Review: Disney’s The Finest Hours


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.


OscarsSoWhite – The Clif Notes Version


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!


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”


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”


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


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)


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.”


George Lucas still can’t let Star Wars go. (Creator woes)


The Force Awakens movie poster - Poe Dameron

Here, have a little Poe Dameron.

When it was announced that Disney was buying Lucasfilm (and the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises), I wondered how Lucas was going to handle it. This is, after all, the man who was so incapable of letting go of his creations that he continued to tweak them with every re-release.

George Lucas gave an interview that essentially said The Force Awakens wasn’t the direction he would have gone, that they based it on the original trilogy which “had issues.” That he tried to make each movie cover new territory (though it seemed more like he meant this literally, not just figuratively). He admitted that Disney wasn’t interested in working with him on the movie, they wanted to do their own thing. That it’s a bit like a breakup and selling his characters to white slavers (read: human trafficking, rather than what most Americans think of as slavers).

Update: George Lucas issued a statement that the interview was recorded prior to the release of the movie. I’m including it at the bottom of this post.

That’s his opinion. And while there are plenty of other creators who’ve been dissatisfied at adaptations of their works – the difference here is that Lucas sold this to Disney. He gave them permission to use his Universe without his input, and then complained that they went in a different direction than he would have picked.
Part of the issue in my mind is that the prequels made it clear that his idea of what made Star Wars great isn’t what fans felt made it great. Fans were attracted to the characters, to their growth, to their loss and triumphs. When given more tech and a bigger budget, he created more elaborate worlds and bigger spectacles – at the expense of his characters.


Gifts for the Tech Lover / Con Goer


2015giftguidetechloversIn Part 2 of Whitney’s first year doing gift guides, I thought I’d lay out some of my favorite gadgets for tech on the go.

I might not be a tech guru (I prefer the term aficionado), but I do carry my phone with me at all times, and find myself needing to keep my phone on at all times while being far away from outlet space.

And if I can make my phone last a full day at a comic con (while posting pictures), at least I can help you with that.

Power banks

Power banks make great stocking stuffers. What’s a power bank? It’s basically a portable battery. You charge it at home, then plug your USB device into it when you’re on the go. I usually take a couple of these to any conventions, and I always keep one in my purse.

A fun one for a techie who also applies makeup on the go? Hyper’s Pearl is neat. It’s a power bank that’s also a compact with a built in LED ring light. (While I don’t own that one, I do have their HyperJuice Micro which has been one of my most reliable power banks over the years)


HISY’s Reactivate Power bank is pretty small, and great for fitting in your pocket or purse. I got this in a subscription box, and I use it all the time because of how small it is.

Nomad’s charging cables

NomadKey Lightning Keychain

I first found them through a Kickstarter, but I use their ChargeKey plug all the time. It’s small, fits on a keychain and it’s flexible enough to bend any way you need it to. I’ve had mine for two years now and I use it ALL the time.

And I love the design of their Carbiner, though I haven’t used it personally. Comes in MicroUSB and Lightning! (You can get a Carbiner for GoPro, too!) While they’re currently having a sale on their website… you can also find them at Best Buy!

A year in the cloud

Of course, you can also gift a year of DropBox Pro. At $99, it isn’t cheap, but DropBox Pro has been one of the best investments I’ve made. I’ve set up my website to automatically backup to it, I sync my phone’s pictures to it – I even use it to back up my creative writing.

I back things up on a portable hard drive, too – but it definitely makes me feel a lot better about having data in a couple different places (and somewhere I can access from any device of mine)

Cocoon’s GRID-IT (Your best friend at a con) or Cordito

griditIf you go to conventions a lot like me, you’ll find you wind up with a lot of tech. Phone, camera, powerbanks, cables, sharpies… and so many cables. A system like Grid-it makes it easy to carry it all – and find it all.

corditoIf you prefer leather, the Cordito and it’s bretheren are good solutions, too.

rumeRuMe’s Baggie All is another useful gift for someone who has a lot of cords and smaller gadgets. I have one in my bag, and I use one pocket for cords & gadgets, another for pens, and the biggest for notebooks and receipts.

(None of these are affiliate links. I just happen to like the Grommet.)

So what are your favorite tech gifts?

Gifts for the Athletic Person in your life


2015giftguideathletesI’m going to try to give you some interesting gifts for this Christmas, even if one of them is a Kickstarter. Things you might not find on every holiday gift guide.

(But considering it’s the second Kickstarter for this brand, and they were the #1 selling dress on Kickstarter…. it’s a lock)

The Undress v2

The first version of the Undress was a successful Kickstarter campaign right off the bat. The idea is that it’s a dress you can pack, so that you can change out of your exercise clothes, where ever you are.

Like I said, I backed the first version – which is a floor length maxi dress, and while it’s utterly comfortable – it’s sometimes a lot more material than you need. So I’m excited about this new version.

Granted, the Athletic woman in your life won’t get their Undress until June, since this is financing the first run of it – but it’s well worth the wait.

Don’t want to wait? You can always buy the original Undress, their Super Shawl, a hoodie or shorts, or a gift card at their online shop.


Combo-2_1024x1024I stumbled on this after getting a discount from an activity app – but Waves makes a lot of great products for those who are active near water. Sunglasses that float, dry bags, and their micro towels work so well and are so darn thin that they won’t take up much room in your bag.

And if you place your order by Thursday (and use code CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN), you can still get it in time for Christmas.

Quirky’s Vessel Shower Caddy

Vessel_GREY_LIMBO_OW_SHOPAnd to round it off, this is one of my favorite shower caddies – I gave it to TheBoy last year and have one for my own gym bag. It can hang up on a hook, has suction cups so that you can stick it in the shower, and it has a mesh bottom grommets in it so that it can drain dry and stay dry.

So there you have it! My first Gift Guide for the Year. Tomorrow I’m going to do a Gift Guide for Tech Users/Con Goers.

What’s your favorite gift for the athlete in your life?