Monday, August 15, 2022

Music Monday: Oh My God, Becky

Fletcher, who all the lesbians apparently love. Bella Thorne, who I know is famous but I think I’m too old to understand exactly why. And a motorcycle. Don’t complicate things. Sometimes Becky’s just so hot. Happy Monday, kittens.

Friday, August 12, 2022

My Weekend Crush

Janeane Garofalo has always been a bit of a hero of mine. I’m a Gen Xer through and through, and besides Winona few actors were as Gen X as Janeane. Witty, outspoken, independent, sarcastic, intelligent and, fine, those glasses. I think more than anything she embodied my generation’s aversion to selling out. It’s a concept I understand intrinsically, down to the marrow of my 90s kid bones. Don’t be a sell out. It’s why, to this day, I’ve always refused to have ads or sponsorships on my blog. This is my safe space, where I’m never trying to sell you something. I just like it that way. We have so few commerce-free spaces in this world as it is.

Anyway, last month The New York Times ran a column about Janeane, noting how she still constantly plays dinky comedy clubs around NYC. Such contempt for commerce and capitalism seems almost unthinkable from today’s roster of YouTube/Instagram/TikTok stars. Turning yourself into a brand is just how it’s done now. It’s the influencers’ world and we’re just living in their sponsored posts.

The column is both complementary and contemptuous of Janeane’s path. Also, I don’t think they actually interviewed her. They just went to one of her small shows and then had a lot of thoughts and feelings that concluded with an “Atta Girl, But Isn’t She Also Sorta Sad” kind of way. Well, screw that. Celebrity and all the trappings of fame aren’t for everyone. And they aren’t the only signs of a successful life. Nor is your net worth. I only wish I lived on the other coast, so I could pop in sometimes to see Janeane at one of those little clubs. Not all heroes wear capes, some of them stand in front of two-drink minimum crowds and just hope they’ll laugh. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Gender Fuck Thursday: A Kate For All Season

Oh Kate, Kate. Please never stop wearing suits or chunky lesbian watches. And please never stop making prestige TV for HBO. The almost EGOT (perhaps time for a little Broadway after your TV projects, eh?), will star and produce in two more limited series for the premium channel after her “Mare of Easttown” success.

Her two planned HBO projects give us a Kate for All Seasons: Contemporary Kate and possibly Period-Piece Kate.

The first announced series, “Trust” is an adaptation of the novel by the same name about a wealthy financier who reads a novel based on his life and hires a secretary to ghostwrite a memoir because he’s upset with how he and his wife are portrayed. But the ghostwriter realizes he is trying to rewrite history — and his wife’s place in it. I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know if Kate will be playing the ghostwriter or the wife (though I kind of think the ghostwriter?).

The second project is called “The Palace.” The time period isn’t elaborated on in the announcement. But the story will ”chronicles a year inside an authoritarian regime as it begins to unravel.” I can’t tell if this will be a present-day palace or an old-timey palace what with authoritarianism being so popular across the damn ages. The series will team Kate up with acclaimed English director Stephen Frears, whose films include “The Queen,” “Victoria & Abdul” and this year’s “The Lost King.” Does someone have a monarchy kink? Just saying.

I will likely check out both these projects, as I greatly enjoyed Kate in “Mare of Easttown,” which was just an all-around acting clinic. And of course I also liked (though, goodness, they were going for grim) “Ammonite.” So I can’t wait to see her tackle both contemporary and possibly period projects for HBO again. And perhaps she could wear suits like in her Elle/Longines/fancy kinda lesbian watches photoshoot in at least one of them? You know, just a suggestion. Suits are, after all, timeless.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Be Gay, Do Revenge

Netflix giveth and, all too unfortunately, taketh away. Today they giveth. Obviously, I am going to watch “Do Revenge.” The new Netflix movie starring Stranger Things’s resident lesbian Maya Hawke and “Riverdale’s resident Veronica Camila Mendes comes out next month. But the full trailer is here now.

The dark comedy follows two high school students as they team up to, well, do revenge against the bullies who have wronged them. For Maya’s character Eleanor (yes, really Eleanor), it was being outed to the school. For Camila’s character Drea, it was the leaking of a sex tape.

Think of it as a “Strangers on a Train” scenario mixed with “Jawbreakers” and “Mean Girls” — but with sapphic undertones. Or is it overtones? Well, it’s whatever these pictures are.

So, yeah. Anyway, I’m going to watch this. And I’m going to keep watching the queer-led and female-led and POC-led content out there in the hopes that studios realize telling diverse stories isn’t just good for optics, it’s good for business.

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Cancel This

Well, shit. Shit shit shit and shit. Granted, “First Kill” was not a great show. But getting axed as one of the few new shows this season on cable or streamers to center queer female characters as its stars, well, it hurts. And, honestly, it’s bullshit. THIS IS BULLSHIT.

If you’ve been paying attention to entertainment media, you’ll know we’re in the midst of The Great Diversity Purge of 2022. Do you have a show that appeals to underrepresented minorities? People of color, LGBTQ+ people, women, people who know Trump lost the election? Too bad. Would you like another show with Chris Pratt instead?

So gone are, in no particular order, “Gentleman Jack,” “Batwoman,” “The Wilds,” “The Motherland: Fort Salem,” “Legends of Tomorrow,” “Betty”... I could go on.

Part of this is new, fierce competition between the bazillion streamers out there now. And part of this is consolidation of major media companies. Indeed, the Warner Bros/Discovery merger looks to be about to tank possibly the best streamer out there, HBO Max. If they take away my “Hacks” and my “Somebody Somewhere” and my “Harley Quinn” I will cut a bitch. And, of course, by bitch, I mean rich straight white male studio executive.

Indeed, the recent purge of inclusive titles shows how shallow the efforts to bring marginalized voices into the fold often are. As soon as things start to go a little sideways, it’s bye queers and POCs and women. Don’t worry, the men are still in charge to straighten this ship, literally and figuratively, based on their perceived place at the center of the universe. I mean, again, it’s already happening at Warner/Discovery where the new boss has hired a raft of new department heads who are also white dudes just like him. Gosh, whodathunkit?

Also, what kind of a company spends $90 million on a movie with the first Latina Batgirl on screen and then just shelves it entirely and refuses to release it on any platform? Holy tax write off, Batman, I guess.

One of the nice things about the proliferation of streamers is more content has also meant more diversity. But if they are going to cut back on that kind of content then how are they different from basic/premium cable? It is simply not enough to offer a couple “diverse” shows yet give them almost no marketing or publicity and then immediately cancel them if they somehow don’t meet expectations.

In fact, the murkiness of streaming viewership data (and metrics targets that seem to change at whim) makes it hard to discern whether “First Kill” and other more diverse shows like it were actually meeting those expectations or not. Netflix told the “First Kill” showrunner Felicia D. Henderson the series did not meet “thresholds for viewing and completion of episodes.”

Yet the series made Netflix’s Top 10 for English-language TV series in its first three days, ranked No. 7 with 30.3M hours viewed. And in its first full week it shot to No. 3 with 48.8M hours viewed. During that time it was just behind “Stranger Things” and “Peaky Blinders” — two shows with zero renewal problems. But I guess 100 million hours viewed in its first four weeks simply isn’t enough for a show with queer characters and prominent POC stars. What a joke.

Real diversity efforts means providing support, promotion and time. Real diversity efforts means hiring POC, LGBTQ+, women and other marginalized people to fill the C-suites. Real diversity means giving more people from underrepresented groups a place in front and behind the camera.

I wish there was a way to swoop up all the canceled diverse shows and find them a place together. But instead they’re going to the great streaming cemetery in the sky, I guess. RIP, “First Kill.” You weren’t a perfect show. But I could have watched hot women kiss/bite each other and Elizabeth Mitchell vamp around for several more seasons, at least.

Monday, August 08, 2022

Music Monday: Under the Pink

Pink gets it. Pink definitely gets it. My wife’s longtime favorite singer (and a fav of mine as well) is back with a new music video that covers basically everything in this world that’s making you feel exhausted and/or enraged. The video goes from the early suffragettes and Civil Rights Movement leaders to Black Live Matter, the SCOTUS abortion ban, rising white nationalism, school shootings, the Jan. 6 insurrection, Fox fucking News, and more. The kids are not all right. But we’re still alive, and we’re going to keep fighting all of this bullshit for our rights. Happy Monday, kittens.

Friday, August 05, 2022

My Weekend Free BG

Well, we’ve entered worst case scenario zone in the case of Brittney Griner. In custody in Russia since Feb. 17, the WNBA superstar has been wrongfully detained away from her wife, family, friends, and country for six months already. And yesterday the Russian court handed down almost as strict a sentence as possible — giving her 9 years in prison. All for accidentally carrying a couple cannabis vape cartridges with her into Russia as she went to play off-season for her international team.

Never mind that Brittney and her family/friends have done everything they could to have her freed. Immediately following her arrest, they tried to turn down the political heat and negotiate without too much media. Then, when it was clear that wasn’t working, they went wide with their message.

Indeed Brittney actually confessed before her trial started (though, in Russian, they continue after a confession anyway). And she apologized and owned up to her mistake during the trial, asking for leniency from the judge. But instead, Russia is now using her as an obvious political pawn.

While initially their response has been slow, I do think the Biden Administration has been more aggressively tracking her case. President Biden issued a statement almost immediately yesterday condemning the verdict and sentence. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has made a “substantial proposal” for a prisoner swap. Reporting suggests the deal could include Brittney and fellow American Paul Whelan, who has been imprisoned in Russia since 2018 and was sentenced to 16 years in a labor camp for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

As much as I’d rather not have an international merchant of death set free, these Americans need to come home. Period.

Russia is clearly making an example of Brittney. Here is a wildly successful Black and queer female athlete at the top of her game who is married to a woman and presents more masculine. The Russian government is vehemently anti-LGBTQ+, and public displays of queer activism, solidarity or just love are actively quashed. So of course, of course they’ve given Brittney the harshest sentence possible. We can only hope it is for leverage for an inevitable prisoner swap.

The fact is, if the United States and WNBA valued female athletes and paid them similarly to their male counterparts, she wouldn’t even have to be in Russia or to play for a foreign team off-season.

It’s hard to overstate how big a star Brittney is in women’s basketball. NCAA champion. No. 1 draft pick. WNBA champion. Eight-time All-Star (she was named an honorary All-Star this year). Two-time Olympic gold medalist. This is rarified air for any athlete, male or female.

Yet her detention in Russia continues to drag on without much public outcry, aside from queer women everywhere and WNBA fans and her family. Her wife, Cherelle Griner, has clearly been very vocal. Megan Rapinoe, whose fiancée Sue Bird is herself a huge WNBA star, wore Brittney’s initials embroidered on her suit’s lapel when she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom this month from President Biden. And some NBA stars have also spoken out — a little.

And as frustrating as that is, the grossest part of her detention and now conviction is that American conservatives are cheering it on. I’ve seen the jokes and memes from Right Wing trolls about her deserving what she gets and other even less charitable (and obviously more racist and homophobic) characterizations. And that The Orange Stain weighed in to call Brittney “spoiled.” In case you need a reminder, the U.S. Right Wing and Russian authoritarian ideologies are in disgusting lock step. Empathy is simply not a conservative value.

I can’t imagine the anguish her wife feels, her family feels, her friends feel. I just know more people need to be demanding her release, and at every opportunity. Brittney, for her part, has apologized to the family, team and wife for what she calls an “honest mistake,” and told the court her hopes its ruling “does not end my life.”

God, I hope not either. Keep the pressure on. Keep the faith. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. Free Brittney Griner. And, once more with feeling, free Brittney Griner. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Gender Fuck Thursday: Tar-ing Cate

When I first heard Cate Blanchett was going to play a pioneering female conductor, I was intrigued. When I then realized Cate Blanchett playing a pioneering female conductor meant lots of scenes of Cate Blanchett wearing a tuxedo I made a sound imperceptible to humans. Cate in tuxedos. CATE IN TUXEDOS. This is not a drill. Do we have time to deploy the Lesbian Bat Signal?

The new film from writer-director Todd Field follows Cate as fictional female composer/conductor Lydia Tár, the first female chief conductor of the German orchestra in Berlin during the lead-up to the recording of her latest symphony. It’s called, appropriately, “Tár.” And maybe also covers the pandemic? And smoking? Also, there are tuxedos. I don’t know much more about the plot because there isn’t much more out there. But I do know “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” star Noémie Merlant co-stars (she played the painter, in case you forgot).

So, you know, two actresses who have been lauded for playing lesbians in other films should maybe play lesbians here as well. Conductors are famous for their dexterous hands. Lesbians are famous for their dexterous hands. Just a suggestion.

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Buffy Like the Wolf

I mean, she was pretty friendly with at least one werewolf in Sunnydale (and a witch or two for good measure). Sarah Michelle Gellar is returning to her supernatural TV roots in the spinoff series to MTV’s “Teen Wolf,” “Wolf Pack.” The series will stream on Paramount+, and has begun shooting in Atlanta.

SMG’s return to the sci-fi/fantasy comes in a spinoff series from the “Teen Wolf” creators, and she will also executive produce because Get That Cash, Queen Slayer.

According to Deadline, the series follows a teenage boy and girl whose “lives are forever changed when a California wildfire awakens a terrifying supernatural creature.”

SMG will play an arson investigator who is, “a highly regarded expert in her field and no stranger to personal loss, brought in by authorities to catch the teenage arsonist who started a massive wildfire which may have also led to the reawakening of a supernatural predator terrorizing Los Angeles.”

Oh, good. I kind of hate when the stars of my twenties become just the head-shaking parents in new teen shows. Speaking of which, she joins a cast of a lot of young people I’ve never heard of (i.e. Armani Jackson and Bella Shepard are the show’s teen stars along with two 20-something with three names each, Chloe Rose Robertson and Tyler Lawrence Gray). I’ve never watched “Teen Wolf” because I’m closer to the AARP demographic than that show’s demographic, but still plan to check it out.

Out of loyalty I’ve at least tried many of SMG’s post-Buffy curriculum vitae. I really tried with “The Ringer” and I actually was starting to like “The Crazy Ones,” but alas. So I’m interested to see what this new, hairy show adds to her legacy. Let’s see if she alone can stand against the vampires werewolves, the demons and the forces of darkness. And, possibly, also wildfires. Go get ‘em, Smokey, err, MSG.

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Resident Lesbian

So I unfortunately cannot truly recommend Netflix’s new “Resident Evil” series. But I also watched every single episode of Netflix’s new “Resident Evil” series in the span of basically a weekend. So do with that what you will. While I appreciate the series is less wham-bam action and mutant zombies/zombie creatures attacking all the time (though there’s a particularly terrifying zombie spider that no one should ever talk to me about), the series is actually a little slow — especially in the beginning.

What I can recommend, however, is how bonkers the show becomes toward the end of its inaugural season. So bonkers in fact that I’m even really sure if I’m still rooting for anyone in particular to win out. Maybe, honestly, just the zombie creatures. Like, uh, it’s not their fault they’re like this. But I digress.

I’ve also kind of oddly enjoyed the show’s supposed Big Bad, Umbrella Corporation CEO/power lesbian Evelyn Marcus. Yes, the show made their only (so far at least) main character lesbian the villain and, honestly I’m not furious about it. Granted, I’m still not sure we’ve reached the point where LGBTQ+ characters have reached enough equity to allow the social implications of our depiction as evil. But, somehow, “Resident Evil” making Evelyn the bad guy doesn’t feel exploitative.

Let me elaborate. One, her lesbianism isn’t the source of her villainy. In fact, her lesbianism is the one aspect that actually humanizes her as a character and makes her less of a Evil CEO cardboard cutout. Like, they show her doing goat yoga with her wife (oh yeah, she’s married to a perfectly lovely woman named Diana and they have a teenage son). And you want their relationship to be happy, you really do.

Another reason this depiction isn’t as problematic is, well, everyone in this show is kind of unlikeable. (Except maybe Bert, but no spoilers so no explanation…) The twin sisters who are essentially its stars? Both kinda annoying in their own way, especially Adult Jade (played by Ella Balinska, who is still pretty good as a blood-covered action star working with some subpar material). Her character is our hero but can’t stop doing Really Dumb Things, like constantly.

What I did like about the series is its attempts at post-apocalyptic world building and decision to focus more on the science of the Resident Evil zombies than any of the franchise’s big screen adaptations. (Truly, those were just about letting Milla Jovovich look cool and kick ass — sometimes with Michelle Rodriguez and/or Ali Lautner — while trying to escape increasingly complicated mutant zombie obstacle courses/shooting ranges, which I unashamedly appreciate.)

Sure, the science is still confusing and unnecessarily complicated (I hope they’re coming to a comprehendible conclusion about what the T-Virus is and isn’t capable of doing because right now it seems like “everything” is the answer). But at least they’re focusing on finding some sort of cure as opposed to the movies where the end goal was mostly Blow Shit Up. (Again, I watched all SIX of Milla’s films, despite most of them being ridiculous trash or possibly for that reason.)

Anyway, back to our Resident Lesbian. Evelyn is played with great glee and gleaming teeth by Paola Núñez. She’s quite good with what little character development they give her (again, no one’s character has been fleshed out too deeply, it’s that kind of show). And, best of all, she’s fun to watch. Like, you know how on some shows you kind of root for the bad guy because the chaos is more fun? I’m not exactly rooting for Evelyn. But I like having her around to liven up the place. And her power suits, I love her power suits.

There’s a really smart idea underneath the gore and the craziness of the “Resident Evil” concept. Corporations created a humanity-ending product and continue to push that product as the world ends around them. This does not seem too far-fetched, honestly. I mean, has anyone checked the climate lately? Seems to be changing, and not in a good way. But gotta keep those shareholders happy, so oh well.

In the end, I appreciate the “Resident Evil” series for centering its strong (though sometimes confounding) female characters and infusing more diversity into its post-apocalyptic landscape. And now I’ll see if we get more Resident Lesbian if the show gets a second season. And hopefully also a Resident Lebian Hero? We can only hope. Just, I beg you, no more zombie spiders.

Monday, August 01, 2022

Music Monday: Dolly Does Elvis

Here is Dolly Parton performing “All Shook Up” as a female Elvis Presley back in 1983. No other notes. Just enjoy. Happy Monday, kittens.

Friday, July 29, 2022

My Weekend Crush

Oh, Joni. Joni, Joni, Joni. Joni fucking Mitchell, everyone. While most of Joni’s best-known songs came out before I was born, I was lucky to have folk-music loving parents who raised me on acoustic guitar and NPR. So I know the power of her work, and the importance of her voice. Last weekend, at age 78, Joni made a triumphant return to the Newport Folk Festival. It was her first appearance at the influential music festival since her debut there as a then up-and-coming singer in 1969. The show also marked her first full concert since 2000 and her first time playing guitar on stage since her aneurysm in 2015. In short, it was special. It was really, really special.

Making it even more special, we have our own Brandi Carlile to thank for pulling it all together. Honestly, watching Brandi’s career from its very early, early days to its stratospheric success today feels a bit like getting in on the ground floor of another Joni Mitchell. And aren’t we the lucky ones who get to see these two great together. Of course, like everyone else I was reduced to an absolute puddle with Joni’s “Both Sides Now.” The timber of her voice, well, I’ve been playing her new “Both Sides Now” all week. And it only gets better. Each note, each beat, is so earned. I posted the official Newport festival video of the song above. But if you want to feel the raw power of being in the presence of a true legend, watch Wynonna Judd get similarly reduced to a weeping mess behind Joni as she sings below. I’m not crying, you’re crying. But it’s a good cry. The kind of cry that time and life and the universe understands comes to cleanse us and remind us all of the indescribably beautiful things we can do, when we’re just given the chance.

Seeing someone great like Joni return to the stage, smiling and laughing and clearly enjoying herself, is good for the soul. After the last two-plus years we’ve had as a world and a country, we needed to feel good about humanity again — if only for a few precious songs. To see Joni perform the music that made her famous as a young woman, yet not try to replicate that but instead reinterpret them to account for her decades of lived life is just beyond lovely. Some people will say commerce or enterprise or our endless technological advances are humankind’s greatest gift. But I think, in the end, it will always be art. I really don’t know life at all, either. But I know art is the best way to understand it, always. Thank you for the reminder, Joni. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

There's Definitely Queers In Baseball

Finally, here’s a trailer I have absolutely no reservations about. Like, actually the opposite. How loud can I scream it from the rooftops? They’re taken “A League of Their Own” and made it — at least by all early appearances — properly gay. I know, FINALLY!

While the first teaser trailer got us all hot and bothered, the full trailer for the new Amazon Prime series based (loosely) on the movie by the same name has us positively erupting with excitement and, uh, other stuff. We finally get to see our new Rockford Peaches in action and, well, can it be Aug. 12 already? Please, pretty pretty please?

Also, not to laud my own gaydar or anything, but series creator/star Abbi Jacobson and “The Good Place” alum D’Arcy Carden are definitely gonna be a couple. Definitely. I mean, I could tell from the Intense Lesbian Eye Contact while sliding into home from the teaser they were gonna be a thing, but the continued Intense Lesbian Eye Contact and added Lesbian Hand Grazing in the trailer seals the deal. Also, I’m pretty sure I’m right about Rosie the lesbian bar owner. Yes, make it extra, extra gay!

I’m thrilled the new series (which follows the WWII era Peaches, but with a different set of characters than the iconic film) is much more inclusive and diverse. It’s about time they did more than just show one throw by Black female ball players of that time. And it’s equally time they aknowledged how queer a lot of these women were (and still are!).

I can’t wait to get some dirt in these skirts (which should be pants, but I digress). So, thoughts? At this point the only thing left is to start the pool about how many queer characters this show will end up having. I’m going with 4-5, but more is always appreciated. Play ball, Peaches!

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Going (Very, Very) Green

Speaking of things that look sorta ridiculous but might wind up being good, I honestly don’t know what to think about “She Hulk: Attorney At Law.” I mean, one one hand Tatiana Maslany can pull off basically any role thrown at her. On the other hand, why would you hire someone as unendingly talented as Tatiana Maslany and then bury her under miles of green CGI? For what it’s worth, I also think the CGI on Hulk/Bruce looks dumb. But then I’m an old school Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno painted green fan.

I want this show to be good for Tatiana. And I’m intrigued by its billing as the first real comedy in the MCU. But, hooboy, do they look to be going for the broadest comedy strokes possible. She’s Big! She’s Green! She’s BIG and GREEN! Yeah, we get it. Do you have any more?

I think the Fourth Wall breaking (which is true to the comics and, um, “Fleabag”) could be promising. But the Very Green CGI and deliberate de-bulkification of her She Hulk are, well, they make a gal worry. Truly this is a project where the writing will make the difference since we already know the acting is going to be, well, incredible.