December 31, 2012

December 28, 2012

Alfie's Favourite Things, 2012...

While I am a little behind on movies (still haven't seen Lincoln, The Hobbit, or Saw 23...), I am a total pop culture junkie, and here are my faves for 2012.

Let me know your favourites in the comments, I have some catching up to do....

Probably an unusual choice as it's not going to make many critics' lists, but Ted was my favourite of the year. I laughed out loud right through this movie, and what else can you ask for from a comedy? Fast, vulgar, and smarter than it seems, Ted was hysterical.

Runners up: The James Bond thriller Skyfall, the Will Ferrell political satire The Campaign, the acapella comedy Pitch Perfect, and the vibrator-loving period romance Hysteria.

Barbra Streisand's Release Me, a collection of unreleased songs from the 1967 to 2011, has the diva using her legendary voice on amazing tracks, many Broadway covers or movie inspired. She is acting as well as singing, and every track is a "wow".

Runner Up: Frank Ocean's rhythmic storytelling on his Channel Orange CD.

The smart and suspenseful Homeland was the best this year -- fast and twisty, with amazing acting and unexpected plot turns. Cannot look away.

Runner's Up: The always great The Good Wife and The Big Bang Theory continue to be on my must-see list, and am also a fan of The Voice, the Dallas reboot, the BBC series Sherlock, and the one-time live on TV marriage equality play 8 with George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

Last week I listed my five favourite books of the year (click here), and now I have one more to add... the memoir Guts, by Emmy-winning actress Kristen Johnston of 3rd Rock From The Sun. This is her very serious and yet entertaining memoir of pills and booze and despair, culminating in her stomach rupturing after a performance on stage (her "guts"). Johnston is smart and funny and brutally honest. I am now a fan.

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

December 26, 2012

Worst Pop Crap Of 2012....

While there was lots of great movies, TV, and  music this year, there was the usual plethora of crap out there as well....

Here are my least favourite, or most disappointing, pop culture moments and entertainments. And in the spirit of the season, I have artfully left this list Kardashian-free and Lohan-free. Cuz they are just too obvious, but you know are on here in spirit...

TV - New
Despite its fantastic pilot episode, the behind-the-scenes Broadway musical drama went downhill quickly, becoming annoying and non-entertaining. Characters and plots came made no sense. A buzzy season two makeover with Jennifer Hudson joining the cast gets this one a second chance, but what should have been Glee for grown-ups in season one was just a hot musical mess.

TV - Returning
After a sexy and suspenseful first season, Revenge quickly fell of my radar in season two -- enough with the flashbacks, enough with the fake identities, and exactly how many characters can we bring back from the dead anyhow? Wasted momentum.

Runner-Up: The Bachelor Canada, and no I did not watch it, I just am offended by the fact that this damn show exists.

Madonna's MDNA, is the first Madonna album that I have not purchased. And yes I have heard the whole thing, several times, and all I can recall is her screaming "Drive Bitch" during one song, and that annoying cheerleading single "Gimme All Your Luvin" --- compare this to Ray of Light and you will cringe.

Runner Up: The failed Mariah Carey single, Triumphant. Epic voice, lousy tune.

America You Sexy Bitch: Gun-loving Republican Meghan McCain and atheist Democrat Michael Ian Black team up to head across country together and learn about America... but they aren't great writers, they are too interested in themselves rather than other people, and she comes across as a whiny princess. Potential wasted on this adventure.

Runner up: Lots of Candles, Plenty Of Cake, the disappointing memoir by Anna Quindlen,  a Pulitzer-wining author who I usually love. More a collection of rambling thoughts then anything else, is too disjointed to be intriguing.

Rock of Ages: The sexy silly fun Broadway musical became the too-bland too-long movie with new characters, plot changes, and a total de-sexing. Loved the play, hated the move. Easily the worst of the year.

Runner Up: John Carter, the classic science fiction novel gone bad on the big screen. It felt 17 hours long. And dishonourable mention to the Total Recall remake, another science fiction classic gone bad...

Pop Culture Moment
Movie icon Clint Eastwood giving a baffling rambling talk to an empty chair while endorsing Mitt Romney at the Republican convention.... a bad idea (the Republicans don't need yet another old rich white guy to endorse them) that was bizarrely executed... stunningly weird.

December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays everyone!

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!


December 21, 2012

From the Canadian Side...

Mount Rushmore 
from the Canadian side...

... yep, it is stupid, but it made me laugh....

December 18, 2012

Best Books Of The Year...

While I work away on my best-of and worst-of lists for 2012 (and by "work away", I mean think about starting them...), it occurred to me that his has been a really great year for books.

I have read a lot this year, especially with so much travel in my new job, so time on airplanes and in hotels. Here are five of my favourites from this year... I highly recommend them all... and in the comments tell me your faves from 2012!

The Age of Miracles
This first novel is technically science fiction about the end of the world, but to me it wasn't that at all... this is a touching, surprising and subtle story about a young girl watching the world change. The earth starts to slow, and it affects everything...  Julia, an 11 year old when the slowing of the earth's rotation on its axis begins, narrates the novel. Yes this is a novel about what happens to the earth after a catastrophe strikes, but it's so much more than that. It's a novel that explores relationships and love and fear of the unknown. It's a novel that caused me to pause and think a bit about the world.

Songs for the New Depression
A realistic touching beautiful story of a man battling AIDS, his life and friends and loves; The story goes from clever and funny to really hard to read because it is so sad and so real. I wrote a post about this one here. If you haven't read it yet, read it now.

Gone Girl
A woman disappears, her husband is the suspect, and let the twists begin... a fast-paced thriller full of surprises that is also a smart look at marriage and relationships. This will be a great movie (with Reese Witherspoon), but read the book first. You will stay up very late reading this one.

The End Of Your Life Book Club
A heartbreaking and inspiring story of a man's long goodbye to his cancer-stricken mother, as they share their love of books over her last couple of years. I laughed, I cried, I made a ginormous list of books to read. Put this one at the top of your list.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)
Uber-blogger Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, talks smart and funny about her weird, dysfunctional, enchanting, life in her first book. Laugh-out-loud funny, and sweet in a weird way...

December 16, 2012

Big Gay Quotes 2012

We talk a lot, people talk about us a lot, hey we tend to be political and interesting and sometimes even witty...

Here are my fave gay quotes of the last year:

"It is important for me go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."
- President Barack Obama

"I feel like those people who criticize should stop writing letters and get a hobby. I personally get letters from kids every single day who write to me in secret because they live in environments that don’t accept who they are. So I really could care less about what those people say."
- Glee star Chris Colfer

"The marriage equality issue should be recognized for what it truly is - a civil rights issue that must be approved to assure that every citizen is treated equally under the law."
- Bruce Springsteen

"I think if two people love each other, then what the hell? I think that everyone should have the chance to be equally miserable, if they want. It's the new tolerant me!"
- Eminem
"The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn't be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud."
- Anderson Cooper

"The majority of my fans have been amazing & supportive. But I am in shock and ashamed of many of my ‘fans’ who are standing firm in their stance that I am ‘less than’ them because of my sexual orientation. To those who feel this way: I gladly show you the door and wish you well on your journey." 
- Modern Family actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson

"Nature made Sam, it wasn't a choice.... You all have fought for him as surely as you were one of his parents. You've changed and are changing the lives of little boys and girls who realized somewhere along the way they're just different from their other brothers and sisters. And so the fuck what."
- Actress Sally Field on her gay son and the LGBT community during her HRC Ally for Equality Award acceptance speech.

"Gay people are born and belong to every society in the world. They are all ages, all races, all faiths. They are doctors and teachers, farmers and bankers, soldiers and athletes. And, whether we know it, or whether we acknowledge it, they are our family, our friends and our neighbors. Being gay is not a western invention. It is a human reality." 
 - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Quote Source

December 14, 2012

A Bad Jew At Hanukkah...

This week is 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? The boyfriend I refer to is now my husband, we actually had a big Hanukkah dinner for the second year, and I actually bought menorah candles this year (first time!)... What's the same? Alfred is still the world's cutest canine...

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 12, 2012

Sad Desk Salad...

While I do tend to love chick flicks (hello, Bridget Jones, love ya), I tend to steer away from 'chick lit', that sub genre of female-empowering romance books. Okay I am not sure exactly what chick lit is, but the label sounds derogatory and I don't read it much.

Well all I gotta say is that if Sad Desk Salad is chick lit, I gotta read more of this stuff.

Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose is the story of Alex, a writer at a female-oriented celebrity news blog called Chick Habit (think TMZ with girl power).  She works from home, her boss is a demon, her preppy boyfriend is too perfect; Alex spends a frenzied twelve hours a day online and it is swallowing up her 'real' life... can anyone reading this blog relate at all?

Alex struggles to be successful at her fast paced blogging job as she wrestles with whether the job is ethically and artistically right for her.

The novel's plot revolves around a scandalous story that Alex gets involved in; she has to make a decision about a celebrity's right to privacy in the internet age. Alex gets a naked drug-using video of a semi-celebrity and has to decide if her job success trumps someone's privacy; will posting this video destroy someone's life? And is her job destroying hers?

I read this book last weekend, when one of the top news stories was the apparent suicide by a nurse following the radio hoax at Kate Middleton's hospital. The book and the news became somehow blended and got me thinking about privacy and accountability... heavy stuff for a lighthearted beach read. The book is about our fascination with celebrity, gossip and privacy, and about the impact of our lives being so online. But mostly it is fast fun.

While the main character isn't always likeable -- she is a whiny, lazy, shallow, ambitious 25-year-old  -- she is essentially decent and that makes her relatable. And the book is a fast-paced entertaining questioning of being true to ourselves and each other in the internet age. And it's worth a read...

Thanks to Mandy’s Blogger Book Club (#MBBCWRW on Twitter) for providing a copy of Sad Desk Salad. This review is my own.

December 9, 2012

How about a thrilling date with me?

I get lots of email, some good, some bad, some personal, lots of it advertising and blog or newsletter subscriptions... and then there is the occasional annoying spam that sneaks through.

I don't get a lot of spam, knock wood (as I tap hand to forehead).... maybe due to my internet provider or the super duper MacBook genes. But lately there has been a theme to the spam I have gotten almost daily for the last month, this one titled How about a thrilling date with me?

I am not sure yet what sort of a guy you are.
But I wanna get it.
Me, I'm the type of rosebuds who likes making men satisfied.
In more kinky ways than you can imagine right now, lol!
I'm know much about your fun and your joy and if you get that I'm happy too.
You can see my spicy photos here!
They are pretty ardent, dontcha think? Write me and tell me how do you like them.
Ihave a profile ready, waiting for your message!

Rosebuds? Ardent boobs? Is this what straight guys like? This email comes from someone supposedly named Annalee Stooksbury, who sounds very British and very proper and very female... and oh yeah, fake.

If someone was trying to solicit me for sex, they would not be named Annalee, and the least they could do is try to convince me they look like this:

When in reality they probably look like this:

Damn internet...

December 6, 2012

Very Inappropriate Orthodox Calendar...

I saw this online and knew it totally had to be fake, as it looked like cheesy low-rent pseudo porn... and then I saw their Facebook page ("Orthodox Calendar) and their website (here) and wondered if it could be real. Gawd I hope so...

We all know that sex sells, and controversy sells, so why can't the church use that tactic to sell calendars? Well, cuz it's pervy and hypocritical, but still...

Check out their official blurb enticing people to purchase the calendar, “Come in and discover our 12 seductive artistic pictures of Orthodox priests and their guests!” And by guests, they mean muscle guys in tight underwear and buff shirtless construction men

Someone less classy than me would make a joke about all new reasons to get on your knees and pray...

From their FaceBook page... "Father Virgil lives in a small village in Eastern Europe. His parish is probably the smallest ever. Everyone knows one another and nobody has a bad word to say about him. He is so well regarded that nobody minds helping him with his daily chores."

Is it real? Is it fake? Does it really matter...?

December 4, 2012

Sally Field Loves Her Gay Son...

I've always been a fan of Sally Field, from her dramatic Oscar-winning stuff (Norma Rae, Places In The Heart) to little-seen gems like Kiss Me Goodbye and especially to her role as matriarch Nora on Brothers and Sisters, she is a talented lady worth watching.

This weekend Field was on Oprah's Next Chapter promoting her role as Mary Todd Lincoln in the film Lincoln, and talk turned to her three sons, specifically her advocacy for gay rights and her outspoken support of her gay son, Sam Greisman.

I didn't know one of her sons was gay, or that Field was recently honoured by the Human Rights Campaign as an "Ally For Equality." Where have I been? 

I’ve been a fan of Sally Field forever but I’ve never had more admiration and appreciation for her than I have now. Sam Greisman introduced his mom recently when she received the Ally for Equality Award in Washington DC. The 25 year old told the crowd that night that when he came out, his mother didn’t bat an eye and was, in fact, overjoyed. Field said after she took the stage that it has been ‘one of the great privileges of my life’ to be a part of her son’s coming out process. 

‘It’s important to have a parent speak about raising a magnificent, proud, intelligent, funny, lovable, sexy gay son,’ Field tells Winfrey. ‘There are so many parents who are frightened of that and who don’t embrace their children as they struggle. Those children are struggling to embrace who they are, who nature — what nature intended them to be.’ 

YAY Norma Rae/Nora Walker/Mary Todd Lincoln/Forrest Gump's Mom aka Sally Field!

December 2, 2012

Best Worst T-shirts Ever?


So this pub tries to be funny and clever and jump on the Keep Calm and... bandwagon by printing t-shirts that say Keep Calm and Try An Ale... but at just the right angle, An Ale becomes... oh yeah, you see it above.

Even without the weird angle, you know some drunk trunk driver is going to be at the bar and see the shirt and get really loud shouting AN ALE, ANAL, YOU GET IT!!!! HA HA HA...

Someone did not think this through...

Photo Source

December 1, 2012

Today is World AIDS Day...

Today is World AIDS Day. 
Since 1988, December 1st has been a day of thought and fund-raising for the fight on AIDS... though it gets lets press now, AIDS is still real and out there and impacting lives.  
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 idea of course  would be to not need treatment. This year's theme for World AIDS Day is "Getting To Zero"... Be safe, and get tested.

Click here for a good article about the benefits of treating HIV early and to read about the new 4 point plan for creating an AIDS-free generation...