September 30, 2012

Elton John: Love Is The Cure...

Musical icon Sir Elton John is an amazing musician and live performer; years ago I saw him perform with Billy Joel and they blew the roof off the place.

John is one of those rare celebrities whose fame continued for decades, and he is almost as well known for his crazy 70s fashions and wild 70s/80s lifestyle as he is for his music.... sequins, big red glasses, drugs, rehab, bisexuality, eating disorders, platform shoes and so much more...

Now happily married to Canadian David Furnish and father of a young boy, Elton John is focusing more on his AIDS work and his foundation. Saying he is lucky to be alive after all his adventures in the 80s, John was one of the first celebrities to speak out about the AIDS crisis.

Now Elton has published his first book, Love Is The Cure,  and it is the personal and passionate story of his fight to end AIDS.

In the 1980s, Elton John saw friend after friend die from AIDS-related causes. In the midst of the plague, he befriended Ryan White, a young Indiana boy ostracized by his town and school because of the HIV infection he contracted from a blood transfusion. Ryan's inspiring life and devastating death led Elton to realize that his own life was a mess and that he had to do something to help stop the AIDS crisis.

Since then, Elton has dedicated himself to overcoming the plague and the stigma of AIDS. The Elton John AIDS Foundation has raised over $275 million towards fighting the disease. Love Is The Cure is the story of his foundation, and is also Elton's personal account of his life during the AIDS epidemic, including stories of his friendships with Ryan White, Freddie Mercury, Princess Diana, Elizabeth Taylor, and others.

This book is an educational essay on AIDS and its impact, on who is impacted and what can be done about it. It highlights how racism and homophobia have delayed research. It has sad and inspiring stories, and it touched me more than I expected it to. It is also combative, and Elton takes on the Pope and George Bush with no holds barred; I wanted to cheer.

With powerful conviction and emotional force, Elton conveys the personal toll AIDS has taken on his life  and his infinite determination to stop its spread:

This is a disease that must be cured not by a miraculous vaccine, but by changing hearts and minds, and through a collective effort to break down social barriers and to build bridges of compassion. Why are we not doing more This is a question I have thought deeply about, and wish to answer - and help to change - by writing this book.

This book is not a self-fawning celebrity autobiography. While it does include a lot of Elton's life memoir, it is mostly a social justice essay, and a plea for help in the fight against AIDS.

Elton believes that if governments, private companies, nonprofits, and individuals could shed their prejudices and shortsightedness, and do their fair share, we could see the end of AIDS in the foreseeable future. He says it's the lack of commitment to eliminating AIDS rather than an inability to do so that is now the chief obstacle in the fight against AIDS. 

Let me be perfectly blunt, and unapologetically so: if we demonstrated the same compassion for gay men, poor people, minorities, sex workers, prisoners, and drug users that we for other, less marginalized people, there would be no more AIDS in America. The reality is that until we give everybody the same access to treatment and prevention, AIDS will never, ever go away. It's that simple.

Love is the Cure is eye-opening and inspiring. I was amazed at times, and I got misty a few times. It is an emotional and educational read.

One of the reasons I bought this book is that the sale of Love Is the Cure will benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Buy it.

September 26, 2012

Win A Date With George Clooney!

Oscar-winning actor, social activist, and coffee spokesperson George Clooney is a long-time ally of the gay community, and now in a creative way to raise funds and awareness, I can win a date with George Clooney! Uh, I mean, YOU can win a lunch date with George Clooney....!

I am a Clooney fan -- not only is he a talented actor, writer and director, and makes smart movies like Michael Clayton and The Ides of March, he starred in the marriage equality play "8", and is also not that hard on the eyes. I have posted about him before, specifically his fantastic response to rumours that he is gay, here.

How do you get this date? For the winning bid, you can win lunch with George Clooney which will benefit the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), an organization which keeps schools safe for LGBT students across the country.

The lunch "experience," which also includes entertainment writer Dave Karger, will take place at the Soho House in West Hollywood and is valued at $20,000 but I am guessing will go for more. So if you have deep pockets it is totally worth it.... as a purely altruistic move for the kids, of course... after all they are the future, teach them well and let them lead the way...

The lunch date will be scheduled at a mutually convenient time. The winner gets to bring a guest. I'm available. Travel and accommodation are not included, so I am looking to you (whoever you are) to cover that as well.

You can bid through Oct. 11 on the auction site Charitybuzz. All hail George!

September 23, 2012

Tie The Knot!

Emmy-nominated actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson of Modern Family just got engaged to his longtime boyfriend Justin Mikita.

Big congrats to the happy couple!

The out actor announced the engagement on twitter (follow him, he is awesome, @jessetyler) and posted this video announcing their engagement and their new charity. I love that they are using their cuteness for a good cause!

The video is about love, equality, puppies and bowties.... it is so cute! LOVE it...

September 20, 2012

Monopoly Goes To The Dogs...

I love love board games, and while I am more of a Scrabble guy than a Monopoly guy, last year I followed the small-ish news story of the new Canadian version of Monopoly, where the public got to vote online for their city to be represented. And yes I voted, not that it helped.

The top vote getting cities, essentially our Boardwalk and Park Place, were Chatham-Kent and Saint Jean-Sur-Richelieu... and no I don't know where the fuck they are either. But big kudos to the people who got together and organized campaigns and got their votes in. Those bastards.

Where I live, Edmonton, we dragged our collective asses, hardly gave it any media buzz, and while we did eventually make it on the board I believe it is in Monopoly's non-glamorous corner where the garbage drop and composting are.

The Canadian Monopoly game is now out in stores, and while I was reading about these results, I found some other unexpected Monopoly games out there...  

I found Dog Lover's Monopoly, Family Guy Monopoly, Simpson's Monopoly, Wizard of Oz Monopoly, Star Trek Monopoly, Clone Wars Monopoly, Grateful Dead-Opoly, Transformers Monopoly, Yorkie-opoly, Princess Bride Monopoly, Boston Red Sox and every other baseball team Monopoly, Godfather Monopoly, many country versions like Germany and France Monopoly, US Navy Monopoly, National Parks Monopoly ..... and Battery-Operated Sex Toys Monopoly. Okay I made that last one up. But you know it is gonna happen.

And this list doesn't count those recurring and very annoying McDonald's Monopoly advertising campaigns. Please make them stop.

There are hundreds of these damn things out there... are these creative brand extensions or blatant cash grabs? Probably a little of both.

According to the internet, there is a Monopoly movie in the works, although based on how big a bomb the Battleship movie was, I think Hollywood may be reconsidering that... and hey wasn't Wall Street basically a Monopoly movie?

I may have to come up with an Alfred Monopoly game.... 

September 16, 2012

Joan Rivers Hates Me...

I love Joan Rivers ----- she is bold and brash and outrageous and funny as hell. Sure, sometimes she goes too far, both on the stage and in the plastic surgeon's office, but she is talented and original.

I have seen her perform live twice, and laughed so hard both times I may have peed a little. I enjoyed her first book, Enter Talking, a sweet and smart autobiography of her early years, and just read her latest, I Hate Everyone... Starting With Me.

Rivers has written many books, from her autobiographies to fiction to advice on plastic surgery. This one is different; I Hate Everyone... is basically a stretched out stand-up routine, a collection of one-liners with each chapter having a very loose  theme or idea (Screw Mother Nature, I Hate Show Business, Eat Me, etc). There is no ongoing theme or idea, other than mean/funny/true, so it's better to read this one in bits. And I laughed out loud. A lot.

The jokes being with "I hate...." and then the funny comes. What does Joan Rivers hate? Florida, vegans, maitre d's, politically correct jerks, people who bring lousy gifts to parties, Sweden, camping, pilates, Hitler, Ghandi, Winnipeg (yes, Canadian content!), nicknames, airlines, boy scouts, extreme sports, Stephen Hawking, scientology, people who talk during movies, Deepak Chopra, nudists, Mother Nature, restaurants who lock their washrooms, the tip jar at Starbucks, and so much more.

One of the best longer bits is when Rivers, fully aware of the irony here, writes about how she hates old people, who she divides into four categories: (1) regular (2) old and annoying (3) old and infirm (4) just not dead yet. She hates the smell of old people, she hates early bird specials, she hates it all.

Does she go too far? Yep, sometimes, like when restaurants have you select your own seafood:  "Lobsters are like Japanese, they all look alike". Okay, I laughed... but I felt bad about it.

Oh, she loves a few things too. I don't remember any of them, because they weren't as funny.

One of my favourite Rivers rants in the book is her I Hate Tom Cruise blast, which I am not going to copy outright (that's a lot of typing) but includes Scientology, spaceships, Fire Island, Katie Holmes swearing he is heterosexual, and his shit-eating grin. It's not mean if it's funny, Tom....

I Hate Everyone... Starting With Me is not deep. It is sometimes mean. But it sure is funny. If you like Joan Rivers' humour like I do, check it out.

September 12, 2012

Fall TV: 6 Great Returning Shows...

With the new TV season starting up over the next two weeks (it officially starts on September 24), I don't really give a crap about Britney Spears joining The X-Factor or what is going to happen on the first season of The Bachelor Canada, but there are some highlights I am looking forward to.

So far I am re-hooked on The Voice, have already given up on the Matthew Perry sitcom Go On, and after two episodes am still waiting to fall in love with the gay-tastic The New Normal... (check out my Sprocket Ink post on that one here).

With lots of shows to watch, and even more shows to avoid, here are six returning shows that I am looking forward to seeing and will definitely be watching...

The Good Wife
My favourite TV show, period... smart, sexy and suspenseful, this legal drama is more of an ever-changing morality play every Sunday night. It is new and intriguing every week. Love the suspense, love the characters, is the smartest and best-acted show I follow.

Discovered this one recently, and watched all 13 episodes of season one in about four days. A returning war hero may or may not be an undercover terrorist, and the only one who may have figured it out is a disgraced bipolar CIA agent... and that is only the beginning. Smart and  paranoid. I am seeing terrorists everywhere now...

Forget the failed Melrose reboot... Revenge is the rebirth of the prime time soap! I was late to this party so only saw the back half of the first season, and then I was hooked. And if you ever wondered what happened to 80s/90s siren Madeline Stowe, she is on TV, and is the new Joan Collins...

The Big Bang Theory
Funny and geeky, last season had a wedding and a space mission and more of smart people doing stupid things. I laugh every time. Jim Parsons already has two Emmy's, and hopefully Mayim Bialik will get hers this month.

Republic Of Doyle
And now for some Canadian content... this fast fun caper is an updated Maritime take on the Rockford Files, with a private eye and his quirky family solving local crimes. Totally fluffy and totally fun.

Kitchen Cousins
We watch a lot of HGTV (it's the real gay porn), and this show is a fave -- modern stylish custom kitchens delivered to likeable homeowners, by two charming and hunky Italian American cousins... what's not to like?

Those are my returning TV favourites.... what are you looking forward to in fall TV?

September 8, 2012

Best Gay Football Letter EVER...

I know virtually nothing about football, because I am Canadian and we watch hockey...

Okay I know virtually nothing about hockey as well, because I am not that interested. But ask me about Hollywood musicals, and I am your subject matter expert!

Then this weekend a story about football players caught my attention and WOWZA... I gotta watch this game.

First of all, this guy, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Avanbadejo, came out in favour of gay rights in general and specifically marriage equality:

And then this guy, Emmett C Burns, a career politician and asshat, currently a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, who went to the owner of the Ravens and told him to shut the player up... uh, free speech anyone?

Said Burns in the letter: I am requesting that you take the necessary action, as a National Football League Owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employees and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions. I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing.

Well, the bigot was wrong, and another pro football player stepped forward with an amazing breathtaking best-letter-ever response. He is this guy, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe:

Here is his letter... and man I gotta start watching football!

Dear Emmett C. Burns Jr.,
I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of Maryland's state government. Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level. The views you espouse neglect to consider several fundamental key points, which I will outline in great detail (you may want to hire an intern to help you with the longer words):
1. As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should "inhibit such expressions from your employees," more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on earth would possess you to be so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person's right to speech. To call that hypocritical would be to do a disservice to the word. Mindfucking obscenely hypocritical starts to approach it a little bit.
2. "Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment, and excitement." Holy fucking shitballs. Did you seriously just say that, as someone who's "deeply involved in government task forces on the legacy of slavery in Maryland"? Have you not heard of Kenny Washington? Jackie Robinson? As recently as 1962 the NFL still had segregation, which was only done away with by brave athletes and coaches daring to speak their mind and do the right thing, and you're going to say that political views have "no place in a sport"? I can't even begin to fathom the cognitive dissonance that must be coursing through your rapidly addled mind right now; the mental gymnastics your brain has to tortuously contort itself through to make such a preposterous statement are surely worthy of an Olympic gold medal (the Russian judge gives you a 10 for "beautiful oppressionism").
3. This is more a personal quibble of mine, but why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different than you, or act different than you? How does gay marriage, in any way shape or form, affect your life? If gay marriage becomes legal, are you worried that all of a sudden you'll start thinking about penis? "Oh shit. Gay marriage just passed. Gotta get me some of that hot dong action!" Will all of your friends suddenly turn gay and refuse to come to your Sunday Ticket grill-outs? (Unlikely, since gay people enjoy watching football too.)
I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won't come into your house and steal your children. They won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won't even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?
In closing, I would like to say that I hope this letter, in some small way, causes you to reflect upon the magnitude of the colossal foot in mouth clusterfuck you so brazenly unleashed on a man whose only crime was speaking out for something he believed in. Best of luck in the next election; I'm fairly certain you might need it.
Chris Kluwe
P.S. I've also been vocal as hell about the issue of gay marriage so you can take your "I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing" and shove it in your close-minded, totally lacking in empathy piehole and choke on it. Asshole.
This letter is sheer brilliance... I gotta start using "Mindfucking obscenely hypocritical"... fantastic letter  ...way to go Mr Kluwe!

September 6, 2012

Selling Spelling Manners...

This weekend we watched HGTV's Selling Spelling Manor, a reality TV series in which Tori Spelling's mom, Candy Spelling, sells the obscenely huge Hollywood mansion where she lives alone and pretty much admits to being an upper class hoarder. Yes that is what we are building TV series on now.

Candy Spelling is the widow of Aaron Spelling, the TV mogul responsible for Charlie's Angels, Dynasty, Love Boat, 90210, Melrose Place, and a slew of other successful series. Their house, called Spelling Manor, is based on a French Chateau with a Gone With The Wind staircase. It took seven years to build and was completed 1991; The Manor has 70,000 square feet of living and storage space, 14 bedrooms, 27 bathrooms, sits on 5 acres, has a bowling alley, 3 gift-wrapping rooms, and pretty much anything else you can think of. This is not ostentatious at all....

Aaron Spelling died in 2006, his widow listed the manor for $150 million in 2009 and sold it in 2011 for $85 million.

This was a repeat of the first episode of this series, and it was guilty-pleasure junk food TV. Spelling sells the manor and has to vacate in 30 days, so we see her talk to the camera about how hard it all is, which might inspire more empathy if she actually worked rather than just whined about missing the showy TV-star filled parties, sitting there as armies of movers pack up her doll collection, art collection, leather bound TV scripts, thousands of pieces of sterling silver, and hundreds of antiques from European shopping trips.

It was absorbing TV, like a car-crash-I-cannot-look-away. I watched it all beginning to end. I am not proud of myself.

I saw a partial episode of Selling Spelling Manor a few weeks ago. I was downstairs on the treadmill, absentmindedly turning on the TV as I set my iPod to blast, and stumbled across a later episode which is pretty much about Candy Spelling being Candy Spelling.

That later episode was about Ms Spelling selling off her doll collection at auction for $800,000 and choosing rare pink marble for her downsized 18,000 square foot 2-level penthouse condo (which she dubs The Manor In The Sky). She whines about needing rosebushes on her windy skyscraper balcony and about missing her children, though we see no emotion in her face. Then again, her face appears more botoxed than Nicole Kidman's, so I don't think anyone sees any emotion.

I hate you Candy Spelling. And I might want to be you... but just for a weekend.  Any longer and my head may implode.

This show is offensive in how it celebrates the rich shallow life of a vain, over-face-lifted, superficial mega-wealthy socialite. I can't wait to see the next episode...

September 4, 2012

The Church & Homosexuality...

Now I don't know much about the church, or church teachings, or synagogue or synagogue teachings for that matter, but I do know about love and respect, and thought this was terrific when I stumbled across it...


September 3, 2012

Happy Labour Day (sort of)...

Happy Labour Day... or "Labor Day" for you Americans... or "Monday" for pampered pooches who don't work anyway... 
hope everyone has the day off and enjoys it!

September 1, 2012

To eat, to run, or to Coach...

The last two days were really tough at work, exhausting and unpleasant. These are very rare, as I usually love what I do....

My job can be high stress, and I am self-aware enough to know that even if it wasn't, I would make it so.

I was travelling and working very long hours Monday to Wednesday, and on Thursday had to leave the office mid-afternoon to pick up my car from servicing. So I did something I cannot remember doing in years... I called it a day early.

I then had three options before me:

1- extra large fries, preferably sweet potato fries... so yes emotional eating, I acknowledge that, I love carbs especially of the deep fried variety, they comfort and distract me...

2- go home, get changed and go out for a run in the summer sun... I have not been running as much as I should lately, and this would be a very mature way to tackle the stress...

3- retail therapy -- hit the local Coach store (gay man's stalking grounds), treat myself to unnecessary luxury leather goods such as the bag above which I love....

What would you do? In a fit of maturity I headed home, changed clothes and went for a 50-minute run. Came home hot and sweaty and feeling great if a little sore...

And then I checked the mail and what did I find but a $100 off coupon from the Coach stores! What is the universe telling me now? Me thinks is telling me this....