Tag Archives: television

Costumes

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I was this guy. Cool, I know.

My favorite Halloween costume was a sea monster. Actually, I was Sigmund from the TV show Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. It was a costume that came in a box, probably from Kmart or some other discount store. My mom taped crepe paper streamers in different shades of green to the body of the costume to give it an authentic sea monster feel.

I was in second or third grade and really into the show. I even had a Sigmund and the Sea Monsters lunch pail. I know. I was so cool.

I don’t remember many other Halloween costumes.

I think my first costume was a lamb. Not too far from the black sheep I turned out to be.

I was a witch one year with a black wig with streaks of white and long black plastic fingernails.

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Just when you thought I couldn’t get any cooler. And yes, that is a mullet.

In college, I was usually some weird androgynous superhero. I always started with a cape because who doesn’t want to rock a cape. And added face paint. Colored hairspray. Suspenders. I was like the love child of Superman and Elton John and the members of Kiss. With some Phantom of the Opera thrown in for good luck.

One year, I bought a blue and gray fedora in a thrift shop in town and designed some weird old man costume around it. The costume was a dud, but I liked wearing the hat.

These days, I’m not so big on dressing up. When you feel like you’ve been wearing a costume for the better part of three decades, Halloween dress-up loses its luster. If I had to dress up, I’d probably toss on a Phillies jersey and cap and call it a day. Maybe add some eyeblack if I was really trying.

Most mornings, I smile when I get dressed. I slip on a pair of jeans or cargo shorts, a pair of boxer briefs, a T-shirt with or without another shirt underneath depending on the weather. I don’t worry about “appropriate” or the difference between boy clothes and girl clothes. Instead, I focus on wearing clothes that make me feel good. Happy. Clothes that make me feel like me.

And I say a quick thanks to the person who runs the joint. Thanks for getting me here to this place where I can finally wear the clothes I want all day, every day. It was worth the wait.

Other fun Halloween facts:

  • I don’t have a favorite candy, although I usually eat everyone’s Whoppers and Almond Joys. (No one here likes coconut or malt flavoring. Losers.)
  • We used to live in Battle Creek, Michigan, which is the home of Kellogg’s cereal. Many of our neighbors handed out mini boxes of cereal instead of candy, which my brother would refuse with a polite “no thank you.”

* * *

Your turn. Favorite Halloween costume? Favorite candy?

 

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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?

Sleeping with drag queens

images[2]If my calculations are correct, W and I have been sleeping in the same bed for about seven years. Not continuously like we are in the movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Although that idea always seemed appealing when I was younger and depressed.

On Friday, the kid will have been in the hospital for three weeks, save the three days he spent at home. W has stayed with him every night, which means our bed is empty when I turn in.

I pile clean laundry and things to take to the hospital on W’s side of the bed to keep it from seeming so empty.

IMG_0190I look at our pillowcases that say “Big Spoon” and “Little Spoon” and wonder when the Big Spoon will be coming home. Yes, folks, I’m butch enough to admit that I’m usually the little spoon.

One of our cats is so distraught over W’s absence that he cries and deposits random items in a pile in the middle of the bed — socks, a cloth to polish shoes, cat toys. I’m not sure where he’s finding these items. I’m pretty sure some of them aren’t even ours.

At night, I stay up way too late and watch mindless TV shows — Shark Tank, Teen Mom 2, Bar Rescue, Catfish — until I am so tired I pass out.

imagesSWB6O19BFor some strange reason, I find RuPaul’s Drag Race especially soothing and often find myself falling asleep to “I’m Every Woman” or some other disco tune and instructions to “sashay away.” Because drag queens always make me feel better. The are like a Band-Aid — a sequined Band-Aid with rhinestones and wigs and high heels.

This new habit has made for some very weird dreams.

When I was a kid and my grandmother visited, she always slept in my double bed with me.

This was weird and annoying for a variety of reasons but mostly because my grandmother slept with a transistor radio that she kept on until she fell asleep.

It was an old radio, one of my grandfather’s, and seemed unable to broadcast anything but static.

My grandmother loved music but always listened to the news on her handheld radio.

I used to think she was an old lady way too interested in what was happening in the world.

But when I got older, I realized she missed my grandfather, who had passed away years before, and it was impossible for her to fall asleep without some kind of distraction.

I wonder what it was about the sound of the radio that soothed her. If the buzz reminded her of his rhythmic breathing or snoring or if she just needed noise, any noise, to fill the void he had left behind.

So with that, I’m going to sashay to bed. Just me and the cats and a gaggle of drag queens. That’s what you call a group of drag queens, right?

* * *

What about you? How do you sleep when your significant other is away?

 

Me and Xena: Warrior Princess

Xena: Warrior PrincessToday is Xena’s 20th anniversary.

A big ayiyiyiyiyi Xena battle cry to all of my Flannel Files followers on this very special occasion.

I’ve been reading the Xena posts and tweets on social media, and I must say it’s taken me back in time.  Not to ancient mythological Greece when Xena roamed the countryside thwarting evildoers with the help of Gabrielle, her trusty sidekick.  But the late 1990s when I was struggling with my sexuality.

The first time I watched Xena: Warrior Princess, I was hooked.  There was something about the show, something I couldn’t explain that left me wanting more Xena all the time.

Let’s be honest.  The Warrior Princess came with an extra helping of cheese.  The bright orange kind that comes in a can and is spread with a knife.

But I was transfixed.

Lucy LawlessWhen I finally admitted that I was attracted to women, I told myself that was it.  I mean, Lucy Lawless is gorgeous.  Why not watch a television show that features a beautiful woman, even if it’s campier than a weenie roast and ghost stories told around a fire?

Here’s the thing that took me a long time to realize.  I never wanted to be with Lucy Lawless.  I wanted to be Lucy Lawless.  Or, more accurately, Xena.

It was her special blend of girl power that I craved.

That I’ve always craved.

Wonder WomanIn the 1970’s, it was Charlie’s Angels and Wonder Woman and Jaime Sommers, TV’s Bionic Woman.

But those women had nothing on Xena.  With her sword and her chakram, her leather, her armor and a hot blonde by her side.  Xena was badass.

I think about the name of the show — Xena: Warrior Princess.

And I think that was always the attraction for me.

Warrior.  Princess.

Not that I’ve ever been a princess or wanted to be one.  (Makes gagging gesture with fingers and open mouth.)

It’s that blend of masculine and feminine that I find so appealing, that magical combination that I live.

There’s always been a lot of Xena: Warrior Princess inside me.

I just never realized it until I started watching the show.

If you’re really into Xena, you can read my Xena sword story here.

* * *

What about you?  Xena fan?  Yea or nay?

Butched

I was watching TV today while folding the laundry.  That’s when I saw a promo for a new show.

Butched.

Genius, I thought.

I didn’t even have to watch the clip to know what it was all about.

Lea DeLariaThe show would be hosted by a famous butch.  Someone like Lea DeLaria.

Every week, a random person would be “butched,” or given a butch makeover.  This would involve cargo shorts, a T-shirt or polo shirt, new sneakers, maybe a baseball cap or even a tattoo.

Because everyone knows butches have more fun.

There would be instructions on how to give the butch nod, what beverage to order with lunch (beer), what beverage to order with dinner (beer), how to walk with a swagger, tie a Windsor knot, sing along to Melissa Etheridge songs in the car, open a jar of pickles without showing effort and respond to “can I help you, sir?”

And then I realized the show was actually called Botched.  And it was about fixing plastic surgery mishaps.

Nevermind.

* * *

But if there was a show called Butched, what would it be about?

All caught up in The L Word

The L WordW and I are just emerging from a fugue-like state brought on by binge watching six seasons of The L Word.  That’s 78 episodes if you’re counting along at home.

W had been scanning through the offerings on Netflix and stumbled upon the series.  And there we were watching Jenny Schecter being accosted by Marina Ferrer in a bathroom somewhere in California.

Skinny white girl.

One word.  Shane.

There was no stopping us once we got started.  We couldn’t get enough Bette, Tina, Alice and of course, Shane.  Swoon.

Now, I have to get back to my real life and stop pretending I’m a famous writer who hangs out in Los Angeles’ coolest coffee shop by day and attends only the hippest and hottest Girl/Grrrl parties by night.  (Please tell me all nine seasons of The Facts of Life are NOT on Netflix.  Just the thought is so tempting.)

We had watched The L Word when it first ran on Showtime.  Flash forward ten years, and here’s what stuck out this time around:

* Wow, what a groundbreaking show.  The L Word certainly was ahead of its time.  It paved the way for Girls and Orange Is the New Black.

* Are there no butch women in L.A.?  I used to think Shane was kinda butch.  She’s not.  Like Papi says upon meeting the legendary Shane: “You’re just a skinny white girl.”  So true.

* I always wanted to be Shane.  Or maybe Shane’s wingwoman.  You know, me and Shane hanging out, picking up the ladies.  This time around, I realized Shane is kinda a jerk.

* And what’s up with Shane’s hairstyling skills?  It’s tousling of hair.  That’s what it is.  Tousling.  Of hair.

Ivan, you rock.

Ivan, you rock.

* Ivan Aycock.  I want to be Ivan Aycock.

* Can you spell infidelity?  So much cheating.  Keep it in your pants, ladies.

* Jenny Schecter is actually interesting and likable in the first few seasons.  Whether you like her or hate her, there is no The L Word without her.

Max, you deserved better.

Max, you deserved better.

* Really, couldn’t you have been a little more sensitive toward the transitioning Max?  Max, I’ll be your friend.  We’ll go to a sports bar, drink some beer and eat some wings.  Forget those high femmes.  Call me.  And really Part 2: Did you have to make Max pregnant?  Really?

* What a total waste of Xena: Warrior Princess.  Um, you couldn’t find a better role for Lucy Lawless than some hack detective?  Other ideas: L.L. has an affair with Bette.  Or Xena herself chops off Jenny’s head with her sword, places it on a stake in front of The Planet and runs off with Alice.  No one saw that coming.  Discuss.

* * *

Ok, y’all remember The L Word. Why don’t we play Marry, Kill, Screw.  I’ll go first ’cause it’s my blog.

Marry — Tina because she seems the most normal.  Ands she’s cute.  Except when she’s with Henry.  She’s hideous then. (W votes for Tasha because she’s into all that officer/gentleman stuff.)

Kill — Everyone is going to say Jenny.  And, in a twist of irony, Jenny dies in the series finale. So, I’ll go with someone else.  I’ll go with Dylan because she is uber-annoying.  And she doesn’t deserve Helena, the British bombshell.  (W goes with Jenny.  She is wearing her “Kill Jenny Schecter” T-shirt as I type.)

Screw — Helena.  (W says Latino hottie Carmen.  She loves Carmen.  You have no idea.)

 

Butch wife

I never wanted a wife.

I never wanted to be a wife.

Kate and Allie

Kate and Allie: I would have been the hilarious one on the right.

I figured a way around all of that tradition sometime in the ’80s. I suggested to my college roommate that after graduation we get a place and live, you know, like Kate and Allie.  It would be a 24/7 slumber party eating raw cookie dough right from the tube and staying up late to watch reruns of The Facts of Life.  (I watched way too much TV back then).  I would be Allie, played by comedy legend and pioneer Jane Curtain, because of my rapier wit and she could be Kate, played by Susan Saint James, because she had darker hair.

“Yeah, no,” she replied.

I offered for her to be Allie, but she still wasn’t buying into my vision of two women living under the same roof and raising kids.

Yes, she was narrow minded.

And I was deep in the closet, back with the unused ski equipment and broken umbrella.

Flash forward almost 30 years, and I am a wife. I have a wife, too.  Who even knew such things were possible?

I do not look like a wife.

Did anyone else have a crush on Donna Reed?

Did anyone else have a crush on Donna Reed?

Wilma Flintstone was a wife. Donna Reed, wife.  June Cleaver.  Laura Petrie.  Carol Brady.  Jane Jetson.

Before W and I said I do, we had a conversation about her referring to me as her wife.

“I wouldn’t say anything in front of anyone, but I would cringe inside every time you said the word ‘wife,'” I said.

It is the association with traditional female roles and stereotypes that bothers me. It is fingernails on chalkboard.

It is the same way I felt when I was 10-years-old and forced to pick out back-to-school clothes from the girls’ section of the department store.

W comes home these days and greets me as she’s walking through the door.

“Hi, wifey.”

“There you are, wife.”

I laugh.  She laughs.

We are still dumbstruck by the fact that we are married. Legally married.  Like non-gay people.

It is all new. We are still adjusting.

When W asks what she should call me, I tell her I don’t know. I don’t know yet.  Sometimes I feel I’m still in transition, in flux.  That it’ll all shake out one day.  That I’ll know the answer then.

I feel bad for W, because I make everything so difficult.

If I’m not a wife, what am I?  I’m not a husband.  A spouse?  Partner?  That’s how we referred to each other in the old days, before we had a piece of paper that says we’re married.

I think about what it means to be a butch. Sure, it is about flannel shirts and comfortable shoes and football on Sunday and Monday and every other day of the week and beer and treating your lady like a queen.

images[7]But it is also about having the courage to be different, to be who you are. To answer to “sir” when you are anything but.  To be mistaken for a young man when you are nearing menopause.  It is about wearing a necktie when every other woman in the room is wearing a dress.  And venturing into the women’s bathroom — that room with a door marked with the silhouette of a person wearing a dress — when you don’t know what kind of reception awaits.

So, yeah. Butch wife.  Maybe I can handle that.  On my terms.  In my way.

Listening to sports radio when I bake cookies for the kids. Or wearing a tie when I take my wife out to dinner on date night.

Anyone got a problem with that?

* * *

What do you call your significant other?

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.

xx

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.

xx

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?

Why Bomb Girls bombed

Last night, I ended up watching Bomb Girls for the first time.  I was surfing the channels and found the Canadian TV drama on some offbeat channel called Reelz.  I knew the show had a lesbian storyline, so it had my attention from the get go.   I’m obvious like that.

If you don’t know anything about Bomb Girls, it’s about a group of women working in a munitions factory during World War II.

Meg in Bomb Girls

Meg in Bomb Girls

Sure, the show had me at “girls,” but there was one thing that made the show unwatchable for me — Meg Tilly, who looks a lot like her actress sister, Jennifer Tilly.

Every time I saw Meg on screen, I immediately thought about her sister Jennifer and her portrayal of Violet, the sexy Sapphic mobster mistress in Bound, my third favorite lesbian flick of all time.  I was like Pavlov’s dog.  If Pavlov’s dog was a lesbian.

Bound came out right around the time that I did, and I was instantly obsessed with the movie.  I can remember one of my co-workers asking me about my sudden fascination with Gina Gershon.

“What is it about Gina Gershon?” she asked, throwing up her hands to illustrate her inability to grasp my sudden fixation with the B-list actress.

Just saying Gina Gershon still gets me all hot and bothered.  Gina Gershon.

I’m not sure that I knew what was up with me and Gina Gershon.  But I knew that Bound, with its Gershon-on-Tilly action, had me thinking about a whole lot of things in a very different way.

I had gone to see Bound with my husband, who was repulsed by the movie.

“I thought the movie was supposed to be about lesbians,” he said.

He meant the kind of lesbians who wear tube tops and make out with each other and the cute pizza delivery boy in a hot tub.

But these were my kind of lesbians.  Real and gritty.  Hot and sexy.  With tattoos.  In the end, Gina Gershon’s character of Corky gets the girl.  There is no pizza boy.  They never even order a small pie.

My first tattoo is actually a labrys modeled after the one that Corky sports in Bound.  I told you — I was obsessed.

Gina and Jennifer in Bound

Gina and Jennifer in Bound

Ok, so back to Bomb Girls.  Meg Tilly looked old and sallow and haggard.  And, here’s the thing — every time she came on screen, I kept thinking about  Violet.  Why was she working in a factory?  And what was up with that do-rag?

Sometimes we want to stay in that magic bubble where we looked our best and had the whole world spread out before us.  Meg Tilly certainly had me feeling my own age — that whole coming out thing was over a decade ago — and missing that exciting time of self-discovery and all-consuming thoughts of naked women.  Corky and Violet had, in a way, made that possible.  They showed me that it was possible to get the girl in the end and live happily ever after.

Meet my new pretend cat

I didn’t feel like doing any work today.

So I watched “Sex in the City” the movie.  And cried.  Ok, not really.  But I was really torn up inside.  Um, again, not really.

But it could have happened.  I was in one of those places.

Every once in awhile, I’ll have a day like this.  I’ll watch hour after hour of Hoarders, or Wife Swap or Storage Wars instead of working.

It’s one of the perks of working from home.  That and pajamas.

If I can stem the tide at just one lost day, I’m usually ok.

Four hours of Hoarders followed by a double Keeping Up with the Kardashians chaser is just an off day.

It doesn’t officially add up to depression until it extends into the next day and the next.

I like to think of it as a TV holiday.  Everyone should get a few TV holidays every year, if you ask me.  Today’s TV holiday is no doubt legitimate as it falls smack dab between the high Jewish holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  Jesus himself couldn’t have planned it any better.

I text the wife.

Me: I don’t want to work any more.  Ever.

W: We should play the lottery more.

But I don’t want to play the lottery.  I would have to leave the house and drive to 7-Eleven.  I went to Wawa last night in my PJs to pick up dinner, and I don’t think I’m ready for another convenience store just yet.  At least not until more people start shopping in lounge pants.  What does everyone have against pajamas, anyway?

I am beginning to think of pajamas as a double-edged sword.  Don’t be fooled by their forgiving elastic waistbands or fluffy fleece softness.

I text W again.

Me: I’m leaving to adopt a cat now.

W: Okay.

Me: I named her Josie.

W: Awww.  I can’t wait to meet her.

Me: She’s very shy.

W: So maybe she’ll be hiding?

Me: Maybe, baby.

W: I wonder if I’ll ever see her.

Me: Who knows.

When I’m feeling out of sorts, I always get the urge to take in another cat.  I don’t know why.  However, this is better than other urges like cocaine and meth and having sex with the underage girl in the Catholic school uniform.

We have three cats, plus Josie, who is pretend, so I’m not sure if that counts as four or not.  Being that she’s imaginary and all.

P.S. She’s named after Josie from Josie and the Pussycats, if you haven’t already guessed.  The animated cartoon series — not the movie.

Hot, sweet, super-cool
Don’t you know
These kitties rule?

I just read Jenny Lawson’s bestselling book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.  Jenny blogs as “The Bloggess,” if you didn’t know.  Anyway, the book is laugh-out-loud funny.  She writes extensively about her cats and constantly refers to them as “assholes.”

I’m not sure that our cats are assholes, though.  Don’t get me wrong.  They certainly can be at times.  But mostly they are odd and needy and neurotic and just not right in the head.

I guess they make me feel better about myself.  Or, maybe they’re just extensions of my own weirdness and neuroticism.

Anyway, they make me happy.  So does the fact that W humors me and lets me adopt as many invisible cats as I want.  I can’t ask for anything more.

I had better go see what Josie has gotten into now.

Josie …