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

Arizona. Again.

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I know, I’m overdue on some posts. I have a post queued up where I berate myself for skipping my posting schedule, but I felt like this one was more important.

Recently, there have been some states that tried to pass legislation saying that businesses could discriminate refuse service if they felt the individual would violate their religious freedoms. Kansas had a bill that passed in the House, I think, but didn’t make it through the other in order to even make it to the Governor.

Arizona, on the other hand, has passed a bill that would allow business owners to deny service and refuse lodging. Gov Jan Brewer hasn’t vetoed it yet.

But it’s likely considering a number of high profile businesses (not to mention the Super Bowl committee) are urging her to veto it, and people are preemptively cancelling reservations.

I’ve seen a number of people saying that a boycott takes this too far, but honestly… threatening a boycott and urging large businesses to speak up is really all you can do. Arizona’s lawmakers have proven again and again that they don’t care about the rights of others, just sticking up for the conservative white voter (though ironically, this bill is getting minimal support from constituents). So unless you can show them that this would harm the livelihood of their taxpayers and in turn hurt Arizona’s own tax revenue, they won’t do anything.

It will be vetoed. The backlash is too public, and growing larger daily.

The sad thing is that we’ll never know if Jan Brewer would have vetoed it without the backlash. (She probably would have signed it, who are we kidding?)

I’ve seen people say they’d rather know upfront who the bigots are. I’d much rather the bigots have to smile and push down their hatred so that they can make a living. To have to live in a closet of their own making.

And frankly with Arizona, you have some major issues if people can pick and choose who they serve like that. Most of Arizona’s filled with small, small towns off the interstates. Places with one gas station, a restaurant, maybe one motel. That get business because they’re the only place for an hour or so. So what if those little places deny someone service? They could get stranded in the middle of nowhere or be forced to drive while being exhausted. It could actually lead to a dangerous situation. I’m not saying that discrimination is okay in a larger city, but in this particular state, these laws could theoretically cost someone their lives.

These proposed laws are Pandora’s Box, the more you think about it. It’s one thing to guarantee someone the right to practice their religion, but you have to consider whether these laws will protect all faiths – or just Christianity? Will they stand up to any sort of scrutiny by the Supreme Court? Will they be used to start denying service to atheists? To justify discriminating against anyone they perceive to be Muslim?

Which might seem ridiculous, but once you have laws to allow businesses to not serve LGBT individuals on the basis of the business owner’s religious beliefs- it opens the door to deny any services based on religious beliefs. It’s like a small leak in a dam. At first it’s just a little hatred, but soon, it’ll be used to cover everything.

Will I fight? Of course I will.

Update: Jan Brewer vetoed the bill, saying that it had “unintended and negative consequences” and it “has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve.”

Which essentially is political double speak for it’ll cost the state to lose money in Tourism and possibly from companies relocating. And frankly, the fact that it took her three days to come to this conclusion is ridiculous.

Whitney vs Days of the Wolf

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So I’m a big Teen Wolf fan. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to those of you who follow me on Twitter (or Tumblr).

I admit, I wasn’t sure about watching it – a non-reality show on MTV? And it’s based on a movie from the 80s? After being wooed by GIF sets on Tumblr, I gave it a shot. I was drawn in by the blend of horror and teen drama. The way that the characters faced just as many real issues as supernatural ones- and then the show evolved into something that other shows I love lacked. Actual character growth.

Anyways, I won tickets to Days of the Wolf through FanBolt forums. DOTW is a fan convention that was this last weekend. First fan convention I’ve gone to, though I’m going to Creation’s VegasCon (for Supernatural) next month. Day One had Holland Roden, Crystal Reed and the Carver twins- as well as a few contests.

I cosplayed as Kira Yukimura, one of the new additions to the cast this season. I even tried my hand in all the contests. The first was a yes/no trivia contest (I got out on a question that was worded trickily, but eh). The second was pitching a Teen Wolf movie (which really wasn’t too far out of my wheelhouse, having done advertising for a bit – but I forgot the audience, and pitched a good story vs something that would appeal to a younger crowd – the winner pitched them being in college, and doing normal college stuff and having to come back to Beacon Hills to solve some vague mystery. Mine was time travel. The whole pack is cursed by a witch and get sent back to just before the Hale Fire, so they all have to try to get ingredients to reverse the curse. But Derek’s tempted to change things, to stop the fire from happening, so they have to avoid all their past selves and keep Derek from doing something reckless. Oh well), and I got a Teen Wolf mug for playing! I also tried my hand in the costume contest, and didn’t place- but I got another mug. So now TheBoy and I can each drink from a mug while watching Teen Wolf.

All in all, it was a great day. We met up with a friend we’d worked with at Disneyland (who I’ll dub T) as well as her husband. Sat in the ballroom and enjoyed the panels, joked, and had dinner together. It was a great time.

But this wasn’t exactly typical for me. None of it. I’ve gone to cons by myself in the past and talked myself out of talking to people, and I did three separate contests. And I talked to people!

Just before Crystal Reed’s panel on Saturday, I spotted a girl dressed as Abaddon from Supernatural. When I realized she was with a girl dressed like Dean, I snapped a picture and uploaded it to Tumblr. It started to get some reblogs/likes, but I just kept liveblogging Crystal’s panel.

At the end of it, Abaddon and Dean showed up. “It’s you! We saw your picture and followed you on Tumblr, and then I saw your post about Crystal-” And just like that, I started to talk to them! Without panicking! And then I got an even better picture of them- they’ll be at VegasCon, so I’m hoping I see them again.

On Day Two, I was excited because there were four panels that day! And as soon as we got there, TheBoy suggested that I buy the photo op for Tyler Hoechlin. The pit of my stomach fell out, and I gave him a million reasons why I couldn’t. And he just looked at me and told me that this was a chance I wouldn’t run into very often, and I’d regret it if I didn’t.

So I went for it. And honestly, of all the celebs I’ve met (and I worked at Disneyland, I’ve met plenty), he was probably the nicest. No, really. He introduced himself to every person in line (“Hi, I’m Tyler, it’s nice to meet you.” – like we didn’t know who he was, it was adorable), smiled, laughed. It was just sort of magic. But I did it! I was terrified of all the unknown, and I did it.

I’m going to put up pictures from Days of the Wolf on Friday. I took a bunch on my cell phone, some need editing – and I need to scan the picture from the photo-op. But, Friday.

But there you have it. TheBoy’s been helping me push myself safely in bringing myself out of my shell. He’s known me for long enough that he tends to know better than I do what I can and can’t do. Not that I don’t- but for those with anxiety issues, sometimes you talk yourself out of something you could do. And he knows where my boundaries are.