Black Swan - The SSL Review

I got to see a sneak peak here in Indy of Black Swan, and it is my super duper pleasure to do a little SSL reviewing of it. I'm just gonna say that this is a really well done movie. In fact, I think it is one of the rare movies that is exactly as I think it should be. I guess though I have to qualify that statement because although I really enjoyed it and I think it is a really high quality piece, I think that it could simply not be your taste. It's not really an easy going, something for everybody flick. It's focused and stylized, and I can certainly see people not being into the path the movie takes or the style it used to get there. I dug the hell out of it though. When I say I felt it was exactly as it should be, I mean that I don't have any complaints. I didn't leave thinking "that was really entertaining, but I wish that side character wasn't so stock"...or "Why did they throw that love story in? It was so overdone and made the movie drag"....etc. I'm not saying it was the best movie ever. It wasn't as funny as Harold and Kumar or the gut wrenching roller coaster of human emotion that is Jackass. It was, you might say, the best movie it could have been.

A vague review, yes, but it's the holidays. I'm busy, and I decided not to spend too much time on this post. Plus I think it will be more fun if you go in without a clear expectation as to what this movie is. However, If you want to be fully prepared for what to expect, I suggest you check out the 2nd installment of the Spanish director Carlos Saura's Flamenco Trilogy, Carmen. Honestly, it's been 12 years since I saw that movie in my Spanish Cinema class, so I can't be sure how good it is, but watching Black Swan definitely made me think of this movie. They have practically the same concept, and from what I remember, the stylization is similar too.

Okay done with the general review, now for the good part...the SSL review. There were 3 scenes


SSL Play Review? Don We Now our Gay Apparel

Well who knew I'd SSL Review a play, and more importantly, who knew anyone actually read my blog and would ask me to do so? Being that I was excited for a new blogging endeavor, and that our own Science Sex and the Ladies actor Dave Charles was cast in this play, I decided to check out Don We Now Our Gay Apparel at Indy's own Theatre on the Square. You too can check it out thru December 18th. (P.S. I love that you can take the beer, wine, and snacks from concessions into the play with you at this theatre.)

If you love sparkly things, 3 saucy singing drag queens ( from Orient Bar), and raunchy Christmas humor, then this is the show to see (if you don't - then go check out Handel's Messiah at Clowes Hall for your Christmas entertainment instead). Charlie and I both thoroughly enjoyed the show, and on a side note, were impressed at the up to the minute jokes. For instance, the Glee parody referenced the recent revelation that Rachel cheated on Finn - OMG. The Glee parody was pretty dead on in a lot of ways, and if you watch Glee, you gotta love that part. My only problem was that for about 5 minutes I thought the person playing Sue Sylvester, the abrasive cheer coach, was supposed to be Sam Evans, the pretty little blond boy. This reminded me of an article I read in Bitch Magazine about the Justin Bieber haircut also being a lesbian hair icon. Without the obvious difference in height - a Sue Sylvester wig looks too much like a Justin Bieber-ish teenage boy - that's all I'm sayin.

Here are a few of my favorite whacky-ass highlights that I'd like to point out.


Giving Thanks for giving me love of 3 words: SCIENCE, SEX, and LADIES

 I know it's a touch past Thanksgiving, but is it ever too late to throw out a little thanks? No way Jose. So, I'm just gonna take a minute to reflect on something I'm thankful for (in relation to this movie of course):
My Parents!
How to put this....I can attribute each of the keywords in this movie to a parent. "But Trisha," you say, "you only have 2  parents, happily married for over 35 years, and there are 3 keyword - Science, Sex and Ladies!!!???" So true, but what you didn't know was that my BFF Leslie has a mother, and me and Leslie always used to say we were switched at birth because of certain characteristics we shared with eachother's mothers. So,

SCIENCE - This one's for you dad. You were always a curious dude yourself, and you instilled that in me too. Anybody can watch science shows with their kids, or take long walks with 'em, but dad, you have panache. We didn't just watch science shows together, we ooo-ed and ahh-ed at the incredible secrets people have uncovered about the way the world worked. You made me feel like knowledge and investigation was powerful and incredibly interesting. In fact we'd take the ooo-ing and ahh-ing straight to the streets. We'd just be walking in an old neighborhood with tiny boxy houses or a hardly wooded baseball park, but man we'd be wonderin' about things. Why would people have made that that way? Why'd that bird put its nest on the ground? How do those get made? It was just a lot of fun to ponder things and try to come up with answers - and that's really all science is- just being curious about something, making some educated guesses and investigating it in a structured logical way.
Honorable Mention: Mom - She got a degree in Human Service and Child Development when I was 8 and would sometimes have conversations with me that included her knowledge of early childhood development - like when and how children are able to learn certain things, how they can be stunted, and what they need to progress properly. That was always really interesting to me, and I think it gave me a useful perspective as I first began looking into scientific research about gender differences.

SEX - I know it seems weird, but Mom, this ones for you.  I say this because my mom's attitude and actions made me a person who was comfortable and interested in thinking about and talking about sexuality. There are a few factors here.


Costuming "Science Sex and the Ladies": hoarding, intentions, constraints, and sizing super powers

I've been staring at vintage (and/or crappy old)clothes on hangers laying in large stacks on my garage floor. They are also in the office closet, in the "gray room" with all our equipment and until recently in the back of our van. They've been laying in stacks in various places since we finished shooting in August 2009. I am notoriously a person that does not keep things. I appreciate a card, but I generally read it and then throw it directly away. If I find something in the closet and I haven't used it in a year, it's gone. I can't seem to get rid of these clothes though.

It's not sentimental. I think what it is is that I was scarred slightly by the process of costuming that movie. I spent so much time (and a fair amount of money) on costuming. I was constantly either researching (albeit - thin web researching) period fashion, making Excel sheets of costume needs, searching stores - particularly thrift stores, organizing and tagging costume combos, lugging stacks of them around, making fits, and all the damn ironing and steaming - oh the ironing and steaming. And, it's not like I wasn't already in scheduling, prop, and shoot day hell. I guess my problem is that I am, for the first time, saying to myself something that goes through other people's heads all the time, "but I might need these some day." I won't. I know that, but I keep thinking maybe we'll use them in another movie, or maybe we'll have some sort of promotional event where the actors are in their costumes from this movie. Don't worry, I will eventually throw them out. The truth is if we make another movie the costumes I have will certainly not only be wrong, but not fit any of the actors we have, and let's get real - even when the actors were in them during the shoots, they usually only fit due to safety pins.

I think I also have a sense of pride about these costumes. I went into this thinking


Playboy for the LADIES!

Okay, it's not really Playboy...and it's not Playgirl. It's Filament. It's a UK magazine made for and about the "female gaze". If you were not an art, gender studies or philosophy major you may be unfamiliar with the more common phrase - "male gaze." The "male gaze" is the idea that in much of art and media (movies, paintings, photography, literature, etc) throughout history the representation of the female has been through the gaze of the heterosexual male. The assumption is that the perspective through the "male gaze" is different (not necessarily worse though) than the world might be through the "female gaze." The "gaze" within art effects which parts of our world are highlighted, what is sexualized and how it is sexualized, what we see and don't see. Men have made the vast majority of art we are exposed to, and thus the male gaze has an extremely disproportional hold over our cultural perspective (I would argue that it is such a hold that it is hard to even imagine that there is another perspective out there).

Filament wants to create a smart entertaining magazine from the perspective of the "female gaze" - particularly the hetero female gaze. That means there won't really be any lesbian-gaze inspired pics in this magazine, at least not for now. Although they realize that there are plenty of women - even hetero women - who may want to see sexualized pics of other women, they believe strongly that there is plenty of that out there already. What there is not - is plenty of sexualized pics of men specifically for and by women. Pics that include men as the object of desire and are, well,  hot to women. I'm excited to see how it turns out. I also strongly believe there is a female-gaze gap in our artistic endeavors. In fact I'm making a movie that addresses that, among other things, as we speak (You might know it- it's called Science Sex and the Ladies).

Also - what I really love is that this magazine will not cover the traditional "female magazine" topics like beauty and shopping. Filament, and I have to agree, think there is enough of that out there. A magazine with thoughtful articles on a variety of interesting subjects that happens to include lovely, nude, sexualized men... I mean, really, what's not to love? The magazine gives this as their inspiration for this publication:

"Women are 10 times more likely than men to undergo cosmetic surgery and 43 times more likely than men to suffer an eating disorder. Is this because women are 'naturally' life-threateningly obsessed with their appearance, or is this in some way influenced by women's media? Many men's magazines don't discuss men's appearance, but nearly all women's magazines discuss women's appearance. Filament breaks this trend by covering a wide range of topics that inspire and engage, and giving you gorgeous boys the way you like to see them"

I have ordered some back issues and am waiting for them to come. I'll give you a full review when they get here. Check out their website HERE.


Fast TImes at Ridgemont High - The SSL Review


In case you haven't been reading this blog, the SSL review is a review specifically focused on how a movie treats depictions and discussions of female sexual functioning and pleasure. So basically what happens is I watch movies all the time. Lot's of those movies don't ever depict or discuss orgasms, ejaculations or any aspect of female sexual pleasure, but when one does - no matter how old or obscure - I gotta give it the ol' SSL Review. That's why I feel fine reviewing a movie that's almost 30 years old. It may have been reviewed before - but never SSL reviewed. That being said, I watched Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Netflix the other day, and here is the SSL review.

I liked the teen-movie-but-with-grit style. It had all the fun of adolescent hi jinks, but hit some serious topics with all the drama, posing, indifference, and carelessness that teens bring to their lives. Now when it came to female sexual pleasure I think the teen realism continued, mainly because there wasn't really any orgasms but there was some swag.

There are 2 points in the movie where a lady was depicted during a sexual encounter and 2 points in which ladies discussed sexual encounters in a way that eluded to pleasure. Both sexual encounters involved Jennifer Jason Leigh's character, Stacy Hamilton. She, who is supposed to be 15 in this movie, meets a 26 year old stereo salesman, lies about her age, and goes on a date with him to a make-out place - something like a dugout. They make-out for a minute, and then she lays back and they have intercourse - her first time. She is largely passive in the actual act, laying there while he thrusts. We are looking down at her face when she is entered, and we see the sort of pain on her face, and we also see her visual perspective as the sex is happening - the cement above her with graffiti. The scene is good because I think it resonates with a lot of women's experiences - sex as a not unwilling, but passive, confusing, and slightly painful experience. There is also that sense of being unengaged, of remembering what was on the ceiling above you instead of the sensations of the act itself, an act that is always touted as being the most intense, exciting, amazing experience of a person's life.


Crappy Science Reporting With Their Outrageous, Alarming Titles Piss Me Off


A few friends had posted on Facebook a link to a crazy little article from the LA Times titled "Drug May Limit Homosexuality" and the quick overview read "A prenatal pill for congenital adrenal hyperplasia to prevent ambiguous genitalia may reduce the chance that a female with the disorder will be gay." Intriguing? Disturbing? How about misleading? 

The story is about some studies indicating that a drug has been shown (when tested on a few hundred cases worldwide) to limit the genital masculinization of XX (genetically female) fetuses with the condition Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH). That is the only new facts in this article. Guess how many studies have been done regarding this drug and homosexuality. None. None at all. The article waits to tell you this till the 2nd to last sentence. 

I have a lot of problems with this article. I have done a fair amount of research into studies regarding gender, sexuality and CAH females, and I can tell you that there are some assertions and assumption in both this article and some of the studies it references that are lacking in good logic. However, my main bone of contention for this blog is the outrageous title that exists only because a few scientists thought this drug might also limit homosexuality in CAH females (if someone were actually to study that possibility and if the condition CAH actually has a biological effect that does in fact increase a female's chance of becoming non heterosexual ---- these are my conditional words not these curious scientists' words). 

It sucks. Let me be more specific when I say sucks, though. Too often, a mostly level-headed, peer reviewed scientific study is discovered by the pop media, and we the public get a shock title that either has nothing to do with the content of the actual study or highlights a tiny mention of future goals or related possibilities that the scientists who wrote the study by no means endorse in the study. Generally, the actual text of the articles are more sensible than the shock titles, but still much less sensible than the actual peer-reviewed published studies. 

I mention my hatred of crap science reporting in this blog because it so very often


Ain't no shame in the bonobos game

I love me some bonobos, and since this blog is about the movie Science Sex and the Ladies...and since bonobos are somewhat relevant to science, sex, and ladies, I thought I'd spend a blog on them.

Who are these crazy bonobos? They're great apes, also called Pygmy Chimpanzees. They, along with the common chimp (the ones we just call chimps), are equally our closest evolutionary relatives; with our paths likely splitting from the bonobos and chimps about 8 million years ago. . Bonobos are endangered and only found naturally in the Democratic Republic of Congo (you know, the rape as a weapon of war capital of the world right now).
I'd hope a lot of people have heard of bonobos, but they don't get the press that the chimp gets. My guess, and I don't think I'm the only one, is that they are just too damn sexy for your family nature shows. Bonobos sexuality, make-love-not-war ways, and matriarchal society are, I'll admit, exaggerated at times, but it can't be denied that they are an interesting species in these regards.


A few more notes from Charles

I just wanted to post a few screenshots of the scenes I have been working up. SO now we havce 20 scenes of 54 in some kind of production. But don't let that number fool you. After scene 39 its all repeats. Here's a few samples.

The happpy hand gets it's first incarnation. He's supposed to be a little bristly, cute, and industrial. I think his eyes are a little bit stale right now. In the animation you can see it. He's not all there. That'll need a little work.

Scene 15 gets a nice updated background with a near final color. I left Barnaby in this comp so you can see his boom technique. Thats actually my couch. Those awesome 50's housewives are dressed in vintage outfits courtesty of Debra Silveus. In fact all my couches are used in this movie.

Melissa Bickel and Scene 42 gets its first pass. I reworked the look of this considerably after a lookthru adding some camera movement and setting the horizon a little differently. The students seem a little close in this one, but this is where it started.

I've been working a heck of lot on scene 2. Its an early scene and lays a lot of the foundation for the movie down. Thats David Charles, Abigail Wright, and Tim Stroud chillin there. The background is inspired by a seafood place we ate at in boston. It was that color throughout, Ceilings and walls. I originally had more pink in the foreground but after a second look went more neutral. I can also give it back later, but I'm trying not to paint myself into any corners.

And update on our storage issues. Our G-Raid Drives been running great. Just killing it. So fingers crossed. I think we're out of all that hassle.



The American - The SSL Review

All SSL reviews have 2 parts.
1) General Review - my general take on the movie as a movie
2) SSL Review - my discussion of its depiction of female sexual functioning [this is what makes it an SSL Review]

However, this one has an added review - 3) The Theater Atmosphere Review- cause it was odd.

Theater Atmosphere Review
Charlie and I went to see The American starring George Clooney recently. We were out looking for to see a movie during the day, and that movie was playing at the right time, so we went. I knew nothing about it. I don't think I even saw a poster for it ever. The theater we were at is usually not busy at all and certainly not at 2pm on a Friday. We thought that, like many times before, we would be the only people in the theater. However, when we walked in there were about 20 people  - all over 65. I'm still not sure why. They didn't come together. I guess old people are attracted to George Clooney movies. That's my guess. Anyway, it was kinda surreal - like I was in a Seinfeld episode or something. For instance, there was some Euro-style sex scenes and random female nudity/sexualizing in this movie, and don't you know that some of these people felt they needed to pipe-up up about it - every time it happened. That was kinda funny, but it also made me feel all nervous and embarrassed like when something accidentally steamy came up in a movie you were watching with your parents when you were 11. Then there were the talkers and the question askers. A few kept asking the person next to them loud ridiculous questions about the movie, and then others grumbled - ever more loudly at the talkers. Then at one point someone asked their neighbor about something, and someone a few rows up loudly shushed them, and then the talker angrily shushed him back. It was stupid and hilarious.

General Review
So, I have to say, I enjoyed the experience more than the movie.  It was just so unoriginal; the characters, the storyline, the style. Plus, the ending is lame-o. In fact, I almost laughed out loud at one point. But..I can't bring myself to be too harsh.


Stuff I've learned Part II (Bundling, Periods, and Sex and the City)

So last post I talked about 2 of 5 random things I learned about while researching Science Sex and the Ladies.  Here I'll finish up with the last three. Enjoy.

3. bundling
 What is bundling you say? Ha. Of course you didn't say that. Everyone knows it is a pre-marital courting custom of early America, brought here by the Puritans. Okay no one knows that, but it was a pretty juicy topic back in the day. I found a book called History of Bundling by Henry Reed Stiles randomly at Half Priced Books. When it was originally published somewhere around 1871, this book was banned in Boston - quite controversial.
The author made the argument that bundling is not a lewd, low class act, but an upstanding courting ritual that grew out of necessity and happened in many cultures throughout history and across cultures. So what is it? It's when a man and a woman - particularly a romantic unmarried couple - sleep in a bed together with their clothes on. Obviously, you can see how people would talk. But, he says, it's actually quite innocent. A man often must call on a woman in the cold of winter after a day of work. For him to walk or ride back in the night would be silly and unsafe. The house is cold, and it is important for the couple to get to know each other, so her parents would bundle them up, fully clothed in the bed, and they would talk and sleep. Simple as that. He made a good argument. I see no reason not to bundle up my own future teenager with his or her potential spouse - except clothes are a lot easier to get off these day...and houses are heated now...and of course cars are now available to get us pretty far safely at night...but back in the day, I definitely would have entertained the notion.


Stuff I've Learned (Egg / Sperm Fairytale and Erectile Dysfunction)

I'm going to make a list of 5 random things I learned while doing research for Science Sex and the Ladies. However, I don't have time to write all 5 now, so it's just 2 for now. The next three will be in my next blog.

1. egg and sperm
The story we all first hear about the nitty gritty of reproduction has been in some instances blatantly - well I guess the phrase would be "fairy taled." It is a lovely story: the valiant, purposeful sperm fighting their way up the cervix; the egg in waiting; the first and only fearless sperm to pierce through; the eternal union.

It's actually not uncommon to have human story-telling spins on rather dry scientific descriptions, so I wasn't unfamiliar with this sort of tampering. However, the article I read investigating the "fairy-tale-ing" of the egg and sperm drama was pretty funny and gave me some food for thought. In particular I liked reading about a researcher named Wassarman who set out to find the specific molecules in the egg coat used in sperm-egg interaction. Turns out they are ligands that bind to a protein on the sperm. Normally the scientific convention would be to call the protein part of this binding pair (the parts on the sperm) the "receptor." However Wassarman instead calls the ligand on the egg the receptor, and makes up the name "egg binding protein to describe what's on the sperm. Receptive eggs fit the fairy tale, but receptive sperm would just be silly!


Scott Pilgrim - The SSL Review

It is clear from the bags of mail I'm getting about this that all 2 of my blog readers are dying to know what I think about Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. Well if you must know, then here goes the SSL review. By the way, I am now calling my particular brand of reviewing (you know, mostly focusing on depictions of female sexual pleasure) the SSL Review.

For starters, I didn't have a lot of interest in seeing this movie mainly because Michael Cera's basic character that he plays all the time has been getting a little old. However - glad I went. I really enjoyed the pace of this movie and the brazen style of the effects. I even found that the quick editing kept Cera's acting in check and gave his old schtick some peppiness. P.S. The following tells details about the movie. Nothing that will really spoil any ending for you, but if you don't want to know about the movie at all don't read further...

As always though, I have a critique of the depiction of female sexual pleasure.


More Phrases for Lip Jigglin'

It occurred to me many a year ago that we often hear phrases pertaining to male masturbation in pop culture, yet we don't often hear phrases pertaining to women doing the same. There are more possible phrases for men doing this than you can shake a stick at (pardon the pun). It's a little harder to come up with common phrases for women.
I think we ladies (and our private habits) need equal time in movies, TV, books, comedy, etc., but to get to that point, we're gonna have to start creating and using fun masturbation terms just for the ladies.
So, below I have a list of these terms I liked from a few websites I found and a list me and the rest of the AnC crew came up with. Please send us more if you can think of any.

First - I listed common terms for both sexes that I could come up with off the top of my head.

Spankin' the monkey, jerkin off, beating off, beat your meat, choking the chicken/snake, crankin' it, jerkin' the gherkin, pounding the tube steak, whacking your willy, rubbing one out, cleaning the tubes, toss off etc...

Jillin' off, rub off...(I think some male terms like jerking off can be used for women too, but I want some uniquely female terms)

Next I pulled phrases (only the ones I liked) from these sites....


More Dan Savage - Bein' A Bit Too Gracious To Us Ladies

As I pointed out in my last post, Dan Savage is preaching the good word when it comes to the clit. However, he falls prey to some of the same unfounded notions about female sexuality that many well-meaning, well-educated folks do. They're just too darn gracious towards us ladies. It's as if we were sexual super beings.

Dan Savage answered the following question in another 3 minute video (which you can see HERE "If the clit has twice as many nerves as the penis, then why don't girls get off at the speed of light like guys do?" Well, we created a full length movie largely dealing with a version of this question, and I assure you it is not a simple answer, so I'm not going to judge Savage's answer too harshly. What I will say is that he is off on a couple points -


Dan Savage

Dan Savage...I hadn't paid much attention to him until recently. He started popping up in various places I happen to be looking; my Bitch Magazine, internet articles, and then my ever vigilante friend Stephanie posted a clip of him on Facebook. He's an advice columnist who dabbles in gay activism, controversy, theater, and other writings. He was answering (and making fun of) the question "How can you get a girl to orgasm during sex without resorting to clitoral orgasm?"

He answered it pretty much the way it should be answered - uh, all female orgasms are clitoral. As much as a person will say "oh yes of course, I know all about the clit," it is rare to actually find any person or thing that outright states that the only female orgasm is clitoral. Even when the comments are heavily weighted towards the importance of the clit, there is still always this door left open that - "most women can only orgasm clitoraly," or "women can orgasm in a variety of ways." It keeps hope alive that some special women have orgasms that really do work the way they do in porn. Dan made some points about the longevity of the female orgasm and the possible methods for achieving clitoral stimulation that I would call unfounded, and he made no mention of the female ejaculation and its place in all this - but all in all, I was glad to see someone making solid bold statements like this. Check out this 5 minute video HERE


Another quick One

Hey guys, just a quick update here from Charlie. I wanted to link to this little example of tracking for you guys. I thought someone might be interested in seeing what I've been doing, and I'm sure those of you who were there for the shoot have been wondering how this tracking is going to actually work for these little signs. I'm actually done with this tracking now we're onto streamlining this convention scene. It has maybe the most titling of any scene so far so its taking a bit of time, but its also a great opportunity for some interesting creative things. Anyway, nothing to crazy but here's the sample.

Tracking Test (mocha AE) from Charles Borowicz on Vimeo.


Scene 26

Just a quick note. I've finished up with Scene 26 edit, and tracking. I am working the basic color and the signage to be placed. Next week will be more productive I'm sure. We are currently rebuilding our harddrive space with a 4TB G-Raid for Backup and a 4TB CaldigitVr for primary. I'm hoping to tackle our Revolutioners scene next week. Lots of matching camera moves...so we'll see how well we do.


Progress update

Well, we've had some issues since I last blogged. Hard Drive Issues to be exact. We're running 4 TB of data across 4 1TB hardisks. Nothing fancy No Raid not JBOD or anything. So about a month ago these discs started to disappear. A simple reboot fixed the issue, but things have progressively gotten worse. Now mind you I have since day one been implementing a backup strategy (maybe the slowest and most obtuse one but one nonetheless) So all the data is saved to a backup every other day or so. Anyway. long story short. 2 of these drives are now corrupt with bad MBT and one randomly corrupts folders (thankfully a check disk recovers them). I am in the process of developing a smarter and more robust solution to our Hard Drive issues so hopefully this will soon be a thing of the past. Anyway. Thats what I've been dealing with. More on this when I get those 4TBers out and give them a proper looking over. By the way They're Samsung f1's hd103uj's. If they are bad they've gone bad on me in less than a year....and its basically a 75 percent failure rate going on 100....I need to check them to be sure but its not looking good. I have two other hard drives (A velociraptor system drive) and a 1TB external Iomega and neither has had an issue to speak of. hmmm. Sorry for the tech talk.


Is This Movie Feminist?

Yes it is.
I've talked with more than a few people - friends, family, acquaintances - about the movie who have put that question to me with a skeptical tone when I happen to mention the the F word in our conversation. It always strikes me as a strange question because it seems obvious to me that this movie is feminist. I forget how problematic the word "feminist" is though. I mean, there is, to understate the issue, a stigma associated for many people.
Charlie has been reading Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, a 2000 book dealing largely with the plight of 3rd wave feminism. Today he made a suggestion, inspired by his reading, about how to approach this question.
We should simply answer that, yes, it is a feminist movie, and if they ask what feminism is, say it's what we're doing.
I like it. Uncluttered and actually about as true an answer as one could put forth.
Check out a relevant excerpt from the book HERE.


Work Continues

Man, Its been way too long since we posted here. Trisha and Charlie (me) had a whirlwind vacation right after the Sneak Peak (which went great!) Since then we've finished off four more scenes and counting. I know the biggest question I've been getting is, "When will it be done?" and my best guess is three...four months...if all goes well. I am going to set up a little scene counter on here so you guys can track my progress as I whittle these scenes down. I think it'll give everyone a good perspective of how fast I can work and I actually how much work is going into this baby (A little!)

Today I am tracking all the signage from our Conference scene. It was one of the largest groups we put together and it took quite a while to shoot. We also did dolly and tracking shots that day which always add to the time. (especially when our "flextrack" ie. industrial hose- doesn't want to cooperate.) For all you nerds out there I am tracking with Mocha AE and it works excellent. We shot all our signs as white board though and I think that mocha would much rather have color. Something to remember.


Trailer Posted Online!

The cast party was this past Friday, and we previewed 3 scenes from the movie and a trailer. The trailer is posted at vimeo.com. You can check it out below.
I'm not going to lie. We had a rather sleepless week putting together all the final details. Charlie didn't sleep overnight on Wednesday, but luckily everything was done in plenty of time, and we all got some sleep Thursday night so we could be fresh for the big shin-dig. It was really nice to see all the cast again. It was probably different for us to see them than it was for them to see us. They have been going about their lives for 9 months. We have too, but we've also been staring at images of them most days during that 9 months, so in maybe a creepy kind of way, they feel like super special friends that we've been chillin' and illin' with all year - yet they don't know about it.
Anyway, my point is that we loved talking to those crazy actors. We had a lovely time, and the clips we showed seemed to go over well. What more could we ask from this event?

Science Sex and the Ladies Trailer from Charles Borowicz on Vimeo.


Previewing Select Scenes

So our first official screening event for Science Sex and the Ladies is coming up this Friday. It's a bit exciting and scary because I've been thinking and talking and working on this movie for almost 8 years, and now the product is emerging. Now, granted this is not "the movie." This is select scenes and a trailer for the movie. However, we still have to make a good showing of it.
We’re viewing this as the movie's coming out party. Of course this is a cast party of sorts, but we figured why not hit two birds with one stone. Why not use this to kick off the marketing campaign? We invited a variety of “influential” individuals. That sounds a little silly, but what we mean is people from different “crowds” who may talk (hopefully favorably) about this to friends and colleagues. We also sent invites to all our local press contacts and to some local art and/or culture bloggers. We want to place this movie on people's radar. The point is not to get pre-event press, or even after event press. In fact they don’t even have to come (although we hope everyone will).  The point is to make it known that our movie exists, is progressing, and seems kinda intriguing. It’s like a first little tap on the shoulder. Later, as the movie progresses, we’ll be trying to specifically elicit press and/or collaborations, and when we do, at least it won’t seem like we’re coming out of left field.


A few more stills.

Well, we're hard at work getting ready for our April 16th Sneak Peak of Select Scenes from Science Sex and the Ladies at the White Rabbit in Fountain Square. Its coming along great and since we've got more screen captures now we thought we'd share some. Enjoy.-charles



Hot Tub Time Machine, Nitpicking, and The Ol' 5-Minute Man Joke

Because I generally like John Cusack, Rob Corddry, and Craig Robinson, because I love an f'd-up (that's right keeping it clean for the kids) comedy, and because I kinda lust after the idea of a hot tub time machine, I went to see...Hot Tub Time Machine.  Highly enjoyable. I recommend it. However, I nitpick and criticize because I love. If we don't actively critique the social information our pop-culture showers on us, then we become passive sponges that are doomed to understand ourselves, our society, and our fellow humans largely though depictions created not from reality but from profit seeking industries. They simply don't put much thought into how the depictions they create affect us as long as it created revenue for them - so we have to consider how it affects us. I am going to discuss this movie in 3 parts
1) a critique focusing mostly on my disdain for worthless, dull romantic-interest tack-ons 
2) Nitpicky, but not necessarily unimportant element of the movie that annoyed my sensibilities. 
3) As always - a discussion of the blunt and/or insinuated depiction of female sexual functioning.


The Ugly Movie...sorry I mean The Ugly Truth

I don't like to be judgmental. Oh wait, I love to be judgmental actually. That movie (The Ugly Truth) sucked. However, I won't discuss the boring script, the lack of chemistry between the characters, or that it was neither humorous nor compelling in any way. No, because of the nature of this blog, I am only discussing what the movie insinuates or bluntly says about female sexual functioning, and that part pretty much sucked too.

Katherinr Heigl  is a stuffy but successful female lead forced into a work relationship with Gerard Butler, the male lead shock jock with a penchant for misogyny. Surprise surprise, she hates him and he antagonizes her. She's ridiculously and obviously indignant about everything, and he's just so devil-may-care fun, raunchy, and wild. So it makes sense, I guess?, that she takes advice from him about how to sex herself up  (as if she's not super hot enough on her own - don't get me started on that) so she can get a date with her hot neighbor. Anyway in this process, he's telling her rules for getting a guy. He tell her to laugh at anything he says...

Him: "A fake laugh is like a fake orgasm"
Her: "a fake orgasm is good?
Him: "No, but a fake orgasm is better than no orgasm at all"
Her: "A fake orgasm is no orgasm"
Him: "Only to you. You're not the only one in the room, you know. Let's not be selfish."
Her: giggles
Him: "real or fake?"
Her: "You'll never know."


April 16th cast party at White Rabbit Cabaret

Last year we shot our first scene with Miss Samantha Borowicz on April 17th. So in a way it's fitting that our cast party is almost a year to the day of our first shoot. We originally thought it would happen in September, then February, and for a while now we've been thinking mid April. Now we actually have a date, and I'm super excited because we have a deadline and this is gonna happen. I assume the cast is excited because it's been a long time since we wrapped shooting. They're a wonderful and patient bunch though (on and off set), so they never complained (to me at least).

I'm also excited because it will be at White Rabbit Cabaret which just opened up in Fountain Square. In fact it's so new, it hasn't even had its grand opening yet - that will be coming soon. One of our fantastic dancers from the movie (dancing excellently to our opening number "Shitty Perspective"), Debra Silveus, is one of the owners of the White Rabbit Cabaret. I went to check it out and talk about the cast party this past Thursday, and I have to say that I was really impressed. It looks really nice in there. The stage is huge with great lighting. The place has great decorating touches like fantastic antique couches for your sitting pleasure. It's just really cool. I also was able to see a sneak peak of their house show this past Saturday. Debra and 3 other dancers (one, Heidi Keller Phillips, who also happens to be a cast member/dancer/choreographer in our movie) performed some sweet ass stuff. By stuff I mean dances that are contemporary with burlesque and cabaret influence (maybe that's not the exact correct description, but it's the best I can do with almost no dance background). They each had a variety of great cabaret outfits, pseudo names, and individual stage personas. Loved it. They looked great, danced great, and I had a great time. I suggest you head down there for a show on or after their grand opening.

Anyway, point being on Friday, April 16th at White Rabbit Cabaret, we're going to have a kick ass cast party where we are showing select scenes from the movie, and we can't wait. Invites are going out this week.


A couple more things I would like to discuss regarding intersex conditions

Same sex marriage is unnatural you say? Well by all means, please neatly define what a female is and what a male is and we can quickly ban these same sex abominations. But that's right - it can't be done. However easy you think it may be, it simply is not possible to make 2 categories (male and female) and then fit all people into one or the other. Normally it isn't that important to specifically categorize people as either biologically male or female but when it does come up, people can't figure out how to do it. Ask the International Olympic Committee. In the 1936 Olympics, Hermann Ratjen tried to pass himself off as a woman and that began the need to once and for all have a test to separate the males from the females (side note: Hermann Ratjen did not win against the women athletes). They tried checking the genitals. They tried testing for chromosomes (xx/female or xy/male).  Let's just say there is nothing straight forward about this process, and the medical community, at times, had to set the IOC straight about the complexity of the biology involved. Trying to ban males from marrying males and females from marrying females will be equally problematic. If we focus not on the sex of the person, but the gender (i.e. banning men from marrying men and women from marrying women), then it gets even more complicated. I think this quote from the Intersex Society of North America website says it well.
"Whether or not the medical establishment rallies to explain intersex to the U.S. courts remains to be seen. If history is any guide, as gay marriage prohibitions make their way through the courts, a scientific expert here and a medical expert there will offer up one little gene or one type of anatomical tissue that might be used as a male-female sorting mechanism. But such a sorting system simply won’t accord with what people see on the outside and feel on the inside. The fact is, every anatomical bit you think of as female (breasts, XX-chromosomes, even ovarian tissue) can be found on someone who has looked and felt like a male since birth. The opposite is also true. Think about it: if sex categories really were naturally strict, we wouldn’t see so many cosmetic surgeons offering men breast reductions and offering women facial electrolysis."
A ban on same sex marriage is unnecessary and discriminatory, but it is also biologically naive. How do we define who is a woman? Her level of of testosterone/estrogen levels? How her genital look? Her chromosomes? Whether she feels like she is a woman? That she is able to conceive and give birth? Whether she has ovaries? Whether she has a vagina? Does she have to be born with these things or can they be surgically or chemically imposed later in life? Good luck creating a legal set of rules that includes all people. I can tell you that there are people married right now that both have XY chromosomes.
It's interesting to me because I never hear these kinds of discussions when same sex marriages are being discussed. I assume that as bans are being challenged more and more cases are moving through the courts, these sort of silent issues will begin to rise to surface because eventually they just can't be ignored.
I think the larger point here is that there is a lot of crossover between what we know to be men and what we know to be women. Yes we can tell the difference, but sometimes the line isn't so clear, and I think that makes people uncomfortable - so uncomfortable that it causes fear and discrimination. Feminism, gay/bi issues, intersex issues, transgender/transsexual issues, (and of course the sexual issues in Science Sex and the Ladies) - these all suffer from people's discomfort with mixing the feminine and masculine.
Women aren't biologically equip to vote/think straight while on their periods/have jobs/be good at science/play sports/be on the front lines of combat/do whatever happens to be the thing that women aren't supposed to do at each particular time period in our history. Only men can do these things.
Men can't want to kiss/fall in love with other men/get married (women are supposed to make them do that)/want to nurture and raise children. Only women could want that.
Men need a penis and women must have a vagina that can hold a penis. Etc...Etc... Point is people find the gender-bending associated with these issues disturbing. This creates fear and discrimination, and then scared angry people try to say that this gender bending -whatever form it takes- is unnatural. However, we know that a distinct line between male and female that all people easily fit into is really the unnatural, biologically naive thing here.


Intro to Intersex

While researching our movie, I came across an issue that I had never thought too much about, but I think it is important and relevant to the subjects present in our movie. Intersex (learn more here) is a description of a person who does not fit neatly into either the category of male or of female.

Although exact data on this doesn't exist, 1 to 3% is a good estimate for how many people fit into the intersex category (although generally .1 to .2% is the number of children born where the medical community would consider that the child needs specialist medical intervention), and that is a significant number of people. The uninformed public often think of this issue in terms of  the poor strange hermaphrodites that have an ovary, a testical, and both male and female genitals.  The possibility that your child would be born that way seems to terrify people. This was most recently and prominently expressed in the movie BABY MAMA in which Tina Fey's character read about the possibility and spread her terror to both her sister and Amy Poehler's character. Just for your knowledge, the range of intersex possibilities is broad, and for instance, the "hermaphrodite" type of intersex condition is one of the rarer types.

The truth is that when you become informed, intersex conditions are not really scary.  However, it is understandable that parents find the prospect of having an intersex kid daunting. Parents often wonder how a child who is not strictly male or female could cope in our society? Until only very recently, any kind of intersex condition was "corrected" without question as soon as possible by medical professionals. For many intersex individuals, this means that at birth a decision was made by medical professionals as to which sex they should be. The surgical and/or hormonal changes are then administered to the patients, often as infants and often continuing throughout their lives. The child rarely has a say in this. Some live happily with the decisions that were made on their behalf, but some do not. Some simply wish they had gotten a say in the matter.

There's some good arguments out there that these kinds of sexual ambiguities are not that problematic - and that no medical interventions should be administered until the person can make a decision for him or herself. Take for instance the common intersex situation in which the clitoris is "abnormally" large or the penis is deemed "abnormally" small. I mean, if we come from a place that knows these smaller penises and larger clitorises are completely functional for receiving pleasure (because we do know this); and we come from a place where we know that sex can exist as a variety of different types of interactions - interactions that can be loving, hot and orgasmic as long as both parties have functioning sexual organs - no matter what those organs happen to look like. If we come from this mindset, then maybe there is no need to risk loss of penis or clitoral sensitivity just to look more like society thinks penises and clitorises should look.

We as a society believe and act as if there are two possibilities; male and female, and that anything else is simply an abnormality that should be corrected, just as we would correct a cleft palate or an improperly formed heart. I am not writing this to advocate abolishing all medical intervention for intersex individuals. I am only writing this to point out that intersex conditions are somewhat common, not as bad as they are made out to be, and the issues surrounding intersex conditions and the "correction" of them are probably a lot more complicated than most people realize.You probably know an intersex individual, and you may someday become the aunt, uncle, parent or grandparent of an intersex individual, so why not be a little informed. There is a growing community of parents, intersex individuals, and medical professionals (check them out here) that would like us to rethink how intersex individuals are viewed and treated. I would suggest to anyone that they check out the subject a little more deeply.

I came across this issue in a fabulous book called Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality by Anne Fausto Sterling. Intersex is only one aspect of this book that tells us effectively that viewing humans in one of 2 categories, male or female, is both socially impracticable and also scientifically inaccurate. If you're kind of a science nerd, you might just love this book.


Slow and Steady

This isn't the first movie we've made. It is the longest and most complicated, but certainly not the first, and I am well versed in the timing of movie production. However, I've been working on this movie pretty much my whole adult life, and at times the progress seems to move excruciatingly slow. We were literally doing rewrites on this for years. I think that if I hadn't gone through the hills and valleys many a time before, I may have lost hope a long time ago.
I was just thinking about this because we just finished what I consider to be some pretty big milestones. The SSL website is now up (good work Charlie). We're locked into a date for the cast party / trailer premiere, and our AnC New Years cards are finally created and mailed (that's right New Years cards in February - that's true AnC style). Take for instance the SSL website, I've been fretting about it for years - what it will contain, how it will look, how it should work, when we need to get it up, and now it's here. That seems to be how everything with a movie works. I always think it feels something like this...The initial thought (whatever it may be - writing, casting, editing, marketing...) makes you feel excited and hopeful. Then you go through a series of points where you feel alternately hopeless and then confident. It also alternately sucks and then is awesomely fun. Plus it often seems like it will never ever end, but then you are suddenly looking back on it, and it actually has ended.
I still go through all these feelings, but I think I can say now that I have a constant underlying confidence that if the time is put in, it will be done. I know it can be done, because we've always gotten it done. Right now we're looking back on the research part, the writing part, the production part, the website part. We're smack dab in the middle of the post production part, and we're just stepping into the meat of marketing hell. One day I'll be looking back at those too.


Kate & Allie, Swingtown, and Our Precious Time

We don't have cable anymore. Instead, we watch Hulu and Netflix through a computer hooked up to our TV. I think we watch more TV than ever now; we slowly devour the season after season of tv series that we can watch streaming instantly on Netflix. Our first was Swingtown. Only one sweet season (2008) was made to grace our TV. I'm not lying when I say that I would think of it during my workday and kind of mourn it; wishing that there were more to watch. Charlie and Barney would tell you the same thing. So much drama! So much poolside 70's fun at the pilot's house! So many unused opportunities for swinging! We did a lot of yelling at the TV. How does this relate to Science Sex and the Ladies? Well, in other circumstances surrounding a sexually themed tv series, I would critique the way that female sexual response was portrayed in the series. This was an ABC show, though, and there was actually a lot of nothing when it came to portraying the response part. All you saw, on the rare occasion, were some quaaludes passed around, some kissing in a pool and then it was the next morning. This was no HBO series here (Sex and the City, True Blood, and Six Feet Under, I love your soap opera charm, but I am more than willing to call out your unrealistic female orgasms. Hung, I'm not so fond of you and I have already called you out on this blog), so I'm not going to critique. I guess I just wanted to say how much I miss that ol' Swingtown.

Our latest obsession is Kate&Allie (1984-1989). We're on season 4. How does this relate to our movie? Well, we have things to do for this movie, and we can't stop watching this show. So, we had to restrict watching to weekends so we could use our weeknights more constructively. It seems like I should acknowledge that this is sad or pathetic in some way, but I really don't think it is. I love TV, and Kate&Allie is a super bad ass TV show. It's got that classic 80's sitcom style, but with a touch of edge, a dash of feminist perspective, and a pinch of sophistication (except for Jennie's 1st and 2nd season hair or when they were trying to cover up Susan St. James' pregnant belly for a whole season - carrying a mattress up the stairs? laying in a hospital bed for 3 episodes? giant bunny costume for Halloween? hilariously 80's sitcomish endearing but probably not sophisticated). Point is, we're working so hard on the movie and the movie peripherals that we've given up our greatest joy during the week. That's puttin' the ol' nose to the grindstone.


Looking Back

I'm going to make a slightly different kind of post. I've been looking back through the still pictures we took while on this movie making adventure. I'm glad we took as many pictures as we did because it really serves as a great reminder as to how this thing came together. There is one image in particular that caught my attention. Its me shooting our dance scene. I am cramped in a bathroom some 125 feet from our dancers. Shooting zoomed in fully on the HVX. We didn't use our Brevis for this shot and I am having to shout back to the crew to let them know I'm ready to shoot. We planned and planned for this movie. We had gear that we only dreamed about on there shoots. Yet here I am with the basic camera, just a tripod and I'm yelling out action as loud as I can. This is what Independent moviemaking is like. We had three people on crew that day. Thankfully we were able to get a great makeup artist at the last minute, and this dance number was the culmination of 5 weeks of practice and months of work. I guess it just reminded me that you get it done how you can with what you got while you got it. We're not shooting Super VHS anymore but we're not on a great big union production either. We are somewhere in between and hey it works.