Friday, July 29, 2011

My Weekend Crush

Each time I see Sasha Alexander, she’s a little more gorgeous than the time before. Which, considering how gorgeous she is to start with, is pretty near impossible. But there she goes, each time anew, making me think – “No, this is the most gorgeous I have ever seen her. This.” She has a sophisticated sereneness about her that plays perfectly off of co-star Angie Harmon’s coltish kinetic energy. But outward gorgeousness, even the exponentially increasing kind like hers, is really nothing when not coupled with inner beauty. And by all account Sasha has that as well. And with each new interview, my respect for her increases as well.

Being one of the leads on a hit new TV show about a crime-fighting pair that even your grandmother has started to wonder aloud if they’re LLBFFs with benefits must be somewhat overwhelming. The flood of fervent fangirls. The flood of are they or aren’t they questions. But rather than pish-posh fans or squash speculation, Sasha has been universally magnanimous about the gay talk. She told TV Guide that the subtext discussion was “a great compliment. Angie is a beautiful woman, and I can't say we don't make a hot pair.” And she told Jimmy Kimmel that “Everybody’s a little bit more gay these days…. Best friends can be very gay.” Her embrace of the fans and our love for these characters and their chemistry is refreshing. She doesn’t just tolerate us, she truly appreciates us.

And speaking of that Kimmel interview, can we just talk for a second about that dress? Sweet merciful Zeus, that dress. I’m pretty sure the laws of physics dictate that she had to be poured into it that dress. And her hair – her shiny, perfect, luminous hair. And that laugh, that throaty delicious laugh. That’s it – this is definitely the most gorgeous I have ever seen her. That is, until the next time I see her. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

That final frontier

This is the story of how I accidentally became a sci-fi fan. I say accidentally because – truth be told – I never really liked sci-fi that much growing up. Sure, I loved “Star Wars.” But “Star Wars” isn’t so much science fiction as it is fairy tale complete with princesses, rouges, black-clad villains and teddy bears (the Ewoks were teddy bears, right?). I never got into “Star Trek” (please note, I am not denigrating “Star Trek.” Live long and prosper, Trekkers). Basically, I stayed away from almost every show with “Star” in the title. For some reason, I felt a little snobby about it. I like serious dramas. I don’t like silly science fiction.

And then it happened. Slowly, but surely, I started liking silly science fiction. First “The X-Files.” But I rationalized that away as more of an ongoing mystery than a sci-fi geekfest. And then “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which while not actually sci-fi, does lump together with the larger world of fantasy. But the thing about Buffy was it wasn’t so much about the vampires as it was about the real monsters we face every day trying to make it to adulthood.

But then I just kept adding more sci-fi shows. “Fringe.” “Dr. Who.” “Dollhouse.” “Firefly.” “Torchwood.” “Lost Girl.” “Warehouse 13.”

What is it about these shows? Why do they interest me so? Well, in part, the fantasy. Time travel. Space travel. Immortal tendencies. Bisexual succubus tendencies. And, well, Myka and Helena’s gigantic lesbian tendencies. But, to be honest, it’s not so much the escape I crave. Because while good sci-fi can provide that with its laser blasters and mind erasers and blue police boxes, I think when done well what it really gives us is a chance to look with clear eyes at our own humanity. Something about adding little green men (or their metaphysical equivalent) allows us to step back from the ordinary, up-close messiness of life and just see our human race for what it is. Beautiful. Flawed. Crazy as all fuck.

And, just as important, I think science fiction is a genre that finally allows women to be on equal footing with men. Not all science fiction, mind you. But a lot, especially more recently. Women are allowed to be in charge. They’re allowed to be strong. They’re allowed to be important – essential even. Basically, they’re allowed to save the world. They’re very rarely just the girlfriend or just the best friend. They’re more often a secret agent or badass or both. And that, that is pretty damn awesome.

Gina Torres, a high priestess of science fiction badassery, famously praised the genre for giving actresses like her who don’t fit a mold a happy home:
“When you fall within the cracks, you thank God for sci-fi, because they’ll give you a gun, and they’ll say, ‘Go over there and conquer that world. You kick some ass, girl!’”

Go kick some ass, indeed. Bring it, sci-fi. I’m all yours.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Subtext & Recreation

Kittens, you know how I love me some subtext. For proof I give you the dark circles under my eyes and general lifeless pallor I have from staying up, again, until the wee small hours of the way too early morning this week writing the latest “Rizzoli & Isles” Subtext Recap (which is up at AfterEllen). p.s. Last night’s episode was The Gayest. Like G to the AY. So gay. In short, yay subtext. And while the Rizzles are my No. 1 Subtext Couple Friends, I naturally dabble in others. Unlike Fake TV Wives, which require the semblance of monogamy, Subtext Couple Friends are like real-life couple friends. The more couple friends the better. Each pairing can fill a specific need in your life. I mean, say, if Couple Friends A invite you to Easter brunch, Couple Friends B may have you over for Thanksgiving. Like I said, more is better.

So among my other Subtext Couple Friends, one of my most delightful duos is Leslie Knope and Ann Perkins. The pair from “Parks & Recreation” are wonderful for so, so many reasons. Hilarious. Endearing. Loyal. Real. Their friendship is among the best-written female friendships on TV. And, sadly, that’s another one of the reasons it stands out. It seems ludicrous, but so many shows still fail the Bechdel Rule, that require two women to talk to each other about something other than a man, week after week. So to have show like “Parks & Rec” where its lead uncynically embraces feminism and optimism and best friendism, well, heavens it’s refreshing. But, wait, weren’t we talking about subtext? Yes, ma’am, we were. So, right, Leslie and Ann. I think this video says it all. Ladies.

Can I get a witness? All aboard the Love Train to Knopkins Valley. And Amy and Rashida even seem to ship it, in an interview they gave to Elle magazine earlier this year.

ELLE: I’m watching a video of you two.
Rashida Jones: Are you watching our lesbian video on YouTube?
Amy Poehler: Yeah, it’s pretty funny. Someone put together all the scenes of Ann and Leslie and then put a Counting Crows song to it. It looks like Parks and Rec is a love story about two women.
ELLE: Are you guys hugging right now?
Rashida Jones: Actually, we’re spooning.

Look, now you have to ship it. You must. And if you don’t, I will draw a mustache on your face in your sleep. Don’t think I won’t because I will.

Love means never having to say you’re sorry for drawing a mustache on your best friend’s face.

p.s Major, major kudos to Buffyfan357 for the excellent, excellent “Accidentally in Love” vid (which YouTube pulled – boo!). I love it. LOVE.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What geekery is this?

True story: I loved action figures as a kid. I know, not to surprising given my overall continued tomboy tendencies. But I LOVED them. I could play quietly for hours, lost in my own fantasy world where my Han Solo figure bickered with my Buck Rogers figure and Princess Leia went ahead and rescued Superman instead. My childhood fantasy world was kind of awesome. But being a geek then was different than being a geek now. Now it has a cache. Geeks, like bowties – if you ask The Doctor, are cool. But then, geeks were geeks. So it’s with a slightly bemused sense of satisfaction when I watched all the pretty ladies clamor to get their geek on last weekend weekend at Comic-Con.

So in celebration of everyone’s inner and outer geek, here are some lovely ladies getting geeky. Geekery, it’s not just for geeks anymore.

Alyson Hannigan
Alyson Hannigan
Willow will always be my favorite geek. Always.

Anna TorvThese should be Special Agent Olivia Dunham action figures, but otherwise, perfect.

Lucy LawlessWhen lesbian subtext and geek fandom collides.

Anika Noni RoseSo this is kind of more of a “doll,” but Anika looks so happy to be holding herself it’s pretty geeky.

Meryl StreepThis is her “Fantastic Mr. Fox” figure. If there was a real Meryl Streep action figure I would buy two. One to keep new in the box and another to play with. Wait, that sounded weird. Good.

Elizabeth MitchellThese aren’t technically action figures either, but getting this excited about your cake doppelgangers is's adorageeky.

Yvonne StrahovskiAlso, not an action figure. But it’s a light saber. So, you know, even better.

Sarah Michelle GellarBuffy is using Darth Vader as an armrest. Your argument is invalid.

Felicia DayIf Felicia in a squid hat doesn’t brighten your day, then you are probably not a geek.

Natalie PortmanGeeks and politics, two great things that go great together.

Karen GillanNow that is how you play with action figures.

Britt Robertson, Maggie Q, Yvonne Strahovski, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Morrison & Anna TorvI don’t know who Britt Robertson is, but otherwise, GEEKGASM.

Check out the special Comic-Con issue of The Hollywood Reporter for more on Sarah, Anna, Yvonne, Maggie et al.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A flame

For us she was a flame. Daughter of a cab driver. Voice of a soul siren. Heart of a lonesome poet. Amy Winehouse came into our collective consciousness a blaze of behemoth beehives and tawdry tattoos. But once we heard that voice we knew, we knew we’d been given a gift. That delicious ache, that raw nerve, that naked vulnerability. She was at once something so fresh yet so familiar. True talent always is.

Her troubles were no secret, those that kept her off the stage and in the tabloids. But we never really knew her demons, those that drove her to wring beauty out of pain. Or those deeper ones that took her away from us all too soon. So much written about her during her life was almost cautionary – my own words included. Still others mocked her mercilessly as the punchline to her own life. Those who make sport of others suffering found an easy target. Yet when it happened, somehow, it still felt like a shock to me. And, Jesus, was I gutted.

Gone at 27, that supposedly haunted age for our golden gods of music. Jimi. Janis. Jim. Kurt. And now Amy. Those who burned too hot and too fast and are now forever subject to the task-tsking of history. But this is no time for I told you so’s. Such talent. Such talent, gone.

I feel so much for the people who loved her and the people who tried to help. But I also feel a profound loss for all of us. It’s selfish, so selfish. But, my God, the music we're missing. The songs. The sass. The slur of unapologetic humanity. We won’t be able to see what would come next. What wonders awaited. What she would woo us with, all over again. Not too long ago, I told a friend I felt like I had been waiting for a new Amy Winehouse album my entire life. That it will never come seems incomprehensible. Cruel, even. Though I supposed we should be thankful that we had her at all. And, for her voice, there will be no final frame. It lives on forever. Find peace, darling bird. Thank you for the music.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Weekend Crush

When thinking about life’s big questions, the ones that keep us up at night and make us get up every morning, we humans always assume we are the only ones doing the thinking. Man’s dominion over nature is even written into that good book. So then it always shakes us when Earth’s other creatures display what we consider to be purely human behaviors. How can that be? We rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air.

But they do, all the time. All creatures great and small surprise us every day with their ability to both love and be loved. It is the elephant in the room and, in this case, a real one – two of them in fact. I’ve never had a crush on an elephant, though I did ride one once as a child in a zoo. And what I remember most from that very brief encounter was the elephant’s trunk. It was prickly, not smooth, and expressive, like a human lips and arms all in one. So yesterday, while lazily loafing online attempting to avoid life’s bigger questions, I met Shirley.

The PBS series “Nature” chronicled Shirley’s long road to freedom at The Elephant Sanctuary in a piece in 2000. I will only warn you once, find Kleenex before you click play.

Shirley the Elephant, Part 1 & 2

You don’t have to be human to show humanity. Aside from the basic need of food and shelter, perhaps what really makes us all truly alive is the shared desire to be loved. We all just want to feel a little less alone on this strange chunk of rock that circles a slowly dying star. They say that elephants never forget, but today possibly the best think they can do is remind us to be a little kinder to all that walk or fly or swim with us on this lonely planet. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gender Fuck Thursday: The Swinton

Tilda Swinton

There is no one, not on this planet or this galaxy, who so thoroughly embodies what I enjoy about Gender Fuck Thursday than Tilda Swinton. She exists in a universe that totally disregards the boxes we put ourselves into. She is the woman who fell to Earth, and I fucking love it. Part fiery goddess, part folk legend, part space alien, all delicious. We get sold cookie cutter perfection everyday and told to call it beauty. But Tilda defies any mold known to man. Delicate, yet fierce. Beautiful, yet strange. Talented, period. No, wait, exclamation point. There are not enough exclamation points.

Perhaps one of the most of many delightful things about Tilda is that she has crafted her public persona this way on purpose, yet not in a calculated way. In an interview and intergalactic photoshoot with W magazine, she said her red carpet style is a collaboration with her close friend Jerry Stafford, the creative director of a French production company and “It’s a game, and we have great fun with it.”

And her definition of androgyny is even more refreshing.

“People talk about androgyny in all sorts of dull ways,” says Swinton, noting that the recent rerelease of Orlando had her thinking again about its pliancy. “Cahun looked at the limitlessness of an androgynous gesture, which I’ve always been interested in.”

Her style inspirations include her male androgyny doppelganger, David Bowie, and her father, Maj. Gen. Sir John Swinton.

“From childhood, I remember more about his black patent, gold livery, scarlet-striped legs, and medal ribbons than I do of my mother’s evening dresses,” she says. “I would rather be handsome, as he is, for an hour than pretty for a week.”

Mission accomplished, Swinton. Mission a-fucking-complished.

[All photos by Tim Walker. Click any to expand.]

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

See Jane...

Really? Really? As our friend Det. Jane Rizzoli would say. My apologies for the tardy (and hardly there) post today. I’m a tad under the weather and working hard to finish up my interview with “Rizzoli & Isles” creator Janet Tamaro, which should post on AfterEllen today tomorrow. So today, if you haven’t already, please enjoy my “Rizzoli & Isles” Subtext Recaps for Episode 1 and Episode 2 of the second season. And, if you’re still hungry for more Rizzles, please enjoy this video which should be subtitled, “All Eye Sex and Totally Gratuitous, Totally Gay Touching, All the Time.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

God save the queens

Helen Mirren

God save the queens of England. After watching “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” last weekend, I reaffirmed my long-simmering Anglophilia. Heavens, the Brits are lovely. First of all, those accents. God damn, those accents. And they’ve got crisp composure about them. You know, that stiff upper lip thing. But then there’s that wonderful juxtaposition that can happen. Those proper accents, that cool exterior and then seemingly out of nowhere the they can say the most shockingly hilarious or absolutely filthy things. It’s the bawdiness under the sophistication that I think I enjoy the most. I mean, any dame who’ll wrap herself in a union jack flag and nothing else at age 65 and look better than most 25 years old doing it, well, that’s a woman you want to share a pint with – preferably more. A few more of my very favorite English lasses. Rule Britannia, baby.

Lena HeadeyAnd now I have to go rewatch “Imagine Me & You,” immediately.

Rachel WeiszOf course she married 007, just look at her.

Shelley ConnSome of you thought I didn’t give Shelley the proper love in the “Nina’s Heavenly Delights” post. Trust me, I love her good and proper.

Helena Bonham CarterSure, Bellatrix is totally evil and batshit crazy. But, admit it, also kinda sexy.

Kate WinsletSuch a pretty face, such a potty mouth.

Alex KingstonWhat I wouldn’t give to roll over and say, “Hello, sweetie.”

Kristin Scott ThomasDon’t you hate it when jam from your crumpet gets on your hand and you have to lick it off slowly? Wait, sorry, got the wrong word again – replace “hate” with “love.”

Julia OrmondI feel forever robbed by Showtime for not giving us a Julia/Eve Best love scene on “Nurse Jackie.”

Emma ThompsonFew people so fully embody a word as Emma does “delightful.”

Emma WatsonI always knew she would grow up, well, perfect.

Monday, July 18, 2011

We can be heroes

No matter how hard you prepare. No matter how hard you play. No matter how hard you want it. Sometimes, the win goes to the country that needs it more. And, God knows, Japan needed it. So, while I’m certainly heartbroken to see our Team USA lose in the Women’s World Cup final, I feel a certain joy too because Japan could use a win this year. But, really, in a game as hard-fought and nail-biting as USA v. Japan, we’re all winners. Because we all got to see some exciting, top-level soccer (yes, yes – football everyone else) and two teams who played their hearts out. That’s a win-win in my book. And that we got to watch three weeks of elite, dedicated, amazing athletes do what they do best. OK, fine, it’s also kind of like three weeks of uninterrupted muscle porn for lesbians. But, hey, can’t it be both? Plus, it’s always a wondrous thing when the world comes together to cheer on women’s sports – no matter the outcome. In fact, the final set a new tweets per second record – beating even the news that Bin Laden had been killed. Way to go, ladies. So one last round of hugging each other with their legs in sportsmanship. See you in 2015.

Team JapanCongratulations, Japan.

Hope SoloGreat game, USA.

Abby WambachAbby Wambach’s forehead for president.

Alex Morgan & Abby WambachDo we really need to wait four years for more of this?

Megan Rapinoe & Abby WambachSo many alternative lifestyle haircuts, so little time.

Team USAJust look at these magnificent human beings.

Abby WambachArm porn forever.

Homare Sawa, Aya Miyama & teammateThreesome, nice.

Team JapanThough why limit things to three?

Homare SawaBadass and adorable in the same tiny body.

Hope Solo & Aya MiyamaUm, doesn’t this totally look like Hope’s trying to pick up Aya after the game? Like, “Hey, girl, hey. Good job winning the World Cup. Can I come back to your place and, you know, touch it?” What? I’m looking for a silver lining, people.

Still sad about Team USA’s loss? Please let Abby Wambach’s abs console you in your time of grief.

Still inconsolable? OK, well I guess since this is a special lesbian emergency, we’ll have to break Hope Solo’s abs.

See, allllll better.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Weekend Crush

Today, something important ends for millions and millions of people across the globe. Something that has been with them for 14 years. For some, it’s been their entire childhood. For others, it’s a reminder that the joy and wonder of childhood applies at any age. But today, that ends. Except, of course, it doesn’t. The true magic of the Harry Potter series isn’t really in the wizardry. Sure, it’d be mighty handy to be able to accio our keys when running late for work. But, no, the real magic is that this story and these characters have meant to people. For a children’s series it has defied almost everything that is traditionally meant when something is considered “childish.” To quote Stephen King: “Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.”

That the Harry Potter series has been able to build itself around bravery, honestly, loyalty and strength is no small feat. This isn’t a romance where the handsome prince saves the beautiful princess. This isn’t a superhero story or based on a toy line or a built off of an amusement park ride. Sure there is a hero, but he is only super because of his friends. And those friends include so many richly drawn, non-stereotypical female characters that you could never truly call this a boy’s story. Just try to think of a better popular current role model for young girls than Hermione Granger. Damn near impossible it is. So now to see these characters lives played out on screen for the last time, well, that’s something quite extraordinary. And while I am not the person who dressed in costume to get the books or stood in line in dead of the night to see the films, I still feel the loss of saying goodbye to these old friends. But the beauty of even this goodbye is that these stories will never truly leave us. With each new generation, each new reader, each new fan, the magic starts all over again. And the boy who lived lives on forever. Happy weekend, all.