With ‘MIB: International,’ Lexus Is Cast as a Blockbuster Car for a Second Straight Summer

When moviegoers first saw King T’Challa in action as Black Panther it was a real showstopper: The Marvel comic book character clings to the top of a sleek new Lexus LC sports coupe as he surfs through the busy streets of Busan, South Korea, in a high-speed chase that ultimately destroys his remote-controlled ride.

The scene’s a crowdpleaser, to be sure–and it successfully sells Lexus’ image as a maker of high-performance luxury sports cars to a younger audience. Starting this weekend, with a prominent role in Sony’s sci-fi franchise Men in Black: International, the Japanese automotive company hopes to add another hit to its credits, giving it supporting roles in summer blockbusters for two years running.

But betting on a movie’s success is a game that most veteran studio executives have a hard time playing, let alone luxury automotive brands. And no matter how much money is sunk into a project, there are no guarantees at the box office.

For instance, Black Panther could have been a big miss for the Japanese luxury automaker. The titular main character, who rules a fictional technologically advanced African nation, was relatively unknown to most audiences prior to the movie’s release. Lexus executives weren’t allowed to read the script before signing on to support the film, giving the company no guarantee of how its brand would appear on screen. The production also wanted six coupes to use for filming, which forced Lexus to provide custom-built prototypes that can cost upwards of $ 1 million each, since the actual car was not being produced.

For Lexus, whose corporate parent Toyota isn’t known for risk taking, the gamble paid off. Black Panther blew away expectations to become 2018’s highest-grossing movie in the U.S., earning more than $ 700 million domestically, and nearly $ 1.4 billion worldwide. And the film didn’t just appeal to comic book fans, it also over-indexed with African-Americans, given that Black Panther was the first big-budget Marvel Studio’s movie to feature a black actor as the lead.

“Lexus has always been committed to celebrating the rich diversity of our customers, but Black Panther catapulted it to a new level,” says Lisa Materazzo, Lexus’ vice president of marketing.

Betting on blockbusters

With Men in Black: International, Lexus is taking less of a risk. Sony has put considerable resources into breathing new life into its $ 2 billion franchise, which now stars Chris Hemsworth (Marvel’s hammer-wielding Thor) and Tessa Thompson, who proved a winning duo together in Thor: Ragnarok.

In the new MIB film, Lexus’ aggressive RC F sports coupe races through London, helping agents escape threatening aliens, before transforming into a jet. Lexus’ RX Hybrid and LX SUVs are also featured in scenes with alien encounters.

In both MIB and Panther, Lexus is portrayed as a future-forward designer of high-tech vehicles, a positioning that promotes the company’s newest slogan “Experience Amazing.” “The beauty of film integrations is that none of the traditional rules apply,” Materazzo says. “It’s an opportunity to partner with filmmakers to imagine all of the possibilities.”

This isn’t necessarily new ground for Lexus, which has introduced other high-tech products like a hoverboard and sports yacht concept over the past several years to expand the brand’s appeal to affluent buyers in the sought-after 45- to 55-year-old market.

Lexus is looking to use films as a way to launch new emotionally engaging campaigns around the release of its new sports cars and luxury sedans and SUVs. It especially sees movies as a way to tap into conversations around cultural events.

But forcing your brand into the story doesn’t come cheap. In addition to providing expensive prototypes to filmmakers for Panther, Lexus produced a comic book and custom videos. It also bought a 30-second Super Bowl spot for the tie-in and LC 500 launch that cost the company more than $ 5 million.

But when Marvel’s movies have made a combined $ 21 billion worldwide to date (including the most recent Avengers installment), you take the risk.

A strategy as old as Bond, James Bond

If Lexus seems like it’s siding up to well-dressed secret agents, there’s a reason: The brand is focused on pushing the performance of its cars, technological innovation and style–while having some fun. That kind of limits just who gets to drive its hero cars.

“We consider how our product aligns with the character who drives it,” Materazzo says, and “how the integration might enable us to illuminate a core brand truth within the story.”

The automaker wasn’t specifically looking to get into the superhero business, though Black Panther was expected to be groundbreaking in bringing the character to the big screen, with Chadwick Boseman as the first black actor to headline a big-budget superhero film (which also featured a largely African-American cast).

So putting Black Panther in a LS 500 luxury sedan and LC 500 sport coupe in the film and marketing materials was akin to pairing James Bond with Aston Martin.

But moviegoers haven’t always embraced the films Lexus has supported with product placement. In 2017, the same year “Experience Amazing” launched, Lexus developed the designs for a futuristic jet for Luc Besson’s pricey sci-fi fantasy Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, which didn’t take off, earning just $ 226 million worldwide.

On the other hand, when the films do work, they clearly have helped improve Lexus’ brand image, and boost its sales. Lexus’s “Long Live the King” Super Bowl spot helped boost searches for its LS sedan by 2,500%, according to auto site Kelley Blue Book shortly after the ad launched. And online searches for Lexus rose 15% the week after Panther‘s debut, while the LC 500 was up 10% on its own, according to Autotrader.

Lexus recorded its best global sales year in 2018, moving 698,330 vehicles off dealership lots, an increase of 4.5%–a tough figure for anyone to reach, in what’s becoming a crowded luxury auto market.

“Auto companies partnering on movies is more about exposure than sales,” says Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Autotrader. This is true especially of summer blockbusters that attract millions of moviegoers, she adds, noting that Nissan’s affiliation with the Star Wars films enabled it to have a themed auto show exhibit, “which surely drew lots of kids with their parents in tow to an exhibit they might otherwise have skipped.”

In addition to the Black Panther franchise–which Lexus isn’t expected to give up, though a sequel isn’t expected until 2021–the automaker will likely appear in future Marvel movies. Marvel Studios’ marketing mavens prefer long-term relationships with brands. For instance, Audi has been the vehicle of choice for Iron Man since 2008. Other Avengers films have also featured Acura.

But Lexus also has eyes on other franchises, as evidenced by its high-visibility role in MIB. The automaker says doesn’t have a “strict rule” for how many films it wants to rally around per year, “one high profile partnership per year (feels) about right,” Materazzo says. “We are actively considering several possibilities.”

Whether MIB tanks or soars, Lexus’ diversification is a smart strategy for Hollywood tentpole brand integrations. Because even without all of Black Panther‘s success, if the movie proved one thing it’s that you can’t stay in Wakanda forever.



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Sherri Shepherd Says Barbara Walters Had Her Crying ‘For Three Years Straight’ On ‘The View’

Former “The View” co-host Sherri Shepherd is speaking out about her tenure on the ABC morning show, telling Entertainment Tonight that Barbara Walters had her crying for “three years straight.”

Shepherd’s comments come after the release of the tell-all book “Ladies Who Punch,” which explores all the alleged conflicts between the women of “The View.” Shepherd describes her time on the Emmy-winning daytime talker as “the best experience of my life” but she “cried for three years straight” due to “a very tough taskmaster who I love her to death. It’s Barbara Walters.”

Shepherd was a host of the show from 2007 to 2014. She claims her former boss “was tough on the people that she loved, and she helped me find my voice.”

Adding, “So I will forever be indebted to Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Jenny McCarthy for the time that I had on ‘The View,’” Shepherd said, “because what I have now is because of ‘The View.’ ”

As noted by USA Today, “Ladies Who Punch” spills all the messy backstage antics, from a confrontation between Walters and Rosie O’Donnell, to Hasselbeck’s meltdown after Walters’ on-air mistreatment and Jenny’s claim that Barbara was always gunning for her because of her outfit choices.

“When they were at ‘The View,’ some people had some not-so-great experiences, and some people had really wonderful experiences,” Shepherd told ET, admitting that she too had “some fights on the show,” which she didn’t want to discuss. “From my end, it was the best experience of my life,” she said.

Shepherd admitted to ET she hadn’t read the book but she is aware of its content.

“I read some stuff and I was like, ‘Oh, shoot. Oh OK. That’s crazy. Hey Jenny, why’d you say that for?’ OK,” Shepherd said. “But, you know, everybody has their own interpretation of how it happened when they were there.”

McCarthy, a host from 2013 to 2014, revealed in the book that her time on the show was “the most miserable” job she’s had in all of her time in the industry.

“When I’d hear the shuffle of her feet, I knew that Barbara was after me,” McCarthy said in the book “It would get faster. Oh my God – she’s coming! Based on the speed of the shuffle, I would hide or get on the phone.”

However, the former MTV hostess said she has “zero hard feelings” toward Walters, explaining: “I loved her like a grandma. She didn’t know any better.”

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Straight Copying: How Gay Fashion Goes Mainstream

When J. Crew debuted their Liquor Store ten years ago, they transformed an after-hours watering hole into a menswear-only boutique laden with 1960s-era references to traditional masculinity. Dimly lit rooms were covered in plush leather chairs, oriental rugs, and wood paneling. In the corner of one area, a bookshelf was stacked with Strand-issued classics — Kerouac, Hemingway, and Cheever among them. Thick cashmere cardigans were draped over Globetrotter suitcases; striped rep ties rolled into lowball glasses. In another area, J. Crew showcased their collection of Red Wing heritage work boots. Once made for loggers, carpenters, and longshoreman, the preppy clothier has since helped mainstream these blue-collar styles into white-collar offices.

A few years ago, I had the chance to interview Frank Muytjens, then the head of menswear design at J. Crew. We talked about his design process, his love for vintage, and how he chooses which third-party brands get included in J. Crew’s much-revered “In Good Company” section, which is where many American men first get introduced to storied names such as Barbour and Alden. When it came to Red Wing, Muytjens said plainly: “I saw them in Chelsea.” Chelsea, for those unaware, is Manhattan’s art district. It’s home to expensive art galleries, hip rooftop bars, and one of the city’s largest LGBTQ communities. Muytjens continued: “Red Wings were popular with lesbians there. I just loved how they wore them with slim jeans and plaid flannel shirts, so I helped to bring the brand into J. Crew.”

Anna Pulley, the author of The Lesbian Sex Haiku Book (with Cats!), says about as much in the opening of Articles of Interest’s second podcast episode. When she moved from the Midwest to San Francisco, she didn’t know who to hit on anymore because the language of unspoken dress codes had changed. Where Pulley’s from, some women style their plaid flannels in a way to show they’re part of a group, but in San Francisco, where every office looks like a sawmill, they’re just part of a middle-class uniform. “Midwestern queer culture is extremely different from Bay Area queer culture, and one of the things that stood out to me was the difference in fashion,” she says. “Flannel was one way to signify, like, I exist.” Now when she sees someone wearing a plaid flannel shirt, she wonders if they’re a bike messenger.



The Dress Codes of a Subcultural Habitat

The urban lumberjack uniform took off in the early 2000s thanks in part to hipster culture. Although it’s often billed as a classic, it’s really a new invention. The pieces are generally timeless, but they come together in a way that shows the fit and styling are more about broadcasting identity than performing manual labor. At some point, the look was picked up by a segment of the LGBTQ community, where it took on new meaning. And it was through that community that a J. Crew designer fell in love with how an old boot style could be worn in new ways.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. The border between the queer community and popular fashion is porous. The first will often take things from broader culture, remix it, and make something their own. Then the more general public will adopt a look once it’s reintroduced as fashionable (and then, the original in-group meaning is lost). The urban lumberjack look is also one of the many examples of how gay men and lesbians have used clothing as a way to navigate a challenging world. To be sure, people from all backgrounds use fashion to try on different identities, explore their sexualities, find community, and announce their orientation, but clothing is even more critical for people in the LGBTQ community.

“The illegality of homosexuality and the moral disapproval it attracted forced gay men and lesbians to live virtually invisible lives in Britain, North America, and much of the world,” writes Shaun Cole, an Associate Professor in Fashion at Winchester School of Art and author of Don We Now Our Gay Apparel. “Up until the gay liberation movement of the late 1960s, the most important criterion of public dress, for the mass of gay men and lesbians, was to be able to ‘pass’ as heterosexual. Despite this need, many were aware of the dress codes and items that could be used to signal sexual orientation.”

These signals were often so subtle, they passed undetected by outsiders. Baffled by how gay men were able to find each other, early researchers even hypothesized there was something such as a “homosexual sixth sense.” In reality, people wore their identity on their sleeve through symbols that were softly coded into style accessories. During the Oscar Wilde trial of the 1890s, gay men wore a green carnation in their lapel’s buttonhole, which was a queer signal they adopted from “rent boys” plying their trade in London’s Piccadilly Circus. At the turn of the 20th century, the signal was sent through white gloves and pinkie rings. In the interwar years, particularly in New York City, it was a red tie (something George Chauncey documented in his book Gay New York). J. C. Leyendecker, the most preeminent of menswear illustrators and a gay man, excelled at depicting men in intimate spaces exchanging knowing glances and striking curious poses. In one of the illustrations above, you can see one of the men wearing a narrow, red silk tie, which probably went unnoticed by Leyendecker’s employers (he drew for newspapers, manufacturers, and even the US Army).

For a while, light blue socks were the symbol of homosexuality in England. Then it was green cravats in France. One of the most internationally used and enduring signifiers of homosexuality is pointy suede shoes, which was so well-known to the public in 1960s England, wearing a pair could raise suspicions. As Max Mosher wrote in “Out of the Closet,” these coded accessories were a “quiet wink at the initiated in the same way an offhand reference to Judy Garland could determine whether a stranger was a fellow ‘friend of Dorothy.’”



Not everyone was with the program, however. For one, many of these signals were pegged to the more effeminate interpretations of what it means to be a gay man — associations that have held firm since the outing of Oscar Wilde, who was known for being witty, effeminate, and boldly dressed. “Pansy, nellie, swish, queen: the fairy went by many names, but one thing universally acknowledged was that he wasn’t a ‘real man,’” writes Mosher. “Sexual theories of the time suggested that homosexuals were women in men’s bodies, unnaturally devoid of masculinity. But the easily recognizable identity proved useful for lonely men desperate to find each other. Gay men flocked to the stereotype like fairies to a flame. [Later], masculine gays felt alienated from an identity that didn’t represent them; early queer activists worried that the fairy stereotype gave the community a bad name.”

In many marginalized communities, there’s a running tension between those who think they should quietly assimilate and those who want to proclaim their identity to the world proudly. In the LGBTQ community, this tension came to a head during the Stonewall Riots, which were a series of protests against police raids at a popular Greenwich Village bar. The riots were violent, eventually ending with patrons burning down the watering hole, but the protests were also a watershed moment for the gay liberation movement. No longer would people quietly endure the stigma associated with their sexual and gender identities. Shame was replaced with a newfound sense of pride, and accommodationist goals were abandoned.

For gay men, reaching into their closet was one of the ways for them to come out of it. Fashion during this time was bolder, brasher, and unapologetic. Taking inspiration from transgender sex workers, some adopted what became known as “radical drag,” which blurred the line between masculine and feminine by combining the more extreme symbols of both. Gold lamé dresses were worn with work boots, pink tutus were paired with army jackets, and bearded faces were caked with make-up. “Taken off the stage and put on the street, what was once a camp performance became a political act, questioning what, if anything, gender meant,” Mosher explains. “By the ’70s, entire outfits were shouting, ‘We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!’”

Radical drag never really crossed over into popular culture, mostly because it was too extreme, but it introduced a new kind of “genderfucking” that made people think about how they could “fuck with” traditional norms of gender identity, gender roles, and gender presentation. Those ideas would later be carried forward through the 1970s and ’80s punk movements. The New York Dolls, for example, was an influential protopunk band that performed in feminine dresses, long hair, and glitter-glam make-up. Their first two albums would later have a big influence on groups such as The Sex Pistols, Kiss, the Ramones, Guns N’ Roses, and the Smiths.



The Crossover Moments

Queer culture sometimes influences fashion in indirect ways. The dark, avant-garde designer Rick Owens, for instance, has looked to the more extreme edges of performance art, where he’s taken inspiration from the “purposefully surreal, absurdist and unsettling physical disposition of David Hoyle and Christeene Vale.” Other times, the lifting is more direct. Over the last hundred years, mainstream culture has siphoned from perfumed dandies, dillys, scallies, the new romantics, and fierce voguing divas.

Before Madonna released her 1990s hit single “Vogue,” which today endures as the fashion industry’s unofficial anthem, the original vogue queens were people in Harlem’s “House Ball” community. During the ’80s, people would “walk,” dance, and emulate other genders to compete for trophies at various drag balls. In the LBGTQ documentary Paris is Burning, one performer said: “Those balls are more or less our fantasy of being a superstar, like at the Oscars or being a runway on the model. A lot of those kids don’t have two of nothing. Some of them don’t even eat, they come to the balls starving. They sleep at Under 21 or the piers; they don’t have a home to go to. But they’ll go out and steal something to get dressed to go to the ball for that one night.” Just a couple of years after that scene was filmed, dancers introduced Madonna to the concept of “vogueing” at The Sound Factory Bar. She then used the concept for one of her most famous songs, imitating people who dreamt of one day being like her, as well as mainstreaming the dance style into popular culture.

One of the best examples of crossover is “The Clone Look.” During the 1970s, journalist Frances Fitzgerald combed through some of San Francisco’s gay neighborhoods to write about LGBTQ culture. One of the things she noticed is how everyone seemed to dress the same. “The Castroids,” she wrote of the people living on and around Castro Street, “were dressing with the care of Edwardian dandies, only the look was cowboy or bush pilot: tight blue jeans, plaid shirts, leather vests or bomber jackets, and boots. The new look was ‘gender-eccentricity.’”

Men who grew up thinking that being gay necessarily meant being effeminate found new representation through the traditional icons of manhood: the cowboy, the construction worker, the mechanic, the sailor, and the lumberjack. Whether they were in heavy denim and leather, athletic shorts and knee-high socks, a bushy handlebar mustache always completed the look. According to Cole, “gay men realized that it was fine to be overly masculine […] that sex and sexual freedom were something that they could freely embrace.”



While these styles aped straight culture, they were very much a gay aesthetic. “In the 1970s, gays were much more visible and less concerned about being recognized as gay,” writes Mosher. “Clones had taken the look of the working-class male and sexualized it, emphasizing muscles through tight t-shirts, and shapely buttocks through deliberately shrunken jeans. The clone look was, in fact, a deconstruction of the traditional male, a kind of ‘butch drag.’ By dressing like ‘real men,’ clones had discovered that masculinity was a performance with costumes no less contrived than the fairy’s tailored suits or the radical drag queens’ gowns. The clone look, the first style to say it was okay to be both gay and masculine, may have encouraged thousands of men to come out.”

If the look seems familiar, it’s because it would later find crossover success in the subsequent decade. The popularity of a brawny, mustachioed Tom Selleck in “Magnum PI” convinced straight men that they could have the same magnetism if they just wore slim jeans, a low-buttoned hibiscus print shirt, and a bushy mustache. “The clone look went mainstream in the ’80s, adopted by heterosexuals who apparently missed the irony of straight men dressing like gay men dressing like straight men. This, of course, killed the look for many gays.”

Today, many of these looks overlap. Gay and straight styles have intermingled through close association in bars and clubs. Craig Green, who won last year’s British Designer of the Year award, went to school at the famous Central Saint Martins to study fashion. For his senior dissertation, he wrote about how straight men copy gay style subcultures. “When I was younger, what I thought of as a very gay look was really a metrosexual thing, a bit Italian, clothes a tiny bit too tight, skinny jeans, tanned, tight T-shirt, worked out,” he told The Guardian. “Most of the men who dressed like that were straight. Gay men all seemed to be growing beards, too. It was a less specific time. You couldn’t really tell who was who anymore. Have we come to a melting point?”

Maybe there are still subtle style signals the rest of us are missing.

The post Straight Copying: How Gay Fashion Goes Mainstream appeared first on Put This On.

Put This On


Black Woman Creates Documentary Setting Record Straight About ‘Green Book’ Movie

Yoruba Richen, an award-winning documentary filmmaker has a new documentary out that tells the true story about black people and the infamous Green Book motorist handbook.

Richen is the writer and director of The Green Book: Guide to Freedom. It tells the story behind the infamous ‘Green Book’ that African Americans used as a guide to travel safely throughout the Jim Crow-era South.

According to a press release about the film:

“The film tells the story of the rise the African American middle class in Detroit, journeys to the oasis of Idlewild (a vacation community in western Michigan where blacks were able to retreat to their “Black Eden” in peace) and the iconic A. G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham, Alabama—a pivotal location in the civil rights movement. The story of The Green Book embodies a quintessential American contradiction—while its creation speaks to the horrors of racial injustices in our past, its success shows the resolve of African Americans to thrive in a world that seemed to root for their failure by means of discrimination, violence and ignominy.”

In an interview with Black Enterprise, Richen discussed her motivation to create the film.

When did you start work on the Smithsonian Channel documentary?
I was approached about the film in the summer of 2017 by the production company Impossible Factual who had the idea to do a documentary surrounding the Green Book. I didn’t know about the Green Book at first but was immediately interested and intrigued to get involved once I learned more about it. It was a story that hadn’t been told before with the opportunity to explore so many themes and storylines within the black experience.

What was your primary motivation to get involved?
I’m a filmmaker who’s interested in exploring complexity and uncovering stories that haven’t been told. The Green Book was such an interesting and important part of our history and a deeper dive into its creation and background hadn’t been told before. As we were filming, even more themes emerged and I was excited to see how that shaped and developed the final documentary you’ll see on the Smithsonian Channel.

Green Book

Documentarian Yoruba Richen

What are two major things that you think people will learn from watching?

Viewers will learn about the importance of the automobile to the African American community and how it was both similar and different to white Americans. The automotive industry played a pivotal role in creating jobs for African Americans and attracting them to settle down in various states throughout the U.S. The automobile also symbolized the quest for freedom and mobility, which it did also for the African American community, but they also had specific challenges to obtain those things. The Green Book was also not used to navigate potential threats of violence but provided a tool to find vacations and recreation spots which African Americans have been seeking and creating forever now.

Do you think the documentary will have any impact on the movie winning the Oscars?
I truly can’t say if the documentary will have an impact on the film winning but I do hope the fiction film will bring attention to our version and perspective of the Green Book and that they will watch the documentary!

The Green Book has been the focus of much attention since the release of the Green Book Hollywood movie. The movie tells the story of musician Don Shirley and his white chauffeur and later actor, Frank Anthony “Tony Lip” Vallelonga as they travel through the Southern United States for an eight-week concert tour Shirley is scheduled to play. Vallelonga, who is from New York, is given a copy of the Green Book, a guide that actually existed, that instructed African American travelers on where to find safe havens throughout the deeply-segregated ’60s South. It is based on a real-life story. The movie is a contender for several Academy Awards this year, including Best Picture, Best Actor for star Viggo Mortenson, and Best Supporting Actor for co-star Mahershala Ali.

The relatives of Don Shirley have since come out blasting the Hollywood movie version for what they call its lies about the relationship between Shirley and Vallelonga.

Richen’s documentary, The Green Book: Guide to Freedom will premiere on The Smithsonian Channel Monday, Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. ET/PT and is available to stream on the Smithsonian Channel app. Watch a trailer of the film here.


The post Black Woman Creates Documentary Setting Record Straight About ‘Green Book’ Movie appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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NHL roundup: Lightning slam Stars, win fourth straight

Steven Stamkos scored two power-play goals and assisted on another tally to help the Tampa Bay Lightning, the NHL’s top team, stroll past the visiting Dallas Stars 6-0 on Thursday to win their fourth consecutive game.

Reuters: Sports News


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These destinations are straight out of fairytales


Many of us grew up reading fairytale stories, but never believed we could actually visit many of the places in those stories. Little did we know, there are plenty of places in the world that look like they have come straight from a fairytale – these are just some of them.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park – China

Movie fans might want to take a trip to China if they want to see what the world of Avatar looks like in real life. That’s because it’s said that James Cameron used the landscape as inspiration for his world, Pandora. Amazingly, this is not only China’s first national park but is also the home to the 3,540-foot tower named Avatar Hallelujah Mountain.

Bagan – Myanmar

The area of Bagan is filled with temples that look as though they have been plucked straight out of a fairytale and scattered throughout the land. The mist often surrounding the buildings only adds to the intrigue of this mystical place. The best bit? There are so many ways to explore Bagan including hiking around the area or taking a hot air balloon trip.

Hoh Rainforest – U.S.A.

Believe it or not, but tucked away in Washington is one of the best surviving rainforests of the country. In fact, the Hoh Rainforest can see anywhere between 140 and 170 inches of rain each year. There are two trails that wind within the trees, and some visitors may even be lucky enough to see a group of elk grazing amongst the fairytale landscape.

The Giant’s Causeway – Northern Ireland

This area of coastline would be right at home in a story thanks to the hexagonal rocks that lie tucked next to each other between the land and the sea. Volcanic activity from thousands of years ago is the reason behind the formations, and now creates one of the most beautiful sights in the land. Folklore states the columns were formed none other than the giant, Finn MacCool.

Vaadhoo Island – Maldives

Of course, many of us have seen the picturesque landscape that is the Maldives, but it’s the Sea of Stars found off the coast of Vaadhoo Island that makes it even more breathtaking. The bioluminescent marine plankton emits a glowing light whenever they are disturbed and create a show that almost looks like the entire night’s sky under the sea.

The tulip fields – Holland

Team miles of colorful tulips with fairytale windmills all across the country and you might just find yourself wondering if you could still be on planet Earth. As if that wasn’t enough, Holland is known for its love of bicycles and trams which can be a far cry from the loud engines of cars that many of us are used to around the rest of the world.

We never knew there were so many breathtaking places all around the world. In fact, you might have to pinch yourself if you need a reminder that you’re still on Earth and haven’t been transported to a fairytale destination straight out of the storybooks. Perhaps it’s time to start exploring all these magical lands?


The post These destinations are straight out of fairytales appeared first on Worldation.



Team Straight or Team Flared

Today’s poll is about your preference for structure or movement on the bottom of a skirt or dress. You bat for Team Straight Skirt & Dress if you prefer skirts and dresses with slim silhouettes, like pencil skirts, tulip skirts, trumpet skirts and sheaths. Note that pencil skirts and sheaths can be straight to very tapered on the side seams, both of which fall into Team Straight. You bat for Team Flared Skirt & Dress when you prefer a silhouette with movement at the bottom. The side seams are in no way straight or tapered. That means A-line skirts, any style of flared skirt, fit-and-flare frocks, shifts and architectural sack dresses.

My clients tend to be an even split between the teams. Some like a lot of structure on the bottom, and some prefer movement. Many prefer pencil skirts for the simple reason that they’re easier to combine with tops and toppers, and because they look slimmer in a pencil skirt. Pencil skirts also feel and look less juvenile than a flared skirt. Others prefer the fit of flared skirts over their curves, and enjoy the swooshing movement.

I bat firmly for Team Flared Skirt & Dress. I went off very structured pencil skirts and sheath dresses in a big way the last couple of years. I much prefer wearing skirts and dresses with a little or a lot of movement in the hips, thighs and calves because they’re more comfortable, easier to walk in, less strict, and Modern Retro. I love the swoosh against my legs, the romantic integrity, and the elegance of a flared midi skirt/dress. That’s why most of my current skirts and dresses are flared in some way.

Here are my flared dresses and skirts. The first three dresses and pink skirt look like sheaths and a pencil, but they are A-line and not straight on the side seams in person.

That said, I do have few straight dresses and skirts, three of which I bought last year. The watermelon lace dress is old, gorgeous, beautifully made, and fits well. But I’m off the tailored structure from neckline to hem and haven’t worn it in years. The olive and navy sweater dresses are very relaxed through the waist, soft and cosy, and not tapered at the side seams, all of which help temper the hip hugging fit. I bought the red floral dress for a wedding and it’s structured from neckline to hem. I haven’t worn it since the wedding a year ago. The denim skirt is old, does not have stretch, and is very fitted. But I’m in love with the ‘80s acid wash so I wear it every year. The turquoise lace skirt was bought last year. I love it, and it was frequently worn in hot weather. It’s straight but not tapered at the side seams so I can walk in it very easily. It’s almost A-line, which is why the silhouette is a winner.

Over to you. Do you bat for Team Straight or Team Flared Skirt & Dress? Tell us why and no batting for both teams. Feel free to sit this one out on the bench with leak fritters and a green salad if you can’t pick a side.

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Patrick Stewart’s New Picard Star Trek Series Should Set the Timeline Straight

Back in August, it was announced that Patrick Stewart would be reprising his role as the iconic Starfleet captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Stunning Trekkers across the world, the news had fans theorizing about what the new show will look like, what familiar characters we might see, and what kind of adventures Picard will get up to. We’re just as excited for another new Star Trek series — of course! — and here’s what we want to see in it. Starting with…

Beverly Crusher as a Series Regular

Doctor Beverly Crusher
Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher.

First of all, let’s get one thing out of the way – Gates McFadden must be a main cast member. Throughout The Next Generation, Dr. Beverly Crusher played a crucial part in some of the show’s most engaging — and important — episodes. The chemistry between Picard and Crusher was always on point. They never made their relationship official in TNG, though, and fans were left disappointed. After all, we love a good ship, even more so when it comes to fruition!

In “All Good Things”, the series finale of TNG, we did get to see an alternate future in which Beverly and Jean-Luc are divorced, however. But their relationship was never fully explored, despite it being obvious in this alternate future that the two harbored strong feelings for one another. Even if the two characters aren’t meant to end up together, Crusher and Picard are so closely intertwined that it would seem like a missed opportunity if Beverly is not involved in the new show in some capacity. In the new show, Picard and Beverly should be married, with a flashback episode unveiling the moment they finally admitted their love for one another. Without her, the new show will feel as if it’s lacking a critical part of Picard’s story.

Countless Possibilities With Guest Stars

The Cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation cast members.

Speaking of guest stars, there’s a wishlist of people we’d like to see make appearances on Patrick Stewart’s new show. There are countless characters in the Star Trek universe that would make excellent additions to the cast. But let’s focus on the Enterprise crew from The Next Generation. Fan favorites such as William Riker, Deanna Troi, Worf, and Geordi La Forge would be welcome in any capacity, but preferably as an integral part of the story. Data’s demise in Star Trek: Nemesis sadly precludes his inclusion. But if there was a way for Data to show up, even in a flashback, fans would be mad for it.

Miles O’Brien, Keiko, Guinan, and yes, even Wesley could all feasibly pop up too. Although Wesley had his haters during TNG, it would be good to see how his character developed. It would be a missed opportunity to not have Wil Wheaton guest star. The new show will reportedly revolve around Picard’s current life, which might mean that the Enterprise crew hasn’t been in his orbit for a while. Perhaps Troi and Riker have settled down and have kids of their own. Is it possible that Worf has mellowed out a bit over time?

The real potential with this new Star Trek show is the fact that it’s set so far in the future. Picard will likely be around the same age that Patrick Stewart is currently. Since so much time has passed, there are endless possibilities. It would be nice to see characters from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine again. What if Kira Nerys and Picard are teachers at Starfleet? Seeing Nana Visitor reprise her role would make fans extremely happy. If storylines from Deep Space Nine are built into the show, this is an easy way to also bring back the character of Worf, who was on both TNG and DS9 and continues to be a fan favorite.

More Ethical Decisions, Less War And Destruction

Deep Space Nine Space Station
Deep Space Nine.

After watching the Dominion War in DS9, as well as the many Worf-centric episodes that revolve around war, it would be nice to see more ethical situations play out on the new show. The show will undoubtedly have conflict, as it should, but, in light of the current volatile global political climate, it would be refreshing to see a more hopeful vision of the future. War, betrayal, and conflict will likely continue in the show, as it does in life, but is it necessary for war to be the central theme?

It was with DS9, but we’re looking further into the future with this new show and hope should be central. Part of the appeal of Star Trek is in the ethical dilemmas the characters are put in, the decisions they make and the ensuing outcomes. Should they save a planet at all costs? Should they interfere in the lives of others? As great as it would be to see Picard in action once again, we’d love to see him debate the ethics of scenarios like he did oh-so-many times in TNG.

Picard In Space Or Picard On Land?

Star Trek Enterprise Starship
The Starship Enterprise from Star Trek.

Should Picard be the captain of a ship 20 years old, or should he be based on Earth, with the story revolving around his life there? Why not some kind of balance between both? Picard will likely not be a starship captain. Nevertheless, we’re certain he’ll be front and center of everything Starfleet. Whether he’s training young cadets or teaching new students, Picard will surely be in uniform, one way or another.

In order to keep the show fresh and to stay true to Star Trek, space must always feature heavily. This means planets, ships, moons, galaxies, and more. Maybe Picard spends his time on a space station with Kira Nerys in some fashion? But hold your horses, shippers — we’re not talking anything romantic, more working as a team. Seeing this duo in action in this capacity would make for a fun dynamic.

Timeline Answers

When we caught a glimpse of the future in the finale of The Next Generation, the characters had mainly continued on their own, individual paths. With this new show, we’d like to see a clear-cut timeline because, well, the many timelines are confusing. Once you add in the wide array of novels, comics, and more, it all gets quite difficult to follow. For this Picard-focused series, it would be nice to address some of the unanswered questions. Such as, why is Data shown in “All Good Things” yet seemingly killed in Star Trek: Nemesis? No matter what you deem canon-worthy, the fact remains: it’s time for a few explanations in terms of the many timelines and time travel elements of the Star Trek universe.

‘Good Omens’ Characters You Should Get To Know Before Watching


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Barack Obama Named Most Admired Man For 11th Straight Year

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Bachelor Nation’s Bibiana Julian Sets the Record Straight on Her Relationship With Peter Kraus

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Ralph Breaks the Internet Wins the Weekend Box Office for Third Straight Week

(NEW YORK) — On a quiet weekend at the box office, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” was No. 1 for the third straight week, while the upcoming DC Comics superhero film “Aquaman” made a huge splash in Chinese theaters.

With no new wide releases, Disney’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet” again led in domestic ticket sales with an estimated $ 16.1 million. The animated sequel has grossed more than $ 140 million in three weeks.

Another holdover, “The Grinch,” trailed in second with $ 15.2 million in its fifth weekend.

But the weekend’s biggest new arrival was in China, where Warner Bros.’ “Aquaman” debuted with $ 93.6 million in ticket sales.

That marked a new record for a DC title in China and ranks fourth all-time for superhero films.

Entertainment – TIME


Major Averages Close Mixed For Second Straight Session – U.S. Commentary

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Dodgers Take One-Game Tiebreaker vs. Rockies, Claim Sixth Straight NL West Crown

Rookie Walker Buehler helped pitch the Dodgers to sixth straight NL West title, riding homers from Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy to a 5-2 win over the Rockies in Monday’s tiebreaker. 

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