Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Immediate Portrait

Why not make it two-for-two this week on good things? If you had not heard already, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” started streaming suddenly on Hulu Friday. The news was one of the few pleasant surprises we’ve been given lately. And despite my COVID-19-inspired social distancing anxieties about certain scenes, the movie is truly a perfect watch for these times. Quiet, thoughtful, romantic, isolated. The isolation – in a world truly only of women – is glorious. Plus, you really can't go wrong with chanting along the fireside. This movie will make you yearn for wind-swept glances and kisses on cliff tops. Also, the whole team behind the movie is basically awesome, particularly Adèle Haenel. Right, so, seems like time for another rewatch. Maybe then we can end this infernal March on a good note.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Killing Time

In these terrible and trying times, I think it’s best to start each week out with something positive. If you can even remember what day of the week it is anymore. Monday, right? And what is more positive than the quasi-love story between a homicidal psychopath with impeccable taste in clothes and the object of her affection and mutual obsession who keeps making inappropriate life and work choices while veering dangerously toward a nervous breakdown? And now with clowns? Yes, “Killing Eve” is coming back for its third season – and early at that. The show’s premiere was moved up two weeks because what the world needs now is Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer, obviously. What’s gonna happen? I have no idea! And that’s the elegantly deranged beauty of this show – I have absolutely no idea what is gonna happen next and I love it. Have a healthy and safe week, kittens.

Friday, March 27, 2020

My Weekend Crush

Well now, here is some genuinely wonderful news amid all the darkness. Dominique Provost-Chalkley, a.k.a. Waverly Earp a.k.a. Half of WayHaught a.k.a. The One from That Cheerleading Dance, has come out as queer. In a post commemorating her 30th birthday on her website, www.startthewave.org, the actress discussed her “journey to happiness.” Hint: It involves boys and girls and really all humans. And now she is out and proud about it.

She ended her post like this:

This also means that the real-life Nicole Haught (a.k.a Kat Barrell) and real-life Waveryly Earp (a.k.a. Dominique Provost-Chalkley) both like girls (and boys and whatever) in real life. Now, if that’s not something bring a little joy in dark times, I don’t know what is. Happy stay home and stay healthy weekend, kittens.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Giving Me Vida

It seems strange to be looking forward to things right now. Like, when so much more suffering and stress is coming for so many people, it doesn’t feel right to be excited about a TV show. But I do feel happy to see “Vida” coming back for it’s third – and as recently revealed – final season. It’s a comfort to know we’ll be able to bid a full goodbye to the Hernandez sisters – Emma and Lyn – and the people who make up the heart of Vida, their late mother and the bar she left behind. This rich, inclusive Latinx drama strikes at the heart of what makes families so strong and yet so fragile, while never sidestepping thorny cultural and social justice issues. Plus, this season looks to have a lot of glitter and sparkles. And, well, the world could use some glitter and sparkles right now. Now we just need to all make it a month to April 26. Stay in, kittens.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Portrait of a Lady Social Distancing

It’s funny how a GLOBAL PANDEMIC can change your view of basically everything. Like, a couple weekends ago when I was rewatching “Portait of a Lady on Fire,” my brain hadn’t yet been conditioned to view the entire world through a Social Distance lens. But now, seeing this gif sequence is more like a cautionary tale. It’s soothing to see them at first standing apart in masks (which, to be honest, everyone should have but, to be even more honest, is a fucking criminal travesty that medical professionals can’t get right now). But then, well, things deteriorate from there.

My Coronavirus Brain now watches this scene like this:

Not exactly 6-feet but at least some distance – though I am certain those are not N95 masks.

Wait, no, move the opposite direction. The opposite!

Ahhhh, we have a breach! BREACH!

*Indistinguishing Gurgling Noises Followed by a Hasty Retreat Indoors With All the Windows and Doors Shut Tight*

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Stay In, Right Now

Know anyone who is still running around going to public places like a lunatic? Please send them this incredibly catchy ditty from – of all people – JoJo. The former teen singer has reworked her 16-year-old hit “Leave (Get Out)” to fit these frightening coronavirus times and become “Stay In.” I very much prefer the new version, as seeing crowds of people together these days gives me a damn panic attack. Please, listen to JoJo.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Daily Life

Well, things are decidedly not normal in the world. I am headed into my second full week of self-isolation at home, with my whole state under a stay at home order by the governor. Both my my wife and I are still working as are jobs have been deemed "essential." Luckily I get to work from home, but she is still going into her workplace. That orange turd in the White House continues to lie his way through daily briefings where he only makes things worse and more dangerous for the most vulnerable among us. Oh, and I successfully taught both my 60-something in-laws and the 78-year-old mother how to do a video call on Zoom meeting. So, as I am sure it has been for all of you this past week, it has been a lot. I will continue to try to update daily, even if somethings small. It is nice to be able to find a little joy amid the chaos of these coronavirus times. May you be healthy and well through these terrible times. Stay home, stay healthy. Be well, kittens.

Friday, March 20, 2020

My Weekend Crush

Terrible times require us to rise, as a people, to the occasion. May we learn from the lessons from Italy to heart, and may we share their generous spirit. So from the bottom of our hearts, thanks the medical professionals on the front lines of this crisis. And – not to be forgotten especially here in America – may we thank the low-paid store workers who are on the front line of our panic, but somehow still keep filling the shelves and ringing up your purchases all while probably not having a single day of paid sick leave themselves. We have to do better for everyone. And we have to care for everyone. Happy weekend and stay well, all.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

When A Global Pandemic’s Got You Down

So, you’re working from home and self isolating and already bored out of your mind while simultaneously stressed beyond belief about the deteriorating state of, well, everything? Yeah, me too. I can’t stop reading the news. But the news makes me more anxious. And then I read more news. And then more anxious.

So to help break that cycle (I mean, please, do stay informed but maybe don’t go on 3-hour coronavirus news and worst-case-scenario rabbitholes) here are a few suggestions of what to watch instead of the world burning. These movies and shows are some of my go-to anxiety relievers.

Five Things To Watch When A Global Pandemic’s Got You Down List:

1) Great British Baking Show: Dear, sweet merciful Zeus, do we need the relative calm of soggy bottoms and burnt bakes right now. The mix of pastoral majesty and ingrained niceness is exactly what the world ordered now that people are battling each other for the last roll of toilet paper. You call it a baking competition show, I call it televised Xanax.

2) Moana: The story of a young girl who takes a perilous journey to save her home from a spreading black death that threatened everything in sight… Look, the point is she wins and it’s inspiring and I’m an adult who sometimes sings “How Far I’ll Go” in the shower.

3) Imagine Me & You: In a world where meet-cutes are cancelled for a while (or at least face-to-face ones), why not enjoy the simple pleasure of a girl-meets-florist at her wedding and then they fall in love and live happily ever after instead story. I mean, don’t be a wanker.

4) Parks & Recreations: Sometimes you just need to believe that the government actually cares. And if the unbridled optimism of Leslie Knope doesn’t make you believe a career in public service can still be a noble/hilarious thing, well, then no one will. And a good public servant from Indiana, no less. She is truly the Anti-Mike Pence.

5) The Good Place: This show is good, not just as in quality but in its heart. And it ponders the big questions in life while allowing us to laugh at our own ridiculous humanity. I turn on the final episode sometimes, to calm myself and remember that no matter what we will all dissolve into the universe at some point. Back to stardust, one and all.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Anatomy of an Infection

This 14-year-old scene from an episode of “Scrubs” is making the rounds for obvious reasons. Not to belabor a point – though I guess a global pandemic is the absolute best time to belabor a point – please stay home if you can. Hunker down at home and get your social distance on instead. Avoid contact with older people (and those with underlying health problems, who basically look like everyone else ergo stay away from everyone). And, as always, wash your damn hands.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Stay Home, Kittens. Stay Home

Well, nothing like a GLOBAL PANDEMIC to put shit into perspective. Monday’s post – pre-written when I still thought we’d have friends from out of town driving in to stay with us for an extended weekend of wine tasting…you know, five days ago (don’t worry we canceled everything) – will probably be the last non-coronavirus tinged posted on Surrenders for a while.

I’ve started working from home this week to self-isolate. I hope you are also staying home, too, if you can. We’ve been given a time machine with Italy, but it only works if we take action. You don’t need to go to the bars. You don’t need to go to the gym. You don’t need hang with your buddies because – whatever – you all feel fine. That’s the whole damn point, you can feel perfectly fine while infecting potentially every single person you pass for 2-to-14 days before showing any symptoms yourself whatsoever. I’d say, don’t be that asshole. But it’s more like, don’t be that killer asshole.

Now I could also rail (and rail, and rail, and rail) on the stupidity and absolutely criminal incompetence of That Orange Turd in the White House and his administration. But the man who says, “I don’t take responsibility at all” about the abject failure of the United State federal government’s coronavirus testing program speaks for himself.

But what I want to say instead is that these coming weeks, months, fuck knows how long will require radical empathy. It will require caring about more than just ourselves, but everyone. With a virus like this, we are all only as healthy as the least protected people among us. This is exposing the perfect storm of so-called American exceptionalism laid bare for its brutal inadequacy. Our health care system? Not ready. Our nationalized paid sick leave? Non-existent. Our national paid family leave? Also not a thing. Our universal health care? Nope, because apparently it’s “socialism.” Our support for hourly workers about to lose all their income for an undetermined period of time? Good luck, hope you live in a progressive blue state with adequate unemployment benefits. Our support for our senior citizens? Jesus, please don’t visit your grandparents in the nursing home for the time being and hope you have a good one that follows all the hygiene guidelines despite all of the caregivers being woefully underpaid.

I don’t know what the world will look like on the other side of this. So much misery is comings, it makes my chest hurt when I think of the potential numbers. I only hope we can emerge a little kinder and a lot smarter. Be safe, stay well. Take care of each other. And stay the fuck home*.

*Again, if you can. Some people cannot and by being out unnecessarily you put their lives and their loved ones lives in even more danger.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Point of Fire

Earlier this month was International Women’s Day, and we are still in Women’s History Month. So why not celebrate the films that celebrate us. And instead of just patting ourselves on the back for fully representing ourselves, we should demand men pay attention and recognize us as well. Because, AGAIN, it’s absolutely bonkers than in our country’s 244-year history we have never had a woman president. And, AGAIN AGAIN, if you don’t think that is bonkers that says a lot about how you view the world and us women in it. Which is a long way to go to say that women AND men should be flocking to see the film “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.” And not just because of its luminous female love story, but the way it shows what a matriarchal society devoid of male gaze and authority can look like – if even only for a fleeting moment. Like we as women are always watching “this Avengers shit,” as the way beyond marvelous Adèle Haenel says here. So perhaps just for like, I dunno, two hours they could pay attention to our point of view. Just a thought.

Friday, March 13, 2020

My Weekend Crush

So I rewatched “Captain Marvel” last week, the first time since I saw it in the theaters. And in many ways it’s underrated. But it’s also pretty conventional in other ways. Superhero origin story meets female empowerment storyline. I still think “Wonder Woman” is a better movies, just in its construction and emotional impact. But it’s wild that pretty much those two are our only two modern female superhero stories to choose from on the big screen. So, naturally, we end up pitting them against each other.

Yet men have a billionaire guy who dresses as a bat, a guy who shoots spider webs from his hands, a guy who shrinks like an ant, a guy who is the world’s biggest Boy Scout with a shield, a guy who talks with fish, another billionaire guy who builds himself a superhero suit, a guy who is an actual god, and an alien guy with a big red S on his chest…just to name a few. All I’m saying is, superhero ladies gotta stick together. Or kiss. I’m also fine with kissing. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Gender Fuck Thursday: Dapper Ladies Edition

It’s my Thursday, and I can post women looking dapper as fuck in traditional men’s wear if I want to. So I will. And they do, look dapper as fuck. I mean, look at Kate McKinnon striking her best Katharine Hepburn – and pulling it off. Plus after the entire year that the first – checks calendar – 12 days of March have been, we deserve this. We truly do.

Tatiana Maslany

A long lost dapper clone, no doubt.

Evan Rachel Wood

Sad-yet-glam dapper is still dapper.

Tessa Thompson

Casual going to South Beach for a weekend getaway dapper.

Sarah Silverman

Still, when in doubt of how to dapper, you can’t go wrong with a tux.

Megan Rapinoe

Fine, dapper looks easier for some of us than others.

Ellen Page

Casual dapper is hard to pull off, but clearly not impossible.

Tina Fey

If you were ever to get me a singing telegram, Hot Dapper Nerd in Suit (who is also my Fake TV/Movie Wife) is exactly my type.

Jennifer Beals & Kate Moennig

O.G. Lesbian TV Legends dapper.

Suranne Jones & Sophie Rundle

What? Historical dapper is very much a thing. Very much.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The (Good) Rise of Dixie

I’m no modern country music lover. I actually like classic country - Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson. My two concessions to contemporary country? The Dixie Chicks and Kacey Musgraves. I know, you’re probably sensing a theme between these two (hint: it’s feminism). Now the Chicks are back with their first album in 14 years and its first single, uh, slaps - as the kids today say. It’s instantly catchy and unabashedly political. It speaks to our times. And, again, it slaps. (If you think it’s slapping a little at that massive orange turd in the White House with its fasist imagery, uh, you’re not alone.)

I also love that Natalie Maines has kept her alternative lifestyle haircut (which is, of course, permissible for good straight allies). And I love that the band continues to be political and topical. Remember back in 2003 when the country music industry blacklisted them, destroyed their CDS for publicity and called for their heads? They sure do. And yet they continue to make music that is deeply personal, connects with people and speaks truth.

Basically, I think what I’m saying is I might be going to a Dixie Chicks concert this year.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Hail to the Shotski

Look, as long as we’re allowing powerful women to find their joy this week (well, some of us are; others of us apparently hate a happy woman who is not adequately helping men achieve their goals), how about allowing Hillary "She Should Be the Fucking President" Clinton a little live on-air joy of her own. She showed up on “Watch What Happens Live” last week. And then I guess at the end of the show she, host Andy Cohen and one of the Real Housewives whose name I in no way care about Googling did a shotski. I’m not going to explain what a shotski is, I just want you to feel the joy in your own time.

Monday, March 09, 2020

America's Flipped Switch

The rule is, America falls back in love with powerful women once they aren’t actually running for a position of power anymore. Like, say, how America loved Hillary Clinton when she was competently doing her job as Obama’s Secretary of State, but once she ran for President she was that lady with the bad emails who was probably just as bad as Trump, right? Well, now that Elizabeth Warren is out of the race America seems ready to fall back in love with her. But I think from dropping out Thursday to being a viral meme on Saturday is a land-speed record for America’s flip-flopping feelings toward smart women in public service.

First she was in the cold open (which I conveniently cut to the good bits for you), and gave a truly epic reading of the line, “I was the dog.”

And then she posted a “Flipped the Switch” challenge with Kate McKinnon. Can I tell you it actually made me feel a little better about the world. It really did. Don’t forget, joy is an act of resistance. Always had been, always will.

Friday, March 06, 2020

My Weekend Crush(ed)

I knew Elizabeth Warren was probably going to drop out. She is above all else smart and – for all those big dreams – a realist. She knew the numbers weren’t there. But I didn’t know how much Elizabeth Warren dropping out would leave me feeling so crushed. She is perhaps the most brilliant person I have ever had the privilege to vote for. I am proud of that vote, and cherish the ability to cast it. Sadly, America just wasn’t ready for her – or for any smart woman, really.

I think a lot of women probably felt the same way today. That if we couldn’t get many more men (and, yes some more women) to vote for Elizabeth Warren, then how will there ever be a woman “perfect” enough to get elected president. I mean, it’s Elizabeth freaking Warren. Just listen to her break down a seemingly intractable topic and you’ll feel calmed by the sensible pragmatism and unabashed empathy built into all of her policies. Yes, she really had a plan for that.

The other thing it made me feel despair that the big structural change she championed is really possible in America. Yes, I know, there is another candidate still in the running who espouses very similar policies. But big dreams without concrete plans are just that, dreams. It’s not that I can’t be won over, it’s that Warren made those big dreams seem attainable. Again, plans.

Look, it’s absolutely BONKERS that in our country’s 244-year history there has never been a woman president. Ever. And if you don’t think that’s bonkers, what does that say about how you see the world and the women in it?

If Hillary couldn’t do it. If Elizabeth couldn’t do it. If Kamala and Kirsten and Amy couldn’t do it. Well, who can?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I hate to say it but I think the likeliest way we get a woman president in our lifetime is if a) she is a conventionally attractive Very Conservative Woman, or b) one of the innumerable ancient white men Democratic voters feel safe voting for picks a female VP and then, um, old age happens and she takes over. Deep. Endless. Sigh.

Like I was saying, it’s grim. We can all feel a little down for a bit, I know I do. And, duh, no matter what I am voting for the Democratic nominee in November because I would vote for a can of creamed corn over Donald fucking Trump. What’s important is that we get back up, keep fighting. And, if nothing else, as Liz would say, leave some blood and teeth on the floor. For us, for our mothers and grandmothers, for the next generation and the one after that. For this little girl, and for all the pinky promises.

I want a world where this little girl’s enthusiasm at seeing Elizabeth Warren heading to cast her ballot on Super Tuesday to actually translate to the polls. I don’t believe that world exists yet. But someday, maybe. May we all fight hard until that happens. Happy first weekend of Women’s History Month, all.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Gender Fuck Thursday: Power Top Edition

I don’t pretend to understand lesbian youth culture anymore. Watching TikTok lesbians sometimes makes me feel very, very tired. And like are Cara Delevingne and Ashley Benson to baby gays in 2020 what Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson were to baby gays in 2008? But you know what? The intense transferred top energy of this picture of Cara, Ashley and fellow actress/apparent power bottom Madelaine Petsch at a fashion show just made me smile. And, it being Thursday, the power suits/power trench coat in lieu of a power suit also make me smile. Get it, next generation. Get it.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Terminal Sushi

Life is so relentlessly weird and so ridiculously unpredictable and so righteously strange that we all have to laugh to keep from, you know, crying/screaming/raging constantly. So please take 8 minutes out of your day to enjoy this truly, truly bizarre yet oddly joyful sketch/Broadway parody about airport sushi at La Guardia from last weekends SNL. I won’t spoil anything for you. Just watch and laugh and realize you’re not alone. Shit is fucked up, but at least we can all agree that no one should ever eat prepackaged airport sushi.*

*And that we should not be celebrating convicted child rapists.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Seize the Dex

I really, really dig “Stumptown.” Most of why I really, really dig “Stumptown” has to do with how much I really, really dig Cobie Smulders as hard-boiled bisexual private detective with a secret heart of (damaged) gold Dex Parios.

It’s a fun little modern noir-lite procedural with just enough of an earnest side to make it hit home. And Cobie brings her signature unassuming swagger to the role. She’s entirely believable as a continually down on her luck, quietly dealing with PTSD, stubbornly ethical, ex-military intelligence badass with a hidden tender heart who happens to kiss (and have sex with) guys and gals.

My only criticisms of the show have to do with it still finding its footing on full representation. My first complaint is that for a series with a strong female star, it only has a small handful (like, seriously, two) other female character – who it should be noted are only recurring characters – with whom her character can regularly interact. All of the rest of the series regulars are men. So that’s a bit of a series regulars Bechdel Test fail.

My other complaint is that while they have had no problems representing Dex’s sexuality – showing her being attracted to and having sexual relationships with both men and women – they have had a problem representing those kinds of relationships equally. Alas, so far all of Dex’s sexytimes* with ladies have been one-offs. They’re the literal and figurative equivalent of one-night stands. Her character to this point has reserved her long-term onscreen relationships to men, exclusively.

But as I said from the start, I still I really dig “Stumptown.” And I really, really dig Cobie. But, as in life, nothing is above improvement.

p.s. One of the reasons I dig the show so much is that Dex’s sexytimes with the unfortunate assassin from a few weeks ago was among some of the better ladies flirting with other ladies on the small screen sexytimes scenes I’ve ever seen. No lie. I rewound it a, uh, couple times. Is it weird to hope that a cold-blooded killer returns sometime soon?

p.s. Yeah, I know you wanna watch after that. It airs Wednesdays on ABC or, you know, whenever on Hulu.

Monday, March 02, 2020

Bravo La Jeune Fille en Feu

When they called Adèle Haenel a lady on fire, damn, did they ever mean it. This weekend the star of last year’s beyond gorgeous French film “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” stormed out of the César awards (France’s Oscars) when Roman Polanski won best director for his film “An Officer and A Spy.” She shouted “"Bravo la pédophilie!" (which, uh, needs no translation) as she left the ceremony and was joined by the film’s director Céline Sciamma and co-star Noemie Merlant.

Haenel has been a vocal advocate of the #MeToo movement in France, where #MeToo has been stubbornly slow to catch on and often openly derided. She has been incredibly vocal about her own past sexual harassment at the hands of French director Christophe Ruggia. He started sexually harassing her at age 12. Let me repeat that, AT AGE 12.

Roman Polanski – who I have been railing about for well over a decade here at Surrenders – may be a great director, but he is a bad man. He is a bad man who is a convicted child rapist. As in when he was 43 years old, Roman Polanski raped a 13-year-old girl. He brought this 13-year-old girl to Jack Nicholson’s house with the promise of a photoshoot and instead gave her Quaaludes, got her drunk and then raped this 13-year-old girl repeatedly. Let me repeat that, A 13 YEAR OLD GIRL.

So, yeah, fuck the Césars for essentially saying, this man’s work is more important than a 13-year-old girl’s body. And while we’re at it, fuck the Oscars for rewarding him in 2002 with Best Director for “The Pianist.” A man’s so-called genius is not more important than a woman’s well-being. I mean, I guess “Rosemary’s Baby” was a good movie, but not more important than protecting a 13-year-old girl from rape.

And that, and every other time powerful men paid no consequences for sexually abusing woman, is the reason Adèle and her “Portrait” crew walked out. Adele’s vocal advocacy for a #MeToo movement in France has made her a folk hero of sorts, as it should be. And sparked protests against the Césars in the streets, as it it should be.

How tiresome it is that here we are in 2020 and it’s still considered pretty revolutionary to NOT WANT MEN TO RAPE AND SEXUALLY ASSAULT WOMEN AND FOR THOSE WHO DO TO FACE REAL CONSEQUENCES?

Brûler! Brûler! Brûler!