Archive for February, 2008

You’re going to love this

Calling all English speaking people — yes, that is everyone reading this right now — it has come to my attention that those red marks scrawled across your paper by your high school English teacher just weren’t enough to make you realize the error of your ways.

Now, I understand I may be resurfacing some pretty awful memories from those days when educators actually took off points for grammar mistakes… but this is a pretty serious issue, and I will not rest until it is adequately addressed.

You are probably tired of reading this already. You are probably wondering when I am going to get to the point . You’re hopefully going to get what I’m saying soon. And I’m sure your friends correct you on AIM all the time.

I know this sounds like the silliest pet peeve to have, but it really bothers me. When someone misuse your and you’re, I cannot help but to think them a complete and utter fool. And even for those who you are enlightened enough to practice the difference between you’re and your, do not think it beneath you to politely correct others. They will appreciate it, and so will their high school English teacher.

By Anika Anand

1,2,3,4 — Get your booty on the dance floor

What do Will Ferrell, Danny Green, and 1,100 UNC-Chapel Hill students have in common? Not much, except that all were present at UNC-CH’s 10th annual Dance Marathon Feb. 22-23. I am proud to say that I was one of those students in a sea of rainbow-colored t-shirts who chicken danced, line danced, and walked it out for 24 hours to raise $321,938.53 for the North Carolina Children’s Hospital.

Before this weekend, Dance Marathon didn’t have a great deal of significance to me, and I didn’t know very much about it. Before this weekend, it meant another line on my to-do list in terms of calling relatives to raise the $100 required to participate. It meant an extra push to get some work done, and a target to get to bed early the week before, which inevitably did not happen. Dance Marathon is so much more meaningful that I realized at the time, and something the majority of UNC-CH students are missing out on.

Still unaware of this piece of insight on Friday evening, I made my way down to Fetzer gym in my most comfortable tennis shoes and with toothbrush at hand. This is where the Dance Marathon experience began. Coming up to the front entrance to the gym I was immediately greeted with loud cheers of “moralers” who are the equivalent of the spirit team, dressed in wildly eccentric eighties-style outfits. Dancers were ushered through a tunnel of high-fiving moralers, and into the gym whose walls were papered from floor to ceiling with banners with witty, encouraging, or cheesy dance-themed sayings. One of my favorites was something along the lines of, “Dance Marathon registration: $100, booty dancing with your hot lab partner: priceless.”

My first impression of this all night stand “for the kids” was that it was incredibly organized and incredibly spirited. Dancers were kept moving the entire night with activities like dance offs and pie eating contests and performances including the men’s soccer team and a Beatles cover band. At 6 a.m. the dancers were herded out of Fetzer gym, and across Stadium Drive to the football stadium where the drum line and dance team were waiting for us. Dance Marathon participants danced on the track to the drums, and brought on the dawn with warm up stretches with the dance team. To wake up before the sun was a show of commitment on their part, and dancing together made the University feel smaller and more unified.

The best moment of Dance Marathon was “Family Hour” when parents and hospital workers shared stories about our money which went to a calling card for a child to call his parents long distance, and to pay the medical expenses of two girls that were born weighing just over one pound. This poignant moment in the night instilled in us a sense of purpose. I have never felt closer to my fellow Tar Heels that that night when we swayed on swollen feet and sang “Lean on Me.”

Dance Marathon makes an incredible difference in the lives of children and their families, and this year a record amount of students participated.For the Children’s Hospital and for the bond built over the course of 24 hours, Dance Marathon should only grow in strength.

By Hannah Taylor

Restaurant Review: Sugarland Bakery and Dessert Cafe

Next stop, Sugarland.

The last two weeks before spring break is always blended with excitement, and then depression when students learn how much work is required before that last toll of the Bell Tower releases them. Balancing school, work and my visiting brother eager to bar hop during my mid-term week, was too much of a conglomeration of priorities. To say I was burned out and overwhelmed is a slap in the face of subtlety.

My brother is spending his spring break away from Burlington, Vermont, a place deprived of real hamburgers, and fixed with chicken byproducts mashed into a nugget formation. Sweets are decked in dark chocolate, sugarcoated with organic flour but lack the essence of satisfaction.

He escaped with a goal to enjoy North Carolina’s version of baked goods and winter temperatures. Early in the morning we set out on our adventure for good coffee and warm croissants.

Still being a newbie to the Franklin Street food venue, I had no idea where good coffee, not commercially grown or tasting of tar could reside. As the days reel by, I find myself craving a bit of chocolate; the bitterness of endless papers and taxing midterms boiling my brain into submission, eager to enjoy the taste of caffeine.

After walking a few feet on Franklin Street, my brother suggested several places before stopping at Sugarland, it seemed a quiet sample of European chic and Starbucks appeal, and we were hooked.

Walls decorated in robin’s egg blue and curtains draped in a subtle checkered pattern welcome guests to a cozy square of large, furnished mahogany tables and two glass boxes housing gelato on one side and cannolis, pastries and cakes in another.

The unsuspecting college student may not have time to process the depth to this place — the convenience of sugared treats wholloped in over-sized bowls, and coffee prepared in insulated containers enjoyed in round, large teacups.

The pastries are delicately flaked with crust, and the center oozes with apricot preserves. Hand-written menus scribbled in script stalk counter tops, and Splenda packets compete with sugar bowls for the interest of coffee-lovers.

Cream swirls in coffee, the cannolis are rich with cream — berry cream, and smothered with chocolate chips. The gelato melts before the container leaves the icebox and tiny baby spoons in electric yellow, peony pink and razzle blue frequent the sample section.

Martini glasses reign on shelves for decoration but are free of alcohol. The Sugarland coffee house blend is labeled as a mixture of beans from the African and Arabian regions—it is sweet with a hint of nutmeg. Beside it rests the decaf blend, warm and full to the brim, leaking, hoping to be noticed, but still the question lingers: what’s the point of decaf coffee?

We get a sample of each available sweet and take our seats, glancing out the window, happy for the unusual silence. Sugarland in time may snub the many commercially owned coffee cafes, and become a favorite among households. The slogan may be true, the South may rise again — but not until 10 a.m.

By Karen Kleimann

Oprah recommended it so it has to be good, right?

Never have I seen my family in such a frenzy over a book as when one of my cousins mentioned “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. No one in my family has ever been the type to get caught up in the hype of Hollywood trends, so it caught me off guard that the very book I watched an entire Oprah episode about was suddenly the rave of a family outing.

I figured if it’s good enough to get my uncles and aunts raving about its “life-changing” abilities, maybe I ought to give it a try. I headed over the Barnes & Noble, and picked up a little brown book with fancy lettering writing out the so very popular title, “The Secret.”

I have to admit that it took multiple attempts for me direct all of my attention into the book. At first I was too tired, later “Cashmere Mafia” was on and well… you can’t miss “Cashmere.” When I finally sat down and read the book (you can read it in several hours if you have the time and attention span) I realized that while the book itself failed to intrigue me (once they tell you The Secret, they sure don’t let you forget it), the concept behind it makes sense.

Focusing on the idea that we, by controlling our thoughts and feelings, can in turn control what happens in our life, “The Secret” enforces the importance of positive thought. While I can’t say that I agree with the author when she promises that you can get anything (yes, anything) you want through positive thought (and maybe that’s why I’m not yet a millionaire), I agree that ridding your mind of negative thoughts can assist in making life seem like more of a blessing than a burden.

If you’ve ever been curious about “The Secret,” I would recommend at least skimming through it. The propositions are valid, and reading it will pick you up if you’re feeling a little emotionally down. Even though the writing style wasn’t my favorite, it was interesting to delve into a new perspective.

By Amy Leonard

The not so glamorous Greek Life

I hear sorority and I think martini glasses, pearls, headbands and polo sweaters. I hear fraternity and I think kegs, The North Face gear, Croakies and those really funny looking shoes that I just learned the name of: Wallabees.

I apologize, but these are stereotypes that I just cannot move past.

Though I always knew being a sorority girl just wasn’t for me, I decided to be open-minded that first week at Carolina when the sororities were advertising themselves in the Pit. Suddenly, I found myself seriously considering the pros and cons of “rushing,” of “pledging,” of joining a… sisterhood?

While “rushing” may give you an opportunity to meet and socialize with people who are looking for the same thing, you have to wonder what it is these potential candidates are really looking for.

At first, the answer seems obvious. Everyone’s looking for some friends to kick it with. However, in Greek life, you aren’t just hanging out with your 30 new friends, you’re also sleeping in the same house, eating from the same kitchen, studying with the same people, attending the same cocktails… and the list goes on.

This is not to say that you can’t have friends outside of your sorority, but really, how often does that happen? Most sorority girls can attest to this: your friends outside of your sorority are either in a different sorority or they are thinking of pledging to your sorority or you know them from high school.

Now, to discuss the rushing process. I am quite aware this may be an oversimplification, but this is just my opinion after all. You walk from one sorority house to another, meeting and mingling and getting sized up by the house’s members. They make snap judgments about your appearance that are apparently synonymous with your personality. The rare sorority member may take a little extra time to get to know you (because of family ties, friend ties or money ties), and then they will decide, essentially, whether or not they want to be your “sister.”

Then, you receive bids… similar to how houses, cattle and antique objects are bid on… and then you choose (if you are given a choice) which house you want to join. Every house on campus has a certain reputation, and you are chosen by that house to uphold that reputation. Greek life encourages friendship after being accepted into a certain stereotype or image. Essentially, Greek life encourages friendship after paying your member dues. So really, you are buying new friends.

I won’t even get into the pledging process, for fear that this column has already offended too many people. Despite my (what you may call) cynicism, I do understand that there are some benefits of Greek life. After all, I did consider joining at one point. Greeks do a great deal of service work, and they provide great ties with alumni. At a school like Carolina, with an incoming class of 4,000, it is easy to get lost in the crowd; Greek life offers a guarantee of finding your niche immediately.

I’m not entirely bashing the Greek lifestyle; I’m just saying that I won’t be one to go out and buy a pair of Wallabees any time soon.

By Anika Anand

Pit Stop

Click for a live image of The Pit.

Girl 1: I gave up dessert. You just made me break lent.
Girl 2: Ice cream isn’t dessert. It’s like… a palate cleanser.

Girl 1: Alex Stepheson just looked straight at me. I swear. Like we met eyes.
Girl 2: Omigosh. He’s so beautiful. Did it steal your soul forever?!
Girl 1: My soul will never be the same.

Guy 1: Dude. That guy just about ATE IT falling off his bike.
Guy 2: Man, I never get to see anything good happen.

Girl: I really need to start wearing my glasses so I can judge people.

By Amy Leonard

Move food up on the priority list

I am lying prostrate on the sidewalk outside my house, and I hate my life.

No, I am not in the midst of passing out from binge drinking. I have just finished my routine Sunday run, but instead of feeling rejuvenated and strong like usual, I feel like I’m going to puke.

There is an obvious explanation for this health conundrum. My stomach is seeking its revenge for the all the crap I forced into it over the course of the weekend.

Ah yes, road trips are great. Get all your best friends and favorite music in a car for five hours, and you’re bound to have a good time. You’re also bound to eat the finest gas station cuisine for the majority of the weekend — white cheddar popcorn, peanut M&Ms, Diet Coke, Doritos — the works.

For many college students, this diet may not sound so far off from their typical dorm room smorgasbord. Whatever the excuse, be it lack of time or lack of money, most undergrads are quick to categorize food as their lowest priority.

I always harp on my friends about eating unhealthy food or, in many cases, not eating at all. Most shrug off my motherly comments, and dig into a container of cake icing without a second thought. “I like junk food,” they say, or “I eat chips all the time and I feel perfectly healthy.”

But then the same friends complain to me about their acne, their exhaustion, their inability to sleep, their irritability, their restlessness and their bad hair days.

No one realizes that these problems are directly connected to food and nutrition—yes, even the bad hair days.

It is impossible to lead a healthy lifestyle without good food. You may feel fine now but what you put into your body affects your health now, weeks from now and even years from now.

Skin problems? You’re not getting enough essential fatty acids. Always exhausted? You’re not getting enough protein. Restless? You’re ingesting too much caffeine and sugar. Really dry or really oily hair? You’re not getting enough Vitamin E, or you’re eating too much greasy food.

The saying is true — you are what you eat. So put down the cookie dough, and do a little research on how to get the nutrition you need. It’s not nearly as hard as it seems and your body will thank you.

By Mary Lide Parker

Movie Review: The Jane Austen Book Club

I’ll admit it. I get weak in the knees for chick flicks. So yes, the cover of The Jane Austen Book Club with its cute women smiling and laughing on the front cover immediately attracted me.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the plot was not some commercialized spin-off of Jane Austen’s novels. It was, in fact, an accurate portrayal of the difficult balance of giving in, and yet not giving up.

The movie is about five women who are all in very different places in their lives. They encounter problems with their significant others, and through the “gospel of Austen” they realize that maybe others aren’t the only ones to blame.

The movie’s opening scene is a series of shots of things that can go (and usually do go) wrong throughout the course of a day. Your credit card doesn’t work at the gas pump, the soda machine won’t accept your money, your coffee spills all over you while you’re driving.

Sometimes things go wrong, and sometimes things are out of our control. But, something we do have control over is our reactions. This small fact ends up changing the course of the characters’ lives by the end of the film. And maybe, it will change yours too.

If you are looking for a feel-good, uplifting movie this Valentine’s Day, watch The Jane Austen Book Club. It may just leave you wondering, “What would Jane do?”

By Anika Anand

The Real World

There’s nothing like moving out of the house to make you realize that you’re no longer a child. The fact that my 20th birthday is officially on the 2008 calendar makes me a little queasy as well (two decades…really?) Wedding announcements from people I used to shop at the Limited Too with. I must say, I never anticipated adult life emerging so quickly.

One of the most popular dinner conversations among my friends this semester has officially become, “What are we going to do with our lives?” In high school this question used to be fun to think about. Everybody wanted to be famous. We all wanted to be rich, marry that special someone and live in a five bedroom house with a sparkly pool in the backyard.

Nowadays this question only yields to a sinking feeling in my stomach. What am I going to do with my life? I have no idea. And the more adulthood peaks its ugly head around the corner, the more I wish I was back in elementary school where my biggest concern was what I was going to bring for show and tell.

I don’t even know what I want to wear tomorrow. How in the world am I supposed to project what I want to do for the rest of my life? Sure; I have a passion. I love to write. But I also love to travel. Also, I shop when I’m happy, angry, sad or hungry. The more I think about wandering around New York pushing my stories to low end publications and making, if I’m lucky, in the ten-thousands each year (no seriously, I researched this over the weekend while I was having a breakdown about my future), the more I realize this doesn’t exactly coincide with lavish vacations and nice clothing I begin to think I might not wind up with the life I anticipated.

Post future-breakdown, I sat back and thought very hard about what being successful truly means to me. Does it mean having a huge house and a fancy car? Or does it mean being completely content with my life and what I do with it?

Maybe I’m not destined to travel all over the world with the money I make as the editor of Cosmopolitan. Maybe I’m just meant to be happy doing something I love. No matter our majors or our GPAs, our incomes or the size of our houses, if once we reach this mess called the real world that is currently plowing toward us with full force and we’re happy… perhaps there is no greater success.

By Amy Leonard

Perhaps it’s because we have minorities running for president for the first time. Perhaps it’s because Bush is just so terrible. Perhaps it’s because this is the first election without incumbents in the primaries since 1928.

Whatever the reason, the U.S. presidential primaries, traditionally a quiet and rather boring process to the majority of Americans (even to the half that does vote) have become the latest craze with up to the minute updates on the latest polls, the latest endorsements, but mostly the latest gossip.

In the place of American Idol chitchat, people are talking about surprising and even scandalous campaign endorsements. Oprah endorsed Obama, but what about power to the women? Ted and Caroline Kennedy endorsed Obama, but what about their close relationship with the Clintons? But wait, who is endorsing Clinton? It seems like Obama has all the celebrities (Stevie Wonder included). On the Republican side, McCain has… oh right, President Bush!

So, are people really paying more attention than usual to the primaries or is all this just “media hype”? After all, CNN advertises live debates among the candidates like ESPN advertises a boxing match. Most major online news sources have special sections for “the campaign trail.” It appears as though the elections have taken Paris Hilton out of the headlines in the newstainment world.

The internet tells the truth — like the 500,000 views on YouTube of the Hillary/Obama “fight” at the South Carolina democratic debate. Of course that figure doesn’t compare to the over 3 million views of Obama’s music video, “Yes We Can.”

But YouTube is only one outlet. We can’t forget Facebook. There are now over 500 Facebook groups and special applications for candidates to create their own profile pages.

In 2004, there were no Facebook groups or Youtube debates. Of course, therein lies the answer to the question, when did presidential primaries become cool?

Politics has become trendy thanks to our generation, and the internet. As up and coming voting-age youth, news networks and social networking sites are paying attention to us, and in turn we are paying attention to them — maybe even more than reality TV shows.

By Mary Lide Parker