Off the Beaten Page: Film adaptation of “The Girl on the Train” in the works

The popularization of turning thrilling suspense novels into films is one that has been on the surface for the last few years. Novels like “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Gone Girl,” and “The Martian” have startled their audiences with jarring plot twists and elaborate plot arcs. Now, Paula Hawkins delivers a more domestic thriller that will leave readers on the edge of their seat.

At first, the novel appears to be one that just addresses infidelity, affairs, and polyamorous situations. The peripheral vibe of the novel seems to be one that thrives on jealousy and cheating, but it becomes so much more than that. “The Girl on the Train” is told in the perspective of three different women who are all linked…I refuse to give any spoilers, you just have to read to find out. The book quickly turns from a women’s novel of distress and romantic turmoil to a gripping tale of a mysterious disappearance.

This book covers issues such as misogyny, alcoholism, and nontraditional marriages, which add a psychological layer to the depth of the novel. The novel is also heart-wrenchingly accurate in how the different women are portrayed, each narrative succeeding in the expression of the character. While the convoluted plots may appear to be overzealous at first, they all work well together and balance properly with the very fast pace of the story.

Currently, “The Girl on the Train” is in the works for a film adaptation with Emily Blunt in the lead role. While the film is not set to be released until October 2016, audience are eagerly anticipating the movie. Why? With the success of “Gone Girl,” psychological thrillers have gained a strong appeal with readers and watchers alike. The structure of these novels attack large social issues without even trying.

“The Girl on the Train” observes blatant sexism in the coolest, most nonchalant of ways. It is almost as if we are not supposed to notice it. Women are portrayed as weak to the iron fist of men in this novel, which is intentional on Hawkins’ part. She creates the opposite of a feminist utopia, one where women are devalued to only a spousal pleasure, which makes the reader question their own social standing in relationships.

I encourage readers to pick up this novel before the movie hits theaters in less than a year. It is predicted to be a box-office hit, and after keeping the number one spot on the New York Times Bestseller list for 13 consecutive weeks, I think that is a great possibility.

The Lazy Fashionista: How I came to accept my basicness

I have always liked to think of myself as an individual—I was adamant that I wouldn’t conform to the crowd in middle school and high school. Something changed, though, when I came to college.

At Chatham, no one is really going to bat an eye regardless of what you are wearing. If you want to dress up as a chicken every day of the year, go for it. Sweatpants every day? Sure. Nobody is going to judge you for wearing your pajamas to class.

When I came to school, I didn’t have my mother nagging me to put on real pants, so I turned to t-shirts and sweatpants every day. After a semester, it wasn’t working for me, so I started wearing collared shirts and statement necklaces.

After my first year I realized that neither of these extremes were really me. So for the last year and a half or so, I have been honing my style—finding pieces that work for me, understanding what I am comfortable wearing, and building a wardrobe I’m happy with.

Here is what I have discovered about my style: it’s extremely basic.

Not basic in the solid-colors-class-cuts way. I mean in the every-sorority-girl-in-the-U.S. way.

When I discovered that leggings are extremely comfortable and can function in many scenarios as pants, I immediately bought about five pairs.

I have numerous sweaters that I got multiple sizes larger than necessary in order to wear them with said leggings.

And only last week I put the icing on the proverbial cake: I swapped by destroyed black Converse sneakers for brand new, crisp, white ones.

So, sitting here in my oversized sweatshirt and yoga pants, I have to accept my basicness because, let’s be real; it’s not going away.

Honestly, being basic is the best thing I could do. I am comfortable in oversized tops and leggings. White Converse go with everything and add a little something extra to an outfit. Wearing my hair in a messy bun is functional and allows me not to wash my hair every day.

I think the term “basic” has gotten a bad connotation in the last couple of years. Nobody wants to blend in. Nobody wants to be lumped in with everyone else.

But when blending is this comfortable, and lumping doesn’t make me look lumpy, I think I’m okay with it.

And if someone wants to call me basic?

Well, I guess I’ll be the best-dressed basic they’ve ever seen.

Soccer team ends season with a loss

On Halloween, the Chatham Cougars Women’s Soccer team played their final game of the season versus Grove City. Being the final game of the, the Cougars just had to play their best and try for that ninth win. However, the Cougars didn’t come away with the results they wanted overall. The Women’s Soccer team lost 0-4, giving them a season score of 8 wins and 8 losses.

As they played against the Wolverines of Grove City, the Cougars were outshot eight to 23, had one corner to Grove City’s four, and had eight saves to Grove City’s four. Being the end of the season this gives the athletes time to wind down and shift focus to other matters of the school year, whether that be another sport, a new club, or just focusing on their school work even more.

With the end results of this game, it brings Chatham to the close of the best season in the school’s history for any Women’s Soccer team. Head Coach Betsy Warren and the rest of the team says goodbye to seniors Sarah Jugovic (Pittsburgh, PA) and Auralia Henderson (Palmyra, PA) as the prepare to graduate and continue onward to their futures.

As a head coach, however, Warren has already begun to lay the groundwork for the 2016-2017 season. With soccer getting its share of recruits, like with any other sport, there could be potential for an even better record next season.

To see the results of any of the Cougar Soccer games from over the season visit

Chatham engages the community with Harvest FunFest

The sounds of Disney music and children’s laughter filled Chatham University’s quad on Saturday, October 31, as community members of all ages put on their best costumes and came together to celebrate all things spooky at Harvest FunFest.

The annual event, hosted by Chatham University, brings together students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community in a celebration of the Halloween season.  With a focus on young children, the event gives kids the opportunity to dress up, do a wide variety of Halloween themed crafts and activities — most of which are sponsored by student organizations on campus — and of course, eat all the candy they can get.

In addition to the 13 activities sponsored by student organizations, — like making slime out of clear glue and liquid starch with “This Is Me” — and two events — including cookie decorating and coloring, sponsored by Dean Zauyah Waite, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students — the free event also boasted two bouncy houses, balloon animals, face painting, and a selection of food and drinks.

According to Heather Black, Director of Student Affairs & Residence Life, the planning for the event began in early September.  

“We do a call to all student organizations,” she explained. “We give them a small budget and take care of all of the supplies.”

“I think it’s something special for a college to do something that involves the whole community,” said first-year Abigail Teibel, a member of the organization “Girl-Up,” which provided superhero masks for the kids to decorate because, “anyone can be a superhero.”

Her sentiments were widely echoed among many attendees including Black, who explained that the Chatham tradition, which is largely planned and organized by students, has grown extensively in the past three years.

“Over the years it’s become something that the community looks forward to,” she said. “And I think it’s so important for Chatham to be out there in the community.”

Community members feel the same.

“My granddaughter and grandson are having a great time,” Tom Ritson, husband of Chatham adjunct professor Margaret Ritson, said. “They just love the creative activities, and the hands-on stuff is really cool.”

Their grandson, five-year-old Beau (dressed as Wolverine) agreed, adding, “I like whenever we jumped on the bouncy house.”

His two-year-old sister Adalynn (dressed as a princess), though not very talkative, was not shy about dancing to the music.

In addition to providing family fun, the event was also a fundraiser.  Each table had a purple bucket in which community members could place donations, all of which went to a specific cause or charity, often one with which Chatham has previous connections.  In the past the funds have gone to the student emergency fund, and this year, like last year, the money is going to Relay for Life.

Community members responded to this, donating generously at the event which was, objectively, a success for everyone involved.

“We’ve become a staple in the community,” Black said about the response from neighbors of the campus. “We want to continue providing a safe space for people to gather. I think it’s so important for Chatham to be out there in the community.”

Students don silly and spooky costumes for annual Halloween dinner

It’s no secret that Chatham has many traditions that are held close in the hearts of students, faculty, and alums.  With Halloween on the way it was time for one of those traditions to show its face.  

On Thursday, October 29, Anderson Dining Hall hosted Halloween Dinner and Mocktails for all students to attend. The darkened dining hall was filled with villains and, luckily, superheroes to keep them in line. Police officers, movie characters, Minions, some famous people from history, and even a unicorn showed up to party.

There was a costume contest, in which all students could participate. Costumes were judged for the funniest, scariest, most creative or recycled, and best overall.  Junior Maryann Fix’s Juno costume — complete with with a big round baby belly — won funniest costume. A masked Jigsaw was so frightening, we had no choice but to vote him scariest costume. In a blast from the past, Amelia Earhart, portrayed by first-year Carina Stopenski, won the most creative or recycled costume. A group of friends dressed as the toys from “Toy Story” — including graduate student Emily Kocian as Woody, junior Lynzy Groves as Jessie, Wesley Knotts as Buzz Lightyear, junior Alice Shy as Slinky Dog, junior Amber Starr as Hamm, and sophomore Brittany Fowler as a Little Green Man — and won best costume overall.

Anderson served up a scary selection of food that night.  Students munched on mummy dogs, wolfed down worms and eyeballs, chewed up some cheese fingers, and enjoyed lots of other monstrous goodies.

Different clubs — including the Creative Writing Club, the Beyond the Page Book Club, the Artist Collective, and many others— concocted their own creations to share at Mocktails.  Some of the drinks available were fresh sangria, warm apple cider, and some other creative mixtures of different beverages.  Afterwards, students were able to fill out ballots and vote for the best Mocktail — an award that the Creative Writing Club ultimately won.

Off the Beaten Page: Relish in the foodie graphic novel “Relish”

As both a book enthusiast and a foodie, I always look for a good read that combines them both, and I honestly believe I have found a book that tackles food honestly. Lucy Knisley’s “Relish: My Life in the Kitchen” is a graphic novel, a memoir, and a cookbook all in one. It may appear to be everything but the kitchen sink, but it is formed so simply and truthfully that you won’t want to put it down.

Knisley, the daughter of a chef and a gourmet, spent almost the entirety of her childhood around good food. She recalls certain moments of her life and how they formed her relationship with food. She speaks about everything food, from moving from the city to the country and learning to adapt to animal mortality to her favorite recipes illustrated in the cutest animated fashion. She even includes a two-page spread on her time as a cheesemonger and how to categorize cheese down to the most miniscule details, all with ironic smiling cheese rinds adorning the sides of the pages.

A novel like this could usually read as campy in its illustration style and pretentious in the topic of discussion. However, Knisley attacks it in such a tasteful way that it doesn’t come off as either of the two. It reads as an authentic view of growing up around great food. An important thing to note is that Knisley is not trying to condescend with her work, she aims to educate and share her passion of food with readers everywhere.

The popularization of the memoir as a graphic novel has catalyzed over the last few years, with works like Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis” and Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home.” “Relish” does not fall short of these well-known works. The tone, though, is much lighter than the aforementioned two, which may make people question its worth compared to more serious pieces. In writing a more comedic piece, Knisley shows that a memoir can be written solely for the purpose of fun. The book is fun to read, the cartoons are fun to look at, and the recipes interspersed throughout are fun to try. Overall, it excels in several genres.

It is a sad truth in literature that we often times do not give less serious pieces the credit they deserve because they are constantly in competition with their dramatic counterparts. I do encourage readers to give “Relish” a try. The story is definitely food for thought, and it gives the reader greater thought for food.  

#LoveWins: LGBT couples renew vows

Before “Rent,” before “Will and Grace,” before “Glee,” before Legalize Gay shirts were sold at American Apparel, before “Same Love” by Macklemore, the very idea of same-sex marriage being recognized and legal was a dream, and for some, it was even laughable.  With a few determined, but unsuccessful attempts in the 1970s there was finally some headway in 1993, only to be deterred by the infamous and ultimately unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act. Then federalism struck and one by one like dominoes states started writing same-sex marriage into their laws or banning it outright in some situations. Over the course of a lifetime for some the topic of same-gendered marriage was debated in living rooms and television networks.

Now let us fast forward three decades, a great deal of litigation, and a dozen hold out states, and we’ve finally gotten the news we were waiting for.  

“They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. It is so ordered,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said on June 26, 2015, when the Supreme Court declared that marriage equality was the law of the land.  

It should be noted that before it was so ordered, same-sex couples have been making their commitments to each other known for decades. Progressive churches have been marrying queer couples since the 1970s. Before this decision in particular, the Presbyterian Church of the United States added same-sex couples to their definitions of marriage.

To celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision as well as the church’s decision, East Liberty Presbyterian Church hosted a celebration of the new law and marriage vows old and new. The ceremony was a mix of tradition and modernism. No one was given away as the couples marched down the aisle with their soon-to-be or already spouses; however, biblical passages were read aloud, and the church’s choir sang hymns.

Eighteen couples that varied in age, gender, and marital duration were married or remarried in some case. Some were dawning classic wedding white gowns. Some wore suits and ties. Others chose a more casual outfit of jeans and leather jackets. A few couples were even accompanied by children acquired over the course of their relationships.

“God is love and marriage is a gift,”the Reverend Dr. Randy Bush said, adding, “For those of you that have had to wait for your relationships to be recognized, on behalf of the church, I’m sorry.”

East Liberty Presbyterian Church prides itself as being a place of acceptance and diversity. It also has a philosophy of allowing individual couples define marriages for themselves. As Dr. Bush said, “Marriage is a covenant between two people of mutual love, fidelity, commitment, and trust. It is the highest ideal to which two people can aspire, whether or not it leads to children, whether or not it lasts for a lifetime and whether or not it involves a man and a woman or two women or two men.”

As the phrase, “You may now kiss your spouses” was said to the sanctuary of supportive witnesses, a sense of new beginnings and all around joy was in the air as the couples departed to the reception. East Liberty Presbyterian Church holds services on Sundays at 8:45 a.m. and 11 a.m.


Foodie on the Half Shell: Pittsburgh’s best Halloween parties

Last week I gave you guys some ideas on some tasty food to have at your Halloween party this year, but this week I want to talk about where to go for some good food this Halloween. If you are of age, going out on the town for Halloween is an awesome option. Some of my favorite dance clubs and bars are having amazing Halloween parties where you can go and dance, drink, and, most importantly, eat!

So, if good food is a requirement for your Halloween plans, check out these awesome events happening Halloween weekend.

The Pittsburgh Public Market Soiree: The Pittsburgh Public Market is a local and delicious “food court” consisting of dozens of unique food vendors from sweets, to sandwiches, to authentic Mexican food. On October 30, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., the market is opening their doors for a delicious costume party. Get ready to try samples of food and drinks throughout the store and jam to some music by DJ Donnelly and the band Chop Shop. This event is 21+.

Spirit’s 1st Annual Lost Lodge Dance Macabre: If you haven’t been to Spirit, you are missing out on an incredible time. This dance club/pizzeria is taking over the Lawrenceville night scene. On October 31 from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., Spirit is having a crazy dance party. There will be two floors of music and dancing, a monster maze, and an immersive light labyrinth that will make this party like no other in the Burgh. The yummy side to this entire party is the free pizza buffet that is included in your ticket, and it’s not just any kind of pizza. It’s the fancy kind with multiple cheeses and meats and veggies. Tickets for this party are $15, and it is a 21+ event.

Boos and Brews with the Jews: Join Shalom Pittsburgh at Atlas Bottle Works for a night of pizza, delicious beer, and, of course, Hocus Pocus with our favorite Jewish witch, Bette Midler. The beer and movies are pay as you go, but the pizza is free! Happy Hour begins at 5 p.m. and the movie starts at 7 p.m. Obviously, you have to be 21 to go to happy hour, but you can get into the movie no matter what your age is!

Dinner at the Shiloh Grill: Maybe you’re not into the Halloween dress up gig, and want more of the real deal. Like maybe an awesome restaurant that is really haunted? The story is that the woman, Mrs. Soffel, who use to live in the Shiloh Grill’s building in the early twentieth century, was married to the sheriff in town, but fell in love with a prisoner at the local jail. She ended up helping him escape from the jail, but he was killed in a shoot out and she was captured near Butler County. Now, you can sometimes see Mrs. Soffel in flowing white dress walking all around the restaurant. Also, a woman in a sexy black outfit, whose aura smells like oranges, resides in the basement. So, the restaurant is definitely haunted, but the menu is even better. Their burgers are out of sight and the cocktail list is super fun.

CMU takes on police brutality

Is there a lack of trust between police officers and the general public? What makes a good cop or a bad cop?  How are officers perceived by the general public? How do stereotypes play into how officers police urban communities? What kinds of mistakes on the part of law enforcement should be forgiven?

These are the hard questions that have been being asked all over the country over the years. At Carnegie Mellon University, the Theta Beta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the Beta Epsilon Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity came together, along with Lieutenant Joseph Meyers and Larry Powell of CMU’s Equal Opportunity services, to discuss the state of policing in America.

The discussion started with introductions from everyone involved. Lieutenant Meyers has worked as a policeman for 30 years. He has worked in cities, suburbs, small towns, and even Homewood. He spoke of the evolution of some perspectives on relations between the public and police officers among the group of students.  

“It seems like black boys are considered to be adults younger than people of other races,” Theta Beta’s President observed, bringing up the case of twelve-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ohio.  

The intergenerational as well as interracial questions of respectability were brought up. Does a suit and tie guarantee more safety than a hoodie and jeans? Should it?

“Why can’t we just wear whatever we want and be safe?” one girl asked.

The Lieutenant spoke honestly and candidly referring back to his own experiences and addressing the experience of the students. He admitted that over the years in Pittsburgh there have been quite a few incident between white police officers and African-American men.

The mostly millennial audience has grown up in the time of the first African-American president and multiple heritage months, but millennials have also grown up in a time of Trayvon Martin and Black Lives Matter. Although the group came from different universities and had different majors, what they had in common was a feeling of unease around law enforcement.

“If Sandra Bland was white, she’d still be alive,” a student said in a disheartened, but matter of fact tone. Most of them had more than one story of a time when they felt targeted, were treated badly or with suspicion by officers of the law, or felt they were perceived and treated as “instant criminals.”  

“I think the only way to really hold police officers accountable would be to have all cops wear body cameras,” one student said.

Many of the young men in the audience spoke of feeling unsafe around police officers and shared their thoughts about the Black Lives Matter movement. Lieutenant Meyers said simply that there are no easy answers but, “You gotta have the communication on the streets. Respect on both sides.” He also shared his belief that in comparison to his officers during his years patrolling, officers today are not trained on how to deescalate situations.

Off the Beaten Page: James Patterson pleases again with “Murder House”

James Patterson is well-known for his provoking thrillers, as well as his embracing of supernatural elements in his literature. With “Murder House,” his newest creation in conjunction with David Ellis, he instills a feeling of looming dread in his readers, something that he so often excels at doing. The plot, from the outside, appears to be a bare-bones interpretation of an old ghost story, but Patterson adds all the necessary garnishes to create a proper plot.

The story focuses on Noah Walker, a young Hollywood mogul with a dark and seedy past. While this archetypal character is bordering on cliché, the way in which Noah is portrayed is as an antiheroic protagonist. The beachfront community where most of the horror unravels is an unlikely setting for a mystery novel, adding a layer of needed depth to set it apart from other books that follow this similar plot progression. Since a majority of Patterson’s stories follow the same essential format, the revamping of scenery and character development is a major factor to keep in place in order to add spice to a novel.

The prologue of “Murder House” is one of disturbing connotation, which sets the tone effortlessly for the eeriness to come later in the book. Patterson posted several excerpts of the novel online for reader to review before purchase, which is a good tactic since the first thing they will see is this prologue. The main character’s detailed language and vague pronoun usage lead readers to believe the story will turn down a certain road before it unexpectedly halts and makes a turn in the opposite direction.

Fans of Patterson’s other works, however, may not feel like they are getting the best work out of the author. Patterson is very well-known for his intricate storylines and tumultuous character development. “Murder House,” however, provides a more straightforward approach to a mystery, leaving the audience with few small questions, but a couple big ones. It is similar to his other pieces in how it is set up; it just progresses at a different pace and in a new way. That does not in any way affect Noah as a character; he is a fully developed, multi-layered individual with a deep secret. The novel keeps the reader guessing until the end and satisfies for horror and mystery fans alike.