sex

Where Is It Still Illegal To Buy Sex Toys

The film version of Fifty Shades of Grey has broken all sorts of February box office records. It has made $93 million, which means it now holds the title of President’s Day Weekend champion. (Washington and Lincoln must be so proud.) It also tops a list called “Widest Opening” which sounds so dirty and is, thus, perfectly appropriate. Funniest of all, it surpassed Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ for the biggest February opening ever. Jesus wept.

Or did he? My understanding of Jesus is that he was a pretty cool, feminist-y guy. He didn’t ignore ladies or mansplain to them; he hung out with prostitutes and adulterers and seemed as comfortable with them as with anyone. He wasn’t a sex-negative fundy. Maybe he’d be proud that a movie starring a woman, directed by a woman, written by a woman based on material by a woman and inspired by other material by and about a woman has caused such a stir.

Though I haven’t contributed to its gross, and I think the book is breathless, poorly written, and almost laughably bad on a sentence-to-sentence level, I am on record as a supporter of the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon. Once upon a time, before I even tried to read the book, I defended its right to exist and the right of women to get off on it, if they liked. Because of that piece, I got interviewed by Geraldo, who asked me, on the radio, “What’s a butt plug?” Just like Ana Steele asks in the movie

Michael Keaton/Douglas, Hollywood, and the Empathy Gap

The man I will always think of as Beetlejuice won a Golden Globe last night for his performance in the heady, propulsive comedy Birdman. In his emotional acceptance speech, Michael Keaton revealed that his original name is Michael Douglas. (The other famous Michael Douglas with whom you might be familiar is the firstborn son of actor Kirk Douglas, who became Hollywood royalty but started from very modest circumstances: he was born Issur “Izzy” Danielovitch to Russian-Jewish immigrants in New York.) This Douglas also revealed that he grew up rough:

In the household in which I was raised, the themes were pretty simple: Work hard, don’t quit, be appreciative, be thankful, be grateful, be respectful, also to never whine ever, never complain, and, always, for crying out loud, keep a sense of humor.

My name’s Michael John Douglas, I’m from Forest Grove, Pennsylvania. I’m the son — seventh child — of George and Leona Douglas. And I don’t ever remember a time when my father didn’t work two jobs. When my mother wasn’t saying the rosary or going to mass or trying to take care of seven kids in a rundown farmhouse, she was volunteering at the Ohio Valley Hospital where I was born in the hallway.

It was a rousing speech, and it reminded me that we in America love stories of hardship, as long as they have happy endings.

Class Consciousness In Kids’ Books

Last night I read the children's book Corduroy to babygirl for the 15,000th time. A small bear in green overalls wanders a department store at night looking for his lost button, because that button represents everything that is out of his reach: love and acceptance, family, security, home. He is rescued by a girl, Lisa, who believes in his potential so much that she empties out her piggy bank for him. Once she and Corduroy have settled in her bedroom, she sews on a new button for him, not because he needs it but because he'll be more comfortable with his strap fastened. And then they share a big hug.

7 Really Great Movies From 2014 Worth Streaming

Honestly? All you need to know about the Oscars this year is that Selma got screwed. Watch them, don’t watch them, I don’t care. Just see Selma. And Boyhood. And The Grand Budapest Hotel. And actually, don’t watch the Oscars now that I think of it.

WINTER IS COMING Time to Watch Some Movies

That was my favorite part of Interstellar: sitting in the theater. Especially since it was 3 hours.

Film Club Update/Decree: Snowpiercer, 7/24

As per the discussion from last week, it has been decided: we will discuss Snowpiercer, the post-apocalyptic sci fi / action / lighthearted summer entertainment about class warfarestarring Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, and some really aggrieved axe murderers, on Thursday, July 24th. It’s playing in certain theaters but GOOD NEWS for the non-coastal elites: you can also enjoy it from the comfort of your couch. Here’s the full report from The Verge:

You can now watch acclaimed South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s slick, post-apocalyptic sci-fi film Snowpiercer right at home — just two weeks after it hit US theaters for the first time. That’s an extremely rare move for a film such as this, which has a sizable budget ($80 million), rave reviews (such as our own), and buzz at the theaters. …

However the experiment turns out, the good news is that releasing the film on Video On Demand, AmazoniTunes, and Google Play makes it a whole lot easier for you to see Snowpiercer. If you’d rather get the full experience, the film has expanded to 325 screens around the country, meaning you should be able to find it in most urban centers, too.

Seen it already and have thoughts about its Eat The Rich philosophy? Steeling yourself for the violence, metaphors, and violent metaphors? Get ready to turn the film inside out in the comments on 7/24!

Hot Takes For A Snow Day: “Idle Hands Spend Money,” Sandra Day O’Connor, Jennifer Senior, & More

+ Do you like shopping online? Lots of people do! As my mom put it to me this weekend, “Idle hands spend money.” The best one can do sometimes is spend wisely. In that vein, Racked was super excited to report — in what they called maybe the best Monday news of all time — that Reformation has just launched a new, more affordable collection called “Obvious.” Considering how hipster-y the clothes are, they seem to have missed a golden opportunity to call it “Obvious Child” but whatevs. If you like backless bodysuits and crop tops, insert money here.

+ Speaking of my mother, she told me a story about the time, back in the ’80s, when she and the other government lawyers who were also young moms went to hear the newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor speak. They were so eager to hear her explain how she managed it, how she managed to be a wife, a mother, and one of the most prominent judicial figures in the land.

O’Connor’s answer? Outsourcing.

Hire help, she advised the audience. Hire someone to do everything you don’t have time to do. The women nodded dumbly and left. “As if it had never occurred to us,” said my mom. “As if all we needed was to be more creative in our problem solving. We were government lawyers! O’Connor came from a wealthy family, but most of us didn’t have money to hire help. It was just so tone deaf.” 

Paying for Theaters vs Waiting for Netflix

Over the weekend, I watched Obvious Child on DVD, and it was one of those rare movies that I wished someone had frog-marched me to the theater for. It got a lot of press at the time as the “abortion comedy” (the way Brokeback Mountain was the “gay cowboy movie“) and, though I supported that in theory, the film seemed like something I could wait to enjoy later. No. NO. I was wrong. The film was so funny, so poignant and interesting and smart, that I wish I could have shelled out the $13 to see it then so I could evangelize for it and maybe convince other people to shell out $13 each to see it too.

Usually I’m fine waiting for the red envelope. Gravity, which everyone swore you had to pony up to see on the big screen? The couch was fine. 12 Years a Slave? Even better, because I could press pause when my heart was beating too hard and I needed to calm down. The downside of waiting, of course, is an inability to participate in the cultural conversation; but sometimes listening to the conversation is sufficient. In the case of 12 Years a Slave, what would I have had to add? My four word film review would have been “Slavery bad. Performances good.” Definitely worth two cents, that.

But Obvious Child acted on me like a stimulant, like last year’s In A World …, another surprising breakthrough feminist indie comedy I regretted having waited to see on DVD. I wish I had gotten it together to buy full-price, as it were, because both films could have used that kind of word-of-mouth support. My money could have meant something, maybe. It coulda been a contender.

Now I have to wonder what else is coming out this fall that I will regret not seeing in theaters. If only $13 didn’t feel like a lot of money and/or if only I felt rich enough to spend $13 whenever I wanted.

Empathetic Personal Robots! $2000, Available Soon

The future is today. Okay, more precisely, the future is two years from now, when the first empathetic humanoid robots go on sale, and they’re kind of a bargain:

robots that can recognize human emotion will change the way we live and communicate — and this is a big step towards getting bots into daily lives, at least if you live in Japan. The robots will debut at two stores tomorrow in their customer service capacity, but Softbank is planning to put them on sale to the public next year, priced just shy of $2,000.

The adorable little tyke’s name is Pepper, which is pleasantly gender-neutral, yet spunky. This calls for a top-ten list of fictional robots:

10. Small Wonder (“Small Wonder”)

9. Data (“Star Trek”)

8. R2D2 and C3PO (Star Wars)

7. The Terminator (Terminator 2: Judgment Day)

6. The Buffy Bot

5. Johnny 5 (Short Circuit)

4. HAL (2001: A Space Odyssey)

3. Marvin the Paranoid Android (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

2. Maria (Metropolis)

1. WALL-E (WALL-E)

Runners up: Rosie from “The Jetsons,” that creepy kid from A.I., Optimus Prime, the Iron Giant, all of the Replicants from Blade Runner