House of Cards, Season 2: So Gay.
Spoiler alert: Don't read this post if you haven't seen ALL of Season 2 of "House of Cards" and there's even a remote possibility that you'll ever watch it.
I'm not much of a TV person. We don't even have cable. But when I am addicted to a TV show, I don't mess around. The shows to which I have been Super Into in the past five years are few: "Breaking Bad," "Downton Abbey" (yes, it's a soap opera; I don't care), "Mad Men" (Jon Hamm! Christina Hendricks! John Slattery!), and most recently, "House of Cards."
Before we get down to our Queer Business, let's catalog the two main reasons "House of Cards" is so awesome:
(1) Kevin Spacey. I love KS. Love. In my opinion, the best working actor. I'd pay to watch the man sit on a chair and smoke a cigarette for two hours.
(2) Robin Wright. (Yes, the same RW who was in "The Princess Bride" way back when.) With that fantabulous haircut, icy-hot smile, and killer acting instincts, she's more than equal to the task of playing opposite Spacey.
Together, the new First Couple's chemistry is elegant, dynamic, multi-layered, beautiful, and frightening--often all at the same time. We started Season 1 with Frank Underwood jogging alone; Season 2 opens with Frank and Claire jogging together. This is a not-so-subtle foreshadowing of the season's dynamic, in which Frank and Claire are no longer working at cross-purposes. They subtly undermine the sitting President and First Lady, quietly understand the implications of Frank's murder of Zoe (best season opener ever, BTW), and even seduce the cautious-but-willing Meecham together.
...Which brings us, of course, to one of the two queer subplots. While we don't get a whiff that Claire has an, erm, softball-playing past (let alone bats for both teams), Frank does. In Season 1, we got a hint at Frank's college reunion (when he tells an old friend, "You meant something to me," with unmistakably romantic overtones), but weren't beaten over the head with it. Which I LOVE, because it would be waaay too easy to show Frank lusting after congressional intern boys. We don't get the sense that Frank is hiding some big dark secret; he's simply attracted to both men and women, so in the context of his selectively-open marriage (remember Claire's icy "What does she give us?" re: Frank's liaison with Zoe in Season 1?), it makes sense that he would sleep with both men and women.
What makes this so interesting and weirdly modern (no judgment, just my own prudishness showing) is that Claire is not only cool with Frank's predilections, but helps them along. The morning after the couple seduces Meecham, Claire asks how Frank slept, and when he says he slept great, tells him, "Good. You needed that." OMG, Claire. OMG. Not to mention, how many threesomes have you ever heard of that involve two men and one woman rather than the other way around? I love that this turns the typical straight male fantasy on its head.
And, of course, there's the other Big Queer Subplot, which involves Rachel Posner, the ex-sex worker with whom Frank's chief henchman, Doug, has become obsessed. After meeting through a proselytization attempt on public transit, Lisa Williams moves in with Rachel, and soon converts her... in more ways than one. I saw this one coming a mile away, yet I was still surprised by it--and surprise + inevitability makes for great drama.
Sure, "House of Cards" isn't exactly brimming with homos, but it's a heck of a lot gayer than most of the other good dramas around these days. Plus, I love that a character's being gay isn't the be-all and end-all of the character. Rachel's relationship is a big deal because she's finally found love and Doug is devastated, and Rachel has to break with Lisa because of her (Rachel's) sex-working past--not because Rachel is--gasp--queer. Same deal with Frank. He's bi--maybe--but he doesn't seem to be "struggling" with this fact. Another way "House of Cards" does queer so well is that it doesn't flinch or pull punches or leave the gay stuff to hints and allusions (like, say, "Mad Men" does, and "Downton Abbey" has done since Episode 2). Nope, the gay kisses get screen time. Almost like they're equal relationships or something.
I bet my DGF and I aren't the only "House of Cards" binge-watchers out there. What did you all think? (And what should my next addiction be?)
Awesome Butch Underthings.
With Valentine's Day around the corner, it's a good time to think about your intimate apparel. If my Facebook fans are an indication, most butches wear boxer briefs or regular briefs (men's or women's) during the day and regular boxers to sleep in at night. Some favorite brands: Fruit of the Loom, CK, Starter, and Champion.
These are fine go-tos, but I wondered what interesting options were out there, so I did some research, contacted companies and Etsy shops, and got some wares to inspect. Here--in no particular order--are some awesome choices that will let you look great, have some cool style options, and support small businesses. (These make wonderful gifts, too.)
Bonus Pants is a little company out of Portland that offers a ton of fun, loud choices for cotton boxers (including mustaches, donuts, bananas, potatoes, skulls, bacon strips, motorcycles, and more. The owner, Dagny, will make any style with or without an open fly (I tried both and prefer without). They're baggy, plenty long, and don't ride up. Around $18.
Gripped Basewear is a relatively new company, queer-owned and made in Canada! Their boxer briefs are a little short for my taste and have a bit of a pouch in the front, but they come in a range of terrific colors, their customer service is awesome, and their undies are super soft. If you're pale, unskinny, or don't have much of a butt, these aren't likely to be as attractive on you as they are on Gripped's hot male models. But if you want to show off your stuff and support a queer business, this is an awesome choice. $30.
Though they only have one style to choose from, Ohganix boxer briefs are also worth a look. They're expensive as heck ($60), but the softest boxer briefs I've ever tried on. Made in California, organic, and probably macrobiotic and gluten-free as well. Mine are 96% hemp and 4% spandex, and have the perfect amount of stretch. (They make "ladies'" stuff, too.)
Focx is an incredibly hot British brand, and if you've never checked them out, now's the time (even if it's just for the hot pics on their website... yowza!). It's made for women, by women, and has tons of fabrics and two styles: boi shorts (left), and bocxers, which are a little longer. I've tried both. Although I wanted to like the boi shorts best, my torso bears an insufficient resemblance to the models' for it to look great on me. Still, awesome quality at a decent price (£16.99, or about $26). The bocxers, on the other hand, are totally comfy and hot. Try both!
I thought these were a little cheesy at first, but I admit that I totally love my tie-dyed boxer briefs from 2 Tie Dye 4. They're a steal at $16, come in boxer briefs (Champion) or boxers (Merona), and add some really fun color to your boring ol' underwear drawer. They're also pre-washed, so despite my worries, they didn't dye my other clothing. Maybe best of all, they come from Hawaii's Big Island. Aloha, butches!
EX Designs makes boxers in fabrics that include football logos, seasonal prints, and two John Deere tractor prints (yes, really). They're made for men, so there's extra material up front, but they're a deal at $16 for such cool fabrics (and if they don't have a fabric you want, be sure to ask!).
KLeonardDesigns offers a similar style to EX Designs and Bonus Pants, also with a broad range of fabrics (check out these paw prints), not all of which are pictured in the store. The fit is wider and shorter than others I've tried. Since I like my boxers on the long side, I didn't love the fit, but plenty of butches complain about too-long boxers, and would find these perfect. Good quality, steep price. $72.
If Fruit of the Looms fit you well but you're interested in something with a little more spice, check out Sexy Delights. Being a fan of the bookish ladies, I chose their reading mudflap girl (left), but in lime green. I think they're super fun, but my DGF maintains that they're tacky. We're probably both right. Tons of print options. $20.
Last, but decidedly not least, are these great boxers from AmiElisah. They're especially well made (even my hard-to-impress DGF was impressed!), come from Britain, and have little tiny elephants printed all over them. Very cute and wearable both under pants and to bed. £15.00 = $24.
I hope these great boxers and boxer briefs inspire you to spice up your underthings. When I told them about Butch Wonders, the owners of all of these businesses were super enthusiastic about having butch customers. Yay for queer-friendly small businesses!
In addition to the boxers I descibed here, I've also got some awesome, never-worn pairs of boxers and boxer-briefs to give away (including ones from Focx and LKeonardDesigns), as well as some hot greeting cards and a pair of cufflinks from Focx! Send me a picture of yourself in boxers or boxer briefs and a tank or T-shirt and I'll enter you to win schwag! Pics may be posted on butchwonders.com, so keep it PG-13 and SFW. ;)
In an bout of productivity, I've been buying my Christmas gifts early--mainly because my DGF and I have to buy gifts for people we don't know super well (my brother's in-laws and their family). They're doing a "stocking exchange," meaning that everyone puts a small gift into everyone else's stocking.
The upshot? I'm turning into a semi-pro stocking stuffer. I figured sharing my ideas might save you some time finding cool gifts. So forget the bubble bath and candy canes and check out these ideas. My categories are food, practical, and fun. All are under $15 (and most are under $10!).
5 Edible Stocking Stuffers
Who likes food? Answer: everyone. If you're strapped for cash and short on ideas, here are five sweet and savory selections.
#3: Everything imported from France is vaguely classy and expensive, right? This 5-star mango lime ginger jam by L'Epicurien is no exception. There are several other flavors, most around $8-14. These include confit of rose petals (edible?), banana flambee jam (how do they light a fire in that tiny jar?), and confit d'ananas au poivre de penja (whatever that is).
5 Practical Stocking Stuffers
Sometimes the most commonsense gifts are the ones we overlook. For the more practical recipients on your list, check out these five ideas.
5 Fun and Frivolous Stocking Stuffers
These are great gifts for kids, people in their 20s, or anyone who you think would appreciate something kind of colorful/fun/frivolous.
T-shirts are so gay.
Holy crap, it's October! If anyone knows how that happened, email me.
If you follow me on FB, you know I love T-shirts and have recently designed some that you can purchase for your very own! $5 of each sale supports this site. The rest goes to Skreened. I chose them because they seem socially responsible (but they're not cheap!). More designs coming soon.
With the plethora of independent T-shirt sellers out there, there's no excuse for parading your queer self around town in dull shirts that say things like "Quiksilver" (full disclosure: I love Quiksilver). So I went to Etsy, found the coolest T-shirts, ordered 10-15 of them (some were donated), and wore them around for a couple months. Here are my top picks (not in order, though the first two are probably my favorites!).
Dana Gibson's Etsy shop contains simple artistic homages to--in her words--"all creatures, big and small, except for horses." The green four-shark design (left) comes printed on an American Apparel shirt. It instantly became my favorite T-shirt and has held that position for months. The high-quality printing survives lots of washings. $20.
...And this is my close second favorite! Chris, the owner of the Ideaka shop, specializes in designs that tend to incorporate maps, bicycles, and/or birds. I get a ton of compliments every time I wear this shirt, and the quality of the printing is impressive. Printed on an American Apparel shirt. The price is steep, but I'd rather get this shirt than two Hurley tees at Target or something. $28.
Lara, owner of 237inc, has some cool designs--some of which are explicitly queer (one of my favorites just says "gayish"). I don't love the Fruit-of-the-Loom shirt it was printed on, but I do love my "I heart coffee" design, especially the cool print job, which makes each shirt a little different from the next. Reasonably priced. $20.
This is the softest T-shirt I've ever owned. I'm not in love with this particular design (though I do like the "Grow More" one a lot). The collar is a little larger and thinner than on other shirts. I end up wearing it to sleep because it's so incredibly soft. I guess it's made out of bamboo(?!). $28.
Yeah, this is a little dorky, but we all know that dorky is in. Jodi Stiefvater's store, TheSimpleLaugh, caters to geocachers, map-lovers, and coffee drinkers. Unfortunately, not all sizes and styles are available now; let's hope she makes more. $9.
If you're looking for something a little different from the norm, but still cool, check out RetroPopNamu's store, which riffs on Japanese vintage style to create a variety of interesting designs. I love my bullet train design (pictured right), although after 8-10 washes, the graphic is already fading a bit. These shirts run a little larger than most, and the collar seems kind of thin and stretches out easily. Still, it's a cool enough shirt that I'd buy from this store again. $28.
As Etsy shops go, ZenThreads is pretty large. They have a terrific assortment of shirts from which to choose--tons of animals, but also miscellaneous designs featuring astronauts, ampersands (I disapprove of ampersands, just FYI), and hops. I got the one pictured left, and while it's cool, the contrast doesn't show up nearly as well on the actual shirt. They use American Apparel tees. Good price, too. $18.
Dark Cycle Clothing
Dark Cycle Clothing specializes in shirts of a few categories, the largest of which is "animals on bicycles." While the print is way too big (and maybe a little too blatantly hipstery) for this shirt to be a favorite of mine, I like their art. I suggest getting a higher-contrast shirt/print pairing than the squirrel one (pictured), which is what I have. Printed on an organic American Apparel shirt. $25.
This adamantly political, left-leaning, anarchist, feminist, environmentally-conscious shop prints on used tees from thrift stores. A good idea, but I don't like not knowing the brand ahead of time--even though I ordered my usual size, the shirt I received ended up being way too big for me. Plus, I didn't like that it was already a little pilled. Still, an awesome idea. $18.
There you have it--awesome tees to spice up your fall. Yay for supporting Etsy and independent businesses! And if you have a great idea for a BW shirt, let me know--we'll make it happen.
You may know her as cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester on Glee. Or as the sexy-but-sleazy divorce lawyer on The L-Word. Or even as Gayle Sweeney, recovering addict and head of the Sturdy Wings program in "Role Models."
But did you know that Jane Lynch once starred in a long-running stage version of Brady Bunch episode remakes? Or that when she was a kid, she used to sneak into her father's closet and try on his ties and suits? (I'm guessing that latter morsel resonates with some of you as much as it does with me!)
In her new(ish) book, Happy Accidents (2011), 51-year-old Lynch recounts all of this and much, much more--starting with her girlhood in Dolton, Illinois and finishing up with her present-day life in Los Angeles.
One of my favorite things about Happy Accidents is that Lynch doesn't pull punches. You get the shame she felt as a high school freshman when she dropped out of her first acting role; the depth and struggle of her addiction to alcohol; her blithe arrogance in approaching early acting roles. There's pain, sweat, hard work, awkwardness, and chance meetings. There's joy, hijinks, foibles, and clear-eyed reflections on people's capacity for change. Nor do you need to be a Gleek or a Christopher Guest enthusiast to enjoy the book. Happy Accidents is rife with references that will resonate with dykes and comedy fans of all stripes.
Though I'm not usually much for memoirs, Happy Accidents won me over. This may be in part because I "read" the audio version, which the author reads herself. Lynch's inflection and timing are as great as you'd expect, and really animate the prose. I highly recommend listening to it. You also get a hardback copy online for just $7.33, or a Kindle edition with audio/video for $9.50.
Happy Accidents will be released paperback on May 1. Outstanding.