Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Back at 2011

 I'll be honest: 2011 is not a year that I will be looking back on fondly overall, at least not on a personal level. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't glad to see it coming to an end. Still, like any year there was plenty of good mixed in with the not-so-good.

 For instance, 2011 could be said to be the year of the people, or perhaps of the bottom 99% of them. This was the year of the Arab Spring, with popular uprisings trying- and in many cases succeeding- in sweeping away repressive regimes in the Mid East. In fact, 2011 was the year in which the likes of Osama bin Laden, Muammar Gaddafi, and Kim Jong-il ceased to exist, leaving the world that much better off.

  Here in the United States, we saw the beginnings of the Occupy movement as well as popular uprisings against unpopular measures such as the stripping away of union rights in Ohio and Wisconsin.

  For many, though, 2011 was a year of continued economic hardship. This was driven home for me in a very real way with the bankruptcy of Borders, a company for which I spent the better part of a decade working. The ultimate closure of all Borders and Waldenbooks stores by mid September left most of my former co-workers out of work and they were far from being alone. It also left a gaping hole in the middle of the book world, whatever your opinions on big box stores vs independents.

  The most high profile coming out of the year was Zachary Quinto, star of Heroes and the new Star Trek films. Quinto wasn't alone in coming out, though. This year's list also included actor Sean Maher, CNN anchor Don Lemon and sports figures Jed Hooper, Graeme Obree, Scott Norton, Steven Davies, and David Testo, covering a wide range of sports from professional bowling, rugby, cricket, cycling and American Soccer.

 Actress Evan Rachel Wood came out as bisexual and Geri Jewell, an actress and comedienne with cerebral palsy who back in the early 1980's became the first person with a disability to play a recurring character on a television show (The Facts of Life)  came out in a new memoir.

 This year saw the passing of some true legends from the entertainment world like Elizabeth Taylor, Arthur Laurents, and Sidney Lumet, and those whose lives had a far reaching impact on the world in general, like Vaclav Havel and Steve Jobs.

 In the world of daytime TV, the losses just kept coming. ABC cancelled both All My Children and One Life to Live simultaneously, though the latter won't go off the air until the new year.  For a few months, it looked like the shows had been saved and would make the jump to airing online, but in the end that deal fell through and both shows were left with cliffhanger endings that would never be resolved.

 As far as gay characters on daytime, things are looking up from last year at this time, when the total number of LGBT characters had plummeted to zero. This year we've got an out and proud Sonny Kiriakis and an about to come out Will Horton on Days of Our Lives, so 2012 looks pretty promising in that respect.

 Now, on to my picks for some of my favorite things in 2011.

*Favorite Short Story Collection I read this year:  Ladies and Gentlemen by Adam Ross

*Favorite Novel I read this year:  Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

*Favorite Classic Gay Fiction Book I read this year:  Two People by Donald Windham

*Favorite Modern Gay Fiction Book I read this year:  Two Gentlemen Sharing by William Corlett

*Favorite Non-Fiction (Literary) Book I read this year:  The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee

*Favorite Non-Fiction (Autobiography) Book I read this year:  Bossypants by Tina Fey

*Favorite Film I saw this year:  X-Men: First Class. I should note that I saw very few films this year overall; in fact, I won't be doing my usual category of Favorite Gay Themed Film because I can't think of a single one that I saw!

*Favorite TV Drama: Once Upon a Time

*Favorite Sitcom:  New Girl, with The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family tied for a very close second place.

*Favorite Supernatural Themed Drama:  Teen Wolf

*Favorite News Program: The Rachel Maddow Show. After moving in March, I discovered that my new cable package offered MSNBC. Rachel's show quickly became my new addiction.

*Favorite Show that Needs Help: Glee. A lot of fans had issues with the show's second season, and I was right there with them. It wasn't until the third season began, though, that I felt Glee was truly in danger of losing what had made it so special to begin with. When Glee is good, it's fantastic, like with the recent episode 'The First Time' and with the scenes of Santana coming out to her grandmother. Things like that keep me watching, but the uneven writing is becoming more and more of a problem. One example is the character of Mercedes who has been completely destroyed by bad writing. How many times is Mercedes going to freak out about Rachel getting all the attention, have her issues seemingly resolved, and then go through it all again five or ten episodes later as if the earlier experience never happened? It makes the character completely unlikeable. With the prospect of losing key cast members after this year when their characters graduate, I'm not sure if Glee will ever get its magic back.

*Favorite Daytime Soap:  One Life to Live remained the best written all year long. With that said, in the final months of 2011, my heart belonged to Days of Our Lives once again.

*Favorite Gay Themed Website of the year:

*Favorite Gay Character of the year (Daytime): Since Will Horton has yet to actually come out, there is only one option for this category and that's Days of Our Lives' Sonny Kiriakis.  His introductory storyline was a bit preachy and he hasn't had all that much to do since, but he's attractive, likable, and I'm sure he'll be fantastic when/if he's paired with Will.

*Favorite Gay Character of the year (Primetime): It's a tie! Kurt Hummel and Blaine Anderson, Glee. For all the show's problems, it can't be denied that Kurt and Blaine had a really great year. They shared their first kiss during the season finale last Spring and this fall they lost their virginity together in an episode that juxtaposed their experience with Rachel losing her virginity to Finn. They've even got a potential love triangle brewing with new gay character Sebastian.

 *Hottest Actor (Daytime):  It's a Tie! This year, I've been all about the Chill factor. Chandler Massey and Casey Deidrick (aka Will Horton and Chad DiMera) may never actually be able to play out a Chill love story on the show, but their chemistry is as electric as they are hot.

*Hottest Actor (Primetime): It's so hard to pick just one, as my post about the Men Who Made 2011 should demonstrate. With that said, I'm going to go with Once Upon a Time's Jamie Dornan.

  *Hottest Actor (Film): If I'm going just by films I actually saw this year, one actor who did stand out for me was Lucas Till of X-Men: First Class.


If, however, I'm going by film actors in general, I'd have to say that while Chris Evans may be my second favorite Evans brother, he's still one of the hottest men working in film today:

  *Hottest Out Gay Celebrity: I'm going to have to go with the newest member of the club, Zachary Quinto.

Not only is Zachary sexy as hell, but he gets to hang out with some of my other favorite hotties, like Jonathan Groff and Colton Haynes:

 Well, there we have it, 2011 in a nutshell. I hope everyone reading this has a wonderful 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: Best & Worst Lists

  One of my favorite things about the end of any year are all of the Best of (and Worst of) lists that come out on just about any conceivable topic. I'm working on my own, which should be up tomorrow. Following my own year end tradition at Seth in the City I thought I'd share some of the ones I've been enjoying from the professionals.

  Let's start with Film. I myself managed to get to the movie theater exactly three times this year and one of those times was to see a filmed Broadway musical and not an actual feature film, so I'm far from being a good judge of what was great and what wasn't. 

 The experts, though, have spoken. First up is Roger Ebert's look at the Best Films of 2011, his top twenty picks for the year, none of which I've seen. I have very much enjoyed watching Ebert Presents At The Movies this year, though, with Christy Lemire of The Associated Press and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of Sadly, at this point the show has no funding to continue on past this week's episode unless they can find sponsors or willing foundations to help out. Roger and his wife Chaz were mainly funding it themselves.

  Next up, the trio of film critics for The New Yorker. David Denby's top 10 list does contain one film I've actually seen this year, albeit on DVD: Source Code. I can't say the same for any of the films on Anthony Lane's list, but you'd think I'd have a better chance at having seen some of the 26 films that Richard Brody writes about in his list. You'd be mistaken, though. I guess I should start going to the movies more often!

  Moving on to the small screen, Ken Tucker at Entertainment Weekly has his annual look at the Best and Worst in Television this year. Darren Franich also has a list of the Best TV Character Deaths of the year, including my Sheriff Graham from Once Upon a Time.

 Turning to the world of the stage, the staff of offer their favorite moments from 2011, and a photo gallery of all the Playbill covers from this past year, while the New Yorker's John Lahr offers his take on the best theater of the year and Hilton Als offers a look at his year in culture. EW's Tom Geier also offers his picks for the best of the stage this year.

 Let's move on to my own personal favorite topic: Books. The New Yorker once again offers up several lists on the subject of the Best Books of 2011, from the likes of James Woods, Sam Lipsyte, Yiyun Li, Tessa Hadley, Tad Friend, Ben Marcus, Malcolm Gladwell, Lorrie Moore, and Anne Beattie. Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly takes a look at the Best and Worst in Fiction and in Nonfiction this year.

 Lambda Literary offers up the best in LGBT books of 2011 and I think my favorite list of the year is from one of my favorite blogs, Band of Thebes. In this particular list, 92 authors offer their selections for the best in LGBT books for 2011. This list alone could provide me with ample reading for 2012.

  The New Yorker has a complete listing that includes many more lists than I've mentioned, as does Entertainment Weekly, including a Top 20 of everything list by Stephen King.

 Another favorite site of mine,, offers up 2011's Most Memorable LGBT Quotes.

 I'll be back tomorrow with my own look back at 2011.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Men Who Made 2011

It's time again for what has to be one of my favorite posts of the year! Starting in 2008, I've ended each year since with a look at the men who made my year extra special. While they're not necessarily guys that were new to the entertainment scene this year, they are guys that I've noticed either for the first time or in a whole new way, men who really stood out in 2011.

So, without further ado, let's take a look at the guys who mad
e the past twelve months especially hot!

Every year that I've done this list, I've opened with a guy from
One Life to Live. Thanks to the powers that be at ABC and the epic failure of Prospect Park to follow through on their deal to give the show new life online, 2011 is my very last opportunity to do so. Luckily, One Life to Live didn't fail to deliver this year by providing me with a viable candidate!

Josh Kelly debuted on the show exactly a year ago today
as con artist Cutter Wentworth and he certainly helped to make the show's final twelve months hot! There's just something so good about a bad boy with a naughty grin! Josh even made facial hair, which I usually can't stand, seem downright sexy!
I will definitely miss having Josh Kelly steaming up the screen on daytime, but I'm certain the future holds big things for him. He's already landed a pilot for MT
V called Dumb Girls, and I for one will be checking it out when and if it goes to series.

Speaking of MTV, my next pick for the Men Who Made 2011 is cheating just a little bit, because I'm actually choosing an entire male cast instead of just one guy. If you'd told me a year ago that I'd become a fan of an MTV show centered around high school students, I would have groaned. Surely I'd finally outgrown teen dramas (Glee being more of a comedy, of course), especially ones on MTV? Then a
long came an incredibly homoerotic series with a drop dead gorgeous male cast, and I was hooked.

I'm talking, of course, about Teen Wolf. The series had me wanting my MTV all summer long. I'm not even sure which guy I liked the most (okay, Tyler Hoechlin) because they all had that something special.

First up is Tyler Posey, who plays Scott, the title character.
He's got an adorable grin, dreamy eyes, and a killer body:
Then there's the sidekick/best friend character, Stiles, a S
eth Cohen for the 2010's, played to sarcastic perfection by Dylan O'Brien:
Then there's Jackson, that teen drama staple the asshole jock,
played by a male model come deliciously to life in the form of Colton Haynes:
There's even an out gay character, lacrosse player Danny, played by Keahu Kahuanui, who had his own male date to the prom but ended up sharing a dance
with Scott:
Finally, there's Scott's mentor, a slightly more mature werewolf, Derek, played by the electrifyingly sexy Tyler Hoechlin:

Yes, the summer of 2011 was made infinitely hotter by the men of Teen Wolf!

Next up, a guy who I had no idea existed before this past fall when I decided to check out the new series Once Upon a Time. The show itself is pretty good, though I can't see how they'll sustain the concept for more than a season or two at most. The guy who really caught my eye right from the beginning was Jamie Dornan, the hottie with the Irish accent who played Sheriff Graham and who for the second time this year had me re-evaluating facial hair:

He's pretty much my idea of a Fairy Tale Prince come to life, even if his character actually turned out to be the Huntsman who lets Snow White live. Sadly, in the most recent episode Sheriff Graham was killed off. Since part of the show is set in the fairy tale past, though, I'm hoping we'll at least see more of him as The Huntsman.

Finally, 2011 brought to my attention in a whole new way a man who I was perfectly familiar with before now. Back in 2008, I'd watched him on Greek, where he played Nick Pepper, a love interest for Calvin. He was likable enough, and certainly attractive, but at the time I wanted Calvin to get back together with Heath, so I wasn't at all upset when things ended with Nick and the character disappeared.

Flash forward to this fall, when the hilarious new series New Girl debuted on Fox. My first thought when I saw that Max Greenfield was going to be in the cast was a tepid "Oh, it's that guy." When I'd finished watching the first episode, which he'd stolen completely as Schmidt, my thoughts ran more along the lines of "I'm in love!" Max steals the show every week and they're not at all afraid to show off his body, which is an added bonus. So, if you haven't seen the show yet, get a little Schmidt on your face and take a look:

Well, there we have them, the Men Who Made 2011. A fantastic year for hot guys, if for nothing else! Can 2012 ever compete? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

"Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights."

In an amazing speech yesterday in Geneva, Switzerland, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced to the world that the Obama Administration considers LGBT Rights to be Human Rights:

"To the leaders of those countries where people are jailed, beaten, or executed for being gay, I ask you to consider this: Leadership, by definition, means being out in front of your people when it is called for. It means standing up for the dignity of all your citizens and persuading your people to do the same. It also means ensuring that all citizens are treated as equals under your laws, because let me be clear – I am not saying that gay people can’t or don’t commit crimes. They can and they do, just like straight people. And when they do, they should be held accountable, but it should never be a crime to be gay.

And to people of all nations, I say supporting human rights is your responsibility too. The lives of gay people are shaped not only by laws, but by the treatment they receive every day from their families, from their neighbors. Eleanor Roosevelt, who did so much to advance human rights worldwide, said that these rights begin in the small places close to home – the streets where people live, the schools they attend, the factories, farms, and offices where they work. These places are your domain. The actions you take, the ideals that you advocate, can determine whether human rights flourish where you are."

The next part of her speech was the one that moved me the most, though:

"And finally, to LGBT men and women worldwide, let me say this: Wherever you live and whatever the circumstances of your life, whether you are connected to a network of support or feel isolated and vulnerable, please know that you are not alone. People around the globe are working hard to support you and to bring an end to the injustices and dangers you face. That is certainly true for my country. And you have an ally in the United States of America and you have millions of friends among the American people."

It is truly a step forward for LGBT Rights worldwide to have the Secretary of State of the United States making such a declarative, powerful statement. You could well argue that this (and more) should have happened a long time ago, certainly earlier in this particular Administration, but I don't think that takes anything away from this moment itself.

Check out a video of the speech here, or read the full transcript here.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Start of Something Special

I just wanted to share an interesting article from earlier this month about novelist Ann Patchett opening an independent bookstore in Nashville. What first caught my attention, I have to admit, was the picture included in the article, which shows off the very familiar looking bookcases salvaged from a Nashville Borders.

The article mentions a few against the odds success stories for new independent bookstores around the country, but also discusses some of the stores facing real difficulties at the moment:

"In Fort Greene, Brooklyn, Greenlight Bookstore opened in 2009 and reported sales of more than $1 million in its first year. The Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee was founded two years ago and has been profitable both years, its owner said.

But there are plenty of headlines chronicling the woes of struggling independents. In Manhattan, St. Mark’s Bookshop in the East Village has been teetering for months, saved by a last-minute rent discount from the landlord. The owner of RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth, N.H., said this month that he needed to raise more than $100,000 to save it. More than 150 concerned people packed the store last week to discuss its fate. Ithaca, N.Y., residents helped keep the treasured Buffalo Street Books in business by raising more than $250,000 and reopening the store as a co-op"

The odds may be long, but it gives me hope every time someone takes a risk and starts up a new bookstore! I cherish a secret dream of one day opening a bookshop of my own, where I'd sell new & used books.

One of the few things that gave me great pleasure in the aftermath of the end of Borders was reading about a group of employees who banded together and turned their Borders Express mall location into their own bookstore. Another was the news that one Borders location had been turned into a used bookstore and seventeen Borders staff members had stayed on.

It's a cliche to say that every time one door closes, another opens, but that doesn't make it any less true. I hope Ms. Patchett's venture is a huge success!