Blog Posts by Piper Weiss, Shine Staff

  • Should 'Huck Finn' be cleaned up for kids?

    When it comes to creating controversy, books can't compete with TV or video games-unless that book is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It's been well over 100 years since Mark Twain published his story about a boy who rafts down the Mississippi river with his friend, a slave, and it's still at the center of debate. This time, the controversy is over a new edition of the book set for publication that replaces racist slang with less offensive terminology.

    A snapshot of a shameful era in American history through the eyes of young boy, Twain's story has confused critics and stumped educators for years now. It was first banned from libraries in 1885 for being too "crude." A hundred years later, the American Library Association named it one of the most challenged books when it comes to school curriculum. Both hailed for attacking racism and derided for fostering it; both banned in schools and martyred by critics of censorship, Huck Finn may be the single most polarizing book in American

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  • It's official: the best car for having sex is...

    The ultimate sex machine is a station wagon. Make that a luxury station wagon. A British website named the Merecedes-Benz e-class wagon the best car for parking and riding. Just look at all that leg room, especially when you put the seats down. The new Volkswagon Beetle came in second, even though it seems a little cramped. Maybe it's the red and blue dashboard mood lighting.

    But if you can afford a new car, you can probably afford a bed too, so why not just have sex the old-fashioned way? Ask the baby boomers. In a recent survey, the group who enjoyed car sex the most were over 55.

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  • "Bachelor" B.S. Tracker: contestants with fake job titles

    What do all you people really do for a living? Like really? (PhotO: abc/The Bachelor)What do all you people really do for a living? Like really? (PhotO: abc/The Bachelor)Watching any season of "The Bachelor" requires some suspension of disbelief. First, you have to believe most women are "there for the right reasons." In other words: for love, not money. Then there's the endless parade of prom dresses, the helicopter rides, the skyscraper rappelling. This season, we're also asked to believe the bachelor in question, Brad Womack, has been encouraged by a licensed mental health professional to give love another chance on national television. Sure. And that he's a successful business owner. What? He owns a bar called the Chuggin' Monkey, but okay, fine. And finally, that there's three limo-loads of women with thriving careers in various and non-specific fields of business - which they're willing to give up on behalf of a complete stranger. Record scratch. B.S. meter overheating.

    Certainly beautiful, camera-ready women can hold high-powered jobs, but can so many also just walk away from them? And why do all their job titles sound like resume padding?

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  • Rom-Coms of 2011: The good, the bad and the ugly

    The poster for The poster for

    While the rest of the film industry gears up for a year of 3D graphics and animation, romantic comedies haven't budged since the '60s. The slate to be released in 2011 is more of the same. But that's why we love the genre. Rom-Coms are a lot like dating: they feel repetitive but there's a comfort in monotony. Sometimes you watch a rom-com because it's there, not because you really like it. Sometimes, it's just better then not watching one at all. And just when you've lowered your standards too far, a surprisingly good one sneaks up on you and you remember it pays to keep watching. (Last year, my welcome surprise was "Going the Distance.") Looking down the barrel of another year of pratfalls, overreactions and relationships built on exasperation, it's hard to know which one, if any, will be "the one" and which one will just take our money and let us ogle at it for a coupe of hours. Oh wait, all of them will. Hooray!

    No Strings Attached
    Starring: Natalie Portman and Ashton

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  • Critics mixed on Oprah's new network. What do you think?

    Here we go: Oprah's new network is up and running. (Courtesy of OWN Network)Here we go: Oprah's new network is up and running. (Courtesy of OWN Network)It's official: Oprah's on...24 hours a day. Launched this weekend, the talk show host's new cable network, OWN, has only been up a few days and people already have opinions. The New York Times' TV critic Alessandra Stanley summed up the line-up of "feel-good highlight reels, self-improvement plans, spiritual quests, aha! moments, celebrity master classes" as deeply earnest. Whether that's good or bad depends on what you're looking for, it seems. She writes: "OWN is a place where cynicism takes a holiday and mockery hasn't yet been invented."

    Instead of cultural criticisms, the network's series are largely about positive thinking and self-betterment. The Duchess of York's "Finding Sarah" emphasizes the quest for internal self-improvement, while de-clutter guru Peter Walsh's "Enough Already" focuses more on external fine-tuning (think organized closets and desks). Oprah's "Master Class" series, which featured Jay-Z's self-described career trajectory in the first episode, hooked Salon's

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  • 6 weird weddings you may have missed

    You may not have felt it while you were shoveling snow or turning your "US Weekly" into a makeshift blanket at the airport, but love was in the air. Strange love. You're cordially invited to six weird weddings that actually happened over the holidays.

    #6. The wedding on ice. Walking down the aisle with a giant skating bird is every bride's dream...if she's wearing a nicotine patch, eating peppers, and watching "Faces of Death" before she goes to bed. But for Cindy Pritchard, it was all part of her fantasy wedding at a Boston Bruins/Atlanta Thrashers ice hockey game on December 30. Really. Watch it.

    AP Photo/ Gus RuelasAP Photo/ Gus Ruelas

    #5. Shania Twain's made-for-TV-movie wedding. The country star got hitched on New Year's Day to Swiss businessman Frederic Thiebaud - the ex-husband of her ex-husband's new wife. Got that? If not, watch this Lifetime movie with the same implausible premise.

    #4. The "One Day at a Time" reunion wedding. Valerie Bertinelli brought the gang back together for her wedding to longtime partner Tom

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  • The controversy over "virgin" mothers

    (ThinkStock Photos)(ThinkStock Photos)

    It's been over 2000 years since the New Testament account of Mary's virgin birth, and over 20 years since Marilyn's virgin birth. In 1990, a British-born nurse named Marilyn Wright found herself in the center of a national debate.

    At 40, she gave birth to her son, Jonas, with the help of artificial insemination and an anonymous donor. She had been trying for 8 years, but never with man. " she told the British press. "Ideally, I would have loved a husband and family, but I never met Mr. Right and had to create a family without a man."

    In many ways Wright was ahead of her time. There are over 14 million one parent households today and growing number of single women are enlisting fertility treatments to start their families. But few are virgins. "It's not that common nowadays," says Jane Mattes, a psychotherapist and the founder and director of Single Mothers by Choice. "Most of the single women seeking insemination are in their 30's and have been in relationships." But the

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  • How to book a last-minute babysitter for New Year's Eve

    (ThinkStock Photos)(ThinkStock Photos)If you think finding a last-minute babysitter is hard, try finding one for New Year's Eve. The pool of contenders is shallow and the competition is fierce. Some parents starting booking sitters for December 31st all the way back in June. But it's not too late to start your search now.
    Search online: If you've exhausted your personal resources, take your search to the web. Sites like and have access to a massive network of caregivers. They also aid parents in background checks and reference resources.You can also search or post your search on community message boards like Craigslist or local parent-oriented forums, though strict background checks and references are essential. Finally check to see if your local PTA website has a forum you can search ads or post on.
    Beat the Dec. 29 rush: Two days before the holiday is when the majority of parents post last-minute sitter requests on So try to beat the crowds by booking a day or two earlier.
    Dole out

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  • The future of anti-aging: now to 2030 and beyond

    (ThinkStock Photos)(ThinkStock Photos)

    Another year, another day younger. 2010 was a landmark year in the field of anti-aging. From skin preservation technology to groundbreaking research in life extension, everything old is new again. If it's not, it will be. Here's a look at how we're tapping the fountain of youth now and what's in store for the future.

    2010: This year, prospective patients were able to consult with plastic surgeons without leaving home. allowed users to get personalized age reversal plans from one of 80 board certified surgeons. Meanwhile, an Advanced Aging Simulation machine, which can visually map your aging process made its debut in a New Jersey Research facility. Cue Botox. The filler is no longer a stopgap but a preventative measure to protect skin from future wrinkling. In topical breakthroughs, The International Stem Cell Corporation released a much-touted line of wrinkle-reducing products with extracts derived from unfertilized eggs. The line became available

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  • 10 creepiest toys for the holidays


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