I hardly remember my Bar Mitzvah -- it was a long time ago, I was chubby, insecure, with braces and a bad stutter, and my Hebrew was shaky at best… so yep I blanked the whole thing out. I do remember some very delicious almond sugar dessert squares...
For the uninitiated, a Bar Mitzvah is when a Jewish boy turns 13 and theoretically or religiously becomes a man; in the religious world it invokes taking on responsibility in Jewish culture, becoming a full-fledged member of Jewish society, following the 613 laws of the Torah, and have moral responsibility for his own actions; in our typical North America society it involves a year of Hebrew study, a lot of sweat, a major speaking role in Saturday services at synagogue , a lot of gifts and 'gelt', and a kosher catered lunch at the synaggoe.
I don't remember what I said or did at my Bar Mitzvah, but I know it didn't compare to this kid… err, the newly anointed man, Duncan McAlpine of Portland. Watch in awe…
It's a chilly winter wonderland up here in the great white north, so the perfect time to curl up with a good book (or Kindle or as with me, iPad)... As I tend to read when I travel, and I travel two to three weeks a month for work, and on top of that I have weird dysfunctional sleep habits, I tend to read a lot, always have. Here are some recent faves… in the comments let me know what I should tackle next...
Best known as the sister and writing partner of the iconic Nora Ephron, with this book I discovered the voice and talent of Delia Ephron; her essays and observations range from fun fluffy bits on food to touching sorrowful pieces on her sister's illness and death.
There is some sibling rivalry dirt which is fun to read, and essays on her failed marriage and her successful one, her troubled relationship with her mother, and her love for her dog Honey (a Havanese like Alfred!)… from frilly to serious, this is a really smart touching read.
I discovered Sue Grafton's alphabet mystery series in a reader comment on this blog, and in the couple of years since then have devoured them all, from A Is For Alibi to the new W Is For Wasted.
Each is a mystery featuring California detection Kinsey Millhone, but they are also soulful meditations on friendship and self-awareness and life and loneliness and human nature. Okay I make them sound artsy and esoteric, and there are flashes of that, but these are simply really good reads from a really great writer. The only sad part is the countdown is on to the end of the series: X, Y, Z...
My Sprocket Ink bloggy buddy Lance Burson has published his second novel, and Soul ToBody is a gem… short, sweet, and in places not so sweet; this is a family drama with an edge.
Newly widowed Jake is dealing with his loss and struggling with raising his teenage daughter by himself; before he can find any sense of equilibrium a new woman enters his life, and everyone has to navigate this changed world...what he thinks vs what his daughter thinks vs what friends and family think are a central theme as Jake tries to figure out the right way to grieve and to move on, if such a thing exists. You will come to care about this guy and his choices and his life. Read Soul To Body.
Since 1988, December 1st has been a day of thought and fund-raising for the fight on AIDS... though it gets less press now, AIDS is still real and out there and impacting lives.
The 2013 theme for World AIDS Day is “Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation.”
AIDS has killed over 25 million people, and over 33 million are currently affected. There were almost 2 million new infections last year.
Are people complacent? Even though there are effective treatment options now, the ideal of course would be to not need treatment.
To learn more about Worlds AIDS Day click here: AIDS Day.
I am going to make a donation to The Canadian Foundation For AIDS Research this week (CANFAR), and encourage everyone else to do the same with their local organization. Every dollar helps, every second counts…
Now that I have gotten over the pain of being passed over yet again, I am totally cool with the fact that last week People magazine chose Adam Levine as this year's Sexiest Man Alive! (...exclamation point apparently part of the title…).
Despite rumours that Ryan Gosling turned the gig down (saw it on twitter, so must be true), Levine is a good choice… hot, charming, front man for popular band Maroon 5, coach on TV mega hit The Voice.
Levine is doing so well right now, we can all overlook the cheesy fragrance, that he is a "modelizer" (dates only models), and maybe even the men's clothing line at K-Mart.
Mr Sexiest Man Alive is fun and honest on social media, and recently become engaged to, yes, a model.
Levine is also an advocate of gay rights, a big supporter of his out gay brother Michael Levine, and a supporter of marriage equality. Here is a quote of his from last year, when he said that if he became president (uh, he won't), his first act would be to legalize gay marriage:
It’s just so silly and it doesn’t make any sense to me that you wouldn’t be able to marry whomever you want to marry. It’s not our business. I don’t know why we’re obsessed with making everything in this country our business, all the time. It seems we’re a little behind on that, and we just need to make it legal and stop caring so much. It doesn’t matter. And it shouldn’t matter…Anyone who doesn’t agree with it is essentially putting themselves above other people. That’s what they’re doing. And that’s not OK with me…I don’t think that having a gay brother has affected the way I feel about it, because I would feel the same way regardless. I happen to have a gay brother, but that doesn’t mean I’m more of an advocate for equal human rights. That shouldn’t change anything about the way that I feel.”
As for that Sexiest Man Alive gig, sure I think it's a good choice, but others disagree with the pick, and maybe Jimmy Kimmel did provide some truth in terms of context…
“He kind of has an unfair advantage. The guy spends his whole week sitting next to CeeLo,
Okay file this under the totally not surprised and wasn't he out already headlines, but congrats to Biggest Loser TV star and trainer Bob Harper who officially came out of the closet this week. Long know for his TV appearances, books, videos, love of fashion, posing shirtless, and general gayness, Harper officially came out this week to help a contestant on the TV show tell his father he's gay. Gotta admit it, well done Mr Harper…
I don't watch The Biggest Loser -- I did once and found it depressing -- but have seen Harper on other shows, and read two of his books this year as part of my new lose weight healthy living thing, and liked them.
To help encourage the young contestant to come out to his dad, Harper decided to share his own story.
"I haven't talked about my sexuality on this show ever," Harper explained in a 'confessional'. "And now, meeting Bobby, I really do believe this is the right time. I want to show Bobby that he doesn't have to live in shame."
So, Harper sat down with the contestant on camera and publicly came out for the first time. "I'm gay. I knew I very long time ago that I was gay… When I came out -- when I was 17 years old -- it was one of those things where I realized that there was going to be so many obstacles, but being gay doesn't mean being weak. And being gay doesn't mean that you are less than anybody else. It's just who you are."
I had never heard of syndicated columnist Amy Dickinson prior to this weekend when I stumbled across this column online, but boy am I a fan now. She is awesome! Dickinson received a letter from a parent who felt "betrayed" that their son "will not stop being gay." She gives an awesome response that also made me laugh. So we may have people who believe crappy things like this parent does, but we also have awesome people like Amy who offer sarcasm mixed with important real talk to highlight the ridiculousness of others' homophobic views.
This may be my favourite column ever… or actually it may be my runner-up favourite, to this classic… LOVE this one too!
We live in Edmonton, in northern Canada. It's effing cold here... "Winter Wonderland" my ass.
As I write this, it is 11 at night, I am watching TV, knowing I have to take the dogs out for a quick pee, and dreading it. It is MINUS 48 fucking degrees out there. Celsius. We are beyond extreme cold warnings, people. When it is this cold a digit could just fall off. An important one!
I wore ski socks and boots with my suit today. Standing outside to fill up my car was brutal. The autoclub is quoting nine hours for a flat tire service call. Everyone's nipples are painful and pointed like a Madonna bra. School buses are cancelled. Not the time to go commando.
Beyond dressing warm, at some point it should be long john weather. Although I am known to wear multiple pairs of fluffy ski socks and non-sexy layered sweats, I haven't worn these in years, though it may be time again. Here they are looking somewhat sexy, which trust me is not the real world...
Long johns, or long underwear, are warm thermal long-sleeved undergarments. When I was a kid I wore these skiing. And nylon suspender over-pants. Attractive, huh? Who cares. warm is warm.
This week on twitter, the world's source of all real news, I discovered The Long John Index,a 'not-scientific-whatsoever' method of measuring when, and if, one should be wearing a pair of thermal long underwear, known more commonly in the Dominion of Canada as 'Long Johns”. The Long John Index originated in the Arctic Capital of Edmonton Alberta, in the second decade of the 21rst Century. It is used mainly for edutainment and gambling purposes. The Index runs on a scale from 1 to 5; the higher the number, the more you need long john's. And I gotta tell you, these guys seem wimpy to me. With us nearing minus 50 it is hypothermia cars-don't-start weather, so yes we need long john's. Or to just stay home by the fireplace drinking hot chocolate and wearing every damn piece of clothing we own. But warmer than minus 30? Naaah...
Index rating 1: Low/Wimpy, temperatures between 0 and –10 celsius, no windchill. Long Johns not needed.
Index rating 2: Moderate, temperature between 0 and –10, with measurable windchill. Long Johns probably a good idea if you are spending more than an hour or so outdoors.
Index rating 3: High, temperature between -10 and –20. Long Johns should be worn for being outdoors for anything more than half-an-hour.
Index rating 4: Crazy High, Temperature between –20 and –30. Long Johns should be worn if you are outdoors for more than 10 minutes. It’s bleeping cold.
Index rating 5: Effin Nuts, Temperatures of –30 and worse. Windchill no longer matters. Long Johns should be worn INDOORS. Don’t even bother going outdoors. You may die out there.
Today was a SIX. Off the damn scale. Effin nuts.. Crap oh crap. I need full-body long johns. Including a mask, so I look like I am robbing a bank. Then I will rob a bank, take the cash and move somewhere that is way warmer than this arctic wasteland... okay, breathe, better now, it's just a cold spell during a Canadian winter.... we get those.
And now to warm everyone, another gratuitous pic... here is proof there are fashion crimes even in the world of long johns... really, a jaguar print? Who thought of this? And, uh, where do they sell them and how warm are they? Hmm….
(As we are currently in the throes of our first cold snowy major winter blast, I am recycling this January 2012 post… it is more than relevant today…. brrr)...
I'm surprised it's taken this long… After so many lame, drunken seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, there is finally a gay "Bachelor" on reality TV! Okay no there isn't a gay bachelor, this is a spoof from those witty nut-jobs at Funny Or Die. There still isn't a gay bachelor, or a for that matter a black one. But watch anyway...
I have loved Alec Baldwin for a long time… long before 30 Rock and It's Complicated, before his SNL gigs and vaguely amusing Capital One commercials, before even Beetlejuice and Married To The Mob… all the way back to Dress Gray and his days as Val's charming lunatic brother Joshua on KnotsLanding... and that is a long long time. Besides being handsome and yes a good actor, Baldwin is smart, artsy, literary, political, liberal. Sure he married that lunatic Kim Basinger, but then he divorced her. And yes clearly has anger issues as evidenced by the infamous audio of him yelling at his daughter, and the many frequent run-ins with paparazzi, but, hey, we all have our issues, right? Baldwin has been an ardent supporter of gay rights, and did a marriage equality video with out ModernFamily actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson. So yep I'm a fan… or was. Now I am not so sure.
Earlier this year a British tabloid reporter wrote a nasty piece about Baldwin's wife tweeting during a funeral, and Baldwin called the reporter a "toxic little queen" on Twitter. Afterwards, he issued an apology, writing: “As someone who fights against homophobia, I apologize.” It now looks like that was an empty apology, because this week TMZ posted a video of the actor allegedly calling a member of the paparazzi a “cocksucking faggot.”
In the video Baldwin can be seen threatening the photographer outside his apartment in Manhattan. The outburst came just hours after he won a courtroom victory against a stalker. After chasing down the photographer, Baldwin stomps away and grumbles what sounds like the words “cocksucking faggot.”
Baldwin denies the allegations and is instead trying to play the victim. After his outburst and the nasty press that followed, he took to twitter, saying he said "cocksucking fathead"… yeah, cuz people say that.
A representative for GLAAD responded to the video by saying: “Mr. Baldwin can’t lend his support for equality on paper, while degrading gay people in practice. It’s clearly time he listens to the calls from so many LGBT people and allies to end this pattern of anti-gay slurs.”
After the June incident, out reporter Anderson Cooper challenged Baldwin's integrity, saying if a conservative threatened to beat up a "little queen" they would be crucified in the press, why should a liberal get off easier?
MSNBC has suspended Baldwin's recently launched political talk show.
Sure, this will have buzz for a few more days, Baldwin will do a full apology and maybe give some money to a good cause… but much as I want to buy it, now it is just feeling like the guy is an asshole.
Once again I am with my buddy Anderson Cooper, who went after Baldwin once more on Friday… "Wow, Alec Baldwin shows his true colors yet again. How is he going to lie and excuse his anti-gay slurs this time?" the openly gay star asked. He then added, "Just read Alec Baldwin's latest excuses. They are actually so ridiculous they are funny."
"Cocksucking fathead"…. really? We are supposed to buy that?
In the 90s there was a popular collection of gay essays in a book called Alec Baldwin Doesn't Love Me, about unrequited gay lust for the hunky actor… it was a cute play on words then, who knew it would be so true?
My love for Cher is well documented , and no, surprise, she loves my people back... Her songs like Believe were huge in gay clubs, and Cher has had gay fans, and drag impersonators, since the early days. "Gay guys like a certain kind of woman," she explains. "They like a flamboyant woman that's broken. They like a balls-to-the-wall woman, motherly but not; sexual but not. Gay guys are like this: they either love you or they don't even know you're on the planet. Once you have them, you have them." When asked if she has a lesbian fan base, espcaily since her being so frank about coming to terms with the sexuality of her transgender son, Chaz, and her first film role as Meryl Streep's lesbian roommate in Silkwood... "Not in the same degree. I think my gay boys, that's a big part of my world."
I love Cher... love the music, love the movies, love Closer To The Truth, love Moonstruck, love the looks, love the attitude, love the outspokenness, love the videos, love the whackadoodle outfits, have almost forgotten the exercise videos and 80s hair care informercials...
Loved the never-can-say-goodbye Farewell Tour, have tickets to next year's Dressed To Kill tour...
And love this story she is telling... this could happen only to Cher!
"This is a complicated story. So, Salvador invited me and Francis Coppola and Sonny and my girlfriend Joey to dinner. And so we got to the apartment and they'd been having an orgy in the other room. People were in different stages of undress, but mostly dressed. They were staggering around and speaking French, just crazy, you know?
So I have my hand on the chair and I see something in the crack, and it's a beautiful, painted rubber fish. Just fabulous. It has this little remote-control handset, and I'm playing with it, and the tail is going back and forth, and I'm thinking it's a child's toy. So I said to Salvador: 'This is really funny.' And he said [she puts on a deep, comedy Spanish voice]: 'It's wonderful when you place it on your clitoris.'" The room explodes.
"Now, Sonny and Francis, these little boys, are sitting there unable to control themselves, and they start eating the chocolate on the table. This happened to be these clocks that Salvador had made for decoration, and Francis and Sonny got so nervous they started eating them, these fabulous candy clocks."
The six of them walked to the restaurant, but alas, their dinner date with Dalí was not to be. "Ultra Violet [Dalí's assistant] was there, and she kept rubbing me with her cane, and I thought [chuckles], I'm going to break this cane across this bitch's head.
All of sudden, Salvador and Ultra Violet got up, moved to another table and sat down. We became hysterical. We were crying. And they sat there and had their dinner, and we sat there and had our dinner." So she didn't keep the vibrator? "No, I didn't keep it!"
Last year I chose Songs For The New Depression by Kergan Edwards-Stout as one of my fave reads of the year (read here); now he is back with a holiday-themed collection of stories called Gifts Not Yet Given.
Much as I was moved by Songs, I was cautious this time around -- second outings tend to disappoint, this holiday theme seemed gimmicky, and in general I am not a huge fan of short stories... I am one of the few Canadians who think both Alice Munro and hockey are overrated.
Then I read Gifts Not Yet Given, and my worries went away; the stories are involving and thought-provoking, and the holiday theme serves as a faint background rather than some clunky imposed structure. The stories are about family, religion, loneliness, social awkwardness, fitting in and especially not fitting in, and sadness and death. As with Songs, this is a serious writer who shows he can still be fun to read.
As with any collection, some stories shine more than others, and it took me a while to warm up here; the first story, about a driven career woman who misses out on life, is well-written but nothing new, and is probably the weakest of the 14 stories.
The second one is about a young gay boy marching to his own drummer, and it is quirky and sweet. There is lots of quirky and lots of sweet here, and yes a fair bit of gay -- all things I like!
As Gifts' stories got more family and relationship oriented, and often sad and unsettling, I started to care about these people and become really involved in their lives.
Three stories stayed with me: The Stepping Stone about a geeky son and his mother from hell, Holes about a life devastated by disease, and the title story Gifts Not Yet Given about a family still struggling with a choice in their past. These alone are worth the price of admission.
Check this one out --- the stories are original and intriguing, and the characters are strong and flawed, loving and broken. Author photo courtesy Sara+Ryan Photography Review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. This review is my own. No compensation was received (Jellybeans would have been nice).
As the Sochi Olympics get closer, the discussions continue about how athletes and businesses should react to the country's new hateful anti-gay laws and especially the recent anti-gay violence in that country.
But this is about more than the Olympics, politics and business --- there are other big stakes here, people... beauty pageants!
This year the Miss Universe beauty pageant (oh, why do these things still exist...?) is being held in Russia, and the Miss Universe organization, which is owned by Donald Trump (oh, why do these morons still exist...?) has ignored calls to change that.
Last year the pageant --- which, shockingly, I do not watch -- was hosted by American TV personalities Andy Cohen and Giuliana Rancic.
Both Cohen and Rancic were due to host again this year, and then the openly gay Cohen dropped out, saying he does not feel safe travelling to Russia. I thought it was a cool move, as it redirected the spotlight on Russia's laws.
Then the pageant people announced a surprising replacement... Thomas Roberts, an openly gay news and entertainment reporter.
Why would another openly gay man step into this role? Not sure, but I am thinking pay check, a bit of fame, and the controversy spotlight have a lot to do with it... wait, does that sound cynical?
Roberts defends the gig saying what a "huge visible opportunity" this is, quoting gay icon Harvey Milk on the importance of being seen, and that he is "I go to prove there's hope"... uh, how, buddy?
I think the network and pageant are looking to deflect criticism by replacing one gay dude with another.
The pageant is this weekend, November 9th... I won't be watching, but I am eager to see reports of what Roberts does... step up, dude!