Ice Bucket Challenge

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For those who haven’t been living under a rock the past month or so, you’ve probably been inundated with video after video of all sorts of people pouring buckets of ice over their heads, all in the name of charity.

The Ice Bucket Challenge dares nominated participants to be filmed having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads and challenging others to do the same. A common stipulation is that nominated people have 24 hours to comply or forfeit by way of a charitable financial donation.

The charity in question does vary somewhat depending on where in the world you’re living. Most notably in the US, the challenge is being done to raise awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease).  In the United Kingdom, people also participate in the challenge for the Motor Neurone Disease Association or for Macmillan Cancer Support.

And wouldn’t you know it, a dear friend of mine nominated me through Facebook to complete the Macmillan Ice Bucket Challenge.. but I didn’t do it.  I wimped out.

Instead of doing the actual challenge and posting yet another video of someone pouring water over their head, I sent a donation to the charity and posted on Facebook asking for others to complete the challenge on my behalf.

Ice bucket donationAnd surprise surprise, I totally got the piss taken out of me by a couple friends for not doing the challenge, although they did commend me for still sending a donation.

I could come up with all sorts of excuses why I didn’t do it – I’ve had a bit of a sore throat past couple of days, it was too chilly outside, I didn’t have anyone to film it for me, and so forth.

But to be honest, I just didn’t want to do it.  To stand out in my garden and pour a bucket of ice water over my head while filming it for others to laugh at.  It just seemed a lot of silliness to add another video to the already massive number on the internet.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the whole premise behind the challenge (regardless of which charity it’s being done for) is terrific and a fun way to raise awareness for these diseases, and to further educate those who are unaware of what they are.

But for me, I felt I could do more than just pour ice water over my head.  Like write a blog post about it all to help promote the different charities, and to ask those who can to give to either of them.  As well as the donation I did send in myself.

Doing the challenge is great and all, but I think some of the videos out there are just people following along with this summer’s ‘trend’.  I’ve seen many videos online where people don’t even mention the charity, why they’re doing it, or whether they’ve made a donation themselves. And that’s not helping the charities at all, but instead just giving people a funny video to laugh at.

Of course, it’s the end result that matters most – increasing each charity’s funds so they can do more research and work towards prevention of the diseases.  And by talking about it to get more information out there we can help even more than just pouring water over our heads.

And in the end, isn’t that the most important thing?

Click the links below to find out more about each of the charities, the work they’re doing and the challenges themselves.  Please give if you can.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – http://www.alsa.org/fight-als/ice-bucket-challenge.html

Macmillan Ice Bucket Challenge (UK) – http://www.macmillan.org.uk/ice-nominate.html

As well watch the below video to see what sufferers of ALS go through.  It’s an emotional and beautifully made video once you get past the super funny part at the beginning.

It’s the only ALS Ice Bucket video you really need to watch.

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Ultra Nate – Automatic (Original Uncensored)

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I absolutely love how naughty this music video is.. without really showing anything.  Well, sort of.  LOL

ultra_nate_artist_photo7The gorgeous and supremely talented Ultra Naté remade this Pointer Sisters song back in 2007, but could have easily been released today.  It’s got great beats, a catchy chorus, and yes.. lots of eye candy for men and women of either persuasion.  😉

I’ve been a fan of this singer (and DJ) for years, mostly after she released the Pride anthem ‘Free’ way back in 1997.  I recall one year, way back in the day, heading to Toronto for Pride weekend with friends, and us playing this song repeatedly on the drive there.

She was also one of the singers featured in the supergroup Stars on 54 put together to record the songIf You Could Read My Mind” for the soundtrack of the 1998 film, 54.

Then several years later in Montreal, I got to see Ultra Naté perform live during Divers-Cité (Montreal’s Pride festival in August) at one of the big clubs at the time.  The place was absolutely packed and the crowd was practically pulsating throughout her set as they danced their asses off.

It was absolutely amazing.

Enjoy the video, and Happy Gay Pride month to everyone around the world. x

IDAHOT – International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

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May 17th is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, a day aimed to coordinate international events that raise awareness of LGBT rights violations and stimulate interest in LGBT rights work worldwide.

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The date of May 17 was chosen to commemorate the decision to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1990. (Source: Wikipedia).

Some may wonder why there’s a need for a day set aside to raise awareness of violence, discrimination, and repression of LGBT communities worldwide.

Well, if you think about, you should understand.  The fact that these acts of violence or discrimination still occur in this day and age just begs for more awareness of these issues.  Because men, women, and transsexual people around the world still face these issues on a daily basis, regardless of what county they live in.

wipe_out_homophobia_by_wipeout_homophobia-d4835i7Let’s be honest – as progressive and accepting as the world has become, it’s still not where it should be.  No person, regardless of race, sexuality, gender identity, religious beliefs, social status, etc should be made to feel less than who they really are.

This day helps promote discussion and an opportunity to take action at all levels, be it through the media, policymakers, public opinion, and wider civil society.

One of the stated goals of May 17 is to create an event that can be visible at a global level without needing to conform to a specific type of action.[11] This decentralized approach is needed due to the diversity of social, religious, cultural, and political contexts in which rights violations occur. (Source: Wikipedia)

arcade fireSo in honour of this day, I give you the below music video from group Arcade Fire.  The song, called ‘We Exist’, stars ‘The Amazing Spider-Man‘ actor Andrew Garfield in a tale of gender identity with him portraying a young person trying to come to terms with being transgender.

In the video, Garfield shaves his head, then dons a wig and women’s clothing before going to a (presumably) small town bar to socialise, only to be attacked, kicked, and beaten up for who he is.  After an interesting dance sequence featuring bearded beary men dressed similarly to Garfield, he ends up walking through the crowd at an Arcade Fire concert, then dancing on stage.

It’s terrific to see such a known young actor willing to take on such a role that completely speaks to those who go through these struggles on a daily basis, and the video as a whole gives the message that you can find inner peace by embracing who you are, both inside and out.

For more information about IDAHOT, please check out their website: dayagainsthomophobia.org

Hercules and Love Affair ft. John Grant— I Try to Talk to You

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hercules-and-love-affair1I was first introduced to Hercules and Love Affair a few years back by a good friend (who I haven’t seen in forever) when we started chatting online with each other.

Ok, so we were flirting with each other online quite regularly, and we eventually hooked up once but that’s not the point. 😉

During our chats he sent me links to this band’s videos and I absolutely loved it.  The vibe and sound of this band, described as a ‘musical project’ from New York based DJ Andy Butler, really spoke to me.  In early interviews, Butler stated his intent to release music with a rotating cast of performers and musicians (Source: Wikipedia).

Their music was cool, with a great sound and old-school vibe that made it easy to listen to and easily fit into my love of chill-out type music.  When they first debuted back in 2008, their first single “Blind” was co-written and featured guest Antony Hegarty (lead vocalist in Antony & The Johnsons, a band I was introduced to back in Montreal by a dear friend).

jessica-6That debut album also featured vocals from Nomi Ruiz, who went on to form the band Jessica 6, which I got to see with that same friend in a basement East London music venue. It was a last minute invite due to a friend of his cancelling last minute.. and technically was the first time we’d met in person.

It was a fun night full of great music and terrific company.. too bad I had to work the next morning, but it was worth the lack of sleep.

Anyway, below you’ll find their latest video for their song ‘I Try to Talk to You’, featuring vocals from John Grant who has a ‘sexy tomcat voice’.

The video for this truly stands out as it shows a couple seemingly struggling against each other through some fantastic choreography that just flows as the video goes forward.

Oh, and did I mention it’s two men?  Yeah, even more amazing to watch the interaction between the two dancers.

So enjoy, and let me know what you think of the song and the video.  🙂

It Could Happen To You

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I found this video ages ago and bookmarked it for posting but never got around to it.

It’s an emotional and sad tale about inequality when it comes to gay relationships and something tragic happens to one person, and how it affects the person who’s left behind.

Have a look.. you may need a tissue or two on hand by the end.

When Did You Choose?

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There’s always been a lot of debate whether LGBT people choose their sexuality or if it is just a natural part of themselves.

I know for me personally I’ve always felt it’s part of who I am, who I was born to be.  It’s genetics.  And most definitely wasn’t a choice.

The below video turns the table on those who consider being gay a choice, and asks them when they chose their own sexuality.

The Health of Stress

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We all have stress in our lives, and we all tend to manage it differently to both good and bad results.  stressLike most people, when I’m feeling particularly stressed, it seems my overall health tends to decline regardless of how well I’m taking care of myself.  Which is most likely due to me not wanting to actually deal with the stress that I’m feeling at the time.

For instance, I’ve been feeling stressed lately about work because I’m not in a position I would like to be, and because of that, how I’m struggling somewhat financially.  This has caused me to suffer from stress headaches all week leading to insomnia, resulting in me missing a few days of work.. which in turn makes me stress about going back to work.

It’s a vicious circle that I’m desperate to break free from.

But what if the stress we’re feeling could actually be beneficial to our lives, as well as our health?  And not just beneficial to ourselves, but to those around us?

Apparently, it’s not stress that’s making us sicker, it’s stressing out about stress being stressful that’s actually the problem.

That’s the main message given by health psychologist Kelly McGoinigal in a talk she gave for Ted.com back in June 2013 on how to make stress our friend (clip is at bottom of page).

Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.

It’s definitely a different way of looking on how we all deal with stress in our lives, as most of us (myself included) tend to shut down and agonize over how we’re going to get through this particular bad patch in our lives, instead of looking for a way through it.

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But it’s also about making sure when you’re feeling particularly stressed that you’re reaching out to those around you to talk about what’s making you feel stressed.  We’ve all heard the stories of people who’ve been super stressed out and because they haven’t wanted to ‘bother’ anyone else with their problems, they’ve gotten sick or had heart problems (ie: a heart attack).

By ensuring you are reaching out to others to discuss the problems you’re going through, it allows you to relieve a lot of that stress you’re feeling.  But as well, by reaching out and being there for someone who’s feeling stressed, it also allows you help reduce stress in your own lives.

stress_weightgainIt seems like such a simple concept when you think on it, but yet not a lot of us implement it into our own lives.

Instead we all talk about planning some holiday or taking some time off work to ‘unwind’, or even focusing so much on getting to the weekend so they can ‘de-stress’.  Basically, we’re all so busy looking for better ways to relax that we’re not focusing on relieving the stress itself.

As Ms McGonigal says in her talk, “When you change your mind about stress, you can change your body’s response to stress.”

So take a few moments to watch the below clip and see how looking at stress differently could change your own lives, and hopefully help improve your health in the long run.

I know I’ll be trying my best to look at things differently from now on.

Note: For anyone interested in the transcripts of this talk, they can be found HERE.

Moloko – Familiar Feeling

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On a recent Saturday evening I was over at a mate’s place for dinner and a bit of wine.  Ok … it was a couple bottles of wine. 😉20140119-192708.jpg

While waiting to make some yummy pesto chicken and mushroom pasta, we were going through some music on the computer and YouTube videos when my mate suggested we listen to Moloko.

Personally I didn’t recognise the name but as soon as I heard some of their songs I realised I already had several of their songs on my iPod, mostly due to compilation CDs.

Anyway, just thought I’d share some great music.  Enjoy 😀

 

Hunky Santas: The Holiday Card

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Now here’s a bit of different type of holiday cheer … courtesy of a sexy Christmas video from underwear designer Andrew Christian.AndrewChristian-Mar2009-0248

Andrew Christian is an American men’s underwear, swimwear, and sportswear manufacturer founded by designer Andrew Christian. The brand is best known for its underwear, which include street, sport and fashion lines, available in various styles.  (Source: Wikipedia)

Of course they are also now known for their advertising videos, per the one below, and for their sexy models.  As well as the fact that the company heavily targets the gay community, with the brand operating gay-themed websites.

I was sent this video from a mate yesterday as a ‘Christmas’ present… was definitely a nice way to spread a little extra sexy holiday cheer.  There’s definitely a bit of eye-candy for pretty much anyone in this video.

Click HERE to see more Andrew Christian videos

Enjoy 😉

I Hope – Rebecca Ferguson

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I can honestly say that Rebecca Ferguson‘s debut album ‘Heaven’ has the distinction of being the only album I’ve purchased from an X-Factor finalist (click HERE for past post).  And I have to say, over a year later, I’m still loving the album over and over.

rebecca-ferguson-i-hope-Freedom-album-artwork-officialNow Ms Ferguson has released her follow-up album ‘Freedom’, and while the first album was about getting past heartaches, her new album is about moving on.  And doing it with her usual velvety, smoky voice and looking glam as always in the video for her debut single, ‘I Hope’.

Now admittedly, I wasn’t so sure about this new song when I first hear it.  I thought it was too repetitive and that maybe she was over-extending how she holds her end notes… but once I heard it a few times I realised that it was because of those things that made this new song so catchy and stick in my head.  In a good way.

Initially maybe I was just hoping for more of the feel of ‘Heaven’ that made me critical of the song, but now I realise that this album is her moving past where she was emotionally and musically on her first album.

And I’m so glad she has.

I haven’t had a chance to listen to the full album as yet, but the bits I have heard I absolutely LOVE.  Her voice is more confident and stronger than ever, and she has definitely left behind that nervous quiver she had when first auditioning for X-Factor a few years ago.

I’m definitely looking forward to hearing the rest of the album in full once it’s released (December 2nd I think).. and you can get a free download of the single ‘Fake Smile’ on Amazon.co.uk as well (click HERE).

Enjoy. 😉