December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Many thanks for reading alfred lives here and for your comments. Have a wonderful 2011!

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. ~Benjamin Franklin

New Year's Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. ~Mark Twain

December 29, 2010

Alfie's favourite things: the best of 2010...

Screw Oprah and her favourite things! Alfie's favourite things are the best pop culture stuff and random observations about the year... except, uh, I am not taking you all to Australia like Oprah did with her favourite things.

What a year this has been -- I put all my stuff into storage never to be seen again, the furball and I moved into K's house, K and I got married, life changed and all for the better.

And now I am writing this late at night, on the sofa in the basement beside the fireplace, with Alfredo beside me, while a blizzard rages outside. And looking back at the best of this year...

One word: iPad. I got it just last month and am still in discovery mode. I know enough to say it's luuuv.

Smart, sexy, suspenseful, provocative, and morally complex. The Good Wife is the best hour on television. It shows how good network TV can be. And I would give runner-up status to Glee, which though inconsistent is fun and sweet and entertaining.

There were many good ones this year. Of them, Toy Story 3 was my favourite - funny, suspenseful, and ultimately emotional. Runner-up was the sweet and funny The Kids Are All Right, and just give that damn Oscar to Annette Bening already.

Lots of great singles this year, and my favourites were Pink's Raise Your Glass, a fun party anthem for her beloved freaks and outcasts, and the Glee cover of Katy Perry's Teenage Dream, the best of the Glee reinventions of pop hits. In albums, my favourite was Sade's Soldier of Love. Quiet and lush don’t add up to easy or settled on her first album in a decade. There’s deep desolation in the songs, and an aching, bluesy edge in her voice. Beautiful.

Favourite fiction read was One Day by David Nicholls, a romantic, beautiful, funny, devastating tale of two soul mates who meet and re-meet over 20 years. Unforgettable. Honourable mention to Rosanne Cash's beautiful and elegant memoir Composed, and to Portia de Rossi's heartbreaking and breathtaking memoir Unbearable Lightness.

On Stage...
During our quick trip to New York we took in three shows, all really good, and the one that blew me away was Sean Hayes in Promises Promises.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Pop Tart World.

News, Activism and Serious Stuff...
The amazing It Gets Better campaign - kudos to Dan Savage and everyone else who has signed up and joined in! And also worth noting, the cool trend of celebs coming out, including Ricky Martin, Meredith Baxter, Chely Wright, and that gay dude in Archie comics. How cool is he?

Okay those are my faves from this year... what are yours?

December 28, 2010

Mrs Brady on the Gays...

“I love the gay community. Naturally having been in this business since I was 17, I came into contact with gay people very young in my life. To me they were always the most talented, the kindest, they have the most wicked senses of humor - I always felt comfortable. I was never threatened, ever, and I just embraced them and loved them.”

- Brady Bunch and Dancing with the Stars alum Florence Henderson

December 26, 2010

Gratuitous Stepdog Pics...

A not-so-anonymous commenter suggested my handsome stepdog Quinn should be on the blog more, so here he is.

Quinn is sweet, smart, sheds like crazy, loves to cuddle, is food obsessed, wakes up too damn early, believes himself to be the pre-wash cycle for the dishwasher, will stampede for treats, is a great big brother for Alfredo, howls at every fool who walks by the front of the house, and is so very cute...

December 21, 2010

The worst crap of the year....

As 2010 draws to a close, I am working away on my second annual "Year's Best" post, and the collateral damage of that is having to revisit the bottom-dwelling suckfest that was the worst crap of the year.

Okay actually this review is cheezy fun. Living through this stuff at the time, not so much.

New TV Show
The quickly cancelled prime time soap Lone Star, acclaimed by critics as the best new show of the season, the one we just had to watch. The premiere bored and annoyed me, with inept actors reading bad lines. I tuned out halfway through. Cancelled after two episodes. Buh-bye.

Returning TV Show
A tie here for two shows I gotta admit I still kind of sort of maybe watch...
1) The View: Sherri is a homophobe, Elisabeth is a right wing Palin fan, Whoopi jumped the shark by endorsing Mel Gibson. Why do I watch this show again? Oh yeah, Joy Behar.
2) Brothers and Sisters, oh how I used to love you , and yes oh guilty pleasure, I still watch except when I fall asleep during the show, and I gotta ask, cuz you used to be smart and charming and caring --- what the hell happened?

One of my favourite authors, Jodi Picault, laid an egg this year with House Rules. Picoult is known for blending controversial issues with family drama. At her best, she makes me feel and think. When she's not at her best, it's just clunky melodrama.

The Dixie Chicks spin-off Court Yard Hounds. An average album from superb musicians is worse than a crappy album you expect to be crappy.

Sex and the City 2 takes the crown here. It took four smart sassy sexy characters with a weakness for men and fashion, and made them shrill selfish whiners. Excess does not equal fun. Let there be a part three only so this will not be their final hurrah. Legacy blown?

Scandal and Soap Opera, Part One
I felt sad for Sandra Bullock, and sad about Elizabeth Edwards. However the scandal gone too far was all things Lindsay Lohan -- jail, rehab, crazy ass parents, fuck-off fingernails, porn star aspirations, and more. Please make it stop.

Scandal and Soap Opera, Part Two
Mel Gibson, for being a misogynist homophobic anti-semite, you are a douchebag. Jodie Foster, for defending him as "the most loved man in Hollywood", you are pretty much just as bad. Where's your integrity?

TV Talk - Homophobia
On The View, on June 22, during a discussion of HIV rates among straight African American women, Shepherd blamed this on gay and bisexual men, an old myth that has long since been proven wrong by the Centre for Disease Control. Shepherd and The View refused to correct her dumbass and homophobic 'blame the gays' remark. Douchebags.

I love love love pop culture, and there was lots of great pop culture stuff this year, which I will write about soon. And then on the flipside, we had this crap...

December 19, 2010

Love Winona Ryder, Hate Mel Gibson...

Winona Ryder is back!

Back in the day --- oy I hate that expression, so okay back when I was in my 20s --- Winona was the ‘it girl’ actress of our generation. She had cult roles in Edward Scissorhands, Heathers and Reality Bites, Oscar nominations for films like The Age of Innocence, a cool off-centre fashion sense, and acclaim for her social activism with missing children.

I thought she was amazing, due to her talent and activism, plus she was Jewish and artsy and geeky and cool. And she dated every young actor and musician out there. Slut... Love ya!

She fell from the spotlight, as starlets tend to, and then fell from grace with a shoplifting arrest caught on tape. Ryder was convicted and sentenced to three years probation, 480 hours of community service and $10,000 in fines. Yeah, she did it, and she has paid the price. Why do we care so much, and why do we look past other stars’ crimes of sex and violence but dwell on this one? Ryder's misdeed pales in comparison to Lindsay Lohan's or any half dozen of today's starlets.

Now Winona is back with her acclaimed role in Black Swan, which I haven’t seen yet, and she is dishing the dirt… Love ya!

In the January 2011 issue of GQ magazine, Ryder claims she's known about Mel Gibson's not-so-palatable side for years: "I remember, like, fifteen years ago, I was at one of those big Hollywood parties. And he was really drunk. I was with my friend, who's gay. He made a really horrible gay joke. And somehow it came up that I was Jewish. He said something about 'oven dodgers,' but I didn't get it. I'd never heard that before. It was just this weird, weird moment. I was like, 'He's anti-Semitic and he's homophobic.' No one believed me!"

Way to tell it Winona! You put Jodie Foster to shame.

Now on to serious stuff... what ever happened to the planned big screen Three’s Company with you, Ben Stiller, and Cameron Diaz? That's a flick I want to see.

December 18, 2010

Drew Barrymore and other undiscovered treats...

As 2010 winds down, here's some great stuff that went under the radar and might not make 'best of' lists, but were among my faves this year.

Two come to mind here --- Drew Barrymore's romantic comedy Going the Distance was smart and sweet and grown-up. Yet it had no aliens or zombies, and bombed. And George Clooney's The American had me holding my breath waiting to see what would happen next.

Go Go Belinda Carlisle's sassy smart autobiography Lips Unsealed was a wise and dishy tale of rock star excess and growing up. I loved every page of it.

The Big Bang Theory makes me laugh every time.

Reba's All the Women I Am is polished perfection country pop, from the barn burner kiss-off song Turn On the Radio to her mellow cover of Beyonce's If I Were A Boy. Loved her in concert this year, and have this CD playing endlessly in my car.

December 15, 2010

Facebook status 2010

From a Facebook app, which randomly selects from status updates I did on facebook this year as a fun year-end summary...
I think my favourite is about seeing dancing potato chips at the ballet!

December 12, 2010

Scary Skinny: Portia's Unbearable Lightness...

Some books are interesting or entertaining, the rare one will wallop you in some way. Unbearable Lightness, a memoir by actress Portia de Rossi, is one of those rare reads.

De Rossi is best known for her TV work on Ally McBeal and Better Off Ted, and especially for her coming out and marriage to Ellen DeGeneres. With Unbearable Lightness she bravely stands on her own.

De Rossi's story of coming out, dealing with depression, and battling an eating disorder, is heartbreaking. A simple sentence like "You are what other people think of you" says a lot about her state of mind.

This book was an eye-opener for me. It is a step into a scary world of eating disorders. Anorexia is scary and lonely and exhausting. De Rossi defined herself by what she thought were other people's expectations of skinny blond actress perfection, and avoided dealing with the real issues in her life by making skinny her only value.

And she became skinny. Scary freaky skinny. 82 pounds. And when she fell off the starving herself wagon, and she did, then she went ballistic at a Mexican restaurant, or stopped at 7/11 on the way home from dinner to stock up for a binge in the car: "There's a big difference between eating and what I had just done. What I'd done was an act of defiance." Of course she wasn't defying anybody, as no one was as obsessed with her weight as she was. She was fooling herself.

After her first day on Ally McBeal, de Rossi's debilitating insecurities kicked in, so she exerted control over the only thing she could, and punished herself with the same action --- she binged wildly. Her inner voice: Go on, eat it, you fat piece of shit. You're pathetic,. You can't even handle one day of work without bingeing. you have no self-control. You don't deserve this job.

I read this book because of an interview I saw on TV. I surged though it at first, then put it aside as was so distressing to read. I picked it up and put it down several times, eager to read it and afraid of what was coming next: I'd never known a day where my weight wasn't the determining factor for my self-esteem, My weight was my mood, and the more effort I put into starving myself to get it to an acceptable level, the more satisfaction I would feel as the restriction and the denial built into an incredible sense of accomplishment.

De Rossi says eating disorders are about control, insecurity and loneliness. These are issues for every adult, and her experiences with them were so intense they were debilitating, and this book is a must-read. She gets through it, and it is inspiring that she is now healthy and happy.

Unbearable Lightness is smart and brave, and it will help people who struggle with depression, loneliness, food, self-image, sexuality, self esteem, or feeling like an outsider. So, if you are human, this book will impact you. And if you are battling an eating disorder, it could help save you.

December 10, 2010

Dave Barry on Dogs...

"You can say any fool thing to a dog, and the dog will give you this look that says, My God, you're right, I NEVER would've thought of that!"
-Dave Barry

December 8, 2010

Dancing with the Stars goes back in the closet...

TV ratings juggernaut Dancing with the Stars is gay gay gay -- pop music cover songs, shirtless boys dancing, sequins everywhere, and Margaret Cho in a pride flag dress, just to name a few. And after the Israeli version of the show added a same-sex (female) couple this year, rumours started to fly that the US would do the same for its spring 2011 cycle.

Out actress Portia de Rossi was in talks to appear on the next season of the show, and has now decided not to.

So with Portia bowing out, ABC has decided not to go forward with a same-sex couple, according to Really, ABC, there wasn't another gay or straight actor or actress who wanted to do this? Its not sex, folks, it's dancing. Anyone can dance with anyone.

With all the focus on anti-gay bullying, and gay teen suicides, and the controversy of DADT, wouldn't this be a terrific step forward and a great conversation starter? Is ABC afraid of controversy? Hell, they put Bristol Palin on the show!

December 7, 2010

Captain Awesome and other things that annoy the crap out of me...

The world, my friends, is a fascinating place. And by fascinating I mean annoying...

1- Werther's Originals, those hard candies my grandmother used to carry around in her purse, are now promoting their all-new gooey chocolate Originals. Uh, those aren't original people, they are all new, and that is crap marketing.

2- And more bad marketing from the Tassimo coffee people. I luuuuv my Tassimo. I hate their new tv advertising campaign, with the human barcodes, because it's annoying, and because the detail is wrong --- the cartridges are shown being inserted upside down. Wrong is wrong people.

3- Two And A Half Men makes me laugh. I am not proud of this.

4- The Amazon Associates thingamajig on this blog came up with George W Bush's book as the first one it linked me with. Bastards.

5- Michael Buble.

6- The Tim Horton's commercial with the young couple at a hockey game drinking totally fake-looking hot chocolate. If you can afford to make a commercial you can afford to make a good one.

7- Who the hell writes and self-publishes a how-to book for pedophiles? Now the subject of death threats and police investigation is author Phillip Ray Greaves for his 'seminal' work The Pedophile’s Guide To Love And Pleasure, available until last week on Amazon.

8- PBS edited out Tina Fey's biting comments about Sarah Palin at the Mark Twain awards, claiming it was because the show ran long and had nothing to do with Fey's or Palin's politics. And yet you found time to show people walking up to the stage and back, over and over and over. Uh-huh.

9- A woman called 911 about Subway burning her sandwich.

10- Inspired by the TV show Chuck, some dude in Oregon legally changed his name to Captain Awesome. Schmuck...

December 1, 2010

Stupid Celebs and World AIDS Day...

Today is World AIDS Day, a day of sadness and hope. While AIDS is not the news it once was, the disease is still infecting almost three million people each year, and a cure is desperately needed.

With all the wars, scandals, and diseases out there, today is a day to bring AIDS back into the news, to promote awareness and prevention and fundraising. And a bunch of stupid celebrities with good intentions are taking the spotlight. Celebs including Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, and Justin Timberlake went silent on social media today, or died a "twitter death" until their followers donated a million dollars to an AIDS charity.

Great intentions people, but really this is the best you can do? First of all, any one of you can write a check for a million bucks without blinking, so why don't you do that first, before holding your fans up for ransom? Second of all, if you have that much influence, and people are following you so loyally, why not take today and talk about safe sex transmission through drug use, rather than go silent.

Most importantly of all... you want me to pony up dollars so Kim Kardashian and Ryan Seacrest will come back online? Bad strategy, dudes. Way smarter to ask us for cash to keep those two silent.