Monday, January 31, 2011

To infinity, and beyond

What is it about our childhoods? The holding on, the reaching back. I guess it’s because things were simpler, we were simpler. Nostalgia, on its own, is a powerful thing. But when coupled with other emotions – love, loss, regret, hope – it can comfort us better than any blanket. Over the weekend my mother’s best friend, a woman I’ve known since the fourth grade, died suddenly. Wife, mother, grandmother, friend. She was one of the most gracious, hard-working and thoughtful persons I’ve ever known. Our families were close. We spent almost every Christmas Eve together – including this past year – for decades. Yet there, on the other end of that phone call, I wished I was closer. But the 2,000 miles between us meant I could only offer condolences and platitudes. Once the call was over, I was left alone with just thoughts of her family and my mother and all those shared holidays and meals and laughs. So I sought out my own comforting nostalgia. And what I turned to for a surrogate hug was Pixar. It may seem silly to find solace in movies. But that, after all, is what they’re there for – entertainment, diversion, understanding, truth. This weekend I marathoned all the “Toy Story” movies. Can you believe I’d never seen them before – and I’m a Pixar fangirl. And then, when I had trouble sleeping that night, I pulled up “Finding Nemo” on my iPhone and let it help me drift off to slumber. Yes, I’m a childless adult with “Finding Nemo” and “WALL-E” on her phone. While they’re not a part of my childhood, they bring up the universal emotions from childhood. Regardless of age, they’re a reminder of what mattered then isn’t really so much different than what matters now. Love, laughter, loyalty and how lucky we are to have good friends pass through our lives.

Friday, January 28, 2011

My Weekend Crush

I know I’ve talked about this before, and you know I’m going to talk about this again – but, goddamn, do I love having “Parks and Recreation” and “30 Rock” back-to-back. They are my favorite hilarious hour of television. They require no time shifting, no channel changing, no moving from the couch. Leslie Knope and Liz Lemon were meant to be together. They give us 60 non-stop minutes of fabulously funny female leads together. They give us a continuous stream of endearingly quirky cast members together. Together, they make my Thursday night the best night ever. They truly are my television OTP. The only way it could possibly be better is if they were in the same full hour block together (say, 9-10p.m. – hint, hint) and “Outsourced” didn’t exist at all. God, that show is terrible. It should be illegal for it to follow “Park and Recreation” and “30 Rock.” ILLEGAL. Nothing that unfunny should be allowed within 30 miles, let alone 30 minutes of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey’s brilliance. But I don’t let its presence harsh my buzz, because thanks to a tiny bit of time shifting afterward, I can end my night instead with a tall, cool Sarah Shahi nightcap on “Fairly Legal.” Damn Funny + Damn Pretty = Pretty Damn Funny. Thursday night, I love you. Happy weekend, all.

Parks & Recreation

30 Rock

Thursday, January 27, 2011

You must be this tall to ride

Here’s a little-known fact about Jodie Foster – she is part garden gnome. Now, I can say this as I myself am also part garden gnome. It’s a short thing. Still we of the small stature (and occasional pointy red hats) have assimilated amazingly well into normal society. Sure, sometimes we need to climb onto the shelving at Target to reach the toilet paper – seriously, do they need to put it that high? But otherwise we roam among the normal heighted with ease and confidence, oftentimes blissfully unaware of our inherent height inequity. That is until we have to take a picture. And then, alas, then it becomes all too clear. We’re garden gnomes and everyone else is gardeners. Jodie, honey, I feel your pain. And I, too, have an inordinate amount of step-stools in my house. Your secret is safe with me. I would never share all the rare photographic evidence of I’ve collected of “Gnomie” Foster mingling in the wild with the tall, tall world. Oh, wait.

Jodie & Olivia WildeI wonder how many mountain oxen Jodie dreamed of strangling while in Olivia’s towering presence.

Jodie & Kathryn BigelowWell, this isn’t even fair. Her name is BIGelow.

Jodie & Julia RobertsJodie seems to be fearfully eyeballing Julia to make sure she doesn’t step on her.

Jodie & Sigourney WeaverSigourney is clearly wishing her dress had pockets so she could put Jodie in hers and take her home.

Jodie & Queen LatifahEvery queen needs her noble gnome.

Jodie & Goldie HawnTall blonde.

Jodie & Melanie GriffithTaller blonde.

Jodie & Daryl HannahTallest blonde – though perfect eye-to-bust height.

Jodie & Sharon StoneSharon clearly has a gnome fetish.

Jodie & Kristen StewartShe played her young daughter, now taller.

Jodie & Jena MaloneShe played her younger self, now taller.

Jodie & Tom CruiseCome on, she even makes Tom Cruise look giant.

Jodie & Holly HunterFinally, Jodie is among her kind.

We garden gnomes are a proud people. But, yes, we will let you help up get that bowl off the top shelf.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Always a bridesmaid

Unless all the other nominees fall into a “Rabbit Hole” (puns, puns!) and therefore clear the field for a Nicole Kidman upset, whoever wins for best actress or supporting actress this year will be taking home her very first shiny naked gold man. Well, fine, I don’t want to make any assumptions about these women’s sexual peccadilloes so to be safe let us say their first shiny naked gold man named Oscar – without private parts or facial features, and holding a sword. Right, so my point is that the vast majority of the actresses nominated for Academy Awards this year haven’t won before. No wins for Annette Bening, no wins for Natalie Portman, no wins for Helena Bonham Carter, no wins for Amy Adams. Nada. But that could all change for two lucky ladies. (Though until then, please feel free to ogle their award-winning tank top form as a consolation prize.)

Still, there are so many other ridiculously talented actresses who won’t have that chance this year and are likewise trophyless. Like, did you know Greta Garbo and Judy Garland never won an acting Oscar? No wonder Garbo wanted to be left alone – the shame. And there are plenty of modern-day actresses who have never gotten their proper due. Here is a look at a ten of today’s continual bridesmaids, never a bride when it comes to the shiny naked golden man.

Julianne Moore
Julianne has been nominated four times (“The End of the Affair,” “Boogie Nights,” “Far From Heaven,” “The Hours”). More often than not, Moore picks interesting, off-beat projects over commercial, big-budget offerings. And she is ready and quite convincing at playing gay from “The Hours” to “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee” to “Chloe” and “The Kids Are All Right.”She should have been nominated alongside Annette. I mean, if she can make a totally ludicrous stalker flick like “Chloe” watchable, she should have a whole separate room in her house just to hold all of her Oscars already.

Glenn Close
Glenn Close has not won an Oscar. Yeah, let that sink into the little gray cells. Five nominations (“The World According to Garp,” “The Big Chill,” “The Natural,” “Fatal Attraction,” “Dangerous Liasons”) and no wins yet Mira Sorvino, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Roberto Benigni all have acting Oscars.

Sigourney Weaver
Everything I said above, ditto. Three nominations for Sigourney (“Aliens,” “Gorillas in the Mist,” “Working Girl”) and no wins. Don’t make her get into that hydraulic robot suit from “Aliens” and crush some heads, people.

Naomi Watts
The first time I saw Naomi was in the dream within a nightmare within a blue box that was “Mulholland Dr.” When she made the transformation from Betty to Diane, I didn’t even recognize her for a minute. And then I knew – I knew this one was special. Only one nomination so for “21 Grams,” but that’ll change. It has to.

Angela Bassett
Angela only has one nomination for 1993’s searing “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” but that’s not for lack of talent but the paucity of strong roles for actresses of color, period. Come on, she’s been giving us two tickets to the gun show for years, the least we could do is invite her to a few more award shows.

Michelle Pfeiffer
I think the problem with Michelle is that she is so damn beautiful that sometimes you forget she can act. Three nominations (“Dangerous Liasons,” “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” “Love Field”) prove she can. But once you see that face, you’re all, “Um, wait, what were we talking about?”

Laura Linney
Laura is one of those people I fear will never win because she is always good, always. In fact, she is so good we take her for granted. But being that consistent isn’t luck, it’s hard work – like her three nominated roles (“You Can Count on Me,” “Kinsey,” “The Savages”). Well, at least she is doing well for herself on TV.

Catherine Keener
Nominated twice (“Being John Malkovich,” “Capote”), Catherine is another one of those unendingly dependable actresses. But just because it looks easy, doesn’t mean it is. Also, dude, she’s Dawn Denbo’s sister.

Salma Hayek
Don’t let the accent fool you, Salma is good. Her one nominated turn in “Frida” was great. And – think about it nominating committees – why would you ever pass up the opportunity to have Salma in a form-fitting ball gown on your red carpet? That opportunity you’re missing is golden.

Lauren Bacall
In 1996, when Lauren lost in an upset to Juliette Binoche after her first and only nomination for “The Mirror Has Two Face,” you could almost see her mentally telling Juliette to put her lips together and blow.

So many snubs, so many ways that blows.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tank Top Tuesday: Oscars Edition

Let’s not pretend the best actress Oscar race is anything but an all-out, steel-cage deathmatch between Natalie Portman and Annette Bening. All the nominees are great, but come on, those two are the battle royal. Actually, it’s nice to have a tight race instead of a presumptive frontrunner blow-out. And these two actresses really acted their asses off last year. But, in the interest of recognizing all of the lovely ladies who were nominated today, please enjoy this very special Top Thespian Tank Top Tuesday. Being nominated for an Academy Award is rewarding and all, but looking great in a tank top is its own reward.


Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”I bet Natalie Portman never, ever thought she’d be able to say, “In the last year I shagged both Jackie and Kelso from ‘That 70s Show.’”

Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”Still courting the gay vote with her lesbian hair and chunky glasses, I see.

Nicole Kidman, “Rabbit Hole”Now that she is no longer using Botox, three cheers for the imminent return of emotions to Nicole’s forehead.

Michelle Williams, “Blue Valentine”Take that, Katie Holmes.

Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”The best thing Bill Engvall has ever contributed to society.


Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit”This isn’t a tank top, but Hailee is 14 so I’m not going to go there.

Helena Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech”Every time I abbreviate HBC, I “accidentally” slip in an “I” before the “C.” It’s really more appropriate that way, don’t you think?

Jacki Weaver, “Animal Kingdom”Her nickname in the film was “Smurf,” that’s so awesome I won’t even quibble that she refused to take her overshirt off.

Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”Remember when she played Helena’s ex on “The L Word?” Remember when Helena had children?

Amy Adams, “The Fighter”Even if you weren’t adorably and winsome, Amy, we’d still love you forever for that lesbian scene in “Standing Still.”

Monday, January 24, 2011

Lez Time Telelvision

Kittens, the lesbians are coming. To TV. To American network broadcast TV. LESBIANS. Someone pinch me. NBC has picked up a half-hour romantic comedy pilot called “I Hate That I Love You.” According to Vulture, it’s logline reads: “A straight couple introduces two of its lesbian friends to one another and what results is both instant attraction and a pregnancy.” OK, a lesbian couple? Fantastic! But a pregnant lesbian couple? Fuck, we’re not all barefoot and pregnant! Still, you know what, I don’t care. They can only be pregnant for, what, nine months tops, right? I will swallow this tired stereotype of perpetual lesbian pregnancy for the chance to see a show that centers around a lesbian couple on my television. Two other comedies featuring lesbians were in the development stages back in late 2009, but so far little has come of those. So this pilot pick-up is another chance at that big gay TV brass ring.

There are so few lesbian or bisexual women on TV, period, let alone broadcast network TV. By my rough count there are currently 17 permanent recurring lesbian/bi characters on TV right now. Of those seven are on broadcast network TV, the rest are on cable or premium cable. (Note: “Spartacus” really skews the numbers, because people are less lesbian or gay on that show as willing to fuck anything in sandals.) And, if memory serves, there have only ever been two shows that center specifically around a gay or lesbian character as its lead: “Will & Grace” and “Ellen.” So then the inclusion of two more lesbian characters into that tiny canon is good news – very good news. And what gives me even more hope about this project is that it is form veteran TV writer/producer Jhoni Marchinko, who worked on “Will & Grace,” “Murphy Brown” and “Men in Trers.” I used to follow Jhoni on Twitter (before she deactivated her account), and she is friends with lesbians in high places – including Sarah Paulson and Sandra Bernhard. Speaking of which, I’d kill to have Sarah Paulson play one of the lesbians on this series. And who else? Erin Daniels, Michelle Krusiec, Kristin Chenoweth, God, the possibilities are endless. Bring on the lesbians, TV, pregnant or otherwise.

p.s. Tonight you’ll get to meet a very unpregnant lesbian on TV, as Tea on MTV’s “Skins” gets her moment in the sun. Forget what you’ve heard with those ridiculous kiddie porn accusation that have been hurled at the show. It may not be as good as the British version (in fact, it isn’t – I marathoned season one over the weekend), but it gives us a convincing three-dimensional lesbian character and there aren’t a whole hell of a lot of those on TV anywhere.

p.p.s. How fucking ridiculous is it that that clip needs a mature content age verifier? They just kiss. This Puritan on our collective shoulders needs to piss off already.

Friday, January 21, 2011

My Weekend Squee

At our darkest hour, when we were certain all hope was lost, on the brink of defeat, came hope. “Brittana is on. Brittana was always on.” So tweeteth “Glee” co-creator Brad Falchuk, so tweeteth us all. I have to say, when I saw this tweet come up in my feed last night, it took me a few seconds to comprehend what was being said. No, this wasn’t from a fan’s twitter account. No, this wasn’t wishful thinking. No, this wasn’t some sort of amazingly articulate pocket tweet. This is what’s happening. Brittana is happening. Praise Grilled Cheesus.

I like “Glee,” a lot. Sure it’s not a perfect show but it keeps the parts of my brain that love shiny things and the parts of my brain that love Jane Lynch happy. And then this flirty little relationship between Brittany and Santana caught my eye and found its way into a tiny crevice in my heart I didn’t realize needed filling. And so now I’m all in. I can’t help it. They’re adorable. I’m hooked. But like other Brittana fans, I found my devotion tested. Brittany and Artie? Santana and Sam? So many expletives. So many.

So now, just when I was ready to give up, a ray of light. Some are still skeptical about whether a show where characters are sometimes less developed than their dance moves will keep its promise. But I, for one, choose to keep the faith. This isn’t a wishy-washy statement of maybe, at some point, we’re considering it. This is on. So I’m going to be excited and save my anger for the if, not the when, any promises get broken. And I’m also going to be very thankful to the creators, writers and especially actors. If Naya Rivera and Heather Morris hadn’t been on board from the start, I doubt Brittana would have every happened. More open, positive and undeniable LGBT characters on TV are always a good thing. Bring it on, Brittana. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bosom Buddies

Tonight, tonight, toooo-NIGHT! Tonight reigning First Ladies of Funny Business and Queens of Smarty Pants Tina Fey and Amy Poehler return to my TV where they belong. “Parks and Recreation” and “30 Rock” debut tonight in their new back-to-back timeslots of 9:30 and 10 p.m. on NBC (which thanks to the FCC is now well on its way to being rebranded as Kabletown). While the schedule shuffling is a little odd (10 o’clock comedy? NBC, have you learned nothing from the Jaypocalypse?), I am beyond thrilled to have my two favorite hilarious hotties on my TV together where they belong. Sure, I’d timeshifted them that way already, but this requires so much less lifting of my remote control. I am nothing if not gloriously lazy about my fanaticisms. What I love so much about Tina’s Liz Lemon and Amy’s Leslie Knope is, of course, their humor and intellect, but also their unabashed feminism. Yes, feminism can be funny. This is the proof. While both shows poke fun at the “F”-word at times, at their core they are built upon a construct that believes women are just as smart, capable and deserving of positions of power and responsibility. They’re just as good (or bad) as the boys, and often even better.

The other thing I love so much about Tina and Amy is their friendship, which has remained a constant through “Saturday Night Live” and the Upright Citizens Brigade and movie stardom and motherhood. Female friendship on screen is often celebrated in a sort of condescending lit candles and wine party sort of way. It’s something to be set to sappy musical montages that may or may not include singing together into a hairbrush. But real female friendship is about shared success, support and strength. Just like the endearingly geeky characters they’ve created in Liz and Leslie, Tina and Amy are fantastic examples to women young and old of what it really means to be a strong woman today. You don’t have to take yourself too seriously, but you never take your talent for granted and you always support each other in your ambitions.

A look at the many looks of Tina & Amy:

SNL Silliness
UCB Silliness
Totally Glam
Totally Butch
Touchy Feely
Really Touchy Feely
Sexy Tennis

Oh, Tina and Amy – thank you for coming back to us. Thank you for being friends. If Tina can’t be my Fake TV Wife, too, I’m at the very least glad she is with such a worthy alternate as Amy. Though, ladies, I am not opposed to some sort of “Big Love” resolution to this situation. Think about it. Tina already admitted you two are working the Oprah & Gayle. I can work with that.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Her queer little ways

Every now and then your childhood sneaks up and reminds you where you came from. In the midst of the mundane task of retrieving the mail yesterday, between the bills, bank statements and other banal reminders of adulthood was a time capsule. My “Anne of Green Gables” DVD set finally arrived, a belated Christmas gift from my mother. I’d forgotten they were coming, a function of falling too quickly back into the frazzled schedule of work and grown-up demands. But there they were, waiting patiently for me to remember. And remember I did.

I own all the books, of course. They sit neatly in a place of honor on my bookshelf, worn from time and hours of reading into the darkness of the night. L.M. Montgomery was my J.K. Rowling. I have almost everything ever bound and stamped with her name – Anne, Emily, Pat, Rilla and an endless assortment of short anthologies of occasionally questionable quality. But those I read on my own. I watched the series on TV with my family. I became obsessed with visiting Prince Edward Island (which I eventually convinced them to do one summer vacation) while watching the series on TV with my family. . I fell in love with Megan Follows (albeit unbeknownst to them, and me at the time) while watching the series on TV with my family.

This series, the one I now held in my hand. I’m not sure what took me so long to buy them. OK, they’re a tad pricey and I’m a tad cheap. Also the complete set didn’t come out until 2008. Someone in a drawer somewhere in my parents’ house gathering dust I have the complete series on VHS, recorded lovely from repeats on PBS. (OK, not “The Continuing Story” because – come on – those weren’t even based on the books). I had to fight the urge to put them on immediately and watch them back-to-back-to-back for an unending loop of spectacular sunsets along red sand beaches. But I didn’t. Work, bills, adulthood stood in the way.

But don’t worry, I will find the time. I must. Anne with an e was my hero growing up, with her smarts and spunk. She was an orphan who survived on the sheer force of her imagination, a dreamer, a thinker, a romantic, a kindred spirit. She was stubborn and prone to getting into scrapes. She was the best bosom friend a little girl could have – for Diana Barry and the rest of us. I look forward to spending time with her again soon. We have so much to catch up on after all these years.