Thursday, April 30, 2020

Leslie Knope 2020

Damn, do we all need some Leslie Knope in our lives now or what? And the good news (no really, there is still good news) is that we’re about to get her. The fine people behind – and in front – of the camera at “Parks & Recreation” have reunited – well, apart, because self-isolation and social distancing – to make a Very Special Episode of “Parks & Rec” airing tonight on NBC. The Zoom-ified episode will feature all of the cast in their roles as the good and not-so-good citizens of Pawnee, Indiana. I love that Leslie is obviously leading the Department of Interior and Ben Wyatt has self-quarantine hair – and also appears to be a congressman from Indiana. And Ron, well, Ron was practicing social distancing before social distancing was cool, obviously.

Dip, I sure miss this boisterous, big-hearted show. I actually feel more than a little pang of melancholy when I rewatch old episodes. The optimism of it all. The unbridled and unapologetic belief that government, for all its ridiculous ridiculousness, could and should do great things for us, the people? That’s what is missing in America today, more than ever, with this “president” and these politics. Help us, Leslie Knope. You’re our only hope.

ETA: The whole show was uploaded by NBC afterward, so please enjoy above as long as they have it up. (The preview clip links no longer work, alas. But, goodness, is this whole thing worth a watch.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A League of Their Love

Who needs a good cry? (Not the kind of ugly, ragged, into the covers cry we’ve been having as COVID-19 ravages untold numbers of lives and livelihoods as rightwing politicians make it into another partisan battle to inflame the absolute stupidest and worst among us.) But, you know, a really good cry. Well, hello “A Secret Love.” The new Netflix documentary, out today, tells the real-life love story of one of inspirations for “A League of Her Own.”

The documentary, by Ryan Murphy (yes, that Ryan Murphy) and Jason Blum chronicles the 65-year loving yet closeted relationship between Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel. Known to their conservative families only as Aunt Terry and Aunt Pat for most of their lives, the women were pioneers and joyous, righteous rule breakers their entire lives. I cannot wait to watch this. I cannot wait for a world where no one has to live in the closet for fear of loss of their families, jobs, homes and much worse. We aren’t there, but if we keep fighting and keep living our lives as openly and honest as we can, maybe one day we will be. Happy a safe and healthy weekend, all.

p.s. This video also makes it crystal clear we need another “A League of Their Own” movie made, nut this time with all the gay bits left in. There’s no crying in baseball, but there sure are a lot of lesbians and queer women.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Every Day is Kate-urday

Well SNL tried another one of its at-home, quarantine editions of the show. The first one felt strangely perfect for all of its imperfections it had a freeing weirdness to it that was particularly endearing in this moment. The second show was more polished, and also felt less personal. Somehow, they managed to have a few skits still drone on, even without the full cast and extras and crew to pad things out. But there were a few sketches that stood out. Plus Brad Pitt’s Dr. Fauci was what we used to call a “water cooler moment,” back when we still travelled to an office to work with other people whom we also sit near and then take breaks simultaneously while gathered closely together around a water dispenser which is used communally and rarely if ever cleaned. You know, normal work stuff. Unsurprisingly, the skits I liked the most featured Kate McKinnon because, well, Kate McKinnon. I loved the Bartenson’s Grocery ad because of its specificity, which made me snort laugh on a couple occasions. On our big shop before the shutdowns happened I remember going past the bottled water aisle and, wouldn’t you know it – Dasani was the only brand left on the shelf, all alone. I mean, how is it possible to make water people don’t like?

Anyway, one of my other favorites was Kate reprising her role as the Whiskers R’ We cat lady worker displaying her available “bottom of the barrel nobodies” at the rescue. They are, of course, all Kate’s real-life son/cat Nino Positano. Two Kates plus cats? Well, maybe this won’t be such a bad week after all.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Music Monday: Brandi Sings Prine

John Prine was one of my late father’s favorite musicians. We listed to his albums on purposely aimless car rides on humid Midwest summer nights – especially in the years before we had central air conditionings, but our card did. His passing earlier this month from the wretched cruelty of COVID-19 sat heavy on my heart. So please enjoy this poignant tribute by the inimitable Brandi Carlile. Thanks for the beautiful music, Mr. Prine, which underneath was always filled with kindness, heart and boundless joy.

Friday, April 24, 2020

My Weekend Crush

Well, now, here is what I think classifies as some very, very good news. The long (long, long, like 16 years long) awaited follow-up to writer-director’s Alice Wu’s 2006 debut film “Saving Face” is out in exactly one week. “The Half of It” debuted on Netflix May 1, and from the trailer it looks like it will be well worth have been worth the wait. What sounds like on its surface a teenage retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac with a queer twist looks both sweet and sincere. But then, if you’ve seen “Saving Face” once (or like dozens and dozens of times, what, it’s one of the few good lesbian movies) that should come as no surprise. I’m also pretty thrilled the movie isn’t going down the usual, clichéd “dumb jock” route. The world could use more depictions of genuinely kind-hearted and empathetic young men. And the world could also use more depictions of nerdy, smart, super-shy and super-gay Asian-American girls. But, you know, I may be biased on that note. Happy safe and healthy weekend, all.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

My So-Called Reunion

Gosh, this sure made my heart feel good amid all the awfulness. This strange separation that we all find ourselves in together has made us crave connection like never before. And it’s made us reach out in new ways to old acquaintances. I know I’ve had more Zoom cocktail hours with my friends over these last few weeks than we probably would have ever had real cocktail hours together. It’s even made the cast of the best one-season show in the history of television reunite after 26 years. Most of the stars of “My So-Called Life” (well, the best ones, anyway – ahem) reunited last week for a Zoom catch-up. Wilson Cruz (a.k.a. Rickie Vasquez a.k.a. the best gay male teen character in the history of television – yes, I am making a lot of grand proclamations – it’s a pandemic if not now when?) shared a photo of the historic and heartwarming event.

Present were (clockwise from top left): Wilson Cruz (Rickiiiiiie!), Bess Armstrong (Angela's entirely relatable and very human mom, Patty), Devon Odessa (Angela's former bestie, Sharon), Mary Kay Place (Sharon's mom, Camille), Claire Danes (Angela Chase herself), AJ “I Am Legit a Countess Now” Langer (Angela’s new bestie, Rayanne Graff who I have absolutely no doubt would have come out as bisexual or poly or at very least sexually fluid in later seasons), Devon “Lisa the Lesbian Man” Gummersall (the guy Angela probably should have had a crush on instead, Brian Krakow), Tom Irwin (Angela’s cheaty yet also still relatable but in a different way dad, Graham), and in the center creator Winnie Holzman and her husband Paul “I Had No Idea You Were Married to Winnie Holzman” Dooley (Angela’s adorably tax evading grandpa, Chuck).

The only major missing pieces were Angela’s little sister, Danielle (played by Lisa Wilhoit) and Jordan “He Leans Great” Catalano (played by Jared Leto…no comment on Jared Leto – ahem). And, of course, Cousin Tino was a no show.

Yeah, so, not everything is bad. Some things are so beautiful, it hurts to look at them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Killing Time

Well, it’s another day that ends in “day,” so that means it is time to post a video of someone famous slowly going insane from the self isolation. This week that person is Sandra Oh, who is giving us her best chicken noises while wearing an apron and Crocs and drinking wine realness. Hey, you all have different coping strategies for getting through a global pandemic. I mean, I’m sure Villanelle would rather die than wear Crocs. But for Eve and her state of mind right now? Yeah, seems about right.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Tank Top Tuesday: Headey Quarantine Edition

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I think it’s The Weekend

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Hi, gay lady nerds who love Lena Headey. This one is a twofer. You get your sexy Tank Top Tuesday sexiness. And you get your self-quarantine going a little stir crazy but we’re all in this together realness. So enjoy. Also, were can I find that tank top? For real, I have self-isolation fashion envy now.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Music Monday: My Shameika Edition

I know everyone is like, omg Fiona Apple! Fetch the Bolt Cutters! Omg! But, OMG FIONA APPLE! FETCH THE BOLT CUTTERS! OMG! Here’s the embarrassing truth, I have always loved Fiona Apple, but because of time and age and distance (I mean it’s been eight years since her last album), I had forgotten how much I have always loved Fiona Apple. I pretty much wore “Tidal” and “When the Pawn…” and “Extraordinary Machine” to virtual nubs on my then iPod. (Gosh, remember iPods?)

But then, somehow, shamefully I forgot. So when Fiona started suddenly popping up on my pop culture radar again (first with that New Yorker profile and then with her surprise early release of her album) I started to foggily remember. And last week the day it dropped I downloaded it because, well, see all the omgs above. And then I listened to it. And then, boom, it all came back. And it came back in such a visceral way. And with each relisten to “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” it got better and better. Like that proverbial onion, it revealed itself. And, yeah, you may also cry.

Fiona has given us a chaotic, cathartic primal scream that remains oddly, unendingly joyful. Through time and grace and just knowing yourself more than in those younger years when we all struggled so mightily to see ourselves, Fiona’s music has captured a heady mix of rage, confusion, forgiveness, understanding, boldness, catharsis and who gives a fuck anymore feelings that are inextricably linked to the human - and particularly the female human - experience.

In short, this album is a gift. And it could not have come at a better time. In fact it may well be the pandemic soundtrack for so many of us.

And, if I may, I want to tell you a little story about listening to “Shameika,” the second track on the album and the first song to make me sit up and say, “Fuck, that’s me.” By now you’ve probably already seen the memes or heard the jokes about this song, with its chorus refrain, “Shameika said I had potential.”

It’s about those chance encounters in your life that change your whole trajectory. It’s about the people who probably had no idea how their words stuck with you.It also has some implied revelations about race and cultural understanding, which are a lot to unpack but equally important. According to Fiona, and her middle school teacher, Shameika was a real person. And, as the song goes, “She got through to me and I'll never see her again.”

In the fourth grade, our school took all the students on a one-week sleep-away camp experience in the woods. I’m certain it was the longest I’d been without my parents and my family up to that point. It was a rite of passage everyone looked forward to - hiking and singing and grilling hot dogs over open fires. I mean, there were bunk beds and everything. It was young person bliss.

I was always a shy kid, always. In grade school my parents were overjoyed when they got a note home about me talking in class, because I so rarely spoke up. Shy, see? I was also one of only one or two other Asian-American children in my grade level. Not just my class or my homeroom, but my entire grade growing up through elementary, middle and high school. I still know their names by heart, even though we were not friends. I’m sure they, like me, got the schoolyard slurs of “jap” and “chink” and the slanty eye gestures. I didn’t pay that stuff much mind then, thinking they were just part of normal childhood trash talk. And so many have had so much worse and so much more violence happen to them, I know that. But, yeah, that was still pretty fucked up in retrospect.

So, instead as many do, we try to disappear a little. I wasn’t boisterous in class. I did not want to be the center of any attention, for the most part. To persevere my plan was to be smart, be good and be quiet.

Then we went to camp and it was so fun - and a chance to sing at the top of our lungs along muddy trails with unself-conscious abandon. It rained on one of our biggest hiking days, and we went anyway. We came back drenched in waterlogged ponchos. Our hair was matted. I’m sure we were covered in muck.

High school kids were the camp counselors for the most part, along with some senior adult staff. So we looked up to them because, you know, high school kids - ooooooh, and the coolest counselor that year was Pam. She was exuberant and exciting and so, so cool. We all loved her. And, thinking back, maybe as a young gay kid who hadn’t even begun to realize she was gay yet I probably had a bit of a crush on her. But I’m sure she had never noticed me, even though we all wanted her too. Again, have I mentioned she was so, so cool?

Well, the day we came back from the rainstorm all looking like drowned schnauzers, we came into one of the cabins where everyone had gathered around Pam. We were drying off, trying to unwaterlog our entire existence when, seemingly out of nowhere, Pam noticed me. And she said while looking directly at me, as best as I can remember, “Oh, you look so beautiful.”

Now, perhaps on its surface a high-school kid telling a fourth grader she looks beautiful is weird. Maybe it is weird. But it’s exactly the thing I needed to hear. It made me feel so seen after so many years of trying to be unseen. Every shy kid secretly wishes she wasn’t shy - or at least this one did.

I know, I know we shouldn’t weigh our worth on the superficial. We are so much more than how we look or present ourselves to this world. But being told I was beautiful by someone not my parents or a best friend or anyone who already loved me, well, that mattered. And being told by Pam that I was beautiful, that I have never forgotten. I never saw Pam again after camp. But she got through to me. If we are lucky, may we all have a Shameika or a Pam in our lives.

Friday, April 17, 2020

My Weekend (Age-Appropriate Kind of) Crush


5:53a thirst trap.

♬ original sound - aceof_spadess

I feel an odd combination of pride and paternal prudishness about this news. Auli’i Cravalho, the actress and singer who voiced Moana in the eponymously named 2016 Disney movie, has come out as bisexual. Of course, obvious yay for more out and proud celebrities, more diverse LGBTQ representation in the media, and more people no matter who they are living their lives openly and honestly. On the prudey side I can’t believe the young actress who played the preteen star of the movie I put on TV nearly every night on a sleep timer right now to help me fall asleep is 19 years old and also really frank about her sexuality. But that’s a me and not wanting to be an old, lecherous creeper thing with the "Weekend Crush" thing, I think. Also, yes, apparently it’s a thing to come out now on TikTok (yes, I know it TikTok has issues – essentially all big tech has issues we compromise with for easy access on a daily basis). This is a long way of saying, welcome, Auli’i. Your toaster oven is in the mail. No need to say you're welcome. (Get it?) Happy safe and healthy weekend, kittens.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Here Kittens, Kittens

Hey there cats and kittens! Look, I was calling you all kittens way before Carole Baskin. For all of you out there who have been self-medicating with an endless stream of true-crime related reality shows – hoo-boy, is “Tiger King” the true king of the crazies. Wait, you haven’t watched the Netflix series that scores have turned to as a pandemic shitshow distraction? Well, what can I say? It has a gay redneck thrupple, so many mullets, expired Walmart meat pizza, murder, mayhem, so many guns, bad dental hygiene, sex cults, personality cults, the person Scarface was based on (who somehow is the most “normal” person in the series), a one-armed trans man, unexpectedly successful political campaigns…and we haven’t even gotten to the tigers yet.

In short, it’s crazy ass ride. And if I didn’t feel so badly for all the exotic animals – the lions, the tigers, the bears and oh my all the rest – then would call it perfect. As is it’s a wildly entertaining yet ultimately pretty grim look at a subset of humanity that appears hell-bent on owning things that should never be owned.

The other good news is Kate McKinnon (yes, twice in one week with the Kate – it’s my pandemic blog and I can blog what I want to) has signed on to a dramatic series about the world of Joe Exotic et al. She is executive producing the limited series. Having seen the real-life people in “Tiger King” it seems almost impossible to come up with anything weirder than what we’ve already seen. But I’d happily watch Kate try to prove the fiction can be stranger than truth – or at very least more entertaining.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Waddler Wednesday

OK, fine, these are not cats. But sometimes you need some waddling instead. If you have not already seen these delightful penguins roaming the empty Shedd Aquarium in Chicago (which responsibly closed to the public March 13, thank you), then you are in for a treat. And even if you have already, please enjoy the wonder of these two adorable waddlers taking in the sights without a single human in sight. Now that’s what I like to see.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Live From My Couch

If you were home Saturday night (I mean, you’d better have been home Saturday night – unless you are an essential worker at work working in which case I’m sorry and thank you), you might have caught the self-quarantine version of “Saturday Night Live.” The cast, and some famous alumni, popped up from their homes in self-recorded videos. It was strange and strangely moving at the same time. I truly laughed and cried – like that old cliché of a compliment. There was a tribute to their late music director Hal Willner, who passed away from COVID-19. And while some of the skits worked better than others, there was a refreshing weirdness mixed with shared melancholy that made it feel truly personal. We’re in this terrifying weirdness together. May we be so thankful for those still working tirelessly in the face of so much risk to keep our lives as normal and safe as possible.

And, in an only somewhat unrelated note, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Kate McKinnon’s impersonation of Ruth Bader Ginsburg must be protected at all costs during this time.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Music Monday

I rather think a lovely, calming and joyous musical interlude is a great way to start the week in these pandemic days. So this week here is the l'Orchestre national de France all in isolation yet playing Ravel’s “Boléro” together. Apart, but together, in perfect harmony – that is the goal after all.

Friday, April 10, 2020

My Weekend (Killer) Crush

So, technically this is not a post about cats. But it is a post about one of the most epic and epically unpredictable cat-and-mouse psychological dramas ever to grace our teevee screens. With the third season of “Killing Eve” set to premiere on Sunday, it’s nice to know that even in these terrible times we can rely on the important things. Like that watching a psychopathic assassin with impeccable taste in clothing and the object of her mutual obsession and possibly mutual affection chase one another remains wildly entertaining. Having seen the first four episodes of the new season I can definitely confirm the “wild” part. This season is BANANAS, y’all. Like, seriously, bananas.

I hadn’t planned to watch all the screeners - because to be honest I like to be surprised and watch it in real-time with everyone. But we’re in a fucking global pandemic and there’s no time like the present. So, yeah, I watched ‘em all. And can I just say, MORE PLEASE.

So what happens? So much. Where to start? Well, did I mention the season pretty much kicks off with a gay wedding? Oh, yeah, it’s like that.

The show continues to push and tease (and some might say bait) its queer sensibilities, in perhaps some of its most overt way yet. But, let me be frank, it is also pretty brutal. This season is lethal, and you should prepare yourself for that.

Everyone’s life is kind of unhinged. And in a way that feels right given our current worldwide shitshow. And, just like with “Tiger King,” any kind of entertaining moving disaster that has nothing to do with viruses killing scores of people needlessly and governmental incompetence is a welcome respite these days.

So buckle in, kittens. It’s going to be a BANANAS ride. Happy safe and healthy weekend, all.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Catlike Dancer

What? It’s a global pandemic and I will post three posts in a row about cats if I want to. Just a reminder, no matter your best-laid plans, cats can always come along and wreck them gloriously. Like they did for dance instructor Amelia Love Clearhear who was trying to teach classes remotely because of coronavirus, but her cat Aurora had other ideas. Like snuggles. And, of course, we give it to them. We know who is really in charge, even in a global pandemic.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Cat's Eyes

[Click to Embiggen the Cute]

Sometimes you need two days of cats, ok? So this viral tweet (also below) kind of made my day in that it made the strange yet vital separation we are all feeling a little less strange and a lot less separate. Also, cats. Who can ever get enough cats at a time like this? Especially a cat named David Bowie.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Cats Domino

Sometimes you just need cats, ok? Like really cute cats doing kind of amazing things and yet still being so totally and utterly cat. Thank goodness this duo came upon these dominos just in time for the apocalypse – mean global pandemic being horribly mismanaged by a hate-filled pathological narcissist the closely resembled a massive orange turd. Anyway, like I was saying, sometimes you need cats.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Music Monday

The Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest (Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra) gave all of us who are apart yet together in this global pandemic a little beauty to fill the solitude with something more than stress. Find joy where you can. Be safe and know it’s all of us, this terrible mess of humanity, in it together. Have a good and safe week, kittens.

Friday, April 03, 2020

My Weekend Crush

Thank goodness for Ina Garten. The domestic doyenne (like, you’re either an Ina person or a Martha person and that’s that) made me genuinely smile this week. And, as we all know, precious little makes anyone smile these days. But you really can’t beat Ina making herself a generous batch of cosmopolitans to share with absolutely no one at 9:30 a.m. this past Wednesday. I really, really implore you to watch all the way to the end. It is so worth it, kittens. Happy safe and healthy weekend, all.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Bless Your Soul

We may be in a global pandemic that is tanking the national economy and could lead to another depression, let alone recession and will kill untold numbers needlessly largely because of governmental incompetence and continued corporate greed, but at least we still have TikTok. Actually, TikTokkers have been pretty creative – not to mention spot on – when analyzing our current worldwide predicament. Like, say, with this video. Where, as I think the kids used to say but am not sure if they say anymore, is the lie?

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Mid-Week Story Break

In this twilight downtime for so many (and frantic work pace of others) many celebrities have taken it upon themselves to help entertain us no-longer-hopefully huddled masses. One of my favorites is the ultra-meta reading Jennfier Ehle (who truth be told I far too often confuse with Miranda Otto – but then lament that neither has landed more consistently strong roles in Hollywood) does of Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice.” This compilation is the first part, and then chapters 10 to 21 are on her Instagram right now. In case, you know, you needed the actress who played Elizabeth Bennet in the acclaimed 1995 BBC miniseries of “Pride and Prejudice” to read you the whole darn book to you. Again, only if you’re into that sort of thing. Happy April, kittens, may it have no cruel jokes for us.