Archive for October, 2012

My Girls Take Halloween Seriously

Halloween can be a spooky, fun time for parties or trick-or-treating.  This will be my fourth Halloween with Miss Gretel.  This year she is a gory version of Moaning Myrtle from the “Harry Potter” series.

Moaning Myrtle

Before I get to Gretel’s most recent Halloweens with Miss ABBA, check out these two adorable pictures from Halloween 2002 and 2003 of Gretel as a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old.

Gretel 2002Miss Clavel 2003

In 2009, our first Halloween together, Gretel was a “Vampire Bride”.

VampireBride

And, that same year, Miss ABBA could very well have been a “Ghostbuster”.  She “ain’t afraid o’ no ghost”!

ABBAGhost

In 2010, Gretel was impressed with “Avatar” and decided she was going to be one of the Na’vi, the blue people.

GretelAvatarABBA2010

Last Halloween, since we knew that it was likely going to be Miss ABBA’s last, I decided to dress her up and go trick-or-treating, too.  So, she went as a lobotomy patient, complete with a rubber brain, blood, and gauze.  (You just can’t see the brain and it did slip some from its original placement!)

ABBAHalloween2011

And, Miss ABBA even scored her own fun-sized “3 Musketeers” bar that she pretty much enjoyed by herself.  Okay, I took a small bite since I didn’t get one. 🙂

ABBATrickOrTreat2011

October 2011 was also a very mild one and Miss ABBA sat outside a lot.  We even had a dress-up day with my Lady Gaga wig from the previous year.  That day, much to her chagrin, Miss ABBA became “ABBA Gaga”.  The look on her face is priceless.  It’s like, “Dad, people are going to see me looking like this!”

ABBAGaga2ABBAGAGA2011

Last year, Gretel went as Hermione Granger, again, from the “Harry Potter” series.

Hermione

Last Saturday night, she went to a Halloween party at her friend, Zoe’s, and she was inspired by the movie, “Rock of Ages” and went as a rocker.  Rock On!

GretelRockofAges

In memory of Miss ABBA, one of my friends, Mary Baltikauski Nielsen, in Spring Valley, Illinois, made this cute pumpkin this Halloween.

ABBA Pumpkin

And, I can’t leave out my sister, Tammy.  In 1996, she sent me this picture of her at Halloween.

Tammy Cow

Happy Halloween!

Anthony

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Playing “Dress Up” Isn’t Just For Halloween

It’s Halloween Eve and I hope you’re putting the final touches on your costumes for trick-or-treating.  Gretel already has her costume ready for tomorrow night.

As I looked through my photo albums, I didn’t find one Halloween picture of me as a child.  I guess cheap, store-bought costumes were not photo worthy. 🙂

The first picture I found was from Halloween 1986 at Club Rumors (or Club DV8) in Paducah, Kentucky.  It was the first time I dressed up in drag and I was so proud of my JC Penney dress and pumps.  And, for hair and make-up, my dearly departed friend, Raven Smith dolled me up!

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While working as a server and bartender for Ruby Tuesday in Paducah, Kentucky, in 1988, I butched it up a little over the Halloween two years earlier.  Now, either I’m really showing my age these days or I looked exceptionally young as a 24-year-old because both Ray and my sister, Tammy, commented on how young I look in this picture.

Cowboy1988

This reminds me of a monologue from “Torch Song Trilogy” from Harvey Fierstein’s Arnold (Anita Mann):  “I think my biggest problem is being young and beautiful. It’s my biggest problem because I’ve never been young and beautiful. Oh, I’ve been beautiful, and God knows I’ve been young, but never the twain have met.  LOL!

My next Halloween dress-up was in Chicago in 1995 when I went out to party at Charlie’s.  Interestingly, my confidence increased and the dress length decreased from almost ten years earlier.

H1995

My next public dress-up for Halloween came in 2002 at Roscoe’s in Chicago.  As I was preparing my outfit for the night as a pasty-white geisha girl, Miss ABBA was so intrigued.  As a 2-year-old puppy, she wondered why she couldn’t have the nerf balls that were used that night as boobs.

h2003

And, finally, the last time I dressed up for Halloween was two years ago, when Ray, Gretel, ABBA, and I hosted our own “Monster Ball”.  In honor of Lady Gaga, since we borrowed the name of our party from her, I dressed as Gaga from a past MTV VMA appearance.  No, it wasn’t the meat dress, although that would have clever (and gross).

GAGAABBA2010

But, when you live and party in the big city (Chicago), you don’t need it to be Halloween to play dress up.

These two pictures are from uniform night and a 1950s night at Charlie’s.

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And, these final ones from three shows in which I performed at Charlie’s in Chicago as my idol, Reba McEntire in late 1995 and early 1996.  The first was a customer appreciation show from the employees and the second was for a pediatric AIDS benefit.  The third was just for fun — a going-away party for me.

RebaFall1995RebaColorAPRebaDecember1995

This Halloween, I was going to dress up as a zombie.  However, I ran out of time (or got lazy) and decided that I’ll just eat some of Gretel’s candy!

Anthony

“Rock of Ages” — Should You Choose Tom Cruise or Def Leppard?

This past spring, I was really excited about the new Tom Cruise movie musical, “Rock of Ages”.

As the June release date neared, I decided that instead of catching it at first-run theaters, I’d wait for it at the cheap theater.  Then, I decided I’d just wait for the DVD release in October.  Did I make the right choice to wait instead of going on a date night (with popcorn and soda) that would have cost more than $30.  Or, was the $1.05 I spent at Redbox all the movie was worth?

We rented it this past weekend and now I wish that I had gone to the theaters this summer to see it and hear the rocking soundtrack with theater sound!

It was very entertaining and the music soundtrack, although rock heavy, featured many of the staples of my teens years and my 20s!  It was heavy on Foreigner, Journey, Pat Benatar, Def Leppard,  along with a dose of Night Ranger, Joan Jett & The Blackearts, AC/DC, and many others.  That alone was worth the rental price!

The movie focus on a nightclub on the Sunset Strip, “The Bourbon Room”.  The owner, Dennis (Alec Baldwin) and his right-hand man, Lonny (Russell Brand), are trying to find a way to keep the rock club open despite the back taxes they owe.

If that wasn’t enough, the religious, conservative wife of the mayor (Bryan Cranston), Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is determined to close down the evil clubs on the Strip, starting with the Bourbon Room.

While not as compelling as she was in the movie, “Chicago”, Zeta-Jones is always a pleasure to watch and her kooky church musical number to Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me Your Best Shot” is awesome.

The key to saving the club from closing down is getting difficult washed-up rock star, Stacee Jaxx, played by Tom Cruise, to perform his last concert with his band before he goes solo.

To prepare for the role, it’s reported that Cruise practiced his singing five hours a day to do his own vocals instead of lip-synching.  When Cruise was performing, he was mesmerizing.  However, his alcohol infused haze leading up to those musical numbers dragged on a little too long.

The stars of the movie, Julianne Hough (“Dancing With The Stars”, “Footloose”) and Diego Boneta (“Pretty Little Liars”, “Mean Girls 2”), are beautiful and fun to watch.  As Sherrie, Hough plays a small town Oklahoma girl heading to Los Angeles to be a star.  Boneta plays Drew, a barback at the Bourbon Room, just waiting in the background to gain enough confidence to perform in front of a crowd as a rocker.

The storyline is nothing new.  I’ve seen it before in “Coyote Ugly” and “Burlesque”, but nevertheless, it’s fun and fresh with rock and roll!  You know the two young, sexy people are going to crush on each other, maybe fall in love, have a misunderstanding, break up, and possibly reconcile?

After a chance encounter with Stacee Jaxx at the club the night of his performance, both Sherrie and Drew decide it’s time to move on.  She gets a broken heart and Drew lands a new recording contract.  But, that doesn’t mean things are great in his world.

Luckily, Sherrie gets a job at “The Venus Club” teaching “aerobics”.  (Not really!)  However, that gives us the chance to meet the owner of the club, Justice Charlier, played by the amazing, beautiful, talented, and electrifying Mary J. Blige.  The screen just lit up everytime Mary J. was singing and performing.

In its opening weekend, “Rock of Ages” placed third at the box office with $14.4 million.  It was pretty much panned by critics and only grossed $55.5 million and considered a failure.  The movie’s budget was $75 million.

Gretel was impressed by the whole rock musical plot line and went to Halloween party Saturday night as a rocker!

By the way, I only covered her eyes once in a steamy, well choreographed number between Stacee Jaxx and Constance Sack, a reporter for “Rolling Stone” magazine, played by Makin Akerman.

And, I guess I was ready for a rock musical before I even knew about this movie.  This picture is from last Halloween as I rocked Gretel’s Hermione Granger (“Harry Potter” series) wig.

Actually, that wig on me looked as bad as some of the wigs on the actors in the movie.

So, when it comes to “Rock of Ages”, should you choose Def Leppard’s 1983 #1 Billboard Rock track (#16 on the Billboard Hot 100) or this movie?  While I liked the Def Leppard song, “Rock of Ages”, I liked “Photograph” more.

I choose the movie.  “Rock of Ages” was very enjoyable and I would watch it again.  It didn’t break any new ground for musicals, but I didn’t go into it expecting that.  If you want to be entertained for two hours, definitely rent it.

GRADE:  B

Anthony

They Said What??? Mitt Romney, Ann Coulter, Colin Powell, & John McCain

REPUBLICAN INDIANA U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE RICHARD MOURDOCK

“I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen.”

2008 FAILED PRESIDENTIAL REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE JOHN McCAIN

(responding about Mourdock’s comment):  “If he apologizes and says he misspoke and he was wrong and asks the people to forgive him, I would be the first.”

CONSERVATIVE MOUTHPIECE ANN COULTER

(tweeted about President Obama after the third presidential debate):  “”I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.”

REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL WANNABE MITT ROMNEY

(at the third presidential debate):  “I congratulate him on, on taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership in al-Qaeda.  But we can’t kill our way out of this mess.”

(just moments later):  “Well, my strategy is pretty straightforward, which is to go after the bad guys, to make sure we do our very best to interrupt them, to kill them.”

FORMER PANTHER AND JET FOOTBALL STAR KRIS JENKINS

“Some people are afraid, if somebody comes out as openly gay, that it’s going to be the end of football as we know it.  But, football will adapt and grow with it.”

ACTRESS VIVICA A. FOX

(responding to actress Stacey Dash’s endorsement and the way she endorsed Mitt Romney):  “I didn’t know she was a Republican. I will start there.  Second, I don’t know why she had to do a photo shoot in a ‘Baywatch’ red swimsuit with the boobs and the whole flag behind her. And she doesn’t have a job or something to promote right now. I just didn’t get it.”

FORMER REPUBLICAN SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL

(endorsing President Obama):  “You know, I voted for him in 2008 and I plan to stick with him in 2012, and I’ll be voting for he and Vice President Joe Biden next month.  I think we ought to keep on the track we are on.”

Anthony

It’s Time To Be Spooked

Halloween is almost here and I know many of you have been having hauntingly fun evenings curled up on the couch watching your favorite horror movies.

Sadly, and this is scarier than any Hollywood production, I never seem to find the time anymore to just veg out on my days off to watch all of my favorite movies over and over again.  This includes Halloween movies.

There’s no contest as to what my favorite horror movie is.  Before I get to that, I want to share one of my new favorites and I actually made time this past Thursday afternoon to watch it again.  It came out in 2004 and I’m sure many of you have never heard of, much less seen it.

It’s called “Hellbent” from the co-creator of  “Halloween” and the executive producer of “The Nightmare on Elm Street”.  The tagline of the movie is “When the night belongs to the devil, the party goes to hell.”

The movie opens with a steamy love scene in a park in West Hollywood (WeHo), California, and the scene ends with a very graphic double murder.

Four friends are heading to the annual Halloween carnival in WeHo.  One of the guys works for the WeHo Police Department and he knows the gory details in the deaths of the two men that were making out in the park and tells his friends and freaks them out.

And, since you know this is a horror movie, the bloodshed is only beginning.

The movie is fun, upbeat, sexy, and gay.

While I’ve seen it many times since it arrived on DVD in the fall of 2006, my only problem (and it’s a slight one) is that it never explains why the serial killer is slaughtering the young, sexy men.  The movie redeems itself with a touching love story through all the blood and gore.

I really enjoyed the first two “Friday The 13th” movies and the first two “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies were okay, but I lost interest in them.

While Jason was relentless with his machete, I was more afraid of his mother!

I loved both “Let The Right One In” and the American version, “Let Me In”.  Both of them are spectacular if you love vampires and winter!

“Carrie” is still one of my favorites.

Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie were both amazing.  And, as much as I love Julianne Moore and Chloe Grace Moretz (“Let Me In”), I’m not really sure that we need the 2013 remake.  I could be wrong.

Of course, I love “Night of the Living Dead” (1968), “Dawn of the Dead” (1978), and the “Dawn of the Dead” remake (2004).  I remember my cousin, Steve, and I taking my mother, Dessie to the late night showing of 1978’s “Dawn of the Dead” without telling her how gory it was going to be and, afterwards, she said “That was so gross that I couldn’t eat my popcorn”.  That’s still funny to me to this day.

With that being said, it probably comes as no surprise that I love those zombie movies since “The Walking Dead” is one of my favorites.

There is still the ultimate horror movie that I want to see.  As hard as it may be to believe, I have not seen 1973’s “The Exorcist” in its entirety!  It’s one thing to see serial killers, but it’s another to deal with demonic possession!  One day soon, I hope I break down and see it.

I liked the original “The Amityville Horror” and I’ll be honest, I only watched the remake just to see studly Ryan Reynolds go mad and shirtless for much of the movie. 🙂

Now, it’s time to reveal my favorite Halloween movie, franchise, and movie ghoul.  Hands down, it’s Michael Myers and 1978’s “Halloween” is my all-time favorite horror movie.  It scared the devil out of me as a 14-year-old.  They are actually showing it here in Moline through Halloween night at the cheap theater.  I think I have Ray talked in to going and seeing it on the big screen!  It’s only been 34 years!!!!!!

There are ten movies in the “Halloween” franchise and it’s been a very interesting ride.

The original Halloween and its sequel came out in 1978 and 1981, respectively.  Then, in 1982, “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” was released and I had heard that the plan was to make ten movies with five different themes of Halloween.  The third movie focused on a demented toy maker that put microchips in the masks that would kill those wearing them.

After the movie pretty much bombed, Michael Myers returned for the fourth “Halloween” movie in 1988 and has been in all of the sequels.

While part four, five, and six, were watchable, they weren’t the best.  Actually, “Halloween 5:  Revenge of Michael Myers” was pretty annoying, but the worse was yet to come!

“Halloween:  Curse of Michael Myers” in 1995 featured a younger, sexy Paul Rudd.  The storyline was also a little far-fetched, but it was still good.  And, I loved the line, “It’s raining red” as blood dripped down on a little girl in her costume from a body hanging in the tree!

The franchise got back on track in 1998 when Jamie Lee Curtis returned as Laurie Strode in “Halloween H20”.  The interesting thing about the re-boot is that Laurie’s character was killed off off-camera for 1988’s “Halloween 4:  Return of Michael Myers”.  However, “H20” pretended that parts four, five, and six never happened.  Curtis returned again briefly for 2002’s “Halloween: Resurrection”.

And, then in 2007, rocker Rob Zombie directed his version, his re-imagining of the original “Halloween”.  Going into the movie, I thought I would hate it.  How could someone mess with the original?  I was pleasantly surprised.  Actually, I loved it because Michael was so much more violent in this movie.

However, Zombie’s 2009’s sequel “Halloween 2” changed my mind.  I saw it in theaters when it came out.  I survived, but I didn’t like it.  When it was released on DVD, I bought it and watched it again thinking I might have been wrong.  I wasn’t wrong.  It was painful to watch again and it pretty much sucked.

There was talk of another “Halloween” in 3D coming out, but it was scrapped and I have to say that if Rob Zombie is involved, count me out.

Two more horror movies I want to bring up for honorable mention are “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre:  The Beginning” to see sexy Matt Bomer and his interesting encounter with Leatherface.

And, check out 2005’s “House of Wax” just to see Paris Hilton die!  (Oops, spoiler!)

Happy Halloween everyone!  Enjoy your candy, popcorn, and horror movies.

Anthony

A Night of (Fake) Stars

Now that I’ve been back from Las Vegas for almost two weeks, I’ve blogged about the Madonna and Elton John concerts, the fantastic food I ate, and seeing “Argo” and knowing that it’s going to be big at this year’s Oscars.

This is the final blog entry about that trip.  While some paid hundreds to more than a thousand dollars to see Madonna for her two concerts in Vegas, Ray and I really hit the jackpot on our last night in town.

We saw some of the biggest names in the entertainment business:  Madonna, Gaga, Whitney, Diana, Rihanna, Janet, Katy, Bette, and Dolly, all at the same show for the bargain ticket price of only $56 for the two of us!

Okay, it wasn’t the real stars.  It was part of the longest running show on the Las Vegas Strip, “Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas” at the Imperial Palace Hotel & Casino.  But, Frank, who does an incredible Joan Rivers, wasn’t there that night.  However, there was no shortage of star power.

While the real Madonna was entertaining down the Strip at the MGM Garden Arena, the Diva’s “Madonna” held court as she opened the show.

The same entertainer that did Madonna also did Lady Gaga.

And, Dolly Parton!

While she wasn’t in “Thunderdome”, Tina Turner was there.

The late, great Miss Whitney Houston was alive and well on stage.

And, that performer returned later as “The Boss”, Diana Ross.

Katy Perry was on hand for the fun.

Oh, I think I forget to mention that the back-up dancers were hot!

Vegas would not be Vegas without the “Divine Miss M”, Bette Midler.

While Michael is resting in peace, Janet Jackson was definitely in “control”.

And, the performer that did Janet came back later in the show as Rihanna.

 

The emcee of the show filling in for Frank Marino was very funny and entertaining and she had a costume change after each performer!  I would have loved to see her do a number, too.

Sadly, Cher, Britney, and Reba were missing from the show.  Oh, Beyonce, was there.  However, it was more of a comical number that didn’t go over that well with me.  The performer was much better as Tina Turner.

If you’re in Vegas, you have to check out the “Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas” show.

Oh, did I mention that the Diva performers are female impersonators?

Anthony

Peeps’ Friday ’80s Flashbacks

It’s Friday morning and I’m back to my normal work schedule through Thanksgiving.  I just want to go back to bed.  It’ s cold!  Since it’s Friday, here are three more of my favorite 1980s songs to get you motivated.

“TIME AFTER TIME” — CYNDI LAUPER

The New York girl just wanted to have fun and many thought that “She’s So Unusual”, the name of her first album that was released in the fall of 1983 and went on to reach #4 and sell 16 million copies worldwide.

Her follow-up album, in 1986, “True Colors” also peaked at #4 and sold 10 million copies worldwide.

Cyndi would score 11 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.  It all started with the #2 smash, “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”.

While she was part of  USA for Africa that topped the charts with “We Are The World”, Cyndi would only have two solo #1 hits, “True Colors” from 1986 and the one I am featuring today.

“Time After Time” was the followup to “Girls” that topped the charts in 1984.

“VENUS” — BANANARAMA

The English trio, Bananarama, hit the Top Ten in the U.K. ten times.  “Cruel Summer” was their fifth hit there and that became their first hit and first Top Ten hit in America in 1983 when it reached #9.

If you were a Bananarama fan, you also remember the big club hits, “Really Saying Something”, “Shy Boy”, “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” and “Love In The First Degree”.

They only had three hits in America and all three of those reached the Top Ten.  After “Cruel Summer”, they hit #1 in 1986, with “Venus”, which is featured today, and #4 in 1987 with “I Heard A Rumor”.

In 1984, they were also part of the #13 charity song by Band Aid, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

“ON MY OWN” — PATTI LaBELLE & MICHAEL McDONALD 

As a member of Labelle, Patti LaBelle reached #4 in 1974 with “Lady Marmalade”.

Before scoring her first Top 40 hit on the Hot 100, she had already charted 7 R&B hits.

In 1985, she hit #17 on the Hot 100 with “New Attitude”, but with the release of her #1, platinum selling album, “Winner In You” in 1986, Patti hit the big time across mainstream America.

Michael McDonald had great success in the band The Doobie Brothers.  The band had 16 hits including two of my favorites, “What A Fool Believes” and “Minute By Minute”.  In 1982, he went out on his own and scored the #4 hit, “I Keep Forgettin'”  and he hit #7 in 1986 with “Sweet Freedom”.

However, neither Patti or Michael had a #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit until they teamed up together on “On My Own”.  In 1986, it spent three weeks at the top of the chart.

Patti would go on to have one more hit from that album, the #29 smash, “Oh People”, but she would have 12 more R&B Top 40 hits.

FLASHBACK BONUS  — “ON MY OWN” — REBA McENTIRE

Shame on you country radio today and in the mid-1990s.

In 1995, Reba released one of her best albums of her career, “Starting Over”, a retrospective of her first 20 years in the music business with recordings of her some of her favorite songs.

The first release, the remake of the Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald #1 smash, “On My Own”, from 1986, roared onto the charts featuring vocals from Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, and Linda Davis, all country singers that had already scored big hits on the charts.

It stalled at #20 and critics blasted the album for being too pop and then country radio turned around and embraced Shania Twain, the pre-Taylor Swift crossover queen!  Boo!

“Starting Over” is still one of my favorite Reba albums 17 years later!

Anthony