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Jess Smith

Jess Smith is a journalist who’s passion for writing spans all the way to when she was only 7-years-old and was making up news stories for her neighbors. Fast forward to age 22 and she has written for many publications including the EDM based, Elektro Magazine.

National Signing Day 2016

LSU, Texas, Ole Miss and Michigan are having big days for college recruiting

National Signing Day 2016 is here! The college football world is abuzz with high-school aged potentials picking which college football team colors they are going to wear during the next school year. National Signing Day 2016 for college football has proven to produce some big winners for schools with top players picking Texas, Clemson and Ole Miss as their prospective homes. There have been some surprises with top high school players not committing and last minute and switching up whom they are going with.

LSU is in the lead with 18 of the top high school football players in the ESPN 300 committing to the team.  LSU lost a prospect when another ESPN 300 player, Erick Fowler switched from LSU to Texas. LSU also received four-star cornerback Kristian Fulton, which was a great decision for their already growing roster.

 Clemson gained a great contender when the No. 18 player in the ESPN 300, Trayvon Mullen committed on ESPNU. Brandon Jones, who is also in the ESPN 300 and who also is listed as the No. 1 safety, will join Fowler as a Longhorn.

You should also read: Tailgating 101 with ESPN’s Mike and Mike

The Longhorns are getting a pretty meaty lineup, with athletic stars, such as defensive tackle Jordan Elliot and inside linebacker Dontavious Jackson.  Ole Miss is racking in top recruits as well, including four-star safety, Deontay Anderson, who probably had the most unique announcement video yet for National Signing Day 2016with a skydive video of him announcing his decision to go with Ole Miss. A.J. Brown, No.6 in the ESPN 300 rankings, as well as Jacob Mathis will also be going with Ole Miss.

Alabama is shooting up the rankings fast in the 2016 National Signing Day rankings by gaining the ESPN 300 cornerbacks, Shyheim Carter, Jared Mayden, and Aaron Robinson.  

Michigan also had a really big afternoon, when it was announced that the 286-pound defensive tackle and No. 1 recruit, Rashan Gary signed to Michigan.

National Signing Day 2016 continues to push on as the talent continues to be dispersed to the biggest teams in the college football league.

Check this article for updates throughout the day.

You will also like: Clemson will take on Alabama to claim College Football Championship

UPDATE: Bleacher Report has released their official list for Ranking the Top 25 Recruiting Class after tallying up the player ratings of the players who chose to go each school.

25. Nebraska

24. Arkansas

23. TCU

22. Michigan State

21. Miami

20. Oklahoma

19. Texas A&M

18. Penn State

17. Baylor

16.Stanford

15. Tennessee

14. Notre Dame

13. Florida

12. UCLA

11. Texas

10. Auburn

9. Clemson

8. USC

7. Georgia

6. Ole Miss

5. Michigan

4. Ohio State

3. LSU

2.Florida State

1. Alabama

CHICAGO: A Horror Musical That Will Fulfill Your Halloween Fix

Babysitter Massacre ’78 is set to hit Public House Theater during October

As a big theater fan and an even bigger horror fan, when these two genres collide I get a kind of giddiness that only the fusion of these two things can bring about. So, you can imagine my delight when I heard The Public House Theater in Chicago would be filling up their October schedule with showings of Babysitter Massacre ’78 The Musical. This horror-musical is the mastermind of Ricky W Glore, who previously brought us the genius shows A Nightmare On Backstreet: A Boy Band Musical Parody and Bates: An 80’s Musical Parody.

The horror musical will follow a story with 6 unlucky teenagers on New Years Eve night in 1978 when they find out a psycho-murderer is right inside of their home! Will they all die a violent death or is one of them to blame? Who knows! In the same vein as horror-musicals like “Evil Dead: The Musical”, this production will be the perfect way to get into the Halloween spirit.

Tickets are on sale now and Babysitter Massacre ’78 will be shown on Thursdays at 8pm and Fridays and Saturdays at 10pm.  Buy the tickets here and check out the bloody musical at The Public House Theater on 3914 N. Clark.

Riot Fest Chicago was a muddy haven with plenty of highilights

Riot Fest 2015 in Chicago experienced a lot of audio issues, but was otherwise a success

If the Chicago music festival scene were viewed as high school cliques, Riot Fest would definitely be the cigarette puffing, colored hair and tattered jeans rebels that just didn’t really give a shit about anything. Compared to the popular-kid fest, Lollapalooza, and the rich artsy scene-fest, Pitchfork, Riot Fest has always had a special place in my heart because it is one of the only places where people don’t ask me why I’m covered in head to toe black clothing. Riot Fest went through a big change this year with the location moving from Humboldt Park to the Douglas Park, which I was curious to see how the two would compare since Douglas Park caused some controversy because of the high crime level in the neighborhood.

Riot Fest always pulls in the best headliners, but for the past 3 years the true standout headliner has been Mud. No, not Mud, the English glam-rock band, but the literal mixture of rain, dirt and moshpits that tried it’s best to capture the onslaught of Doc Marten’s that wreaked havoc through the weekend.

Day 1 of Riot Fest marked the day of rain and the beginning of audio issues- an issue that would plague the rest of the weekends and taint otherwise awesome sets. Legendary Living Color attempted to kick off their set, only to be met with no sound and disappointed fans yelling for tech to fix the sound issue.  Against Me, was also a highlight of Friday with frontwoman, Laura Jane Grace, giving a strong message to the transgender community when she wore a short with “Gender Is Over” emblazoned on the front.

Also read: Ripped Tees and Cut Off Denim: Must See Riot Fest Acts

 Day 1 was definitely the hardest headlining choice to make with No Doubt, Ice Cube and Motorhead, all starting their sets at the same time.  As much as I wanted to see No Doubt and see if Gwen Stefani would share some of her vampire blood (seriously, how does she stay young forever?), I was fresh off of seeing, Straight Outta Compton, and I was on a N.W.A high and went over to catch the buzzed about set. Ice Cube was joined on stage by DJ Yella and MC Ren who went through the tracklist of Straight Outta Compton, for a performance that didn’t do the album in it’s entirety, but gave fans what they wanted. During these sets the awkward set up of the staging definitely came into play with sound bleeds wafting between No Doubt and Ice Cube’s sets.

Audio failure really reared it’s ugly head on Day 2, when multiple sets were riddled with the sound going in and out or bleed issues from adjacent stages. The most disappointing audio failure, was definitely Billy Idol’s. The British sex symbol still made leather-clad hearts swoon in the audience, however we couldn’t hear him since the sound cut out completely multiple times. Leading people to awkwardly stand and look confused or head over to different sets.  Definitely the best set of Saturday belonged to Iggy Pop who powered through all of his major hits, while strutting and gyrating with the oomph of someone half of his age. The sound was the best I heard all weekend and the crowd was highly energetic and diverse. Everyone from their late 50’s to early 20’s were rocking out.

Day 3 was definitely like a makeshift 420 holiday with the performers of the day largely being made up of stoner legends.  Stephen Marley and Skip Marley got on stage to kick off the day of incessant weed smoking, The relaxed reggae was a chill precursor to the next stoner legends, Cypress Hill who didn’t waste any time going into their fun cannabis anthems, but the people were truly waiting or the King Snoop. And oh, were people waiting. Snoop D-O-double G showed up a half hour late to his set, blunt in mouth and went through his classic album Doggystyle, while peppering in some of his newer hits to give the people what they want. Riot Fest wasn’t pleased with Snoop’s tardiness either because they cut his set short to make room for Modest Mouse who was slated to perform at the next stage over.

All in all Riot Fest’s inaugural year at Douglas Park had many kinks, but was surprisingly successful for a first-time test run. Next year I am sure all of the problems from last year will improve and we will meet again for yet another epic weekend of punk nostalgia.

You will also like: #Lolla2015: We give out some awards to the best moments of the weekend 

The last Internet detox that you will ever need to do

We provide 15 tips on how to wean yourself from an over abundance of the Internet

Have you ever felt trapped in a sticky web of likes, favorites, notifications and infinite scrolling? Have you ever felt yourself staying awake at night staring at the glare of your phone as you obsessively check through your news feeds? Answered yes to these? Then you are not alone. In fact a study by the University of Derby relayed that 1 out of every 8 people they surveyed has a smartphone addiction. 

We currently are living in a technological driven society where the Internet has allowed us to get access to parts of the world that we have never thought we would be able to tap into. Tools like social media has allowed us to connect to people who have the same interests, no matter how niche they may be. These days a 20-year-old female who has a love for collecting porcelain cats can log in to an Internet forum and connect with a 19 year-old-boy from Delhi, India with the exact same passion for collecting fragile felines. Alas, with great power comes great responsibility. An overabundance of anything can be toxic and the Internet is no different. In fact with the invention of smartphones and the ability to literally have the whole world in our hands, tearing ourselves away from the infinite motion of scrolling through our feeds can be as hard as kicking a tobacco habit. In fact just like tobacco, researchers have said that social media and certain apps are so addicting that they should come with a warning label on them before users can download. Internet/smartphone addiction has become such a growing issue that in-patient Internet rehab centers have begun to pop up in large numbers. However, before the only choice is to check into one of these programs, try one of our 15 tips to help detox yourself from the Internet.

1.Find a hobby that does not require Internet usage

Believe it or not, but that sweater you saw your mom knitting wasn’t just to punish you with a mass amount of itchy material that you would be forced to wear, but this is actually a hobby that promotes healthy brain function and doesn’t require using the Internet. Knitting may not be your thing, but try going to a craft shop and find something that peaks your interest. Finding something you love that doesn’t require the Internet will reawaken the notion that the Internet is not end all be all of entertainment in your life.

2.Take at least 1 vacation a year in a remote place

Vacations can be costly, but budgeting correctly or finding something affordable will help you get unplugged while also de-stressing yourself from any other toxic situations that may be effecting you. If you really want to go all in then try a South East Asian area that will help you meditate as well as relinquish the urge to want to indulge in technology again.

3.Get a web-blocking program or app

Sometimes the temptation to dive back into the world of technology and the only way to prevent yourself from doing so is to give yourself no other choice. This is when a web-blocking program comes in. These programs allow you to set it up on your desktop or device and set a timer for how long you want it to block you from the Internet. These types of programs are especially important if you have some sort of work you need to finish and you need to be free from distractions.

4.Set up a room in your living space that is  technology free

Sometimes just seeing items like TVs, phones, speakers and laptops is enough to set off the “I must go on the Internet” instinct in you. Try designating one room that is free from any technology with the exception of lights (or maybe just try using candles or a lantern). Keep a few books and magazines in here and take at least 1 hour out of the day to sit in here and detox yourself from the day.

5.When having days out with your friends, family or significant other, leave your phone at home

If someone is trying to enjoy a moment with you or have a good time with you only for you to pay more attention to your Twitter feed this could strain relationships or leave bad impressions. Try leaving your phone at home or at least in the car when attempting to engage with other people.

6.Unless there is an emergency, avoid taking your phone out on lunchbreaks while at work or school

If you work in an office or any administrative type job, chances are you will have to plant yourself in front of a computer or device for a majority of your day. During your leisure breaks or lunch breaks, try leaving your devices at your desk and taking a walk around the area. Chances are you will discover some new things without the distraction of your devices.

7.Designate days for ridding yourself of the digital burden

Organization and planning makes all of the difference. Rather than just deciding to take a break at the spur of the moment, write in a paper calendar a few times a month the days and times that you decide to eliminate yourself from the digital world. Seeing it written down makes it concrete and makes it more likely that you will stick to the plan.

8.Create a contract with your significant other that states that you will have at least one time a month you just focus on each other

When I say contract I don’t mean a creepy 15 page, 50 Shades of Grey type of contract. Something simple that states a day of the month that you both unplug and focus on each other with no devices in sight.

9.Keep your devices in another room while you sleep

According to a study done at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in London, the glow of your devices before bedtime can create reduce levels of melatonin which will affect your desire to sleep. Do not use your device right before sleeping and leave it in a completely different room to avoid the temptation to wake up and check it.

10.Turn your WiFi router off at night

Another way to keep yourself from ruining your sleep is to turn off your WiFi router before bed. That way even if you do reach over to fulfill that impulse you won’t have any Internet to work with and it takes way more of an effort to walk over to your router and start it back up again.

11.Give someone trustworthy your device and let them lock it and change the password

If you don’t trust yourself to stay away then give someone you do trust your device and let them change the password. Tell them not to give you the password all day unless it is an emergency.

12.Try going vintage and using some old technology

Unfortunately these days even simple things like trying to listen to some tunes requires us to login to our devices and go right back into the digital world. We often forget that before the days of smart devices we had things like CD players and radios. Consider taking it old school and creating a mixtape on a CD with your favorite tunes on it so you won’t have to go back online.

13.Spend more time in water

Frolicking in lakes, oceans and pools pretty much requires you to not have any devices in your hand unless you never want them to work again. Spending a lot of time swimming will force you to be away from your device. If you aren’t by any large bodies of water or the weather doesn’t permit you to do this then just draw a bath and relax in it with your hands in the water.

14.Consider downgrading your device

Unless you are a bustling business CEO of a Fortune 500 company, most people don’t need these high tech devices that can store hundreds of apps. Consider downgrading your phone to hold less memory. This way you will have to choose a few important apps and won’t have a phone packed with distractions. Not only will this save you money, but it will help you in the long run.

15.Go to a digital detox retreat

Although not a full-fledged rehab, places like Digital Detox Company and Camp Grounded are taking adults and putting them in natural environments and allowing them to escape from the hustle and bustle of the digital world.   These innovative places are taking the therapeutic and community creating sense of camps and making it useful for adults.

Is Michael Conforto the savior that the Mets need?

The first round draft pick is set to be a part of the starting lineup

Michael Conforto, Oregon State Beavers vet is headed to the big leagues! After the New York Mets finally stopped being in denial and placed Michael Cuddyer on the disabled list, they called up their number one prospect- Conforto.

Conforto has been making waves during his time at Oregon State, becoming the Pac-12 Player Of The Year twice.  He annihilated the minors with  hitting .308 in  133 games.The 22-year-old became The Mets’ first round draft choice back in 2014, as the No. 10 pick. Although Conforto was expected to do well he became one of the fastest Beavers players to move to the big leagues in such a short amount of time.

The rising star joins The Mets with three other draft prospects that came on this year along with Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. The Mets need some fresh meat more than ever with their team wavering and the bottom of the MLB, especially with their offensive lineup.

Even with all of the pressure for success, Conforto told NJ Advance Media on Thursday that he felt right at home. “I think I’m right where I wanted to be,” he told them. “I’ve had a pretty smooth season so far. Only a couple of rough patches where I wasn’t feeling good at the plate but I feel really good now.”

You can see Conforto as a part of the starting lineup against the Dodgers at Citi Field.  

How legit is this 2015-16 NBA style update?

A list of the NBA uniform updates has made its way to the Internet

Looks like more NBA uniforms will be getting makeovers this upcoming season. The Internet’s favorite rumor pool, Reddit has been circulating a collection of the 2015/2016 Identity updates that seems to have everyone believing that they are pretty legit.  

The identity updates also seem to include uniforms that have already seen updates during the year. The Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks and more have seen style updates.

This alleged style update sheet lets us get a peak of some anticipated uniform redesigns, including the Drake-designed Toronto Raptor’s uniform. I thought it would be covered in owls, but it still looks pretty good!

The new style sheet shows us some throwback uniforms that look really snazzy, channeling some 70’s and 80’s looks. Take a look at the style sheet and let us know which ones you would like to add to your jersey collection.   

You will also like: Top 25 Men’s NCAA basketball teams have been announced

Looks like college sports will be back in the video game world soon

A new addition to NBA 2K16 will possibly see some college basketball teams

In the massive world of sports oriented video games, the ability to play, as a college team is sadly not evident. Until now that is! It was just announced that the extremely popular NBA 2K16 series has gone and gotten the licenses for 11 universities, which will be allegedly featured in MyCareer Mode in the game.

The collegiate licensing company has given out licenses for University of Arizona, Arizona State, Georgetown, Kansas, Louisville, Texas, University of Conneticut, UCLA, University of Wisconsin and Villanova.

Unfortunately you won’t get as much freedom as you would if you were playing a team from the NBA. None of the teams will have any real life players that are on the college teams and it is thought that you won’t even be able to change the player’s name.

There is still more to be discovered about this endeavor, but we can all agree that having a college sports add on is exciting for the mass amounts of college sports fans in this country.

Nicki Minaj is winning in 2015

Her tour is mostly sold out shows and she was nominated for 3 VMA’s

This seems to be the year of the ‘Minaj’. Mega star, Nicki Minaj has single-handedly annihilated year 2015 with the accolades still rolling in for her. The hip-pop star has sold out shows throughout the country with her massive ‘The Pinkprint Tour’. The show opened in Dallas, TX on Friday, July 17 to a completely sold out show.

If that isn’t enough to prove her as an industry titan, then the fact that she was nominated for three MTV Video Music Awards; being nominated for Best Female Video and Best Hip Hop Video for “Anaconda”. She also is nominated for Best Collaboration for “Bang Bang”.

This tour is packed with star power with some massive supporting artists. Her beau Meek Mill along with Tinashe, Dej Loaf and Rae Sremmurd will be opening on select dates.

NICKI MINAJ – THE PINKPRINT TOUR – NORTH AMERICAN DATES
All dates, cities and venues below subject to change.
* – Meek Mill, Tinashe and Dej Loaf only on these dates.
 

Monday, July 20

Miami, FL

Bayfront Park Amphitheare

Wednesday, July 22

Bristow, VA

Jiffy Lube Live

Friday, July 24

Holmdel, NJ

PNC Bank Arts Center

Sunday, July 26

Brooklyn, NY

Barclay’s Center

Tuesday, July 28

Toronto, ON

Molson Canadian Amphitheatre*

Wednesday, July 29

Montreal, QC

Bell Centre

Friday, July 31

Clarkston, MI

DTE Energy Music Theatre

Sunday, August 2

Atlanta, GA

Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood

Tuesday, August 4

Charlotte, NC

PNC Music Pavilion

Thursday, August 6

Camden, NJ

Susquehanna Bank Center

Saturday, August 8

Burgettstown, PA

First Niagara Pavilion

Sunday, August 9

Tinley Park, IL

First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre

Tuesday, August 11

Denver, CO

Pepsi Center

Thursday, August 13

Chula Vista, CA

Sleep Train Amphitheatre

Friday, August 14

Concord, CA

Concord Pavilion*

Sunday, August 16

Vancouver, BC

Pepsi Live at Rogers Arena

Tuesday, August 18

Calgary, AB

Scotiabank Saddledome

Wednesday, August 19

Edmonton, AB

Rexall Place

 

Bloody sheets, phantoms and valiant arias make a strong Lyric debut for Tosca

 

When you hear “Puccini” and opening night, you already know you are going to be in for a packed house. Chicago’s Lyric Opera was no different with nearly every seat packed with opera aficionados ready to soak in the Civic Opera House’s brand new production.

Let me begin by saying that I am a novice opera attendee; my first opera was actually a Puccini opera I saw last year at Lyric, Madama Butterfly.  If you are anything like me and enjoy more bloodshed and sadism than cliché love stories, Puccini is definitely the guy you want to check out.

This time around, it was Puccini’s tragic tale Tosca that I would be seeing. This effort is going to be dual performances with a winter run and a spring run. The winter run (January-February) will feature a completely different cast than the spring run (February-March).  The first cast sees Russian soprano, Tatiana Serjan as the jealous and passionate Tosca. Serjan already laid her imprint on Chicago with her exhilarating performance singing Lady Macbeth with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and she continued to skyrocket her reputation with a sincere performance as Tosca.

 American tenor Brian Jagde, was a replacement as Cavaradossi, when Ukrainian tenor, Misha Didyk backed out for unforeseen reasons. You would never have known he was a replacement by the thunderous applause he received after each aria he belted out.

The sadistic Scarpia, given life by Russian baritone, Evgeny Nikitin gave a valiant effort, but fell short with vocals during some of his stage time.

This depressing production underwent the direction of John Caird (Lyric’s Parsifal) and Bunny Christie designed the set. Each of the drop curtains was exceptionally bloody, obviously foreshadowing that this story would not be a comforting ending.  Although the bloody drop curtains were a nice touch, I felt that it actually led a first-time watcher to realize the tragic ending before it even happened.

The set seemed in shambles, representing a war torn Roman setting. I thought the set was perfect for the dark tones of the story. The constant battle between religious piety and carnal human desires was the resonant theme within this opera.  Act 1 saw the church in shambles, riddled with holes from and damaged from war and even a large broken painting of a woman’s face, similar to the internal battle Tosca was having within herself.

Caird took some fresh approaches to this production by modifying some ideas from the original opera, including replacing the original shepherd boy with an illuminate female phantom that represents the Madonna and Tosca’s innocence. Some enthusiasts found this to be intrusive on Caird’s part, while I think modification like this is necessary to keep ideas flourishing and alive.  Who wants to see the same ideas regurgitated generation after generation and culture to culture?

Overall, the performances for Puccini’s Tosca was stellar, leaving a high standard for the second cast that will take over in the spring.  Some of the stage direction and set design seemed a bit forced, but other than that I think this was a tremendous return for Tosca in Chicago. To get tickets for this performance visit the Lyric Opera website. If you want to learn more about the art and history of opera check out their Lyric U program.

Fall Accessories for the Alt-Girl

When you have an excess of piercings, tattoos, or multi-colored hair, the right accessories are vital to truly compliment your look. These days alternative girls are winning, with more and more people dyeing their hair pastel colors or rocking a septum piercing. What people forget is that wearing the wrong accessories can make your alternative style appear tacky or concentrated. Here are some tips on how to perfectly accent your unique style.

Thigh-High Socks

High socks cannot only give your outfit a distinct look, but it can add increased warmth to a fall outfit. Earth-toned high socks paired with a long sleeved dress or even over a pair of tights, can create an extremely trendy appearance. Not to mention that if you have any thigh tattoos, high socks can compliment them very nicely.

A Statement Headband

A unique headband is easy to throw on and can save a negative hair day from going bad to worse. Flower crowns have been dominating the music festival scene and have been translating into everyday wear for many fashionistas. Flower headbands often look good with muted pastel hair colors, such as lilac or light blue, but with bolder hair colors, you might want to try a headband that isn’t so boisterous. A nice Laurel Leaf headband will give you an extremely unique Greek style.

Combat Boots

Combat boots are not only durable, but they have the ability to be both rugged and sophisticated. Combat boots, more specifically Doc Martens, can be paired together with everything from leggings to a dress. Mixing feminine with masculine creates a unique balance that fits perfectly with an alternative style.

A Rebellious Bag

Purses always seem to have a softer or glamorous look to them, since they are often one of the most important accessories to a woman’s wardrobe. However, getting a bag that goes against the grain, can really pack a punch when it comes to really digging deep into your personal style. Getting a floral bag and adding spikes and studs can really switch up the “girly” look of a purse. If you want to be more practical or get your back-to-school swag on, an acid-washed or leather backpack cannot only be smart, but it can also be an amazing addition to any outfit.

Gold Body Jewelry

Gold is making a comeback with the runway being laden with gold accessories Most body jewelry worn for piercings are sterling silver, however very few consider wearing gold body jewelry opposed to silver. Gold body jewelry is unique even in the alternative world and can add certain classiness to your piercings, especially nostril or septum piercings.