Olympic gold-metal swimmer Michael Phelps is not gone , in fact, he never left. (Flickr / JD Lasica / Creative Commons license CC-BY-NC 2.0)
- Harry Potter’s 35th birthday, “Fantastic Beasts” and “Cursed Child”. Harry Potter and his fan base had a great summer. Not only was it the 35th birthday of one of the most well-known fictional characters in modern literature, but filming also started for “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, the spin-off for the “Harry Potter” series that is based on one of Hogwarts’s textbooks. David Yates, the man behind the last four “Potter” movies, is directing the film and Eddie Redmayne is starring as Newt Scamander, the famed magizoologist in the wizarding world. As if these two monumental events weren’t enough, J.K. Rowling also announced that “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” a spin-off play about the boy wizard, will be opening in London’s West End in the summer of 2016. These three things alone will mark the summer of 2015 as a memorable one.
- “So You Think You Can Dance” stage versus street. So far, this season of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” has been controversial. The public can’t seem to decide whether or not they actually like the new format for the 12th season of the dance competition show. This season, the network announced a change in the show’s format. Instead of just a competition between the top 20 dancers in America, stage dancers have been battling street dancers in a fight to see which team is better. However, this does not allow for an all-around incredible dancer to win the title of America’s favorite dancer. With this new format, the audience is not able to truly see who is the best dancer, of all genres, because there has been no need for a particular dancer to excel at every style.
- The top five songs of the summer. People have said that Summer 2015 has not been good for music, and that there hasn’t been one summer anthem that the radio stations overplay. I disagree. I think there have been some really catchy summer songs. In no particular order, my top five choices are the following: “Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd, “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran, “Stitches” by Shawn Mendes, “Honey I’m Good” by Andy Grammer, and “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk The Moon. Both the Weeknd and Shawn Mendes are definitely breakout stars who have flourished this summer with multiple hits in the Top 40. Recently, Ed Sheeran has been a staple in Billboard’s Hot 100 list, and this summer is no different. Andy Grammer’s summer song and Walk The Moon’s arguable summer anthem are catchy and very danceable, which was perfect for the record-breaking summer heat.
- New lands in theme parks. Over the summer, two major theme parks announced expansions, in a strikingly battle-like manner. First, Universal Studios revealed that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter would be coming to the West Coast and making its home in Los Angeles with the rest of Universal Studios. Potter fans all over the West Coast rejoiced that they would no longer have to travel 6 hours to get to wizarding landmarks such as Diagon Alley and Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Disney then struck back by proclaiming that they were opening up a “Star Wars” themed land in both Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and in Disneyland’s original location in Anaheim, California.
- “Minions”. Personally, I feel as though this summer has been a bit of a snooze in the movie blockbuster department. None of the so-called “movies of the summer” have interested me enough to pay the ridiculous overcharge at the movie theatres, except for “Minions”. While this movie was a huge disappointment, I feel it is still relevant to mention it. It had so much potential, and for some reason, it flopped. Although, it was still cute to listen to the minions babble in their gibberish language (which, upon a closer look, sounded suspiciously like Spanish with the addition of one noticeable Hebrew phrase) and discover their trademark blue overalls on their quest to find the evilest villain to serve.
- Michael Phelps’s comeback. Critics have said that Michael Phelps’s competition days are over. They say he’s too old, he’s a bad influence (DUI charge, anybody?) and that he’s just not the same as he used to be. Well, I hate to break it to all you haters, but Phelps is definitely “back” (although he’s arguably never left, despite insisting that he retired). Even though he was banned from competing in this year’s World Championships, Phelps didn’t let not competing get in the way of defeating his opposition at the US National Championships. And the word learned a very valuable lesson that day: Don’t trash talk Michael Phelps. It will only make him swim faster. After spending the day digesting South African swimmer Chad Le Clos’s taunts from halfway around the world, Phelps proceeded to beat Le Clos’s time with a whopping 50.45 seconds in the 100-meter butterfly. That’s nearly a second faster than Phelps’s time in the 2012 London Olympics and .10 seconds better than Le Clos’s own 50.56 seconds in the same event in the World Championships a few hours earlier on the same day. Maybe one day the world will learn that when Michael Phelps is challenged, he will only respond with his fastest times, ever.
- Misty Copeland’s whirlwind summer. Misty Copeland has taken the spotlight in so many things this summer. She became ABT’s first African-American principal ballerina, wrote a memoir, starred in Broadway’s “On The Town”, and made some really memorable ads. To top it all off, Copeland is not your typical ballet dancer. For one thing, she’s black, and many people in the past have said that African Americans don’t have the right body type for ballet. In addition, Copeland started dancing really late—she didn’t start until she was 13. However, despite what could be setbacks, Copeland has emerged as an admirable role model for young dancers, specifically for those young dancers who have been told that they are not quite right for ballet. Copeland has proven that if you love something enough, you can become the best and overcome difficulties.
- “Go Set A Watchman” by Harper Lee. Everybody remembers being forced to read “To Kill a Mockingbird” at some point in his or her academic career. I certainly do. But I also remember “TKAM” as one of my favorite books that I read (or didn’t read, as the case may be) in high school. I identified with Scout, took Atticus’s advice to heart, was afraid of Boo Radley and felt bad for Tom Robinson. Recently, Tonja Carter, Harper Lee’s new protector, reported that she found this long-lost manuscript and it was published shortly thereafter as “Go Set a Watchman”. This book is about Scout as an adult, and it is a continuation of her discoveries of the world. HarperCollins, the publisher of “GSAW”, announced that it had sold more than 1.1 million copies in a week’s time, making it the fastest-selling book in the company’s history. “GSAW” also rocketed to the top of the New York Times best-seller list, which was expected based on “TKAM”’s success.
Photo credit: Flickr / JD Lasica / Creative Commons license CC-BY-NC 2.0)