UT Austin

Get high – on music!

We’ve all been there, driving through the night, windows rolled down, feeling the air combing our hair and listening to some jam-worthy songs. Or maybe just laying down in our bed, facing up and staring at the ceiling with our headphones, slowly melting into the bed along with music that makes us feel so relaxed, yet so vibrant – wink wink.

I’ve consulted with some of my friends who also like to enjoy music, and with some of their recommendations, I’ve put together a playlist with some songs that will just rip through your skin and make you feel high – on music! Some of them are from legendary bands such as Pink Floyd or more well-known artists like Harry Styles or Tame Impala. Others, this might be the first time you’ve heard of them, but luckily, will not be the last.

So, get your closest pair of headphones, or set of keys and let yourself fall into a world where effervescent music is the only thing that exists.

Image courtesy of unsplash.com

“This Is The Way”: “The Mandalorian” Saved George Lucas’s Legacy

Why the Disney+ original show is the best thing to happen to the Star Wars universe since the original trilogy

Source: IMDb

When George Lucas sold his beloved Star Wars franchise to Disney for an absurd amount of money, fans around the world held their breath and braced for the worst. And it happened. “The Force Awakens” was pretty okay. “The Last Jedi” was confusing and unrewarding, but it had porgs. “The Rise of Skywalker” was one of the worst movies I’d ever seen. 

Luckily, Disney hasn’t ruined all Star Wars media. The 2016 film “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” was praised by critics and die-hard Star Wars fans alike. “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” a prequel film following a young Han Solo, received mixed reviews but was praised for featuring Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. 

Then there came a game-changer: “The Mandalorian.” The Disney+ original show was released in November 2019 and is unequivocally one of the best successes since the Star Wars prequels in the early 2000s. (Of which I am fond of but it’s understandable when they are hated by most audiences.)

“The Mandalorian” has some of the best critical responses the Star Wars universe has seen in years. It has a 92% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 82% rating with audiences. The critics’ consensus on Rotten Tomatoes says, “‘The Mandalorian’ is a welcome addition to the ‘Star Wars’ universe that benefits greatly from the cuteness of its cargo.” (Albeit, that was only for the first season and does not include the first three episodes of season two that have been released in 2020.) On IMDb, it has an 8.7 out of 10 possible points.

The Mandalorian and the Child (Source: Empire)

In 2020, the show was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series at the Primetime Emmy Awards. Unfortunately, the show did not win the award but it did bag seven Creative Arts Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Music Composition for a Series and Outstanding Special Visual Effects. 

Not to mention the fact that the series has been praised by Star Wars fans everywhere. One reviewer on Google called “The Mandalorian,” “an excellent and surprisingly intimate portrayal into just one of the trillions of characters populating the Star Wars universe.”

“The Mandalorian” has an exciting and innovative plot. It follows a Mandalorian bounty hunter dedicated to doing his job in the apocalyptic-like period after the fall of the Empire (after “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi”) and before the rise of the First Order (before “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens”). 

He is sent to collect a mysterious creature called “The Child” (who we will get to later) and return him to a wealthy client. However, after discovering the Child and growing fond of him, the Mandalorian decides to protect the Child and goes on the run.

The series stars Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Giancarlo Esposito, Carl Weathers, and Nick Nolte. Obviously, the cast is incredible; and they create such complex and compelling characters.

From left to right: Dave Filoni (director), Carl Weathers, Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, and Jon Favreau (showrunner) (Source: Allen J. Schaben for Los Angeles Times)

The Mandalorian, colloquially called “Mando” by characters in the show and fans alike, is an especially well-rounded character. Even though we never see his face, you empathize with him and his quest to save the Child. The show has been praised for finally portraying a wholesome, positive parental relationship within the Star Wars universe. (See: Darth Vader and Galen Erso.) 

Mando has an elusive past that becomes more clear as the story goes on. Every decision he makes explores a deeper aspect to him that just makes you want to learn more. Kudos to Pedro Pascal for delivering such a powerful performance, all with a giant helmet on his head.

“The Mandalorian” also does something that, I think, the Star Wars sequels failed to do: it plays on the established world of Star Wars while also expanding the already rich universe.

Fans of Star Wars are familiar with bounty hunters because of Boba Fett and Jenga Fett. “The Mandalorian” delves into the untold world of the Mandalorians, an order of bounty hunters, and the code they follow. It takes us to new worlds, like the planet of Sorgan in the fourth episode of the first season. And, of course, it introduces us to original, often unusual characters with every new episode.

“The Mandalorian” doesn’t have to rely on expired, reused antagonists. (Looking at you, Darth Sidious in “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker.”) It is aware of the pre-existing plotlines and adds more to the story.

Then, of course, we get to the best part of the show: Baby Yoda. Although not actually called “Baby Yoda” in the series, the name quickly took when the Child was first introduced and fans quickly deduced that he was of the same species as Jedi Master Yoda. And he’s a baby, even though he is fifty-years-old. Thus, Baby Yoda was born.

The Child AKA Baby Yoda (Source: Forbes)

Baby Yoda took the internet by storm. Soon after his Star Wars debut, there were Baby Yoda songs, memes, artworks, videos, clothing, and fan cams dedicated to the adorable green alien. He is one of the newest additions in Star Wars’ vast array of characters but he quickly became the most beloved and most popular.

The mantra of the Mandalorians is, “This is the way.” When it comes to contemporary Star Wars media, there is only one way. The Mandalorian way.

Season two of “The Mandalorian” is now streaming on Disney+! (If you need to catch up, season one is also still available.)

5 Films to Add to Your Thanksgiving Celebrations

You could be like most Americans and watch the football game on Thanksgiving night, or you could watch a movie. But what if you’re not ready to get into the jolly holiday spirit? What can you watch? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered, here are 5 films to consider watching while you gobble down that Thanksgiving turkey.

Ratatouille

Rated: G

Rotten Tomato: 96%

Stream: Disney+

Disney Pixar’s “Ratatouille”

A Pixar classic about a French rat cooking in a high-end restaurant. Why it’s the perfect Thanksgiving film, and I’m sure we can all relate to a rat learning to cook. 

“Ratatouille” follows the story of Remy, a rat who wishes to go against the social norms of rats and become a chef. Along with his human friend, Alfredo Linguini, he does just that. The film is all about cooking and how food is a labor of love that connects us all. Gather your friends, the kids, the grandparents, and settle in for the delicacy that is French cuisine.

Knives Out

Rated: R

Rotten Tomato: 97%

Stream: Amazon Prime Video

Lionsgate’s “Knives Out.”

This one is not for the children. This is for the adults and all those who love Chris Evans. What better time to watch a murder mystery than Thanksgiving? “Knives Out” takes its audience on a journey to find out who murdered the famous author, Harlan Thrombey. The film has a stacked cast with Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, and Lakeith Stanfield. It’s a wild ride sure to get you more riled up than any family drama can.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Rated: Not Rated

Rotten Tomato: 100%

Streaming: Apple Tv+ on Nov 22 2020 at 6:30pm CT

CBS’s “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.”

This is not technically a movie, but it’s a classic, so “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” has earned its spot. Watch this adorable 30 minute TV special following Charlie, Snoopy and the gang as they celebrate Thanksgiving. If 30 minutes is too short, no worries, you can add “The Peanuts Movie” to the watchlist. In this 2015 film, Charlie has a new crush, and Snoopy is off fighting in World War I. It is available to stream on Disney+.

Free Birds

Rated: PG

Rotten Tomato: 20%

Stream: Rent or buy on YouTube

Reel FX’s “Free Birds.”

Ok, this film was not a critical success. But, a movie about two turkeys going back in time to fix turkeys being the traditional Thanksgiving dish — it’s got to be worth checking out. The film stars Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler. It’s sure to be a fun way to laugh and waste an hour and thirty minutes while you ignore your relatives.

Addams Family Values

Rated: PG-13

Rotten Tomato: 77%

Stream: Amazon Prime Video

Paramounts’ “Addams Family Values.”

Our favorite odd family is not just a one-holiday-wonder; they dabble in Thanksgiving, too. In the film, the Addams children, Wednesday and Pugsley, aren’t too thrilled to have a younger sibling, so they try to get rid of them. They are not successful and thanks to their new nanny, they’re in for a glorious stay at summer camp. “Addams Family Values” is the perfect Thanksgiving film for those who still hold onto their favorite spooky holiday.

5 Questions you Will get asked during thanksgiving break and how to talk your way out of them

  1. Can you believe the election results?

How to escape: Avoid political conversations during Thanksgiving at all costs. Even if your entire family magically happens to have the same political opinions (which they definitely won’t), nothing good can come out of bringing out such a controversial topic during what is supposed to be a peaceful time. Make a vague comment then use that comment to transition away from politics, like “Yeah, the whole election season was crazy. My friends and I all went out for Starbucks after voting to relax. Did you see Starbucks put out its holiday menu? We should go try it sometime. I heard the toasted white chocolate mocha is super good!” Politics get avoided and you might get you a free coffee, courtesy of your family members.

Photo by Lauren Breach

2. “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend yet?”

How to escape: If you do, that’s great! Take the opportunity to brag about your SO. If not, that’s okay! Don’t rush just to please your family. Pivot to something you do want to brag about. For example, “Nah, right now I’m trying to focus on this incredible organization/internship program/class I got into.” Then, flex away. Remember: You do NOT need a significant other to be impressive. You are more than impressive enough on your own.

Photo via NDTV Gadgets

3. “What are you going to do after college?”

How to escape: No one can see into the future so why does it seem like every relative keeps asking this? Just keep it vague and let your family interpret your response in the way they want to. Try something like “After I graduate, I want to work as a (insert general term for your major like nurse/videographer/advertising team member). Eventually, I want to work my way up to (insert dream job).” This shows you have a plan (even if it’s a loose one) and the ambition to go through with it. That’s all your family really wants to know.

Photo via pxfuel

4. “How’s (insert your ex’s name)?”

How to escape: Ouch! Being asked about the ex is never fun. It’s going to be stressful but just try to answer this like you are being asked about a friend. Give an honest but brief reply and don’t let the conversation dwell on the ex.

5. “Can you help me with my phone/IPad/other electronic?”

How to escape: You can’t. As one of the “young ones” in the family, you will never stop getting asked this question. Just know it doesn’t come from wanting you to be annoyed or trying to get you to spend half an hour arguing with Grandma about why you can’t block every spam call. Your older relatives didn’t grow up as digital natives and you’re helping them a lot. View it as an opportunity to help and teach someone you love instead of an irritation.

The Stars are Not Like Us… and Neither is Their Self-care

Celebrities are different from us in many ways and have many more opportunities than the average joe. Although they may be different, everyone shares the same need for self-care. Especially during the current times, when the world has slowed, many people have increased their self-care practices and many celebrities have shared their own on social media. Some stars do unwind with the same warm bubble bath as many of us, while others show off their privilege in their more elevated self-care routines.

Emily Ratajkowski, model and actress from San Diego, promoted her favorite skincare regimen on her Instagram story. A step in her process includes snail mucin. Snail mucin is produced from the secretion of snails and is moisturizing, increases collagen, and is said to have anti aging elements. Natural products are better for your skin and what could be more natural than snail slime?

Courtesy of Emily Ratajkowski’s Instagram

Self-care starts from the inside out according to Shailene Woodley. Woodley has an environmentalist mindset and advocates for natural products and practices. Not only does she only drink water from natural springs, but she also ingests clay. Where did she hear about the healing power of clay? From a taxi driver… yes. In an interview with “Into the Gloss,” Woodley explained how she eats clay because it helps to clear out the metals in the body and bonds to negative isotopes. 

English actress Naomie Harris found her simple cure to jet lag. After a long flight, Harris performs a “grounding” ritual to recenter herself. To “ground” Harris takes off her shoes and walks barefoot and sits to connect to the earth. 

Victoria Beckham will forever live up to the expectations set by her “Posh Spice” name. With the creation of her own beauty line, it’s no surprise that she has an elaborate self-care regimen. In a recent interview, Beckham explained her morning and night routine and listed seven supplements she takes including “fish oils, magnesium and vitamin C with zinc.” To pamper her skin, she uses an at-home facial steamer and finishes with eye masks that she keeps cool with her mini beauty fridge. 

Lizzo showed off her meditation practices during the height of the pandemic and quarantine time as a way to connect with her fans. She posted this guided meditation on her Instagram, complete with many crystals, incense and her soothing flute playing. 

To top off the examples of celebrity privilege is Kim Kardashian and the self-care she acted on for her 40th birthday. To treat herself to time with family and friends, Kim traveled with her inner circle to a private island. “I don’t think any of us truly appreciated what a simple luxury it was to be able to travel and be together with family and friends in a safe environment,” Kim explained in a Twitter thread. “We could pretend things were normal just for a brief moment in time.”

A few honorable mentions of other self-care routines include: J Lo.’s placenta facial and Gwyneth Paltrow’s uterus v-steam. 

Self-care routines come in many forms and for celebrities, many of them are unorthodox and expensive practices. Although some of the products and practices are easy to mimic others are just plain unattainable (I know I can’t afford to rent a private island). Self-care isn’t always about the luxury factor. After a long day, a $5 Target facemask feels just as good as a $450 placenta facial.