December 31, 2011

Happy 2012...

It's a shiny brand new year... thanks for reading alfred lives here, and Happy New Year!

"Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right." -- Oprah Winfrey

There is a much-ballyhooed 2012 phenomenon which predicts the end of the world in 2012... I think hey, this year alone we have survived Charlie Sheen's "Winning!", the Russell Brand and Katy Perry split, and Kardashian everything, so we should be good to go... Happy New Year, make it a great one!

December 28, 2011

Alfie's Favourite Things, 2011

This has been such a busy year for me (change of work, home, etc.), that it feels like I have lost some footing as a pop culture vulture and am behind on my viewing, listening, reading, and am especially behind on making snarky anti-Kardashian comments. Sure gotta catch up on all of these!

That being said, I am a total pop culture junkie, and here are my faves of the year. Let me know your favourites in the comments, I have some catching up to do!

I am behind the starting line here, as have not (yet!) seen many of the critical hits like The Artist, The Tree Of Life, The Descendants, or the latest Adam Sandler bomb. My fave movie so far was Crazy Stupid Love, the smart and grown-up romantic comedy with Steve Carrell and Julianne Moore; it made me laugh and made me care about its characters. Honourable mention to Moneyball, Midnight in Paris, and X-Men First Class.

Book, fiction
Julian Barnes' The Sense Of An Ending took my breath away; this slim haunting smart novel is about Tony Webster, a middle-aged man who hears of the death of a figure from his past and for the first time re-examines his life choices by going out and investigating his own past; his soul searching became mine. A terrific read.
Honourable mention to a creative new new twist on Sherlock Holmes in The Sherlockian, Jodi Picault's family drama Sing Me Home, and the suspenseful and twisty Await Your Reply.

Books, non-fiction
Famous movie reviewer Roger Ebert amazed me with his autobiography Life Itself, where he talks about movies and family and travel and business and his fight with cancer. It is a smart and interesting read, easily my favourite of the year.
Honourable Mention to the beautiful and fascinating coffee table book Fleetwood Mac: The Definitive History and the Starbucks business book Onward.

Best show overall is still my beloved The Good Wife, which got smarter and faster and continued to pile on talented guest starts like Michael J Fox and use them wisely. While I watch a lot of TV, there are few shows I really follow, and this is the top of that list. It is complex and smart and morally thoughtful. It really is The Great Wife.
Honourable mention to the always funny The Big Bang Theory and the surprisingly intimate and touching A Very Gaga Thanksgiving. And we also watch a lot of the disturbing and addictive Criminal Minds.

Adele, 21: While reminding me of the Shirelles sand Supremes, and 70s Billy Joel and Elton John, and yet totally original, this soulful heartbreaking spirited album about an angry breakup is breathtaking. I have been playing it in my car for months, and we will be playing it twenty years from now. It is that good.
Honourable mention to Steve Nicks, In Your Dreams, Kelly Clarkson, Stronger, and Lady Gaga, Born This Way.

iPad Apps
While not new to the Apple world, it was new to me... I love love love iPad Scrabble. It's like real old fashion Scrabble and so much more.

Live shows
In New York, we saw the new Broadway musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert and loved every minute of its joyous happy self. And in Las Vegas we saw the not-as-new Cirque de Soleil show Beatles LOVE which was my favourite Cirque show ever, from its death-defying acrobatics to it reworking of the Beatles songs, to its amazing staging and costumes. A must-see. And here in Edmonton, I laughed my ass off when we saw Joan Rivers live. A truly hysterical comedian.

What have I missed? What were your favourites of the year?

December 26, 2011

The Worst Pop Crap Of The Year...

As 2011 winds down, I am working away on my third annual Year's Best post... and by "working away" I mean eating licorice allsorts while watching Big Bang Theory marathons.

The collateral damage of this task is having to revisit the bottom-dwelling worst crap of the year. Okay writing this review is actually cheezy fun. Living through this stuff at the time, not so much...

TV - New
Pan AM: the premiere was gorgeous if undone by clunky story and acting, and it got worse... where's the glamour? the mystery? the suspense? Hey ABC, this was the replacement for Brothers & Sisters? Look at that show in its prime. then pack up your little blue stewardess bags and go home.
Dishonourable mention for the crappy runner up: the wooden Charlie's Angels reboot.

TV - Returning
Desperate Housewives - geez, I used to love this witty soap, now I don't even watch it.
Runner Up - Nancy Grace. Dancing With The Stars. Wardrobe Malfunction.

TV - Daytime
Anderson - CNN's cool geeky host Anderson Cooper goes daytime, hoping to be the next Oprah or Phil Donahue and produces a cheezy show that is Maury Povich at best. Booking Snooki in week one set the tone. Dressing up as icon Phil Donahue for Halloween just showed how big the gap between them is...

This was an unremarkable year in music, so nothing really memorable on the terrible front. That being said, I was disappointed with Jann Arden's sleepy Uncover Me 2, the follow-up to her amazing first covers album, and by Beyonce'e latest, 4, especially the lame single Run the World (Girls) which rehashes everything she has done before.
Dishonourable mention: the horrible song by featuring Jennifer Lopez and Mick Jagger – T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever)... I thought the radio was mashing up random sounds when I first heard it. Ugh.

Malled - whiny reporter works retail and lives to whine about it.
Runner-Up: that Kardashian book. And no I didn't read it. I did browse through it at the bookstore. And I think I threw up a little inside my mouth.

The Green Hornet: forget the high profile Ryan Reynolds flop The Green Lantern from this summer, earlier in the year we had a miscast Seth Rogan opposite a bored looking Cameron Diaz in this insultingly shallow comic adventure that was neither funny nor adventurous.
Runner-Up: Oscar winner Ron Howard's The Dilemma with Vince Vaughan; putting aside its gay joke and mini-controversy, this supposed comedy drama failed on both counts as it spent two hours with unlikeable rich white folk whining about their lives.
Disclaimer -- I did not see Madonna's W.E., which we all know is bound to end up on lists like this...

We had fast trips to New York and to Vegas and saw shows in both, and much as I am a Cirque de Soleil fanatic, they struck out with their latest Viva Elvis; sure the dancing and production were top notch, but the story and narration were wonky and there was nothing Cirque about it... feels like cashing in on their amazing Beatles LOVE show.

Pop Culture Phenom
Everything Kardashian has gone on too long, too vapid, and is way too wide spread... reality TV shows, endorsements, marriage, divorce, books, magazine covers, clothing lines, sweatshops, commercials, fragrances, twitter, Dancing With The Stars, plastic surgery overload... everything Kardashian is everywhere. Make it stop! And oh yeah, I blame Ryan Seacrest. They should all just go away...

December 24, 2011

Happy Happy Holidays...

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, all of these holidays, none of them, or something else, Happy Holidays to you, and thanks for reading alfred lives here!

Why Dolly? Because it's an awesome picture (check out the monogrammed sleigh, and 80s makeup!), and I love her...

Crude but so funny...

Happy Holidays!

December 22, 2011

80s Musical Orgasm...

"This place is about to become a sea of sweat, ear-shattering music, and puke..."

My love for all things 80s, from Dynasty to When Harry Met Sally..., is well documented on this blog. Most of all, my extreme geek love for 80s music is huge, from Pat Benatar to Boston to Toni Basil's Mickey to Olivia's Physical. I loooove 80s music.

I more than loved the Broadway musical Rock of Ages which takes a corny Don't Stop Believin' story of smalltown girl coming to the big city, and rocks it out with 80s hits like Can't Fight This Feeling, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Harden My Heart, Every Rose Has Its Thorn, and I Want To Know What Love Is. It's cheesy brilliant fun. I sing along to the soundtrack in my car. A lot.

The film version is coming soon, with Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Mary J Blige, Tom Cruise, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. It's directed by Adam Shankman, the annoying judge on So You Think You Can Dance, who did a really find job with the film version of Hairspray. Here's the first trailer.... see you at the movies!

December 20, 2011

On Being A Bad Jew At Hanukkah...

Tonight is the beginning of the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah. Here's my Hanukkah post from 2009, the first year of this blog. This post has remained one of my most popular.

What's changed since 2009? Hanukkah moves around, and begins tonight rather than over the weekend, and the boyfriend I refer to is now my husband. What's the same? I still don't have those damn candles...

So apparently Hanukkah begins this weekend. I say "apparently" because if it wasn't printed on my calendar at work, or my non-Jewish boyfriend hadn't emailed me with the start date, the whole thing might have slipped by me.

What is Hanukkah? It is the Festival of Lights, an eight-day celebration commemorating the rededicating of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabee revolt in the 2nd century BC. According to the Talmud, there was only enough oil to burn the eternal flame for one day, and yet it lasted eight days, the exact time it took to prepare more oil.

Why am I a bad Jew? Well, I had to google what Hanukkah is to have the info above. Oh, and I don't celebrate the holidays. Or eat kosher. Or go to synagogue. Or follow any of the 613 mitzvot (commandments). And I like boys. And not Jewish ones.

Truth is, Jews have lots and lots of holidays, and Hanukkah isn't really one of the major ones; it's more of a kids holiday, and has over time morphed into a pseudo-Christmas substitute. Not that I observe any of the others either.

Some people are traditionalist and follow the letter and spirit of religious holidays. Others treat the rules more like a buffet where they pick and choose what they want. I just don't really participate. I was raised essentially as a high holiday Jew, and I guess am still a cultural Jew, though basically agnostic --- you embrace whichever set of beliefs fits you, I haven't found something that fits me.

I celebrated Hanukkah with my family when I was growing up, which we did as a gift-giving and family feasting holiday rather than a religious one, and since then have often celebrated Christmas with friends, and was at first surprised by the lack of religion in the gatherings. I did not have a menorah (the nine-branch Hanukkah candelabra) until K bought me one last year.

This is a great time of year; I believe holidays are about friends and family, and I have those. Time together, lots of food, exchanging a few gifts with those you love, spoiling the canine kids --- it's all good to me. And yes the rituals are enticing; we have both a Christmas tree and a Menorah... damn, totally forgot, I gotta buy candles in the next 17 hours!

December 18, 2011

Funny Fake Michael Buble Duets....

This weekend's Saturday Night Live was the best episode this season, hosted by my secret boyfriend Jimmy Fallon.

While there were lots of highlights, from Fallon's charming musical opening to the Jude Law surprise appearance ("Hello Judy Blume!") to the Weekend Update Joke-Off With Fallon, Seth Meyers (secret boyfriend #2), Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler, this Michael Buble bit was the best of the night.

In this commercial for the nonexistent album Christmas Duets, musical guest Michael Buble riffed with Fallon and the SNL cast for the fake follow-up to his real Christmas album. The Kanye West is hysterical, and Bieber is an instant classic....

December 11, 2011

Toronto Sissies and Bitchies....

In this weekend's National Post, Canada's national right wing newspaper, hateful columnist Christie Blatchford manages to offend me and thousands of others yet again, this time with a column title "Toronto, City of Sissies" where she bemoans how effeminate men have become, She says modern men need toughening up, a theme apparently promoted by seeing boys hug each other hello... rather than what? spit? bump fists? fire guns? Tell me again, how is hugging bad?:

Toronto likes its men delicate, slender and arch, not sportif unless le sport in question is maybe badminton, and if those little boys I saw on Yonge Street are any indication, Toronto is even now about to achieve perfection in this coming generation.

Do not mistake this as a plea for head-banging in sport, a defence of bullies, or a veiled anti-gay message. I have no particular fondness for gratuitous roughness in games, no time for bullies at all, and as a downtowner, I live surrounded by gay men, who, like most women, I adore as a group.

But holy smokes, I am wearying of the male as delicate creature. I am wearying of men who are so frequently in touch with their feminine side they, not to mention me, have lost sight of the masculine one. I’m just plain sick of hugs, giving and getting, from just about anyone, but particularly man-to-man hugs.

And the novelty of being the toughest guy in the room – and by this I mean me – is getting really old.

In aid of all that, let me offer a few reminders of the way it was once upon a time and really always should be.

Really? Back to the past? When men were men, women were chattel, gays were closeted, and bullying was not talked about? When the only newspaper column women had a hope of writing was housekeeping or dating advice? What about evolution, you moron?

I know men have feelings too. I just don’t need to know much more than that. On any list of The 25 Things Every Man And Boy Should Know How To Do, hugging is not one of them. Killing bugs is. Whacking bullies is. Kissing is. Farting on cue is. Making the sound of a train in a tunnel is. Shooting a puck is. Hugging is not. Feel free to give this to your male children. You’re entirely welcome.

Men have feelings too? So compassionate! After a rant in favour of Toronto's anti-library mayor Rob Ford, she writes "In Toronto, actual education routinely takes a back seat to anti-bullying messages, gay-positive education, recognition assemblies and social justice."

Yes people, this nationally known columnist is anti-hugging, and chooses to use her public platform to bemoan men who are caring rather than macho jerks. Hello 1956!

Geez, good thing this week had no bullying or hate crime or economic issues to write about. Hey Christie, Fox News calling on line 2...

December 8, 2011

What the hell is Facebook trying to tell me?

Like many of you, I have regularly visit "the facebook"... (uh, catch up and see The Social Network if you don't get the reference).

So aside from endless vacation pictures, status updates from my friends, Huffington Post news blips, and quizzes to determine which Golden Girl I am, there are lots of ads the screen which I pretty much ignore.

Facebook tailors the ads to you, based on your profile and friends and location and other secret voodoo stuff. So if the ads I see are tailored to me, what the hell is Facebook trying to tell me?

Here are the ads targeted to me recently:

Call of Duty MW3: a violent video game... uh, why? I don't like violence or video games.

Up99.3 100% Christmas Music: this is an Edmonton Radio station I have stopped listening to precisely because they are entirely Christmas music, since early November, so too much and too early. Spent all the advertising dollars you want, Up Radio, you are dead to me.

Cheesleeve: a cheese storage sleeve with a built-in grater... why does this exist? And why is the ad tailored to me?

Jann Arden live in concert: Yes love her. I have seen her in concert and have tickets to see her again in February. Good call, Facebook.

NetFlix Free Trial: okay, this one makes sense to me, as I love movies and spend lots of time online.

Edmonton Groupon: I didn't know Groupon was here in town, and aren't they totally discredited by now? There has been lots of bad press I have been ignoring... are they relevant anymore?

Win Men's Underwear from But I don't wear underwear... uh, kidding. I am guessing this goes to every gay guy to promote a shirtless guys website. Or maybe it is just me. Do I need new underwear, Facebook? How closely are you watching me...?

Criminal Record Pardons: Why, what have you heard...?

Canadian Pardon Deadline: um, I sense a theme here.....

Love Kylie Minogue? Yes. Yes I do. Cuz I'm gay. Actually an ad for a radio station in London.

You Never Outgrow Toys: Good headline copywriters! And okay I clicked through to see what this was... electronics? Lego? Sex toys? Nah... It's wireless phones, totally disappointing.

Ford Focus: uh, no.

Free Red Hot Super Slots: Really, free? What's the business plan for that?

#1 Slots for Men: Presumably another gambling site. But sounds really dirty...

Wheel of Fortune Slots: uh, hello, gamblers anonymous...

Criminal pardons, gambling, Kylie, Christmas music and a totally weird cheese sleeve gadget.... So... What the hell are you trying to tell me Facebook?

December 6, 2011

Joan Rivers live live live!

Tonight the hubby and I are seeing Joan Rivers live here in Edmonton. Very exciting, I am a huge fan -- she is bold, honest, and funny as hell. I simply choose to ignore the gargantuan over-sized feather-covered bedazzled neon blue cuff watches and anything else branded as "The Joan Rivers Collection"...

I saw Joan (yep, we are on a first name basis) about 20 years ago in Toronto with my friend Kathryn, and spent 90 minutes sitting there laughing hysterically seriously thinking I was going to pee myself. At that time her incredibly crude hysterical riffs were on Jodie Foster, Whitney Houston, and Katherine Hepburn... can't wait to see what she says now!

Here are some fave Joan Rivers quotes....

A man can sleep around, no questions asked, but if a woman makes nineteen or twenty mistakes she's a tramp.

Before we make love my husband takes a pain killer.

Boy George is all England needs - another queen who can't dress.

Don't tell your kids you had an easy birth or they won't respect you. For years I used to wake up my daughter and say, 'Melissa you ripped me to shreds. Now go back to sleep.'

Elizabeth Taylor has more chins than the Chinese telephone directory.

Forty for you, sixty for me. And equal partners we will be.

I blame my mother for my poor sex life. All she told me was 'the man goes on top and the woman underneath.' For three years my husband and I slept in bunk beds.

You make the beds, you wash the dishes, and six months later you have to start all over again.

If you don't want gays in the military, make the uniforms ugly.

It's been so long since I've had sex I've forgotten who ties up who.

A woman went to a plastic surgeon and asked him to make her like Bo Derek. He gave her a lobotomy.

I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I'd look like without plastic surgery.

I'm Jewish. I don't work out. If God had wanted us to bend over, He would have put diamonds on the floor...

December 4, 2011

12 Things I Learned From Dizzy Spells & Nausea...

I was sick last week... really sick... pray-for-death, lord-take-me-now sick. It started with dizzy spells and sweating overload, then hot flashes, cold flashes, night sweats, sore throat, pounding headache, stomach pains, explosions all over the place. I came home from work early, and spent the next two days in bed suffering and wondering why I was the worse off person in the world. Oh, and I was delusional too.

Although my illness lasted only three days, it felt endless, certainly longer than a Kardashian marriage. My first day I was dead to the world, by day two I was closer to human and semi-conscious (aka able to watch TV). Drugs and sleep led to me feeling human again. And in the meantime, I learned stuff while writhing around in my warm cuddly red sheets...

1. Snow is very pretty from behind glass, when you don't have to walk in it, drive in it, scoop poop in it, or shovel it.

2. Daytime TV is fun for one hour a day. Daytime TV is unbearable for 10 hours a day. The Talk is better than The View. Anderson Cooper's show sucks. And there are too many hosts on The Chew; the show confuses me. Is it a cooking show? A talk show? A healthy cooking show? Bacon porn? Decide!

3. Someone used to say "I'm just one good bout of diarrhea away from my goal weight". Not true.

4. The Shopping Channel sells $500 handbags... I thought they sold cheap crap, not expensive crap. Clearly I was uninformed.

5. No matter how hideously ugly and gross you might get when you are sick your dog still loves you.

6. Lemon tea is not a good chaser for that pink upset stomach stuff.

7. Eating no solid food for 48 hours makes you crave popcorn.

8. Our dogs sleep a lot.

9. There just isn't enough news to make CNN interesting all day.

10. Judge Judy might be an alien... seriously, that woman just does not age... it is super creepy. Oh, and she is completely insane.

11. Rachael Ray is awesome.

12. Best cure for the deathly hallows? 40 hours of sleep within 48 hours. And that medication that says to take every 4 to 6 hours? Every 90 minutes really does the trick...

December 2, 2011

Too far... or too gay?

Gay online dating site Manhunt has launched its new uncensored mobile site and it sounds like the billboard announcing the site is getting a lot of people in a tizzy.

The billboard (above) is provoking lots of reaction saying it is too explicit, too racy, too gay, too something. Is it? Sure it's sexy and shows skin, but less skin that you can see on TV or the beach or even; would the reaction be the same if it were a guy and a girl?

As quoted on, here is the reaction from Manhunt: We received dozens of complaints about the campaign here at Manhunt HQ in Boston, as did our ad agency, Lamar Advertising. Citizens were reportedly concerned about children being able to view our billboards. One annoyed parent even wrote an online op-ed piece last week claiming that her complaints got our ads taken down (actually, our LA campaign expired as scheduled on 11/20/11).

Manhunt billboards follow the alcohol advertising guidelines, so they are not placed within 500 feet of schools, churches, playgrounds, etc.

Bottom line... would this be different if it were hot shirtless guy kissing hot girl in bikini? Sure some would object but not many... so settle down people, it's just shirtless two dudes embracing.

Not convinced? Here is an ad for Michael Kors underwear. I saw it in a mall, and is also being used for billboards. I haven't seen an online furor over this one even though it's sexy, it's provative, and uh isn't that her hand down his pants...?

December 1, 2011

Getting to Zero on Worlds AIDS Day...

Today is World AIDS Day, an opportunity for people to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS, to remember those who have died of the disease and to celebrate accomplishments, such as increased access to treatment and prevention services.

Today, despite advances in HIV treatment and laws designed to protect those living with HIV; many people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV or about the discrimination that remain a reality for many people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is an important reminder to individuals and governments that HIV has not gone away... there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

The theme for World AIDS Day 2011 is Getting to Zero. After 30 years of the global fight against HIV/AIDS, this year the focus is on achieving 3 targets: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.

Zero New HIV Infections
It is estimated that 33.3 million people have HIV worldwide, with this number expected to continue to increase over time, as advances in treatments prolong the lives of those who are infected and more people become infected with HIV each year. The CDC estimates that one in five people living with HIV are unaware of their infection.

Zero Discrimination
According to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, "Stigma remains the single most important barrier to public action. It is a main reason why too many people are afraid to see a doctor to determine whether they have the disease, or to seek treatment if so. It helps make AIDS the silent killer, because people fear the social disgrace of speaking about it, or taking easily available precautions. Stigma is a chief reason why the AIDS epidemic continues to devastate societies around the world."

Zero AIDS Related Deaths
More than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 have died from the virus worldwide, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history. I've seen estimates that only a third to half of the people living with HIV are getting the needed treatment. More funding is needed for more treatment.

World AIDS Day is an opportunity for all of us to learn the facts about HIV. By increasing the understanding of how HIV is transmitted, how it can be prevented, and the reality of living with HIV today, we can use this knowledge to take care of our own health and the health of others.

And yes this is a serious post an usually chatty and light blog, but hey it is a serious topic. I know people living with HIV, and knew people who have lost the fight. We all need to do more. I am making a donation to Canfar today... what can you do?

For more facts about HIV/AIDS in Canada go to, for other countries use google to find your national organization.