Archive for July, 2012

“Peeps’ Friday ’80s Flashbacks”‏

Rise and shine this great Friday morning.  I hope you have a fantastic weekend planned and here’s my contribution.  Three of my favorite songs from the 1980s to get you inspired.


English rock singer John Waite had three hits with the band, The Babys with the two that you’d probably remember from the late-1970s being “Every Time I Think of You” and “Isn’t It Time”.

As a solo artist, he also had three Top 40 Billboard Hot 100 hits in 1984 and 1985.  The biggest, his signature song, “Missing You”, reached #1 in 1984.  Tina Turner also recorded this and it’s fantastic.  Waite also hit the country chart in 2006 with the song with Alison Krauss.

Waite was also the lead singer for the band, Bad English, who scored three hits in 1989 and 1990.  The biggest was the #1 smash, “When I See You Smile”.  “Price of Love” also hit #5.


Spandau Ballet formed in England during the “New Romantic Movement”.  The band was very successful in the U.K. scoring 17 hits.  Success was harder to find in the United States.

Lead singer Tony Hadley lead the band into the top 40 on the Hot 100 charts three times in America.

Their biggest hit was their first, the #4 song, “True”.  That was followed by two other songs that peaked at #29 (“Gold”) and #34 (Only When You Leave”).


The Wolfgramm family of brothers and sisters, mainly in their teens, from Minneapolis, Minnesota hit the charts big in the 1980s.  Their first release, “Curiosity”, didn’t chart on the Billboard Hot 100, but it did reach #8 on the R&B charts and #21 on the Dance Chart.

However, their second chance at stardom, paid off.  “Crush on You” reached #3 in 1986.

The Jets would go on to score six top 40 hits on Billboard’s Hot 100, including “You Got It All” (#3, 1986), “Cross My Broken Heart” (#7, 1987), “I Do You” (#20, 1987),  “Rocket 2 U” (#6, 1988), and “Make It Real” (#4, 1988).



My New Love Affair — With Paris

I wonder if God has a sense of humor.  As I go through life and look around, I have a strong feeling that he does, since he doesn’t make mistakes.  I’ve also heard that if you want to make him laugh, tell him your plans.

So, God, I’m penciling in Paris, France in my 2015 planner.

It was never on my list of must see (before I die) places until earlier this year when I watched Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris”.  Once I watched the opening credits, which was basically a travelogue for Paris, I was sold.  If you haven’t seen the movie, here is the three-minute opening that will have you booking seats with me and then I’ll get back to my blog.

“Midnight in Paris” is one of my favorite movies that I’ve watched this year.  When we saw it, I told Ray that I now want to go to the “City of Light”.


I didn’t want to go in hopes of traveling back in time to meet Hemingway and his group of friends — although that would be fun.

However, croissants, sinful desserts, French cuisine, and sweet French champagne would definitely be high on my list and my diet would be damned that week.  There would no calorie counting when I finally make it to Paris.

While I would indulge in eating and drinking, the main reasons I want to go to Paris is because I’m a romantic who is in love and I want to walk in the Parisian rain without an umbrella.


Oh, love!  No, it’s not my wedding anniversary and it’s not the anniversary of the date that we met, I’m just feeling overly romantic (ooh, gross) after watching “Moulin Rouge” again yesterday — “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return”!

Okay, so while it’s a very weird and entertaining movie, the romance between Christian (Ewan McGregor) and Satine (Nicole Kidman) is short and doomed, it’s still incredibly sweet and romantic.  After all, love is a many splendored thing, all you need is love, and love lift us up where we belong.  Love!  Love! Love!

If you haven’t seen the 2001 movie that made $179.3 million dollars and earned a total of 13 BAFTA nominations (the British equivalent to the American Oscar), 8 Oscar and 6 Golden Globe nominations (and wins at the Golden Globes for Nicole Kidman and the movie), I’d highly recommend it.  Yes, it’s bizarre and Bohemian, but that makes it cute.  And, it’s a musical that also features Kylie Minogue as “The Green Fairy”!  Sold!

When you watch it for the first time or you watch it again, make it a double feature with “Midnight in Paris”.

There’s enough great food and wine for all of us to take a journey across the Atlantic.




This blog is brought to you by the Paris Tourism Board.  I’m kidding.  However, I’m going to check flight prices and hotels now just for fun.


Another Heat Story, But One With A Sad Note About Outdoor Pets

My friends, be careful out there today.  With temperatures expected to soar to 105° or higher, this may very well be the hottest day in your lifetime, so far.  I know that it’s been hotter in the Quad Cities on several occasions, but you have to be, at least, 76-years-old to have experienced that heat.

As for me, I know that it’s gotten hotter in some of the places I’ve lived, it just wasn’t while I was living there.  For me, that 104° back on July 7, 2012, in Moline, Illinois, was the hottest actual temperature I’ve ever encountered and today will likely surpass that reading.

It goes without saying, but since I’m writing about the hot weather, there is a “Heat Advisory” out for today across all of eastern Iowa and northern Illinois.   As a matter of fact, there are warnings and advisories for the heat issued today from Wisconsin south to Kentucky, Tennessee, and down to Georgia, eastward to Ohio, and westward to Kansas and Nebraska.

Here’s a little weather trivia for you to dazzle your friends with today.   If we reach 106° today in the Quad Cities for the official high, that will only be 9th time that the high temperature reached 106° or higher since record-keeping started back in the early 1870s.

The warmest temperature on record in the Quad Cities is 111° (July 14, 1936).  That is followed by 108° (July 12, 1936), 107° (July 11, 1936 and July 13, 1936), and then 106° (July 24, 1901, July 15, 1936, July 26, 1936, and August 18, 1936).

So far, July 2012 ranks as the fourth warmest on record in the Quad Cities and the third driest on record.  We’ve only had 0.31″ of rain this month, but that will likely change tonight.  We finally have a decent chance of some showers and storms tonight and Thursday.  We’ve been cheated out of scattered storms the past couple of days as most of them stayed north in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Here is the radar image of the upper Midwest and Great Lakes from earlier this morning posted by my first major network-affiliated news director, Mike Michalak, in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.  The rain is finally coming Quad Cities.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that it won’t break the drought!

On a serious note, you always hear me tell you on the news and in my blogs to take air conditioning breaks if you have to work or be outdoors for any length of time, to check on the elderly, and to make sure the pets outside have clean, cool water and shade.  Well, today, I’m going to be even more blunt, regarding pets.

The following message was sent to me last week by a Facebook friend that works as a veterinary technician at a clinic.  It opened my eyes and I want to share it with you:

“Within the last few weeks we’ve had two clients rush in their already clinically dead dogs from being out in the heat. The first dog was a pug.  It lived next to one of the girls from work and she said they always left it outside without any water or shade. I told her to take the dogs temp, and she replied, “it’s dead (name deleted)!” I said, “Right, meaning it should have a very low body temperature. Take it’s temp and see just how hot this poor dog got to prove this is how it died.”  So we took its rectal temp. Our thermometers only read up to 110 degrees and anything higher than that registers as “high”. That dogs temp said, “High”.  Then the other day an American bulldog came in that was still kind of breathing. We took its temp and it shot up past 110 right away. These owners claim the dog couldn’t have been out more than a half hour and it had shade and water. It obviously died a few minutes after getting to our clinic.”

Please look out for our furry friends today.  Please bring them in today if you can.

While I know we’re not done with the heat, even after today, we can always hold out for cooler, fall weather, right?  Sadly, we may be wrong.

Technically, the days will not be as hot!  However, here is the Climate Prediction Center’s forecast for August, September, and October temperatures and precipitation.

Three more months of above average temperatures and below average rainfall!  Boo!

Again, be careful out there today.  I’m going to spend my day off inside, except to water the garden and front yard late this evening.  I head back to work tomorrow for the next seven days beginning with the morning show bright and early at 4:30 a.m.  Hey, I should, at least, have some rain on radar to show you if you wake up with me bright and early.

Finally, if you’re really, really over the intense heat and humidity (I failed to mention that the heat index today –the combination of the temperature and the humidity and what your body actually feels like — is going to reach 115-125°!), five months from today is Christmas!  That means colder weather and maybe, just maybe, snow?


“F**k It” or “F—-t” Should Not Be in the Vocabulary of a 3-Year-Old

UPDATE:  Bristol Palin and the producers of her television show now claim that while the child used an F-word, it wasn’t the anti-gay slur F-word.  Based on what I’ve seen (and until I see the unedited version), I’ll stick to the original story and call what they are doing “damage control”.  After all, I’m probably one of those “lefty” bloggers that Palin attacks in her explanation of her son’s outburst.  Regardless of whichever f-word he used, it’s still inappropriate and not funny.


ORIGINAL BLOG:  Tuesday, July 24, 2012, 7:32 a.m.

Children have such innocence, but those kids can say the darndest things and when that happens, parents and people around usually smile, smirk, or gasp depending on who’s around at the time.  Many times, it’s the parents that react in horror especially if the child says something that his parents wouldn’t want someone else to know.

I find it especially appalling when the child is only 3-years-old and he screams at his mother and his aunt, “go away, you faggot! I don’t like you.”

That is not a word that kids learn from Disney, Nickelodeon, or from other kid shows.  That is a word that comes from his environment.  That is a word that this kid must hear on a regular basis and this is the reaction of that said child when he uttered that hateful word.

Charming, isn’t it?  Before I even go off on a rant, I will say that there is hope for this child!  Today’s youth is much more tolerant and more accepting than their parents and their grandparents.  Typically, today, you don’t hear that offensive homophobic slur or the “n-word” that I grew up hearing in the 1970s and that my parents heard in the 1950s.

By the way, this isn’t just your typical 3-year-old child, it’s Tripp Johnston, the son of unwed teenage mother Bristol Palin (who’s now 21), the daughter of vice-presidential wannabe and failed Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin.

It was during the filming of Lifetime’s reality series “Bristol Palin:  Life’s a Tripp” when the child got mad because his mother, Bristol, and his 17-year-old aunt, Willow, would not let him go to the swimming pool and uttered that disgusting word.

The first reaction from the immature grown-ups was laughter and disbelief.  But, moments later, even the disbelief turned into laughter.  That’s really class act parenting, but then again, I guess the apple don’t fall far from the tree even in Alaska.

At least, Bristol admits, “I’m doing a terrible job disciplining Tripp”, which is an understatement!

The bottom line is that a 3-year-old should not know the word “f—-t” anyway.  And, if he or she did say it out loud, that child should not have gotten a time out, that child should have his or her ass spanked and I don’t care who you are.

But, then again, what can you expect when you have a former teenage mother who’s now just old enough to drink and a teenager taking care of this child.  And, that teenager, Willow, has had her own problems and controversies using the gay slur “f-word”.

It was less than two years ago that, then 16-year-old, Willow Palin got mad at someone criticizing her mother’s reality show and had this offensive Facebook exchange:

At the time, a family friend of the Palins told TMZ that “Willow normally doesn’t use this type of language.”

I guess semantics come into play here.  “Normally” she doesn’t use it.  However, someone in the Palin world uses it and uses it regularly enough for 3-year-old Tripp to say it in anger and, like his mother and aunt, know enough to think that it’s funny.

It’s not funny.  It’s disgusting coming from teenagers and adults.  It’s even more pathetic coming from a little boy and watching the grown-ups around him laugh and encourage the behavior.

As I said earlier, I have hope for the little boy.  I hope he’s brighter than his mother, his aunt, and his grandparents.  Honestly, I’m not saying that because they are the Palins.  I’m saying that because it shows their ignorance and hatred.

Who would ever have thought that Tripp’s dad, the former “Playgirl” centerfold, author, and Bristol’s ex-fiance, Levi Johnston, might be considered a better parent or influence on this little boy?

I’ve never been a fan of Bristol Palin’s and I had a beef with her back in May when the never married single mom weighed in on marriage equality:

Lifetime, cancel this show and send the Palin family back to Alaska.  Let us try to live our lives without you giving these offensive people a platform to spew their hatred.


Entertainment Violence — When Is It Too Early For Business As Usual‏?

We may never know why the alleged lone gunman ambushed the movie theater showing the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises” (“TDKR”) in Aurora, Colorado, last Friday morning shooting 70 people and killing 12 of them.  That shooting spree is now the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.

This blog is not about the Second Amendment.  I’ve already voiced my opinion about that in previous blogs.

The bottom line is that regardless of whatever laws we have in place in America, bad people or people suffering from mental illnesses can get weapons and go on shooting or murderous rampages that turn into tragedies like the one in Aurora, Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, and the list goes on.

Last Friday, while families were still trying to find out if their loved ones were safe, at area hospitals, or if they were one of the victims, speculation began over what prompted the alleged mass murderer, James Holmes, to gun down so many people.

Some media outlets correlated the shootings with the 1986 “The Dark Knight Rises” comic book.  There will be other theories of how the world of entertainment, whether it’s violence in the songs we hear, the movies or television shows we watch, or the books that we read, played a role.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, some movies were delayed several months because of story lines involving terrorist plots or bombs on planes and some movies were edited to remove the World Trade Center, acts that referenced terrorism, or planes flying near buildings.

We’re already feeling the effects from the Aurora, Colorado, shootings.  Some movie promos for “TDKR” have been pulled from television in some cities, and Warner Bros. asked that the trailer to “Gangster Squad” (due in theaters September 7, 2012) be dropped before “TDKR” because there is a scene of a mass shooting of a movie theater audience with automatic weapons.

I fully understand the decision about dropping the previews to “Gangster Squad” or, at least, editing that scene from the trailer.  But, how soon is too soon to write or sing songs about acts of gun violence, showing people being gunned down in movies or on television shows, or even writing books that detail that aggression?

While I don’t know the answer to that question, I know what I feel in my heart.  I honestly know that the families of those that were killed or injured and those that escaped the madness physically unhurt have more on their minds right now that what is happening in the world of entertainment.  They are dealing with shock, sadness, and fear.

I can’t imagine that the movie companies decision to withhold box office results Sunday “out of respect” for the families really gave them that much solace.  I don’t think knowing whether “TDKR” broke any box office records this weekend is on their mind.

When my mother died on November 7, 1990, the last thing I thought about was the advanced sneak preview of “Home Alone” that upcoming weekend and its box office release the next weekend.  As funny as the movie looked prior to my mother’s death, it didn’t matter to me afterwards and I didn’t see until it was released on video the following year.

I can’t tell you anything else that happened the week after Miss ABBA, my golden retriever, died this past February.

Please don’t take what I’m writing out of context.  I feel for the families in Colorado although I didn’t know them.  I can’t imagine the pain they’re feeling knowing that their loved ones were out for a night of fun and excitement and now some of them will never know how the Batman trilogy ended and their families are planning funerals and praying that their hospitalized loved ones will recover.

However, I don’t think that we should begin editing every thing that is being released in the next few months.  As I said before, the families of those injured and killed could probably care less about music, movies, books, and concerts at this time or for a long to time to come.

I’m writing this because the first thing in the entertainment world that came to mind was Madonna’s “MDNA Tour” that is currently playing in Europe.  It makes its North American debut in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 28, 2012.

In the “Transgression” segment of the concert, guns play a very integral part in the third and fourth songs in the show, “Revolver” and “Gang Bang”.  This show was developed well before the Colorado shootings and it debuted in Tel Aviv, Israel, on May 31, 2012.

Sunday night, on its homepage, had a headline to grab your attention, “Singer brings guns on stage for show” and then it asked in the story, “Was Madonna edgy or just plain insensitive?”  Remember, this exact show has been going on for months.  This wasn’t something that she did the night after the Colorado shootings in Scotland to garner attention.

In England, Mothers Against Guns told the Daily Record, “Madonna and her dancers using replica guns was always in bad taste but given what happened in Colorado it is even worse.  She should know better.”

While this could apply to any genre of entertainment, I’ll focus on Madonna since the tour is coming to United States and it will be in Denver, Colorado, on October 18, 2012, less than three months after the Aurora movie massacre.

So, while the “MDNA Tour” will have been visited 33 cities across Asia and Europe before its late August North American debut, should it be altered in the United States?

For those of you unfamiliar with the song “Gang Bang”, from the deluxe edition of Madonna’s latest album, “MDNA”, here’s a sample of the lyrics, “And Then I Discovered It Couldn’t Get Worse/You Were Building My Coffin/You Were Driving My Hearse/Bang Bang (Shot You Dead)/Bang Bang (In the Head)/Bang Bang, Shot You Dead/Shot My Lover In the Head/Bang Bang, Shot You Dead/Now I Have No Regret”.

It’s a very violent song, but definitely a stand out on the “MDNA” album.  In concert, the onstage dramatization is even more visual.

I can separate reality from entertainment.  I know when I see “Dexter” kill bad guys on the Showtime series that it’s not real and that I cannot go out and do the same thing.  I know when Madonna sings about killing an ex-lover and dramatizes it live on stage on tour that it’s not reality.  However, some people can’t do that.  Luckily, for us, that is a much smaller number.

I don’t want Madonna to drop “Gang Bang” her from highly choreographed show when it comes to North America.  I want to see the tour as it was developed and orchestrated despite the tragedy in Colorado.

But, even with that being said, I’m really torn about the Denver concert in October.  Hardcore Madonna fans that bought tickets already know about the gun play and the depicted violence.  Some of them, maybe a large number of them, may feel uneasy about it now.  Will three months be enough time for people to heal?  I’m not sure, but I’m thinking, no.

Should that show just be cancelled?  Should “Revolver” and “Gang Bang” be dropped from that one concert?  Or, should Madonna perform those songs in Denver and then likely be accused of being “insensitive”?

What are your thoughts?


They Said What??? — 50 Cent, George Michael, & Jimmie Walker


“There’s just certain traditions that need to be upheld. I’ll give you the other side of it, no it doesn’t affect me, no it doesn’t change my life. There’s just traditions that need to be dealt with. I’m a believer that gay marriage should be passed because the battle is not worth the war. The gay lobby is very loud. I’m totally against it.   In 100 years from now, people are going to go, ‘Who was against gay marriage?’ And I’ll be one of those idiots and say, ‘That’s me.’ I’m just against it on moral grounds, that’s it. I’m as much a heathen as anybody. I just don’t believe on moral grounds it should be done. I don’t like it, I don’t accept it.”


“Obama is for same sex marriage.  When the President is saying that, who am I to go the other way? It’s cool.”


(on rumors that Madonna tried to seduce him at a nightclub in the 1980s):  “Basically somebody came over to my table and said ‘Madonna would really like to meet you’… (I thought) that’d be nice, cheeky cow. I proceeded to follow this woman over to Madonna’s table where she was talking to Kevin Bacon at the time and I stood there and she just ignored me, which is kind of what you do at school when you fancy someone isn’t it? You pretend not to like them.  She didn’t try to seduce me, no… I didn’t stand there for very long!”


(after threatening physical violence to any player he found out was gay):  “I would like to apologize for my poor choice of language. The tone of the interview was very casual and off-color, and I lost focus on what is and is not acceptable and professional. I am deeply sorry to anyone who was offended by my language. Moving forward, I hope to eliminate that type of language from my vocabulary.”


(on why the murder rate is so high in Chicago this year):  “For the past fifty years, Rahm Emanuel’s party, the Democratic Party, has made it comfortable for many women to not have husbands in the home. Now Obama and the Democrats have embraced the radical idea of men marrying other men! How is that going to help the black family?”


(defending herself in a brewing controversy that she had a lesbian encounter with an aide):  “”The problem is that when you have these accusations that come out, it’s not just one person you’re attacking. It’s an entire family. My husband doesn’t want to hear that. He knows the type of woman I am. I mean, my kids know the type of woman I am. For twenty-nine years – I’m the one that’s married for twenty-nine years. The accuser is the one that’s been single for a long time.  So usually black women that look like me don’t engage in relationships like that.”




Great Food & Friends — A Great Start To The Weekend

It’s no secret that I love going out to eat.  However, we’ve really cut back on it because it’s expensive and when you’re watching what you eat, the calories can really sneak up on you in restaurants and buffets, even when you make healthy or, what appears to be, healthier choices.

We also love to cook and entertain.  Since Ray and I have been together, we’ve socialized the most with our friends Tim and Sandy in East Davenport.  We were recently over their house and Tim is a great cook.  Sandy lets him handle the kitchen and she socializes with us.  I love it.

So, Friday night, we had Tim and Sandy over for dinner and we invited another couple, Kai and Jenni, who were just engaged.  Congratulations!

It was a very nice evening with great conversation, wine, cordials, and fantastic food.  Yes, my blog today is about the food.

Ray was in charge of most of the meal.  He made sweet & tangy boneless bar-b-q ribs, cheesy potatoes, cheesy bread, and a new salad called “stacked summer vegetable salad” from a recipe we found in “Better Homes and Gardens”.

I was in charge of appetizer and dessert. We’ve been craving a Shrimp Ceviche that I make that is spectacular!  Here’s the “making of” picture and the final product.

That is a recipe that I’ve made many times, so I knew that it would be tasty and it would turn out perfectly.

For dessert, it was a totally different story.  Since I subscribe to many recipe sites that send me daily recipes, I was going to be adventurous and make one I’ve never made.  It was a white chocolate raspberry cake that you make in the crock pot.  Easy enough, right?

So far, so good.  Right after we enjoyed appetizers and drinks and were getting ready to served the salad, Ray asked me, “did you turn you cake on ‘warm'”?  I replied “no” with a baffled look on my face and I walked over to the crock pot and sure enough, it was on “warm” and had been since I started it at 4 p.m.

Now, call me crazy, but wouldn’t you think the cooking options would go warm, low, and high, from left to right on the dial?  I did and I still do.  However, on this crock pot, the options left to right were low, high, and warm.  When I put the cake on, I just turned the knob to the right and assumed I was cooking it on high.  Luckily, since the cooking time (on high) was 2-3 hours for the recipe, I turned it up from warm to high during salad and dinner, and the disaster of having no dessert was averted.  It was very tasty.

And, while Tim & Sandy brought a great red wine and a bottle of ChocoVine Whipped (which we opened and sampled after dessert), Kai and Jenni brought us a bouquet of flowers with spatulas mixed in with the flowers since this was our first dinner party cooked in the new kitchen.

And, Miss ABBA was part of the celebration, too.  I cut the colorful flowers out of her tomato, pepper, and flower memorial garden.   (The green Kermit mums were leftover from the Fourth of July).

I love to cook and I love to entertain.  I don’t know exactly when our next  dinner party will be or what we’ll serve, but I’m thinking cheesecake.

As you may remember, I blogged before about needing to learn how to make cheesecake.  Two Christmases ago, I asked Santa for a cheesecake pan and I got five spring-form cheesecake pans!  And, in the almost two years since, I’ve made no cheesecakes.  It’s about time.

Needless to say that my theory about healthy eating at home was blown this weekend.  Ray and I have both put on pounds from the wine and great food, but as Mr. Food, the television chef says, “ooh, it’s so good”.