Author Archive

Erasure Is on Fire With “The Violet Flame”

The countdown is on and I’m getting so excited.  The new Erasure album, “The Violet Flame” comes out next week (in most of the world Monday, 9/22, and Tuesday, 9/23,  in the United States).

The Violet Flame

And, I get to see Andy Bell and Vince Clarke in concert for the first time in Chicago on October 4th!

The Violet Flame Erasure

I’ve been a huge fan since I fell in love with “Oh L’amour” in 1986.  The duo has now dazzled us with the most incredible dance music for almost three decades and their latest, their 16th studio album, is no different.

The lead single is the amazing “Elevation” and Andy has never sounded better.

Now, the dark-haired young man in the video is beautiful, but where is Andy and Vince?  I’ll get over them not being in the video because I know they’ve been busy preparing for “The Violet Flame Tour” that kicked off last weekend with shows in Miami, Orlando, and St. Petersburg, Florida.

Before we got the first listen of “Elevation” in July, our last set of new music from Erasure was “Snow Globe”, their first holiday collection, last November.  It was one of my favorite albums of 2013.

Erasure Snow Globe

Now, while it featured their unique interpretation of holiday classics and some deep, dark holiday tunes, you knew their next full length dance album would be spectacular based on “There’ll Be No Tomorrow” and “Loving Man”, which still had me playing “Snow Globe” this spring and summer!

Here’s my blog from last November about my love for Erasure and “Snow Globe”.

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/erasure-takes-us-to-the-dark-side-of-christmas-back/

Now, back to “The Violet Flame”.  While it doesn’t come out until next week, “Gay Times” and “USA Today” is giving us a sneak peek at the entire album on their website.

The album kicks off with “Dead of Night” and it gets your pulse pumping after only about a fifteen second build-up.  Andy’s voice is crisp and he’s in total control and is ready to take you on a journey.

“Elevation”, the first single is the album’s second track and that is followed by one of my favorite songs based on the first couple of listens, “Reason”.

This is from Sunday night’s show in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“Paradise”, the next to last song on the album, is another amazing, mesmerizing Erasure song.  It sounds more like a modern-day EDM or trance song stolen from the disco era.

“The Violet Flame” is a classic Erasure dance album and it will become a classic!

The Violet Flame

Even when Andy and Vince slow things down on the beautiful love song, “Be The One”, it’s almost four minutes of bliss.  As that song moves into the album’s sixth song, “Sacred”, it only takes Vince Clarke less than a minute to create another thumping dance track.

Unfortunately, outside of “Elevation”, the songs on the album are not on YouTube yet for me to feature in this blog.  But, you can check them out here today with this link.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2014/09/15/erasure-violet-flame-album-premiere/15529401/

And, don’t forget to buy the album!

With  “The Violet Flame”, I know Erasure is going to add to their hit tally back home in the U.K. and on the American dance charts.

“Elevation” debuted this week at #44 on the U.S. Billboard Dance chart and will become the group’s 23rd dance hit.  Of those, 16 of them have reached the Top Ten and two topped the charts.

Back home in the U.K., Erasure has had 32 hits with 15 of them reaching the Top Ten.

erasure3

Andy & Vince, I’m counting down the days until Chicago.  Until then, I’ll have to put “The Violet Flame” on repeat.

GRADE: A

Why Helen Reddy Will Always Remember Moline

International superstar Helen Reddy has won a Grammy, been a star on the stage and in movies, and has performed at some of the biggest venues across the world.

Back in the 1970s and the 1980s, she played shows in Iowa and Illinois.  She even performed in Davenport, Iowa.  While she may not have sung on stage in Moline, Illinois, the second largest of the Quad Cities, she’ll always remember Moline.  More on that shortly.

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I was fortunate to see Miss Helen Reddy in concert last year just outside of Chicago and I almost got to meet her.

I just finished reading her very entertaining 2006 autobiography, “The Woman I Am”.

The Woman I Am

While the book covers the highs and lows of her entertainment career, she also talks quite a bit about her love of genealogy and tracing her family’s history, her beliefs in reincarnation, and acquiring Addison’s Disease, which also affected President John F. Kennedy.  It’s a failure of the adrenal glands that will require treatment for the rest of her life.

The books traces Helen’s life from her childhood in Australia growing up in a vaudeville entertainment household, having her kidney removed as a teenager, her first marriage (also as a teenager) to an older man (33), who turned out to be an alcoholic and abusive husband.  However, one good thing came out of that failed marriage, her daughter, Traci.

And, this was all before Helen appeared on the television show, “Bandstand” in Australia and competed against 1,357 other people.

She couldn’t decide whether to perform a ballad or an uptempo song in the finale.  She lucked out and found a song, “Strangers and Lovers”, by Petula Clark that was both.  It worked because she won the contest that brought her to the United States to record a song for Mercury Records.

Unfortunately, it was the mid-1960s and women were still referred to as “girl singers” and labels were afraid to promote the careers of too many women.  Success in America, the creme de le creme of the world music market, would have to wait.

Helen sang wherever she could in the United States and Canada to make ends meet for her and her little girl, Traci, all alone and a world away from her family “down under”.  While the song would come later (in 1974) and reach #15 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, this is a perfect time for one my favorite Helen Reddy songs, “Keep on Singing”, since I mentioned the phrase “make ends meet”.

It’s included here in a medley with two other big Helen Reddy hits, “Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress)” (#3, 1973) and “Delta Dawn” (#1, 1973).

Interestingly enough, Helen now condemns the song “Leave Me Alone” as repetitive and points out that you hear the title of the song 43 times in the single.  I bet you’ll go back and listen to it now and count along. :)

On the tour last year when I saw Helen perform, she told an audience that it is “one song I will never ever sing again” and “that sort of songwriting doesn’t do much for me, but it was a hit. However, I don’t have to sing it anymore if I don’t want to, and I don’t want to.”

HelenReddy2

Although I jumped ahead of myself to work in “Keep on Singing”, we have to go back to the man who made Helen Reddy the international superstar and legend she is — that is, outside of Helen’s immense talent and charm that kept her at the top of the chart in the 1970s.

His name is Jeff Wald, a younger man who Helen met a “surprise rent party”/25th birthday celebration in New York City thrown by two of her friends to raise money for Helen to pay her rent when she was a struggling singer in the 1960s.

What’s funny is that Wald crashed the party and didn’t even pay his five dollar entry fee.  In her book, Helen never refers to him by name, just “Number Two”, meaning her second husband and manager.  And, that totally made me smile.

In 1971, in a one-off deal with Capitol Records, Helen recorded “I Believe In Music”, an Adult Contemporary hit for country singer and actor Mac Davis.  For the “b-side” of the single, “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” from the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” was chosen.  The song had been rejected by superstar Linda Ronstadt and even Helen didn’t much care for it.

Nevertheless, it was the song that radio warmed to and it reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 become Helen’s first hit in America.  In her native Australia, it hit #2.

Helen talks at length in the book about Jeff’s demons, including a long history of cocaine use.  While they were in love, it wasn’t enough with drugs and an increasing temper involved.  They would eventually divorce in the early-1980s.

It was also in the 1980s, after the divorce and her radio airplay and record sales cooled, that Helen realized how vindictive “Number Two” had been in closing doors for her in the music business and the games he played with her involving their two children.  If that wasn’t bad enough, he also swindled Helen out of most of her earnings that took her much of the two decades to recover from financially.

Helen’s last hit on the Billboard Hot 100 was the #18 smash, “You’re My World” in 1977.

Helen spent much of the next phase of her life acting on television and on stage.  She also started making plans for a life that did not involve the entertainment business and eventually became a clinical hypnotherapist.

In 2002, Helen gave a farewell concert performance in western Canada and announced in 2008 that she was done with singing and entertaining.

Lucky for us, in 2012, she made an appearance at a jazz club in San Diego, California, and did a benefit for a school outside of Los Angeles, and decided that she felt the joy of singing and performing again.

That’s how I got to see her in early 2013 outside of Chicago.

Helen Reddy Autograph

While Helen was on top of the world in 1973, there was a lot of turmoil going on in her life dragging her in many different directions.

As 1972 ended, “I Am Woman” hit #1 in the United States in December and Helen gave birth to her second child, Jordan.

In May 1973, after becoming the first Australian to score a number one song in America, she won a Grammy Award – another first for an Australian.  Helen got people talking at the Nashville, Tennessee, ceremony when she closed her acceptance speech with, “I want to thank God because She makes everything possible.”

And, that summer, she had a successful variety television show on NBC thanks to her good friend, comedian Flip Wilson.

But, things then turned dark for Helen as her mother died in July and she traveled the 9,000 miles to Melbourne for the funeral only to have her father die ten weeks later.

Helen was raised to know that “the show must go on” and she continued to tour around the funerals.

At this point, I bet you thought I had forgotten about the Quad Cities’ connection and why Helen would always remember Moline, Illinois, where I’ve lived for the past nine years.

Just around her 32nd birthday in late October 1973, she and her band were heading back to California after playing a show in Philadelphia on a leased private jet.  It encountered an intense thunderstorm in the Midwest and the plane started going down.

Helen says they were losing altitude so fast that it felt like they “hit a brick wall” and that “interior paneling started to snap out of its moorings” and cabin baggage was flying through the aircraft.

Moline from the air

The pilots were able to get out of the storm’s downdraft and they regained control of the plane and they made an emergency landing at “a little airfield”, as Helen called it.

That “little airfield” ended up being in Moline, Illinois!  And, that, my friends, is why Helen will never forget Moline!

HelenReddy Airport 1975

Interestingly enough, one year later Helen would star as a nun in the box office blockbuster disaster flick, “Airport 1975″, which you know almost crashed!  But, she got to sing an original song of hers, “Best Friend”, in the movie.

By now, you can tell that I absolutely love Helen Reddy.

I’ve blogged several times about her and if this is the first time you’ve had a chance to check out blog or you missed the others, check out these two entries.

This one is more about Helen Reddy and my discovering her as a little boy.

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/helen-heres-to-many-more-happy-birthdays/

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And, this one is about her shaping me to be an advocate for equality.

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/helen-reddy-thank-you-for-making-me-the-advocate-i-am-now/

Helen was always and is still an advocate for women, gay men, and equal treatment for all.  In the book, she covers the AIDS epidemic and homophobia.

Helen, thank you for the memories and for all that you’ve done for us.

Anthony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Random Friday Thoughts — August 29, 2014

Happy Friday and surprise as I’ve put together some random thoughts to kick off the weekend!  I hope it’s a good one.

BIRTHDAY TRIP IS STILL ON

My 50th birthday vacation and celebration is now just six weeks away and it’s still on.

In case you didn’t read my blog from last Friday, the conflict between Israel and Palestine has us, at least, reconsidering that leg of the trip.

Tel Aviv Mediterranean Sea

Here’s that blog that talks about both continents that we plan on visiting.

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/50th-birthday-plans-revealed/

THE LATE GREAT, GRACEFUL ARTHUR ASHE

Since I’ve been walking on the treadmill so much this year to prepare me for my fall trips, I’ve read many books.

I just finished “Days of Grace” by tennis great Arthur Ashe, who won three Grand Slam tournaments:  the U.S. Open in 1968, the Australian Open in 1970, and Wimbledon in 1975 against Jimmy Connors.

Arthur Ashe - Days of Grace

In this book, Ashe not only talked about his tennis achievements and disappointments, but also about growing up in a very segregated Richmond, Virginia, in the 1950s.

Even as he became a tennis professional playing in tournaments around the world, Ashe still faced obstacles.  If not facing blatant racism, there were those including his friend, fellow tennis legend Billie Jean King, that expected him to react differently to certain situations and she teased him.

She once said, “I’m blacker than Arthur“.  Ashe responded to that in the book with “I suppose she meant that I was not impulsive or explosive enough.  Maybe I should have called her a name, or slapped her around a little, and thus demonstrated my ‘blackness.’  Unfortunately, I don’t call people names, and I have never slapped anybody in my life.  Besides, she might slap me back.”

In the book that was co-written by Arnold Rampersad, Ashe talked at length about the heart attack in July 1979 and the quadruple bypass five months later that ended his tennis playing career.  Another heart surgery in 1983 to correct the first bypass would change his life forever.

Ashe needed a blood transfusion after that surgery that infected him with HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS.  However, it wasn’t until he had paralysis in his hand in late 1988 that doctors discovered that not only had he been infected with HIV, but that he had developed AIDS.

HIV AIDS

He talked a lot in the book about the the moral and religious aspects of sexuality.

“I want them to be familiar with the teachings of the Bible and with other religious doctrines.  Because of AIDS, however, I am equally committed to the policy of giving condoms, as well as the bare, unvarnished factors about sex and AIDS, to students.  I want adolescents caught up for the first time in the sizzling heat of sex to know scientifically about the penis, the vagina, and the rectum; about blood, sperm, and mucous membranes; about pregnancy, viruses, and the fatality of HIV.  In the midst of an epidemic that will only grow worse, I have no time for evasions and euphemisms or other timidly genteel deceptions in teaching young people who are either sexually active or on the brink of becoming so.”

Ashe died on February 6, 1993, at the age of 49, just a week after he finished writing his part of “Days of Grace”.

THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY

I’ve only been to the movies twice this year.

Back in January, I saw “August: Osage County” and I loved it.  Since then, there have been a couple of movies that grabbed my attention (“Godzilla” is one of them), but it didn’t make me go.

Once I saw the trailer to “The  Hundred-Foot Journey”, I knew I would be there on opening day.  If you love food porn, this is the movie for you.

Oscar winner Helen Mirren stars as Madam Mallory, the owner of a Michelin-star restaurant in the South of France.  Her life is turned upside down when an Indian family moves in across the street from her and opens a restaurant serving authentic Indian food.

Madam Mallory does whatever she can to make sure the new venture fails.  Even so, she’s captivated by the charm and the cooking expertise of young Hassan, played by the charismatic and beautiful Manish Dayal.

You figure out early on how the movie will play out, but it’s still a great journey.

The movie, brought to us by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, has grossed $33.7 million.

GRADE:  A-

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RAY!

Ray turned 49 again (51 in reality) this week.

Ray BD

He chose Mexican for his birthday dinner at Los Agaves, a newer restaurant, on Avenue of the Cities in Moline.

While the food and the service were less than stellar compared to the chain’s other restaurant on John Deere Road, he enjoyed it.

Here’s to 50 more birthdays Ray!

DIVERGENT

After seeing the first two “The Hunger Games” movies, I’m no longer interested in seeing the final two movies in the franchise.  The reason, “Divergent”!

This futuristic dystopian science fiction film takes place in Chicago where people are divided into distinct factions based on human virtues:  Abnegation the selfless, Amity the peaceful, Candor the honest, Dauntless the brave, and Erudite the intelligent.

Each person takes a serum-based aptitude test to best place them into one of the factions.  Those that exhibit several factions are called “divergent” and are seen as a threat to social order.

Shailene Woodley plays Beatrice, a young woman who chooses Dauntless, much to the chagrin of her parents (played by Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn), even though she’s really “divergent”.

She is trained by the very sexy, smoldering, and tattooed Four, played by Theo James.

She must keep the fact that she’s “divergent” from the icy Jeanine, the leader of Erudite, played with perfection by Oscar-winner Kate Winslet.

The movie made $275 million dollars in theaters and the sequel “Insurgent” arrives in March 2015.  That will be followed by two more sequels in 2016 and 2017.

AMY GRANT REMIXED!

Amy Grant is sitting at #4 on the Billboard Dance chart this week with a song she first charted back in 1991.

Since her first Christian hit in 1977, Amy Grant has hit the top of that chart 16 times and she’s also crossed over to the pop chart.

Amy has a total of ten Top 40 hits of the Billboard Hot 100, including five from her 1991 album, “Heart in Motion”, that sold more than five million copies in the U.S.

Of those pop hits, two have topped the Hot 100, “The Next Time I Fall”, a duet with Peter Cetera in 1986, and a solo hit, “Baby Baby”, for two weeks in the spring of 1991.

Amy Grant

Her new album is called “In Motion: The Remixes” and it features remixes of some of her biggest hits by some of today’s hottest DJs, including Chris Cox, Tony Moran, Moto Blanco, Ralph Rosario, and Hex Hector.

“Baby Baby”, remixed by Dave Aude, moves up to #4 on the Billboard Dance chart.

REMEMBERING LAURA BRANIGAN

This week marks the tenth anniversary of Laura Branigan’s death.

Laura Branigan was from New York and in the early-1970s, she was in a band called Meadow, but they never charted.

As a solo artist, Laura’s first four releases didn’t make an impact at radio or on the charts.  The biggest of those, “All Night With Me”, which was the first release from her debut album, “Branigan”, peaked at #69 in 1982.

However, everything changed with the second single from that album!

Laura-Branigan-Gloria

Not only did “Gloria” reach #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, it earned Laura a Grammy Award nomination for “Best Pop Vocal Performance – Female”.  However, she lost to Melissa Manchester’s “You Should Hear How She Talks About You.”

The follow-up album, “Branigan 2″, came out in the spring of 1983.  The first single, “Solitaire” hit #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it was followed by “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” (#12).

In the spring of 1984, Laura released her third album and the title track, “Self Control”, is still my favorite Laura Branigan song to this date.  It made it all the way up to #4.

In 1995, Laura released the last music video of her career for the album, “The Best of Branigan”.  It was for the remake of the Donna Summer classic, “Dim All The Lights”, in which she was partying it up with a group of drag queens. It reached #36 on the Billboard Dance chart.

She withdrew from the music business in 1994 to care for her husband, Larry, who had colon cancer.  He would succumb to the disease in the summer of 1996.

Eight years later, Laura died in her sleep on August 26, 2004, of an undiagnosed cerebral aneurysm and her ashes were scattered over Long Island Sound.

Laura, your music will always live on!

A PEPPY ANSWER TO SEXISM IN COUNTRY MUSIC

To the good ol’ boys in country music, move over for the Texas and Oklahoma duo of Maddie & Tae.

They’re currently at #17 on  the Billboard Country chart with their first hit single, “Girl In A Country Song”.

THAT’S IT

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts and have a fantastic weekend!

Anthony

 

 

50th Birthday Plans Revealed!

A milestone birthday is coming up for me in less than two months.  I’ve been living my life planning on this for almost 50 years now.

Dessie-Hollie-Anthony -- Fall 1964

My mother didn’t get that opportunity and my father barely made it.  She died at 47 (in 1990) and he passed away at 55 (in 1987).

So, what’s a few wrinkles and a head full of gray hair?  I never had a six-pack stomach, so as I get old/older, I don’t have to worry about losing that.  And, I can’t be all that disappointed that I have to work a little harder to keep the slowing metabolism in check.

AP 1st Birthday

While I definitely love cake, even that boring white cake for my first birthday in 1965 (Happy Birthday Crystal!), there’s a chance that I won’t have a cake this year — unless I have it early or late.

Since you only turn 50 once, Ray and I decided to make both of  our “nifty fifty” birthdays memorable.  Last year, he celebrated with a Danube River cruise that allowed us to spend a day in Zurich, Switzerland, and to visit Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, and Germany.

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Since then, we’ve been saving our pennies (okay, mostly dollars) to make another international trip to celebrate my 50th.

However, the second part of that trip may now be in jeopardy due to missiles, bombs, bullets and bloodshed.  While we’re not changing the itinerary just yet, a back-up plan is being considered.   More on that shortly.

When we started planning the trip, it was going to be an overnight flight from the United States to the Mediterranean destination of my dreams with a plane transfer and four hours of sit-time in Paris, France.

Dreams of wine, cheese, and pastries began filling my head.

Pastries

At that point, we decided instead of spending seven nights on the Mediterranean Sea, we could spend three nights in Paris and hit two continents!

Picnic

So, now I plan on spending my birthday sitting in a park having a picnic of wine, cheese, fruit, bread, and pastries in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower — rain or shine!

eiffel-tower-at-night-with-moon

While Ray and I each paid for the trip, I already know what my birthday present is from him — a Sunday evening that includes a three-course dinner cruise on the Seine River, a one-hour visit to second floor of the Eiffel Tower to look out over Paris, and an evening at the world-renowned Moulin Rouge!!!

Now, about my original 50th birthday destination spot before Paris crashed the party!  I’ve always wanted to visit Tel Aviv, Israel, the fifth most visited city in the Middle East on the beautiful Mediterranean Sea.

Tel Aviv Mediterranean Sea

Tel Aviv is known for its dynamic atmosphere and famous 24-hour culture earning it the nickname, “party capital”.

It’s also known as “The City That Never Sleeps”, “The Bubble”, and “The White City” (for the more than 4,000 buildings built-in a unique style from 1930s German-Jewish architects and, yes, the buildings are white!).

Tel Aviv

Since Tel Aviv is Israel’s financial capital and is compared to New York City, it’s also nicknamed “The Big Orange”, because of the famous Jaffe (now a part of Tel Aviv) orange — a very sweet, almost seedless fruit similar to the Valencia orange.

We booked this trip back in January, but once the Israel-Gaza conflict started back in early July, which has led to bombings and missile strikes that have claimed more than 2,000 lives, mostly in Gaza, we thought about choosing another destination.

However, Tel Aviv is still the safest city in Israel and we’re still going.

So, that is how I plan on spending the last days of my 40s and the first few days of my 50s.

In the words of French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement, Victor Hugo, “forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age”.

Anthony

One (Culinary) Reason To Visit Branson

A couple of weeks ago, we took a little road trip seven hours away from the Quad Cities to spend a few days in Branson, Missouri, in the Ozarks.

This time, it wasn’t just the two of us.  We took Gretel and her best friend, Zoe, along with us.  Let’s just say it was an interesting time hanging out with two thirteen-year-old girls!

While definitely a tourist trap, it was beautiful with all the trees.  We took advantage of nature and the nice weather and took the girls hiking in the Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area for a few hours.

Hiking

On Friday evening, we enjoyed a dinner cruise on the Showboat Branson Belle. 

The show, featuring a comedian/magician, music, and aerial stunts with complete with fiddle playing, was fantastic. 

The only down side was that between the show and dinner, we didn’t get to enjoy the deck during much of the cruise.  It may have been that we went on the 8 p.m. cruise and it was dark, so the show may have been longer since you couldn’t see as much outdoors as you could during the day?

On Saturday, we visited the Silver Dollar City theme park and I took my first real roller coaster ride with Zoe on the “Wildfire”!

Anthony Roller Coaster

At 120 feet high and a top speed of 66 miles-per-hour, the “Wildfire” is the tallest and second fastest ride at Silver Dollar City.  It covers more than three thousand feet of track and features five upside down turns and loops!

Roller Coaster

The thrilling ride only lasted what seemed like a minute or so, but seeing the Ozarks from that vantage point and knowing that I could die at any moment made the ride more exhilarating and incredible.

I wanted to do it again with Ray, but we decided against having both adults on the thrilling, life-defying ride.  So, he rode it with Zoe, who was more than willing to take another spin on it!

That evening, we bought snacks at a fun grocery store, Price Chopper, and sat by the pool, drank wine, and played Marco Polo with some other hotel visitors from Oklahoma and Chicago.

Now, on to one of my favorite topics — food.

On the drive down on the first night, we stopped outside of Branson in Ozark, Missouri, and had a southern meal at Lambert’s  Cafe, “Home of the Throwed Roll”.  Yes, grammatically incorrect, but it’s a slogan known across the South and Midwest!

Lambert's Food

The food was amazing and, luckily, no one in our party dropped any of the tossed rolls that came our way!

However, the highlight of the trip for me is something that I’d highly recommend for anyone visiting Branson.

On Sunday, as we were leaving town, we stopped at The Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks for Sunday brunch at the Dobyns Dining Room.

Keeter Center 1

From the moment we walked into the rustic building and were escorted to our seats right past the most beautiful display of homemade desserts, I knew I was in heaven.  If you know anything about me, you know how much I love desserts and I would forsake the food pyramid for sweets.

Needless to say, my first plate of food was dessert.

Dessert 1

Now, since we were with two impressionable teenagers, I wanted to set a good example.  So, I sampled only a bite or two of the dessert plate before moving on to my first plate of real food — fruit, cheese, and two different salads.

I then tried a few breakfast items and a couple of lunch options.

Entree Plate 2

Our server, Stephenson, a student from Haiti, was very attentive.  The culinary staff’s presentation of made-to-order waffles and omelets, numerous breakfast and lunch items, including carved meats, and a made-to-order pasta station was very elegant.  I skipped the pasta station, but Gretel says it was delicious.

After trying all that I wanted, my third plate of food focused mainly on my favorite part of the brunch (desserts withstanding).

Summer Salad

It was a refreshing and stunning summer salad with spinach, almonds, peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe, blueberries, feta cheese, and a honey-citrus dressing, if my memory serves me right.

After finishing my third helping of the summer salad, I moved on to finish my first of two dessert plates and then I sampled Ray, Gretel, and Zoe’s desserts, too.

While every dessert that I sampled was superb, my favorites were the orange-flavored baklava, caramel peanut clusters, white chocolate peanut clusters, lime cheesecake, and the pralines.

Dessert Plate 2

College of the Ozarks, just outside of Branson in Point Lookout, Missouri, provides a  “Christian education to those who are found worthy, but who are without sufficient means to obtain such training.  Instead of paying tuition, all full-time students work campus jobs to defray the cost of education”.

Maybe it is because of these principles that everyone was so warm and inviting from the moment we walked in to when we left.  They worked effortlessly to make sure our dining experience was superior.  And, it was.

Culinary Staff

I don’t recall what we were reading online when we found this place when researching Branson, but I’m glad we did.

Would I ever go back to Branson?  Probably not — unless I was going just for the brunch at The Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks!

By the way, Ray wants me to point out something.  Those are Gretel’s blue fingernails in the first picture.  Much to his chagrin, people on Facebook thought they were his when he initially posted the picture. :)

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — July 25, 2014

Happy Friday!   The weekend is here and I hope you have a great one.

While this is a condensed “Random Friday Thoughts”, it’s still something unexpected and fun to post since I’ve missed my blog.

MIDDLE EAST FIGHTING

As the fighting in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine escalates, the death toll continues to rise.  So far, roughly 760 people have died in Gaza and the Israeli death toll is around 35.

Earlier this week, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines both halted flights from the U.S. to Israel, while airlines in Germany, Italy, and France joined in prompting the European Aviation Safety Agency to issue an advisory.

“PRAY FOR PEACE”

Meanwhile, country music and entertainment superstar Reba McEntire released her first new song since 2012 asking the world to “Pray For Peace”.

Reba

Reba stated on her Facebook page, “The idea to write the song “Pray For Peace” came to me last year as I was walking on our place in Gallatin, Tn. For days I’d sing, “Pray for Peace”, over and over. It wasn’t until several months later did the other parts start to fall in place. Some, not until we got into the studio to record it.”

She adds, “It’s an act of perseverance, prayer, hope, fellowship and mostly love.”

You can see the finished video (with music) here:  http://reba.com/

MADONNA CATCHES HEAT

Also, international music icon Madonna is earning praise and a lot of flak for posting this picture on social media.

Madonna Flowers

The caption was “These flowers are like the innocent children of GAZA! Who has a right to destroy them? No One!!!! CEASE FIRE! #peaceinthemiddleeast” -Madonna.”

Responses on her Facebook page have been rather passionate.

Positive:   “She Can Support whoever she wants to… so whats the Problem? Im a Madonna’s Fan, Im Not Supporting Israel, Im not supporting Gaza, Im Just Supporting The Peace, The Children’s Life are Important, Doesn’t matter the side of they come from.

And, ” Thank you Madonna for shedding light on human rights abuses in the Middle East. Every life is precious and no child should die.

Negative: “you Madonna have no rights to say this kind of things about the children in Gaza !  These children are taught from childhood to hate us and want to kill us and destroy the people of Israel ! …  “SHAME ON YOU MADONNA !  I’m not a fan anymore!”

And, “Madonna talking about politics is a bit like George w Bush trying to point Iraq on a map before attacking it.”

Madonna Defend Human Rights

This prompted Madonna to post this follow-up an hour or so later.

Madonna Hamas

EMMY NOMINATIONS — A HIT AND TWO MISSES

Kudos to the Emmy Awards for nominating transgender actress Laverne Cox is the proper category “Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series” for her work in “Orange Is The New Black”!

Hannibal-NBC-Poster-2012

Sadly, no nominations were given to the NBC series, “Hannibal” or for any of the actors.  This is by far, the best and most intelligent show on television!  Maybe next year?

And, Emmy also snubbed “The Walking Dead” for acting awards AGAIN!  There was a lot of buzz and hope that Melissa McBride would get a nomination for her heartbreaking performance this season.

the-walking-dead-season-4-emmy-ad

McBride did win the “Saturn Award” this year and is nominated for the “Gold Derby TV Award” for Best Supporting Actress.

ERASURE IS BACK!

My favorite English band, Erasure, is gearing up for the release of their latest album, “The Violet Flame” in September.

The first single, “Elevation”, just came out and it’s incredible.  Andy Bell sounds amazing and it’s a fresh new sound for the every changing electronic duo.

I can’t wait to see them in concert in Chicago on October 4th.

If you’re not all that familiar with Erasure or you want to know just how much I love their music, check out this blog from June.

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/my-fall-just-got-more-exciting-with-erasure/

GOP HAS A NEW FRONT RUNNER?

The “crazy train” may have derailed in 2012, but it may be back on the tracks for the 2016 presidential race.

Bachmann

Michele Bachmann tells RealClearPolitics, “there’s a chance I could run.”

REMEMBERING TAMMY FAYE

It was seven years ago last weekend that televangelist Tammy Faye (Bakker) Messner died after an 11-year battle with cancer.

tammy-faye book

I just finished her book and it made me look at her in a new light.

If you missed my blog about her, the book, her life, and her thoughts, here’s the link:

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/remembering-tammy-faye/

CANCER SURVIVOR INSPIRES ME

Cancer is scary and we all know or love someone that has been touched by it.

I have and I’ve already had three cancer scares.  I just read the most incredible and the best book ever about a Chicago chef that faced his biggest fear, tongue cancer — something that could have either killed him or ended his career.

Life+On+the+Line

Check out Grant Achatz’s amazing story in this blog.

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/chicago-chefs-courageous-fight-makes-me-fear-cancer-less/

STILL LOVE THIS CRAZY SONG

The Chainsmokers are an American DJ duo that have remixed songs for The Killers, Icona Pop, and Ellie Goulding.

Their first radio hit in America, #SELFIE, reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Top Ten on the Billboard Dance chart.

It also reached #1 in Finland, #2 in Sweden, and #3 in Australia and Norway.

VIDEO MAY BE APPROPRIATE FOR EVERYONE!

The video has been viewed more than 181 million times on YouTube.  Now, go take a selfie!

THAT’S IT

So there’s your surprise “Random Friday Thoughts”.  Have a great weekend!

Anthony

 

Remembering Tammy Faye

Her make-up and appearance was mocked and ridiculed on talk shows and in comedy routines across America.  It hurt her feelings.

Tammy Faye 2

She and her ex-husband, televangelist Jim Bakker brought fame and fortune to a struggling religious snake named Pat Robertson and then they went on to build one of the biggest religious television empires with the PTL Club.

Jim and Tammy Faye

Then, they were disgraced by Jim’s one-time sexual encounter with an unstable, religious groupie named Jessica Hahn.  That and the $279,000 that Hahn was paid to keep it silent went public in the late-1980s.  That scandal was quickly followed by fraud indictments and a conviction that landed Jim Bakker in prison.

Through all of the physical appearance mockery, the pain of building and losing their televangelist empires, losing all their money, Bakker going to prison, and ultimately, the crumbling of their marriage and then divorce, Tammy Faye (Bakker) Messner remained strong.

However, after an 11-year-battle with colon cancer, Tammy Faye lost the fight seven years ago today, July 20, 2007.

roe_messner_2007_07_18

When she died, she only weighed 65 pounds and she had appeared on the “Larry King Live” show the night before.

I just read Tammy Faye’s book, “Telling It My Way” and it is a very touching book.

tammy-faye book

While I never made jokes about her make-up, I probably did make comments about it if the conversation came up.  However, I never really followed Tammy and Jim Bakker because I never believed in television evangelism.

I believe that people can have a loving, strong relationship with God, just as I do, without the bureaucracy of church and organized religion.

After reading Tammy’s book, I sincerely believe that she loved God and was always faithful to his teachings.

I believe that there were a lot of unsavory financial dealings in the PTL Club and Jim Bakker’s Christian theme park, water park, and residential complex, Heritage USA.

I also believe that Tammy might have known more about what was going on than she let on in the book.  However, she could have been oblivious to it, because she did come across as sweet, honest, and aloof.  And, there’s nothing wrong with the aloof part.  I know the feeling.

Check out this incredible visit to Roseanne’s show where she talked about her weight, her make-up, and her battle with cancer.

I really enjoyed the book and I’m glad that Tammy told Jim to move on with his life after he was released from prison.  He has and he now has another television venture near Branson, Missouri.

One part of the book that really touched home with me was her belief that God loves all his children, which doesn’t come across in most religious preachings here in the U.S. or around the world.

Jim  and Tammy Faye

When she made her big return to television in 1996 on the “Jim J. and Tammy Faye Show” before she was diagnosed with cancer and had to quit months later, Jim J. Bullock came out to her by telling her, “Tammy, I’m gay.  Do you find that offensive?  I know that you’re a Christian.”

In her book, she said she replied to Jim, “Jim J., when I look at people, I do not see gay or straight; all I see is the person.  And I see a person that God loves, and that His son Jesus died on the cross for.  So who am I to judge?  I do not judge anyone anymore.  I have been misjudged so many times — by people who either didn’t understand or didn’t want to understand the things that happened in my life.  I know how it hurts to be judged.  I don’t want to be a courtroom.  I want to be a hospital.”

And, with this appearance on “The RuPaul Show”, you can tell she really believes it.

Her son, Jay, is a minister in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the Revolution Church.  Like his mother, he is very accepting to the LGBT community.  If I’m ever in Minneapolis, I hope that I get chance to check out a sermon.

Tammy Faye never gave up on God, but through the worst of times, she did doubt him and asked him why.  We all have done that.

Tammy Faye, your life on Earth gave you good times and bad times. I hope you enjoy being an angel in heaven.

It would have been a pleasure to have known you.

Anthony

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