat abs!" So I guess I learn to love my body by... changing everything about my body? Good message, Seventeen.

--Maggie Niemiec and Kara Eschbach

Now Featuring Foxtrot, Cha-Cha, and Bump-n-Grind

Dancing With the Stars has returned with its latest season to ABC—except it looks like it’s on Univision. The major Latino channel has its own dancing competition Bailando Por Un Sueño which has a palpable neon-light 80s vibe in the ballroom. But now DWTS has followed suit with the cool, fluorescent-blue look you’d expect of a mid-tier Miami nightclub. It's just one more change ABC has taken to try to keep Dancing With the Stars relevant to younger viewers. I can almost hear one of the producers saying, Let’s meet them where they are, you know, where kids dance these days—in the club! I’m not sure they’re reaching those people as much as tuning out fans who liked the standard ballroom. Lest we forget, most young people going to clubs aren’t thinking about real dance skills.

A Good Week for Those Who Hadn’t Caught the “Let It Go” Craze

Kristen Wiig and Ellen Degeneres did an impromptu karaoke performance of Frozen’s hit song “Let it Go” on The Ellen Show this week, bringing relief to the few remaining Americans who don’t already have the song memorized. As someone who watched Frozen long after the initial hype, I must say I was disappointed in the Academy Award-winning song; somehow it felt a little forced into the movie’s storyline. Like how the character Elsa exclaims,“Let the storm rage on,” before realizing it's killing the village she left in the dust. Or, “I’m never going back, the past is in the past” before realizing she has to go back to save them. Somehow the sense of finality in her lyrics didn’t last very long… Oh, who cares, it’s still an awesome song. If it makes this little girl happy, I’m happy.

Take Back the Nail Polish?

Four students from North Carolina State University have released a new invention to help in the fight against date rape. The undergraduates developed a nail polish that detects common date rape drugs by changing color when they come in contact with them. Girls who wear the polish just have to dip their finger into their drink to see if the nail polish changes color. Called “Undercover Color,” the invention has had a rocky reception by women’s groups, some of whom think it’s putting just another expectation on women to feel they have to change what they wear to avoid being raped. I think that’s a stretch. While I don’t foresee nail polish being handed out like rape whistles on campus, I think it’s always a good thing when we have men thinking about ways to stop crimes against women.

Once More, With Feeling

I had no idea Keira Knightly could sing. John Carney, director of the film Once (now also a Broadway hit), has come out with a new gorgeously musical film, Begin Again. Fun fact: Carney was a band member of The Frames (with Glen Hansard, who starred in Once). You have to love a soundtrack that features the actors singing, not to mention a couple famous ones in new roles; for instance, you get to hear a whole new side of Adam Levine. See the film or buy the soundtrack, and you might just find yourself a bigger fan of John Carney and respect Keira Knightly a little bit more.

-- Shea Rachwitz

Looking for Some Ear Candy?

Listening to the New Yorker Fiction Podcast is like being in a book club with fiction editor Deborah Treisman and a string of New Yorker fiction authors. (I like to imagine we’re all wearing black mock turtlenecks.) Each month a writer picks a story from the New Yorker’s archives to read and then discuss. The podcast is a great way to find new authors. But even when I don’t particularly like the story a writer has chosen, I always enjoy hearing what one fiction writer finds fascinating or masterful in another in the conversation that follows the reading. A couple of recent favorites have included “The Letter Writers,” by Elizabeth Taylor, read by Paul Theroux and “The King of Norway,” by Amos Oz, read by Jonathan Safran Foer.

-- Meghan Duke

Andre the Giant Could Hold His liquor, and Other Fun Facts

Have you ever wondered what the cast party was like for a production like The Princess Bride? Now you can find out, thanks to the new book As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride. Pick up the book, written by actor Cary Elwes (that is, Westley), on October 14.