Friday, February 26, 2021

My Weekend Crush

Audre Lorde was the first lesbian scholar whose work I fell in love with as I was coming out and understanding my own sexuality. I would check her books out of the city library, which was diverse and expansive thanks to living in a liberal Midwestern college town. And I would absolutely devour them. Poet. Writer. Scholar. Feminist. Civil Rights Activist. Librarian. Black. Lesbian. Warrior. Her words on intersectionality are as fresh, true and needed today as they were when this essay was first published in 1983. May we continue to learn from our great queer elders, and never take their hard-fought battles and essential wisdom for granted. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Way Kathryn Hahn Looks At...

If you’re like our household, you’ve been unexpectedly enjoying the heck out of “WandaVision” on Disney+. I honestly hadn’t really expected much out of the superhero show. I thought it’s show-within-a-period-show gimmick was probably just going to be that, a gimmick. But from its meticulous eye for detail when it comes to classic American sitcoms tropes through history to its unexpectedly dark underpinnings (like, no spoilers, but the whole premise for the show is pretty traumatic if you think about it), it has entertained at every turn.

Also, if you’re again like our household, one of the not entirely unexpected things you’ve enjoyed the heck out of about “WandaVision” is Kathryn Hahn’s portrayal of Wanda and Vision’s faithful next-door neighbor Agnes. Now I say not entirely unexpected because whether you realize it or not, you’ve likely thought Kathryn excellent in everything you’ve seen her in before. “Parks & Recreation?” Great! “Transparent?” Wonderful! “Girls?” Oh, man, that was her in “Girls!”

[Spoilers if you haven’t watched the latest episode]

Knowing that Kathryn’s Agnes/Agatha has been the real one behind the weirdness in Westview (well, besides the inherently weird/immoral/truly dark erasing of an entire town’s free will as a monstrous act of unresolved grief). But I relish the idea of Kathryn given a wickedly juicy role to play.

[End Spoilers]

And it’s another good reason to bring back this glorious Kathryn Hahn is smitten with Rachel Weisz clip. I can only hope her most recent work will bring another round of well-deserved critical acclaim which will then bring more well-deserved award consideration which would then result in her being placed on roundtables with other well-deserving actresses so we can recreate this moment. The way Kathryn is adoringly gazing at Rachel is the epitome of the “Get someone who looks at you the way... *blank* … looks at … *blank*” meme. It’s certainly the way any self-respecting queer woman would look at Rachel Weisz. Like either Kathryn is that great of an actress or that smitten with Rachel or both. The evidence speaks for itself.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Whip Wednesday: Me-Oww Edition

In case you’d for some reason forgotten, Michelle Pfeiffer is a badass. A hot, talented, ageless badass. Those cheekbones you could slice ham with. The impossible arch of her eyebrows. And, you know, that cat suit left an impression. So it’s more than a little impressive to see this behind-the-scenes footage of her wielding that whip. Like, is it possible to be jealous of a decapitated mannequin? Asking for a friend. The clip also highlights how truly skilled Michelle was with that whip. Like, Me-Owww in deed. I think the behind-the-scenes shots are even more impressive than what ended up on the big screen even. But, then, it doesn’t hurt to have to rewatch that scene either. You know, for science. Sexy, sexy science.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Movie Review: I Care A Lot

So, what to make of “I Care A Lot?” What indeed. I wasn’t sure who to root for from the trailer. And honestly I still wasn’t sure who to root for after watching the movie. Like on the one side there’s the woman whose entire business model it is to kidnap senior citizens, strip them of their autonomy, destroy their free will, drain their bank accounts and leave them to rot in old people homes and on the other side there’s a mafia drug kingpin. But at least the woman is gay and has a hot haircut?

The best thing about “I Care A Lot” is, obviously Rosamund Pike. Don’t get me wrong, her chain-vaping, grandma-bilking, razor-sharp bob wearing character is a true movie monster. But, no one said monster movies couldn’t be fun. And for a while, “I Care A Lot” is pretty fun. Once you realize there is essentially no one to truly root for, you give up on the moral underpinnings and just settle in to embrace the twisty-turny caper nature of it all.

As for the gay stuff, obviously I appreciate the representation. Though while my guess is the filmmakers were going for more of a “Bound” kind of queer lady couple, I fear it veered a little too close for comfort to the “Basic Instinct” kind of queer lady couple instead. Sexy. Immoral. And, um another plot point we shall discuss later. I thought Rosamund’s Marla and Eiza González’s Fran are a perfectly passable as a couple, and I appreciate their physicality. But, they haven’t drawn in the details of their characters much past hot, felonious and unremorseful grifters who are hot together.

The first two-third of the movie are probably as fun and relatively light as the depiction of a horrifying elder abuse scam can be. But then, just when you think the movie might pull the trigger and end in the only truly radically way a movie about truly unethical people can end, it veered toward an unsatisfactory semi-morality tale after all.

[Spoilers if you haven’t watched the latest episode]

Now back to that other plot point that remained unmentioned. Yes, the dreaded Dead Lesbian Trope. Yeah, they really went there and Buried Their Gay. I know the film was going for the irony of it all. But it means something that the only character the filmakers chose to receive the ultimate punishment (well, beside those countless, nameless old folks) was the lead female character who also happened to be queer. And, um, things also went pretty poorly for the presumably straight female doctor. Do I sense a trend? The narrative choices here are cruel and umconfortable.

[End Spoilers]

In the end, if you can pause your empathy for two hours and look at is as just a crime caper about bad guys where you appreciate the game and not the outcome, it’s OK. And, again, there are some wicked and wickedly entertaining bits, to be sure. But if you turn your humanity back on and pay close attention, it’s got a nastiness underneath that keeps it from being totally wicked fun.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Music Monday: Janelle Redux

It’s been just over a month since our four-year national nightmare ended. Granted, plenty of nightmares left to fix in America. So many, in fact. But we shouldn’t forget to rejoice in what so many helped to accomplish. So sit back and give some love to Janelle Monae and forever crush Stacey Abrams, who along with the tireless work of activists and organizers turned Georgia blue and helped save democracy. Janelle recorded this version of her “Turntables” for the documentary “All In: The Fight for Democracy,” about Abrams and the campaign against rampant and ongoing voter suppression in the United States. No, the fight isn’t close to over. Republicans have already introduced more than 100 bills in state legislatures to make it even harder to vote. Because, as we all know, that’s the only way they win. But we will keep fighting them, and we will keep trying to make this country a more fair place for everyone. Now that’s something to always celebrate.

Friday, February 19, 2021

My Weekend Crush

Yeah, I’ll say it loud and say it proud, I like the new Batwoman. A lot. Javicia Leslie is, in my humble opinion, killing it as the new lady-loving-lady caped crusader. Dare I say that I *whispers in lesbian* like her more than Ruby Rose’s Batwoman? Yes, I dare say it. Plus, I’m always going to root for the scrappy street fighter over the billionaire playgirl cousin.

I think what I like best about this unexpected reboot of the series is how much more earned this Batwoman feels. I truly don’t have anything against Ruby Rose, and think she should be commended for blazing a trail as the first out actress to star in a show about the first queer female superhero to lead her own self-titled TV show. Ruby certainly looked the part. But her Batwoman relied on stoic heroism as a primary personality, which always makes for a dull superhero. (Yes, I know, that’s Superman/Supergirl’s whole thing, but they’re also earnest space aliens and kind of the O.G.s of the whole stoic heroism thing - so they get a pass).

But Javicia, she has personality to spare. It shows through the cowl, and it livens up the show considerably. She brings needed humor and humanity to the role, and a scrappiness which is honestly just fun to watch. I also have hope that this new Batwoman can be a better foil for an old villain. Through no fault of Rachel Skarsten (Tamsin 4Eva!), the sister-against-sister chemistry between her Alice and Ruby’s Kate never truly gelled. Now her Alice can get her bad on without the overbearing familial drama. The whole, “Can Kate kill her own sister?” plotline was, well, not my fav. So here’s to new, fun plotlines that better straddle the show’s semi-serious, semi-camp aesthetic.

I can’t wait for our new Batwoman to fully find her feet - and perhaps a lady friend or two. All I know right now is each time I see Javicia get her Bat on, I’ve liked her more and more. Fire up the Lesbian Bat Signal, we’ve got a show to watch.

p.s. Oh, and love the new wig. Love.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

It Gets Better(ish)

So, yeah, it’s been 10 years. And, arguably, shit has gotten a lot better. I mean, lots of shit is still bad. But, yeah, progress had been made. I think what makes this skit work (besides SNL finally having enough out cast members to allow it to work) is how extraordinary and ordinary the act of coming out and living out as queer people actually is. Like, yeah, we came out. But we still have joint income taxes and divorces and all the problems previously reserved only for straight people. Like, yeah, our whole days aren’t spent marinating in what it means to be gay. Sometimes, we’re worried about the family iguana eating our face while we sleep.

Though, in all seriousness, since the It Gets Better project launched in late 2010, we have made significant, steady strides toward equality. Is it long overdue? Obviously. Did the last four years set us back? Definitely. But this is real, actual progress: same-sex marriage legalized (2015), workplace discrimination against LGBTQ people criminalized (2020, when RBG was still with us) and now for the first time HUD has barred housing discrimination for LGBTQ people (2021). That means we can find a place to live, find a place to work and find someone to marry freely (well, theoretically freely, bigots will continue to bigot) in America finally. And I have to believe the Equality Act will finally become a reality under Biden. It must.

So, yeah, it gets better. Now, you know, if the rest of the world would get better that’d be a big help.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Never Have I Ever

I’m of two minds about “The Nevers.” One mind is all, oooh, another female empowerment/superhero story – but this time old-timey. And the other mind is all, eeeh, another female empowerment/superhero story – but this time from Joss Whedon. Yeah, that hits different now. A lot different.

But before all that, let me back up. The new series for HBO Max was created by Joss in 2018, but in 2020 he stepped away citing, I dunno, a challenging year and the pandemic and shit. Anyway he was replaced by female showrunner Philippa Goslett (whose other credits include “Mary Magdalene” and “How to Talk to Girls at Parties”) and the project proceeded without him.

The series is another in a long line of mutant persecution dramas (see: “X-Men,” “The Umbrella Academy,” et al) because persecuting people for their differences never seems to get old for society on screen or in real life. The twist, if you will, on this familiar story is that the mutants in question live in Victorian England and are mostly all women. Yes, I know, sorta like old-timey Buffy with more ability to throw fire and whatnot.

Since Joss dropped out of the project, HBO Max has wasted no time disappearing all mention of him. You’d never know he was involved from the trailer – which, honestly, is for the best. I have absolutely no idea whether this series will be any good in the end. But let’s hope it does more than performative smashing of the patriarchy.

ETA: For those who aren't regular readers, I already addressed Joss's great failings last week. Regular readers will also note I always put pertinents archival posts in links within post. So, you know, click the links.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Movie Review: Nomadland

This year’s Oscars are getting a late start, thanks to the ongoing pandemic and everything. So when the nominations finally do get announced, a month from now, I certainly hope to see Chloé Zhao’s beautifully meditative “Nomadland” in the mix. It’s one of those movies that quietly stays with you long after the credits roll.

Based on the non-fiction book of the same name that chronicles the people whose lives were changed forever by the Great Recession, the film is a love song to American freedom. No, not that bullshit “freedom” those assholes flying yellow “Don’t Tread on Me”-flags or waving weapons of war from their front lawns espouse. But true freedom, what it means to live unshackled by the expectations of polite (and not-so-polite) capitalist America.

This is the kind of living free that comes from not needing to keep up with the Jones, or pretend a house is the only home. When your only desire is to experience the vast majesty of America. In some ways, I envy the nomads. How liberating it must feel to pick up and take off and just go. But in other ways it absolutely terrifies me.

Zhao wrote, directed, edited and produced the film, along with fellow producer and star Frances McDormand. They also cast some of the real-life nomads from the book in the film, who lend authenticity to the project.

The film makes me even more excited to see what Zhao can do with her big-budget, big-name debut at the helm of Marvel’s “The Eternals,” starring Angelina Jolie and a host of others. But while that movie will no doubt be a big, bombastic blockbuster, “Nomadland” is the exact opposite.

Indeed, some of my favorite scenes revel in the stark beauty of the American West. I always laugh at those small-minded enough to complain about immigrants coming to America. The “Fuck Off, We’re Full” sentiment has no semblence in reality if you’ve ever driven across this country. You can go miles and miles and so many miles without seeing someone. And it’s wonderful.

Zhao and MCDormand have captured that glorious emptiness, and remind us that being alone and being lonely aren’t always the same thing.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Music Monday

Remember concerts? In small rooms? Packed with people? And together you all experienced something special in that moment? You were all moved by someone’s talent, someone’s art, someone’s joy. Yeah, so I miss that. And, in case you’d forgotten, please let the incomparable Nina Simone remind you. Happy Monday, kittens.

Friday, February 12, 2021

My Weekend Crush(ing Loss)

Well, shit. Seriously, shit. Also fuck. And dammit, and fuck and dammit and shit some more. SyFy’s announcement late last week that Season 4 the last for our beloved “Wynonna Earp” is sad news indeed. I don’t know if there’s any possibilities for life elsewhere. (Hello, Hulu and the 30,000 other new streaming apps, would you like a show with a built-in and undyingly loyal fanbase that will fight like hell for its family? Just saying.) But even if this is really truly the end, our sadness should be tinged with pride. The series will always stand as a reminder to love what you love, in more ways than one. WayHaught’s love story is what happens when two adorable, and piping hot cinnamon rolls get together. And Earpers have been among the nicest, fiercest, bravest fandoms I’ve encountered. You put you love and work and even dollars into this show. And the show, and its creators (in particular Mother Unicorn Emily Andras), loved you right back. What a fun, crazy, unexpected, wild and joyous ride. No matter what, we’ll always have Purgatory. Happy weekend, all.

p.s. Come on, How fun does that look? So fun? Who wouldn’t want another season of that? COME. ON. Sigh.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Ready to Be Strong

Dammit, Joss Whedon. Dammit. Look, I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer and own all of the seasons and might have an action figure or two (plus Kitty Fantastico) in my possession. But I simply cannot support Joss and his abusive behavior. Not anymore. Not after so many have so credibly come forward to call out his harassment and all-around toxicity. Charisma Carpenter came forward yesterday with her story, and I believe her.

And I believe Amber Benson. And I believe Michelle Trachtenberg. And I believe Clare Kramer. And I believe Sarah Michelle Gellar, because *low whistle* you can feel it when Buffy says no longer wants her name associated with Joss. And, yeah, I believe Ray Fisher.

In a way, it’s good when we get challenged by problematic favs, or in this case former favs. As we grow up and older, our priorities change. And hopefully – if we’ve been any good at living at all – we’ve become better people along the way. May the years and the wisdom they can impart make us all more compassionate, more understanding, more generous. So it would only follow that our heroes, the people we idolize, also change. If we’re lucky, we’ve chosen worthy ones. But, alas, all too often through the lenses of time and truth, they disappoint terribly.

That Joss, long hailed as a singular genius, turned out to be just another asshole guy who is horrible to those around him is one of those hard lessons, but hopefully one that finally sticks. We probably should stop being surprised when dudes who heavily tout themselves as feminist champions turn out to be nothing more than garden-variety misogynists. If he calls himself a woke bae, ladies, he likely ain’t woke or a bae. You gotta wish for a special place in the Hellmouth for men like Joss who write female empowerment stories but treat the real women (and POC) like garbage.

It’s always hard to divorce the art from the artist. But, at least with television, it’s never just one person. Joss isn’t Buffy alone. That would negate all the talent and passion and hard work from the cast, not to mention the show’s stable of mostly wonderful writers and other producers, and the countless other people who make the magic happen in this business we call show.

So I can keep loving Buffy, at least the idea of Buffy, and stop supporting Joss. Though I guess he had one thing right. Yeah, women are ready to be strong. So you’d better look out, shitty men everywhere.

p.s. Joss will always be the man who killed Tara. The Kitten Board never forgets.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

I Really Do Care, Do You?

I did not expect “Sexy Queer Lady Grifters” to become my new favorite genre. But after watching (and rewatching — suits, suits for dayyyyys) “A Simple Favor,” I now very much hope “I Care A Lot” will fall into that same twisty, turny, turn-on of a niche category. You can be forgiven for not realizing Rosamund Pike’s elderly bilking, chain-vaping, genital-threatening Marla Grayson is a lesbian from the trailer. But, indeed, Pike and her razor-sharp bob (which is Hollywood’s easiest, most stereotypical shorthand for Stone Cold Bitch) is in a romantic relationship with her champagne toasting business partner, played in blink-and-you’ll-miss-them moments in the preview by Eiza González. I honestly don’t know who to root for, Rosamund or Dianne Wiest, and I guess that’s part of the fun. Or maybe we just root against them all and watch the mayhem ensure. Either way, I love a good Sexy Queer Lady Grifter — as long as she’s not grifting me. Ahem.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Those Gals Got Moxie

You ever watch a movie and think, “Wow, someone’s been reading my old diaries?” Well, if you’re a product of the 90s like me, you sure will when you watch the new trailer for “Moxie.” Directed by and starring eternal Cool Mom Amy Poehler, the film appears ripped from so many of our adolescent years spent endlessly reading Sassy magazine in our bedrooms. I have high hopes for this to be a more diverse and multicultural follow-up to “Mean Girls.” Because, damn, do we need it. Remember zines? I sure do. Remember Riot Grrrls? I sure do, and I still wear Docs. Well then let’s all get back to smashing the patriarchy like the good old-and-new days. Because what else are you gonna do? Nothing? Yeah, didn’t think so.

Monday, February 08, 2021

Music Monday: Always Working It

Look, Dolly Parton can do no wrong. Whether she’s helping get us out of this endless pandemic (I call the Moderna vaccine The Dolly and you can’t stop me) or turning down that Trump medal (TWICE!) or waiting to get her vaccination because she doesn’t want to jump the line (but seriously, Dolly, get your jab), she’s what I think can universally be considered a Good Egg. So, to be clear, she can do whatever the hell she wants with whatever the heck she wants, including her iconic working woman’s anthem “9 to 5.” I don’t begrudge her getting beaucoup upon beaucoup de bucks to use that song for a Super Bowl ad. She’s proven herself to be the real deal when it comes to her charities and philanthropy, so I have no doubt she’ll put it to righteous use.

I just wish the company, and its message, were worthy of her reworking perfection. Again, I don’t blame Dolly, but Squarespace’s “5 to 9” ad is the antithesis of a working person’s anthem. It’s buying into the capitalist brainwashing that says only through hard, relentless and indeed - as the song suggests - endless work can we achieve greater rewards. Let me be clear, hard work doesn’t always mean more rewards. All too often, the hard work of the masses only benefits the rarified few. There’s a reason billionaires gained $3.9 trillion during the pandemic while workers lost $3.7 trillion during the pandemic. We shouldn’t have to work 9 to 5, and then form 5 to 9 again to have a good life. Sure, follow your passions and do what makes you happy. But we shouldn’t have to keep working, working, working to be happy. We need work that makes us happy, and a society that values our work and our lives.

But, as I was saying, that’s not Dolly’s fault. So I think I’ll just press play on the original, with a little help from some kickass female friends to start this week off right instead. Happy Monday, kittens.

Friday, February 05, 2021

My Weekend Crush

Evan Rachel Wood is brave and strong and powerful. By naming her abuser this week, she called out more than just Marilyn Manson but the entire culture that bolsters bad men and seeks to silence brave women. Still here’s the thing, she shouldn’t have to be so brave. Instead we should do a better job as a society of holding men who abuse women (or men, or fucking anybody) accountable. But we just don’t. The sad truth is too many men (and some women) believe you shouldn’t ruin a man’s career because of a woman’s accusation.

Believe women is more than a slogan. It’s a reminder that all too often our culture simply doesn’t believe women precisely because they’re women.

Why else would 26 credible accustations of sexual assault and harassment be a nearly forgotten footnote to the Trump presidency? Imagine, if you will, that 26 men had credibly accused Donald Trump of sexual assault/harassment. Or if 26 men had credibly accused any prominent female politician of sexual assault/harassment. Oh, how different the predominant news narrative would be. But here we are, once again, simply asking people to believe us when we tell them what we have experienced and not to dismiss us offhand simply for being women. It’s more than tiring. It’s enraging. And Evan Rachel Woods of the world shouldn’t have to be so brave. But I’m just thankful that they are. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

But, Really, What Still Works?

Admittedly, I did not watch the first new “Saturday Night Live” of the Biden-Harris era live on Saturday night. I’m pretty sure I was in bed already, because that’s what I do now on Saturday nights. I go to bed early because of the crushing exhaustion of the world ad because I am an Old. But, I caught the cold open skit afterward because, well, Rachel Maddow said I should and in general life would probably be better if more people did what Rachel Maddow said.

Anyway, that’s a long introduction for a skit that I consider a perfect bookend to the Trump era. In fact, it is among an unholy trinity of SNL skits that I think typify the Terrible Trumps (what I’m going to call the Trump years from here on out - since there was so much Trump and so many Trumps and ever last one - besides Mary - is a singularly terrible excuse for a human being). Now, SNL hasn’t really set the national tone on anything in awhile. The show too often limps by as a totem to missed opportunities and disappointment. And it can fuck right off with those trans jokes, not to mention using dudes kissing as a punchline. But I digress.

The One & Only Kate McKinnon kicked off this Trump trilogy of skits with her too-often maligned singing of “Hallelujah” in character as Hillary Clinton as a cold open right after the 2016 election. After the four years we’ve had, let me tell you, that moment of stupefied grace before the horrors really started mattered.

Then, six months later, the next skit to truly capture the Terrible Trumps was the “Nothing Matters” skit. Indeed Trump broke every norm, every convention, every tradition, every rule, every precedent, and replaced it with policy whose only point was cruelty, and orders designed only to glorify himself. Look, I’m no Michael Che fan (see: years of Hillary bashing and, yes, those trans punchlines). But his Lester Holt really summed up the entire media’s approach to covering Trump. Nothing matters, absolutely nothing matters, so just follow the circus instead because it’s great for our ratings.

And now, finally, we have what I hope will be the last of the Terrible Trumps skits. We’ve come full, albeit deeply broken, circle from “Lord Help Us” to “Nothing Matters” to “What Still Works.” We, like Kate McKinnon, have just been slowly losing our minds together. Stay strong or weak, kittens. Just stay, and make things better.

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Lady Sings the American Blues

While we’re talking about righteous justice, here’s something else we can very much look forward to. We’re slowly working our way through some long-deserved biopics about the great women (who also happened to love other women) of the blues and soul. Dee Rees’s “Bessie” in 2015. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” in 2020. And now “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.” The film chronicles the iconic singer’s long persecution by the American government (which, yeah, we’ve never been great). I can’t wait to see Andra Day as Billie Holiday with Natasha Lyonne as film star Tallulah Bankhead, obviously. Let’s hope the film does these great women justice.

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Make My Day Equal

I don’t know about you, but I could use a little righteous vengeance. So much misery, suffering and pain has been purposefully inflicted these past four years that payback sounds pretty good. But more than mere revenge, accountability and fairness is what our world needs right now. And if that accountability and fairness comes in the form of bad-ass, heavy hitter ike Queen Latifah, well, who could say no to that? So I’m definitely going to give this gender-switched “The Equalizer” a shot. Who says the good gals can’t throw a punch?

Monday, February 01, 2021

Many Bridges, None Too Far

Am I the only one slightly confused by the existence of both Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Phoebe Bridgers? Or, very possibly, I’m just old. Anyway, the two-named Phoebe with a bridge, not to be confused with the three-name Phoebe with a bridge (who, to make things more confusing, actually directed one of the two-named Phoebe’s music videos - but not today’s video), appears to be this era’s darling indie singer of sensitive songs. Which works for me because the bisexual singer-songwriter is quite good at making moody songs sabout the end of the world sound haunting and lovely and cathartic all at the same time. Plus, whoever that lady is at the end sure lucked out. And, you know, the other way around too. Get it, ladies. Happy Monday, kittens.