What a Difference a Week Makes

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whitney - le sigh

This was from a few weeks ago. Outtake from a vlog. I paused, made this face, smiled sadly and moved on. Hindsight.  Amazing the things you realize.

My mom could always read me like a book. She can still do it with my voice – but I admit, when I call her, I’m not putting on a mask to hide how I feel. I’m usually stripping it off.

TheBoy was away on a business trip, and it was been a rough week. I knew I struggled with anxiety (the last year has not been kind to me, anxiety wise) And I knew that having him around helped.

Because he can read me like a book. If it’s a bad day, he knows just what to say to remind me that most of what I’m afraid of is my brain trying to sabotage me. For what it’s worth, I do the same for him. But with this trip, we were separated by three hours. Which meant that by the time I’d put the kids in bed, he was ready to sleep.

Without that stabilizer, I found myself spinning. I felt alone, even in a full house. And that right there was a big red flag for me. (The fact that I had to push myself to put on makeup was another one. I love makeup.) And friends who used to help, even if they said the right things… it just wasn’t enough to quiet my head.

When TheBoy popped up on a video call, I had the biggest wakeup call of all. The first words out of his mouth were, “Are you okay?” (I’m paraphrasing, but nobody needs to know pet names) Because he knew, the second he saw me.

That trip of his was an eye opener. It’s time for me to go back to my amazing therapist and see if I need to start seeing the psychologist in his practice, too. Because this isn’t sounding just like anxiety anymore. Because while I’ve been doing really well – things shouldn’t fall apart if my husband takes a trip away for a week.

Kids were taken care of, things were done. But if it hadn’t been for the things I needed to accomplish – I would have fallen apart.

And I’m sure someone reading this is rolling their eyes – but I’m being honest because people don’t talk about anxiety or depression. Or the moments that they realize they’re struggling.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have friends who suffer from both anxiety and depression. Enough to recognize it in myself early on. To have supportive friends and family, who take the time to fact-check my brain.

But it’s not enough. Time to talk to someone about it, before it is one more thing about my life determined to stop me from doing anything.

Society is Broken as Long as It Protects Rape Culture.

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broken glass(TW: for mentions of abuse, stalking and harassment. No details, but I know that it can bring up a lot of emotions.)

In the last week or so, Zoe Quinn announced that she wouldn’t be pursuing legal action against her ex boyfriend. Because she realized that it wouldn’t help. In Zian Ghomeshi’s trial, the victims were scrutinized for their behavior- asked how their hair was styled when he pulled on their hair, if they could remember what kind of car he drove, why they kept contact with him after the alleged abuse. On Friday, Kesha lost her legal battle against Sony and producer Dr. Luke. The singer was trying to be released from her contract, saying that after she had admitted that he abused her, he had intentionally been holding her career hostage.

There’s something very wrong here.

I learned not to trust authorities in high school, when I was stalked. The student didn’t show up at my house, though there were a lot of hang up calls. He did follow me around campus and find me in moments where I was isolated. I felt unsafe. When I went to the administration, I was told that I shouldn’t feel frightened of his affection. That instead I should be flattered by his attention.

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The Ultimate (White) Privilege? Being Meryl Streep

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Somewhere deep in the drafts folder for this site is a post called “The Privilege of Being Meryl Streep.” I started it when Meryl and the very white cast of Suffragette donned “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave” shirts and didn’t see the very obvious issue with using this actual quote in our modern era. And then Streep doubled down by saying she wasn’t a feminist, but a humanist.

I just couldn’t quite find the hook for it. It was a rant, plain and simple. But I felt like I’d gotten the words out of my system, and moved on with the news cycle. I owe the title of this post to a discussion I had with my mom when working on that draft. She’s awesome, and a lot of my best blog posts come from bouncing a conversation around with her.

I’m bringing this up because Meryl has done it again. She’s presiding over the jury for the Berlin International Film Festival, one that she said is diverse… but is made up entirely of white people, though it does have white women. At the press conference, she was asked by an Egyptian reporter if she felt she could judge a movie from the Arab World or North Africa. It’s a fair question, given the ongoing discussion about diversity and representation in the media.

Her answer? She said ‘while she didn’t know much about the region, “I’ve played a lot of different people from a lot of different cultures.”‘ Then went on to talk about “the core of humanity that travels right through every culture” and ended with the gem that “we’re all from Africa originally.”

I would imagine that most people who live outside the Bubble of A++++ list Hollywood would realize that while there is a grain of scientific truth to it (humanity does stem from Africa), that the millions of years since then have brought about a lot of cultural and historical shifts that make that statement ignorant and downright offensive.

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Review: Disney’s The Finest Hours

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TheFinestHours56422542399f6Today, The Finest Hours opens in theaters. Based on the true story of a Coast Guard rescue, the film stars Chris Pine, Casey Affleck and Eric Bana. Chris Pine plays Bernie Webber, a Coast Guard captain who does everything by regulations. His faith in his duty is tested when his CO (played by a very restrained Bana) sends him on a rescue mission that everyone believe to be a death warrant

The mission is to rescue the remaining crew of the Pendleton, after the tanker is torn in two by a dangerous nor’easter. The crew fights to keep the themselves afloat in order to buy more time for a rescue.

I was invited to an advanced screening this week, and I have to say – I liked this movie a lot. While it has a bit of a slow start, once the Pendleton is damaged, the movie moves at a breakneck pace (full speed, if you will). The stakes are impossibly high, and though Bernie is a very quiet man – Pine plays him so earnestly that without saying much, his concerns are clear. As the first engineer, Casey Affleck’s Ray Sybert is a no-nonsense guy who knows exactly what the stakes are and doesn’t sugarcoat them.

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OscarsSoWhite – The Clif Notes Version

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Since the nominations for this year’s Academy Awards were released, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has been going around. It’s prompted calls for boycotts from Jada Pinkett-Smith, and many A-Listers have been weighing in with their own opinions. And I’ve had a lot of IRL conversations with people who really don’t seem to know what the issue is.

Boycotting the Oscars isn’t about ensuring that a # of nominees are POC (People of Color), by saying that so many POC need to be nominated every year.

Michael Caine seemed to be under this impression, as he suggested that you couldn’t just nominate someone because they were black – but what #OscarsSoWhite is about is recognizing that there are quality performances by POC that are overlooked. And that most of the Academy’s main demographic right now (older white men) aren’t going to consider those movies as contenders. (Case in point, Creed was recognized for Sylvester Stallone’s role in it – but was ignored for any other category, despite having a very strong supporting female role.)

So what is it about? It’s about calling attention to the disparity – both in the few recognized roles for POC and to the overall makeup of the Academy. And it seems that the Academy has recognized that they can help with that – vowing to find more women and people of color.

In the end, Hollywood has to start telling more stories that feature women and people of color, especially the ones they gear towards Awards season. They need to hire more women and POC behind the camera – producers, directors, writers, tech. Not just hire them, but give them the shot to make bigger budget films. And they need to start with mentoring college students so that they know they have a place in Hollywood without having to break through a glass ceiling each time.

So many people in Hollywood mentor people who are like them. So if the majority of people involved in the filmmaking process are white men, it just means you keep bringing in new generations of white men – shutting out fresh points of view.

What about those arguments that if you diversify the Academy awards then you should diversify the BET awards or NAACP? Those are just plain ridiculous. BET Awards were founded because African-Americans weren’t being recognized in mainstream awards shows. So unless you personally plan on fixing diversity issues in Hollywood, you can just step away from the BET Awards and the ALMAs (those are the awards for Latinos).

How can you help fix it? Hollywood has come to the conclusion that people can see themselves through a white male protagonist. If you support movies with women and people of color as leads, this can help them see that there is a market for more. But in general, unless you’re in Hollywood, the only way that YOU can make waves is to be loud. Be critical. If it’s a franchise/show/product you like and you think they’re slipping where diversity should be (see: my criticisms about season 1 of Agent Carter and the lack of minorities in NYC), speak up. Compliment it, but be honest about what they can improve on. Being silent or inactive means that things don’t change. (I love Marvel’s movies. That said, I haven’t been silent about how few women or POC are in the movies)

TL;DR version: Nobody is suggesting they nominate a quota of minorities. Or that people get nominated just because they’re a minority, ignoring the quality of their work. More people just want Hollywood to realize that you can make money off a movie that isn’t starring a white person. That white isn’t the default in real life, so it shouldn’t be the default in Hollywood. And that we all win when you allow more people to share their points of view.

Also, white celebrities really should run their statements past their PR people. Kristen Stewart chimed in saying that people should stop complaining and “do something.” Because the ongoing discussion is “BORING”. While she acknowledges it’s hard to get a project made, it’s frustrating to see that she doesn’t seem to realize it’s even harder for other people than it is for her. Or that while doing something is important, you can complain and get something accomplished.

road to el dorado both is good

[Video] Whitney Watches: AGENT CARTER RETURNS!

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Peggy’s back! Last night, Agent Carter returned, kicking off Season 2. Just in case you can’t remember where the show left off, Peggy had stopped Russian Black Widow Dottie Underwood from destroying New York City. Howard left (and took Jarvis with him), and Peggy did her best to try to move on.

This season seems to have picked up later in the same year, and with a two hour premiere (with two back to back episodes), they’ve established this season’s villains pretty firmly.

So enjoy this vlog where I fangirl and drop a Hamilton reference.

(Note: apparently I am wrong about the thing that I thought was a callback to Agents of SHIELD. According to interviews, it’s a Doctor Strange tie-in)

What are you thinking about Peggy’s move to Los Angeles?

[VIDEO] Whitney Watches: Teen Wolf 5.12 “Damnatio Memoriae”

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tw 512 blog thumbnail Another week, another vlog! I apologize for not getting this up yesterday. As it turns out, my editing skills are a bit rusty, so I missed out on that golden window of when I’m the only person using the internet in the house. Slow upload speeds are a pain, let me tell you. But it’s worse when you’re throttling other people’s homework or Minecraft.

So, Teen Wolf. While I was fairly impressed by last week’s opener (though I did note that their season premiere episodes are always their strongest), I was a little disappointed by this episode. It wasn’t that there weren’t great moments – there were. Well, I’d best let you get to the video so that I just don’t repeat myself.

In this week’s vlog, I explain what Damnatio Memoriae means, the advantages of “show, don’t tell” and the perils of putting too much in one episode. Also, some sage advice from Oscar Hammerstein that will help out any writer.

What were your thoughts on the episode?

Whitney Watches: Teen Wolf 5.11 “The Last Chimera”

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tw 511 blog thumbnailWell guys, we’re back in Beacon Hills – for better or for worse. This episode picked up exactly where things left off- with the fall out from the night of the Supermoon.

As I mentioned in the recap I posted earlier this week, a lot happened in the finale. Theo’s evilness was revealed, Scott died (but Melissa brought him back), Hayden died – but Theo brought her and a few other Chimera back from the dead. And we only sort of know what the Dread Doctors are up to.

If you were wondering when the show was ever going to explain how Lydia ended up catatonic and in Eichen House… you’re in luck. If you expected any more answers than that, you might be out of luck.

Watch the video, and tell me… what were your thoughts?

Whitney Watches: Previously on Teen Wolf Season 5A

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tw 5a blog thumbnailAlright, MTV’s Teen Wolf returns tonight, and I thought I’d do a quick recap of what happened.

So… Previously on Teen Wolf.

Last season, the Pack was concerned with the future – most of them are starting their senior year, so they have college and life after Beacon Hills High School on their minds.

Derek left Beacon Hills (again), as Tyler Hoechlin opted to leave the show. Braeden left Beacon Hills, as she’d promised, to track down Malia’s mother – the Desert Wolf. She’s been sending updates to Malia, and it did not look good. Her mother’s a mercenary that leaves a string of violent crime scenes behind her.

Teenagers went missing, started to act strangely and died, oozing black liquid. Turns out that a trio of scientists named the Dread Doctors came to town, in order to experiment on turning kids into supernatural creatures…. chimeras.

They were extraordinarily difficult to understand – and sounded like if you’d recorded someone talking through an old-school drive thru speaker and then overlaid the sound of a blender running. (MTV – I really hope you gave us subtitles this season)

At the same time, an old schoolmate/friend of Scott’s showed up – Theo Raeken. Stiles distrusts him immediately, Scott wants to trust him. (This sparks the first season’s argument, albeit not a terrible one – Scott accuses Stiles of not trusting anyone, Stiles flips it around to say that Scott trusts everyone. This turned out to be the theme of the entire season. Sort of.) So Stiles starts digging, and trying to follow Theo. Liam tags along and falls into a hole.

Turns out burying is part of the process in what the Dread Doctor’s are up to. Also, Theo’s a murderer and a chimera.

Bodies went missing, and it turned out that was the handiwork of Deputy Jordan Parrish – who still had no idea what he was. Lydia figured that out – he’s a hellhound, a supernatural creature linked to death and protecting the supernatural work. Sort of the flipside of the coin to Lydia’s banshee powers. She finds the corpses, he keeps the supernatural world a secret.

There were a few important chimera. There was Tracey, a student that Lydia had tried to help, and who Malia had tried to save – only to have the Dread Doctors kill Tracey right in front of Malia. There was Donovan, a guy who had an axe to grind with the Sheriff (his dad had been the Sheriff’s partner before he was Sheriff, and the dad ended up in a wheelchair and it basically ruined Donovan’s life) He tried to kill Stiles, Stiles accidentally caused his dead trying to escape – but Stiles felt really guilty and didn’t tell anyone what happened. But Theo saw it all, so he held it over Stiles’s head. Then there was Hayden, a sophomore who slowly became involved with Liam. The both of them were taken by the Dread Doctors, and Hayden was left to die. Liam begged Scott to bite her, but Scott didn’t want to give her the bite. So she died in Hayden’s arms and set off Liam…

…because Theo’s entire plan was to split the pack from Scott and swoop in to take it. He’d told Theo that Stiles killed Donovan, and after a conversation where both Scott and Stiles were talking about the situation in different ways (Stiles was admitting it was in self defense, Scott was asking Stiles if he’d murdered him), the two had a big fight. Then Theo hurt the Sheriff and hid him, in order to get Stiles to help him (and get him away from Scott and Liam’s fight) Theo wanted the pack, but he didn’t want the good guys. He wanted Void!Stiles, a banshee, the blue-eyed Coyote, a dark kitsune, and the werewolf with rage issues. So he trapped Scott in the library, they all fought, and Scott was left for dead.

Mason, the season’s literal ray of sunshine, showed up and started performing CPR. Melissa eventually showed up, as Mason was giving up hope and ordered Scott back to life.

The Sheriff’s life hangs in the balance.

We’d been told repeatedly that the Supermoon was important – but all that happened was Theo nearly killed Scott, and when it was clear the Pack wasn’t going to back him, he resurrected a few kanima (including Tracey and Hayden) for his OWN pack. And the Dread Doctors opened up a wall that revealed a mural of a hellhound facing off with a giant monster. So?

A couple things I skipped – The season started with a flash-forward to Lydia in Eichen House, where it looked like the guy who’d been imprisoned with Peter was acting as a doctor. We have no explanation for that, or how Lydia weaponized her banshee powers. (She did learn how to fight, so we learned about that)

Deaton had left Beacon Hills- looking for more information on the Dread Doctors, and was discovered by the Desert Wolf. She believed Malia was dead, but now that her daughter’s alive, she’d have to go back to Beacon Hills to kill her. So Deaton’s fate is up in the air (Seth Gillam had been arrested in the midst of the season – I think this was their way to removing Deaton from the storyline until that was resolved)

If this doesn’t seem like enough plot for 10 episodes, you’re basically right. Most of this happened over the span of 5 episodes. The other 5 episodes essentially had them looking for a chimera, finding them, learning about them, and not being able to save them.

I think that this was by far, one of the weakest seasons of Teen Wolf. It succeeded when it came to creepy gore, but most of the characters (I’d say with the exception of Melissa, Mason, Liam and Malia) were written out of character. And a lot of the episodes just felt as though they’d plotted out a season that was half the length and then stretched it to cover a longer episode order.

And then… CRASH! (Or, my very messy Sunday morning)

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Sunday was set to be a pretty laid back day. TheBoy was planning on making puerco pibil (link goes a YouTube video of an extra feature on the Once Upon a Time in Mexico DVD. Really), so I didn’t have to worry about dinner (or cleaning the kitchen). But he couldn’t find spices. He sent me to my supply of cooking items in the closet in the den (reminder: we live with my in-laws, so while I have some items IN the kitchen, most of my stuff is elsewhere in the house). While I was getting my mother-in-law caught up on the tale of the missing spices (he swore I put it in the closet with the cake dish I’d been storing them in, I said he gave me the empty cake dish)…

when… CRASH!

MIL and I ran towards the kitchen to see what happened, only to find TheBoy standing amidst shattered glass and a giant pool of pickling liquid and pickles and peppers. “I swear. I didn’t touch anything. It just fell.”

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