Category Archives: Culture

Music, books, film, art, & theater

This is the Meaning of Fierce Fashion

RickOwensI feel a little embarrassed to admit that I follow fashion as closely as I follow science, checking in on The Sartorialist every morning, and subscribing to Vogue most of my adult life. However, it’s all eye candy for me. I don’t spend four figures on clothes and won’t wear high heels. Mostly, I am a voyeur. A fashion troll, as it were.

I can’t remember in all these years when I’ve seen a photo or video of a female model walking down a runway with her feet more than four inches apart. The models are gazelles, wraiths, seemingly unhuman creatures who have no more similarity to me than a mitochondria does to a chloroplast. I am clearly one kind of woman and they are another.

Then came Rick Owens’ Spring 2014 show which knocked Paris on its well-designed derriere. Instead of showing his austere, minimalist clothes on chignon-coiffed austere, minimalist models, the designer recruited step teams from American Black sororities to walk his runway. Suddenly the clothes look wearable, moveable, and do-able. Watch it through and dance out with them at the end. (And don’t miss Bill Cunningham’s smile at about 6:15). This is how women should be represented. Being female shouldn’t look pale, wane, tortured; it should look fierce.

Just for contrast, there’s this:

The Real Jackal

Allison Janney, arguably one of the sexiest and smartest actresses of our time, and unarguably one of the sexiest female voices ever, has arrived on Twitter.

(Note: I have Kaiser health insurance simply because of Allison Janney’s voice. Imagine how disappointed I was to finally hear the automated voice in the waiting room only to find it wasn’t Janney, but rather the lady from the DMV.)

When Janney recently shared her plans to revisit her famous West Wing lip-synch send-up of Ronny Jordan’s “The Jackal,” on the Arsenio Hall Show, the Twitterverse lit up.Janney tweet

However, seconds prior to her Arsenio Hall performance, when she asked the audience members if any of them knew what she was about to do, there was the meager sound of a few hands clapping.

Really people? The Jackal! On the West Wing, Janney as Claudia Jean “C.J.” Cregg preformed a number that was less blatant, more awkward, and somehow even sexier than the Arsenio Hall version. How soon people forget:

Cute, Not-So-Cute, Cute, Not-So-Cute

Miley Cyrus has the potential to be cute. Not cute like cutesy Hannah Montana, I’ll sing my way into your heart, cute. Just cute. Like, “Oh hey, a cute girl there”.

But that’s only when she’s not doing her “I’m growing up too fast, I’m flailing around for attention, I have Gene Simmons’ tongue and I can lick, lick, lick!” thing.

Miley-Cyrus-2224429

As my mother said: “Be careful, your face might freeze that way.”

After twerking her way in the hearts of no one, with a scattered, desperate, unnecessarily raunchy and weird performance on MTV’s VMA awards, she has released a new video in which she appears nude. The music’s not awful and she looks good swinging nekkid (her dad’s word, not mine) on a wrecking ball. This alone wouldn’t be tacky, but she’s still licking up and down things like she just discovered oral and wants the world to know. We know, Miley. We were 20 years old once. We remember. Just put your tongue away when you sing and dance, okay?

Bay Area Home Girl Kay Ryan Honored

Kay RyanKay Ryan, a former Poet Laureate of the United States and a career English teacher at College of Marin, was honored by President Barrack Obama at the White House recently. Obama, who counts himself among Ryan’s loyal readers,  honored her as one of 24 recipients of the 2012 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medals.

“One of the special privileges of this office is getting a chance to honor individuals who’ve played an important role in my life as well as in the nation’s life,” Obama said in presenting the medals.

I have had the pleasure of hearing Ryan read her poetry several times and she has a dry wit and plain way with often-fancy words. I once heard her poems described as mousetraps, because they look simple and then – snap! – they’ve got you.

In 2008, the New York Times published this portfolio of her poetry, still available online for your reading pleasure. (Hint: For maximum pleasure, read them aloud, even if you’re alone.)

Fifty Years Later – A Different Feminine Mystique

Betty Friedan 2It was 50 years ago that Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique was published, changing the lives of women in the early 1960s, and – many would agree – forever.

Many feminist scholars date the beginning of second-wave feminism to the publication of her book.

So I was heartened to get an email from my alma mater saying two things that were immediately tied together for me: That the school has renovated its biology labs and has more students studying biology this year than ever, and that all incoming students this year will read The Feminine Mystique.

This points up that quality I really appreciate about single-sex education and being the graduate of a women’s college. I love knowing that an understanding of the vagaries and shifts of feminism won’t just belong to the students who take women’s studies classes, but to the future biologists and mathematicians, too.

Chris Pureka: Whiskey and Wry

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Chris Pureka at Oakland’s New Parish

Last night I experienced the alchemy of being in the room with the voice that often carries me through crowded BART trips. Chris Pureka finally played a show in my town.

I’ve written about her before (and she even played a minor role in one of my short stories). Her voice mesmerizes me — it’s made of  whiskey and wry and honey and the dust you blew off an old biology text.

She has a new EP out, Chimera II, and you need to get it.

Required Viewing for the Oscars

This new video from FeministFrequency’s Anita Sarkeesian applies the Bechdel Rule to the 2012 Academy Award nominees. Woody Allen gets spanked for his treatment of Gertrude Stein in Midnight in Paris… and there are some good movie tips, too.

There are more commentary videos at FeministFrequency.com. While you’re there, consider making a donation – if only because we hardly ever get to hear “feminist” and “pop culture” linked together.

Make Our Fantasies Reality

Girl gamers offer a manifesto to bring equality to gaming. Let’s bring it to real life, too.

The International Lesbian Anthem

Coming to us from Norway, self-described “pin-up performance band,” The Hungry Hearts offers up this lesbian anthem, “In Your Face”. The video includes instruction in an accompanying dance. The lyrics are a little hard to hear through the electronica, but it’s part of what makes it so much fun, when you figure out what they’re saying!

(Far sexier than any of the anthems mentioned on this blog before!)

The Hungry Hearts consists of six permanent members, five of which are from Norway and one of whom is Portuguese and lives in New York. Together, they create and produce performances, concerts, films, music, texts and photography.

The six members continuously develop alter egos who live their own lives in the films and performances we develop. The Bride of Christ, Rosita Lonelyheart, Anatola Twins, the Pantyhose Lady and Betty Ballbreaker are so far the most prominent ones. Sometimes they give wild speeches where they indulge in their obsession with the female body.

Thanks to @addycat for the introduction!

My Three Favorite Thanksgiving Movies

Julianna Margulies and Kyra Sedgwick play a lesbian couple in "What's Cooking?"

I’ve come to consider these three movies a trilogy. If I break out one during the Thanksgiving weekend, I have to watch all three.

These aren’t inter-related movies, except that they share a Thanksgiving theme. Two of them have strong gay/lesbian subplots. All of them have funny, joyous moments. All of them are tender, too.

Pick these up to round out your holiday experience:

Continue reading

Tomboy

When 10-year-old Laure moves to a town where no one knows her, she introduces herself as “Michael” and spends the summer exploring what it’s like to be male.

The beautiful coming-of-age film Tomboy follows this 10-year-old girl who — for reasons that aren’t quite clear — resolves to make the other kids believe she’s a boy.

As played by Zoe Heran, she completely looks the part: Soft-featured, perhaps, but lean and flat-chested, with a boyish physicality and a Shaun Cassidy mop of light-brown hair that always looks freshly mussed.

Her peers may sense something a little different about “Michael,” but he’s a deft striker on the soccer field. He’s taller and stronger than the other boys, who haven’t hit their growth spurt, and he can spit for distance. No one questions that the new kid is a boy. Read the rest on NPR.org.

Landmark Lesbian Publisher Dies

Recently, when I packed to move, I found a copy of Katherine Forrest’s first novel, Curious Wine, on my bookshelf. Published in 1983, the novel about two women sharing a room in a Tahoe cabin is still considered the classic lesbian romance. It was given to me by my first girlfriend, who said it reminded her of my own coming out story. She, in turn, had received it from another lesbian.

Before the days of the internet, the lesbian community could only find literature that reflected their culture in women’s bookstores. You were lucky if your community had one. Or, you were gifted books passed hand-to-hand through friends. Continue reading

The Kids Are All Right, Now With a Laugh Track

Deadline is reporting that HBO has made a deal to develop the Oscar-nominated movie The Kids Are All Right into an hour-long series. (Deadline calls the movie a comedy. Was it supposed to be funny?)

Lisa Cholodenko, who co-wrote and directed the movie, will write the pilot script.

From a lesbian standpoint, I think the movie was a mess. This new show promises to do for lesbian credibility what The Jeffersons did for black people 25 years ago.

It’s rumored the show will continue the adventures of the five main characters. They were the same-sex partners (played in the film by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore), their son and daughter (played by Josh Hutcherson and Mia Wasikowska) and their sperm donor bio-dad, who surfaces and tears the family apart (played by Mark Ruffalo in the film).

On-going lesbian drama, lesbian family drama, and the random man… sounds a lot like The L Word with wrinkles and an estrogen patch.

The Great Wall of Vagina

The video is self-explanatory:

Coffee with a Side of Backside

A recent news story about San Jose’s spreading rash of coffee shops featuring scantily clad, sometimes nude, baristas tells me I don’t get out enough. Or maybe I’m missing the all the action because I don’t drink coffee.

This gives a whole new spin to Coyote Grace’s Ingrid Elizabeth singing “Do You Like Me? (I Didn’t Come Here for the Coffee),” backed by fellow band members Joe Stevens and Michael Connolly:

Watch for the song on Coyote Grace’s next CD, in production this summer.

Not Just for Gays

I couldn’t be happier to make my 700th blog post one with Neil Patrick Harris, my gay man crush! In case you missed the opening of last night’s Tony Awards:

Justin Does Dani, Dani Does Justin

Baby dyke singer-songwriter Dani Shay, 22, rocked the internets with her America’s Got Talent audition – “What the Hell,” a song addressing her uncanny resemblance to Justin Beiber (or rather Justin Beiber to her).

Watch her audition below and try not to think about the possibilities for twin porn.

I Want to Ride My Bicycle, NSFW but SO Hot

I saw this video called Любовь к велосипеду (bicycle strip) by Entropy on Tiny Nibbles, Violet Blue’s awesome blog, and it is just too hot not to share. This video is decidedly not safe for work, but it should be the first thing you click on when you’re alone. Be forewarned: You’ll want to ride your bicycle. The music is Tito and Tarantula’s “After Dark,” but now I’m humming Queen’s “Bicycle”.

 

Veena Malik Schools On What It Means to Be Muslim

Pakistani actress Venna Malik was a cast member in the mega-hit Big Boss, a Big Brother-type reality television show, produced in India. During a news show interview, she was ambushed with a counter-guest – an Islamic mullah who criticized her. In this incredibly powerful segment, Malik not only held her own, she took the opportunity to school the mullah in his own faith.  (Recommendation: Turn down your volume.)

(Thank to Boing Boing.)

Hello, New Wonder Woman!

Palicki as Wonder Woman

Latex fetishists everywhere will get a little thrill when Wonder Woman returns to television. Producer David E. Kelley is working on a pilot that will revamp the 1970s show that made Lynda Carter a beloved icon to lesbians and geeks everywhere.

Wonder Woman will be played by Adrienne Palicki in a new, shiny, redesigned and sexed-up costume, and the pilot will include bonus female hotness in the form of Elizabeth Hurley, who plays the villainous boss of a pharmaceutical company creating drugs to make people stronger.

Oh, Wonder Woman, tie me up in your golden lasso of truth. I’ll tell you anything you want to know!

Many lesbian hearts will always belong to Lynda Carter...