April 2007 Archives

Karolina's Krush

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Karolina with her arms wrapped around NicoI finished Joss Whedon's first issue on Runaways and was happy with his script's continued development of the main characters. I wrote previously here about Xavin, the gender-switching alien and partner of Karolina, and issue #25 continued to develop this character in an intelligent manner.

I also really liked the scene between the lesbian character Karolina and her team mate Nico, a straight girl who she has a not-so-secret crush on. I thought the artist and the writer captured both the sweetness of their affection for each other and the tensions between them. It depicted a very realistic dynamic and will probably be very helpful reading for young gays and lesbians.

In the panel shown here, Karolina has just joined Nico on a rooftop and, finding her friend shivering, wraps her coat and her arms around her. There is a knowing look on Nico's face as she glances sidelong at her friend, who continues to embrace Nico, but she allows Karolina's arms to rest where they are. They both enjoy a moment of reverie, seen in their expressions here, before Nico's jealousy and Karolina's resentment start to surface.

Commonly catatonic

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Over at the Mother Jones site, I ran across a fantastic photo essay called American Happiness and the Need to Consume. The sequence of photos is very tightly constructed, taking the viewer from a starting point at the mouth of a mall-based retail store to an endpoint in a grocery store, facing a wall of stacked goods.

The selection of photos is taken from a larger project called Copia by photographer Brian Ulrich. Begun after 9/11, the intent of the project was to explore the Bush administration's directive to the people of the U.S. to stimulate the economy in the wake of the attack by going shopping.

I find a lot to admire in these photos, but I was particularly drawn to the faces of people while shopping. Ulrich has captured that moment of intense decision-making in consumers' expressions, which I recognize from my own experience of shopping. I know that look has been on my face, and I've seen it often on people around me. But captured in photos, the expression appears catatonic.

Aqua Fresh

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A talking purple humanoid squidAquaman #50 was one of the silliest comics titles I've read in awhile, and I thoroughly loved it. I don't know whose idea it was to take the mood of the Aquaman title and put it in reverse, but it was a great move.

The comic is funny and complicated and offbeat in a way that's hard to summarize. It seems like it should be a children's title but it's not. There is a simple freshness to this Aquaman, but it has a gangly, sprawling story that doesn't seem like it's aimed at children or young adults. Could it be? A general audience comic that's fun for all ages? I'll have to keep reading to find out.

A Star is Born

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Minion brings in the QueerieI recently watched the First Annual Queerie Awards, recognizing excellence in presenting gay content in comics. This new awards show comes from the people behind the Comic Book Queers podcast. I was delighted to see the Queeries were presented in video instead of audio format, so that I could visually partake in the glitz and the glamour of this very special night.

In the screengrab shown here, presenter Rhoda Nowhere is announcing Batwoman in DC's 52 #11 as the winner in the "Most Gratuitous Inclusion of a Lipstick Lesbian to Generate Sales Among the Straight Male Demographic" category. I don't know if I agree with the judges on that one, but I enjoyed seeing the award presented anyway. In fact, I felt the true star of the evening was Minion, the winsome bug who brought out the statuettes for the winners. Hopefully we'll be seeing more of him or her in the future. And speaking of him or her, I also thought the Queeries included one of the best-named drag king characters ever, Mike Hunt.

Grid Storytelling

Sometimes my favorite comic book layout is a simple symmetrical grid. The regularity of the grid can create different effects depending on the story. In some stories, I find that the strict progression of the grid propels the narrative forward in a way that makes the outcome seem inevitable. In other cases, a grid can serve as a quiet counterpoint to an explosive or strange storyline.

Over at Electro^plankton, I was intrigued to read about a photography team, made up of photographer Ari Versluis and stylist Ellie Uyttenbroek, who uses the grid format . Their work plays off the ideas of individual and group identity, showing members of various groups composed in a grid layout. One can see both the distinctiveness of the group identity and the conformity within the group at the same time.

What I noticed looking at these pictures was the different ways my eye read these photos. In some cases, my eye would take in a block at a time, moving vertically down the page, as if to emphasize the uniformity of the images. At other times, I seemed to take in the whole grid at once, then various sets of images would emerge from the grid based on similarities of color or style. The photos could tell different stories, either of similarity or difference, based on how my eyes viewed the grid.

"Where's the Outrage?"

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A few weeks ago, I heard an amazing podcast interview with Larry Kramer, founder of ACT UP, or the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, on Democracy Now! I recommend it strongly to anyone who is interested in contemporary politics in the United States. I heard about the show through Wanda Wisdom at Lucky Bitch Radio, who discussed the show on her own podcast.

The interview was conducted to commemorate the anniversary of ACT UP's inception. Kramer talks about why ACT UP was successful in its time and the need for similar activist groups today. My favorite part of the interview is when Kramer calls Ronald Reagan a monster for his part in the AIDS epidemic and says the number of infections and deaths worldwide to date are his true legacy. It was so fucking marvelous to hear Kramer cut through the bullshit sentiment the U.S. has created around Reagan and tell it like it really is.

Whether you're gay or not, you really should listen to this podcast. In addition to being relevant to the continuing AIDS situation, it's also very on point regarding our current health care problems in the U.S. and what can be done about them.

Art from the Ring

Portrait of wrestler with blue maskI found a link on Muttpop's blog to an online gallery of artwork inspired by Mexican wrestling, or Lucha Libre. The exhibit is called Viva Lucha! and it's free to view, although it will cost you several minutes of your time as you wait for the flash gallery to load. I'm not kidding--open a new browser tab, go make tea, do some stretching--it's going to take a while. The image shown here, by Mik Gaspay, is from the show.

Making things easier

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I've made a few site changes that I hope will make In Sequence easier to use. The category archives are now paginated, so instead of having to load all six years worth of posts in any given category, readers will get a more easily digestible 15 posts per page.

I've also added Zooomr buttons to the bottom of posts in those cases where additional photos are available for viewing at my Zooomr page. Although I have a flickr account, I chose to put my photos on Zoom because of the existence of content filters (censorship) on flickr. Most of my recent photos have been NSFW, so I felt that Zoom was the logical choice for me.

Wondrous News

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I was just getting to ready to rave about how much I love Birds of Prey as written by Gail Simone when I read the news that Simone is leaving the book. Then, almost as quickly, I read that Simone was set to take over Wonder Woman.

Katrina and Barbara Gordon debate on a dormroom bedI'm going to be really sad to see Simone leave Birds of Prey. I really love the relationships she's created between the different female characters in the book. In particular, I like the back story Simone set up recently between Katrina Armstrong (Spy Smasher) and Oracle. The two women are shown as rivals going back to their college days, where they competed in everything from sports to dormroom debates, as seen in this panel from issue #103. They share the same alpha female energy, but as they mature, they express it in different ways.

There are a lot of alpha females in Birds of Prey, which is part of the reason I like it so much. I've become very fond of that big-boned gal Big Barda lately. I hope they keep her around awhile, and Manhunter, too.

Even though I'll miss reading Simone on Birds of Prey, I think it's great that she's going to be on Wonder Woman. Right now, I actually enjoy reading various comics bloggers' passionate opinions on Wonder Woman more than I like reading the comic book. I hope Simone will be able to turn the title into something I want to read consistently, instead of something I pick up now and then out of curiosity and a desire to want to read it.

I Will Never Work Again

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Just before leaving for Dinah, I ran across an article at CNET called Want a job? Clean up your web act. It revealed that employers and human resources representatives are using personal information found online through Google, blogs, MySpace and other places on the Internet to make hiring decisions. According to the article:

Examples of online information that has been shown to create negative information include MySpace pages that reveal excessive drinking or disrespect for work.

This week, in a Wall Street Journal article titled "How Blogging Can Help You Get a New Job," more evidence of how an online identity can work against you in hiring situations:

Mr. Glass was also put off by instances of foul language and comments about getting drunk. "This was a character problem," he says. "Whether you're writing about people you interviewed with or you're making a public statement that can be construed as immoral, these are the types of things an employer is going to look at and consider in their assessment of you as a candidate."

Just a reminder to those editors and marketing types who have enjoyed reading my Dinah Shore adventures, I am a professional writer and you can contact me through my email address--at right--for all your excessive drinking, burlesque dancing and lowlife-related copy assignments.

On Sunday morning, the Cute-Little-Red-Headed-Girlfriend and I were scheduled to attend a jazz brunch with free mimosas as part of our VIP (Very Into Pussy) Package. It was a really charming event, held in a courtyard restaurant across from our hotel. The jazz singer at the event was also a lesbian and she began her set with "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever." She called out to the crowd, "How many of you know this song?"

I was puzzled by her question--group of lesbians, broadway musical, Barbra Streisand--who doesn't know this song? Then the answer hit me with great force: "The women sitting here are too young to know this song." Mentally, I felt myself move one giant step closer towards a spot in my brain marked "See plastic surgeon."

I was so distressed by my realization that I didn't even think, as I would much later, "this never would have happened at a women's music festival." That's because at a women's music festival, I would probably have been sitting on a port-a-potty listening to the thunderous sound of drumming coming from a menopause celebration ritual in progress 100 yards away.

Later that evening, we wound up embracing the old school lesbian ways and dyking out with the dykier dykes. I'd heard that a group of lesbians with North Carolina affiliations were planning to gather at the hotel bar and watch the women's basketball game on a big plasma screen and knock back a few brews. It sounded just right, even if I was the odd woman out and the girls nicknamed me "Duke."

As we watched the game, the conversation turned to "Vanessa," one of the burlesque dancers at Dinah. One of the women had fallen hard for this dancer, and was eager to tell us about her many wonderful talents. At the top of the list was her ability to shake her incredibly tight little ass like no one else. One of the women who had seen Vanessa described her ass as "double-jointed." Although probably anatomically inaccurate, this description seemed to jog a few memories. Several women nodded thoughtfully as if to say, "why, yes, I have seen a double-jointed ass recently."

We all then decided to stomp on over to the Final Night Party to help our new friend search for Vanessa. I had my doubts about how long the relationship might last, but it seemed like a good enough way to end our adventures at Dinah Shore.

On Saturday night, the Cute-Little-Red-Headed-Girlfriend and I went to the Egyptian-themed "Ra" party held at the convention center. The place was decorated in a glitzy Vegas-style Egyptian theme, complete with a huge Tut mask dominating the central stage. A laser light show beamed Egyptian glyphs across the walls of the dance hall; I particularly liked the green undulating snakes. Dancers energetically engaged their admirers from platforms raised above the dance floor, but the attendees themselves were showing a little wear and tear from all the partying. It was like the entire crowd had that not-so-fresh feeling.

A dancer above the crowd at RaIn addition to the dance and stage area, Ra provided a casino where women could play poker, blackjack, craps and other games. A salsa room and a karaoke room were also on offer, along with drinks, drinks, and more drinks. (Gays and alcohol sponsorship--now there's a marriage that's lasted.)

The draw that night was Carmen Electra and her Bombshell Babes, scheduled to perform at midnight. While at Dinah, I became aware that Carmen had a lesbian following, though I never met actually anyone who belonged to it. Like me, most of the women I talked to knew vaguely who Carmen Electra was but drew a blank on more specific questions like "what precisely is she famous for?" and "why should I care?"

Now that I've seen her act, I can tell you that Carmen Electra's stage act is a cirque du soleil influenced burlesque act. A few of the Bombshell Babes did some impressive gymnastic work, especially one trick that involved shimming up a rope, tying complicated knots around their semi-nude bodies with long red swaths of cloth, then unfurling themselves from the cloth so that their bodies dropped dramatically to inches above the stage. But overall, for an act that was advertised as sexy I found it to be sort of generic.

15th Century Fandom

If you have ever been part of an internet fandom for any television show, you must go read this hilarious post by Dorian Wright of (postmodernbarney.com). Although after reading his parody, I'm going to call him Dorian Wright, SUPRA-genius.

How did people watch TV before the internet?

We dragged our asses out of bed the morning after the PURE White Party and made a sorry appearance at the hotel breakfast buffet, along with many equally sorry-looking dykes. After greeting us with a wry call of "Morning, ladies!" the gay male wait staff proved quite caring and sympathetic as they served us our coffee.

After the excesses of the previous night, the Cute-Little-Red-Headed-Girlfriend and I felt a need to, shall we say, cleanse the palette. So instead of attending one of the numerous pool parties on offer, we opted to visit a nearby art gallery, m modern. I've been interested in some of the exhibits they've held in the past but never made the trip out to Palm Springs expressly to visit. Now I was in the neighborhood.

m modern specializes in contemporary art and artists representing the movement known as "Pop Surrealism." There were two solo shows on display while we were there, Floating World, New Work from Pizz and Imagination is Salvation by Stone. I was intrigued by the title "Floating World" because of my interest in Japanese woodblock prints known by the name ukiyo-e (floating world).

Curved objects in purple tones on canvas Pizz's paintings resembled ukiyo-e prints in their emphasis on objects and figures of mass commercial desire: cars, models, pleasure spots. In the canvas I photographed here, I like the way the curves and deep purple color create unity among the various figures . The Cute-Little-Red-Headed-Girlfriend pointed out the striking flatness of Pizz's compositions, in contrast with their sinuous surface lines.

Unconstrained by city rents, m modern has the space to display a wide variety of other artists in addition to its current exhibits. We saw work by other artists I've written about here, such as Shephard Fairey, Shag and Tim Biskup. Seeing our interest, the gallery kindly opened up some closed-off areas that were under construction to us as well. In addition to paintings and prints, m modern displayed sculpture, toys and furniture. I stopped to take a picture of designer Karim Rashid's "Orgy Couch," below, which seemed relevant to my time at Dinah.

Lime green orgy couch on pedestalI had hoped to see work by the artist Yumiko Kayakuwa, who recently had a show at m modern, but had to settle on flipping through the pages of her book, The Wild Kingdom of Yumiko Kayukawa. I became interested in the work of two artists on display, Joey Remmers, whose paintings of dislocated women in graytone landscapes I thought were beautiful. Also Glenn Barr, whose pictures seethed color while mixing mythological themes with scenes of urban life.

View more photos at my Zooomr page.

Lucy Lawless sings for the girlsAs I've stated before, the Cute-Little Red-Headed-Girlfriend and I were motivated to go to Dinah in the first place because Lucy Lawless was going to perform on stage. The next night, I stayed up until 4 am writing a report on the performance for AUSXIP, the comprehensive Xena fan site, and sent pictures in to the site in ones and twos through my gmail account on a slow wireless connection from my hotel room.

I thought about crossposting my report here, since it includes a detailed description of the PURE White Party. However, the report was really written for my hardcore sisters and brothers in the Xenaverse, so I'm once again just going to point anyone who's interested in reading it over there. If you're one of the new visitors coming to read about Dinah and you're interested in Lucy's singing, you should check out the performance videos on her website. She also has a gig coming up soon in New York.

Before the evening got started, however, the Cute-Little Red-Headed-Girlfriend concocted a complicated plan of attack for the party, which involved eating a precise amount of food at a certain hour, followed by a certain proportion of alcohol within a specified period of time. The liquor was flowing freely at the VIP Cocktail party thanks to the good folks at Finlandia Vodka, and before I knew it the Girlfriend was flying! And soon, everyone wanted to be our friend. People we barely knew were grasping the Girlfriend by the shoulders and screaming, "I looooove you!" and "You're so adorable!"

Entrance to the Pure White Party
Riding the crest of my Girlfriend's popularity when wasted, we met lots of really nice dykes that evening. And we had a fabulous time together. Everywhere around us, the women looked hot and were dancing and getting wild. Artificial snow whirled down on our heads, and here and there clothes were being removed on the dance floor while gorgeous teams of burlesque dancers performed erotic routines on stage.

The PURE White Party was one of the best parties I've ever attended. If only to recreate that experience, I'll be going back to Dinah Shore next year. Because for a few blissful hours at the PURE White Party, it was like lesbian endless summer, and the world was all sunshine and tits.

Amazon Creed

Alex in Wonderland asks if the Amazons in Wonder Woman need to update their "Code of the Amazons" based on various developments in the series. I hadn't realized how beautiful their original code was:

So, in their wisdom, the Goddesses did create a race of female warriors, dedicated to the ideals of uniting all people, all sexes, all races, all creeds.

Check out his site to read the code in its entirety.

Dancing team entertains at the white partyFriday night was the main event for us. We had signed on the for the Dinah Shore Weekend VIP package, or as I like to call it, the Very Into Pussy package, which provided us with tickets to a VIP Cocktail Party prior to the big PURE White Party.

The Cute-Little-Red-Headed-Girlfriend requested four to five hours to get dressed and ready to attend the night's events. This did not surprise me. The CLRHG had already spent that much time culling through her wardrobe and makeup in order to pack, and had wound up taking three to four times as much luggage as me. My most meticulous packing activity for Dinah was probably double counting my underwear to make sure I brought enough.

While the Girlfriend changed her outfit a dozen times of more, I had time to kick back in our luxury room and reflect. Although I had never been to Dinah before, I had been to another type of lesbian group event, the women's music festival. Actually, I had been to several, both the women-only and lesbian-only variety.

A close moment between dancersI first heard about women's music festivals during my teenage years. I had read an interview with then-punk performer Phranc where she talked about participating in all-lesbian camp-outs. I wasn't out yet and didn't know a single lesbian personally. I was deeply intrigued by the idea that somewhere there existed many lesbians and by the idea that they camped together. It almost seemed too far-fetched to be true.

But I later discovered it was true. There was even a festival circuit of sorts, which fostered many musical talents. Melissa Etheridge was one of the notable singers to come up through festival culture. Lilith Faire, in my view, later took its cues from the lesbian music festival.

Although music was the focus, these festivals also offered comedy, short plays, indie films, and informal seminars on every imaginable topic. But often the topic was politics: feminism, socialism and various forms of activism. I didn't see anything like that on offer at Dinah. Of course, I also wasn't suffering through primitive camping shower arrangements or working the co-op volunteer labor shifts that were part of women's festival culture.

The comparison between Dinah and women's music festivals seems relevant to me because, from what I understand, the festivals are on their last legs. As lesbians embrace the pro-capitalist consumer culture of Dinah, I wonder: are the choices open to lesbians becoming more plentiful, or less?

By Crom's Eternal Joystick

Feminine moans emanating from Conan's hutThanks to a tip from GayGamer.net, I went and applied to be a beta tester for the upcoming online PC game, Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures. I filled out the application thoroughly, but I have my doubts as to whether middle-aged women are really part of their target demographic. Still, WildCimmerianBulldyke is ready to serve should she be called. I would love to be able to finally live out my transgender fantasies of being built like a Frigidaire and cleaving the skull of anyone who gets in my way. (I'll bet you probably thought it was only male comics fans who had infantile power fantasies.)

First Night at Dinah

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The Cute-Little-Red-Headed-Girlfriend and I checked into our hotel in Palm Springs and were promptly greeted by waves of boisterous lesbians wanting to know how many times we'd been to Dinah before or if we were "Dinah virgins." I really hated having to admit to being a Dinah virgin, but I nodded, yes, I was a first-timer.

In fact, I did have some preconceived ideas about Dinah that I was eager to confirm or deny. As I've stated previously, most lesbians are aware of Dinah's reputation as a magnet for beautiful lesbians. Would the women be as beautiful as I'd heard? Would they be as plentiful in number? The doubts I had could only be put to rest by offering my pure body up to Dinah.

Comedy was on the schedule for Thursday night and we ventured out that evening to see comics Page Hurwitz, Poppy Champlin and Michele Balan. I've never been disappointed by a night of lesbian comedy. It's something my people do very well. Earlier this year, when Christopher Hitchens published his assaholic essay entitled "Why Women Aren't Funny," one of the few original ideas he presented was a rationale for why lesbians are good comics ("And the Sapphic faction may have its own reasons for wanting what I want—the sweet surrender of female laughter." We had a hysterical, raunchy good time.

A burlesque dancer working the audience(This picture is not from comedy night by the way. I did not take pictures of the comics. So here's a burlesque dancer from Friday night instead. Hope you don't mind.)

As we were exiting the elevator into the lobby that night, we got our first glimpse of one of the beautiful girls we'd heard so much about. Like most of the beautiful lesbians we saw that weekend, she was wearing what I came to recognize as the standard beautiful girl outfit: hotpants and a halter top. Just to rub it in, she was also wearing heels, and of course, she had long, flowing hair. Long flowing hair, especially blonde hair, is a big part of the Dinah aesthetic. Then sitting down in the audience, we had opportunity to examine the extensiveness of the beautiful girl population. And indeed, I am happy to report from the field that they are in fact just as numerous as legend holds.

Our Excellent Adventure

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View of Palm Springs from a parking lotThe Cute Little Red-Headed Girlfriend and I have returned chez nous after our insanely great long weekend at Dinah Shore. I was shocked to discover that the Old Grey Lady even had something to say about the event. You know you're loose when even she notices.

Anyway, I didn't get around to blogging while at the event, though I did manage to file a report on Lucy Lawless's performance for AUSXIP from the hotel. Go there to read it. I did Twitter for the first three days before running out of steam. I'm currently cleaning up some of the photos I took and then I'll start posting about my experience there in earnest.

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