You should see Selma, the fictionalized telling of Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s involvement in the march from Selma to Montgomery in March, 1965, to push for voting rights for black Americans. The movie is definitely entertainment and not an accurate representation of history, although it appears to do pretty well at getting the broad strokes – and many of the minor details – right. Even when it falls short in getting every detail correct, it does a masterful job of capturing the simultaneous simplicity and complexity of the civil rights movement. Simplicity, because the stated goals – full and complete legal and civil equality for black Americans – could be easily encapsulated and fit on a protest sign. Complexity, because the many organizations, leaders, politicians, and individuals involved in the movement had different – and often mutually exclusive – ideas on how to get there. Continue reading 'Review: Selma'»
Its been a month since I last wrote about sex, and considerably longer since I’ve reviewed anything. I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone by discussing how my sexual response has changed almost a year after surgery and by reviewing one of the most well known sex toys around: The
Hitcachi Original Magic Wand. This is a sex toy with a 46 year old lineage, a 5000 word Wikipedia article with almost 80 references, a guest appearance on Louie, and a humorous Twitter account. Not surprisingly, the Magic Wand has garnered lots of reviews over the years. A Google search for magic wand review brings up almost four million results ranging from Amazon customers to Autostraddle. There’s even a pair of great write ups by Zinnia Jones on using the Magic Wand as a trans woman. The first is an in-depth review of and guide to using Magic Wand attachments, while the second is a much shorter piece with some specific suggestions for first time users. With all that awesome info out there, what could I possibly have to add to the plethora of reviews, interviews, and articles?
Well, the ‘review’ section of this post is actually gonna be pretty short. In fact, it’s gonna be so short I’ve decided to craft it as a haiku:
Well crafted sex toy
Powerful betwixt my legs
Loud like crashing waves
About a year ago I purchased a Logitech Bluetooth keyboard for my Android tablet. The keyboard was totally acceptable – even pretty good – until the beginning of this past summer, when a few keys stopped working. I, being the savvy consumer that I am, went to look at their warranty page. Low and behold, I was covered by a three year warranty ensuring the product would be free from “from defects in material and workmanship.” So I filed a warranty claim.
Logitech and I went back and forth for a few weeks, them asking for the serial number, a copy of the receipt, all reasonable information for a warranty claim. At long last, they said….no. They said they would not be honoring the warranty because I had purchased the keyboard through Amazon, an “unauthorized reseller,” and the warranty didn’t apply. I asked that they please specify where in the warranty it requires purchasing from an “authorized reseller,” and they said:
The warranty is intended for authorized sellers and does not need to be shown on the the warranty policy.
The warranty is not transferrable and if the seller is not authorized, the warranty is not carried over to the second degree purchaser.
I did it: I read 50 Shades of Grey. At least, I read most of it. I couldn’t make myself read every single line of every single page, but I got through the trilogy. I forced myself to read ’em because I wanted to be able to talk at least somewhat intelligently when they came up in conversation, and to respond from my own personal opinions (and not just what I’ve heard others say about them).
They were pretty bad.
The writing was mediocre. It wasn’t the worst writing I’ve ever read, but certainly far from the best. It was self indulgent and repetitious, though. Lots of “my nipples elongated” and “he cupped my sex” (seriously, those specific phrases) and the like. But before I get to what worried me about the books – worried me as a feminist and as someone who enjoys BDSM – I want to talk about the few things I did like.
I do not always make wise purchasing decisions. I don’t mean I buy bad products (although sometimes I do) but rather than I occasionally buy really cool things when I shouldn’t have bought anything at all. The Pebble Watch is an example of one such purchase.
The watch talks to your cellphone via Bluetooth to display when someone sends you an email or text, to control basic functions on your phone, and (with third party apps) to do a bunch of other things. It began as a Kickstarter project last year, and I decided to spend $125 and fund it rather than, y’know, saving money for rent or food. Super responsible decision. A year(ish) after funding it, I received my Pebble watch in the mail. I briefly considered selling it on eBay or Craigslist (again, rent and food are important) but decided to keep my fancy new toy.
I got a black one, and the watch itself is nice, if not mind-blowing: the screen is readable in sunlight, but has some slight shiny effects that show up under bright light, the buttons are satisfying to push, the backlight is neither too week nor too strong, and the magnetic charger (not a standard USB charger, so that the watch is waterproof) clicks in and stays in place. The watch works with both Android and iPhone, but I only have an Android phone so can only speak to that experience. The Android app, which pairs with the Pebble to control settings and watch faces, works…fine. It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s functional. It allows you to control some basic features about what’s displayed on the Pebble, to send and delete watch faces, and some other various settings.
But all that is stuff you could find on any review site. How am I using the watch, and what do I love, hate, and want to see changed?
This afternoon, I saw Kinky Boots in downtown Chicago with my mom and some family friends. It was the final Chicago performance before the show heads to Broadway, and it has been getting solid reviews. The musical – based on the 2005 movie, based on the true story (PDF warning) – follows the revitalization of a failing shoe company as it switches over to producing “kinky boots” (apparently a real term in the UK) for drag performers. Kinky Boots had music by Cyndi Lauper and a book by Harvey Fierstein, neither exactly artistic slouches.
The show had fantastic costumes, great sets, and very good performances all around. It didn’t have really catchy tunes (three hours after leaving, I’d be pressed to hum even one) but it was supposed to be a feel-good story musical comedy, so it shouldn’t be too faulted on that regard. For all the production value, however, I had a pretty lousy time as an audience member and left feeling very disappointed.
I’ll take part of the blame for that disappointment; I am not the musical’s target audience. I am more liberal, more educated about gender issues, and certainly more queer than the mainstream musical-attending audience. If I wanted to see drag performers (which I generally do not…) I should have made a night of it in Boystown, not gone to the Loop to pay $100 a seat. (To be fair, my mom paid for the seat.) Kinky Boots felt in some ways similar to The Cosby Show or Will and Grace, in that it will undoubtedly help normalize a minority community to mainstream America, but also isn’t agreatrepresentation of that community. It’s a step forward, and certainly better than nothing, but not exactly “authentic.”
All of those issues, however, are at least to some extent my own. It was the more fundamental political problems with the show that really left a sour taste in my mouth.
This is a sponsored post, but all of the opinions are my own.
I’ll be honest: Prior to working on this review, the brand Michelob did not scream “Fine, quality product.” I’m not a beer fan, and even though Michelob’s website, which you can visit here claims they are “crafting a better beer,” I remain skeptical. Fortunately, none of that matters to me, because the past few weeks I’ve been drinking Michelob Ultra Light Cider which – I am forced to admit – is quite delicious.
I often feel left out when my beer-drinking friends sit on our delightful front porch in the warm Chicago weather, drinking their beers. Even if I make myself a mixed drink, the experience isn’t the same. I like to have cider in my fridge; to me a ‘tall, cold one’ should start with apples, not hops or barley. Chicago has a ton of good ciders available in liquor stores, but most of them either still taste too strong for me or have something like 300 calories a bottle. Or both.
It’s at this point I begin to feel cheesy when describing Michelob Ultra Light Cider. It’s good. It’s damn good. It’s smooth, not at all bitter, and only 120 calories. I don’t want to sound like a shill, but this is a drink I’d recommend even if I weren’t being provided with a sample. My beer-drinking friends have trained me to be leery of mass-produced alcoholic beverages. Chicago has a huge craft beer and liquor scene, with tons of options. But this cider is good, even if it is made by a big company. Quite honestly, it’s entered the (very short) list of drinks I ask for when out at a bar or restaurant. It’s also gluten free, which is a bonus for my gluten-intolerant friends.
But what else can I say? This is a good drink. It’s a low-calorie drink. It’s a reasonably-priced drink. And it’s delicious on a hot Chicago day.
As a final question, if you were to make a perfect pairing with a 12 pack of Michelob ULTRA Light Cider, what would you pair it with?
Note: I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own. Follow more about the BlogHer review program of the Artist’s Way Toolkit at Blogher.
All artists should be familiar with The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. If you’re not, it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s usually labeled as a ‘self help’ book, which I suppose it kind of is, but it’s so much more: a creative guide, a prompt toward personal development, and a focused way to improve one’s artistic self. Even if you don’t follow every page or every lesson, I highly recommend picking up a copy. Unfortunately, I can’t make the same recommendation for the new online service, My Artist’s Way Toolkit. Read on to hear why.
Way back September, I won a gift package from Early to Bed as part of their anniversary giveaway. Since I’ve been making such good use of my prizes, I figured I should share the love with all of you. The best part of the prize pack was undoubtedly the rechargable Vibratex Mystic Wand. Now i realize it looks a whole lot like the Luxe Magic Massager I reviewed back in 2010. And the general size and form factor are about the same. But where the Luxe was a poor-quality, loud, non-silicone, un-sexy toy, the Mystic Wand is awesome.
Lets start with build quality.
The Mystic Wand has a removable silicone head, which allows for better cleaning and for the head to be replaced with other attachments that Vibratex makes. EDIT: I misread something somewhere. The rechargeable Mystic Wand does not have a removable anything. That said, it’s all silicone so easily cleaned with soap-and-water. END EDIT. The head is firmly attached to the body by a flexy-bendy neck, giving good control without feeling like the vibrating part is going to snap off. The body is coated with what feels like the same silicone as the head, but I’m not positive enough to want to stick it in my body. But you wouldn’t want to, so no worries.
The body is easy to hold, and feels well-made and not too heavy. There are two buttons – one to turn on and one to cycle through the 6 different vibration patterns: three that are a solid vibration at various strengths, and three that are different patterns of on and off. There’s also a blue light, which is a little bright, but I’m not looking at it while I’m using it… The version I got is rechargeable, and there’s a little rubber nub at the bottom to cover the charging port. Vibratex says it’s “splash resistent,” but I’m not going to risk trying it in the shower. It does feel pretty watertight, though. All in all, it feels like a good piece of equipment in ways the similarly-shaped Luxe never did.
Last night’s show went really well, and had a pretty good house. Two user-submitted reviews are up at at KCStage.com, and both are very positive. In the meantime, I’ve had a chance to see a couple shows and here are some mini-reviews:
This – A short two-person show involving a man trying to convince a woman he just met to marry him. Surprisingly bittersweet and evocative.
FreakShow Deluxe – Exactly what it promises, making me remember I actually don’t love freakshows. But human blockhead, dangers whip and sword acts, the whole deal.
The Rocky and Bullwinkle Horror Picture Show Parody – SO MUCH FUN! If you love old cartoons and Rocky Horror, this show is the place to be. Hilarious, well-written, well-sung, and very well-costumed.
Grimm and Bare It – I only really saw the last 2/3 of this show, since I was volunteering at the box office at the beginning. It was fun, a combo of fairy tales and burlesque, but not amazing. Which was surprising, seeing as there was a line out the door and the venue had to turn away maybe 70 people. Definitely worth seeing, but I was impressed by the huge turnout.
A Rumble in the City – Two of Kansas City’s Burlesque and BOYLesque troupes (in KC? Who knew?) in a fun competition to see if men or women are better burlesquers. Very much rigged for the entertainment of the audience, but really well done (and funny and thoughtful) acts ranging from West Side Story to vampires to the song Under Pressure.
Evolution – Another show in my venue. Roman, a trans man, talks about his experiences traveling and hitchhiking across the southern US. A really interesting story which took him to lots of (geographical and emotional) places.