Hunk of the Day: Colin Brazeau

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This is one special Hunk of the Day, not solely for purposes of beauty and physical attraction, but in education and well-roundedness. (He plays the viola – and quite well.) Colin Brazeau is a student working on his B.A. in Communication Studies with a certificate in Classical Viola Music Performance and a focus in French Language and Literature at Northwestern University. How many of us have done even one of those things? Even more impressive is his LinkedIn profile, in which his pursuits are expounded thusly:

His overall program of research focuses on the impact that the new wave of Online Social Media has had on adolescent social behavior. More specifically he examines the changes in levels of narcissism, co-dependency, and overall self-image with increased Social Networking Site usage.

Finally, someone who’s studying something with relevance to today’s world. I can’t wait to see what his research uncovers.

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I Love Auntie Fee

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She’s crass, vulgar, messy, and downright ornery. She adds tequila to strawberry shortcake and seasons her chicken wings in the kitchen sink. She turns ‘paprika’ into a four-syllable word. She is Auntie Fee, and I absolutely adore her. As the living anti-thesis of Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey, she drops f-bombs right and left, while cussing out her put-upon camera-man if he misses a beat. I’m not sure how I came upon her series of videos, but whenever I need a quick pick-me-up, I check out a new one and laugh like an idiot at her cooking lessons. (Warning: language is NSFW, but most of this blog is NSFW.)

(Skip to 2:14 for the pap-a-rika meltdown!)

I love her spirit, and her candor, as well as her penchant for being such a potty mouth. There’s an exuberance to her cooking style that makes up for its lack of precision (or wisdom, given the fact that she seems to prefer frying above all other forms of cooking). This sense of living for the moment, and living kind of recklessly, has always fascinated me. Coming from a strict and regimented set of parents, where this sort of behavior in the kitchen would have been unthinkable, I find her to be a breath of fresh air.  She’s appeared on Jimmy Kimmel because she’s hilarious, but it’s her homemade videos that show off her own brand of charm.

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Brandon’s Broadway Booty

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Brandon Rubendall, who’s already been christened a Hunk of the Day, put on a booty-shaking butt-spectacular performance with The Skivvies a few days ago, and it would be criminal if it didn’t get spread around. See the shake-shake-shake shenanigans below. Mr. Rubendall can always be counted on to show off a breathtaking body, but when it comes backed by such vibrant vocal talent it becomes something altogether amazing.

Lest anyone think Brandon is just another Broadway Booty, here’s a final bit of proof that his gifts are more than the junk in his trunk: a heartrending rendition of ‘Being Alive.’

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30 Days Hath September

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How have we reached the last day of September? Tempus fugit indeed. (I guess all those years of Latin finally paid off, in a single blog sentence that no one under 30 is going to get.) The sigh of time. We’ll get to October tomorrow – for now, let’s bask in Septembers past.

Beginning with last year, in which September saw several musical posts. Music always seems to get a little deeper at this time of the year, slightly more somber and serious.

September 2012 was a bit eclectic. There was music, but there were sperm quotes and sexy men as well, including a follow-up battle of who had the better butt: Channing Tatum or Joe Manganiello?

Madonna, Anderson Cooper, and my naked spa experiences made up the bulk of posts from September 2011. Sorry about that last one, it just had to be done.

The same goes for September 2010.

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Hunk of the Day: Brenton Thwaites

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You know what makes me feel old? The fact that the Hunk of the Day, Brenton Thwaites, was born AFTER Madonna released ‘Like A Prayer.’ That’s a gut-wrenching check-in with Father Freaking Time. Anyway, here’s the offending youngster, frolicking on a beach sans shirt, as all handsome young guys should do. Somebody cue ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ – oh wait, she just canceled her concert again. Nevermind. We’re all getting old. One day Mr. Thwaites will be here too. Let’s hope he enjoys the ride beforehand. (By the way, did you realize that that was my very first Cher reference on this blog? Like, ever. Let it sink in.)

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Of Moose and Men and Bachelor Parties: A Recap

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What a long strange week it’s been on the blog. Life is like that sometimes, and my life seems to grow stranger by the day. Time unfolds differently here, when some entries are made weeks after the events chronicled have occurred, or other a few hours after they’ve happened. It keeps readers guessing (and makes it impossible for would-be thieves to know when I’m home, or when my retired police officer of a husband might be guarding the house in my absence.) Anyway, here’s a recap of the week:

I saw a freaking moose on the Massachusetts Turnpike. (I didn’t get pictures because I was driving.)

We said goodbye to summer, not once, but twice.

It’s only a matter of time.

The Hunks of the Day were both sexy and sweet-smelling, thanks to Ugo Monye and Joross Gamboa.

We’re still trying to determine whether this ridiculous Starbucks episode was the fault of the coffee company, or the Price Chopper in which it is housed. Whichever the case, the kinks still haven’t been ironed out.

The infamous Suzie Ko.

A new baby joins the scene, in Washington, DC (the site of this outrageous Bachelor Party.)

One more Hunk of the Day: the bodybuilder whose sexy nude videos leaked, Michael Hoffman, in all his glory.

Last but most certainly not least, Tom Daley took it off in this shameless video.

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Hunk of the Day: Michael Hoffman

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Much ado has been made over this gentleman’s recent ‘leaking’ (literally) of several racy videos. Apparently he’s a popular Instagram bodybuilder who up until now had only teased at nudity. Of course, I only heard about him when his videos hit the web and the nudity embargo was broken, so here is Hunk of the Day Michael Hoffman. Whether or not the leaking was intentional (a properly-timed sex tape can do wonders for the career) or accidental, there’s nothing much to be ashamed about with a figure like that of Mr. Hoffman. Though I won’t show you all the bits and explosions that are already out there, this should give you a indication of why he’s been so popular.

In our selfie-obsessed day and age, where exhibitionism is rampant, you can’t fault Mr. Hoffman for putting it all out there. For every exhibitionist willing to be brave, there are a hundred trolls hidden behind anonymous names and no-faces waiting to rip us to shreds. So I say to Mr. Hoffman, rock on, and rock out…

UPDATE: Michael Hoffman wants the world to know he is not gay, despite what those videos show. As is often the case, it’s so much better when they don’t speak. See below…

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A Bachelor Party Unlike Any Other

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“Are you adamantly opposed to having male strippers at your Bachelor party?” I asked my straight friend Chris, who had rather foolishly and recklessly chosen me as his Best Man.

His one-word reply was filled with typical wariness and weariness: “Yes.”

“Fine,” I huffed, “but don’t blame me if no one has a good time.”

I was deep in the planning stages for his Bachelor party, as that is apparently one of the Best Man’s duties. I knew I’d make a bad best man – the only other time I acted as one was for my brothers wedding, and we know how that marriage turned out. For Chris, it was different. He’d been clear about the fact that we were older now, and wiser, and no longer in need of strippers and boozing. Tasked with those limitations, the field for Bachelor Party play narrowed considerably. I knew I had to do something more impressive than taking him to a fancy restaurant and giving some lame toast, so I went back – way back. Two decades back, to when he first met the crew you see assembled in these photos. The original group of College Ave. kids from Cornell. I secretly invited them to surprise Chris leading up to the hours of his Bachelor’s dinner. One by one they arrived at the door, all of them showing up (some of us from as far as upstate NY), as testament to our friend.

Twenty years is a long time to maintain anything – even, and sometimes especially, friendships. Yet here we all were, a little worn and torn from two decades of living and all that it entailed: births and deaths, weddings and break-ups, reunions and distance and moves and mayhem. All of the good and all of the bad, and still this group held it together, holding onto one another for support, finding out way back no matter how much time had passed.

There was so much to say, but we didn’t need to say it. As they gathered on the steps for a reunion photo, I was transported back to the day in Ithaca when I took a similar photo. It was 1997, and the last time I’d visit them when they were in college. It was an impromptu gathering on a day that had started off rainy but cleared for a brief peek of sun. We sat on the porch steps perched on the edge of the rest of our lives, not quite realizing that we were already there, that it had already begun. That this might have been happiness.

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A Baby Grows In Washington: Meeting Simon

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It seems strange to start a recap of a Bachelor Party with a baby, but such is the way Chris began the rollicking celebration of his final moments of Bachelorhood. In fairness to the questionable execution of my duties as Best Man, I did consult with him about what he wanted out of a party considering that we were one year shy of 40, and no longer in the mood or mindset for strip clubs and bar-hopping, and he claimed to be down for a quiet night of dinner. I was up for that, and happy to make the quick flight to Washington, DC to take him out for one final night on the town before the wedding.

Before the evening began, however, I had some free time in DC, so I walked down to the White House and had Thai for lunch. Suzie was flying in early in the afternoon, and by the time I returned to the hotel she was just getting in. After a confused cab driver drove by the house, we finally found our way to Chris and Darcey’s, where we got to met baby Simon.

This is why Bachelor Parties just aren’t as important as they may have been a few years ago. Life has a way of changing, and in this case it was most decidedly for the better.

As one of my last close friends to get married, and have a child, Chris used to be my partner in crime whenever we needed to get away from the grown-up responsibilities of relationships and family and just go back to a simpler, and often crazier, time. That hasn’t changed completely, but things are different in a sweeter way. As I was reminded of when Suzie and I got to meet Simon. He didn’t come easily into the world, and he waged quite the battle to make it, but he’s here now, and he’s a gift. Better than anything I could have conjured for a wedding present.

Still, I had some surprises up my sleeve for what Chris originally thought was a night out with me alone. Our last single friend was getting hitched. Respect had to be paid. It was my duty as Best Man…

{To be continued}

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Bachelor Party Preview

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More on the wild and rambunctious Bachelor Party that I threw for my friend Chris two weeks ago in Washington, DC, but for now a photo of Suzie and myself that perfectly encapsulates one aspect of our relationship. She flew into town as part of the surprise, and this was taken as we were preparing to head out to the celebration.

Suzie’s caption for it went like this: “Alan makes the noise, I tune it out.

Mine was more accurate: “Alan gives important instructions, Suzie tunes it out.

However you want to describe it, it’s a damn good representation of the only friendship I’ve sustained since birth – and hilarious in the way that only Suzie and I can be whenever we’re together.

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Starbucks… [Sigh]

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When the barista at Starbucks gets to the point where she says, “You’re going to shoot me,” it’s a clear indication that something has gone tragically wrong with an order. Having just expounded upon last week’s incident at the Starbucks located in the nearby Price Chopper, I decided to give them another chance a week later. I guess it was too soon.

Deciding that perhaps I had been too harsh in my hasty first-world-problems as outlined in earlier posts, I decided to give the company a more devoted try, putting another $25 on my Starbucks card just last night. I got in touch with a friend at work and asked if she wanted anything, so I went into the store and ordered her drink (an iced Venti pumpkin latte) and a decaf Salted Caramel frappuccino for myself (in the hopes that the salt and caramel had arrived).

The issue this time wasn’t the ingredients, but the decaf. Apparently Starbucks doesn’t have decaf frappuccinos. Which was strange, considering all the ones I’ve ordered in the last three years. I don’t care one way or another, I’d order a simple decaf coffee, but someone in Starbucks is wrong somewhere here, and they really need to straighten that out. I then asked for an iced decaf, which they said they couldn’t do. Exasperated, but still trying to be kind, I asked what sort of decaf drink they might be able to make. A hot decaf drip was it. So I said that would work.

As they finished making the drinks, the server recited the opening lines of this post: “You’re going to shoot me.” I had just produced my newly reloaded Starbucks card and she eyed it wearily. “The register isn’t accepting Starbucks cards.”

Of course it isn’t! Why would the registers be working when the store has been open for well over a week? That would be like having iced decaf on hand at a Starbucks! I told them I didn’t have any cash, but there’s money on the card, basically waiting for them to make some sort of offer. I told them my boss would be very upset if I didn’t bring in her drink. The manager then came over and said since they had already made them I could have them for free, provided that I agree “in good faith” to come back again. (Her words.)

“Yes. Absolutely,” I said.

(As soon as they have decaf coffee and accept Starbucks cards.)

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Tom Daley’s Underwear Shoot: Caught on Video

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It’s been one hot minute since we last featured Tom Daley here, so without further ado here he is again, in a video capturing his latest calendar shoot. I always wondered where all the water went for wet shots like these – now we can see a cute little bathtub captures the excess. One can only hope they auctioned off the bathwater from a Tom Daley shoot like this – starving nations could add years to the lives of their denizens on that alone.

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When Starbucks Needs to Stand Alone

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I really want to like Starbucks. I enjoy their coffee, I respect their stance on social issues, and for the most part I appreciate the friendliness and competence of their employees. Yet certain locations in the Capital District seem hell-bent on making me hate the company. There was this incident, where I was ejected from a store because I didn’t have a Starbucks drink in hand. I forgave and forgot, but now comes another bad experience.

When I heard that a Starbucks was opening in the newly-revamped Price Chopper behind my house, I did a little happy dance. Prior to this, the closest location was on Wolf Road, and I try to avoid Wolf Road if at all possible. While the signs indicate that the new store is open and ready for business, do not be fooled. They are not ready to serve people, as evidenced when I tried to order a decaf salted caramel frappuccino. They scrambled for the “recipe” then realized they did not have the salt or the caramel for it. I asked for a decaf mocha frap at that point, which they also had to look up. I repeated that it was decaf, then averted my eyes so as to make things less uncomfortable while the drink was made, looking around at the ruckus going on in the front of the store. Loud crashes and the pounding of hammers accompanied the morning. It was not the first time I wondered at the wisdom of keeping the store open during a complete renovation.

As they brought my coffee to the register, I asked one last time if it was decaf (this sort of forgetfulness has happened in the past, and my co-workers will agree that it bodes well for no one if you get me hyped-up on caffeine) at which point the woman all but shrieked and said she’d forgotten. She handed it back to the other person to make again, and said she would ring me out while we waited. Of course, not one of the Starbucks registers was working, so we went over to the deli area to settle up.

Now, I don’t mind a snafu or two, particularly in the early-days of a just-opened store, but having had absolutely every part of this simple transaction go wrong, they clearly weren’t ready to open. I wouldn’t have bothered if I’d known what an ordeal it was going to be. And since the store renovation has been going on for over a year, a few more days to properly train employees would not have mattered. If you’re going to pretend you’re open, at least be ready for, say, a paying customer.

A friend who knows more about the company advised that I seek out free-standing stores unaffiliated or attached to other companies or locations. He may be onto something, as the incompetence I experienced at the Price Chopper-housed kiosk reeked of Price Chopper service. That particular store is notorious for dismal customer service – this is the one where the ceiling was leaking rainwater onto merchandise one night and when I told the only person I could find I was met with a shrug and indifference (and a mental note to not buy any frozen goods in that section of the store.)

I’ll try back in a couple of weeks, and keep my snarky Tweets to a minimum – Price Chopper is likely sick of reading them. In the meantime, I strongly advise that you get your Starbucks fix elsewhere.

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Hunk of the Day: Joross Gamboa

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I’d never heard the name ‘Joross’ before, so perhaps Filipino actor and model Joross Gamboa can put it on the map. (It sounds a bit like something out of a Superman film, but I digress.) As the Hunk of the Day, Mr. Gamboa represents all sorts of hunky good things, and for those who like a little armpit action the featured photo is for you. (Yes you, because we know all about your quirks and peccadilloes.)

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A Blue Extension of the Season

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I have mixed feelings about plants that bloom this late in the season. Part of me is glad to see new colors and forms in the garden at this time, but another part has already given up. It’s why I only ever included a couple specimens of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy.’ By the time the show starts it’s already time for the season to be over. Focus has already shifted indoors. The rest of the surrounding area is brown with the die-down of scorched ferns and wilted hydrangeas.

Yet there are joys and thrills of opening this late in the game. For starters, there isn’t much competition. Even the annuals, which will flower until the last possible moment, are looking ragged and worn. As noted, the ferns and other foliage have all been burnt and scorched by the high season. The plants that do begin their blooming cycle now are few and far between, which makes them all the more valued. One of the most striking late-bloomers is this Caryopteris – more commonly called Bluebeard. Not only is it rare in its late-hour show, it also offers one of the closest hues to blue that is produced in the natural world.

As I said, I’ve already pretty much written off the garden by this point in the year, but blooms like this remind me that as long as the sun lingers there is life – and some of it quite colorful and gorgeous. That’s a rather pleasant reminder, and a wonderful way to see the season through to the end.

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