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Last Friday, I met singer/songwriter/maestro Erin Barra before she played the Paperbox Theatre in Brooklyn. I get really excited about strong, female musicians. But as pumped as I was to meet her, I didn’t expect to have her songs running through my head for the entire rest of the weekend. She tells me during our interview that she’s constantly hearing “you don’t look the way you sound.” With her shock of red hair and sharp, green eyes, perhaps she doesn’t fit the image associated with her big, R&B voice.

It comes as no surprise that America’s laws regarding teens and sex are bonkers and a half. The subject of sexuality in people under the age of 18 is still considered taboo by many Americans, and is simply unfathomable to others. The lack of effective legislation where minors and sex are concerned becomes glaringly obvious in the case of sexual assault, a lesson that those on the receiving end of this violence learn the hard way.

Women can’t do math? Child, please. Exhibit A: English mathematician Ada Lovelace, whose 197th birthday is being celebrated today with a Google Doodle, was the world’s first computer programmer. Ever. Ada was raised by a single mom—herself a talented mathematician—who was determined to give her daughter the most extensive scientific education possible to counteract the, er, artistic tendencies she inherited from her father.

When Elaine Hamel started Girls at Work out of a pickup truck back in 2000, she initially feared that there wouldn’t be enough interest in her girls-only woodshop classes. Fast forward 12 years and the New Hampshire-based nonprofit has given nearly 6,000 girls across New England the opportunity to try their hands at woodworking.  “As a builder I never met women in the field,” Hamel told us. “But we recently held a workshop on the cape and had over 400 girls build a small project in one day.

Last week, a video called “The Flip Side (Bar)” went viral, parodying male/female dynamics in the club scene. The video depicts men acting stereotypically female, and vice versa.   I love the video for three reasons: 1)  It gives humorous insight into the experience of being the other sex in a place where you are expected to embody every possible gender stereotype in existence.  It’s easy to lose track, in this video, of which gender is supposed to be embodying which characteristics.

Things are not good for Sweetness O’Hara. A shy, studious girl in a rough neighborhood, Sweetness (the captivating Zöe Kravitz) is bullied at school and alternately abused and ignored by her alcoholic father and mentally ill mother. When she finally hits her breaking point, things get even worse—if you can believe it. Director Victoria Mahoney has cast a talented ensemble, featuring Precious star Gabourey Sidibe, Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?), Jason Clarke (Brotherhood) and Shareeka Epps (Half Nelson).

Here’s some Friday cuteness for you.  It’s a Buzzfeed post that’s gone viral depicting a magical place of happiness and fur called CAT HEAVEN.   Well, it’s not actually called Cat Heaven.  This place riddled – neig, COVERED – with cats is a Japanese island called Fukuoka.  For the past five years, photographer Fubirai has documented the lives of semi-wild cats that inhabit the island, that are fed fish by the local fishermen.  These cats run this place! It truly is heaven. Check out some of these photos and more here.

Believe it or not, women are the last group subject to a blanket exclusion in the military since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. Despite how much the nature of warfare has changed over the last decade, women in the US Military are still not allowed to engage in ground combat or situations where they will be exposed to hostile fire. Four veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are trying to change this outdated law by suing the Department of Defense.

Do you like 60s-era tunes? Do you like music videos? Do you enjoy things that are awesome? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’ll need to head directly to Scopitones.com. For the uninitiated, Scopitones were the precursors to music videos—these short flicks were created in the 1960s to be played on specially made video jukeboxes in bars, restaurants, and amusement parks.     Too weird to live and too cool to die, Scopitone videos are packed with retro charm, amazing costumes, and beyond-odd plotlines.

  BEATNIKS REJOICE!   The film adaptation of the famous book from the Beat Generation, On the Road, will be out in theaters Friday, December 21, and New York City is going WILD in celebration of Jack Kerouac's scandalous work.  A staple of writing from the Beat Generation, On the Road celebrates youthful freedom and a break from the constraint of society.
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