STARS ON ICE 2018 Tour Review | #StarsOnIce #Review

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Ice skating fascinated me at an early age. I remember stopping whatever I was doing so I could sit down to watch it with my mom whenever it was on. Scott Hamilton’s back flips were always my favorite. When I was about 11, my cousin had a birthday party at the Miami Ice Arena (which no longer exists). I was so excited to get out there and glide gracefully across the ice like Michelle Kwan, Tara Lipinski and Kristi Yamaguchi. Sadly, that did not happen. As soon as I put one skate on the ice it all went downhill & I spent the entire birthday party, by myself, holding onto the wall as I attempted to make my way around the rink. It was a complete disaster. I also recall overhearing my aunt telling someone that paying for me to attend the party was a complete waste of money. Luckily, I’ve since learned how to “skate”–if just making your way around the rink without falling or holding onto the wall is considered skating.

SOI_USA2018_13x19_BradieMy love and appreciation for ice skating was renewed during the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Watching Mirai Nagasu become the first U.S. woman to land the triple axel in the Olympics; Maia & Alex Shibutani (#ShibSibs) winning the bronze medal in ice dancing; Team USA winning the bronze in the team event; Nathan Chen’s redemption after a devastating short program to land SIX quads in his long program, and watching Adam Rippon’s flawless routines and hilarious interviews while welcoming him into our hearts was an experience I got to share with my mom and it reignited that flame for the sport.

So, needless to say, when I saw that Stars On Ice would be making its way down to South Florida, I just had to buy tickets–especially considering the fact that my birthday was the day after the show. It’s like the stars aligned!

The tour kicked off in Ft. Myers on April 6th, with a follow-up show in Orlando April 7th that was filmed for television (check your local listings for Saturday, April 14th). Skaters included Olympic Bronze Medalists Maia & Alex Shibutani and members of America’s Olympic Bronze Medal-winning team Nathan Chen, Adam Rippon, Mirai Nagasu, Bradie Tennell and Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue. Plus Olympic Gold Medalists Meryl Davis & Charlie White, World Silver Medalist Ashley Wagner and U.S. Champions Jason Brown and Karen Chen.

1323356447_STARSONICEStarBNWREL[1]Our show was in Ft. Lauderdale/Sunrise, Florida on April 8th and it was nothing short of amazing. The lights reflecting off of the ice were mesmerizing, and the outfits sparkled like hundreds of tiny diamonds. (The only thing missing was Adam singing Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” but I digress.)

The show opened with a group number to P!nk’s “Raise Your Glass,” followed by individual performances from each skater. There were also mini performances sprinkled throughout the entire show with 3-6 skaters at a time. Adam joined the ShibSibs for one song; Zachary, Madison, Meryl, Charlie, Nathan & Ashley combined forces to Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You”; a beautiful performance featuring Ashley, Karen, Bradie and Madison; there was a girls only number, and an energetic boys only number to Portugal. The Man’s “Feel It Still.” You can also expect a brief 20-minute intermission in the middle of the show that returns with more individual performances and a group number that closes the show. Some of the other songs you can expect to hear during the show are “Remedy” by Adele and “Let Me Think About It” by Ida Corr (Adam Rippon), “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake (Jason Brown), “Elastic Heart” by Sia (Meryl & Charlie), “Never Enough” by Loren Allred (Karen Chen), “This Is Me” by The Greatest Showman Cast (Bradie Tennell), “Nemesis” by Benjamin Clementine (Nathan Chen), plus songs from P!nk (Ashley Wagner), Wicked on Broadway (Mirai Nagasu), Hamilton on Broadway and more.

Sadly, I missed Nathan Chen’s quad in person because workers at the BB&T Center kept walking down to stop people from recording videos on their phones and were blocking my view, BUT I know it happened because everyone went nuts. The atmosphere was amazing and it was nice to see people of all ages and backgrounds in one room–just don’t try to record video because it does distract from other’s experiences. There’s a strict policy against flash photography and video recording, so just don’t.

Since our show took place the day before my birthday, I splurged a bit and bought Meet & Greet tickets for my niece and I. When we finally made our way to the room where it was taking place, the skaters were all seated at tables waiting to sign their lives away. You have the opportunity to speak with each skater, have them sign autographs and take photos. It wasn’t like other “meet & greets” where someone is standing there rushing you through the process. You actually got to meet them, which was nice. Everyone was so kind. Taking into consideration the fact that they’d just completed their third show of the weekend and had to wait until the meet & greet was over so they could eat, I was surprised at the level of kindness they all had for everyone.

Stars On Ice is a show I highly recommend to people of all ages. The music was great, the atmosphere was so positive, and the skating was phenomenal. The entire event is put together so well. Meet and greet tickets are sold out for the remaining shows on the tour, but the show itself is well worth the money. You’re guaranteed to be in awe of the grace, beauty and talent of these skaters on and off the ice.

You can find more information regarding skaters, tickets and merch by visiting the Stars On Ice official site HERE.

You can also click HERE to help Adam Rippon on his quest to raise funds for GLAAD‘s youth program.

 

 

Soon To Be Major Motion Picture From Annapurna Pictures’ and Plan B Entertainment, James Baldwin’s IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK Named Finalist In 2nd Annual One Book One New York

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MAYOR’S OFFICE OF MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT WITH NEW YORK MAGAZINE & VULTURE ANNOUNCE RETURN OF “ONE BOOK, ONE NEW YORK”

The Largest Community Reading Program In The Country Returns For A Second Year

New Yorkers Will Vote For One Book Among Five Titles Set On The Streets Of New York And Reflecting The City’s Diverse Neighborhoods

5,000 Copies Of The Nominated Books Will Be Available In Libraries Throughout The Five Boroughs

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Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin today announced the return of One Book, One New York, an exciting citywide initiative that brings book-loving New Yorkers together to read the same book at the same time. Building on the enormous success of the program’s inaugural year in 2017, this year’s campaign, in partnership with New York Magazine and Vulture, features five acclaimed titles. Throughout the month of April, New Yorkers will cast their votes at NYC.gov/OneBook to determine the one book the whole city will read together.

The nominated books, all featuring New York City neighborhoods are:

  • If Beale Street Could Talkby James Baldwin
  • Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
  • White Tears by Hari Kunzru
  • Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
  • When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago

“We are thrilled to present the five books in contention for this year’s One Book, One New York program,” said Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin. “These beautifully told tales reflect the rich variety of experiences and voices that make New York’s literary culture second to none. We hope once again that One Book, One New York will inspire great conversations, foster compassion in difficult times, support our vital publishing industry, and spur New Yorkers to rediscover their local libraries and neighborhood bookstores.”

Seeking stories reflecting New York City’s rich history, diverse neighborhoods and resilient people, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment consulted with literary leaders throughout the city for suggestions on which books to include in this year’s One Book, One New York. New York Magazine and Vulture’s book editors helped whittle down the list to five books, each of which delves into the lives of complex characters, from groundbreaking women to struggling artists to new immigrants, grappling with adversity as they try to forge a life and identity in New York City neighborhoods. They explore themes of missing fathers, tragic love and racial injustice through the eyes of unforgettable narrators that will speak to book lovers and new audiences alike.

“For 50 years, storytelling with flair has been integral to our mission at New York Magazine, and we’re delighted to team up with the Mayor’s office to champion these five books rich with city life and distinctive New York voices,” said New York Media CEO Pam Wasserstein.

Each of the authors has a unique connection to New York.

“New York City has been my inspiration and my muse for decades, and never more so than while I worked on Manhattan Beach,” said author Jennifer Egan. “I’m lucky to live in this splendid, inexhaustible city, and honored to be a contender for its One Book, One New York program.”

“Books saved my life,” said Esmeralda Santiago, author of When I Was Puerto Rican. “Newly arrived from rural Puerto Rico, with no English and feeling lost in a big city, I discovered the Bushwick branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, a bright, warm, place where I could be lost without feeling endangered. I feel honored to be among the writers whose stories will help future generations reflect their experiences and struggles as they steer their own lives, mentored by such generous guides.”

“In the last decade, I’ve made a life in New York. I got married in the courthouse downtown, my children were born here,” said Hari Kunzru, author of White Tears. “To be part of One Book is extraordinary. It makes me feel welcomed. It makes me very proud.”

Behold the Dreamers is, among many things, a love song to my adopted hometown of New York City, so it is a tremendous privilege for me, that it is being considered for One Book, One New York,” said author Imbolo Mbue.

“From my earliest days as an undergraduate student, James Baldwin’s life and work have provided a guiding force that has given me the courage to pursue work that has meaning and social impact,” said Barry Jenkins, writer/director of the film adaption of If Beale Street Could Talk. “With If Beale Street Could Talk, my favorite author renders the city and neighborhood that raised him in unflinching detail and with endless empathy and grace.”

The publishers of the five nominated books have provided copies to each of New York City’s library branches (5,000 copies in all); the books will also be available for sale at bookstores throughout the city.

This year’s One Book, One New York includes a public awareness campaign that will blanket New York City with information on how to vote online at NYC.gov/OneBook. Ads on subway cars in all five boroughs, as well as a One Book, One New York video campaign to be broadcast throughout the month of April on Taxi TV and on NYC Media, the City’s flagship television channel, will encourage New Yorkers to vote for their favorite nominated book.

On Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m., the four living nominated authors, Imbolo Mbue, Hari Kunzru, Esmeralda Santiago, and Jennifer Egan, as well as director Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), who is making a film of the late James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk, will join a panel discussion as part of the Pen America World Voices Festival. Held at The New School’s auditorium in the Alvin Johnson/J.M. Hall, the event is free and open to the public on a first come, first served basis. Click here to register.

As part of the fourth annual Vulture Festival at Milk Studios on May 19-20, the winning One Book author will be featured in conversation with a New York Magazine / Vulture editor. This event will also be free and open to the public. To find out more about Vulture Festival and register for the One Book One New York winning author event, visit vulturefestival.com/onebookny after the winning book has been announced.

After the month-long voting period, the winning book will be announced in early May. Once the winning book is picked, New Yorkers can look for events at their local libraries and throughout the city that will keep the discussion going all summer long.

One Book, One New York is intended not only to encourage a sense of community among New Yorkers, but also to support the City’s book publishing and bookselling industries. New York City is the country’s book publishing capital, home to the “Big Five” publishing companies – Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillan – along with many of the most prominent independent and academic publishing houses in the country. In recent years, both the publishing and bookselling industries have faced significant challenges. An unsettling number of independent book stores have closed, along with several Barnes and Noble branches. The Bronx currently has no bookstores at all. Both Queens and Staten Island are underserved.

“Every day, people find common ground and new perspectives in the books, programs, and services offered at The New York Public Library,” said NYPL President Tony Marx. “Now, when the world can feel more divided than ever, One Book, One New York is an exciting opportunity to bring New Yorkers together through the power of reading. We are thrilled to participate again this year.”

 

Continue reading “Soon To Be Major Motion Picture From Annapurna Pictures’ and Plan B Entertainment, James Baldwin’s IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK Named Finalist In 2nd Annual One Book One New York”

Issue 2 of Longleaf Review is now LIVE!

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Good morning, everyone!

You may or may not know that some friends and I started an online literary journal called Longleaf Review at the end of 2017. As writers ourselves, we wanted the opportunity to read the work of our peers and to share their work with the world. You can view our titles and credentials HERE.

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With that being said, the second issue of our journal went live at midnight last night and we couldn’t be more excited to share it with you! You can check out the fabulous work included in the issue by click HERE, where you’ll be redirected to our official website.

You can also check out the list of contributing authors below. We appreciate all of the support from our friends, family, and fellow writers. We hope you have a fantastic weekend and that you help spread the word about our growing journal! This has been one of the most supportive communities I’ve ever been a part of and I, personally, can’t wait to see our little baby grow.

If you’re a writer yourself, we’re accepting submissions for Issue 3 until May 1st. You can find our submissions page & guidelines HERE.

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MASTER CHEF JUNIOR Contestant Emily Brings Her Passion for Cooking to Set

Emily. Age: 9. Hometown: Sylmar, CA.
Signature Dish: Tamales with Homemade Red Sauce.
Photo Credit: Michael Becker / FOX. © 2018 / FOX Broadcasting.

Written by Jesus Figueroa

“Master Chef Junior” contestant Emily started cooking when her babysitter would cook with her and show her all the gadgets they could use to cook.

Emily first learned to cook from her parents, but she would be excited to see her babysitter use different gadgets to make food.

“(The judges and mentors) helped me improve as a cook,” Emily said.

The judges would teach techniques and would encourage the contestants to gain as much knowledge as possible, but the contestants would gain experience from what they shared with each other.

The contestants would share techniques on how to cut ingredients and different ways to make different foods which was something Emily enjoyed.

“To know I was on (the show) made me feel special,” Emily said. “It’s so awesome to see so many people who love cooking as much as me.”

Emily’s passion for cooking was nurtured while being a part of “Master Chef Junior,” but also brought new interests to light.

Learning much more about cooking while on the show brought baking to Emily’s attention.

“I like cooking alot of savory food, but I’ve been leaning more towards baking now,” Emily said. “I feel like (baking) is a little more exciting because you can experiement more with the sweet flavors.”

Watch Emily on “Master Chef Junior” Fridays 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET/PT On FOX.

@Thisfunktional Talks With Walter Martinez, Bob Barboza PACIFIC RIM UPRISING East LA Rising Event

Written by Jesus Figueroa

Walter Martinez, IT manager and Instructor of Robotics at California State University, Long Beach, and Bob Barboza, Barboza Space Center in Long Beach California, talk with Jesus Figueroa, @Thisfunktional of Thisfunktional.com, about robotics during an event at East LA Rising inspired by “Pacific Rim Uprising.”

Martinez talks about wanting to inspire young minds to go into a STEM field, having been very  young when he decided robotics is what he wanted to do and a few easy tips for starting off.

Barboza talks about some advances in robotics, the great feeling of working with youth and a fellowship at the Barboza Space Center in long Beach for students interested in the field of Robotics.

PACIFIC RIM UPRISING
Opens In Theaters March 23
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Why Adam Rippon & Gus Kenworthy’s Sexual Orientation Is Important

YoursTruly

What’s up, everyone?

I have to preface this post by saying that it saddens me that this is even a discussion in 2018. The fact that members of the LGBTQ community have to “come out,” or explain anything in regards to their sexual orientation is beyond me. I mean, you do realize that all they want to do is be themselves, be happy and LOVE another person, right?

I want to share a little story with you. My niece, Briana, is about to turn fourteen. When she was 5 or 6, I was watching one of my old *NSYNC DVD’s with her. She pointed to Lance Bass and said, “Krissy, he’s cute!” I know she was young at the time, but something came over me and my immediate (nonchalant) response was, “You know, Lance is gay.” She paused the movie and asked me what that meant.

. . . SHE ASKED ME WHAT [BEING GAY] MEANT . . .

I explained to my young niece that it meant sometimes boys like boys and sometimes girls like girls. I reiterated that “the norm” in society is for boys and girls to like each other, but there are others who feel differently and that’s normal too. She responded with a simple, “Oh, ok.” and un-paused the video. From that moment on, she has accepted EVERYONE and never thought of anyone who is gay as “different.” If she ever thought they were different, it’s because she knows how fabulous they are!

Throughout this year’s’ Winter Olympics, we were graced with the presence of two GAY athletes representing the USA, Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy. Even as a straight woman, I actually felt so proud of these men for being honest and for simply being themselves . It wouldn’t have mattered to me whether they were gay or not. Being gay doesn’t mean they train less than other athletes, or that they’re weak. If anything, it makes them stronger because they deliver strong performances regardless of any negativity being directed towards them.

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Yesterday, Kenworthy posted screenshots on his Twitter page of 4 complete strangers who posted extremely hateful comments on one of his YouTube videos. These people called him names and wished that he would get AIDS and die. Let that sink in for a moment . . . . . . . . . . . . Which leads me to the reason for this post. Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy’s sexual orientation shouldn’t matter to anyone. It’s their lives and, if they’re happy and are able to fully love another human being, it shouldn’t matter to ANYONE ELSE whether that other human being is a man or a woman.

The ONLY reason why their sexual orientation is important is because it opens doors for conversations between parents and their children. Children are taught to hate other people. If I had responded to my niece, at 5 years old, that being gay is gross and wrong, she would’ve grown up to believe that as true.  I know that many Christians do believe that to be true, but the hate starts with you as parents, not as Christians. Don’t teach your children to hate others simply because of something you don’t understand. I grew up Catholic, I have tattoos and I’ve had pre-marital sex. Those things don’t make me a bad person. They don’t mean I’m going straight to hell. Neither does being gay. Instead, teach your children that some people love different things, but we all love the same. Teach them that just because you have a certain belief, it doesn’t give anyone the right to make hurtful comments and, more specifically, to wish for someone’s death.

Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy’s sexual orientation is important because it shows that being gay doesn’t define you . . . your character does. The same way that being straight doesn’t define anyone else. Being straight doesn’t mean you’re a good person. It also doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It’s the same with those who are gay, bi, transgender, etc. Rippon and Kenworthy are both strong AND graceful. They’re respectful. They’re hilarious. They’re kind to others. They’re using their platform to speak for that little kid who wants to lace up a pair of skates and glide gracefully across the ice, but is afraid to tell anyone. They’re speaking to that kid who is afraid that coming out as gay will make people think they’re weak and can’t nail flips on skis or snowboards. They’re speaking out to kids who don’t think that they can be themselves and still stand on an Olympic podium. They’re speaking to anyone who feels that their sexual orientation means they can’t chase their dream, regardless of what that dream is.

There are so many kids out there who are feeling things they don’t quite understand yet because their parents are afraid to actually talk to them about something that should be normalized at this point. THAT is why Rippon and Kenworthy’s sexual orientation is important. Speaking to your child about homosexuality won’t make them gay. What it will do is teach them to be accepting towards others and to embrace what they might be feeling themselves. So, to the parents out there . . . do your jobs. Don’t raise bullies and closed-minded people. Raise young men and women who know who they are and who can accept those who aren’t exactly like them.

It starts with you.

It’s Official! I’m A Published Poet!

 

Hey there, everyone!

I am so excited to finally be able to post about my first poem that is published in an online literary journal called Mangrove Journal. It’s the official journal put out at the University of Miami and I couldn’t be more ecstatic to be a part of it. Let me tell you how it all came about . . .

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Ever since I can remember, I’ve always loved writing. I would write letters to people that I never intended to send. It was my way of expressing my innermost thoughts. I’ve always carried a journal, I was on the yearbook staff in high school, and I had countless notebooks with friends growing up. For some reason, I ventured off into other majors rather than going straight into English, writing or journalism. It wasn’t until my late twenties that I finally admitted to myself that this was the one thing that I was really good at, and the one thing I wanted to pursue.

When I enrolled in the University of Central Florida’s English/Creative Writing program, I signed up for a creative writing class that had one module focusing on poetry. As much as I’ve always loved writing, I’d never really attempted poetry. I felt like it was important for me to step outside of my comfort zone and really try to tackle it. With the help of a fantastic professor, I did well in the poetry module and signed up for two poetry workshops and an independent study in poetry after that semester. I can’t say that I’m the greatest poet who ever lived, but I think for someone who never ventured in that direction, I do pretty well. 😜

This particular poem that was published with Mangrove Journal is one that began as an epic fail. I’d written it as an assignment for class and it earned me a ‘D.’ As a perfectionist, I was devastated and disappointed in myself. I focused on reworking the entire poem and this was the end result. It proves that you can always fix a mistake, and that even if something is awful at first, hard work and dedication can make it great!

I am so incredibly thankful to the editors and everyone involved with the journal for accepting my piece for publication.

You can view the Winter 2017 Online Edition of Mangrove Journal below:

My Thoughts | #MSDStrong #ParklandStudentsSpeak #StudentsStandUp #NeverAgain #EnoughIsEnough

YoursTruly

I’ve always wondered how a criminal defense lawyer can outwardly defend the actions of someone who is, without a doubt, guilty. Yes, some might be wrongfully accused and everyone deserves the right to a fair trial BUT if you know, with absolute certainty (fact-based) that a person is guilty of committing a crime against another person, how can you defend them and let them back on the streets? How are you able to sleep at night knowing that they can do this to another human being?

This week has been a tough one in South Florida, and around the country in general. On Valentine’s Day, 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lost their lives to yet another mass shooting.

I hadn’t been catching up on the latest news that day, so when I began receiving texts from out-of-state family asking if my niece was safe, I almost went into a panic. MSD High School is about 35 miles from where we live, so luckily my niece was safe, but I can’t say the same for the 17 souls who were taken way too soon, or for the thousands of others who are terrified of GOING TO SCHOOL. Does everyone realize how awful that is?? Do you remember being afraid to go to school? I don’t.

Last year, we received an automated phone call alerting us that there was a “situation” at my niece’s school. We never got the full story, but apparently a student had a gun and threatened one of their teachers. The school went into defense mode, where students were scrambling together to hide in corners trying to avoid what could have been a devastating outcome. SWAT arrived and videos surfaced of officers armed with rifles peeking into classrooms to make sure everyone was safe. Luckily, everyone was, but no one should receive an automated phone call from their child’s school telling them that there might be an active shooter on campus.

In 1999, I was a freshman in high school. Columbine happened. It was scary to think of something like that happening, but to us it was an isolated incident and we carried on with our lives. In my senior year of high school, they began implementing drills that forced teachers to lock classroom doors, turn off the lights and everyone had to hide beneath their desks. Even the drills were enough to scare us. Still, we didn’t have that fear of going to school because there hadn’t been a lot of school shootings at the time. At least none that made headlines like Columbine did.

Since then the number of school shootings, movie theatre shootings, church shootings, shootings at music festivals, a night club, and just everyday gun violence in cities like Chicago have increased and it’s time to sit down and really think about how to control it.

I’m typically embarrassed by any news that surfaces out of Florida because we’ve become known for odd headlines, but after the tragedy at MSD High School last week, I couldn’t be more proud of the headlines that are surfacing. A generation of kids who are thought to be glued to their phones and lacking communication skills are stepping up and demanding change for all students, teachers and families. They’re not asking for all guns to be banned, they are asking for gun laws to be reformed. They are asking for semi-automatic weapons to remain in the hands of the trained MILITARY and not in the hands of civilians. They are asking for stricter gun laws, where people with mental health issues can not obtain a fire arm. If stricter gun laws have been implemented and have WORKED in other countries why can’t we do that here in what is believed to be the best country in the world?

This leads back to my original statement. How can a criminal defense lawyer defend someone who is guilty? How can politicians deny an honest conversation about stricter gun laws to save the lives of children? To prevent them from living in fear every day that they have to go to school? To prevent parents from fearing that their children won’t make it home at the end of the day? The answer to all of those questions is . . . money. Lawyers get a hefty paycheck and a notch on their belt when they win a case, and politicians receive hefty donations from the NRA for allowing anyone over the age of 18 the “right” to obtain a military-grade weapon.

This is not a Republican/Democrat issue. This is a HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE. I don’t care if the children’s parents are Republicans or Democrats. I don’t care if the children, themselves, plan on voting for either side. I care about them being safe and being able to learn in an environment that doesn’t scare them. Arming teachers is not the solution. Teachers are teachers, not police officers. We have to spend hundreds on school supplies every year because there is not enough funding at the schools to provide students with the tools they need to LEARN. Where will the money come from to provide every teacher with a firearm? Where will the money come from to TRAIN teachers to use that firearm? I can honestly say that about 98% of the teachers I had growing up were unqualified to carry. And when you arm every teacher at every school, isn’t that increasing the chances of gun-related violence at schools? There would essentially be a gun in every single classroom. What if the one of the teachers snap one day and use the gun on their students? What if a student is stronger than the teacher and overtakes them to obtain the government-issued firearm? That is simply NOT the solution.

My niece’s school is not the picture-perfect version of a great learning environment (by any means), but no one is able to just walk onto their campus. The doors are locked and you can only get onto the campus by entering the front office when school is in session. There are security measures that can be taken at the schools, absolutely. But without changes to gun laws, we are all basically sitting ducks.

I have never been more proud of a younger generation than I am right now after seeing the speeches and activism by students around the country, led by the incredible students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School here in South Florida. I have a renewed hope for the future knowing that these intelligent, strong-minded, determined teenagers are our future leaders.

To those of you trolling social media calling these kids spoiled liberals and spreading rumors about them being crisis actors, you should be ashamed of yourselves. As I mentioned before, this is not an issue of whether you are a Republican or a Democrat. Let’s be honest . . . all politicians are full of shit anyway. This is a matter of keeping our children safe by working TOGETHER to create gun laws that work to prevent mass shootings. No one is trying to take away your precious guns. But if we have to take a driving test, maintain car insurance and renew our licenses every certain amount of years, it should be 10 times harder to obtain a gun.

Listen to what these kids are REALLY asking for. And I mean, actually LISTEN. They are not spoiled. They are kids and teenagers that want their right to LIVE to be more important than your right to carry an AR-15 that killed their friends, classmates and teachers. They want to prevent this from happening at your kids school. Don’t let money come before the lives of our future leaders of this country you love so dearly.

Students should aim to obtain their diplomas. With the way things are going with the gun laws we have now, they should also be obtaining a certificate celebrating their success at living through their school years. This is the time for change. Their lives should mean more than a paycheck. Their right to live is more important than your right to play with a gun. Just be willing to LISTEN.

Justin Timberlake Performs Super Bowl LII Halftime Show in Minneapolis

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I’ve actually struggled with how to start this review of Justin Timberlake’s Pepsi Super Bowl LII Halftime Show and the week leading up to the performance. I typed out a few paragraphs and then deleted them because I want to focus on the performance itself as opposed to the horrible publicity. I’ll be doing a podcast on that later on, so check back in to hear what I thought.

The halftime performance was great. It was energetic, entertaining and it was just a really good show overall. There wasn’t anything really over-the-top, and I enjoyed the simplicity in that respect. Justin danced his way to several stages around the stadium, which added some flair of the performance. People seemed to be focused on the way Justin and his dancers were dressed for some reason, but what they fail to release is that he’s also promoting the new album and the outfits fit the theme really well. And, really, who the F*** cares about what they were wearing??? We were there to watch a performance, not a fashion show. I find it funny how people will nitpick about the silliest of things these days. (Not gonna lie, I did laugh at someone on Twitter saying that he looked like a clearance table at Bass Pro Shops though lmao. The only difference is that I don’t care what the heck they were wearing)

In any case, here are the songs/snippets/hooks that Justin performed during the 13 1/2 minute performance:

Filthy
Rock Your Body
Senorita
Sexy Back
My Love
Cry Me a River

***Dance Breakdown***

Suit & Tie (w/Marching Band)
Until the End of Time

***Prince Tribute – I Would Die 4 U***

Mirrors
Can’t Stop the Feeling

 

There was a lot of backlash surrounding the rumored Prince tribute and, while I think simply playing the actual video on the screens rather than projecting it onto a large piece of fabric would’ve been better, I think it was done tastefully. I really loved when the camera showed the city of Minneapolis light up with purple lights and then Prince’s symbol appeared in the lights. I know that the guys had some beef back in the day, but I’m a firm believer that you can like someone’s music without necessarily liking the person. If Justin hadn’t paid tribute to Prince in his home state, he would’ve gotten shit for it. Knowing that he was going to do it in the first place had the internet trolls rolling too. He was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t.

I also saw people claiming that JT was lip syncing, but that wasn’t true either. There were some sound issues in the beginning, but if you’re a fan of his music, you would be able to spot the differences. He wasn’t lip syncing.

Everyone seems to be a critic these days. I even saw someone call P!nk out on her rendition of Star Spangled Banner because she spit something out of her mouth beforehand. It was a throat lozenge because she was performing with the flu. That doesn’t get taken into consideration though. It just HAS to be something negative.

I enjoyed the show though. I liked the medley of songs he chose to perform, but I wish he had included “Supplies” or “Say Something” off his new album, Man of the Woods. If you stayed up late, you would’ve been able to catch those being performed on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show.

Here’s the video of the halftime performance. Check it out and let me know what you thought!

ARTIST TO WATCH: @XAMBASSADORS

According to Kristin

If you think you haven’t heard of this band yet, chances are you’re wrong.  Some of their songs have been featured in video games, commercials, TV show promos and movies.  If, by some odd chance, you haven’t heard said songs, I can guarantee you will soon.

xambassadors

X Ambassadors consists of members Sam Harris, Casey Harris, Noah Feldshuh and Adam Levin.  They’re an alternative band from Ithaca, New York who have an amazing, authentic sound to them.  Blending rock, soul and hip hop vibes that create an unconventional sound is what draws you in, and their lyrics get you hooked.  Thankfully (for us), they were discovered by Imagine Dragons lead singer, Dan Reynolds, after he heard an acoustic version of “Unconsolable” on the radio.  What makes them extra unique is that lead singer, Sam, and pianist, Casey, are brothers and Casey was born blind.  This didn’t stop him from living the dream…

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30 Questions with Kristin | Part 3 of 3

YoursTruly

Good morning! Thanks for checking out Part 3 of my Questions with Kristin posts. I might do something like this more often, so stay tuned.

Here’s the last of the questions:

  • What’s the biggest waste of money you’ve seen?

My number one answer, on a personal level, would be someone spending money on cigarettes. I just imagine rolled up dollar bills being burned away. I’d rather spend my money on something that’ll last. On a larger scale, I would bring back one of my responses to another question and mention celebrities who feel the need to have 10+ cars, gold silverware, Swarovski encrusted refrigerators, etc.

  • What common misconception do you hate to hear repeated as a fact?

Honestly, I don’t have any. People believe what they want to believe and if it works for them, so be it. I know that people say your hair grows back thicker and faster if you shave it, and I haven’t really known that to be a fact. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I hate it though. To each their own!

  • Where is the best place to go to meet awesome people?

Hands down, I would have to say a concert. There is so much excitement at a live show and everyone is there to see the same artist, which means you already have at least 2 things in common–a love for music and that particular artist. In my experience, I’ve also met some awesome people at fan conventions.

  • What food do you crave most?

I don’t know that I crave a certain food, but I’m half Cuban, so I definitely have a sweet tooth. Actually, I’d like to add that I could eat pizza (no pepperoni) every day for the rest of my life lol. I don’t crave it, but I do love it!

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  • What TV series do you keep coming back and re-watching?

FRIENDS and New Girl, for sure. I also wouldn’t be opposed to re-watching The Vampire Diaries and The Originals though.

  • Among your friends, what are you best known for?

Knowing who sings certain songs. I’ve been called the human jukebox. Also, I’m the person that friends bring essays and emails to for proofreading and revising haha.

  • Who of your friends is most like you?

Am I allowed to say my niece? She’s the most like me out of anyone I know. I have similar things in common with certain friends, but I don’t think anyone is really like me. If I had to choose one though, I would probably say Brancey. We both have a love for music that is not understood by most of the people around me. We’ve also had a tough time in the friend department, so we have that in common too.

  • What was the most traumatizing moment of your life?

In September 2011–just three months after my family reunion that I wrote about in response to another question–I lost my maternal grandmother. Just five months later we lost my maternal grandfather. Both of these were shocking and unexpected, especially because I felt like they were going to live forever. This sparked my anxiety attacks. Then I lost my paternal grandmother in 2014, my golden retriever in 2015 and my father just 2 months after that. All of the losses we experienced during that time were extremely traumatizing, but I have some amazing guardian angels looking out for me!

  • What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from a work of fiction?

I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’ve learned a lesson from a work of fiction, but there are definitely lessons that we need to be reminded of sometimes. There are lessons that younger generations can certainly learn from fiction though. To answer this question, I’ll leave you with three quotes from the Harry Potter series:

  • What’s something you’ll never do again?

Trust a friend with an untrustworthy guy.

30 Questions with Kristin | Part 2 of 3

YoursTruly

Hello there! Thanks for coming back to read Part Two of my little questionnaire. In an attempt to give you a little insight as to who I am behind the blog, I decided to answer a 30-question questionnaire that I saw on Twitter earlier this week.

This is part two:

  • In what situation would you feel most out of place in?

This is a tough question to answer because I don’t know that I’ve ever really felt out of place anywhere. I guess it just depends. There was one time that I took my niece to a thing called MagCon. She was with the people her age and I was in the back with the parents who were all much older than me. I felt like I was in limbo between the two groups lol. Maybe a situation like that.

  • What artist do you really like, but rarely admit to liking?

There isn’t an artist that I would ever deny liking. Everyone has different taste when it comes to music. There are some artists that I really like that come out with shit songs, but I wouldn’t deny liking them because of it. I can tell you an artist that I can’t stand and everyone thinks I’m crazy for it . . . Britney Spears. Other than that, I have no shame admitting to liking boy bands, rappers, rock starts and divas.

  • What gets you fired up?

One thing that gets me fired up is when celebrities flaunt getting free stuff from big companies. In what universe is it logical that when actors, musicians, etc. make A TON of money on a project, they get free stuff to promote a company when those of us who make crap money have to struggle to make ends meet? Listen, I will gladly model some Nike shoes and Coach bags on Instagram if it means I don’t have to sell a kidney to get them. I see homeless people beginning for money for food and I’m reminded that there are some celebrities who flaunt gold silverware and 10+ cars in their driveways. There are homeless people who would love a new pair of sneakers, but you can find some celebrities showing off their extensive Jordan collection in a sneaker closet–made JUST for sneakers. Be like Ellen DeGeneres. Give nice things to people who deserve a break. I hate seeing news articles in magazines about where to find Kim Kardashian’s $1500 bag. I don’t care where to find it because I can’t even afford the zipper on that thing!

  • What annoys you most about the fandoms you’re part of?

I’m not really in any fandoms anymore. Unless you count being a part of the TN Kids (Justin Timberlake) fandom, but nothing annoys me about them. Back in my *NSYNC days, I used to hate seeing girls cry when they saw the guys or when they came out on stage. That still bothers me about certain fandoms today. I also see the fandoms that my niece is a part of and I hate seeing these girls sending rude messages to the guys they claim to love. It bothers me even more that those same guys respond to those messages.

  • What do you do to get rid of stress?

Write or listen to music. Those are the most therapeutic for me.

  • You have to relive one day of your life forever. Which day do you choose?

There are a few days I would want to relive–my first concert (*NSYNC, of course), the day my niece was born, a trip to New York. I’m about to get really deep here though. I would go back to a day in June 2011. We had a family reunion in Cape May, NJ where we all stayed at this cute little motel on the beach. It was one of my favorite weeks ever. Especially because it was the first one that all of us were able to make it to, and the last one before my grandparents and my father passed away. Everyone had such a great time and I would love to relive any one of those days.

  • How quickly do you jump to conclusions about people?

I try not to jump to conclusions about anyone because I wouldn’t want anyone doing it to me.

  • If you were a doll, what accessories would you be sold with?

Sneakers, ripped jeans, a hoodie, an iPhone, headphones and a journal, for sure.

  • What have you done in life that has given you the most satisfaction?

I felt pretty satisfied when I finally got my Bachelor’s Degree in August 2017. At 33, I was working full-time, going to school, working on my blog and helping to raise my niece. It was difficult, but I managed to do it regardless of how long it took.

  • What would be the worst thing to put in a piñata?

Cigarettes and pickle juice? I can think of a million responses to this question lol.

30 Questions with Kristin | Part 1 of 3

YoursTruly

Good morning, everyone! I saw this questionnaire on Twitter yesterday and thought it might be a great idea to create a blog post answering the questions. It’s 30 questions, but I’ll break it down into three separate posts. We live in a time where people “get to know you” based on quick little pic posts on Instagram or character-limited posts on Twitter. I wanted to give a bit of insight as to who I am away from the screens, so here goes nothing:

  • Explain your Twitter handle.

I wanted to have the same handles for all of my social media platforms and there was always one that was already taken. So, I tried this one out, it was available, and I liked it. Simple as that! (After I changed it, the show This Is Us aired and it’s one of my favorites. So @thisiskristin_ reminds me of the show now, too)

  • Who inspires you and why?

To be a walking cliché, I want to say my mother because she’s held my family together for the past 40+ years. When my dad passed away, she took a huge step and moved out of our old house, which I never thought she would do. She’s not the type who likes change, so I was really surprised when she packed up our home of 28 years without hesitation. She’s strong, she’s funny and she’s just the best.

On a professional level, I would have to say one of my friends, Keisha Hatchett. Keisha and I have always had similar interests (i.e. baseball, TV shows and writing), but there’s one huge difference between us. She was determined enough to sell her car and pack her things for an internship in New York. She’s fought her way through internships and freelance jobs to a position at TV Guide and I couldn’t be more proud. We don’t get to talk as much anymore, but she inspires me to fight for what I want and to be a better writer.

  • Do you care what others think about you?

As much as I try to convince myself that I don’t care what others think about me, I think everyone does on some level. In some areas of my life I really don’t care. But in other areas, I do find myself wondering what people think about me. I haven’t had much luck in the guy department (thanks, Miami), so sometimes I wonder if they thought I wasn’t good enough or whatever. It’s a horrible thing to do, but for the most part I’m the way that I am and, in the end, I think that’s a good thing. While I might care in some aspects, I’m proud of myself for not changing to conform to their idea of perfection.

Also, when you’re a writer who submits work to literary journals, it’s hard not to question your abilities when you receive rejections from people that have no idea who you are. Their opinions are based solely on your work, and it’s so incredible subjective. When I get rejections I start to question whether I should continue pursuing a career in writing, but then I remember that Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and a ton of other authors also received rejections. Look where they are now!

  • What are you most looking forward to?

At the moment, I’m looking forward to seeing Justin Timberlake live (again) here in South Florida this May! Long-term, I’m looking forward to establishing my career now that I finally have my Bachelor’s Degree in English/Creative Writing.

  • What is one life rule you follow?

I actually have two that I like to follow:

The most important is to stay true to yourself. I’m okay with having to ask for help rather than trying to pretend like I know everything. I’m not the smartest or the funniest, but I try to be the best version of those things every day. I’m awkward, I have anxiety, and I’m way too trusting of people, but I’ve learned to embrace those things about myself.

The second life rule that I follow is to never go after a guy that one of my friends is interested in or has been interested in. A “friend” of mine didn’t follow that rule, and it resulted in literal heart break for me. I would never inflict that kind of pain on anyone.

  • What’s your dream job?

When I think about my dream job I immediately picture Liza from the show YOUNGER on TV Land. She works for a publishing company and started her own imprint with her friend, Kelsey. I would love to write for a magazine or to work in publishing. Being able to read books and discover unknown authors would definitely be a dream. Either that or something (anything) in the music industry. Recently, I’ve been looking into being a music journalist–someone who goes to live shows and reviews them.

  • Which fictional character do you wish you could meet?

I have three, actually. Four (Theo James) from Divergent, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). All of them are bad ass characters who fight to protect those around them. Corny answer, I know, but it’s true. Plus, they’re all gorgeous.

  • As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I actually always wanted to be a writer or singer. Writing and music have always been two of my favorite things, so to be able to do either? That’s what I wanted, and that’s still what I want. It’s taken me a while to figure out where to start, but better late than never!

  • If you were a cartoon character, who would you be?

A lot of friends have told me I should dress up like Daria for Halloween lol. She’s extremely sarcastic (which I can be) and pessimistic (which I am not), but she kind of looks like me, so I’ll say her. It’s hard to think of a cartoon character that I would want to be anyway lol.

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  • What skill would you like to master?

Oh wow. This is a loaded question because I think there is always a skill that needs to be mastered. Right now I would have to say grammar lol. I always thought I was great when it came to correct grammar in writing, but after taking a course at UCF, I realized just how wrong I was. I mean, I know the basics, but there are so many rules and exceptions when it comes to grammar. I would love to master that for sure.

 

Well, that’s it for Part One! I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about me. Feel free to comment with some of your answers to these questions! Post Two will be up tomorrow, so stay tuned for that!

Have a great day!

 

 

 

 

 

Adventures at the Dentist

YoursTruly

Hey there, everyone! I hope you’re having a great weekend so far!

I wanted to write about my experience at the dentist this morning. BLEH. My family has had their share of dental issues over the years, and I’m no exception. When I was 12, I had to have a something called a palatal expander glued to the roof of my mouth. This was essentially a retainer with a metal bridge in the middle that had a tiny key hole in it. Every night, my mother had to stick a tiny key into that hole and push it towards the back of my mouth. As soon as she did it I would grab my head because of the pain. It was basically breaking the bones in the roof of my mouth because my mouth was too small and I needed braces. It was highly unpleasant and created an embarrassing gap in between my two front teeth. After that was removed, I had my braces put on at 13 and joined the sea of metal-mouthed teens at my middle school.

My braces were removed when I was 15 and way too defiant to wear my removable retainer. I mean, why would it have been removable in the first place if it wasn’t supposed to be removed? Lol. Needless to say, my teeth shifted over the years and, once I was able to work, I paid to have Invisalign. Yes, the person who refused to wear their removable retainer was now paying for removable trays to re-straighten their teeth. When that failed, I paid to have actual braces put on. My teeth hadn’t shifted much, but I was old enough to know how important it is to have a nice smile and I wanted mine as close to perfect as I could get it. So I opted for a permanent retainer when that was over. I guess I’d finally learned my lesson.

This leads me to what happened this morning. I haven’t had a cavity for many years. I don’t even remember when the last time was that I had one filled. I can’t go a day without brushing my teeth and I absolutely love the feeling of clean, smooth teeth. So when I brush, I brush. I made my way to the dentist first thing this morning and was greeted with a string of questions: “Have you ever had braces?” “Are you allergic to any medications or anesthesia?” This was all before the dental hygienist even looked into my mouth. After stabbing me repeatedly in the gums with a sharp instrument, she informs me that there is some bleeding and that she’s going to suggest that I have a deep scaling done. I don’t know about you, but the words “deep scaling” should not be spoken at a dental office. It’s terrifying.

I am about to be 34, I have never smoked a day in my life, I barely drink, I don’t drink sodas and I rarely eat candy. I never bleed when I brush or floss, so someone please explain why my dental hygienist believes that bleeding after being stabbed in the gums is a rare occurrence. I believe she had every intention of coming to the “deep scaling” conclusion even before I sat in that plastic wrapped chair this morning. I would love to see one of them be poked in the gums with a sharp tool to see if they bleed. So, now they’re going to call my shitty insurance company to see if the deep scaling will be covered by my insurance, which I’m sure it won’t be. To be perfectly honest, I really don’t care if it is because I’d rather hear this coming from my actual dentist before making a decision.

Does anyone else have this problem?? Maybe I just have to switch dentists or something. Let me know if you’ve dealt with a similar issue! I’m curious.

Have a great rest of your weekend everyone! & make sure to check out my recent posts because I have some great giveaways going on right now!