“Goodbye Whitney of Old”

FullSizeRender(3)Whitney and I have been living together for over 4 months now and one thing I learned pretty quick is that this girl loves her some Elton John.  So this quick ode goes out to my sweet Whitney who turned a quarter of a century yesterday.  It won’t make much sense to anyone but Whitney and it may not even make sense to her, so excuse this bit of nonsense and Happy Birthday, Whitney!

Goodbye Whitney of Old
(to the tune of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”)

So you think that you’re getting old?
You’re still only twenty-five
You still have time to party
Still lots of time to jive

You know there’s still lots to binge
Lots of movies to see
I need you to see me through all of this viewing
You’re just too young to be singing the aging blues

So goodbye Whitney of old
Where Simba was your main man
There’s got to be someone who’s better
A Marvel Chris or a Dan

Back to the yowling Brendans in jungles
Powerline fans who love Roxannes
I think you’ll finally find your future lies
Beyond the Whitney of old

Look at how much you’ve changed now
You watch Brits who bake pavlovas
The girl who hates those Hallmark movies
Has suddenly found the love

You even like dragons and imps now
Jon Snows and Starks and Hounds
Okay so that doesn’t sound all that grown up
But I had to incorporate Thrones somehow

So goodbye Whitney of old
Where Simba was your main man
There’s got to be someone who’s better
A Marvel Chris or a Dan

Back to the yowling Brendans in jungles
Powerline fans who love Roxannes
I think you’ll finally find your future lies
Beyond the Whitney of old.

Ellen

An Open Thank-You Letter to DC Entertainment

Dear DC,

I don’t remember a lot about my childhood (most likely a result of all the heavy drinking and drug abuse. The 90’s, am I right?). There are however, a few memories that have followed me to adulthood, like the psychological equivalent of adult acne. For example, I vividly remember one stunningly embarrassing conversation I once had with my mother when I was ten year old.

We were driving in the car, on our way to my daily swim team practice. My mom had been uncharacteristically quiet for most of the drive while I, oblivious, bounced around in my seat, excited to see my friends and to show them my brand new modified-Anakin-Skywalker haircut.

For context, I should explain that Attack of the Clones had just been released to theaters, and I was completely captivated  by all things Jedi, bless my heart. Also, if you’re curious as to what a modified-Anakin-Skywalker haircut looks like, it’s really just a short pony-tail without the goofy little side braid. Mom had to draw the line somewhere.

We were almost to the pool, when my mom blurted out, “Whit, do you wish you were a boy?”

I was a little taken aback. “Um, yeah, sort of.”

I knew right away that I had said the wrong thing. To this day, I have never seen my mother look so crushed. I rushed to explain.

“Boys just get to do all the fun stuff, and they are always the good guy.”

My mom didn’t look any less devastated. I tried to summon all the eloquence at my ten-year-old disposal. I told her that I didn’t like princesses. That I related better to the male heroes I saw on screen. That I wanted to be like them because I just saw more of myself in them. That I’d give anything for a girl protagonist that spoke to me, but that I couldn’t find one.  To this day, I’m not sure if I ever really made my point, and mom never brought it up again.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized that my mother and I had been having two very different conversations.  Her concerns were, um, worldly in nature.  I was simply trying to explain to her that, as there weren’t many kick-ass women on screen for me to emulate, I was making do with what I had on hand. Shortly thereafter, I decided to shake my tomboy persona. I chose to hang up my lightsaber, rather than have that conversation ever again.

Maybe it’s because the pop culture landscape has changed so much, but sometimes it’s easy to forget how that little girl felt. Now girls have Hermione Granger, and Rey, and Katniss, and Peggy Carter. All she had were a handful of Disney Princesses who made her feel that a woman was only really valuable if she was beautiful, a message that became even more crushing the day she realized she would only ever be average-looking, at best.

If I could, I would go back and tell her about that not too distant future. I would tell her about the surge of on-screen female heroism that would finally help us reconcile the words femininity and feminism. I’d probably tell her about Wonder Woman‘s Diana, a character who’s ass-kicking capabilities are exceeded only by her compassion and selflessness.

So thanks, DC, for making the movie that I needed fifteen years ago. You and I haven’t always seen eye to eye, but because you and other studios are making strong women a priority, other little girls won’t have to make the choices I did. They won’t have to decide between the heroine that most closely resembles them biologically and the hero that speaks to who they are and who they want to be. Keep making movies for those little girls, and the mothers who cut their hair.

Whitney Weldon

 

Get with the Program: Home Town

home townAirs: Tuesdays at 10:00/9:00c on HGTV

TV show equationHome Town  =  Fixer Upper – 1/2 Asian – Texas + Mississippi

Premise in a Sentence:  Fixer Upper in Mississippi.

Really, I just wanted to use this post as a way to tell all of my Fixer Upper fans that if you aren’t watching Home Town, you should be.  But I guess I can go a little more in depth.

The show follows Erin and Ben Napier as they try and save their small town of Laurel, Mississippi by renovating one house at a time.  She is a designer and he is the handyman.  Sound familiar?  This show was always going to be compared to it’s Texan cousin, mainly because it is obviously HGTV’s attempt to recapture that Fixer Upper magic.  I am happy to report that it holds up pretty well in comparison.  I am even going to make a bold statement and say that the Napiers have had a more promising start than the Gaines’.  Have you ever gone back and watched those early episodes of Fixer Upper?  It’s disconcerting.  Chip is not his Chip-py self, he barely even cares about demo day, and Joanna is clearly uncomfortable on camera.  Not so with the Napiers.  They had the banter and dorky humor down pretty quick, perhaps because they had a pretty good example of a winning formula.

homeBen Napier is not quite as entertaining Chip, but his resourcefulness makes up for it in my book.  He is quite the Mr. Fix-It and seems more than capable when it comes to building furniture, restoring construction, and coming up with solutions to make Erin’s designs work.  Erin’s design aesthetic has a nice lived-in element to it, but it has variety.  Every project thus far has felt different while still having her stamp on it.  The best way I can describe it is that she seems to like a lot of stuff on the walls, but in a good way.  The town of Laurel seems to have more of a small town quality than Waco and the houses have more historic character.

Like I said, it’s pretty hard not to compare the two, but both shows come out of the comparison in good shape.  Part of me wonders if they should have just gone the Flip or Flop way and just called this Fixer Upper: Mississippi, but I am happy to see seemingly nice people get their own platform.  Fixer Upper is always going to be my go-to HGTV viewing, but I am happy to have Home Town in the off season.

Ellen

The Reviews Are In: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

This is the last Fangirly review I will ever write. And it’s all Ellen’s fault.

See, Ellen has a job where a working knowledge of pop culture is requisite. Needless to say, Ellen is very good at her job. She knew long before I did that that reviews for James guardians-galaxy-2-poster-charactersGunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the film for which we bought our tickets weeks in advance, was getting slightly less glowing reviews than it’s predecessor. She told me, “Go into this movie thinking that’s it’s only OK, and it will probably exceed your expectations.”

So I did. I trust Ellen to a fault, not just because she’s my hero (please don’t tell her I said that), but because she has a nose for this sort of thing. Ellen’s the pop culture guru and I’m the one that can, under the right conditions, burp the first four letters of the jsc3020-cmp-v3781007-jsc3050-cmp-v2631009-comp-r-1486345142271_1280walphabet. You could say we both bring things to the table.

But as I sat through Vol. 2, I kept forgetting that it wasn’t a perfect specimen of modern film-making. I kept dancing in my seat to the soundtrack. I kept getting wrapped up in the story. I kept enjoying watching characters develop. I kept laughing so hard that I cried, and in some instances, crying so hard that I laughed. In short, I kept forgetting why I wasn’t supposed to love this movie unreservedly.

6ab3ae6be78d4be8fb6407ee754133c867474d74If I’m being honest, it wasn’t Ellen’s fault. She was just trying to shield us both from potential disappointment. But I can’t help but wonder what my experience of this movie might have been if I hadn’t spent the whole 136 minute run-time wondering which of it’s glaring flaws I was missing. I learned that I’d rather be surprised by life’s occasional disappointments rather than spend my time anticipating them. The pop culture landscape is such that people can earn a living from tearing down something someone else put blood and sweat into making.

So I’m done reading movie reviews. I encourage you to do the same. Whether you use guardians-of-the-galaxy-2-2016-billboard-1548them to decide which movies to see, or you use them to validate opinions you already had, I think that the brain trusts over at Entertainment Weekly have officially outlived their usefulness.

That being said, I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to fans of Batman V. Superman. You thought that movie was great, and I trashed it. Hard. While I stand by what I said, you are entitled to love that dumpster fire of a movie (double standards are fun, aren’t they?).

Oh, I was supposed to review Guardian of the Galaxy, wasn’t I? Guys, so good.

Whitney Weldon

 

Grade A, Choice Picks: Ellen’s Most Anticipated Movies of Summer 2017

May is upon us and you know what that means, children?  We are officially in the summer movie season!  Even better news, the lineup this year looks fairly promising.  There are still a lot of sequels but even those seem to be bringing something new to the table for their respective franchises.  With that, let’s take a look at the top 10 movies that I am most looking forward to seeing this summer.

10. King Arthur (May 12) Look.  At the very least, Charlie Hunnam.  On top of that, though, Guy Ritchie makes a fun movie and I have always been a fan of the Camelot mythology.  The trailers weren’t getting me super pumped, but the early rumblings are that this is a surprisingly great movie and should be a good time at the movies.  Plus, Charlie Hunnam.

9. The Big Sick (June 23) I always have to have at least one Sundance darling.  This film is about a Pakistani stand-up comic who falls for a white girl and struggles with telling his parents about her.  He further has to navigate his feelings when she becomes sick and falls into a coma.  Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon wrote this movie together based on their own relationship and they are utterly charming together on their podcast The Indoor Kids.  I think this one will be a nice reprieve from all the shoot ’em, blow ’em up we have on the docket this summer.

8. Dunkirk (July 21) This one doesn’t look it will be particularly fun to watch, but I am excited to see Christopher Nolan bring his touch to a war movie.  The approach that he is using to tell the story of this event by showing it from three different POVs of land, air, and sea has the feel of a mini Band of Brothers to me and that only further intrigues me.

7. Baywatch (May 25)  Could this be a trainwreck? Yes.  But I think it is more likely to be a pretty fun summer comedy.  Some recent TV spots that I have seen with Zac Efron in drag going “undercover” have me a little worried about the caliber of comedy we will be dealing with, but I am hoping it goes more in the direction of 21 Jump Street with irreverant and self-aware comedy.  You sort of have to with Baywatch, right?

6. Alien: Covenant (May 19) I am not always huge on “scary” or jump scares. Even though this looks like it will deliver both of those in spades, there’s no denying it also looks awesome.  Prometheus was both a hit and a miss with audiences, but this looks like it will be getting back to more of the intensity that Alien(s) delivered.  I may be watching with my hands over my eyes for half of it, but consider the ticket bought.

5. War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14) Both Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (don’t ask me which came first) were huge surprises for me.  What could have been quick money grabs on a pre-existing franchise ended up being very thoughtful films on the essence of “humanity” and a group of apes fighting for their right to it.

4. Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7th) I think it is safe to say that I have developed into quite the Marvel fangirl over the past 15 years, so to see Spider-Man getting his “homecoming” is pretty exciting.  After seeing Tom Holland make his debut as the (age appropriate) web-slinger in Captain America: Civil War, I was even more excited.   Add a dash of John Hughesian high school comedy with a pinch of RDJ’s Iron Man and you have what should be a great addition to Marvel’s roster.

3. Wonder Woman (June 2) Diana, don’t let me down.  This movie might have taken my top place if not for the DCEU’s less than stellar showing thus far.  My faith is still with Wonder Woman, though.  The trailers seem promising and Gal Gadot was one of the few redeeming qualities about BvS: Dawn of Justice.  I’m rooting for you, so please, please don’t screw it up!

2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)  I don’t know if I have made this clear yet, but I love Marvel movies and the first Guardians is my favorite Marvel movie, ergo, I am dang excited for this movie.  Early reports seem to indicate that this is not as great as the first, but not as great as the first is still pretty dang great in my book.  Already have my ticket to see it on Friday.

1. Baby Driver (June 28th) It’s always a safe bet that a new Edgar Wright movie will be number one on my list.  After SXSW, it is being touted as the action movie La La Land.  So, yeah, I’m in.  The premise of getaway listening to music to block out his tinnitus allows for the action sequences to all be set to music.  Did I already mention that I’m in?

-Ellen

 

Fan-Rants- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Subversive Power of a Good Narative

Dear Internet,

Sorry I haven’t written in a while, but so much has happened in the last three months. Ellen and I have fulfilled our mutual destiny by moving in together. Yes, that’s right; these two single soul-sisters are finally makin’ it happen. I’d say that our roommate dynamic is one part Golden Girls, one part Playing House (Ellen’s beagle Steve operates as a sort of Baby Charlotte to our Emma and Maggie).

Ours is a quiet existence, which is just fine with us, as it affords us plenty of time to pursue our passions: painting, dance, basket weaving, and making “ah-OO-gah” noises at cute boys through open car windows…

EASbWXv

Scratch that: we watch a lot of TV. Tonight’s media menu was The Music Man, followed by a YouTube palette cleanser, rounded off with a fresh episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. If you, like so much of the world, have written S.H.I.E.L.D. off as another one of ABC’s lost causes, you’re assumption is as understandable as it is premature.  S.H.I.E.L.D. has had it’s ups and downs over the last 4 seasons (I’m looking at you, season 2). But nothing makes for fine TV escapism quite like a world in turmoil. Our evermore chaotic 24 hour news cycle is the perfect fodder for some scintillating social commentary, if only a member of our media-elite should take enough time from mustache twirling and fake news-ing to look for it (these are the jokes, folks). Enter  Agents shield-season-4-jemma-fights-lmdsof S.H.I.E.L.D. If you haven’t kept up, let me bring you up to speed.

Through a escalating and, frankly, very complicated series of events, the S.H.I.E.L.D. team
have found themselves trapped in a parallel “framework” reality where the government and media are controlled by Hydra. Some- Daisy, Gemma, and Coulson- remember the world as it was, while others- Fitz, Mac, May- have bought into the lie.
Fitz, in particular, has made a temperamental 180 as the new de facto leader of Hydra. Gone is the sweet Fitz of yester-season. In the framework he murders and manipulates anyone who opposes him as he works to bring an as yet unspecified Hydra agenda to fruition.

IAIN DE CAESTECKERThis season, in addition to being beautifully written, has been less than subtle in it’s criticism of our recent, ahem, regime change. References to “alternative facts” and a seamless work-in of the line “nevertheless, she persisted” abound.  This week’s episode featured a scene where one especially sleazy character offers to take another female character “furniture shopping, anywhere she wants”. For anyone not picking up on the reference,  I offer you this proud moment in American history.

Some might be tempted to say that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been heavy handed, that they are pushing an unapologetically progressive agenda. To which I say, maybe.

Or it’s just a story about a group of people trapped in a reality they don’t understand. Where ideologies that were once collectively deemed hateful and unsupportable have gained a foothold. Where good people are changed beyond recognition by conditions out of their control.  And, like any good example of the superhero formula, it shows that while some people might succumb to their circumstances, other will rise above them and work to make the world a better place.

Oh, and then we went to Chick-fil-a for dinner. Have you tried the spicy chicken sandwich? It’s like buddah.

giphy

Whitney Weldon