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He’s Back and Better Than Ever

Over the last months, I’ve had to fend off countless queries, ranging from the plaintive to the pissed off, regarding the whereabouts of a certain Magnificent Bastard. Where did he go? Why isn’t he posting? What about us guys? Wah. Wah. Wah.

First of all, I believe I have given all you red-blooded MBs out there enough spectacular lady eye and ear candy to tide you over whilst your boy went astray.

Secondly, I am not MB’s wife. Nor his secretary, nurse, prison warden, shrink or keeper of any sort, so frankly, I had zero idea what sort of vision quest he was on.

It just so happens, however, that MB recently made his way back to my snowy city, hat in hand, and we had drinks.

He looks tan and well-rested and I trust you will find his alcohol tolerance and his way with threads and words to be intact.

Go to him, my brothers. And buy some of those cute ties.

So Many Selfies

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This week the word “selfie” was chosen as word of the year by the erudite folks over at the Oxford English Dictionary. It has been included in the on-line version of the dictionary and is being considered for inclusion in the traditional OED.

Personally, I can’t take a decent selfie to save my life, which is fine because let’s face it, selfies are kind of annoying and mostly best left to the tweens.

However, I’m tickled by what Franz Ferdinand bassist, Bob Hardy, has going on. Basically, he’s been taking hotel room selfies since 2005 to document tour life, but he cleverly obscures his face with whatever book he happens to be reading. Check out a smattering over at T Magazine.

I’m going to start doing this with cheeseburgers, hoagies, burritos, gyros, tacos, bahn mi. I may have to get a smaller face and bigger sandwiches, but I think Bob is really onto something here.

Enjoy a little Franz Ferdinand for Movember. And top hats off to Bob Hardy for being humble and bookish and clever. It’s enough to make an SB a little frothy. This song certainly is.

Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out from BavarianBlue on Vimeo.

Lena Dunham Interviews Mindy Kaling

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The conversation was commissioned by a third SB love, Tavi Gevinson, for a print publication based on her website, Rookie. Rolling Stone released it online, and not surprisingly, it’s HILARIOUS.

We love these smart, wacky broads around here. They both have uber vivid interior lives and exceptional imaginations, not to mention the full on balls to be who they are and say what they want.

Enjoy.

Previously on SB: SB Loves Mindy Kaling

SB Flicks: The Great Gatsby

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For a moment the last sunshine fell with romantic affection upon her glowing face; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened – then the glow faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret, like children leaving a pleasant street at dusk.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

The movie comes out next month, leaving you plenty of time to read (or in the case of you sexy, bookish SB readers, RE-read) the novel. Cracking its spine is like opening an exquisite package: beautiful, bright and shiny wrapping frantically tossed aside to reveal mystery, regrets, damnation. So good!!!

And the movie promises to provide some MAJOR eye and ear candy.

Leo, Carrie, Toby.

Darlings, I cannot wait!!!

Hullooo From the Bottom of a Crevasse!

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Were you worried I had fallen into an ice crevasse? So was I. In truth, I was busy recovering from two holidays in one week. Do Mardi Gras and Valentines Day always partner up like that? That’s a lot of love (and food and booze and feathers) for one week. But who am I to complain?

Then I fell into a NY Times wormhole and was compelled to spend any free time I could scrounge up reading about the talented, mercurial and swaggerific Frank Ocean and then the lovely, earthy, younger-man-dating-like-it-ain’t-no-big-thang Connie Britton and then the cool as a cucumber, who-knew-she-was-the-ugly-duckling-of-the-family-I-simply-don’t-believe-it, Lee Radziwill. Excellent, dishy reads – all of them.

And then, THWACK. It was the sound of Vogue hitting my doorstep and well, have you seen the cover? Now you have. Beyonce’s dress is beyond gorgeous and I spent way too long staring at it trying to decide if it harkened bird, fish or some kick-ass albino beast in-between the two. It’s tremendous.

And I haven’t even looked inside OR seen her documentary, have you? I may be stuck in this crevasse a bit longer.

Send wine, fur and salami, s’il vous plait.

Photo credit: Patrick Demarchelier for Vogue

SB Cannot Wait to Get Her Paws on the Vanity Fair Comedy Issue

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It’s guest edited by Judd Apatow and features three different covers. Which to choose??? I kind of love every single person pictured, with the exception, perhaps, of Megan Fox. Is she funny? Hmmm.

And hats off to Leslie Mann, 40 year old mother of two, for ra ra rocking that bikini. Much is being made of the fact that the issue features an equal number of men and women. As long as we’re talking equity, I think there should be at least one dude in his skivvies as a counterpoint to Mann. My vote would have been for Jack Black, but what do I know? And where is he, by the way?

I do know that this is what I’m going to be doing on my plane ride in a couple weeks. So don’t even think about chit chatting me up.

Holiday Gift Guide: For the Bookworm and the Glam Girl

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For the bookworm: Does your SB carry a book around in her purse? Does she light up when someone so much as approaches her bookshelf, at the ready to pluck and discuss? Does she get ornery when someone doesn’t return one of her books? Does she get all frothy and greedy in a bookstore? Then, by all means, buy her some books! And this year, how about this adorable coffee table book called My Ideal Bookshelf? It has illustrations of the fave books of everyone from Patti Smith to Tony Hawk to Judd Appatow. For a dedicated copy, go here.

OR if you’re truly awesomely sneaky, you can commission a custom portrait of her favorite and most beloved books. You can also get a gift card, so you’ll have one year to send book picks and pictures of the spines to be illustrated. I just love this.

For the glam girl. Oh she’s easy. Not easy that way, you pervs. Anything sparkly or be-feathered is sure to please. J. Crew has some really cool bling to choose from and let’s just say I would be more than a little tickled to open a box and see the Band.o flurry pouf  staring back at me. I can think of a million places I would wear that little piece, starting with the post office, the liquor store, the market, the dentist and oh, maybe a party or two . . .

For the bookworm glam girl: This hybrid is more common than you’d imagine and lucky for you, there’s the perfect book for her this year. Grace Coddington, the longtime creative director of Vogue magazine and a former model, has put out a memoir. Yep. Cannot wait to read it. Can. Not. Wait.

SB Flicks: The Eye has to Travel

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I am an absolute sucker for a good fashion documentary and this one about Harpers Bazaar and Vogue editor, Diana Vreeland, looks to be abso fabu.

Vreeland was a rare bird and I have high hopes that this documentary will capture her visionary, dramatic, fun and irreverent spirit.

She was the first to embrace Barbara Streisand’s nose, to recognize it for what it was – unique and beautiful and not something to be shaded or turned to a better angle. She used to say “Push their faults – make it the most beautiful thing about them.” That, my friends, is a kernel of wisdom we can all tuck in our clutches.

It’s in theaters now, so scurry.

Photo credit: courtesy of the Diana Vreeland estate

Ask the SB: Clubbing

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Q: Clearly you are a reader. But I wonder if you are a group reader. What’s your take on book clubs? Can they be spectacular?

–Lady X

A: As it so happens, Lady X, I am both a solitary and a group reader. I was a great books major in college and I will never tire of sitting in a circle dissecting books with smart people. It is truly one of life’s greatest pleasures. Only now we have wine. What could be better? Nothing, I tell you.

I think book clubs are spectacular. Every one is different and if you’re lucky enough to have some staying power, they change over time as we do. The constant is the book: a steadfast and ever fascinating companion.

Happy clubbing, Lady X.
SB

SB Flicks: Sleepwalk with Me

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In this summer of interminable strands of gloriously sunny days, I find it next to impossible to duck out of life and into a movie theater. I’m beating my tom-tom drum for rain, imploring the heavens for a petite deluge, a day to hide out so I can go see Sleepwalk with Me.

It’s produced by Ira Glass. Need I say more?

OK, I will. I have a giant crush on Ira Glass. Insofar that it’s possible to have a giant crush on a smart, nerdy, radio voice.

I love that he loves stories about people and he serves them up with humor but also heart and respect. You listen to his nuanced and truthful tales enough times, you start to trust him. And crush. Or maybe that’s just me. I do trust that this will be worth it, though.

Rain. Rain. Rain.

RIP Helen Gurly Brown

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Author of Sex and the Single Girl and Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine from 1965 through 1997, it’s hard to overstate Helen Gurly Brown’s influence on magazines as we know them. When she took over Cosmo, she took a prim, stayed publication geared toward perfect housewives and turned it into a frank, confessional, naughty and open forum for women who were out and about, living in the real world.

She’s the one who famously said, good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere. Ahead of her time, brave and full of sass, this SB will be missed. To read more about her fascinating life, check this out.

Photo Credit: Hearst Corporation/SF

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Give the SB an Earful via Mild Bossiness and a Begrudging Complement

Q: Hey, hey person who’s name I know not!

Yea I read that Olympic sex article last week and found it lame. Yes eveyone at the Olympic village is hot. Doh they have hot sex. And . . .? The article dramatically  stated the obvious in breathless highschooler prose. Not up to spectacular bitch standards. Generally, your stuff’s not bad. That article, though is tabloid pap. Sorry. Stuff like this and this is so much cooler.

BTW why don’t you have commenting activated/ Are you on twitter? I’ve wanted to have internet conversations with you before (send you pics/links etc) but have been put off by the lack of commenting (disqus much?)  and the need to email everything.

Join the internet please. It’s fun.

–TJ

A: TJ, TJ, TJ . . . When I first read your email, I was surer than a shine on a black patent leather shoe that you were some geeky boy with a secret crush on SB. When I checked out your blog, however, I discovered that you are a female sewing Australian molecular biologist who specializes in fungi! What the hell? And correct me if I’m wrong, but I deduce, by reading between the lines of your surliness, that you just want to be friends! Yes? Yes!

I loved your email and though it left my hair a bit windblown, I will attempt to address all of your concerns:

1. I agree that the Olympic sex article was written in breathless highschooler prose, but much of my life, both written and otherwise, is carried out in breathless highschooler prose.

2. I disagree that the article was tabloid pap, and I actually spent a highly entertaining evening with friends speculating about the wonderful generation of athletes that would be spawned if the IOC was devious/smart enough to give the athletes faulty condoms. We then proceeded to create our own superbabies by pairing the athletes off, like Noah’s ark, and not surprisingly, Serena Williams was a popular pick.

3. So, you think my “stuff’s not bad.” You are too kind.

4. As for comments, I can only say this: like panties, sometimes the unsightly lines are just not worth it. And also, my tech support guy is always golfing.

5. I am on twitter and you can find me @specbitch.

6. It’s too bad you find email so toilsome because you are good at it. Being the queen of this blog and an SB, I opt not to make myself too available and that’s advice everyone should take.

7. I have joined the internet in so far as I am comfortable, which, in terms of entering a pool is just about up to my bum. I will wade around here for a while if it’s ok with you.

Thank you for the fiesty words, fiesty one. I look forward to connecting with you via Twitter.

xoxo,

SB

 

Free Pussy Riot

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Photo credit: Anna Artemeva/AFP/Getty Images

Russian female punk band, Pussy Riot, is being detained for a protest performance they busted out in Moscow’s cathedral this past February. The charges are hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, but really they were protesting against Putin and making a statement about the separation of church and state. They just happened to do it in brightly colored ski masks and mini dresses on the altar of Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.

The three women have been in jail for five months and the trial has been a joke, complete with a disinterested judge and a savage Rottweiler, who strangely, gets to hang out in the courtroom frothing and snarling. There are allegations that the girls are being deprived of food and proper sleep, and other musicians, including Pete Townsend, Anthony Kiedis, Sting, Patty Smith and Alex Kapranos have come out in support of the group, demanding their freedom. They face a possible seven year sentence and a decision is expected this week!

Egads! What a nail biter!

Stay strong girls. And Putin, don’t be an asshole. Free Pussy Riot.

Pussy Riot encased in glass for the trial.

Photo credit: RIA Novosti Andrey Stenin

Legs Astride, Arms Akimbo

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In my youth I stumbled upon these four words, arranged in just this way and I fell head over heels. Legs astride, arms akimbo. It’s like hilarious poetry.

Somehow, by using special words . . . better words, regular ‘legs apart with hands on hips’ conjures something ways more interesting: a handsome cowboy squinting into the sunset before turning around and casting a long shadow over Delila Mae’s bent form as she fusses over her okra patch. She feels his blue eyes on her neck like the touch of his cool fingers. She looks up through a curtain of lashes and there he is, standing legs astride, arms akimbo. As if in a dream, she rises slowly, straightens her skirt and falls into his powerful, trembling embrace . . . Right? RIGHT?

But that has nothing to do with anything. What I’m really here to report is that Harvard social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, has found that legs astride, arms akimbo is a really good way for women to stand. It not only connotes power to those around you, it tricks your brain into feeling powerful too.

In short, according to the snippet I read in Wired Magazine, taking up more space (e.g. arms over chair backs, feet on desks) makes a person exude confidence both because of how it’s perceived, but also due to real chemical changes in the brain that make you feel more confident.

This study dovetails brilliantly with one of the most important SB Tenets of all – stand up straight!!! Listen to your mother and throw those shoulders back. Good posture is EVERY THING. It doesn’t matter what you have on, if you don’t have good posture.

And if you’re feeling it, stand legs astride, arms akimbo and think of that brawny Jeremiah, tilling the soil, down on his knees, his muscular forearms covered in sweat . . . just waiting for a word.

Can Men and Women be Just Friends?

Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith, 1969
Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith, 1969

Of course they can. To say or pretend otherwise, is rubbish. It doesn’t give men enough credit for their ability to care about anything other than the panties. Or to women, for being smart enough, funny enough and cool enough to be more than just another pair of panties.

For obvious reasons (sex sells), we rarely see male female friendships portrayed in the media. This NY Times op-ed piece by William Deresiewicz explains the evolution of friendship and why, as a culture, we have such trouble understanding and narrating non-romantic relationships.

A fascinating read.

Photo credit: Norman Seef

Good News for Sewer-Mouthed SBs

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I have long been a rabid supporter of equal opportunity for ALL words, whether filthy and profane or pure as the white driven snow.

Sometimes, I like to string them together in long, vertiginous, melodious, hair-raising strands punctuated by nothing more than the ever satisfying syncopation of strategically placed F-bombs.

And now, I can rest easy that my penchant for cussing is actually a plus in the work place, winning me friends and relieving stress.

Best fucking news I’ve heard all day.

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A Handy Tip for the Easily Distracted

If you’re reading this blog, you may know a thing or two about distractions. Watch this delightful 3 minutes for a handy tip.

It’s actually a scene that didn’t make the final cut of Miranda July’s last film, The Future.

I didn’t see the film, but I did read her collection of short stories called No One Belongs Here More than You. July is one quirky and insightful lady, and adorable to boot. She seems to be able to see straight thru into people’s deepest oddities and use them as fodder for her work. In a good way.

My favorite thing in this short film is the tweezers. And her black brogues. Watch it, you’ll see.

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The Evolution of the Bra

Robin Givhan’s piece about the bra’s big moments in history in Newsweek’s Mad Men issue is a good read. It’s not entirely surprising that such a slip of a thing, an unmentionable, an undergarment would become such a politicizing and polarizing symbol.

It may be hidden, but it’s the article of clothing a woman feels the most – around her ribs, over her shoulders, across her beating heart – where big breaths and loud roars originate, where selfhood and passions reside.

It sort of gives new meaning to the lyrics: when you love somebody, set them free.

Not that I’m advocating any sort of bralessness lawlessness. If the girls need support, you give it.

But if they don’t, well, you know what to do.

James Franco to Play Robert Mapplethorpe

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Heads up, people! The adorable, chameleonic James Franco will be playing Robert Mapplethorpe in an upcoming biopic, directed by documentary filmmaker, Ondi Timoner.

I must admit I knew little of Mapplethorpe (outside of the brouhaha), until I read Just Kids, a memoir by Patti Smith, who is, incidentally, a Spectacular Bitch of the Tomboy variety. Mapplethorpe was one tortured dude, with a heart of gold and an insatiable need to create; it was as if his very life depended on it. Should be gooooooood.

And check out this short film by the NYTimes of James Franco kissing himself if you wish to be amused. And maybe a little turned on.

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Dessa Lays it Down

Ever wonder what female rappers think about all the” bitches and hos” languishing on the hoods of cars and behind the VIP ropes of a hip hop song?

Minneapolis-based essayist, rapper, and member and CEO of Doomtree, Dessa, writes a smart, incisive op. ed. piece that not only challenges the role of misogyny in rap music, but the presumption that you can’t be a real fan, without, at least, a tacit acceptance of the “rough talk.”

Poetic and fierce, as is her way, she lays it down: If your conscience wouldn’t let you say it, don’t buy it. Leave your wallet in your pocket and keep your money off a mic you wouldn’t put your mouth to.

photo credit: Kai Benson

Advanced Style: Age and Beauty

Photo from Ari Seth Cohen's Advanced Style
Photo from Ari Seth Cohen's Advanced Style

Do yourself a favor. Watch this short film by Lina Plioplyte featuring the fashion doyennes of Ari Seth Cohen’s Advanced Style blog.

For starters, Cohen’s blog is worth checking out because style is style, no matter what age. Cohen’s ladies are bright, funny and full of joy – and his genuine affection and respect for his subjects shines through in his beautiful photos.

Hearing these gals talk about fashion, about why they dress the way they do, is inspiring. One of the perks of growing older is giving less and less of a shit what others think. We should all take a page from their book.

Di. Vine.

Fabrizio Constantini for The NYTIMES
Fabrizio Constantini for The NYTIMES

Helping Motown’s Homeless

Here’s a little something from The New York Times to warm your cockles.

Fashion and design students in Detroit are using their talents and energy to create products that will help the swelling homeless population by both keeping them warm and giving them jobs.

Veronica Scott, a student from the College of Creative Studies, designed a brilliant parka that turns into a sleeping bag. She now has a factory in an abandoned warehouse in Detroit and industrial sewing machines thanks to Deaborn-based, work-clothing manufacturer Carhartt, Inc.

Others are making shoes out of old tires and survival bags that can be turned into waterproof boots. I’m so impressed.

And they say fashion-types are craven . . .

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Ask the SB: So Over Amazing

Q: What’s your position on overused fashion descriptives? If I hear the word “amazing” used one more time to describe a dress, a shoe, or plate of pasta, I think I’ll scream. There are thousands of other adjectives to choose from. Surely some of those would do the job.

Best, 
Beverly

A: I so very much appreciate your ornery ways, Beverly, and I think you should scream the next time you feel like it.

I agree with you. We live in a time of gross hyperbole and profound laziness which is why there are so many amazing salads out there.

I think you and I should start a two woman crusade to snuff out “amazing” and promote the use of “dynamite” in its stead. It’s a better word and it’s high time for a change.

What d’ya say?

SB