SotW: If I Were a Boy from Glee Sunday, Nov 24 2013 

A couple of weeks ago I flipped the channel briefly to see what was happening on Glee, a show I don’t watch much anymore, since it conflicts with Project Runway. The beginning of this video is exactly where I came in:

I wasn’t sure what had happened to lead to this song — I asked PJ later, since he watches Glee — but part of the beauty of this performance is that you didn’t really need to know what had happened to precipitate it. It’s moving and beautiful without any context.

A few years ago, Glee was on the forefront of depicting gays and lesbians on television. I’m glad that it’s continued that progressive tradition by depicting a trans character like Unique. Just as younger audiences have arguably learned greater acceptance of gays and lesbians by watching them on television, hopefully the same positive acceptance will come soon for transpeople. Orange Is the New Black and Glee are leading the way. Hopefully other shows will soon follow.

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Favorite Men of 2012 Monday, Apr 15 2013 

Earlier this year, I posted a few of my favorites of 2012  lists: favorite albums, favorite movies, favorite songs. One more that I’ve been meaning to post is a list of the men I started following online in 2012. Some of these have pages on Facebook that I liked. Others have YouTube Channels or Twitter feeds that I follow. And one or two are just men I now Google frequently!

In no particular order, my favorite men of 2012 were:

Andy Murray 

2012 was a breakout year for the Scotsman Andy Murray. He made it to his first Wimbledon final, won the Olympics, and then won his first grand slam tournament at the U.S. Open. I’ve liked Murray for a long time, but I LOVE Rafael Nadal, so I have to agree with tennis commentators who suggest that some of Murray’s success is due to Rafa’s absence. But when you get right down to it, Murray worked hard for his success and deserves all of the victories he scored last year. I just hope he’s able to keep it up and doesn’t fall back down to #4 by the end of summer. Tennis benefits when all four of the top players have a real shot at winning each tournament.

PJ and I got to see Murray play Federer in the semis of the 2009 Southern & Western in Cincinnati. Murray takes some heat from gay viewers, but I think he’s hot! He’s got the best legs in men’s tennis, and he’s competitive with Federer for best chest.

But more importantly than looks, he’s a great competitor on the court, and he’s fun to watch. I really do hope that 2013 brings him a lot of success (except for when he plays Rafa!).

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SotW: “Against All Odds” from Glee Friday, Mar 22 2013 

It’s fitting that this week’s episode of Glee was about guilty pleasures. I don’t watch the show regularly anymore, but I indulge the guilty pleasure of peaking in from time to time to see what’s happening. When I flipped over this week, I was treated to Darren Criss’s performance of Phil Collins’s “Against All Odds,” the guiltiest of all guilty pleasures:

I’ve always loved this song. Against All Odds was one of the movies I liked to watch on cable when I was young and closeted. Jeff Bridges is so hot in it, and we get to see him mostly naked several times. Hearing this song always reminds me of a teenager lusting after him along with the overwrought emotions of the movie and song — why wouldn’t a teenage gay boy love it!

Contestants on American Idol sometimes try to cover this song, and until I heard this version I would have said that it simply can’t be sung any more — it’s too cheesy and too clichéd. But Criss demonstrates here that any almost any song can be redeemed with the right arrangement and a big dose of emotion. As I read later, the song apparently didn’t really match what was happening in the episode, since its emotion is too big to fit Blaine’s crush on his best friend Sam, but it’s a beautiful cover regardless!

My Life as Laura: A Review Sunday, Oct 16 2011 

While recuperating from (very) minor surgery last week, I read Kelly Kathleen Ferguson’s My Life as Laura: How I Searched for Laura Ingalls Wilder and Found Myself, which was just published by Press 53. Hilariously realistic and sincere, it was a great book to read while stuck at home and feeling kind of miserable. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Part of that enjoyment was no doubt due to the fact that I know Kelly and really like her. She took my graduate seminar on Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy two springs ago. Throughout that class, which wasn’t anything near the quality I would have liked due to the commitments of my day job (being an administrator doesn’t really leave one a lot of time to prep a grad course!), I was grateful for Kelly’s contributions and insights. Her easy, self-deprecating humor was a pleasant mask for her genuine insights into Sterne’s masterpiece. Whatever my students got out of that class was entirely due to their own efforts and participation in the seminar’s discussion. Kelly was a key part of that.

I should, perhaps, also note that PJ and I had recently heard Kelly give a reading from this memoir before I started reading it. That taste let me know that a) I was going to enjoy it and b) I could draw on my memory of Kelly’s delivery so that reading it felt like she was reading it to me. I always find that hearing the author’s voice in my head augments my pleasure as a reader. (I often “hear” Jane Austen’s voice when I read her books too!)

My Life as Laura is Kelly’s memoir of physically retracing the pioneer journey of her favorite writer as a child, Laura Ingalls Wilder. As she visits LIW sites throughout the Plains states, she examines her own life and tries to come to terms with the way things have turned out: she’s a 38-year-old woman who hasn’t “achieved” the usual milestones that 38-year-old women are supposed to “achieve”: she’s not married, she doesn’t have kids, and she’s not a doctor. Reflecting on the life and times of her idol, Kelly finds her own sense of purpose and achieves a different kind of goal: she becomes a professional writer. (Though the book is not an optimistic homage to Kelly’s successful achievement of that goal — it’s far more complex than that.)

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Allan Hyde’s “Alla Salute!” Sunday, May 29 2011 

Danish actor Allan Hyde first came to my attention in the second season of HBO’s True Blood, in which he played Eric’s maker, Godric. Alexander Skarsgård is more my type, so I didn’t really notice Hyde all that much while he was on the series. That’s all changed with my newest obsession, Hyde’s Internet series, Alla Salute!, which Hyde writes and stars in.

This hilarious series of shorts is about two friends who decide to open a restaurant in their apartment. Hyde plays Patrik, a little league soccer coach who fancies himself a ladies man. (Despite his chiseled physique, the ladies aren’t the ones trying to get with him.) Aleksandar Antonijevic plays Claudio, Patrik’s roommate and the chef of the new restaurant, which was the idea of his ex-girlfriend. Initially, Claudio thinks that opening the restaurant will get him back together with Sidsel, played by Julie Christiansen. (Patrik also hopes to hook up with her.)

All of this adds up to a smart, funny, hilariously sexy show. I can’t wait for the next episode!

Here’s episode 1, “Sidsel Left Me …”:

Patrik’s semi-nudity is featured in almost every episode, which both appeals to anyone who appreciates a hot guy and adds a comic dimension, since his efforts to seduce seem to get him no where. The food also look great! And every episode features the title phrase, “Alla salute!”

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Death on the Nile (2004): A Review Sunday, Nov 28 2010 

Yesterday, PJ and I went to Columbus to do a little sales shopping. Mostly, we bought clothes. PJ’s recently gotten back into reading Agatha Christie novels, and at some point while we were shopping he mentioned something about Hercule Poirot and Death on the Nile. This started us off on a quest to find a DVD of it.

Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, my family enjoyed watching the Joan Hickson Miss Marple series and then the David Suchet Hercule Poirot series. So, I was particularly desirous of finding the Suchet version of Death on the Nile, which I had never seen (at least that I can remember). While looking at Barnes and Nobles, we found a multi-disk collection of the episodes for about $100, which seemed like a lot more than we really wanted to pay. But then PJ pointed out that, if we were really going to watch all of the episodes, then it would be worth purchasing. So we did.

So, last night we watched Death on the Nile, which I thought was wonderful. Death takes place mostly on a cruise on the Nile. Simon Doyle and Linnet Ridgeway are celebrating their honeymoon. The couple would be perfectly happy if it weren’t for one little problem: Linnet’s former friend (and until quite recently Simon’s former fiancée) Jackie is hounding them in revenge for Linnet stealing her man. Every where they go, she pops up to torment the new couple. And her taunts and jeers seem to be getting increasingly irrational and potentially violent. Everything comes to a head when a murderer strikes during the cruise.

I had seen the 1978 movie version, which starred Peter Ustinov, Bette Davis, Angela Lansbury, Mia Farrow, Maggie Smith, and David Niven. Here’s a clip from that adaptation:

This version is rather campy and even comical, but it’s also fun and engaging.

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SotW: I Want to Hold Your Hand by Glee Monday, Oct 11 2010 

Since today is National Coming Out Day, I especially wanted to blog about last week’s episode of Glee, which is one of my favorite shows. Chris Colfer was particularly wonderful in this episode, in which Kurt’s father has a heart attack and is left in a coma. While his father is in the hospital, Kurt sings The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in Glee Club:

This song is very affecting in this episode, but what I like most about it is its potential as a queer song. This song is all about longing and wanting to love another person in this really simple way: to hold their hand.

Ultimately, I think that’s what all gay rights issues are really about: we want to hold the hand of our beloved openly and fearlessly, to be able to acknowledge who we are and who we love and share our lives with. This song sums that up for me, especially with a gay actor singing it.

Colfer’s version of the song is so simply beautiful. After hearing it for the first time, I told PJ that someday, when we’re allowed to marry legally and have a ceremony, I want this version of the song to be sung at our wedding. I think it would be beautiful.

So, I’ve downloaded it from iTunes, and I’m dreaming of the day when I’ll get married to the man I love. I can’t wait.

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True Blood Season 3 Tuesday, Jun 15 2010 

True Blood season 3 started on Sunday with a great episode. I didn’t really care for the Maryann story line of season 2, so I’m glad that we’re moving on now. I thought the episode had a good balance between continuing with the aftermath of the second season while moving the plot lines forward in new directions.

Of course the best part of the episode was the sequence between Sam and Bill:

This has to be the hottest scene in television history! And even though PJ immediately said that this had to be someone’s dream, I liked the way it started off realistically — the part where Sam has to invite Bill into the hotel room, for example.

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Fairytale by Alexander Rybak Thursday, Mar 25 2010 

While I was in Europe earlier this month, I had limited access to English-language television. The one channel that I consistently had was BBC, so one evening I watched Your Country Needs You, a show hosted by Graham Norton in which 6 acts competed to represent the U.K. in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

The Eurovision Song Contest is totally fantastic. It’s a cheese fest like no other. Acts from each European country compete by performing an original song (not necessarily written by the act). Each country then votes on the winner. (The voting is slightly more complicated than that; here’s an explanation.)

Near the end of the show, while people in England were voting for the winner, Alexander Rybak, who won the Eurovision competition last year, performed his winning song, “Fairytale.” He’s totally adorable, and I loved the cheesy deliciousness of the song, so I’m making it my song of the week:

The 24-year-old Rybak completed for Norway, where he now lives, but he was born in Belarus. He wrote “Fairytale,” which won the highest number of votes ever recorded in the competition. After winning the competition he released an album featuring the single of “Fairytale.”

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SofW: One by Adam Lambert Wednesday, May 27 2009 

Even before reading about the latest controversy concerning Kris Allen’s unexpected victory in this year’s American Idol, I had seen that iTunes was featuring an “album” of Adam Lambert’s “Season 8 Favorite Performances.”After wavering a bit, I decided to download the album, and I’m glad I did. I really like several of the tracks, especially Lambert’s cover of U2’s “One”:

While I don’t vote for American Idol and therefore can’t complain too much about Allen’s winning the competition, I do watch it. Lambert was clearly the better performer, especially during the final show. I decided that purchasing his album was the proper way to show my support for Lambert.

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