Category Archives: Movies

The Wonder Woman movie belongs to us

This is my Wonder Woman memory.

I’m 7 or 8 years old.

My mom is buying my brother and I stretchy, plastic figures shaped like superheroes.

I don’t remember which Justice League of America superhero my brother selects. The colors blue and red are stuck in my head, so I’m guessing it’s Superman.

aquaman

I pick this guy.

I pick Aquaman.

I don’t remember leafing through the figures as they hang in their packs from a metal peg on the rack.

But here’s what I know: There isn’t a Wonder Woman in the bunch. Wonder Woman is never an option.

Sure, I like Superman and Batman and the rest of the Justice League of America superheroes as much as the next little girl, but I love Wonder Woman with her golden lasso of truth, invisible jet and bulletproof bracelets. Spink! Spink!

I never identify with Superman or Batman, even though I’m a tomboy and admire their super strength and athleticism. Back then, I find them too masculine with their dark features and chiseled chests.

I am always a Wonder Woman girl.

xena

Look for Middle-Age Butch in the background.

Xena: Warrior Princess comes on the scene in 1995. I watch the reruns in the early 2000’s when I’m coming out. And here’s where it gets tricky—that fine line between wanting to be Xena and wanting Xena.

After much contemplation, here’s what I decide:

In a time of ancient gods, warlords and kings …

A land in turmoil cried out for a hero.

She was Xena, a mighty princess forged in the heat of battle.

And she was Middle-Age Butch, a mighty princess butch, durable and sturdy like the fabric flannel.

The power … the passion … the danger.

Their courage will change the world.

But back to Wonder Woman. My experience was always one of lack and longing. A Wonder Woman-shaped hole.

Even at a young age, Aquaman was my way of compromising, of finding some middle ground.

dolphin

I heart Aquaman.

He certainly wasn’t Superman or Batman. He couldn’t fly or really fight. He had nice blond hair. His superpower? He could talk to fish. I suppose I found Aquaman sensitive because he was able to communicate with dolphins.

So that’s one of the reasons why the Wonder Woman movie is a big deal to me. I’ve been waiting most of my life for Wonder Woman. Just Wonder Woman. Having a choice of Wonder Woman.

I’m struck by the movie’s tag line:

“The future of justice begins with her.”

This movie belongs to the little girl who played with a bendy Aquaman figure because there was no Wonder Woman option.

It belongs to all the little girls, back then and now.

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Carrie Fisher

My dad took me and my brother to an old theater in Reading, Pennsylvania, to see Star Wars. We sat in the balcony. I was ten years old.

I remember being captivated from the beginning when those now-famous words scrolled across the screen. I liked the scene in the cantina with those crazy aliens and that funny, tinny music playing in the background.

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Cream Magazine

I’m not sure how many times I’ve watched Star Wars since 1977. My favorite scene became the one with the garbage compactor. “Into the garbage chute, Flyboy,” Princess Leia says to Luke as she shoots her laser gun at the Stormtroopers, transforming from rescuee to rescuer, from damsel in distress to take-charge badass.

I replayed that scene over and over in my head. “Into the garbage chute, Flyboy.” That was the kind of girl I was when I played with the guys. That was the kind of woman I wanted to be.

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naplesherald.com

When I got older, I idolized Carrie Fisher the author. She was a brilliant writer. If you want to learn how to write memoir, read Carrie Fisher. Her words were sharp and cutting, vulnerable and honest. The humor was so dark, you never knew whether to laugh or cry. I always did both. She wrote with the bravery and balls of Princess Leia. “Into the garbage chute, Flyboy.”

I read a lot of books. Most I recycle, handing off to friends or family, or donating to Goodwill. I keep some of Fisher’s books in a small, neat stack on my bookcase mixed with books written by a few other authors. My stack of weird books. They are the books that told me it was okay to think the way I did. That it was okay to be different. They are the books that gave me permission to be myself.

It’s been a tough year for losses. I lost two of my heroes earlier this year when the wrestler Chyna and the musician Prince died on back-to-back days in April.

And now Carrie Fisher.

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themarysue.com

I like to think they left me a little of their magic when they departed this world. A little of their bravery and in your face badassery. That it fell like stardust and caught on the inside of my sleeve or the back of my pants and clung like specks of glitter.

And that when I need to be bold and courageous, it will be there, giving me a needed push.

“Into the garbage chute, Flyboy.”

* * *

What about you? Who will you miss most from 2016?

Grumpy butch

A text message from yesterday:

W: Do you want to go to Rocky Horror on 11/18?

W: Talking to J about getting tickets.

Me: I feel like I will be grumpy and annoyed, but I will go if you really want me to go.

W: Well that sounds like fun.

Me: You are a lucky woman, W.

W: Oh so lucky.

long pause

Me: I’m sorry

W: No worries. I got a ticket for you. J told me to.

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Me: That’s my grumpy face.

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W: That’s my happy kiss face.

* * *

The moral of the story? Find a partner who is adept at handling your bullshit with a smile and a kiss.

What to watch?

images[1]We have nothing to watch. Nothing, I tell you, nothing, even though we have cable television with a bunch of premium channels, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and three Redboxes located less than two miles from our house.

There haven’t been any new episodes of Modern Family. We’re all caught up with Orange Is the New Black, Girls, Transparent, Jessica Jones, Master of None, Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt, Broad City, The Walking Dead. I think there’s a new season of Orphan Black out, but last I checked it wasn’t available for streaming through Amazon.

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Washed up celebrity horse with depression and addiction issues. What’s not to love?

I binged watched three seasons of Bojack Horseman one weekend without W because I thought she detested shows with talking animals. That’s what she had said, anyway. Turns out she meant live action shows and not cartoons.

“Like Look Who’s Talking,” she tried to explain.

“That had a talking baby in it,” I said. “And it was hilarious.”

She made her angry face.

“You mean like Babe,” I said, trying to help. “Our mother called us all the same,” I said in my best pig voice. “How could you not like Babe?

More angry face.

We have been trying to pick a new show.

“What about The Sopranos,” W asks.

“That seems so old. I don’t know that I can get into it.”

She forces a stream of hot air through her mouth like a tea kettle. This is the sound of exasperation.

She’s already named a bunch of shows: House of Cards, Homeland, Breaking Bad, Dexter. She ends up watching them herself because they don’t interest me. I am difficult. Impossible. I am glad I’m not married to myself.

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See, everyone loves a skinny tie.

I suggest Mad Men because, well, skinny ties.

“You don’t want to watch The Sopranos because it’s too old, but you want to watch Mad Men?

So. Much. Angry. Face.

Our youngest suggests Haven.

“What’s that?” I ask.

“It’s based on the Stephen King book The Colorado Kid,” he says.

“I liked that book.”

“Yeah, the people in the town have supernatural powers,” he says.

“Um. No. I don’t like that supernatural stuff.”

“You liked Stranger Things!” W says way too loud.

“Yeah, but that had Winona Ryder and Eggo waffles.”

* * *

What did you watch this summer?

Prince

“I’m not a woman

I’m not a man

I am something that you’ll never understand”

— Prince, “I Would Die for You”

His music was the soundtrack to my life. I discovered Prince when most of my peers did — after the movie Purple Rain was released in 1984 and the songs on the soundtrack became a permanent part of our everyday life.

images7FZ0N531As a senior in high school at age 18, I played “1999” every morning before school on the turntable in my bedroom. One morning I would play Side 1, which was comprised of “Little Red Corvette,” “1999” and “Delirious.” The next day, I would flip the album over and play the two songs on Side 2, “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” and “D.M.S.R.”

I never tired of those five songs, so I never made it to Side 3 or Side 4 of that double album.

imagesMS624EGMI’m not sure what it was that drew me to Prince and his music. It didn’t sound like anything else I had ever heard. But there was something else. He was dirty and poetic. A cross between Shakespeare and a porn star. Something about that combination appealed to me as I started my journey into adulthood. He seemed to understand all those things I didn’t — sex, love, God, life — so I listened to his music in an effort to crack the code.

When I went off to college, I found a used record store and bought all of his old albums — “Prince,” “Dirty Mind,” “Controversy.” I studied them more than my text books.

My parents never taught me about the birds and bees, but Prince did.

He was my sex ed teacher.

The only reason I know the words to the Lord’s Prayer is because it’s in the middle of his song “Controversy.”

Prince was my Sunday school teacher, too.

He was my church.

He was my religion.

He was my Elvis.

He was my Beatles.

He showed me how to adore and appreciate women.

And he taught me how to be funky.

I know what you’re thinking. You, Middle-Age Butch, got funky? Tell us another tale. What I’ll tell you is there’s a fine line between funk and swagger. And any butch worth her boots has a little swagger in her. You just got to love yourself. That’s what Prince would have said.

imagesZHT5V4H7I don’t think I realized why I was always so fascinated with the purple one until he dropped his name and became the symbol. The symbol was a perfect mix between male and female.

That’s the thing about Prince.

He transcended gender.

I always thought I was in love with the pretty purple boy with the high heel boots and the puffy blouses and tight little body. Back in the day, this in-the-closet lesbian always had a thing for pretty boys with high cheekbones and beautiful hair.

I wasn’t really in love with Prince. We would have made a strange couple.

But he did show me how to love myself.

* * *

My all-time favorite Prince song is “Little Red Corvette.” What’s yours?

 

 

 

Flannel Files uncovers lost scene from Carol

IMG_0216CAROL:

What else do you like to do, Therese, besides listen to your hi-fi records?

THERESE:

Well, I like books.

CAROL:

Do you have a favorite author, Therese?

THERESE:

Rae Theodore. She works at the department store with me. She’s a terrific writer.

CAROL:

What an unusual name. Rae Theodore. Do you think I’d like her book?

THERESE:

I’m sure you would. She was married once just like you and Harge. And she writes about pretty girls with soft, feathery hair.

CAROL:

Maybe Abby would like this book?

THERESE:

Yes, girls like Abby would. Anyone, really. Haven’t we all felt different?

CAROL:

Where can I get this book?

THERESE:

Amazon.

CAROL:

(laughing)

Oh, Therese. From one of those tall, muscular women?

THERESE:

No. The online book retailer. Really, any place you can buy books on-line. Just type in Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender.

By the way, Rae has a blog, too, called The Flannel Files. She writes about girls like her who wear neckties and brown boots and flannel shirts in every color of the rainbow.

images[10]CAROL:

(blushing; touches Therese’s arm)

Oh, Therese.

* * *

This was a promotional piece I put together for a swag bag to be handed out at a local LGBT Oscar party tonight. Thought it would get more attention than a more traditional flyer, magnet or business card.

* * *

Did you see Carol? Thoughts?

 

 

At the movies

Rae Spoon“Gender is stupid.”

That’s  the best line from My Prairie Home, a documentary about transgender folk singer Rae Spoon.

My Prairie Home is part movie, part music video.  Haunting.  Beautiful.  Brilliant.

Spoon tells about growing up different in a conservative household ruled by a parent with mental illness.

I especially enjoyed the way Spoon tackles complex issues using simple lyrics.

Here are the lyrics to one song that I really liked:

Sunday Dress

When I was a little girl. I thought I had to hold up the world. Singing “Hallelujah” in the choir to keep my feet out of the fire.

My prairie home. My prairie home. My prairie home. Fits like a Sunday dress.

When I was fourteen the devil came for me. Showed me hell could be pretty. I had a poster at the end of my bed. Kurt Cobain in a wedding dress.

My prairie home. My prairie home. My prairie home. Fits like a Sunday dress.

Shaved my head and did my best. Tried to stand tall with whiskey on my breath. I sure wish I was a man. I would never go to church again.

My prairie home. My prairie home. My prairie home. Fits like a Sunday dress.

So, yeah, I would highly recommend My Prairie Home.  We watched it through iTunes for $4.99.

Rock on, Rae Spoon.

* * *

What’s the last movie you saw?  Would you recommend it?

Not butch enough for haunted things

My W is here.

My W is here.

“My hersband is too afraid to go,” W texted her friends from work.

They are going to Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary tonight. The website bills it as “A Massive Haunted House in a REAL PRISON.”

No thanks. Count me out.  I will stay home and watch reruns of Orange Is the New Black, which is a comedy set in a FAKE PRISON.

I know what you’re thinking, faithful followers.  Middle-age Butch, you are the butchest person I know.  Aren’t you butch enough for a little old haunted house?

Um, no.

I am butch enough to wear flannel everyday of the week.  I am butch enough to arm wrestle k.d. lang.  I am butch enough to wear a necktie when every other woman in the room is wearing a dress.

But this butch doesn’t do haunted houses or haunted hayrides or anything else that involves paying a fee to be scared.

That is not butch. That is stupid.

W is paying $20 to be scared by chainsaw-wielding strangers wearing face paint and fake blood.

If anyone out there wants a really good fright, mail me $20.  Tell me your worst fear, or I can make one up for you.

  • Dear Netflix Subscriber, We regret to inform you that there will not be a Season 3 of Orange Is the New Black.
  • Good news!  I’ve cleared my calendar and will be able to stay with you through the holidays!  All of them!!  Love, Mom
  • Dear Former Student, It wasn’t just a recurring bad dream.  You really are three credits short.  We will be revoking your diploma.

When I was a teenager, my father took me to a haunted house at the New Jersey shore.  I remember crowding into a room that was supposed to be an elevator with a bunch or other people and being scared to death.  I thought I was going to die.  It was the last time I held my dad’s hand.

The Shining

Too much blood for this butch.

I am not a fan of horror movies either. I can count the scary movies that I’ve seen on two hands (hands missing several digits due to an accident involving farm equipment) — Poltergeist, Children of the Corn, Silence of the Lambs, The Blair Witch Project.  I started watching The Shining when I was in college, but my friends had to remove me from the theater because I was turning green and about to pass out from all the blood.

Alas, I am a delicate butch.

I did tell W that if she doesn’t come home tonight I will look for her.

In the morning.

When the sun comes up.

It’s what any butch would do.

* * *

Do you like haunted houses and scary movies?

To write or not to write

I feel like I’ve hit a wall.

My flannel is wrinkled.

The spikes in my hair are flat.

I don’t want to write any more.  At least not right now.  Not today.  That’s for sure.

I am more content watching TV shows and movies or reading books.  Allowing words and images to wash over me instead of coaxing or forcing them out from that tricky place that’s part heart, part soul.

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Movie poster of my life.

Part of me says it’s not ok.  Writers write.  If I’m not writing, I’m not a writer.

The other part says take a break.  Even if I’m not writing, I’m storing words and thoughts for future use.

Here’s some of what I’ve been watching and reading:

Sons of Anarchy — W started watching this biker drama.  I read somewhere that SOA is based on Hamlet and that got this English major’s juices flowing.  So, yeah, it’s well written and well acted, and I like trying to figure out the parallels to the Shakespearean tragedy.  There’s a couple of minor lesbian storylines, but this one is all about the boys and their bikes.  Look for cameos from Stephen King, 70s hottie Adrienne Barbeau and Jimmy Smits.  And appearances by Venus Van Dam, the show’s transgender character.

Women of Will — Speaking of Shakespeare, I saw this play at a local Shakespeare festival last weekend.  Really, it’s part play, part lecture.  Master Shakespearean actor Tina Packer deconstructs the Bard’s most famous female characters with the help of fellow actor Nigel Gore.  Is it wrong that I was hoping for a sexy scene between perchance Lady Macbeth and Queen Gertrude?  Here’s the question I asked myself right before the show began: How do I relate any of this to my writing?  Five minutes in, Packer was riffing on the role of gender in Shakespeare and how Will’s female characters changed as his perceptions about women evolved.  Gender.  Can we ever get a break?

The Guilt Trip — In this cheesy comedy, Seth Rogen takes a cross-country road trip with his over-involved Mom, played by Barbra Streisand.  There are some genuine laughs, but I especially enjoyed the running gag of this mother-son duo listening to the audio version of Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex throughout the trip.  Because gender.  There it is again.

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She’s hot!

Lucy — Scarlett Johansson plays a young woman exposed to a synthetic drug that allows her to access 100 percent of her brain and develop cool superhero-like powers.  “She’s hot!” W blurted out at the beginning of the movie, allowing all of us to read her thought bubble.  It was some kind of auto-Johansson response.  No doubt ScarJo is a looker with those blue eyes and blonde locks.  But I was hoping for something a little campier.  In the end though, what’s not to like about a beautiful babe kicking ass.

Bad Words — Jason Bateman finds a loophole in a spelling bee competition and creates a scene as he takes out the school-age competitors one by one.  I like when Bateman plays assholes.  See Juno.  Oh, and words.  There were lots of big words.  And a scene with boobs.

A Most Wanted Man — Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a German spy in this John le Carre thriller.  It’s Seymour Hoffman’s last starring role.  As the credits rolled, W and I just looked at each other.  Sigh.  How sad.

The Best Nonrequired American Reading 2013 — Short stories, lists, poems, cartoons, all in one book.  An eclectic collection.  I read this every year.

* * *

What about you?  What are you watching/reading this summer?

Showering with Robert Pattinson

I like my showers. I like them extra hot. I like shampoo infused with a bit of mint. It makes my scalp tingle. It makes me feel awake and alive. I like men’s shower gels. I’m not picky about brands although I usually buy some version of Irish Spring or Old Spice.

You can read about me and Axe shower gel here (in “The plumber’s message) and here (in Be careful what you Axe for).  Apparently, I have a whole shower gel thing going on.

Earlier this week, I placed a new bottle of body wash in the shower. I had to stifle a scream when I first used it.  Swear to god on all that is holy like beer and Melissa Etheridge and cleavage.

Dial Magnetic

Oddly, the bottle is shaped like a crooked penis.

The body wash is made by Dial for Men. It’s called “Magnetic: Clean-Rinsing,” and the name is superimposed over the image of an atom as if the gel is a building block of all other things.  Quite arrogant for a bottle of body wash, I think.  I read on and learn that Magnetic is an “Attraction Enhancing Body Wash” that’s “Pheromone Infused.”

Really, how could a butch go wrong?

So, there I was. In the shower. My hair is freshly shampooed and rinsed.

I reach for the body of Magnetic. I pour some of the body wash into my hand.

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This is what Magnetic looks like.  Really, Dial?

The gel is bright red. Like blood. Red blood.

I try not to scream. I try not to gag.

After the shock wears off, I rub the viscous crimson gel on my skin.

I feel like Carrie at prom (Sissy Spacek Carrie and not Chloe Grace Moretz Carrie because you should never mess with a classic).

And then I sensed something, someone behind me.

It’s Robert Pattinson. I just know it.

Tall and pale like Ichabod Crane. I am in the shower with Edward from Twilight.

I am too afraid to turn around because I am showering with a known vampire.

Three people I’d rather shower with than Robert Pattinson:

1. Kristen Stewart

Oh. Hi. I’m still in the shower with Kristen Stewart and a bottle of Dial Magnetic. (Did you see her as Joan Jett in the movie The Runaways?)

Robert Pattinson

My shower buddy.

Anyway, there he is. Every morning. Robert Pattinson. In my shower. I can’t seem to get him out of my head.  Or my shower.

This might be a good thing if you are a young girl but not an old butch.

I pick up the bottle of Dial Magnetic and read the back label.

How to use:

1. Squeeze out.

2. Lather up.

3. Rinse off.

4. Watch the magic happen.

And then I get it. The magic. Dial Magnetic can make Robert Pattinson appear in your shower.

Like magic. Weird, creepy magic, but still.