August 16, 2014

Remembering Robin Williams...


Oscar winning actor and legendary stand-up comedian Robin Williams died last week, at his own hand after struggling with depression, addiction, and other health issues.

His death was shocking and sad, and has in the media and online worlds brought out the best and the worst ... look at Jimmy Fallon's touching tribute as an example of the best, and the venom spewed at Williams' daughter Zelda by internet trolls as the worst.

Maybe people will learn something about depression, or just about kindness, from all of this?

I loved Williams in everything from Mork and Mindy to Aladdin and Good Will Hunting and Mrs Doubtfire and The Birdcage and so many more...

To see his range, check out little seen gems like Insomnia and One-Hour Photo... the man was an incredible actor.

He also was by all accounts a kind and decent human being who did tons of charity and community work.

Here is a fun performance by Williams at the 2000 Academy Awards, when he was a surprise performer of best song nominee "Blame Canada" from the South Park movie...

Nanu Nanu, Mr Williams.

August 3, 2014

How To Survive A Normal Heart...


Much as I love escapist fluff entertainment -- hell, I am re-watching chick flick Confessions of A Shopaholic as I write this -- once in a blue moon a smart substantial film wows me.

Or sometimes twice in a blue moon.

I recently watched two AIDS-themed dramas that dazzled me, and caused me to shed some tears: How To Survive A Plague and The Normal Heart.


How To Survive A Plague is the 2012 Oscar-nominated documentary about the early days of the AIDS crisis and the beginning of activist groups like "Act Up" and their struggle to get recognition, assistance, caring or respect from the government, the media, and the medical establishment.

Plague is culled from hundreds of hours of arrived footage and is brilliantly woven together into a personal story. It is emotionally brutal and absolutely breathtaking.

It is available on demand, on Netflix and on DVD... gear yourself up and watch it.



The Normal Heart is the long-delayed film version (made for HBO this year) of Larry Kramer's seminal 1985 play on AIDS in the 80s, based on his own life. It's star studded cast includes Matt Bomer, Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts and Jim Parsons, and it is up for 16 Emmy awards at next month's ceremony.

Ruffalo is Ned Weeks, the Kramer-ish activist who rails against the politicians, reporters, doctors, and closeted gay men who ignore 'the gay cancer' in the early 80s while all his friends are dying...  and all while he is falling in love with a fashion reporter (Bomer) who will be struck by the disease. Their charming love story among all the suffering is amazing.

The Normal Heart is the anti-Philadelphia... it shows the disease, and the anger, and also the love and lust among the gay men at is centre. It is loud, lusty, messy, angry, and yes sometimes preachy.  And it works as a drama and as a history lesson.

Both films ask the question shouted by Weeks in The Normal Heart --- "Who cares if a faggot dies?" -- and both are mesmerizing. Watch them... but I do not recommend a double feature.



July 28, 2014

New TV fave... Vicious!


Sure it's summer TV rerun season, and most of the new programming out there is the level of America's Got Talent crap, however we have discovered a fantastic new sitcom... smart, funny, totally bitchy, we love it!

The show is called Vicious, and it is a BBC import that shows on PBS on Sunday nights (and is available on DVD).

In Vicious, Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi are Freddie and Stuart, an elderly gay couple who have been together for 48 years and maintain a love/hate relationship... they are bitter and petty and bitchy and yes vicious to each other. And it is awesome.

I told my husband this was our future... his response was that this is our now.

Underneath Freddie's and Stuart's vicious co-dependency bickering they have a deep love for each other and it is sweet in it's own way. Joining in the fun every week are their lovelorn best friend Violet (Frances de la Tour, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) and Ash (Iwan Rheon, Game of Thrones), their young, hot upstairs neighbour.


The first season of Vicious aired in the UK last year (it's only 6 episodes) and is on here now. A second season is coming later this year.

Check Vicious out... it is fast, it is funny, and let's face it, at this time of year your other options are Botched and Dance Moms.

July 17, 2014

41 Dog Facts...

Fun video from John Green, video blogger/educator, and oh yeah wrote a little book called The Fault In Our Stars....

... and I am totally down with Toto being better paid than the Munchkins were.

June 29, 2014

The Scarlet Letter Society...



In The Scarlet Letter Society, three smart successful women meet monthly for an early breakfast book club... not that unusual, until you realize that the books are all about women having extramarital affairs, and the women have this in common in their real lives as well.

As with most book clubs, the book talk is quickly abandoned for real life talk, and in this case sex and relationship talk. It is dishy and fun and insightful, and sometimes yes touching.

My bloggy buddy Mary McCarthy, semi-famous for Pajamas and Coffee,  has FINALLY published her first novel, and the timing is perfect... this is an ideal summer read, a fast, fun, sexy, chatty beach book.

Besides being a breezy read and interesting take on grown-up relationships, this Scarlet Letter is loaded with self aware pop culture references... a book with people talking about books, with poppy references from Sixteen Candles to the Eagles to Stevie Wonder to Erica Jong... if I didn't love my 70s and 80s shallow pop culture I may think was too much, but so not an issue for me at all... never enough!

In The Scarlet Letter Society, there is wit, there is humour, there is sex, and most importantly there are three women who think they're slutty but may just be lonely; okay, one of them is totally slutty, but in a wonderfully charming bi-curious kind of way.

Between monthly book club breakfasts we follow each woman's life; Eva the lonely attorney with a chef on the side, Maggie the vintage retailer with her ex on the side, and Lisa the baker with a different kind of secret. You will come to adore them all.

And yes there is a totally fabulous gay best friend, who has a totally sweet gay wedding to his boyfriend ALFRED!

Put this one on top of your summer reading list, and spend some time with these fun, fascinating, fidelity-challenged women, and their friends and lovers, in The Scarlet Letter Society...



Disclaimer: the publisher sent me a digital copy of this book. This review is my own, no compensation was received.  Jelly beans would have been nice.

June 22, 2014

Cher tomorrow!


It's almost here…. 

Tomorrow we see Cher and Cyndi Lauper live in concert (okay, okay, sort of live, as there may be some Cher lip syncing involved).

I love Cher, have seen her twice before, she puts on an amazing show…. and her 'comeback' album from last year, Closer To The Truth, is fantastic in a glitzy touching over-produced danceable-with-some-sadness kind of way… so totally Cher!

Believe... If I Could Turn Back Time... Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves... Woman's World... Song For The Lonely... Dark Lady... Half Breed... You Haven't Seen The Last Of Me...

Bring on Cher!

June 14, 2014

2 Great Gay Flicks On Netflix...


So while yes insomnia totally sucks, there are ways to handle it... drugs, exercise, hypnosis... I don't do any of them when I can't sleep. I read or watch TV. Usually I choose chopper gadget infomercials or  Golden Girls reruns, but this week I chose Netflix... and discovered they are showing two recent acclaimed gay films I had read about but never had access to before. Both are awesome.


Stranger By The Lake, France, 2013 (English subtitles)



This sexual thriller is unlike anything I have seen before... at first I was thinking "what's the big deal" and then I was holding on to the edge of my seat to see what would happen next.


The whole film takes place within a few days on a gay cruising beach. Franck is an out gay man who goes there looking for conversations, sex, and maybe love, unlike the other mostly closeted beachgoers just looking for anonymous sex in the woods.

This is a beautifully shot work, with the lake and nearby woods by day and by night being postcard gorgeous. In more ways than just the scenery, the film overall is beguiling... and oh yeah, good to note, very sexually explicit.

Franck becomes enchanted with Michel, another attractive man who spends his afternoons at the beach having sex with different men. He then realizes Michel has a possessive boyfriend. And while watching them from a distance, he sees Michel deliberately drown the boyfriend. Franck knows he should report this to the police, but is so infatuated he keeps quiet and starts getting involved with Michel. And two days later the body is discovered and police start interviewing all the closeted men at the cruising park, which you know is not gonna go well. And the mystery evolves...

This is an original, suspenseful, explicit, dark and twisty thriller. Highly recommended.


Gayby, USA, 2012

This one is much lighter fare, the story of a gay man and straight woman who are best friends and decide to have a baby together. Sure this store has been done before -- hell, Jennifer Aniston and Madonna each did it in a couple of crappy films fifteen years ago -- but Gayby is fresh and fun. It's a bitchier, more vulgar Will and Grace.
 

Writer-director-actor Jonathan Lisecki's tale of thirty something BF's Mat and Jenn agreeing to try to have a baby together — he's gay and recently single, she's straight and loveless — is as fast and  quippy as you expect a movie built around dry, neurotic, yoga-loving, comic-book-reading New Yorkers to be.
Gayby's warmth and character development lift it above sitcom status. The actors are highly appealing as they move from awkward sexual coupling to awkward fertility treatment, while simultaneously navigating new romantic possibilities outside their arrangement.
Gayby is funny and charming... see it.


May 14, 2014

Dolly Parton Talks About Gay Marriage...


I adore 9 to 5 icon Dolly Parton, from her endless talent to her amazing community work to her bawdy humour, she wins all around for me. Even like the plastic surgery and how she openly talks about it. Like her enough to forget about that crappy movie with Sylvester Stallone... almost.

I have lots of her music in my car for road trips... love it!

Parton is out on a media blitz promoting her new album Blue Smoke, and was asked about marriage equality.

Same-sex marriage might not be recognized in Dolly Parton's native Tennessee, but the outspoken Parton, herself married for almost fifty years,  supports equality for all. 
"I didn’t know any gay people in my childhood. I do have a lot of gays in my family now, but some will never come out," the singer, who was one of 12 children in a Pentecostal family living in Locust Ridge, Tenn., told Britain's Event magazine.
"I think everyone should be with who they love," Parton, 68, continued. "I don’t want to be controversial or stir up a bunch of trouble but people are going to love who they are going to love. I think gay couple should be allowed to marry. They should suffer just like us heterosexuals. Ha ha ha!"


May 9, 2014

10 Reasons To Oppose Marriage Equality...


Making fun of people who oppose gay rights just got a whole lot easier...

The sad/scary part is that some people use a serious take on these arguments!

May 6, 2014

Listen To The Squawking Chicken...


I have been an avid reader since I was a kid -- fiction, histories, business books, auto-biographies, almost everything except war stuff. And while I am always waiting eagerly for the next Sue Grafton mystery, I am currently on an autobiography frenzy, and last week's read was Elaine Lui's Listen To The Squawking Chicken.

Elaine Lui is a social media icon in Canada -- blogging as "Lainey" at www.laineygossip.com, appearing on E-talk television (our low rent version of Entertainment Tonight) and co-hosting The Social (our low-rent version of The View). Lainey is always a hoot -- she is smart and fast and funny and bitchy and totally awesome.

And while Lainey is fast and funny and bitchy, I excepted the same from her autobiography. I was wrong. While Squawking Chicken is interesting and fascinating, it is not funny or bitchy... it is more passive and dysfunctional, like a Chinese-Canadian traffic accident I could not look away from.

Lainey's "Squawking Chicken" is her overbearing mother, who she lived away from for many years and who was -- and apparently still is --- controlling, judgemental and dictatorial. Lainey talks about being "feng shui blackmailed" and "shamed" through her life.

Laine has lived an interesting life and -- as she always does - has interesting stories to tell. She seems to know that her mother's behaviour is abnormal and controlling and socially unacceptable and yet she accepts and somehow condones it. Weird. Interesting to read though.

My issue with the story -- not the book, which I zoomed through, but the story itself -- is that strong outspoken Lainey has a Stockholm Syndrome-y thing going on when it comes to justifying her mother's behaviour. She rationalizes the Squawking Chicken's humiliating remarks, excessive meddling, demands for money, over-the-top control, imposition of superstitious beliefs, and  condemning attitude towards everyone. The woman is damaged and mean.

I guess all families are weird in their own way, and Lainey's is not an exception. While this dysfunction is disturbing, Lainey is a strong writer and her story is interesting to read about... now bring on the next book, Lainey, and make it dishy and funny!







May 4, 2014

Beware The Gay Mafia!


Yep, I went there, from the Mozilla CEO scandal to the furor over a new book by a Pulitzer-Prize winning writer... is there a gay mafia?

Click through to read my post...





April 26, 2014

Alfred's Birthday Fundraiser...



His cuteness Alfred is my best fur friend, and today the little dude is seven years old! So while we may have a toy or two for the little furball, it is a tradition on alfred lives here to mark this occasion in a bigger way



So in honour of the birthday of the world's cutest canine, also known as Alfie, Alfredo, Eggplant, Furball, ADD Alfred, Ewok, Moocho Poocho, Beagle Wannabe, Alfie Poop, Little Dude, The Instigator and Have-Many-Needs Havanese, ... here's the deal… 

As I know that Alfie is more pampered than your average pooch, we are gonna celebrate his birthday by raising money for the animals in tougher circumstances. For every comment left on this post today and tomorrow, April 26 and 27, we will donate $1 from Alfie's allowance to the Humane Society… so leave a comment!

How much money will Alfie raise this year?





April 20, 2014

TV Season Almost Wrap Up...



How I Met Your Mother ended its run last month, and Scandal wrapped its season last week, and now we we will see endless season finales, some memorable, others deservedly under the radar (The Middle… who watches that?)..

With the advent of HBO and Netflix the TV season is no longer just September through May, and now what's left of the traditional TV season is wrapping up… here are some highlights and lowlights… what were your favourites?


The Best...

Scandal
A terrific cast led by Kerry Washington leads the crazy fast West Wing meets Dynasty political soap, which just wrapped season three about the Washington 'fixer' Olivia Pope and dirty politics, terrorists, secret government spy agencies, family drama, and murder… if you are not hooked yet, go back to season one and start there. Addictive.

The Good Wife
Starting the season with a  resetting of the series by breaking up the law firm, and then killing off a central character partway through, with great cases and prickly family drama all around, this was the best season yet of a smart suspenseful award-winning modern classic. Great drama.



NBC Late Night
Things got interesting with the forcibly retired Jay Leno not giving a fuck and getting cranky and funny in his last few months, and then funny and enthusiastic Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers coming onto the scene with their new shows… late night is really the only time NBC is worth watching. 

Honourable Mention To…
Looking - HBO's gay Sex And The City (okay, gayer Sex And The City) started off slow but became touching and real and totally entertaining 
Mr Selfridge's much improved second season
Downtown Abbey's fourth season lacked the heartbreak of #3 but was still sudsy intriguing drama
Days Of Our Lives' charming same-sex wedding storyline



The 'Meh' Mediocrity Awards…
Two shows that were great and are now just ok...
The Voice - Looking forward to new coaches next season, as this year was too familiar -- more of the same makes it miss-able
Dallas - still sudsy fun, and the show shines when Judith Light appears as the cocaine-loving evil matriarch, but other than that are missing JR Ewing more than good writing should have let us



The Worst...
How I Met Your Mother -  many seasons of laughs and warmth were wrapped up with a claustrophobic not-so-funny season and an annoying cheat of a finale. Thumbs down.
The View… you lost me at Jenny McCarthy.
Revenge/Crisis/Hostages/ Revolution/Resurrection … aside from the soapy Revenge which I gave up on after season one, these generic names were new generic shows that were skippable even from the previews...


Gotta Catch Up On...
True Detective (never seen), Breaking Bad, and season 2 of House of Cards (loved season one)…

What is on your 'best of' TV list?

April 17, 2014

Neil Patrick Harris heats up...


Now that How I Met Your Mother has ended its long run, Emmy winner and former Doogie Howser child star Neil Patrick Harris is headed back to Broadway as the lead in a revival of Hedwig And The Angry Inch.

Harris will be wearing heels and fishnets in the play, and for the new Vanity Fair he is wearing a snake down his pants, as photographed by Annie Leibowitz.

Clearly this guy is out to change his image… and he has enough talent to pretty much pull anything off (rumour has it he was a contender for Letterman's job). Hopefully there is another sitcom on the horizon.

Here is the out actor in more typical photo, with his partner David Burtka and their kids… these guys are just way too cute together…

Now he should head back for another gig hosting the Tonys (for which he won an Emmy), and guest-starring on Glee (another Emmy)...