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How to Decode a Wordy Wine Label

How to Decode a Wordy Wine Label
Illustration: NIC FARRELL

SOME WORDS ON WINE labels, such as “Chardonnay” or “Sonoma,” have real meaning and convey specific and genuinely useful information. Others, such as “Private Reserve” or “Hand Selected Lots,” do not. In fact, in the U.S., to label a wine as “Private Reserve” or assert that it’s produced from selected lots, a winemaker—or marketer—is required by law to do nothing more than say that it is.

Words do have selling power, of course. Take the Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay, created by the late Jess Jackson in 1982. The sweetish Chardonnay, positioned as the carefully selected work of a “vintner,” was an early example of the kind of creative labeling I’m talking about. The wine’s taste was populist, as was its price (about $12 in today’s currency), yet the term “vintner” had a soigné sound. The wine was an immediate hit.

Longtime Kendall-Jackson winemaker Randy Ullom, who has made several vintages of Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay over the years, offered this take on the name: “I believe [Mr. Jackson] wanted to make it stand out and considered ‘Reserve’ as a quality statement, especially since he was fermenting it in barrels. And ‘Vintner’s Reserve’ was even more special, coming from the vintner him or herself.”

Never mind that there was no non-reserve Jackson wine to which the Vintner’s Reserve could be compared. One of the wine world’s great marketers, Jess Jackson helped establish a trend. Today there are lots of “Vintner’s Reserve” and “Proprietor’s Reserve” and “Winemaker’s Reserve” wines, as I found during a recent visit to a few local wine shops.

In the U.S., wineries are allowed to use many front-label terms that have no “regulatory definition,” according to Gladys Horiuchi, media relations director of the San Francisco-based Wine Institute. She sent me a list of such terms that she and her staff have compiled over the years, including “Vintner’s Reserve” as well as “Old Vines,” “Old Clones,” “Private Harvest,” “Barrel Select,” “Bottle Aged,” “Proprietor’s Blend”—and on and on.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s rules on labeling state: “Labels may contain information other than the mandatory label information required…if such information complies with the requirements of such sections and does not conflict with, nor in any manner qualify statements required by this part. In addition, information which is truthful, accurate, and specific, and which is neither disparaging nor misleading may appear on wine labels.” This gives wineries rather wide latitude.

To get a sense of the sort of impact terminology can have on consumers, I gathered a group of friends to assess a number of wines based solely on their labels. To them, “Reserve” clearly invoked a notion of quality; the term, though it has no legal definition in the U.S., suggests a stash of the best wine, set aside for the discerning. As my friend Julie put it, “I’d definitely buy a wine with a name like Proprietor’s Reserve or Vintner’s Reserve because the wine sounds better, more serious.”

Do drinkers understand what “Hand Selected Lots” means? (Another vague term, this one suggests—but doesn’t necessarily mean—that the winemaker walked the vineyards in search of the best fruit.) Among the bottles my focus group considered, the one labeled “Hand Selected Lots” happened to be the cheapest Chardonnay—$10 suggested retail—from Clos du Bois. The winery’s pricier offerings include its $16 “Sonoma Reserve” Chardonnay and a $24 “Calcaire” Russian River Valley Chardonnay that I can only presume takes its name from the calcareous limestone soils much prized by winemakers around the world.

Why would a winery make its cheapest Chardonnay sound like the fanciest? I put this question to a Clos du Bois spokesperson in an email. The reply I received didn’t address that question but noted instead that the winemaking team selects “the best lots from our source vineyards throughout California” for the $10 wine.

My friend Julie isn’t the only wine drinker I know who is susceptible to any wine with “Reserve” on its label. For years my Uncle Noel, a worldly and sophisticated man, made it his self-declared mission to drink only “the reserve wines.”

There are other ways that wineries establish notions of scarcity and selection to sell wines. For example, they sometimes assign them numbers. What did my group of label-reading friends make of the Vineyard Block Estate Limited Block 558 Reserve Chardonnay from California, with the number 04173 on its front label? “That sounds special and rare,” said Holly. “It sounds like a numbered Picasso print,” offered Julie. In fact, this “limited edition” bottle cost me a mere $13.

‘I’d definitely buy a wine with a name like Proprietor’s Reserve or Vintner’s Reserve because the wine sounds better, more serious.’

In some countries in Europe, wines labeled “Reserve” or “Grand Reserve” must, by law, undergo longer aging in the bottle, the barrel or both. In America, where no such rules apply, the term could mean anything—though in some cases the designation “Reserve” is actually attached to wines of high quality. One such example, the consistently impressive Beringer Private Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, has been produced for more than four decades.

I reached out via email to Mark Beringer, chief winemaker at Beringer Vineyards, to ask if he thinks “Reserve” is at risk of losing meaning. Does he worry about so many inferior wines co-opting the term? He replied that he was less concerned that Beringer Private Reserve wines would be misunderstood than he was about the possibility that consumers would buy some other “Winemaker’s Reserve” bottle and be disappointed by its quality. “The onus and danger is more on the producer of that wine,” he wrote. “Simply calling something reserve doesn’t make it so.”

American wineries aren’t the only ones to employ puffed-up terms with vague meanings to sell their wines. In Argentina, for instance, quite a few wines are labeled “High Altitude.” Made mostly from Cabernet and Malbec in Argentine vineyards that may or may not lie at truly elevated altitudes, these wines range from inexpensive to pricey. Anyone may label a wine “High Altitude,” according to a spokesperson for the Wines of Argentina; the Argentine government does not regulate where and how wineries must cultivate their grapes in order to use the term on a label. As it happened, none of the wine drinkers I polled were impressed by the term. They had no idea what it meant, though Julie speculated that it sounded like a wine to drink après ski.

Equally meaningless, misleading or downright annoying are some of the “descriptive” paragraphs wineries employ on a bottle’s label to sell the wine within. The wordy label of Meiomi Rosé notes “chilly fog” and a “soft hand in the cellar” as key factors determining the character and quality of the wine. On the label of the Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cépages, no fewer than 17 words are used to say very little: “Classically crafted to showcase layers of complexity, this wine blends rich texture with the elegance of Sonoma.”

What in the world is a “soft hand in the cellar,” and what does the purported “elegance of Sonoma” say, really, about how or where the wine was made or what it tastes like? If winemakers and marketers would just stick to words with established and specific meanings, wouldn’t wine consumers be that much better off?

Email Lettie at wine@wsj.com.

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A Post-Dark Universe Reboot Of The Mummy Was Pitched

It hasn’t even been a full two years since Universal Pictures attempted to kick off the Dark Universe with The Mummy. Unfortunately for the studio, the movie underperformed commercially and was met with mostly negative critical reception, resulting in the Dark Universe stalling before it had a chance to properly get off the ground. Still, evidently Universal is still interesting in keeping The Mummy property alive, as Punisher: War Zone director Lexi Alexander pitched a Mummy reboot to the studio. Here’s a “little peek” of the filmmaker’s pitch:

After a fan expressed enthusiasm at seeing what she could do helming a Black Widow movie, Lexi Alexander, whose directing credits also include Lifted and episodes of TV shows like Arrow, Supergirl and S.W.A.T., revealed on Twitter that she’d gone to pitch her idea for a new Mummy movie a few weeks ago. As the above character dialogue indicates, Alexander’s take on The Mummy mythology had a “reverse-orientalism” tilt, something quite different from what we’ve seen in previous Mummy movies.

For those of you interested in this kind of Mummy reboot, it doesn’t look like we’ll ever see this, as Lexi Alexander noted that her pitch “will obviously never get made.” Still, considering how the last Mummy movie, which starred Sofia Boutella as the eponymous entity and Tom Cruise as U.S. Army sergeant Nick Morton, was received, it could be interesting to take the next reboot in a drastically different direction to distinguish it from its predecessors.

It was announced last month that the Dark Universe, for all intents and purposes, is dead, and that forthcoming movies centered on the Universal Monsters will take an “individualized approach” that are filmmaker-driven. In other words, just like what’s happening with the DC Extended Universe franchise at Warner Bros, Universal is no longer as concerned with focusing on the interconnectivity of a shared universe. So this kind of Mummy movie could stand out better if it didn’t have to work with tying in with the other creature properties.

There’s no word yet on what the next Universal Monsters movie to be released will be, although currently The Invisible Man is in development as a standalone feature. Johnny Depp is no longer attached to the project, Upgrade writer Leigh Channel is penning the script and Jason Blum is producing. Bill Condon’s The Bride of Frankenstein is also still in development, but there’s been no major update on its progress for over a year.

Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for all the biggest updates concerning the Universal Monsters, including if/when a new Mummy reboot gets the green light. For now, you can look through our 2019 release schedule to learn what movies are arriving later this year.

Dane Cook Sent An Apology Letter To Marvel Casting After His Captain America Audition

I think it’s fair to say that Dane Cook is known as a stand-up comedian first and as an actor second. That might not have been the case though, because once upon a time, the actor/comedian auditioned to play none other than Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger. Dane Cook actually announced that he auditioned on social media, which lead to him sending an apology letter, as he explained:

Dane Cook got so excited about his audition and the prospect of playing Captain America and he needed to shout in from the rooftops, or in modern parlance, post about it on social media. That was a little bit too much excitement for Marvel’s taste, because the whole thing was meant to be hush hush, as we’ve come to expect all superhero casting to be these days.

Dane Cook got in big trouble for his lack of secrecy on a public forum so, as he told The Hollywood Reporter, he wrote an apology letter to the casting director on the film that was upset with him, to try and make amends. It was a misstep in the entertainer’s career and you’ve got to imagine it didn’t help his case for the part either.

He owns up to the mistake and the fact that he sent something as personal as an apology letter shows Dane Cook knew he screwed up. Nevertheless, he did not land the role and the situation now stands as a learning experience.

Today, the idea that someone would announce their audition for a Marvel movie seems ludicrous. Sure, Tom Holland and Mark Ruffalo are about as good at keeping secrets as 2011 Dane Cook, and spoil movies on the regular, but generally the secrecy around MCU movies is intense and everyone knows to say nothing to no one.

As far as Dane Cook as a potential Captain America, it certainly would have been an interesting choice. I think we all see Dane Cook as a stand-up and the guy from Employee of the Month and Good Luck Chuck so at that time it definitely would have been hard to imagine him in that more serious role. Plus now Chris Evans is Captain America and it’s impossible to consider anyone else. Then again, Dane Cook was an amateur superhero called The Waffler in Mystery Men, so who knows.

Dane Cook may have been the most open about it but he wasn’t the only actor who went out for the part of Captain America in The First Avenger. A Quiet Place’s John Krasinski came very close to landing the role that also looked at names like Channing Tatum, Ryan Phillippe, Garret Hedlund and Daredevil Season 3’s Bullseye, Wilson Bethel.

Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for all the latest movie news and check out our 2019 Release Schedule for the movies you can get hyped for this year.

Brie Larson Already Has A Marvel Hero In Mind To Join Captain Marvel’s Sequel

It’s an extremely exciting time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as there are only two movies left before Phase Three concludes. While all eyes are on what the surviving heroes will do against Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, there’s another highly anticipated blockbuster arriving first: Captain Marvel. Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the upcoming Marvel flick will split its time between Earth and Space as Carol Danvers gets an origin story that will finally bring Brie Larson’s character to the silver screen.

With the OG Avengers’ contracts coming to an end with Endgame, Marvel Studios will likely put more focus on the newer additions like Black Panther and Captain Marvel. As such, it seems logical that there will be a Captain Marvel sequel sometime in Phase Four, likely allowing Carol Danvers to interact with more of the shared universe’s big names. And Brie Larson knows exactly what hero she’d like to be paired with in a future installment, recently saying:

There you go, ladies and gents. Rather than getting a movie alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy or The Avengers, it looks like Brie Larson wants to introduce Ms. Marvel aka Kamala Kahn to the shared universe with Captain Marvel’s potential sequel.

Brie Larson’s comments come from the Captain Marvel cast’s recent Panel Discussion with ABC News. The Oscar winning actress fielded a question about future crossovers, where Larson revealed that she wants Ms. Marvel to have a role in Captain Marvel‘s follow-up movie. And she’s not the only one, as the call for Kamala Kahn to be adapted into live-action has been slowly growing throughout this phase of the MCU.

For those unfamiliar, Kamala Kahn is Marvel’s first Muslim character to have her very own comic book. She’s an Inhuman from Jersey City, who discovers she’s able to shape shift, as well as heal herself from extensive injury. Captain Marvel is a major inspiration for the young hero, as she comes into her own as a vigilante and superpowered being. As such, Brie Larson’s idea for bringing Ms. Marvel into the Captain Marvel franchise makes a great deal of sense.

Adding Ms. Marvel to the Marvel Cinematic Universe would break new ground for the massive franchise in a couple of ways. Kamala’s shape shifting power set is one that hasn’t really been shown on screen, with the exception of the Fantastic Four movies. This could challenge Marvel’s visual affects team in new ways, while also providing a unique experience to moviegoers who shell out money to see every new Marvel flick.

Additionally, Kamala Kahn’s inclusion would continue moving Marvel Studios forward when it comes to onscreen representation. Having a Muslim comic book hero was a major cultural moment when Ms. Marvel burst onto the page, and it will no doubt be just as powerful if/when she makes her way to the silver screen. Additionally, she’d likely function with the same naivety as Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, showing how kids live in a superpowered world.

Alas, that’s all just speculation at this point, even for Brie Larson. Fans will get to see Carol Danvers (sans Ms. Marvel) when Captain Marvel arrives in theaters March 8th. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

How Much Brie Larson Is Earning For Captain Marvel

In less than a month, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will bring forth another superhero origin story: Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers. It marks the first female-led MCU film and looks to be a crucial precursor to Avengers: Endgame. Larson is reportedly making $5 million for Captain Marvel, from a $150 million budget that is certainly expected to be one of the year’s biggest blockbusters.

Yes, girl! Brie Larson’s paycheck tops the $500,000 Robert Downey Jr. received for his first Iron Man film and Chadwick Boseman’s $2 million for Black Panther, per The Hollywood Reporter. However, she won’t be making more than Scarlett Johansson for her upcoming solo Black Widow movie, which she is reportedly getting $15 million for. Johansson’s earnings compare to Chris Evans’ for Captain America: Civil War and Chris Hemsworth’s for Thor: Ragnarok, who were also paid $15 million.

For the 29-year-old actress’ first outing as the hero, Brie Larson is certainly getting a fair wage for starring as the hero. For the DC Extended Universe’s first female-led origin story, 2017’s Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot was reportedly only paid $300,000, though after the incredible $822 million worldwide success of that movie, she likely took home some sweet bonuses and was said to be renegotiating her base salary for Wonder Woman 1984.

Brie Larson is previously best known for her 2015 Best Actress Oscar-winning performance in the emotional drama Room, although she has also starred in Kong: Skull Island, Short Term 12 and The Spectacular Now. The actress transformed her body for the role, working four hours a day in the gym with a personal trainer to achieve the power to literally push a Jeep up a hill, dead-lift 225 pounds and hip-thrust 400 pounds.

Captain Marvel will follow the heroine in the ‘90s as she lands on Earth with some memory loss about her past and teams up a younger Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) as the planet becomes caught in the middle of a galactic war between the Skrulls and Kree. The movie also stars Crazy Rich Asians’ Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva, Lee Pace as Ronan, Ben Mendelsohn as Talos, Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau and Jude Law as the still-to-be-officially-identified commander of Starforce.

Early tracking has Captain Marvel scoring $140 million during its opening weekend, with the potential to break records for March currently held by Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast and Warner Bros’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The release will undoubtedly win the weekend, as no other major movie has dared to go head-to-head with Captain Marvel’s opening day.

Eyes are especially on Captain Marvel’s release because it is said to have an important connection to Avengers: Endgame, coming less than two months later and also starring Brie Larson with the rest of the broken-hearted Avengers. Captain Marvel hits theaters on March 8.

No, My Disability Doesn’t Make Me ‘Undateable’

I’ve been struggling with this whole romance thing for the last decade. Honestly, who hasn’t? But my situation is apparently even more complicated: I have a disability.

I say apparently because I want to date—I want the same things any able-bodied woman wants out of a relationship. But I was born with a genetic bone and muscular disorder called Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome that’s left me with a wheelchair and scars from around 25 surgeries. Despite all that, I’m still a pretty independent woman; I earned a college degree, get around on my own, make most of my own meals, and hold down a career as a freelance writer. My day-to-day life doesn’t look much different from my able-bodied peers’ but my dating life seems to exist in a different universe—one where my desires are non-existent and everyone assumes I’m looking for a caretaker.

The truth is, though I’m 37, I haven’t dated anyone—mostly because there’s always been this voice in the back of my head telling me that men don’t want to date a disabled woman. The assumption I can never escape is “disability is an undesirable quality…There aren’t many men or women who want to get into a relationship with someone they have to care for,” as one person so bluntly wrote on Twitter. “Melissa cannot accept the fact that men are not attracted to her,” another person commented on one of my posts. “Unfair as it may be, the wheelchair DOES matter. Her disfigurement DOES matter. It doesn’t matter how smart, witty, or sarcastic she is. She might have better luck concentrating on men who are disabled and disfigured like her.”

I’d be lying if I said comments like this weren’t part of the reason why I haven’t put myself out there. The message is always clear: disability is a bad word and it makes you undateable. I wish these feelings were just the stuff of Internet trolls but the reality is they’re not—and it’s gotten to me. Several years ago I asked some of my male friends if they would date someone with a disability. The sheepish response? Quite a few said they’d be afraid of the “responsibility.”

It’s time to set the record straight: I am disabled, desirable, and not looking for a nurse.

Sometimes, I feel like I need to put those words on a neon sign in Times Square (or at least on a business card to hand out whenever I meet someone interesting). I know there are many ways my disability does make me different—like the fact that I use a wheelchair to get around—but it’s 2019 for goodness sakes. Twenty-seven million women in the U.S. have disabilities—don’t we deserve all the same things in a relationship as able-bodied women? My wheelchair doesn’t make me something other than a woman, my disability doesn’t disqualify me from wanting a rom-com-worthy relationship, my condition doesn’t mean I’m looking for a caretaker as a partner.

There are so many things I do want, and, brace yourself, because this might come as a shock: I want the same things you want in a relationship. I want a guy who makes me laugh, who is kind and gentle and sensitive, who is family-oriented, who is as obsessed with pop culture as I am. I want to be myself, to be seen, to be loved—disability and all.

Melissa Blake is a freelance writer and blogger from Illinois. She covers relationships, disabilities and pop culture. Read her blog, and follow her on Twitter @MelissaBlake.

My Disability Shouldn’t Disqualify Me From Being ‘Dateable’

I’ve been struggling with this whole romance thing for the last decade. Honestly, who hasn’t? But my situation is apparently even more complicated: I have a disability.

I say apparently because I want to date—I want the same things any able-bodied woman wants out of a relationship. But I was born with a genetic bone and muscular disorder called Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome that’s left me with a wheelchair and scars from around 25 surgeries. Despite all that, I’m still a pretty independent woman; I earned a college degree, get around on my own, make most of my own meals, and hold down a career as a freelance writer. My day-to-day life doesn’t look much different from my able-bodied peers’ but my dating life seems to exist in a different universe—one where my desires are non-existent and everyone assumes I’m looking for a caretaker.

The truth is, though I’m 37, I haven’t dated anyone—mostly because there’s always been this voice in the back of my head telling me that men don’t want to date a disabled woman. The assumption I can never escape is “disability is an undesirable quality…There aren’t many men or women who want to get into a relationship with someone they have to care for,” as one person so bluntly wrote on Twitter. “Melissa cannot accept the fact that men are not attracted to her,” another person commented on one of my posts. “Unfair as it may be, the wheelchair DOES matter. Her disfigurement DOES matter. It doesn’t matter how smart, witty, or sarcastic she is. She might have better luck concentrating on men who are disabled and disfigured like her.”

I’d be lying if I said comments like this weren’t part of the reason why I haven’t put myself out there. The message is always clear: disability is a bad word and it makes you undateable. I wish these feelings were just the stuff of Internet trolls but the reality is they’re not—and it’s gotten to me. Several years ago I asked some of my male friends if they would date someone with a disability. The sheepish response? Quite a few said they’d be afraid of the “responsibility.”

It’s time to set the record straight: I am disabled, desirable, and not looking for a nurse.

Sometimes, I feel like I need to put those words on a neon sign in Times Square (or at least on a business card to hand out whenever I meet someone interesting). I know there are many ways my disability does make me different—like the fact that I use a wheelchair to get around—but it’s 2019 for goodness sakes. Twenty-seven million women in the U.S. have disabilities—don’t we deserve all the same things in a relationship as able-bodied women? My wheelchair doesn’t make me something other than a woman, my disability doesn’t disqualify me from wanting a rom-com-worthy relationship, my condition doesn’t mean I’m looking for a caretaker as a partner.

There are so many things I do want, and, brace yourself, because this might come as a shock: I want the same things you want in a relationship. I want a guy who makes me laugh, who is kind and gentle and sensitive, who is family-oriented, who is as obsessed with pop culture as I am. I want to be myself, to be seen, to be loved—disability and all.

Melissa Blake is a freelance writer and blogger from Illinois. She covers relationships, disabilities and pop culture. Read her blog, and follow her on Twitter @MelissaBlake.

Becca McCharen-Tran Survives Fashion Week With Plants from Miami and Chocolate-Covered Ginger from Trader Joe’s

After that, I had a fitting with Leyna Bloom. I love Leyna. We wanted to have her walk in the show, but she’s been out of town and there wasn’t enough time, so she sat front row instead. Leyna’s been walking for us since 2016, and she’s got an amazing walk. She’s a dancer, so she’s so good with movement and she’s so talented—when we first saw her walk, we were like, “Okay, yes, definitely you.”

Then, I had to fix a cross seam that was messed up. Even when we were pattern-making the garment, there were issues. We had to improvise and do a lot of hand-stitching. I was looking to see if it was passable.

The Final Touches

That night, I also finalized the beauty look for each model. I really wanted the makeup and the hair to speak to our overall theme for the runway show. I wanted it to trigger an urgency within the viewers, to tell the story of going from lush, tropical, beautiful plant life into plastic pollution and climate change. It went from big blush to greens and more sour colors, to see that disintegration from healthy to unhealthy.

Ben Ritter, who is my right-hand at Chromat, had been doing a lot of work on the final look of the collection over the past two weeks. He had been taking all of the water bottles from our studio and then cutting them up and melting them over candles to make them all different shapes. They were spray-painted, and once they were dry, we put them onto a fishing net. The night before, it was a matter of positioning each flower and each water bottle where it needed to be and hand-sewing them onto the fishing net.

The live floral element was an interesting new twist on our show prep. We’ve done a lot of amazing collaborations—it’s definitely my favorite part of being a fashion designer and doing Fashion Week. I love working with people outside of the industry: scientists, choreographers, and now florists. It’s just fun to work with someone who doesn’t know the rules and who’s coming from a completely different place. With the flowers, it was the first time I worked with something that could actually disappear, that had such a finite timeline. We could approve certain elements, but there were a lot of changes that you might not have known to happen, between what we imagined and what was the runway reality. The florist had to do everything the day before.

We focused on tropical plants. A lot of the bigger ferns and leaves were from my actual front yard in Miami—I trimmed them, put them in my suitcase, and the florist stored them in her freezer. It felt like home, being able to celebrate this place that I’ve come to love on the runway and knowing where the plant grows in my front yard. I can’t wait to go home this weekend and thank it for its contribution to our show.

I went to the florist at 9:30 p.m. They didn’t want me to come by until all the floral arrangements were done—it was supposed to be earlier, but it kept getting pushed back and pushed back. By the time I arrived, they had finished most of the arrangements, so I was able to just go and approve the final.

The Calm Before the Storm

I went home after that. I was adding friends to the invite list for the show, eating Trader Joe’s dark chocolate-covered ginger, and watching The Bachelor over [my wife] Christine’s shoulder.

I started The Bachelor when Rachel was the Bachelorette, and I’ve been half-heartedly watching ever since. But Christine loves it—she’s going to get so mad that I mentioned this, because it’s very much her DL interest; she just loves to turn off her brain and enjoy. I don’t like Colton. He wasn’t my favorite from Becca’s group, so I haven’t engaged with this season. I don’t know anybody’s name yet. The Bachelor as an enterprise is so reinforcing of like gender norms, it’s so weird.

We Actually Have A Box Office Horse Race At Movie Theaters This Weekend

Normally, the weekly box office results are a foregone conclusion. There’s usually only one major film release on any given weekend, perhaps with a couple of smaller entries, and those who estimate what the numbers will look like have gotten pretty good at being right. However, for the first time in a long time we’re going to have a real race for the number one spot at the box office this weekend as three films vie for the top spot, and all three are predicted to do about the same amount of business.

This weekend sees Happy Death Day 2U, Isn’t it Romantic and Alita: Battle Angel all opening in theaters. HDD technically opened yesterday and the other two open today and with Monday being the Presidents’ Day holiday, it’s essentially a five-day weekend at the box office. What makes this holiday weekend especially interesting, however, is that there is no clear front runner. All three films are looking at totals estimated to be between $20 and $25 million.

According to Box Office Pro, Happy Death Day 2U is expected to be the winner, with estimates putting the film at $25 million. Alita: Battle Angel is looking at $22 million and Isn’t it Romantic is looking at third place with about $20 million. But those numbers are so close together that it’s really anybody’s game.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part was expected to clear $50 million last weekend and it only brought in about $35 million so if any of these three movies even slightly underperforms, or overperforms, compared to the expectations we could see a very different result.

It’s unusual to have this sort of a close race when it comes to the box office. Normally, the studios stake out the weekends well in advance and once one major film gets set, the rest steer clear in order to actively avoid the competition. Alita: Battle Angel feels like the movie that was trying to be the blockbuster release for this weekend. However, since the film is based on an anime that the broader audience isn’t all that familiar with, it’s not expected to do the same sorts of numbers that other action tentpoles might do.

While there will be natural competition between the three movies for the consumer’s dollar, each has the benefit of playing to a different audience. Happy Death Day 2U is the sequel to a popular horror movie. Alita: Battle Angel will scratch the itch for the action fan, and Isn’t it Romantic is a romantic comedy.

The fact that today is Valentine’s Day might help out Isn’t it Romantic. If there’s a movie that might exceed current projections, that might very well be the one.

However the box office turns out, it will likely be close. Isn’t it Romantic and Happy Death Day 2U are likely excited by the potential numbers, as both films were relatively cheap to produce, so a $20 million weekend is just fine. For Alita: Battle Angel and its reported $170 million budget, it will need to exceed its projections by quite a bit to have a weekend considered to be successful, though the movie might do much better with international audiences.

Prince Harry Is Away For Valentine’s Day, So People Covered His Room With Meghan Markle Pics

We’ve known for a while now Prince Harry and Meghan Markle aren’t spending Valentine’s Day together this year. Unfortunately, royal duty calls for the Duke of Sussex: He’s currently in Bardufoss, Norway visiting the Exercise Clockwork, an “annual winter exercise, based in one of the world’s most demanding environments—200 miles inside the Arctic Circle—which has trained over 16,000 Royal Marines and Royal Navy sailors and airmen since 1969.” So, in other words, he’s literally watching people work out in the freezing cold instead of hanging out with Meghan. So sad!

But the people at Exercise Clockwork just brought her a little bit closer to him. In a very sweet move, they covered one of the makeshift shelters Prince Harry stopped by with photos of him and Meghan on their wedding day. Prince Harry’s smile when he saw these photos is absolutely priceless:

“You weirdos,” Prince Harry joked when he saw the photos, according to E! Online. “It’s very kind of you to invite me into your private shrine or whatever you want to call it.”

This means Markle is spending Valentine’s Day on her own, too—but if this recently-unearthed blog post from her old website The Tig is any indication, she’s not sweating it. Back in 2015, Markle wrote about how practicing self-love on Valentine’s Day is the most important thing.

“This Valentine’s Day I will be with friends, running amok through the streets of New York, likely imbibing some cocktail that’s oddly pink, and jumping over icy mounds in my new shoes through the salted snowy streets of the West Village,” she wrote, according to People. “But those shoes, by the way, were my gift to myself. Because I’ve worked hard, because I’m not going to wait for someone to buy me the things I covet (nor do I want to), and because I want to treat myself as well as I treat those dearest to me. Because I am my own funny Valentine.”