Archive for December, 2010

Friday Reads: How To Build A Fire by Erin Bried

December 10, 2010  |  reviews  |  No Comments

Remember Erin Bried’s first book, How To Sew A Button: And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew? This week she releases her second book, How To Build A Fire: And Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew. One of those things might be just right for that person on your holiday gift list you haven’t bought anything for yet, hmm?

Here’s the description:

As members of the Greatest Generation, our grandfathers were not only defined by the Depression but also by their heroic service to the country in World War II. Courageous, responsible, and involved, they understand sacrifice, hard work, and how to do whatever is necessary to take care of their loved ones. They also know how to have a rollicking good time.

Sensible, fun, and inspiring, How to Build a Fire offers a rare glimpse into the hearts and minds of grandfathers near and far by sharing their practical skills and sweet stories on how to be stronger, smarter, richer, and happier. Inside are more than one hundred essential step-by-step tips for fixing, leading, prospering, playing, and hosting, including how to

• buck up and be brave in the face of adversity
• play hard and break in a baseball mitt
• bait a hook and catch a big fish
• look dapper and tie a perfect tie
• get a raise and earn more
• write a love letter and kindle romance
• change a flat tire and save the day
• stand up and give a sparkling toast
• play the harmonica and make your own music

Loaded with charming illustrations, good humor, and warm nostalgia, How to Build a Fire is the perfect handbook for guys or gals of any age. The first of its kind, this collection of our grandfathers’ hard-earned wisdom will help you build confidence and get back to what’s really important in life.

I haven’t had a chance to read it all yet, really, but it’s so much fun to flip through.

Check out howtobuildafirebook.com or follow Erin on Twitter @niftybutton.

The “Butch Buddy” Movie

December 8, 2010  |  miscellany, reviews  |  2 Comments

Did you ever see the film By Hook Or By Crook? When I saw it at a little indy theater in Seattle, with my then-girlfriend, I heard it called the “butch buddy” movie. (It’s too bad it didn’t click for me then that because the film reminded me of our relationship, that the relationship probably wasn’t going to last. But that’s another story.)

Apparently Lesbian News called it “The top butch buddy movie of all time!” … Are there other butch buddy movies that I don’t know about? Is there a whole butch buddy genre? Where are they hiding?!

Anyway here’s the trailer.

And the description of the film:

This innovative Sundance hit spins a tremendously entertaining adventure story about two butch/trans buddies on the streets of San Francisco in search of love and money. Starring LA performer/artist Harriet “Harry” Dodge (Cecil B. Demented, The Joy of Life) and former Tribe 8 dyke punk rocker Silas Howard, By Hook or By Crook remains one of the most popular queer cult movies of all time.

Shy (Howard) is a small-town loner who dumps a diner job and thumbs to San Francisco to pursue a life of petty crime. Along the way, Shy stumbles into the off-kilter Valentine (Dodge). An unexpected and magical friendship sparks, as they steal and grift their way towards understanding themselves and the crazy world around them. Co-starring performance artiste’ Stanya Kahn and super sexy San Francisco dyke poet Carina Gia.

Why am I telling you this? Well, two reasons. One, it’s on Netflix Instant Watch, and if, like me, that service has pretty much replaced your television, you might want to curl up one of these wintery nights and watch it.

Second, Silas Howard is reading at Sideshow in December! Come join us for the last Sideshow of the year and hear some great stories. Along with Silas, comic Heather Gold, one of my favorite buddies Whitney Porter, and hot queer all-star couple Elizabeth Whitney & Lea Robinson will be sharing their work also.

This month’s theme is FAMILY/TRADITIONS, starring:
Heather Gold (Tummelvision.tv)
Silas Howard (By Hook or By Crook)
Whitney Porter (Ping Pong Literary Journal)
Lea Robinson (Butch Mamas) and Elizabeth Whitney (The Secretaries)

“The Complexity of Butch and Femme”

December 7, 2010  |  essays  |  2 Comments

Perhaps you remember: about two summers ago Esther D. Rothblum, Ph.D., who is a Professor of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University, was conducting an extensive survey about butch and femme identities, both independently and in relation to each other.

I put the call up here and she let me know that many of the participants interviewed were from having announced it here.

The article is finalized and now out, published in Psychology of Sexualities Review, Vol. 1, No. 1.

Dr. Rothblum sent me a PDF copy and said it was fine to reproduce here, so in case you’d like to read it, here it is: The complexity of Butch and Femme among sexual minority women in the 21st century.

The Sugarbutch 2010 Holiday Gift Guide

December 6, 2010  |  miscellany  |  14 Comments

The last few years, I’ve done a holiday gift guide of sorts, ideas for gifts. Last year I focused on non-gendered gifts, gifts that could be for anyone. In 2008, I specifically listed things of masculine-of-center or dapper interest. When I started this in 2007, I had a butch/femme guide which included some typical girly girl gifts as well. Because I’ve got a gender fetish, I like gift giving excuses, and I like to give gifts that are highly gendered (well, when I know the person who is receiving it would like that kind of thing, of course) and gifts that are a little decadent, maybe classic and a little uncommon, things that we wouldn’t necessarily buy for ourselves but that add that little extra pizazz to our outfits, our gender presentations, our fashion.

This year I’m focusing on my own personal wishlist: things butch-related that I’ve always kinda wanted in my arsenal, but don’t yet have. If you’d like to buy one of these things for me, well gosh, thanks in advance, I’m flattered, and if you email me we can perhaps figure that out. (You can also make a donation to Sugarbutch by using the Paypal button over there at the bottom of the sidebar. This site is an expensive endeavor, and is a labor of love, and any financial support is greatly appreciated, and will probably go toward the new bed that Kristen and I need.) But that’s not the purpose of this list so much as to share some inspirations and ideas for the holidays.

One more note—if you are an Amazon shopper, consider clicking through my Amazon links before your final check out, will you? If you start here before you check out, you’ll give me a tiny amount of kickback, a few bucks here and there that I can put toward the cost of this site. And hey, if you’re going to be shopping there anyway, why not help me out? I’d appreciate it.

These gifts could be for girls or boys or grrrls or bois or your mom or your lover or whomever, and is not intended to be restricted to one type of gender. It’s just things that I am currently coveting, and would love to receive this year. On to the ideas!

Monogrammed handkerchiefs seem so classy. I have definitely picked up the habit of carrying one around, though usually it’s one of the hunter greens that Kristen has given to me. Sometimes I need to wear something a little more classic and upscale, though, and something a little more delicate and monogrammed would feel special. I know it seems a little indulgent, but isn’t that partially the point? To get someone something they wouldn’t necessarily get on their own, to encourage a dapper or polished expression that makes us just a little extra sparkly.

It seems silly to pay a lot for a gym bag, I mean just any bag will do. I have a cheap canvas bag from the national scuba diving association because my sister is a member and ended up with two bags from them, so she let me use one. It is, sadly, on its last legs and the zipper just broke, but it’s still pretty much functional, and I can’t quite find the perfect bag to replace it. What I really want is the Fred Perry Gym Bag, but it looks like I missed that window and it’s no longer available. But that style! The retro two-toned barrel bag is exactly what I want. Wish I could find one with a similar look! Any leads?

While I’m talking about gym bags … I already have one actually, but a personalized dopp kit might be a great gift. A “dopp kit” is another word for a toiletries bag for travel, basically. Not sure where that came from but it’s a kind of sophisticated word for a (in my mind) necessary accessory. Etsy has quite a few, I like this traveler bag in navy seersucker. I always keep one packed for quick & easy traveling, and I take one to the gym also. Makes it easy to have everything all in one place, I don’t go around searching for things when I need to pack for a trip. Makes it much easier. There are ones that hang, too, and ones that have lots of little pockets … just depends on what you’re looking for. I like these, probably because it reminds me of the one my dad had when I was growing up.

I can’t justify the cost of a Bookbook Macbook cover when I just don’t have the disposable income these days, but oh my gosh I love them. I see they have iPad covers too. Oh, I suppose I can add an iPad to this wishlist, while I’m at it. For all the traveling I’ve been doing these days I think it’d be really useful to be able to carry around books in one device, since often a third of my carry-on is filled with books. Because they’re necessary! What if I get to Portland or Northampton or Providence or Tuscon and I need to reference something and I don’t have it on me?

I’ve been a little obsessed with shawl-collar sweaters this season, and of course they’re $200+. American Eagle has a nice one, though, for only about $60. I’m not crazy about the color navy but I bet I’d wear it regardless. I keep seeing guys in this kind of sweater everywhere, and I love the look of the shawl collar. I’m not usually one up on fashion trends, but this seems like a new thing for me. I’ve looked at other stores in my price range (like Old Navy and H&M) but it doesn’t look like they have these kinds of sweaters … doesn’t it just look like the kind of thing you’d wear while skiing the French Alps, or sipping hot chocolate by a fireplace while going over an important document on your iPad, or getting out of the car with bundles of holiday packages in tow to greet family? Seems so classic and boyish and adult.

I’ve had my eye on a valet stand for a long time. If I was still working at a daily office job, I would definitely pick one up—I’m never quite awake enough in the morning to make smart decisions about my clothes, so it’d be better if I set ‘em all out the night before and had them all ready for me. Seems like there are lots of valet stands available online, ranging from about $75 to $250 plus. I wouldn’t need anything too fancy, just somewhere crisp and easy to lay out my next day’s clothes.

Anything by Kenneth Cole. Seriously, anything. Even if I already have that shirt or those pants or that leather bag, I would not mind another one. I will probably wear through it eventually, may as well have a backup. I mean how great is that raspberry scarf with the grey vest and black tie and jacket in that photo? I love it. If I had to pick one store that was the only place I’d get my clothes from, it’d probably be that one. Okay, that and Etsy. I know that’s kind of cheating, but the accessories at Etsy are essential—belt buckles and cuff links and ties, oh yes. I even requested an Etsy gift certificate on my wish list to family.

That’s all for this year! Hope this is useful in your gift-giving in the next month or so. I’ve been making the slow transition to celebrating solstice instead of christmas, so I think this year the gift exchange will be done on the 21st.

I’m curious, though: what are you most wishing to receive this year?

Oh, and … got any good gift ideas for Kristen, or for femmes in general?

PS: Fist Me This Christmas by the Wet Spots has been stuck in my head for the last week.

UPDATE: A couple more ideas, and some more links.

  • Holiday Wish List Made by Femmes from the Fuck Yeah Femmes tumblr. Support femme artists! Such as these aprons by Radical Muffin!
  • Feminist Gifts for Teen Girls from Bitch Magazine, in case you have a teen girl in your life
  • Other gift ideas that I didn’t mention and are great ideas: wooden hangers. Might seem a little anti-climatic, but they really upgrade a closet. And also, giant ice cube trays for my whiskey. Apparently, regular ice “bruises” the whiskey by melting and watering it down, but giant ice cubes don’t melt as fast and keep the whiskey more pure.

Black Swan. Just, Wow.

December 3, 2010  |  reviews  |  3 Comments

The new film Black Swan opens today.

When the trailer came out and Dorothy Snarker wrote about every detail, I was intrigued. When Kottke posted the international Black Swan movie posters, I was impressed.

And then I was offered a ticket to the screener in New York a couple weeks ago, and I can’t wait to see it again.

Here’s the trailer, if you haven’t seen it.

So, a couple quick things about the film. I’m not going to go on & on about my analysis of it, you should just see it. Though you should know that it’s kind of a horror movie, definitely has some gore, and lots of suspense. They do an amazing job of showing the glamour and beauty of ballet while also juxtaposing the damage that kind of work does on the human body, the reality of starving (or being bulimic), of broken toenails from pointe shoes, of the competition and near-impossible stress the work demands of a body.

And don’t forget that this film is directed Darren Aronofsky, the man behind “Requiem for a Dream” and “The Wrestler.” That should give you a sense of the level of creepy emotionality behind this film (if you’ve seen either of those).

The queer blogs are all painting it as though there’s this huge rivalry between Lily (Mila Kunis) and Nina (Natalie Portman), and the trailer certainly does a lot to back that up. But it isn’t about that so much as it’s about Nina against herself. About coming into her own sexual power, about striving so hard to be perfect that she’s lost her passion and delicious gusto, and is losing her bite, her teeth. Well, I don’t want to ruin it or anything, but she gets it back. Nina’s restraint through the beginning of the film is practically frustrating—but the release and climax is all the more satisfying.

I read a quote about the depth and bredth of female experience that this film portrays, and I really have to agree:

Using loaded code words — from “WHORE” scrawled on a mirror to the suffocating “mother” character, and infantilizing endearments like “sweet girl” and “little princess” to the domineering father figure who blatantly eroticizes her — the film is a hotbed of symbolism and Freudian psychology. Phrases “letting go” and “live a little” are spoken repeatedly. Jealousy, transcendence, paranoia, lust, the decay of the body, fragile self-esteem, self-mutilation — it’s like an early Liz Phair record in its interest in showing the fascinating breadth of the female experience.

And the conceit of the white swan and the black swan—reflected both on stage and off in the costuming of Portman and Kunis (who has black wings tattoed on her back)—provides a perfect visual and thematic metaphor for the warring factions of fear and desire inside a scared girl’s fraught relationship with her body. (Aronofsky explicitly referenced Roman Polanski’s “Repulsion,” David Cronenberg’s “The Fly” and Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s “The Red Shoes” as cinematic touchpoints.)

Despite the fact that the film was written by three men (Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin) and directed by another, Aronofsky said that they sought input from nearly a dozen professional ballets dancers, active and retired, to inform the world and the girls’ relationships. He also noted that there were aspects he filtered into his directing from watching how his wife, Rachel Weisz, approaches performing. One also suspects that there was a bit of a meta motivation in casting Winona Ryder in the role of the aging ballerina pushed aside to make room for Portman’s character as the new star.

Portman’s performance is a marvel in that so much of the camera work is done directly in her face. A potent transformation she makes during the story is remarkable, and this will surely do her the twin favors of shortlisting her for an Oscar and erasing any remaining memories of her participation in “Star Wars.” Well, that, and the scenes of her masturbating and having sex with Mila Kunis.

For a graphic sex scene the actresses, who are friends in real life (Portman suggested Kunis for the role of her rival, Lily) suggested that a couple of drinks would help grease the wheels, so to speak. A bottle of tequila was procured for the occasion, and though a day and a half were blocked for the sequence, Aronofsky, feeling guilty, took a half day away and moved on.

from Darren Aronofsky talks about making a ‘disturbing’ ballet film

There are plenty of other things to watch and read about this online if your curiosity is piqued, like the music video trailer and the featurette. And I am a little bit in love with the clutch Natalie carried to the New York premiere on November 30th. But—$1330 for a purse? Really? Even if it is a first edition of Lolita, I don’t think so. I’m told by my trusty Twitter friends that Rebound Designs on Etsy is the first to do those book clutches, and those prices are way better (and great to note with the holidays coming up).

I’m not an expert on these things, but everybody seems to be Oscar buzzing around this film, and I can see why. Natalie Portman is amazing in it. So restrained, controlled, precise. The control and precision of her facial expressions alone, wow.

If you see it, let me know what you think?

Welcome to Butch Lab!

December 1, 2010  |  on butches  |  8 Comments

Greetings! I've been working on Butch Lab for most of the fall of 2010, and I'm really excited to share the space with you. Thanks to Kyle, Lauren, Yvette, Roxanne, and Sarah, who have been helping me set up this space and research hot inspirational folks who are featured on this site.

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Crash Pad Membership Winner—Join us for the Porn Party Tonight

December 1, 2010  |  miscellany  |  No Comments

And the winner of the one month level 2 Crash Pad Series membership is … AfroDisiac! Will email you directly with more information. And I hope you can join Garnet Joyce & I for the Porn Party tonight!

Didn’t win this time? Aw, sorry. Next time maybe. But you can still join us for the Porn Party—use coupon code 14E for 10% off any level of membership! Check out some of the beautiful stills from the scenes we’re going to watch.

A few folks have said things like, “Boy, that sounds fun! Too bad you live so far away!” But guess what? It doesn’t matter where you are, you can take part in the Porn Party—it happens at your place, and on Twitter!

Maybe I haven’t explained it quite well enough. Here’s what you do:

1. Make sure you’ve got a membership to the Crash Pad Series! Level 2 or 3 recommended (for streaming video—level 1 is photos only). Use coupon code 14E if you don’t have one yet, that’ll getcha 10% off. Dig up your password and have it on hand so you don’t have to scramble for it later.

2. Log on to Twitter and follow the hashtag #pornparty. You can also do this through TweetChat, which is a great way to follow conversations happening on Twitter.

3. At the specified time, in your time zone (6pm PST / 9pm EST) tonight, Wednesday December 1st, start up episode 81 of Crash Pad Series, and start up Twitter, watch, and post your thoughts. You can follow what we’re chatting about even without having a Twitter account, but it’d be more fun if you post your thoughts too (and include the hastag #pornparty so we see it!).

4. Bonus: follow @mrsexsmith and @garnetjoyce, the hosts of this Twitter Porn Party, and follow @crashpadseries and @pinkwhite and @shinelouise who are the makers of the Crash Pad Series, and follow @cinnamax, @tinahornsass, @billycastroxxx, @arabelleraphael, @thedylanryan, and @drewdeveaux who are some of the stars we’ll be watching in the scenes tonight! (Did I miss anybody?)

Get it? I hope you’ll join us!