Archive for June, 2012

“Anything You Can Do”, Reba Can Do Better

My idol, Reba McEntire earns another accomplishment in her incredible career.

She’s won every music award possible, she’d earned praise on Broadway, she’s been nominated for comedic acting awards for television, and she’s a generous humanitarian.

This past Friday night, she and funk/pop/soul singer Chaka Khan were both inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame at an opening night celebration in Los Angeles, hosted by Julie Andrews.

This was the first time that two women were inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame on the same night.

Lily Tomlin, who will play Reba’s mother on “Malibu Country”, her new ABC sitcom premiering this fall (November 2), appeared in a videotaped message recalling McEntire’s words that to succeed in life, one needs a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.

Another person that knows Reba well, Melissa Peterman, who played Barbara Jean on the television series, “Reba,” introduced Reba before she performed to the sold out crowd in a spectacularly glamorous backless, bejeweled gown.

Reba performed “You Can’t Get A Man With A Gun” from her Broadway hit, “Annie Get Your Gun” and “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair” from her Carnegie Hall and Hollywood Bowl concerts of “South Pacific”, “I’m A Survivor”, the theme from the “Reba” TV show, and “Fancy, the Bobbie Gentry classic that is now a Reba standard.

Society New LA reports that “Both McEntire and Khan donated their performances so that Opening Night proceeds from ticket sales and a Wells Fargo sponsorship topped $1 million for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association’s music education programs.”

Reba, you’re incredible and I’m so happy that Hollywood is welcoming you back with open arms and rewarding you for your talents.  Have fun with “Malibu Country” this fall.

I’d love to be selfish and ask you to record a new album, but do that whenever you want.  But, when you’re ready, skip country music and make a dance album in the vein of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”, your #2 Billboard Dance hit from 1996.  That would be awesome.

But, Hollywood is your ticket now!  Live it up!

Some of you may not know it, but Reba’s ties to motion pictures and Hollywood go back to her first movie, “Tremors”, in 1990.  And, in 1996, director James Cameron cast Reba as “the Unsinkable Molly Brown” in his little old movie, “Titanic”.  You might have heard of it?  Yes, that “Titanic”.  When it was obvious that the production of the movie would be extended, Reba had to drop out because of her previous tour commitments and the role went to Kathy Bates.

Congratulations Reba!

Anthony

Remembering Michael Jackson, Three Years Later

Three years ago today, the world lost one of the most incredible musicians in the history of music.  Regardless of his bizarre public actions, the sexual accusations, and his increasingly frightening appearance, Michael Jackson was and will always be the “King of Pop”.

MUSIC CHART DOMINATION

As part of his family acts, The Jackson 5 and The Jacksons, the Gary, Indiana-born Michael Jackson racked up 23 top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.  Of those, 11 reached the top ten, and four went all the way to #1.

In 1971, he struck out on his own as a solo artist and his first release, “Got To Be There”, reached #4.  Although he scored many hits as a teenager and young man,  including the #1 hits, “Ben”, “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough”, and “Rock With You”, he shot into super stardom with the November 1982 release of his album, “Thriller”.

The first of seven singles released from that album with former Beatles, Paul McCartney, “The Girl Is Mine”, peaked at #2.  But, it was the following singles, “Billie Jean” and “Beat It”, that would top the Billboard charts and break down the racial barrier on the new music network, MTV.

“Thriller”, to this day, is the top-selling album of all-time.  It has been certified with sales of more than 29 million in the United States with worldwide sales of 65-110 million.  It easily eclipses the #2 selling album of all time, “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd.

In his solo career, Michael Jackson scored 36 top forty hits.  27 of those reached the top ten and 12 hit #1.  He also collaborated on six other hits, five of which hit the top 10, and two reached #1 (“Say Say Say”, another duet with Paul McCartney, in 1983, and “We Are The World” by USA for Africa in 1985).

THE PRICE OF FAME

Fame has a price.  Being one of the biggest stars on the planet, Michael Jackson, thrilled and shocked people with everything he did.

He raised eyebrows many times:  with “Bubbles” the chimp,

buying the Neverland Ranch, wanting to buy the bones of Joseph Merrick, “the Elephant Man”, rumors about him sleeping nightly in a hyberbaric oxygen chamber, his marriage to Elvis’ daughter, Lisa Marie Presley,

dangling his child off a balcony in Germany,

“Jesus Juice”, and of course, two separate accusations of child sexual abuse.  He was acquitted in June 2005 of nine charges (seven of which were child molestation) and in the first case, he settled out of court with the family for $22 million, in January 1994.

DEATH

Three years ago today, while preparing for his “This Is It” world tour, Jackson went into cardiac arrest and died.  His death was ruled a homicide due to “acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication”.  His personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for his part in the death of the music icon.

LEGACY

I never saw Michael Jackson in concert, but from just watching the Kenny Ortega-directed documentary, “Michael Jackson’s This Is It”, it would have been phenomenal.

I wish the “King of Pop” had not needed prescription drugs to deal with life and I wish he were alive to perform his sold out concerts.  I also wish that Michael Jackson had overcome his demons that haunted him.  But, that will never happen.

However, we do have the legacy of his music and his videos that will live on with us, especially us kids and young adults of the 1980s.  The time before Michael Jackson became the “freak show” that he’ll now always be remembered by.

Here are my Michael Jackson favorites!

I did have “Billie Jean” on here, too, but it has now been pulled from YouTube.

Anthony

They Said What??? — Dolly Parton, Lil Wayne, a Local Kristen Stewart, & DeadMau5

JIM FLETCHLEY, OHIO RESIDENT

(in a letter to the Findlay, Ohio, newspaper “The Courier” after he read that “the Ohio buckeye is polygamo-monoecious, bearing both bisexual and male flowers.”):  “The buckeye is our state tree and most of us gladly wear the nickname, “buckeyes.” But it is shameful and unacceptable that a bisexual tree should represent us! We are flaunting the Holy Bible!”

KRISTEN STEWART, BAR MANAGER OF THE UNIVERSITY CLUB, IN MOLINE, ILLINOIS

(to a gay woman calling her business to ask about having a reception there):  “I am a biblical Christian and I do not believe in homosexual marriage, that’s correct. And because marriage is a covenant that God created for man and woman, as a biblical Christian, I cannot help them into or celebrate that sin.”

ALAN BALL, CREATOR OF “TRUE BLOOD”

(on how Republican presidential candidates gave him the idea for season five):  “For me the jumping-off point was watching the Republican primaries, watching Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and asking what would it be like  to have a theocracy in America – which is way more terrifying than any fictional monster could ever be.  Our jumping-off point was ‘OK, what is a vampire theocracy?’ You don’t really see vampires being religious creatures. They are excluded from God. But what if there was  a vampire bible? A religion? Theocracy? How would that impact our human  characters, or vampire characters?  I haven’t really seen that before.”

MORE ALAN BALL

(on Santorum’s influence):  “What’s terrifying is how many people agree with him.”

DEADMAU5, ELECTRONIC DANCE ARTIST

(still bashing Madonna over her “Molly” reference at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami this past March):   “You want to be ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ and ‘funky grandma’? Fine. It’s not my place to say you’re irrelevant. If you’re gonna come into my world, at least do it with a little more dignity. I understand she has millions more fans, and is way more successful than I’ll ever be. But it’s like talking about slavery at a f—ing blues concert. It’s inappropriate.”

COUNTRY SUPERSTAR DOLLY PARTON

(about Madonna exposing her breast recently in Turkey):  “I’m not one to criticize how other people do their work. I’ve always showed mine off, just not completely. I just got to let mine speak for themselves.  I think everybody has their own way of doing it. I guess shock value is good for some people and people expect Madonna to do what Madonna does. Same with Lady Gaga. They’re out there for that shock value and it’s worked for them.”

MORE DOLLY

(on duets):  “I’m open for anything. Nobody has asked me to do it, I haven’t pursued them. You never say never, it’s not something I’m going after. I think we’re all pretty different, Madonna and Lady Gaga,” she mused. “We’re all our own individual people, all of us outrageous, but whether than will come together – it might just be overkill!”

LADY GAGA

(an MRI concludes that she’s ok after being hit in the face by a pole performing “Judas”):  “Went for an MRI.  No harm from the concussion but it appears my brain is just water and a large floating jellyfish.”

LIL WAYNE

(after pulling Nicki Minaj from Hot 97’s “Summer Jam” concert after a DJ dissed her):  “That’s a female; first and foremost Nicki Minaj is a female. I don’t know what anyone else believes, but I believe females deserve the ultimate respect at all times no matter, when or where or how.”

NAKA NATHANIEL, FORMER EAGLE SCOUT

(on the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay scouts and LGBT leaders):  “The Boy Scouts are supposed to stand for what’s right and what’s just. They haven’t done that for the past decade. Worse, there haven’t been enough Eagle Scouts, including me, who have stood up for what we learned in Scouting. That’s not Scouting’s failure. That’s our failure as individuals. Scouting taught us to welcome the outcasts and the disenfranchised. Scouting taught us to do what is right. Scouting implored us to do what is just and decry what is unjust.  With its anti-gay policies, Scouting is wrong and Scouting is unjust.”

Anthony

Dreaming of Christmas, Not Necessarily a White Christmas

I’m sitting here this Sunday morning drinking coffee with three artificial sweeteners listening to the thunder as it rumbles and watching the lightning as it streaks across the sky.  We just came back from a walk with light rain falling over the Quad Cities.  Our yard desperately needs the rain because it’s already turning brown from the lack of rain this year (more than 3″ behind average).

However, my thoughts are not really on today.  I say skip the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. (Notice I didn’t want to skip my birthday with Madonna in Las Vegas in October!)

Yes, I’m happy for my independence from Great Britain, I’m sure my employer is happy with the money and social contributions I make for them, I love candy, making jack-o-lanterns, and watching Michael Myers knock off babysitters with a really long knife, and I definitely love turkey, desserts, and the Thanksgiving feast.

But, for some reason, several times lately, I’ve been thinking of Christmas and since Christmas Eve is six months from today, I thought it would be fun to see if anyone has already had Christmas cross their mind.  I know I’ve seen posts on Facebook that some have already started shopping.

I love Christmas music and Christmas decorations.  I wish we could leave the decorations up year around.  I guess if we were a “redneck woman”, we could leave the Christmas lights on the front porch all year long!

And, when I’m really stressed, I listen to Christmas music and the stress just evaporates.

Christmas 2012 will be a much different one for us.  I don’t have a lot of people who I shop for, but this year, we’re not buying presents for each other.  My Christmas list consists of Ray, Gretel, Tammy (my sister), Betty (Mom), and Ray’s parents (Ray & Donna).  This year, I will only have to buy something for Ray’s parents, since the Christmas present for the rest of us is the Carnival Cruise that we’re going on December 20-24th!

As you may know, we’re going down to New Orleans a day early so we can see the “Crescent City” all aglow in Christmas beauty and stuff ourselves with beignets and frozen Au Cafe Lait from Cafe Du Monde.

I don’t think Gretel knows anything else exists in N’awlins except for beignets and alligators (I went on a “swamp tour” when I was there in April 2010).  Before we go, I have to watch “The Princess and the Frog” again because I was on the morning show when she showed it to me and I did sleep through most of it.

We will decorate this year, but it will be weird not being here to enjoy the tree leading up to Christmas and not having any presents under the tree.  Maybe we can wrap empty boxes for show?

It’ll also be strange not having Miss ABBA around this Christmas.  I always got a kick out of her opening her own presents.  She loved ripping the paper off and hoping to find a tasty treat inside the package.

So, while visions of sugar plums dance in my head, I’m really thinking of the Christmas cruise around the western Caribbean and four straight days of endless buffets!  Have I mentioned that I love buffets?  Don’t worry, I’ll fill eat plate half full of fruit and veggies!

With that being said, I should try to live every day to the fullest this summer and this fall.  As my grandmother Helen used to say when we were kids and we wished a certain day would arrive, she would yell, “you’re just wishing your life away.”  I always thought that since she was much older than me, the reality was that I was wishing her life away.  But, now that I’m old enough to be a father (and in today’s crazy world, a grandfather), maybe I should slow down and enjoy the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.

But, why not have a comedic Christmas song for good measure since it’s too early in the year to really enjoy my favorite Christmas song, “O Holy Night”!  And, we can even pretend the rain is snow!

Anthony

I’m Proud To Be a Dad, a Husband, But Most of All, Me

When I was a young gay man, I had no “role model” to look up to.  Living in Kentucky, I was sheltered from the real word.  Now I know how hard activist Harvey Milk was working in San Fransisco to keep crazy, religious zealots like former singer and Miss Oklahoma beauty queen Anita Bryant from having teachers fired just because they were gay.  This was the late-1970s.

The sad thing is that here it is 2012 and people like South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint are still shouting that same crazy crap.  As recently as 2010, DeMint told a church rally group that openly gay people and unmarried women who are sleeping with a boyfriend shouldn’t be in the classroom!  As much as things change, some people and some things will always stay the same no matter how hard activists, like myself, work.  But, that fight must never end.

That is all that I’m saying political today.  Those comments were just to lead me into today’s blog.

I started sneaking into the local gay bar, Club Rumors and then Club DV8, in Paducah, Kentucky, in 1985, before I turned 21-years-old, the legal drinking age.  What an eye-opening experience for me.  I already knew that I was gay, but it was awesome to be around other people like me and the music was incredible!  In my hometown, I only knew three other gay people, two men and a woman.

At that time, I was only concerned with being out and proud.  Becoming a television meteorologist was always something I wanted to do, but I didn’t want to compromise who I was and what I was to achieve that.  The last thing on my mind, during those formative years, was becoming a dad.

When I was in my 30s and I landed my first weather job, I thought about becoming a father and adopting.  That never materialized as my 9-year relationship through my 30s ended when I moved to Salisbury, Maryland, in 1994, and turned 40!  The prospects of being a dad, other than to Miss ABBA, the golden retriever, diminished.

I’ve heard the joke that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.  I guess God had different plans for me because on February 22, 2009, Ray walked into my life and he’s still around today.  🙂 When we started talking, he told me that he had a daughter and an ex-wife.  I waited almost two months after we started seeing each other to meet Gretel, who was turning 8 that summer.  She didn’t know why her parents divorced and I didn’t want to be just another in a string of her Daddy’s friends (and there really wasn’t a string!).  I wanted to know if we were serious and compatible with each other before the big meeting.

Another reason that I waited is that I was scared of her!  The prospects of becoming a “dad” was real now, at age 44!  Gretel came over to my house and met Miss ABBA and Mr.Panda, the shar-pei that we doggie sit for from Chicago.  He was in town that week.  Gretel had never really been around dogs and Miss ABBA scared her, at first, because she was more than happy to show love and demand attention.  Mr. Panda was much more subdued and about one-third of ABBA’s size!

Shortly after I met Gretel, we went out to eat Chinese at the Hy-Vee on John Deere Road in Moline, Illinois.  On our three-year “friendiversary” (Gretel’s word), she and I went there again to celebrate with Chinese.   During that first dining experience, she and I walked to the other side of the store to get ice cream and while holding my hand, she said, you’re “like a dad”.  And, that’s been my title since then.  She still calls me “Anthony”, but lately, I’m graduated to “Dad #2”.  In time, I hope it’s just “Dad”.

I hope that I can instill into Gretel that she can be anything that she sets her heart to and we’ll be loving and supporting parents regardless of the good or bad decisions she makes in life.  And, most of all, that we’ll love her just the same regardless of who she falls in love with when she’s an adult.

I’m very proud of my life as a professional doing what I chose to do when I was child and for having a voice to speak out for matters that are near and dear to my heart.  I have an amazing husband, a beautiful daughter, a loving sister, and I have Betty, in Ohio, that I call “Mom”.  Yes, I wish that I still had my mother, my grandparents, and, of course, Miss ABBA, but I will see them again.  I love you all,  but I hope it’s not too soon! 🙂

In the last paragraph, I said I’m “proud” and I am.  If someone knows me and doesn’t like me, I wish they would say something to me and tell me why.  Maybe we could work it out and maybe we couldn’t?  If someone doesn’t like me because of the way I present or forecast weather, there’s always the internet to find a forecast and two other channels to watch.  If someone doesn’t like me because I’m gay because of what they think God thinks about it, read your Bible and let God tell me when that time comes.  The God I talk to every night has blessed me with health, love, and prosperity, and I’m very grateful.

Today is my Monday, at work, and I have to make a public appearance at Niabi Zoo for Kid’s Fest.  I know it’ll be fun saying hello to people, but I’m totally honest when I say I’d rather be in Chicago this weekend celebrating Gay Pride with the LGBT community.

I can guarantee today that I will not see of the amazing, fun things that I saw two years ago when we attended Pride.

I’m stalling to give you a warning because a few of you may gasp at this first picture.  If you didn’t see this first picture when I posted it two years ago in my “Pride” photo album and, again, in my Favorite Photos of 2010 album, it still makes me smile today when I see this couple.

It’s all about being yourself, being proud of yourself, and loving yourself.  If people did more of those three things, this world would be a much better place.  Enough of a spoiler!

I guess if there’s any consolation for me not getting to attend Pride in Chicago this year, it’s that there are really no acts that I want to see perform.  Frenchie Davis, from “American Idol” fame, is there and Martha Wash (“It’s Raining Men) of the Weather Girls will be performing.  I saw Martha back in the early 1990s at the Vortex.

It was much different two years ago when I was thrilled to see Taylor Dayne, Tiffany, and international dance music singer Amber perform.

Here’s Taylor Dayne from Chicago Pride 2010 with my favorite song of hers, “I’ll Be Your Shelter”.

Happy Gay Pride Chicago!

Anthony

Have Your Reception Here Unless You’re Gay

“I am a biblical Christian and I do not believe in homosexual marriage, that’s correct. And because marriage is a covenant that God created for man and woman, as a biblical Christian, I cannot help them into or celebrate that sin.”

Those are the words of Kristen Stewart, the bar manager for the University Club in Moline, Illinois, as told to my colleague, Chris Minor, a reporter at WQAD-TV, the ABC affiliate in Moline.

Stewart was defending her decision, based on her religious beliefs, not to rent the facilities to a gay couple that called earlier this week inquiring about a location to hold their wedding reception.

Taylor Shumaker, of Davenport, Iowa, was surprised by Stewart’s reaction.  Shumaker tells Chris Minor,  “And she asked if  “he” would be coming and I just said no, it’s not actually a “he.”  It’s a “she,” and she said, ‘excuse me?'”

Schumaker told the bar manager, “I said, it’s a woman, and she said oh, we don’t rent to homosexual couples.”

When confronted with fact that same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa and civil unions are in place in Illinois, Kristen Stewart said, “My husband’s family does not hold the same view. If there is a homosexual couple I will pass them onto them. I have told him if they want to do homosexual receptions I would not have any part of that. He and his family have decided they will.”

Stewart’s husband, Perry, is the President of the University Club and his family owns the business located in the downtown area.

This morning, I talked with Perry Stewart and he reiterated to me that those are definitely his wife’s views and they do not reflect his views or the views of the business.  He called the incident, “regretful”.

In our conversation, he told me, “Kristen will no longer be doing any new events.  She will handle the events already in the books.  Most likely, me, or someone else, will handle new events.”   He went on to say that “Kristen is sorry that she hurt someone else.  She now realizes that.  Her religious views have not changed, but she is sorry that she hurt someone.”

Perry Stewart also told me that he has contacted Taylor Shumaker and offered to show her the facility and he apologized.  He also says that she refused and he understands that.

However, Taylor tells me today that Perry Stewart never contacted her and apologized!!!!

Taylor says, “Well, we have a lot of other venue options to consider, so we will keep searching for that perfect location. We aren’t exactly sure of the month, but we are leaning towards April or May of 2013.”

Chris Minor’s story is at the bottom of this blog.

Those are the facts of the story.  Now, here’s my take.

Kristen Stewart has a right to her opinions, just as I have a right to mine.  However, when I go on the air each time to do weather, my personal beliefs are left at the door.  My personal views and my professional life remain separated.  I’m sure my employer would not be too happy with me if I interjected my political, religious, or my views on sexuality into my weather forecasts.

The same should be expected from Kristen Stewart.  If she answers the telephone, responds to emails, or meets with potential clients, she is representing the University Club.  It doesn’t matter what her personal views are since she is representing the business that obviously has a different view on gay couples having a reception there.

Everyone has a right to their opinion and Kristen Stewart has a right to her close-minded, blatantly un-Christianlike, and very unprofessional one.  She has a right to her views and I have a right to mine and I hope the University Club loses business for it.  Her job is public service and that means serving the public that includes gays, blacks, Asians, the challenged, or whatever. Otherwise, it’s called “discrimination”.

Meanwhile, when I talked with Perry Stewart, her husband, his voice was genuine.  I believed him and I didn’t think it was total “damage control” for his wife’s actions.  However, after Taylor told me that he did not contact her or apologize, I’m not so sure anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!

However, I would not want to do business with them personally.  Last summer, when we were planning our reception, Ray emailed Kristen Stewart.  In his email, he just said “we” were planning our reception and that we were considering the University Club.  I wonder if he had said “my husband” if we would have gotten the same response. We ended up going a different route for our reception.

I feel for Taylor Shumaker and her partner.  She faced discrimination first hand and no one should have to deal with that.  I’m glad that Perry offered his services to Taylor and I’m happy she refused them.  She will find a beautiful place to share that incredible day with her partner and their friends and family.

I really think that Perry Stewart and the University Club of Moline should send the happy couple a very nice wedding present and many bottles of sparkling champagne as a measure of good faith and to make up for the pain that Taylor felt after talking with Kristin Stewart.

Chris Minor’s story from WQAD:

http://wqad.com/2012/06/21/38890/#ooid=w0d2c3NTpdoecaanflnzBo6F4ORQ3MDr

Anthony

“Peeps’ Friday ’80s Flashbacks”‏

Happy Friday to you.  I hope you have an incredible weekend.  I’ll do my part to ensure that happens with hopefully nice weather and three of my favorite songs from the ’80s.

“Only in My Dreams”  — Debbie Gibson

Debbie Gibson, in 1988, became and she remains the youngest female to write, record, and perform a #1 song with “Foolish Beat”.  She was 17-years-old.

Gibson had a total of 9 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.  Five of those went to the top ten and two reached the top of the charts, the previously mentioned “Foolish Beat” and “Lost in Your Eyes” in 1989.

However, it was her first hit that is my still one of favorites today.  “Only in My Dreams” reached #4 in 1987.

“Into The Groove”  —  Madonna

“And, you can dance,  for inspiration”.

That line begins one of the biggest hits of Madonna’s career that never hit the Billboard Hot 100.

Since the song was the “B-side”, or flip side, of the single, “Angel” in 1985, it didn’t qualify to chart of the Hot 100!  That means you heard it all over the radio, but since it wasn’t the song being shopped to radio, you wouldn’t find it on the list of the 100 biggest hits of the week.

However, it did reach #1 on the Billboard Dance charts and Billboard magazine named it the “Dance Single of the Decade” for the 1980s!

“Only when I’m dancing can I feel this free
At night I lock the doors, where no one else can see
I’m tired of dancing here all by myself
Tonight I wanna dance with someone else”

“True Colors” — Cyndi Lauper

The world was introduced to the quirkiness of New Yorker Cyndi Lauper in the summer of 1983 when the first release from “She’s So Unusual”, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, reached #3.

That was the beginning of a career that would give Lauper 11 Top 40 hits on the Hot 100 with two solo #1 songs, “Time After Time” in 1984 and “True Colors” in 1986.  Lauper is also credited with a #1 song, “We Are The World”, as part of USA For Africa.

Most people still know Cyndi Lauper today as the girl wanting to have fun, but my favorite is the endearing “True Colors”, the title track and first single from her second album in 1986.

Have a great weekend.

Peeps