More thoughts about Bloodlines.

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I know, I already posted a vlog about Bloodlines, but that was very much my on the fly opinion.

But having given it a chance to sit, and being able to discuss it with a few people… I have a few more things that bothered me about the episode- a backdoor pilot for “Supernatural: Bloodlines.”

When the show was first announced, the list of the main characters was comprised of men. It wasn’t until much later that they started to announce female characters. Which was a bit of a relief. Since Supernatural is such a male heavy show already- I was glad to hear that there were some women in the main cast.

Violet, being insulted. No, really.

Violet, being insulted. No, really.

…except that the main female character, Violet, is a love interest. And might not be much more than that, since in the backdoor pilot she was kidnapped and didn’t manage to escape on her own, despite being a werewolf who was able to break free once the hero was also in the scene. The other notable female character is David’s sister, Margo Lassiter- who is running their family since their brother died and their father is very ill. And she fits right into the stereotype of the well-dressed woman who’s just interested in power. Great. Add in the multiple uses of bitch and whore in relation to Violet (who was being married off to another pack, as a power play), and Ennis’s fiance being fridged (more on that in the next paragraph) in the first 10 minutes of the episode… there’s a lot to be concerned about.

Ennis and his fiance in their last seconds together.

Ennis and his fiance in their last seconds together.

Fridged is short for Women in Refrigerators, the trope where a character is murdered/raped/incapacitated in order to get the hero to jump into action (named after the Green Lantern storyline where Kyle Raynor’s girlfriend was murdered and stuffed in a refrigerator, where he would discover her body and thus jump into action). It’s almost exclusively something that happens to female characters to motivate the male hero. In this case, Ennis learns of the supernatural through her death and begins to investigate who was responsible. This isn’t a new trope for Supernatural – in fact, it’s a Winchester legacy. Mary Winchester was fridged, sending John and boys into the life. Jess, Sam’s girlfriend was killed by the same demon who killed Mary in the exact same way for the identical reason. You could try to argue that WiF isn’t a thing, that it does happen with male characters to motivate women- but it happens so rarely, that there isn’t much of a corollary. Off the top of my head, all I can think of is Alias, where Sydney’s fiance was murdered- which got her to turn on her employers. The fabulous Kristen mentioned Steve Rogers – since his “death” pushed Peggy Carter towards founding SHIELD and Jason Voorhees for Friday the 13th. It’s rare, though, since there aren’t many female action leads. And typically, if we are talking about a female action lead, it’s the threat of harm to a loved one that spurs them into action. If it’s a man, there’s usually a body involved.

It was obvious that the intention for this was to create a connection between Sam and Ennis- but it’s completely unnecessary. Ennis is the son of a policeman, and there are a lot of nosy children of lawmen in television (see: Stiles Stilinski of Teen Wolf). Ennis could have simply seen something suspicious on the night of his proposal and become drawn into the investigation. As a bonus, his fiancee (a woman of color, no less) would still be in the cast- and give him someone to hide the supernatural world from. Instant character conflict. And frankly, Sam cares enough about humanity as a whole to try to keep anyone else from joining the Life.

But no. They went with one of the most standard tropes of them all.

You’ll notice I mentioned that his fiancee was a woman of color. One of the other things that I (and others) noticed is that Ennis was the only person of any ethnicity other than White in the show. Anyone with any power in the show? The five families? The bar owner? All White. There wasn’t a single person of any other shade, and this is Chicago! A quick glance at data from the 2010 census shows an ethnic breakdown of: 45% white, ~33% Black or African American, ~30% Hispanic/Latino). When you look at that, it seems highly unlikely that every single person in power in the show, that every member of the five families we’ve met – would be white. There should be at least someone in there that isn’t White, since I’m assuming that they’re family in the same way that mobs were… where there might be some literal family, but mostly it’s people taken into their organization.

Considering the origin of the Djinn, I find it upsetting (to say the least) that on Supernatural (both the regular series and now this spin-off) we’ve never run into a Djinn that wasn’t white.

As I said in the vlog, I did like the premise of the show- that Chicago is, unbeknownst to the human population, run by Monster Families. That there were power struggles within those families, and the obvious complications of the human and supernatural worlds mixing.

But the writing was less than inspired (in fact an entire argument between David and Violet actually happened between Dean and Castiel). And the writers made choices with the story that weren’t anything new (see: the fridging, Margo Lassiter who just wants to start a war). Factor in the uninspired casting, and this is a show that I’m going to pass on, unless there are substantial improvements made.

Update: The CW passed on Supernatural: Bloodlines for the upcoming fall season, but said they weren’t writing off the possibility of a different spin-off. Here’s to hoping that they’ll avoid the same mistakes.

[Vlog] Whitney Watches SPN 9.20 “Bloodlines”

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That’s right- last night a new episode of Supernatural aired, and I am bringing you a short vlog about “Bloodlines” – the spin-off pilot for Supernatural: Bloodlines.

For those who don’t click through, I didn’t go into how this episode fits into Season 9, because it doesn’t really. The story begins with one of the leads from Bloodlines, and the Winchesters show up and mostly play backup to the characters. And at the end, Dean gets a message from Cas which takes them out of Chicago and back into the main timeline.

The main character, a human, is going to propose to his girlfriend- only to have her tragically killed when a wounded man stumbles into them and is murdered. The investigation into both deaths leads him to discover that Chicago is filled with monsters. In true Chicago fashion, there are five families that control the city- each a different type of monster. (TheBoy tweeted that this was Supernatural meets the Sopranos) So the human has to team up with the Winchesters and a shapeshifter to unravel who killed his fiance.

It’s an interesting world they’ve set up, and certainly a premise that’ll be interesting. But I wasn’t wowed by the writing. Especially by the way that the werewolf Violet was treated. Supernatural isn’t exactly known for shying away from calling women bitches. Dean does it somewhat regularly, and it’s jarring- but not too bad. In one episode, I can recall Violet being called a bitch three times, and a whore once. Someone will certainly try to say it isn’t as bad because she’s a werewolf, hence it’s a dog term- but I’d say it made it worse since then it becomes a slur as it’s said by shapeshifters.

However, I do like the premise. And I liked the relationship between David (the main shapeshifter) and Violet, as well as the dynamics within David’s family. I just hope that the writing tightens up.

JJ, Where Are The Women?

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As you’ve probably heard, Star Wars: Episode VII is starting to film, and the main cast list has been announced. And in that list, there’s only one new woman (the other is Carrie Fisher). What gives?

Sure, there weren’t a lot of women in the Original Trilogy – the only main female character was Leia. And the only other real female characters of any importance were Aunt Beru and Mon Mothma. (I have a hard time counting Oola since her sole purpose was to dance around and then be eaten by the Rancor)

But the Extended Universe happened. And while I don’t blame JJ Abrams for wanting to ignore decades of material for the new trilogy (only because there are a lot of existing storylines, and you’d either have to adapt one of the more well known ones or try to find a tiny gap in time to fit something new in), I’m disappointed that he ignored one of the fantastic things that the EU brought us. Female characters. Everywhere you looked, there were new and interesting female characters- and I’m just going to list the examples that first popped into my head. Lots of female pilots for both the Empire and the Rebellion. There was Guri, the human replicator droid in Shadows of the Empire. Admiral Daala (a female Imperial Admiral). And last (but not least) MaraJade and Jaina Solo! In most of the books you picked up, there was at least one female character.

The comics added their fair share of female characters, too- in fact it was the comics that introduced the Dathomir Nightsisters, Sith Witches who were skilled in the Force. Video games? I could start listing all the female characters, but we’d be here for a while.

While there weren’t a lot of new major female characters in the prequels, there were certainly a lot of secondary characters. Naboo had a matriarchal society- with an elected queen whose handmaidens were all trained to protect her. We had female fighter pilots. There were women on the Jedi Council – and plenty of named Jedi were women. Heck, we saw a female Hutt. It was clear that this was a universe where women existed and weren’t just slaves.

And the animated series only expanded on that. The Clone Wars featured two main female characters, Ahsoka Tano and Asajj Ventriis, women with faults and strengths. They were also generally more interesting than the male characters (sorry Anakin, but it’s true). Star Wars Rebels also prominently features female characters, and has received a lot of support for that from the fanbase.

You can’t tell me that there’s no foundation for a Star Wars movie with more than two female characters (one of which is Leia, who I doubt will be in the bulk of the movie). If the hardcore fans bought the diversity in books, games and comics- they’ll buy it in a movie, too, not to mention in merchandise. Fans which include a lot of women- and judging by the success of Ashley Eckstein’s HerUniverse clothing line, women do buy merchandise. Frankly, the excuse of “it’s the way it’s been” holds no water- we can always improve things and should. Sci-fi has long been a medium for people to showcase diversity and tolerance, so frankly, it’s hard to justify a mostly male cast (and mostly white, but that is an entirely different rant that I’ll let someone else make).

For those curious why I’m so passionate about this, Star Wars was really my first fandom- and indeed it’s still one of my great loves. I’ve been a geek for my entire life and was shunned from a lot of communities for being a girl. And yet, in the Star Wars online communities, I was welcomed. For a decade, a friend and I ran an online Star Wars RPG. We were unique because most of the players were female, and yes, we had a hard time attracting new players – because some assumed that the games were somehow girlier. In fact, none of the stories really hinged on the characters being women. They could have easily been stories about men- our focus was more on pushing the characters in stories we found entertaining. The one storyline that I regret to this day was one where one of the female characters has a miscarriage. I was talked into it, and I still regret it because it wasn’t done for any reason other than a plot device – which was terrible. But to answer the lingering question- the guys who did show up? They had a lot of fun and only dropped out because real life got too hectic to keep up with our group.

My partner in crime from Wolle Sector currently runs the Star Wars LARP at WyrdCon (Cantina Far Far Away), and it’s a popular game. Her NPCs are a pretty even mix of male and female. And true to the way she wrote stuff in our game, the gender of the NPCs or PCs has no bearing on the story she’s telling. She just wants to tell a fun and interesting story. Which is as it should be.

I’m sure I’ll go see the new Star Wars movie. I’m just disappointed that there aren’t more women – because there are plenty of women in the Star Wars Universe that I’m familiar with.

Update 6:30pm PST: According to THR, Abrams says they still have one more female role to cast. Which is nice to hear, but I’m admittedly suspicious that they announced their cast, then suddenly said it wasn’t complete after the internet began to complain. There was no mention if there were any more uncast male roles. Oh well, I suppose we’ll find out when the movie’s finished.

Six Months!

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As many of you might remember, I went to the hospital mid January for a flare-up of my Crohn’s disease. A terrible, terrible flare-up that resulted in my being put on prednisone for awhile to help the inflammation go down.

I envisioned a year of monthly doctor’s visits, monthly blood draws. And it seemed exhausting.

So I got stuck with a needle a few times. One time I was given a hard time by the phlebotomist (I love that word) for having a different last name from my husband. Another time the phlebotomist just jabbed me in the vein and I had a bruise for a week. The other time nothing really happened.

I went to my gastroenterologist and we talked about my progress. About how I was sticking to my diet, making more things from scratch, and easing into running again.

And at my last visit? He was so impressed by my stats…. that I don’t have to go back for six months! (Unless I have a flare-up, then I’m supposed to call him) I’ve recovered very quickly, and I really do think I owe it to sticking to my diet (no cow’s milk, no corn, smaller portion sizes), not cheating when I go out to eat, and being as active as my body will allow.

I’m not in the shape I want to be in. I’m still squishy around the middle, and I lost a lot of muscle tone when I was in the hospital. But I have energy. My body is bouncing back a lot faster than anyone expected – so I must be doing something right.

Friday Food – week ending 4/24

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I thought I’d try something new and sort of collect the dishes that I make during the week and share them here with links and my thoughts.

First, is a dish that I tried for the first time. Shanghai Noodles.

Shanghai Noodles

This was delicious! I admit, I didn’t make it with pork (I had ground turkey at home), but it was delicious and so very easy to make. I was able to find all the ingredients I didn’t already have in my grocery store- except for fresh shanghai noodles, I subbed in udon (as the recipe recommended). If you can’t find dark soy, it’s easy to find recipes to substitute it online, too.

Since my stay in the hospital, I’ve really dived into making Asian foods, since there isn’t really any dairy in them – and the dishes use a lot of the same core ingredients (so spices and sauces don’t go bad). And it’s fast, which fits quite nicely in my life. So I get fresh food that cooks quickly!

It’s actually the only new recipe I’ve made this week. I could post about the Tikka Masala recipe I use- but all my pictures I’ve taken have been horrific. Why can’t dinner be at a time when I can shoot pictures with natural lighting?

As an apology for my terrible food photography, have this picture of me:

yours truly

At least I can get decent pictures of myself no matter what the lighting is.

[Vlog] Whitney Watches SPN: 9.19 “Alex Annie Alexis Ann”

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I thought I’d continue my Whitney Watches series, by tackling Supernatural next! Only I thought there were enough recap videos and websites, that maybe I could take a closer look at the series itself.

Spoilers abound in the video, but please – watch it! What were your thoughts on the episode- what grade would you have given it? I want to know!

Chill out, National News!

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I had another blog post ready to go for today – but on Friday we had an earthquake sort of near where we live. No damage in our house, and as far as earthquakes go – there’s been property damage, but no injuries or death. No freeways in need of repair.

But if you watch the national news coverage, it’s nothing but the absolute worst circumstances being presented as the norm. No mention of how small an area the bulk of the damage has been contained in.

And naturally, all they do is talk about the likelihood of a bigger quake. Even though experts very carefully said that because it’s been awhile since we’ve had a large earthquake in Southern California, it’s likely- but that there was only a 5% chance that Friday’s quake was a precurser to a bigger one.

So we’re fine here. Most everyone is. Don’t let the news freak you out.

If you want to find a natural disaster to be more concerned with, look into the landslide in WA, and see if there’s any way that you can help there. People died, people are missing. That’s a natural disaster that we should be focusing on.

[Vlog] Whitney Watches Teen Wolf – 3.24 “The Divine Move”

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It’s been awhile since I’ve recorded a Vlog, and it seemed like a good time to discuss one of my favorite TV shows, Teen Wolf!

This week saw the end of Season 3B! This video is spoiler filled, but I’d love to hear what you think.

Any other TV shows you want me to do video discussions for? (I plan on writing recaps for Supernatural.)

My weird week on the internet.

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Today I blocked a third person on Google+. Not for trolling, but for the most basic sort of idiocy… I blocked men who were being skeevy in the comments.

I’ve been noticing a trend. I’ll be circled by a guy from SouthEast Asia, who proceeds to +1 every single post of mine with a picture, and will comment on how nice I look. Then eventually they’ll ask if they can contact me, I’ll say no and they’ll get weird.

But this last one took the cake. He got me to block him in three comments without my having to post anything. On my most recent picture, he said “sweet and pretty. just what i like.” Then two minutes later, “can i have your phone number.” And two minutes after that, “virgins are the best ar you one?”

So yeah, I blocked him. Granted, with his first comment I’d already told TheBoy that I had a potential candidate to be sent to the CreeperZone.

It’s making G+ uncomfortable, though. It’s like MySpace used to be. I couldn’t log in there without getting some guy in SoCal asking if I wanted to hookup. Didn’t matter if my profile pic was a cartoon character or my kids. There were explicit offers and dick pics. I got tired of blocking people and just deleted my account.

I stay on G+ because there are circles of people there that I talk to regularly. I’ve found a nice circle of writers. But technically “being a creeper” isn’t against their TOS, so all I can do is block them.

I also got a fair number of fallout from posting reports from Creation Entertainment’s Supernatural Convention in Vegas (VegasCon). There was an incident involving a celebrity guest, and his fans thought I was being unfair. First time I’ve actually had angry anonymous messages. And I know that I was posting my opinion (and stated that) and that ultimately I didn’t need to do anything to make anyone look bad. I’ll be putting those con reports here on the site next week- as well as all my Tumblr recaps for this season of Teen Wolf.

So that was my week – how was yours?

Chai and dewdrops.

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One of the baristas at our nearby Starbucks knows my name. A couple trips ago, she greeted me cheerfully by it, and I was thrown. She’d probably only taken my order a few times, made my drinks twice. But she knows my name.

Today, I was distracted while I was in line. I was looking at one of the giant cold cups in their clearance section, thinking about the trip I’m taking and whether or not I still need to buy anything for it.

“Whitney.”

“Whitney.”

“WHITNEY.”

I looked up, and there she was, laughing. “Lost in thought?”

“Something like that.” And I’m pretty sure I was blushing. Somehow it’s infinitely more embarrassing when someone’s calling your name.

Not that you need another picture of a cup with my name on it… but here’s something else from this morning. When I pulled up at the house, I saw the lawn- covered in dew with the sun shining on it, and I just had to get a picture.

Dew covered lawn