Random Friday Thoughts — July 3, 2020

Since it’s been a rather bizarre year so far, it probably comes as no surprise that summer is here and 2020 is already half over!

Have a safe and enjoyable Independence Day and thank you for checking out my random thoughts!

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

It’s going to be “hotter than a firecracker” * out there this holiday weekend as temperatures top out around 90° across Illinois (heat indices will be near 100°)! 

* Technically, firecrackers and sparklers can burn to more than 1800° to 3000°+, so it’s just hot!

PUT A LITTLE SPARKLE IN YOUR FOURTH!

I have another thought or two to share about the flamboyant showman.

On my first visit to Las Vegas in 1993, I didn’t get to visit the “official” Liberace Museum (thanks Dennis for your hangover! LOL).

However, I did get to see an exhibition of some of his possessions on my July 2016 trip. It was called the “Liberace Garage”!

By the way, I know I could rock those boots! 🙂

MY FAVORITE FOURTH OF JULY

My favorite Independence Day is, without a doubt, probably one of your favorites, too.

Back in 1976, the United States was celebrating its 200th birthday, its bicentennial.

As a kid, I was mesmerized with the sight of more than a dozen tall ships and tens of thousands of boats filling New York Harbor.

On my transistor radio, “Fernando” by ABBA was playing.  It’s hard to believe that just one month later, the band would release the iconic “Dancing Queen”!

No other Fourth of July comes close for me as positively memorable!

MY LEAST FAVORITE FOURTH OF JULY

On the other hand, for the worst, none compares to the 4th of July in 2007!

I was working the morning show and on my drive in, it started pouring rain. In the three minute drive to the station, it was coming down in buckets.

As I was running toward the door, my keys flew out of my hands and went underwater in a puddle.  I got to the door and banged and banged, but no one heard it! It was 1:45 a.m.

So, I dug through my bag and found my spare car keys.  I drove to the other side of the building and, this time, one of the producers heard me knocking and opened the door.

Since I was soaked, I decided to go back home and change into a dry suit.

As torrential rains continued falling, a wall of water came crashing into the intersection. Without warning, in just seconds (real-time seconds), my car stalled and died as the water quickly came up to the door.  At the same time, three other cars met the same fate as mine.

I quickly thought about the power doors and windows! If there was a shortage, I would be locked inside!

Yes, I had a Jessica Savitch flashback moment!

For those of you that don’t know her or remember her, Savitch is/was one of my idols.  She was the weekend news anchor, the “Golden Girl” of NBC News, back in the late 1970s. 

Savitch drowned in an overturned car in a flooded ravine back in 1983!

Three intoxicated teenagers came running through the water and helped me push my car into an alley.

Soaking wet, I walked fifteen blocks to my house bare-footed in a ruined suit.

I ended up with three large blisters on the soles of my feet. Luckily, I didn’t step on anything sharp, which would have allowed bacteria in the nasty floodwaters to make me sick!

By the way, I made it back in time to get my weather graphics done and was on the air at 5 a.m.!

As a meteorologist, I’ve never encountered the force of raging water and now I know first hand just where “flash flooding” gets its name. 

It just two or three seconds, the water came out of nowhere and submerged the cars!

Remember, it only takes about six inches of flowing water to sweep a person off their feet, a foot of moving water to make a car buoyant, and only two feet of raging water to sweep a car away!

“OZARK”

“Ozark”, one of my favorite shows, will be returning for a fourth and FINAL season. 🙂 😦

Netflix announced earlier this week that final season will feature fourteen episodes instead of the usual ten.

It’ll also be divided in two parts, seven episodes each (like the final season of “Breaking Bad”).

The return date is unknown.

ANOTHER “OZARK” THOUGHT

When the 72nd Emmy Awards nominations are announced on July 28th, I have a request (or three)!

In May, I wrote that season 3 “was incredible! WOW!”, so “just go ahead and give Laura Linney, Janet McTeer, and Tom Pelphrey their Emmy Awards now!”

And, in June, I added that “I’ve loved Linney since I saw her as Mary Ann Singleton in ‘Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the Cities’ in 1994 and I feel this is her year to collect another Emmy!”

AUDITION”

Barbara Walters’ 2008 autobiography, “Audition” is incredible!

After reading it, I’m sorry for two things: that it took me this long to read it and that even at 576 pages, I wished it was longer!

In television news, Barbara is an icon and a trailblazer for women.

We all know of her famous specials and interviews, her time spent on “Today”, “20/20”, and “The View”, along with her million dollar-plus salary (back when it was unheard of for most network anchors — especially women).

However, her home life was very interesting.

Her famous father would earn several fortunes and lose them all, she had a mentally challenged older sister, and she was very open about her successes and failures in love and in her career.

I wish she had talked more about the lavish parties she hosted at her New York City penthouse. I’ve read that they are to die for!

“Audition” is a fantastic read!

“MY THOUGHTS BE BLOODY”

Another interesting book I read this spring was “My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry That Led To The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln” by Nora Titone.

The book doesn’t dwell much on the night of Lincoln’s shooting death.

It focuses on the lives of Edwin Booth (a rich, world-renowned famous actor) and his less successful younger brother, John Wilkes Booth, a failed actor and oil businessman.

It wasn’t just the inferiority complex that John Wilkes felt when it came to acting and financial stability that led to his decision to kill Lincoln.

Politics and slavery deepened the familial divide that led to John Wilkes Booth outshining both his brother and famous Shakespearean actor father’s achievements through infamy!

DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES

Daryl Hall & John Oates are still one of the few acts that I’ve never gotten to see in concert! (The other four are Kylie Minogue, Culture Club, Toni Braxton, and Vanessa Williams).

In the summer of 1980, the duo’s “Voices” was the first album I bought with my own money. Actually, it was a cassette.

In Rob Sheffield’s book “Talking to Girls About Duran Duran” (2010), he had a chapter on Daryl Hall & John Oates.

He calls the “H20” cover art, “Hall & Oates’ second-gayest album cover”.

Now, while Sheffield doesn’t mention which Daryl Hall & John Oates album had the gayest cover, I’d venture to guess it was their fourth album — the self-titled effort that included their hit “Sara Smile” (#4, 1976). 🙂

And, Sheffield shares part of an interview to “Rolling Stone” in January 1985 from Daryl Hall saying he wasn’t into John Oates in that way, “he’s not my type — too short and dark” and then he (Hall) adds, “The idea of sex with a man doesn’t turn me off…”

Wait? What?

You mean as a 15-year-old, in the summer of 1980, when they became my favorite act, I had already missed my window of opportunity with an older, experienced man? (Hall was 33-years-old!)

No, I didn’t have “daddy issues” at the time! (I still don’t!) 🙂

Here’s the entire quote: “The idea of sex with a man doesn’t turn me off, but I don’t express it. I satisfied my curiosity about that years ago. I had lots of sex between the ages of three or four and the time I was fourteen or fifteen. Strange experiences with older boys. But men don’t particularly turn me on. And, no, John and I have never been lovers. He’s not my type. Too short and dark.”

To pay tribute to this dynamic duo and their influence on my life, here are my ten favorite Daryl Hall & John Oates hits.

It’s so hard narrowing it down to ten since they charted 29 hits in the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Of those, sixteen reached the Top Ten and six topped the charts!

My ten favorites are:

#10 “Did It In a Minute” (1982) — #9 “Adult Education” (1984) — #8 “One On One” (1983) — #7 “Maneater” (1982) — #6 “Say It Isn’t So” (1983).

“OUT OF TOUCH” (#1, 1984, two weeks)

“KISS ON MY LIST” (#1, three weeks, 1981)

“I CAN’T GO FOR THAT (NO CAN DO)” (#1, one week, 1982)

“PRIVATE EYES” (#1, two weeks, 1981)

YOU MAKE MY DREAMS” (#5, 1981)

Here’s a little bit more Daryl Hall & John Oates trivia for you. BMI reports that the duo had fourteen songs to be played more than a million times on the radio!

P.S. Notice I didn’t refer to them as “Hall & Oates”? They don’t like that.

John Oates told “Esquire, “There isn’t one album that says Hall and Oates. It’s always Daryl Hall and John Oates, from the very beginning. People never note that. The idea of ‘Hall and Oates,’ this two-headed monster, this thing, is not anything we’ve ever wanted or liked.”

So there! 🙂

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — June 12, 2020

It was so nice sharing some of my “Random Friday Thoughts” last week. It was even better that it was read and well received. For those of you that took the time to check it out, thank you!

As I always say, if you disagree with me, that’s fine. Do it diplomatically!

With that being said, my first thought today may not sit well with some. Don’t take it out of context, so read it all before you comment! 🙂 And, don’t take it personally!

Have a fantastic weekend!

STIMULUS CHECKS & UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

While I’m expressing my displeasure of how misaligned the pandemic unemployment compensation program is, I’ll cut it short in light of what’s going on now in America.

There have been a couple of times in my life that I collected unemployment and let me tell you, the checks are NOT enough!

Since unemployment benefits are only a fraction of what you’d make by working, people living on unemployment alone find it hard to make ends meet.

But, now, with the pandemic unemployment compensation program, it’s become a joke and I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t tick me off!

With an additional $600 a week on top of the unemployment checks, there are people not working that are making more money than essential workers working through this pandemic!

I know people that are benefiting from this financial windfall, so please use the money wisely!

I’ve worked through this entire pandemic and it’s a little upsetting that I’m clearing less on payday than some of those out of work!

People should NOT be making more money by staying at home than they would be making if this had never happened and they were working!

If this ever happens again, the pandemic unemployment compensation program needs to regulated better! On the positive side, I’m happy taxpaying Americans got a stimulus check!

Okay, I’m off my soapbox!

“HANNIBAL” IS NOW ON NETFLIX!

There are several topics that I’ve written about extensively over the past eight years: Hillary Clinton, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Christmas, food, travel, and “Hannibal”.

What? Yes, I mean Hannibal Lecter and the NBC television series that ran for three season!

Well, after all this time, it’s now on Netflix! So, please, binge watch and see what you (and America) missed during its original run.

So, why should you watch it? Here’s what I’ve said about the show in the past:

April 3, 2013: “From the trailers, I feel that NBC is definitely pushing the envelope with the network’s standards and practices department with the gore and violence.  But, then again, this is a story about serial killers and a cannibal.  This isn’t Disney!”

April 5, 2013: (after seeing the premiere episode): ” it was incredible, gory, suspenseful, and psychologically stimulating.”

February 28, 2014: “If you didn’t catch this incredibly creepy, gory, and complex series, you’re missing out on great drama and television.” 

I’m not alone! This is what “Entertainment Weekly” wrote about the season 2 premiere. (By the way, it gave the season two finale an “A-” also!)

May 16, 2014: NBC’s ‘Hannibal’ is without a doubt one of the best shows on television. I’m so thrilled that the network has enough faith in the critically acclaimed, but severely ratings-challenged drama to renew it for a third season.”

August 14, 2015: “This was definitely one of the most intelligent, thrilling, artistically creative, and well acted shows on television. Maybe it was too intelligent!”

“THE POLITICIAN”

I loved season one of Ryan Murphy’s “The Politician” and I can’t wait to see season two, which premieres June 19, 2020, on Netflix.

Jessica Lange is mesmerizing as white trash conniver Dusty Jackson!

(Here’s the trailer to season one, so I don’t spoil anything for season two!)

And, I’ve said it before that in “another place and time”, I could see being married to star Ben Platt! 🙂

Here’s a Ben Platt extra — “The Rain” — check out that voice and those moves! 🙂

“HOLLYWOOD”

After watching season one of “The Politician”, I thoroughly enjoyed the seven episode series, “Hollywood” (also from Ryan Murphy).

It’s based on Scotty Bowers’ book, “My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars” and the documentary “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood”.

It’s a very honest and risque look into Tinseltown. It’s amazing that it was so open about “homophobia” and “racism” in Hollywood back in the heyday! (Oh hell, who am I kidding? It’s still rampant today!)

Another bold move for the series was having the mesmerizing Patti LuPone, at 71-years-old, in a lead role.

She plays the wife of a studio head that ignores her at home — in every way — so she hires a young, hot escort!

Their small talk on their first tryst definitely gets “three snaps in a z-formation”! (Quickly scroll past the LuPone GIF if you’re easily offended!)

JACK (David Corenswet): “You want an honest answer?”
AVIS (LuPone):

Now, I’m finally watching all 154 episodes of “The West Wing”!

STILL WATCHING…

I had free HULU for a week this spring, so I watched 20 of the 36 episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

Elizabeth Moss and Ann Dowd are amazing and even though he’s not a nice guy, Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) is so hot!

And, Max Minghella (Nick) is so beautiful in the f***ed up dystopian world of “Handmaid’s”!

“CHROMATICA”

If you’re ready for some fun dance (and disco) music to brighten your days with all of the unrest across the U.S. and the Covid-19 pandemic, Lady Gaga’s new “Chromatica” fits the bill!

My favorite songs on the album are “Free Woman”, “Fun Tonight”, and “911” (makes me think of Murray Head’s “One Night in Bangkok”)!

My other favorites are “Alice”, “Sour Candy” (with the South Korean group Blackpink) and “1000 Doves” — in addition to the first two hits, “Stupid Love” (#5) and “Rain On Me” (#1) with Ariana Grande.

And, I hate to admit that the duet with Elton John doesn’t do much for me, which is shocking since I love both artists! (It was a good song until the last 15 seconds — epic fail to an otherwise decent song!)

Please tell me that when “Enigma” comes on that it sounds like she’s saying “I’ll be your enema” instead of “enigma” if you’re not really paying attention! Maybe it’s just me. 🙂

GRADE: B

However, if the album only consisted of the first ten songs, I’d give it an “A”. But. the last part of the CD brings the grade down!

LADY GAGA JOINS AN ELITE GROUP OF WOMEN

With “Chromatica” debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, it becomes her sixth chart topper!

This places her in a five-way tie for fourth place among women with Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, and Taylor Swift.

Janet Jackson is in third place with seven #1 albums, Madonna is second with nine, and the leader is Barbra Streisand with eleven!!!

Jay-Z leads men with 14 chart toppers and the Beatles lead all artists with 19 #1 albums.

HAPPY 10TH BIRTHDAY “LOVERS”

One of my favorite Kylie Minogue songs turns 10 years old this week. It’s definitely one of the sexiest, button-pushing videos ever!

Due to its erotic nature, the video was banned or censored in many Asian countries including Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia!

Kylie says, “I think, yes, it’s sexy but I also think it’s very touching and sensual and the message is love.”

While the song reached the Top 5 in many countries, it only hit #1 on one chart — the American Dance Club Songs chart! Go U.S.A. deviates! 🙂

The video has been viewed more than 24 million times! 🙂

ALSO READ…

Three books I’ve read this spring on my walks around Lake Decatur are 2004’s “Chasing The Devil: My Twenty-Year Quest to Capture the Green River Killer” by David Reichert.

It covers the notorious serial killer that targeted young prostitutes in the Pacific Northwest.

Also, there was 2009’s “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” by Seth Grahame-Smith — a parody novel/mash-up of Jane Austen’s 1813 classic, “Pride and Prejudice”.

My favorite line in the book was from an annoying character that I prayed would be devoured by zombies! No such luck! 😦

I know of nobody that is coming, I am sure, unless Charlotte Lucas should happen to call in – and I am sure my dinners are good enough for her, since she is an unmarried woman of seven-and-twenty, and as such should expect little more than a crust of bread washed down with a cup of loneliness.”

So catty! Meow!

And, I read “Julie & Julia” (2005) by Julie Powell, which is based on real life.

Many of you know of this book from the 2009 movie starring Oscar Best Actress nominee Meryl Streep as Julia Child and Amy Adams as Julie Powell.

“TALKING TO GIRLS ABOUT DURAN DURAN”

I also finished Rob Sheffield’s humorous look of growing up in the 1980s and how the music ( “best.music.ever” — my description of the 1980s) shaped his life.

DURAN DURAN

Since the book is more about the music and the decade rather than Duran Duran, here are a couple of pictures I took when I saw them on the “Paper Gods Tour” in Las Vegas in 2016.

Here’s a snippet of my 4th favorite Duran Duran song, “The Wild Boys”, live from that concert!

And, here are my three favorite Duran Duran songs!

“HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF

“THE REFLEX”

“IS THERE SOMETHING I SHOULD KNOW?

DURANNIES, YOUR FAVORITE?

Let’s hope this doesn’t start World War 3, but who was/is your favorite?

For me, it’s Roger Taylor!

He’s followed by Simon, John, and Nick. Sorry, Andy!

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — June 5, 2020

It’s been a couple of months since I last shared some “Random Friday Thoughts”!

I’ve been busy with the move, transitioning into a new job and schedule, and just walking, reading, and binge watching television.

As always, if you disagree with me, do it diplomatically!

While I always say that, I’m stressing it today because of recent events across the country!

VIOLENCE AND RACISM

If the unprecedented COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic isn’t enough to depress America, the outward racism and violence across the country is pathetically sad!

Here are my thoughts in a tweet last Sunday. Let me clear: protests SHOULD BE peaceful ☮️ and looters and rioters SHOULD BE ARRESTED!

There is a difference between protesting and being a criminal!

And, he’s worried about being fact-checked on Twitter?

NO “GLEE” FOR LEA MICHELE

The word “glee” means “great delight”, but when it comes to “Glee” star Lea Michele, it’s more of nightmare.

Well, I guess she is more of a nightmare!

On May 29th, Michele tweeted about the death of George Floyd.

Lea

This opened the gates of hell for her.  

A guest actor from the “Glee” series called Michele out for her rude behavior to her when she was on the show.  Then many other guests and co-stars came out to share their horror stories!

While her “Glee” co-star Amber Riley didn’t address the social media stir with words, this GIF pretty much says it all!

Ouch!

Glee Rachel Slushie

COVID-19 — YESTERDAY’S NEWS???

My friends, please be vigilant and be safe!

The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has now topped 1.9 million and the death toll has surpassed 109-thousand!

With the murder of George Floyd and the unruly riots that are burning U.S. cities, Coronavirus has taken the backseat on television news coverage.

But, as America reopens, please be sanitary and keep yourself (and me and my family) as healthy as possible so we can move on to the “new normal”!

ON A LIGHTER NOTE — COVID-19 RELATED

HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

While there won’t be amazing parades with music divas performing and scantily clad men and women, the LGBTQ community is still proud!

This is still one of my favorite Pride pictures of all time when I was in Chicago!

So, in honor of pride, cheers…

And, dance like you just don’t care!

ON A SADDER NOTE OF PRIDE — THANK YOU LARRY KRAMER!

Sadly, most people don’t know Larry Kramer.

What’s even sadder is that most of the youth in the LGBTQ community today don’t know the pain and sacrifices this man went through to give them chances that many of his friends never had back in the 1980s and 1990s.

And, many people living with HIV and AIDS are alive today and owe much of it to Kramer!

Sadly, the 84-year-old advocate died in late May.

Kramer was a Hollywood screenwriter and gained fame in 1969 penning the Oscar-nominated film “Women in Love”. 

But, his fortune came four years later on the flop, “Lost Horizon”. That film gave Kramer the financial security to do something he wanted to do —  write about the gay community.

He did and his 1978 novel, “Faggots”, about the out and openly gay community of New York City in the 1970s before AIDS, was very controversial.

Middle America was shocked about the easy come and easy go world of sex and drugs and the gay community shunned him because he exposed its seedy secrets.

But, Kramer became a beacon of hope for gay men dying of AIDS in the 1980s by starting the Gay Men’s Health Crisis Center (GMHC) and ACT UP, an activist group that put the heat on politicians (most notably President Ronald Reagan, President George H.W. Bush and New York Mayor Ed Koch) to get off their asses and start fighting AIDS!

Kramer was so outspoken and blunt that he was forced out of GMHC, the group he founded!

His biggest literary success was the autobiographical Off-Broadway play, “The Normal Heart”, in the 1980s.  It played on Broadway in 2011 and was made into a hit movie by Ryan Murphy in 2014.

There’s an amazing HBO documentary called “Larry Kramer In Love & Anger” that you must see to learn more about this incredible man.

“THE CELLULOID CLOSET”

This 1981 book by Vito Russo covered the representation of the LGBTQ community in entertainment through the early years into the 1980s!

What an eye-opening read!

It’s appalling to know that gays and lesbians, when they were shown in movies in the early days of film, were only there to be made fun of, even though they weren’t even referenced as “homosexuals”.

Once movies in the 1960s and 1970s moved beyond using gays, lesbians, and cross-dressers as sight gags and to be made fun of, they became either the victims of heinous crimes or they would commit suicide because of “being that way”!

Even critics, from reputable publications like “Time”, “Newsweek”, “The New York Times”, and others perpetuated this appalling stereotype, even after gay liberation started at the beginning of the 1970s.

No wonder it took America until the 2000s to really make progress in LGBTQ rights!

Even one of my all-time favorite movies, the 1991 Oscar-winning “The Silence of the Lambs” made the serial killer a transvestite that killed to be more like a woman! 

And, it starred a lesbian, Jodie Foster, one of my favorite actresses!

The late actor Richard Burton, who played a gay character, summed it up best to gossip columnist Liz Smith talking about homophobic theater critics, “Are they even vaguely aware that some of the greatest voices in the theater belong to homosexuals? They frighten me. Because they’re supposed to be the intellectuals, and I suddenly realize that they’re the audience for this film. I have never known anyone who took great exception to homosexuals that there wasn’t something very wrong with that person himself. “

And, “Abuse” director Arthur J. Bressan was asked by the mother of a teenage boy auditioning for his movie if her son would turn out gay by acting in the film. He replied, “No, and if he plays Hamlet he won’t inherit Denmark, either!”

One final interesting note from this book: director Herbert Ross made some of the most homophobic movies to come of out of Hollywood!

He was also the director of such major films such as “Funny Lady”, “The Turning Point”, “Goodbye Girl”, and “Footloose”.

And, here’s the irony, his biggest hit was 1989’s “Steel Magnolias”, one of the gayest (non-gay) movies ever made!

come sit by me!”

TV VIEWING & BINGE WATCHING

After binge-watching 60-plus hours of television in April, I got caught up on “9-1-1”, “9-1-1: Lone Star” “Prodigal Son”, “The Good Doctor”, and “The Sinner”!

I also watched season three of “Ozark” and it was incredible! WOW!

While the nominations aren’t out yet, just go ahead and give Laura Linney, Janet McTeer, and Tom Pelphrey their Emmy Awards now!

I’ve loved Linney since I saw her as Mary Ann Singleton in “Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the Cities” in 1994 and I feel this is her year to collect another Emmy!

In May, I watched the series finales of “How To Get Away With Murder” and “Homeland”. Both were perfect!

Thank you Viola Davis, Shonda Rhimes, and Peter Nowalk for six amazing, crazy years of “Murder”!

And, Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin, these eight years of “Homeland” were so intense and rewarding!

These A+ finales join “The Americans”, “Breaking Bad”, and “Six Feet Under” as my favorites series I’ve watched from beginning to end!

Sorry “Dexter”! Loved the entire series except that finale! Really???

OTHER MAY TELEVISION BINGEING

I’m also now caught up on “Sex Education”, “Mindhunter”, “You”, and “Eastsiders”.

“Eastsiders” is a funny, touching LGBTQ series on Netflix.

Check it out since the fourth and final season was just nominated for eight Daytime Emmy Awards!

Congrats to creators Kit Williamson and John Halbach and the incredible cast! Hi Willam!

If you’ve never seen it, live a little and start with the six episode final season and you’ll be hooked and want to see it from the beginning!

The finale was so touching, beautiful, and funny!

LADY GAGA “CHROMATICA”

The sixth studio album from Lady Gaga, “Chromatica”, came out in late May.

The second single, “Rain on Me”, with Ariana Grande, debuted last week at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

It follows “Stupid Love”, which reached #5 on the Hot 100.

“JAMES CAMERON’S TITANIC”

Earlier this year, I read the 1997 picture book about the making of the “Titanic” movie.

Titanic

With text by Ed Marsh and photographs by Douglas Kirkland, it was very enlightening to see what all went into Cameron’s masterpiece.

ALSO READ…

Earlier this year, I also read “The Perfect Storm” by Sebastian Junger (1997), Tatum O’Neal’s “A Paper Life” (2004) and Dame Judi Dench’s “and furthermore” (2010).

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony

The Way to a Man’s Heart…

It’s no secret that I love food — whether it’s eating out or entertaining at home.

When it comes to entertaining, I think cheesecakes are my specialty!

Why cheesecakes specifically and not just cakes? Because just the thought of decorating a cake with frosting is a nightmare for me — I wouldn’t even attempt it for guests!

Here are some of my favorite cheesecakes I’ve made over the years!

Anthony's Cheesecakes

Once it’s safe again to eat out and socialize, I can’t wait to embark on a new beginning in a familiar state. 

Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite dining experiences (so far) and I’ll conclude with the most magical meal ever!!!

Since I’m now living in central Illinois, I’ll start off with a beautiful and tasty appetizer I had in May 2012 at Destihl in Champaign, Illinois, as I was passing through on my way to Indianapolis, Indiana.

At the time, I wrote, “Not only was it very tasty and refreshing… I was so mesmerized by the presentation.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was “Watermelon & Feta” (cubed watermelon, house olives, feta, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic glaze, and micro greens) and “Shrimp Ceviche” (shrimp, cilantro, lime, red onion, jalapeño, and avocado mousse).

The meal was so delightful that I dedicated a whole blog entry to it!

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/destihl-my-beating-heart/

But, back to the beginning! 

Growing up poor in western Kentucky, we really didn’t get to eat out much. Our Aunt Norma would occasionally treat us to burgers, chili pies, and cold mug root beer at K & N Drive-In in Mayfield.

On the rare occasions our father did take us out, there was a roadside joint just outside Mayfield called Jack’s Drive-In. Basically, it was a carry out place with some picnic tables.

While it had the best cheeseburgers, my favorite sandwich was the fried veal patty!  Who knows what it really was!!!  And, I wouldn’t eat either of them now since I don’t eat beef anymore! 

My first server job was at the Happy House Restaurant in Mayfield in the 1980s.  One of the specialties was the “House Tea”, which was very sweet tea with special touches — a combination of fruit juices!  Delicious!

They also had the best desserts (Kentucky Derby Pie was my favorite), prime rib at night on the weekends, and the Copenhagen.

It’s an open-face turkey sandwich with a spinach mayo dressing!

But, my favorite restaurant in western Kentucky is Patti’s 1880s in Grand Rivers, located in the Land Between The Lakes area.

It’s the only reason I go back to Kentucky!

They’re well-known for the amazing thick pork chops and appetizers like the beer-battered cheese sticks and the blooming onion!

Their homemade desserts are incredible — the meringue on the pies is whipped a mile high and the Sawdust Pie is just out of this world! 

Luckily, they’ve shared that recipe and I make it on special occasions!

My favorite meal ever, from a fresh, flavorful experience, was at בני-הדייג, which translates to Benny The Fisherman, right on the Mediterranean Sea, in Tel Aviv, Israel.

What you see here is the equivalent of their “starters” — fifteen of them, including the bread basket!

This was brought out as our “salad” before the entrees — and this was just for two people!

I shared my favorite restaurant (Patti’s 1880s) and my favorite meal (בני-הדייג — Benny the Fisherman).

Since I love lists, I’ll highlight a couple of other dining experiences and restaurants.

My favorite entree was in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2016, at Tavernpointe in Midtown.

It was a Sonoran Salmon (avocado soup, goat cheese-black bean cake, crema, and pico).

And, my favorite brunch or buffet is Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas!

Can you say, “Bottomless Mimosas”?

That was my brunch on my last visit in December 2019.

It was a 4.5-hour meal. I outlasted the lunch server and the evening server kept the mimosas flowing!

And, yes, I savored every bite of all four courses! I don’t waste food. 🙂

In addition to the great restaurants and meals I’ve highlighted, there was also a dinner cruise on the Seine River in Paris, France, that ended with a visit to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and a stage-side seat at the historic Moulin Rouge sipping champagne as I turned 50!

As I wrap this up, I now want to share details of the most magical dining experience in my life (so far)!!!

It was on my first solo international trip to Morocco for my birthday in 2018. Marrakesh was my favorite city I visited in this northwestern African country.

My own “Crazy” (rich?) “Asians” (Pom, Sheila, Po Po, and Izzy) made the evening and my time in Morocco so memorable and fun.  

I met these wonderful ladies at the beginning of the trip and I shared a lot of time with them — an incredible group of friends!

Our evening started off with with a horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets of Marrakesh at sunset and a jaunt through the crowded souk (an Arab marketplace or bazaar) in the Medina (the old quarter of town) on the way to dinner.

Once we were dropped off from the carriage ride, we made our way through a series of alleys that looked like a deserted, bombed out part of town!

But, at the end of the maze was the incredible and gorgeous Lotus Privilege Restaurant!

Once we stepped inside, per custom, we washed our hands with warm water from a elegant silver tea pot.  We were then handed a tasty drink and took in the spectacular scenery.

I’m not being vain here.  I just couldn’t choose which beautiful backdrop to share!

Our three-course meal started with a tasting menu of incredibly colorful and tasty Moroccan salads.

This was followed by entrees of either cockerel (chicken), veal, or fish Tagine (my pick), and three choices for dessert. 

I chose the pastilla with light cream and crushed almonds with fresh mint!

And, we were treated to live, energetic African music and an elegant, gorgeous belly dancer!

What a memorable evening!

And, while there are still many places I still want to visit (Greece, Cambodia, and Vietnam), I’d love to go back to Morocco!

As we head into the summer and life returns to the “new normal”, I can’t wait to find delicious food and fun experiences in central Illinois!

Anthony

My (Interesting) First Month in Decatur

Boy, time sure does fly by as you get older!

With the Coronavirus and COVID-19, I know many of you, are under “stay at home” protocols with state governments, working from home, or unemployed because of restaurants being closed to diners, like my sister and her family!

As for me, I’ve been working since the media is considered “essential” in this crazy time across the United States and the world.

Snowy Duluth UHaul

It seems just like yesterday that I left snow-covered Duluth, Minnesota, and moved into my new apartment in Decatur, in central Illinois.

What a whirlwind month it’s been!  I moved into my apartment on Wednesday, April 1st, and started work the next day.    I’ve already been on the air at WAND-17, the NBC-affiliate, four weeks!

Except for hanging two pieces of wall art that’s rather heavy and needs to be done by someone that know what’s they’re doing, my apartment is set up and livable.

It’ll “do” for a year and I’ll find another place here that I’ll make my forever home.  I’m tired of moving, but this apartment is not that place!

Bedroom View

However, I do love the view out my bedroom window, which gave me a front row seat of deer frolicking and playing in the shallow end of this part of Lake Decatur one afternoon.

I’ll share more pictures when I’m totally done decorating.  But, with “social distancing”, I’m not sure when that’ll be!

Interesting

PASSING THE TIME

It’s bizarre and interesting to have lived here a month and not be able to experience life in Decatur, to invite my morning co-anchors over for dinner, or to meet new people for drinks.

I know that one day I’ll get to eat out and see what central Illinois has to offer.

Until then, to pass the time, I take regular four-mile walks from my complex and through the marina around one part of Lake Decatur.

Lake Decatur

Since I walk and read at the same time, I’ve already finished four books, all by my idol, former President Jimmy Carter.

I’m currently reading “Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History” by Maureen Orth.

The book is the basis for the Emmy-winning FX series, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” with ALL of Emmy winner Darren Criss!

Criss

Criss 1

Oops, sorry for not warning you! 🙂

My connection to Cunanan and this story goes back to 1997 when it was happening and I was the weekend anchor in Lubbock, Texas.

Yes, this made it “on air” and we did get calls because of the eerie similarities! 🙂

Cunanan

Since I didn’t watch a lot of television in Duluth, I dropped cable this past January.

My new apartment complex offers “free” cable (I still pay for DVR service and internet), so I’ve been catching up on the shows I used to watch.

In April, I binge-watched 60-plus hours of television!

I watched the last season of “Homeland” (except for the series finale because Showtime and xfinity suck and aren’t making it “free” like it did for the first eleven episodes of the last season.

I’ve also watched the 2020 episodes of “How To Get Away With Murder” and “9-1-1” (the final two episodes of both series air in May — for “Murder”, it’s the series finale), along with “Prodigal Son”, “9-1-1 Lone Star”, “The Good Doctor”, and the third season of “The Sinner”!

Bad Netflix

In Duluth, for some reason, I got this message on my television while trying to watch Netflix.

What’s bizarre is that Netflix works on my television in Decatur!

Since discovering this, I’ve already binged the third season of “Ozark” and I’m almost done with the third season of “The Crown”.

Up next, seasons two of “Sex Education”, “Mindhunter”, and “You”, the first season of “The Politician”, and the fourth season of “Eastsiders”.

And, to make my bestie, Katie, happy, I can now binge-watch all 154 episodes of “The West Wing”!

Speaking of “Ozark”, season three is the best, so far!

Ozark Emmys

While nominations don’t come out until this summer, just go ahead and give Laura Linney, Janet McTeer, and Tom Pelphrey their Emmy awards now!

BACK ON THE WAGON

The last four months in Duluth were very stressful for me.

While I’ve talked about the crazy stretches of work (days and nights for several days with just a couple of hours of sleep in between),  I never mentioned and I won’t elaborate here on a police-involved harassment ordeal that forced me to “fall off the wagon”.

Over the years I’ve been very open about being a recovering food addict.

Since 1995, I’ve pretty much successfully fought the daily battle by eating healthier with a great dose of exercise.

There were a few stumbles (most recently in early 2017 when I was going through a divorce).  But, with the stress of work, being stalked and harassed, job hunting, and relocating, I took a big step backwards and my weight dropped has dropped from 163 to 138 pounds.

My new schedule not only allows me more free time each afternoon, but it gives me the opportunity to cook more and eat at a reasonable hour!

April 7 Dinner

I’m back on track, “on the wagon”, and I have one month under my belt now!!!

I don’t know what I weigh now and I don’t need to know.  All I know is that I should gain a few more pounds to be healthier again.

I owe much of that success to Kroger!  Yes, the grocery chain.  There’s one located right by work and another one a couple of miles from my apartment.

On my first visit to each, I noticed they marked down all kinds of fun produce as it approaches the “sell by” or “best by” dates.

So, now instead of binging and purging on high caloric junk to satisfy an addiction, I’m now a little O-C-D about making very regular trips to the Kroger stores in Decatur and stocking up on greens and veggies!

April 17 Dinner

(For the record, I went to three Kroger stores a total of 17 times in April!) 🙂

I’ve also treated myself to fried chicken three times and three rotisserie chickens, along with the chicken that I cook at home.

Did I mention several bottles of wine, too?

FOND MEMORIES AND MAKING NEW ONES

I’ll fondly remember my two years in Duluth.

Lake Superior was beautiful and the almost 107″ of snow my first winter there was mind-blowing.

When I left Duluth at the end of March, we had already picked up almost 90″ this past winter!

I had the pleasure to work with some fun and entertaining people at Fox 21 in Duluth (and one that I hope I never, oh, never mind)!

Fun People

And, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for my dear friends, Katie (who was my evening director at work), her mother Mary Kaye, and my neighbor, Kass.

Over the past two years, I shared many delicious meals (including Thanksgivings and Christmases) with these special ladies.

And, Kass and I regularly had “cocktail hour” at her place.  (Kass, I don’t have a drinking buddy here yet, but I did see your spiced rum at a liquor store and I smiled!) 🙂

Love Duluth Friends

While I miss my Northland Peeps, I know that when America is healthier again and it’s safe to socialize, I’ll find some dear friends and colleagues in central Illinois.

To all my friends reading this, stay safe and healthy!

And, while it’s not a “Random Friday Thoughts”, I’ll end it with my signature sign-off.

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony

 

 

Making Good on a Bad Decision

“I feel that I need to do something while I’m still healthy and still young enough to start over again because we never really know how much time we have left! 

I don’t want to be a really old man and be saddled with regrets that I could have done something about.”

Those were my thoughts in June 2019 in my “I Need to Write My ‘Next Chapter'” blog.

Capture

I really don’t have too many regrets in my life, but there’s one that’s been weighing heavily on me.

My life shattered in February 2017 when my ex and I decided to end our marriage and our eight-year relationship.

I made the irrational decision to move away from the Quad Cities rather than stay and start my life over again there.

So, after 11.5 years in Moline, Illinois, I took a job in Panama City, Florida, and moved there in May 2017.  I stayed for a year.

AP G C

I made three incredible friends, Gerard and Cathy, who started the Panama City PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chapter, and Diane, a neighbor in my apartment complex.

Also, while there, I drove through the backwoods of the South to Plains, Georgia, to meet my idol, former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

Autograph Carters

However, there was nothing else I liked about Panama City or the area.

So, in the summer of 2018, I took the Chief Meteorologist position at the Fox affiliate in Duluth, Minnesota.

It gave me a chance to work with some really great people, including zany Dan Hanger, our evening anchor, the most popular newscaster in Northland television!

After our appearance at the Superior, Wisconsin, Halloween parade, we decided to have an adult beverage and we sent our evening director Katie this little snippet of us lip syncing Taylor Swift’s “You Need To Calm Down”.

The joke is that Katie regularly has to tell Dan, “Not Today!” 🙂

And, speaking of Katie…

She and her mother, Mary Kaye, became two of my dearest friends, along with Kass, one of my neighbors.

For the past two Thanksgivings and Christmases, I feasted with Katie and Mary Kaye (and Duke, the golden retriever).  We also made it a point to have each other over for Saturday night dinners almost monthly.

Capture

As you can tell, they’re camera shy! 🙂

And, Kass regularly hosted cocktail hour at her place for the two of us to enjoy each other’s company and talk.

But, the dating scene in Duluth was dismal and my work schedule became very undesirable.  No one wants to basically work around the clock for days on end — at any age or at any point in their career!

Plus, I was still an eight-hour drive away from my sister, Tammy, in the Quad Cities.

Night Cruise

When I was in Bangkok, Thailand, in March 2019, I made the decision that when my contract was up in June 2020, I’d move to Las Vegas, give up television, and wait tables!

I wanted to start living again!

However, this winter, after a lot of thought and deliberation (with myself), I came to the conclusion that maybe it wasn’t the right time in my life.

And, then Coronavirus came along and I’m glad I didn’t pursue Vegas as “home”.

As that door closed, another one opened and a great opportunity presented itself to me out of the blue.

Now, the time has come to share some news with you — the “next chapter” is beginning soon amidst the Coronavirus pandemic! 😱

Kylie

Back in May 2017 as I was driving through Henry County, Illinois, on Interstate 74, tears streamed down my face as I left my sister, my friends, and my shattered life in the Quad Cities.

This past February, I made a covert trip back to the Quad Cities and Illinois. 🙂

And, this time, driving that same stretch of I-74 in Henry County at sunrise offered me hope and the chance to right the wrong — I was making good on a bad decision!

Henry County Illinois

“Climb That Mountain High” from Reba McEntire’s 1990 album, “Rumor Has It”, has always been a beacon of encouragement for me.

The song was an inspiration to me when I started my television news career and it’s given me hope every time I was ready to move on.

“Red sun a-rising, over the hill/I’ve had enough of this desert to last from now until… This could be the day I finally find my way out”

“How I arrived here, oh heaven only knows/Seems more like the kind of place the devil would have chose… I know somewhere down the road my dreams will come true”!

I’m heading back to the Land of Lincoln!

I accepted the morning meteorologist position at the NBC affiliate in Decatur, in central Illinois!  (It’s part of the Champaign-Decatur-Springfield television market.)

Decatur

Now, I’ll be able to see my sister in three hours, instead of setting aside a whole day to drive one way!

And, we’ll be able to spend holidays together again!

AP T

And, along with this “next chapter”, #Pug2020 is still in my plans unless the real life situation (Coronavirus, again!) delays it!

By the way, this “air freshener” was another “sign” from Bangkok last year.  It was in one of the cabs! 🙂

#Pug2020

Thailand Pug AP

MY NEXT APARTMENT

Let’s end on a lighthearted note!

When I left Kentucky, for good, in the summer of 1994 for Chicago, as my 20s were winding down, I envisioned my next apartment complex.

I had hoped it’d be like “Melrose Place” with Jake (Grant Show) as my neighbor. 🙂

Grant Amy

Okay, the “Melrose Place” before crazy Kimberly (Marcia Cross) moved in and blew the damn place up! 🙂

Melrose Place

Oops, spoiler alert!

Or, I was dreaming of 28 Barbary Lane (“Tales of the City”) with Anna Madrigal as my eccentric land lady…

28 Barbary Lane

and Mary Ann Singleton (Laura Linney) and Michael “Mouse” Tolliver as my friends!

Mary Ann

Neither has happened in all my moves, but there’s always Decatur!  LOL

Honestly, I think I’m too old for those silly dreams and dramas now!

My friends, here’s to new beginnings and a happy, healthy new future — not just for me, but for all of us!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — March 20, 2020

After a few weeks of making time to share some of my “Random Friday Thoughts”, this will be the last one for some time.

I have another blog coming soon to announce my “next chapter”.

Shhhhh

CORONAVIRUS & LAS VEGAS

When we rang in 2020, my plans were to move to Las Vegas on June 1st.  I was giving up television weather to wait tables and pursue a “life”!

2020

After much thought and deliberation (with myself), I decided that the timing wasn’t right.   And, much to my chagrin, I also don’t think a move to Vegas in this lifetime is now in the cards! 😦

Now, with the widespread impact of Coronavirus just beginning to be felt nationwide (and across the world), I know I made the right decision!

The service industry in Vegas (and many other cities) is going to decimated by this and who knows how long it’ll take to recover once Coronavirus is under control!

DOG REVENGE

This cartoon is too funny not to share — K9 revenge!!!

Dogs

By the way, the World Health Organization says, as of now, dogs can get Coronavirus, but there’s no evidence they can spread it!!!

PARENTS, TRUE OR NOT???? 🙂

Parenting

“ARMY OF THE DEAD”

Recently, I watched Zack Snyder’s “Dawn of the Dead” (2004) again.  It’s still a great addition to the zombie genre.

I was excited to learn that Netflix acquired the rights to the sequel with a $90 million budget.

“Army of the Dead” will center around a heist on a Las Vegas casino during a zombie outbreak!

Principle photography and filming is reportedly done, but a release day is not set.

Now I’m wondering if/how our real life Coronavirus outbreak will affect the release of a movie about a viral outbreak that causes the dead to become undead and walk the Earth!

If you haven’t seen Snyder’s movie, here’s the trailer.

By the way, I also watched George A. Romero’s 1968 “Night of the Living Dead” again recently and it was SO BAD!

LAST CORONAVIRUS THOUGHT

While I’m taking precautions to stay safe and healthy (and I hope you are, too), the fear of the unknown is overwhelming!

When I feature songs or music videos in my blog, you may just scroll right past them.

But, here are five that ALWAYS make me feel so happy and carefree. 🙂

If you’re not familiar with them, give them a listen!  It might help you to relax and forget about real life for a few minutes at a time! 🙂

“XANADU” — OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN  (#8, 1980)

“TARZAN BOY” — BALTIMORA (#13, 1985)

“TWO OF HEARTS” — STACEY Q (#3, 1986)

“ONLY IN MY DREAMS” — DEBBIE GIBSON (#4, 1987)

“I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY (WHO LOVES ME) — WHITNEY HOUSTON (#1, 1987)

AVOCADOS

I love avocados anyway you serve them!

I especially love making guacamole and when I add them to shrimp for a ceviche, I’m in heaven.  (Yes, I made this!)

Shrimp C

In a perfect world, I’d love to be rich and live on land where I had avocado, lemon, lime, and orange trees!  Wishful thinking!

Avocado

I was going through an old “Eating Well” magazine (March 2019) and came across these interesting tidbits.  I thought I’d share them.

  • 90% of U.S. avocados are grown in California.  There are over 5 million avocado trees in the state and and one tree can produce up to 200 avocados in one year!
  • It takes 12 to 18 months to grow a California avocado and the heaviest avocado on record weighed 5 pounds, 8 ounces!
  • Hass avocado trees bloom in the spring and a mature fruit can stay on the tree for up to a year!  They don’t ripen until they’re picked, but most are harvested from March through September.
  • Finally, the average American eats about 7.75 pounds of avocados a year.  In 1990, that number was only ONE POUND!

Happy Avocados

Way to go America!

“TRUE COMPASS”

I just read Edward Kennedy’s 2009 memoir that came out after he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in May 2008.

True Compass Ted Kennedy

Kennedy did a lot of great things in his almost 47 years as a U.S. Senator and I applaud him for that.

I enjoyed hearing his stories about his brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Senator Bobby Kennedy.

In the book, I felt he was upfront and honest about the tragic accident at Chappaquiddick that resulted in Mary Jo Kopechne’s death in the summer of 1969.

I admired his honesty about indulging too much in liquor, women, and food in his single years between marriages.

He also talked extensively about the fact that he made it a point never to address tabloid gossip, no matter how far-fetched.

Kennedy said once you do, you’ll spend more time trying to correct the misinformation.  If you start setting the record straight, then you’d look guilty in the future if you didn’t address a story, rumor, or gossip!

With that being said, I turned against Ted Kennedy in 1980 and I held a grudge against him for mounting his only presidential bid against my idol, sitting President Jimmy Carter.

CarterPres

It was bad enough that Iranian militants in Tehran were holding American hostages for over a year, but the economy was in the pits and we were dealing with an energy crisis.

Kennedy’s presidential run weakened Carter’s presidency even more since it forced the president to spend more time and effort to be the Democratic nominee for re-election.

It was time Carter could have used to fight Ronald Reagan and try to solve America’s problems and free the hostages.

Kennedy admits that he felt Carter held that against him from that point on and, personally, I don’t blame him!

“True Compass” was a fantastic read.  I’m glad I took time to learn more about the man.

Edward Kennedy died at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, on August 25, 2009.

ONE MORE EDWARD KENNEDY NOTE

I’m currently reading “The Senator: My Ten Years With Ted Kennedy” by Richard E. Burke, who became Kennedy’s Chief of Staff in the late-1970s, at the ripe age of 25!

The Senator Burke

As a freshman in college in 1971, Burke started working as a volunteer in Kennedy’s mail room.

While Burke idolized Kennedy, “The Senator” is a much more scandalous book talking about Ted Kennedy’s very active sex life (extramarital affairs), orgies, and drug use (cocaine and poppers).

I’m only halfway through the book, but I can’t imagine Senator Kennedy being too thrilled when the book came out in 1992!

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony

Vanessa Williams Still Reigns

Today, the gorgeous and talented Vanessa Williams is celebrating a birthday!

Happy Birthday Vanessa, you are and will always be Miss America!!!

I’ve had her 2012 book with her mother, Helen Williams, for years and finally got around to reading it.  And, it was incredible!  I didn’t want it to end.

It’s called “You Have No Idea:  A Famous Daughter, Her No-Nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other)”.

You Have No Idea

One of my favorite quotes from Vanessa from the book: “When I venture out, it’s with my girlfriends or my gay friends or even my priest friend.  I tease Father Edwards, ‘when I asked God for the perfect man, I should have been more specific!'”

You definitely have to check it out!

Now, I’m sure most of you know that Williams became the first black Miss America in 1983.

Vanessa-Williams-Crowned-Miss-America

Then, in the summer of 1984, innocent, artistic nude photos she’d posed for years earlier surfaced.

Sadly, on July 23, 1984, Williams relinquished her crown.

Leading up to this, I was hoping she wouldn’t give in to make it easy on the Miss America pageant and organization.

In the 1980s, there were only two pop culture events that saddened me to shed a few tears and this was one of them.  (The other was Madonna’s marriage to Sean Penn!)

MY FAVORITE VANESSA WILLIAMS SONGS

I was a huge fan of Vanessa’s music from the very beginning (in 1988) with her first single and album, “The Right Stuff”.

Vanessa-Williams---The-Right-Stuff-single-cover

So, in honor of her birthday, I’m counting down my 13 favorite Vanessa Williams songs.

Why 13?  It’s my favorite number! 🙂

13

“BETCHA NEVER”

12

“DREAMIN'”

11

“WHO WERE YOU THINKIN’ BOUT?”

10

“I’LL BE GOOD TO YOU”

9

“WORK TO DO”

8

“THE COMFORT ZONE”

#7 CD

“HAPPINESS”

6

“RUNNING BACK TO YOU”

5

“LOVE IS”

4

“FREEDOM DANCE (GET FREE!)”

#3 CD

“THE SWEETEST DAYS”

#2 MOVIE

“SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST”

Before I reveal my favorite Vanessa Williams song, I want to include two bonus tracks.

She’s released two stellar Christmas albums, “Star Bright” (1996) and “Silver & Gold” (2004).

Vanessa Williams

I’ve never gotten to see Vanessa in concert, but I’d love to see a Las Vegas residency holiday show!

Holiday Bonus

And, now my favorite Vanessa Williams song!

#1

“THE RIGHT STUFF”

Happy Birthday again Vanessa!

Here’s to many more enjoyable celebrations!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — March 13, 2020

Two weeks in a row with a new “Random Friday Thoughts”!  I hope this finds you healthy and happy!

Feel free to comment on any of my thoughts, but, as always, do it diplomatically!

MY THOUGHTS ON CORONAVIRUS

Don’t zone out from fatigue over the Coronavirus.  I’ll keep this part short!

You’re hearing a lot on the news about the virus, which is now a pandemic.

Basically the difference between a pandemic and an epidemic is that an epidemic is an illness affecting a specific region and a pandemic has global impacts!

Here is the U.S., sports seasons and playoffs are basically done, concerts are being cancelled or postponed, schools are extending spring break and going to online classes when they return, restaurants are closing, and the list goes on.

And, on Wednesday, actor Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, in Australia, announced they they tested positive for Coronavirus.

Tom Hanks Rita Wilson

Yet, there are those that are blaming the media (of course) for hyping up something that’s no worse than the flu, which kills people each year.

However, Dr. Anthony Fucci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says the Coronavirus is ten times (that’s 10 times) deadlier than the seasonal flu!

Coronavirus

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I don’t trust the government!  (I’m not just talking about the Trump administration — yet that speaks for itself!)  I’m talking about trust on a daily basis and not specifically with Coronavirus.

This mistrust of the U.S. government is a product of past administrations (Republican and Democrats) of telling us just what we “need” to know, when it deems the time is right.

Well, here’s the thing.  I think Coronavirus is a real public threat and I think we’re going to see the number of cases (and deaths) in the U.S. and Canada shoot up drastically over the next month or so.

As for me, I pray that I don’t get sick.  However, I’m doing nothing more to prevent it than I normally do in a typical day. 

I always wash my hands.  I love using hand sanitizer (even before it was chic).  I cover my mouth when I cough and I move away from people hacking like they’re coughing up a lung.

And, no I didn’t raid the store for toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and bottled water!

Watermelon Mint Vodka

However, I did buy a bottle of Smirnoff Watermelon Mint Zero Sugar Infusions vodka.  It sounded fun!  And, I do have a decent supply of wine and liquor!

I CAN’T GO ON…

You know I love buffets, especially in Las Vegas.

Hello, Wicked Spoon!  These were my four plates and truly UNLIMITED champagne and mimosas this past December from there!

Wicked Spoon

Because of Coronavirus, my life as I know it is (temporarily?) disrupted — if I was in Vegas now.

MGM Resorts (which doesn’t own Wicked Spoon) issued this statement earlier in the week:

“MGM Resorts will temporarily close buffets at ARIA, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Luxor and Excalibur, effective Sunday March 15. These changes are temporary and will be evaluated on a weekly basis.”

11 YEARS ON FACEBOOK!

It what could be called “joy” and “madness”, I found out this week that I joined Facebook more than a decade ago.

So, if you don’t follow me there, here were my thoughts on my eleventh anniversary!

Facebook Anniversary

Facebook 11

VOTING

Primaries and caucuses are taking places across the nation ahead of the 2020 presidential election in November, which I think will be Joe Biden and 45.

I love looking at polls and I trust them — for the most part.

Vote

However, I also know that polls mean nothing if people don’t get out and vote!

And, come November 3, 2020, if you want to make “that man” a one-term president (or if you support him), you have to VOTE!

“OZARK” 

Season three of one of the best shows on television is coming back later this month.

“Ozark” returns March 27th on Netflix and from the new trailer, it looks like this could be Laura Linney’s year for an Emmy win!

She was incredible in season two and I was hoping that she and Julia Garner would take home trophies.  Garner won in the Emmy’s supporting actress category.

THANKS NETFLIX!

But, before I can check out the new season of “Ozark” with the incredible Linney, season three of “The Crown”, season two of “Sex Education”, season two of “Mindhunter”, and the first season of “The Politician”, I now have to buy a new television!

Thanks a lot Netflix!

Last month, I was going to start binge-watching “The West Wing” and this is what greeted me!

Bad Netflix

On December 1, 2019, Netflix deemed my Samsung television, which I got in 2014, obsolete for its streaming service!

What a rip off!

“GASLIGHTER”

Last week, I talked about the new Lady Gaga single, “Stupid Love” (it debuted at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100), from her upcoming April 10th album, “Chromatica”.

Now, I’m excited to know what my second album that I’ll buy in 2020 will be and when.

“Gaslighter” is the new single and the title track from the Dixie Chicks’ new album that’ll drop May 1, 2020!

“Gaslighter” is actually getting country music airplay!  It debuted on the Billboard Country chart at #31 and moved to #20 in its second week!

That’s their biggest hit at country radio since “Travelin’ Soldier” hit #1 in early 2003, about the time that Natalie Maines’ comments about President George W. Bush and the Iraqi War got the Chicks banned from country radio!

Their last album, “Taking The Long Way”, came out in May 2006, and it won the Grammy Award for “Album of the Year” and “Best Country Album”.

The Dixie Chicks’ last hit song was 2006’s “Not Ready To Make Nice”, which reached #4 on the Hot 100.

It went on to win three Grammy Awards — “Record of the Year”, “Song of the Year”, and “Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals”, in 2007!

“KNIVES OUT”

If you like whodunit movies, you’ll like this mystery comedy.

The all-star cast includes Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Daniel Craig, Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer, and Don Johnson.

The first half of the movie features some very humorous scenes as the story was set up.  Collette was especially funny.

I figured out early on who was likely the killer.  From that point on, the movie started to drag.  (Oh, I was correct!).

GRADE: B

PURGING MY CD & MOVIE COLLECTION

For months now, I’ve been purging my CD and movie collection.

I started listening to CDs that I liked at one time in my life, but I’d never say, “I want to listen to <insert album title here>.  I had about one thousand CDs and now it’s down to about 425 essentials that I don’t want to part with.

With my movies, I’m watching older ones, some of which didn’t become one of “my favorites”, and I’m getting rid of them.

Until recently, only three of them made the cut and I put them back on the shelf.

I kept the 2012 Spanish movie “Angels of Sex” (“El Sexo de los Ángeles”), the 2008 Israeli film “Antarctica”, and the 2010 American romantic comedy, “Is It Just Me?”.

“LEMON TREE”

This past week, I added three more “keepers”.

The first is the 2008 Israeli drama, “Lemon Tree”.

Hiam Abbass is heartbreaking and stunning!  She plays Salma, a widowed Palestinian woman fighting to keep the Israeli government from cutting down her lemon grove, which was planted by her late father decades ago.

It becomes a security risk when the Israeli Defense Minister and his wife, Mira, (a moving performance by Rona Lipaz-Michael) move next door.

“PATRIK 1.5”

Another was the very touching 2008 Swedish film, “Patrik 1.5”.

It stars one of the sexy Skarsgard brothers (no, not Alexander from “True Blood” and “Big Little Lies” and not creepy Bill (Pennywise in the new “It” movie series).

Gustaf Skarsgard is the lead in this comedy-drama.

His Göran Skoogh in “Patrik 1.5” would make the perfect husband! 🙂

“SOLO”

And, the final keeper, is “Solo”.

Even though this Argentinean movie came out in 2013, it speaks volumes about today’s dating and app hook-up scene!

You never really know who you’re meeting or hooking up with and what could happen!

Manuel (Patrico Ramos) and Julio (Mario Veron) finally decide to meet after chatting online for a while.

Once they meet, Julio tells Manuel, “There are really bad people round there. They say one thing and they mean another. You never know who you’re dealing with. You don’t even know who you’re bringing into your home.”

“TRANSAMERICA”

I also watched the incredible “Transamerica” with Oscar nominee Felicity Huffman and the adorably sexy Kevin Zegers.

While still a very fulfilling movie, so much has changed since it came out in 2005.

After the groundbreaking television series “Pose” and “Transparent”, I couldn’t imagine a movie made today about a trans woman that WOULD NOT be played by a real trans actress!

“GIRLS NIGHT OUT”

Debbie Gibson, one of my favorite artists of the 1980s, is back with a huge club hit!

“Girls Night Out” (Tracy Young Radio Remix) is currently at #4 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.

In 2019, Tracy Young scored back-to-back chart toppers on the the Dance Club Songs chart with Madonna’s “I Rise” and “Crave”.  (Young won a Grammy Award for the “I Rise” remix!)

From 1986 to early 1991, Gibson scored nine hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

Of those, five reached the Top Ten, including the #1 hits, “Foolish Beat” (1988) and “Lost in Your Eyes” (1989, three weeks at #1).

When “Foolish Beat” topped the chart in the summer of 1988, Debbie became youngest person to write, produce, and perform a number-one single entirely on her own, at age 17!!!

“Only In My Dreams”, Debbie’s first hit in 1987 that reached #4, is still one of my all-time favorites!

“ICE BOUND:  A DOCTOR’S INCREDIBLE BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL AT THE SOUTH POLE”

Ice Bound

This 2001 book is about Dr. Jerri Nielsen, an Ohio doctor that took a year off from medicine to find herself by “wintering” in Antarctica with 40 others.

Just a few months into her one-year stay, she found a lump in her breast.

This book is the story of how she and her new friends, “winterovers”, worked via satellite and computers in the harsh -100° weather and months of complete darkness to keep her alive.

This lasted for eight months before the weather finally broke and she could be rescued and brought back to the U.S. for surgery in the fall of 1998.

In 2000, while I was an anchor and reporter in Mansfield, Ohio, I interviewed Dr. Nielsen.  Twenty years later, I have no clue what about!  Maybe it was about her recovery?

Dr. Nielsen was a cancer survivor for over a decade before she died in the summer of 2009.

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — March 6, 2020

Surprise!  I can’t believe it’s been almost two months since my last “Random Friday Thoughts”.

Thank you for taking the time to check it out.

CORONAVIRUS & VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE

As fears rise and the death toll climbs around the world, I’m even more alarmed (but, totally not shocked) that 45 appointed Vice President Mike Pence to lead his Coronavirus response team.

Coronavirus Pence Trump

I hope the U.S. response is swift and adequate and that it prevents a widespread outbreak here.

Pence IS NOT a medical expert and his previous judgement is poor!

In a December 1, 2016, blog on “World AIDS Day”, I wrote, “And, just last year, a county in southern Indiana had an outbreak of HIV cases that reached “epidemic” levels.  It was reported that there were about twenty new cases each week because of drug use and needle sharing.

Yes, Indiana — while Vice-President elect Mike Pence was governor and before he was picked to be second in command in the U.S.”

PETS, TOO!

Last week, a pet dog, a Pomeranian, of a Coronavirus patient, was placed in quarantine after testing “weak positive” for the virus in Hong Kong!

Hong Kong dog Coronavirus

This week, that was upgraded to a “low-level infection”.  It’s the first reported case of human-to-animal transmission.

By Friday, the number of those infected worldwide is approaching 104,000 with more than 3,500 deaths.  (Most are in China.) 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. reports 164 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in nineteen states.

The CDC is also confirming eleven deaths!

EDUCATE YOURSELF!

With that being said, educate yourself!

Corona

I saw a survey last week that showed because of the Coronavirus, 38% of Americans wouldn’t buy Corona beer “under any circumstances”!

Seriously, stop drinking altogether if you’re that brilliant!!!

IT WON’T HAPPEN BEFORE ELECTION DAY 2020, BUT…

JFK Meme Diversity Mortal June 10 1963.JPG

That is from President John F. Kennedy’s June 1963 commencement speech at American University.

“THE MAN”

In 2019, “Lover”, Taylor Swift’s seventh studio release, was my favorite album of the year!

Taylor Swift Lover

It’s already produced the #2 smashes, “Me” with Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco and “You Need To Calm Down”, Taylor’s love letter to her LGBTQ fans, and the title track, which reached #10 on the Hot 100.

Her latest single is “The Man”, one of my absolute favorites from “Lover”.  And, I can’t watch the new video enough!

Yes, that’s Taylor playing “The Man”, Tyler Swift!

My other favorites from the album are “I Forgot That You Existed”, “I Think He Knows”, “Cornelia Street”, “False God”, “You Need To Calm Down”, and “Afterglow”.

I hope the next single will be “I Forgot That You Existed” or “Cornelia Street”!

CHRISTMAS CARDS — BY THE NUMBERS

Okay, I know that Christmas was more than two months ago (or less than ten months from now), but I didn’t take my trees and decorations down until the last day of January.  Yes, I enjoy them for three months!

As I was putting away my Christmas cards, I analyzed them and here’s what I found out.

I heard back from 78% of the people I sent a card.

Do you think most people used Christmas stamps?  They did!

28% used Santa stamps and 20% used the new wreath stamps!

Wreaths

However, a high number (21%) used flag stamps.  Either they’re patriotic or just using up the stamps they had on hand?

By the way, this past Christmas when I was planning a summer 2020 move to Las Vegas (aborted mission), I actually used cactus stamps.

Cactus Christmas Stamps

I wonder how many of my friends noticed and wondered why I wasn’t using holiday stamps? 🙂

“STUPID LOVE”

Lady Gaga is back with new music!

“Stupid Love”, the first single, from her upcoming album, “Chromatica”, which will arrive April 10th, was released last week!!!

While I love the upbeat dance hit, it does borrow from “Born This Way”, probably unintentionally!

I’m very excited about the new music since I didn’t buy her last album, “Joanne”, which dropped in October 2016.

Do I lose gay points for that???

“JOJO RABBIT”

This Oscar nominated comedy-drama was hilarious and well acted.

While mostly a comedy,  when a kid has Adolf Hitler (director and screenwriter Taika Waititi) as an “imaginary friend”, it does feature a few dark scenes.

Roman Griffin Davis was fantastic as Jojo, Waititi was great, and Rebel Wilson cracked me up.

This is not a spoiler, but two of her best lines were “I’ve had 18 kids for Germany — such a great year to be a girl!”

And, in another scene, instead of saying “O-M-G”, she replies, “O-M-God”, which made me laugh so much!

GRADE:  A-

MADONNA CONTINUES TO MAKE MUSIC HERSTORY (HISTORY)!

“I Don’t Search I Find” recently became Madonna’s 50th #1 hit on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.

She extended her record of having the most #1 songs on any one Billboard chart!  Her closest competitor is George Strait, who has 44 number one songs on the Billboard Country charts.

“I Don’t Search I Find” is also the fourth chart topper from her 2019 album, “Madame X”!  (“Madame X” is also Madonna’s ninth #1 album!)

Madonna is also the only act to score a #1 hit on the Dance Club Songs chart in five decades!

She hit the top of that chart 9 times in the 1980s, 13 times in the 1990s, 18 times in the 2000s, 9 times in the 2010s, and, now, once (so far) in the 2020s!

It’s also Madonna’s 10th consecutive #1 on the Dance chart and every one of her singles since 2012 have topped the chart!

GIVE IT A LISTEN! 🎶

“JOKER”

I’m no longer a fan of super hero movies, but I still have an affinity to the Batman series after growing up with the cheesy television Batman series of the 1960s.

I still absolutely love 1992’s “Batman Returns” with Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Danny DeVito as the Penguin!

I waited for last fall’s “Joker” to arrive on DVD and it was great.

The movie grossed over a billion dollars worldwide and garnered eleven Academy Award nominations!

Joaquin Phoenix deservedly won the Best Actor Oscar for his manic performance as aspiring comedian and loser Arthur Fleck.

How he became the Joker is tragic, sadistic, and compelling!

GRADE:  B+

“PRISONER OF TEHRAN”

In “Prisoner of Tehran”, Marina Nemat, who now lives in Canada, writes of her early life in Iran during the “Islamic Revolution”.

It was the late-1970s and early-1980s when the Ayatollah Khomeini was taking control of the country from the Shah of Iran.

If you were even thought to be a Shah supporter or you weren’t all for Khomeini’s way of rule (less freedom for women, very anti-Western, and anti-American), you could be imprisoned, raped, and killed.

Nemat Prisoner of Tehran.JPG

By telling her story, it’s clear that Nemat escaped Iran.  However, her story before then is heartbreaking!

“CHILDREN OF JIHAD”

Subtitled “A Young American’s Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East”, this 2007 book from American Jewish writer Jared Cohen talks about his time spent in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Syria.

Cohen Children of Jihad

In his secret talks with Muslim youth, Cohen learned that they didn’t hate America or Jews, but despised the American and Israeli governments because they were anti-Islam.

Cohen went on to work for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice.

“THE KITE RUNNER”

While the book, “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini came out in 2003, it’s taken me this long to come across it and read it!

And, wow, what a powerful book!

I had to go back to check and make sure it was fiction and not a true story.  While it’s fiction, I know tragedies like this are also reality.

If you’re not familiar, it’s the story of two childhood friends raised together without mothers in Afghanistan, one’s rich and the other is poor.

Events unfold that separate them as teenagers and something brings their lives back into the same orbit again as adults.

The Kite Runner

Here is a powerful quote from the book!

The Kite Runner Quote

Now, I need to watch the movie!

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony