Archive for March, 2014

Good News About AIDS Deaths & “The Normal Heart”

In New York City, for the first time since 1983, AIDS is no longer on the list of the Top Ten causes of death.

STOP AIDS

In 2012, there were 609 deaths from AIDS.  That is still 609 too many!

One year earlier, there were 766 deaths, which ranked AIDS as the 9th leading cause of deaths in New York City.

Health Commissioner Mary Bassett says that better treatment is allowing people to live longer.

Also, here’s some other great news out of the “Big Apple”.  The number of new HIV cases has dropped there unlike other parts of the United States where the number of cases of men who have sex with men is still rising.

While that’s very encouraging, people must also remember that people are still getting infected with HIV and AIDS is still killing people.  It hasn’t gone away.

“THE NORMAL HEART”

78-year-old activist and author Larry Kramer was one of the most vocal advocates in the 1980s to make government officials aware of the HIV/AIDS pandemic that was killing so many gay men and he forced them to take it seriously.

Larry Kramer

Kramer was the founder of the political action protest group, ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, in 1987.

A few years before he wrote “The Normal Heart” and it played Off Broadway in 1985.  It’s now an upcoming HBO movie by “American Horror Story” and “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy.

The Normal Heart HBO

In the movie, Mark Ruffalo plays Ned Weeks, a writer and HIV/AIDS activist that chose loud public confrontations to quiet private meetings, just like the real-life Kramer.

“The Normal Heart” also stars Matt Bomer, Julia Roberts, Alec Baldwin, Jim Parsons, Jonathan Groff, and Taylor Kitsch.

It premiers on HBO on May 25, 2014.

Anthony

Re-posted from March 21, 2014:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/random-friday-thoughts-march-21-2014/

Random Friday Thoughts — March 28, 2014

I guess if you work weekends, you may not be all that fond of Saturdays and Sundays.

However, since I work a traditional work schedule, I really love my weekends and this one should be a great once since I have no plans and the weather is going to dry and warmer.

So, enjoy your weekend and my random thoughts this Friday.

SPRING PLANTING

With the nice weather expected, I hope to get outdoors and clean out the garden, the herb garden, and the two flower beds.  Ray and I talked about planting and I suggested that we have two herb gardens this year for plenty of fun, tasty herbs to cook with this summer and fall.

Planter

I’m making progress on my indoor planting that I did three weeks ago.  It appears that the Ice White Cherry Tomatoes have popped up!  No luck yet on the Jerusalem Cherry plants that I desperately want.

Now I just have to keep them alive and healthy until I can plant them outdoors.

WINTER’S LAST HOORAY?

While it’s going to be a warm one this weekend with highs in the 50s Saturday and in the 60s Sunday and Monday in the Quad Cities, we had measurable snow this past Monday night.

Snow 032514

That brought us up to 65.1″ of snow for the winter, which is more than twice what we typically see in a winter.

We’re still 4.6″ shy of the snowiest winter on record.  Too bad since I’ve moved on from winter and I want spring now!

ONE JURY I’D LIKE TO BE ON!

Jessica Dutro of Tigard, Oregon, just outside of Portland, is on trial for murder, murder by abuse, second-degree assault, and four other charges in the death of her 4-year-old son, Zachary, because she thought he was gay!

Her boyfriend, Brian Canady, has already pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter for his part in the child’s death.

dutro-boggess-canady

Zachary’s 7-year-old sister told investigators that “Jessica and Brian, they kept hitting him and punching him.  He didn’t listen to them so they kicked him and punched him and stuff and they kept doing it and doing it.”

In Facebook messages that the judge is allowing in the trail, the little boy’s mother tells her boyfriend, Brian, using a homophobic slur that he’s going to be gay and “he walks and talks like it.  Ugh.”

Little Zachary did not get medical treatment until two days after the beating and was unresponsive when he was finally taken to the hospital on August 14, 2012.  He was taken off life support two days later.

The child died from the trauma to his abdomen, tears in his bowels, and the infection caused by the leakage into his body.

The other two children in the home, the aforementioned 7-year-old girl and a 3-year-old brother also showed multiple signs of abuse.

MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT 370

I know that plane crashes are always a possibility with the high number of flights around the world daily.

However, it’s now been about three weeks since Malaysia Airlines flight 370 lost contact and disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpar International Airport in Malaysia en route to Beijing, China.

Malaysia-Bejing Flight Map

While it’s still unknown what happened to the Boeing 777, it’s likely that the 239 people on board are dead.

Malaysian Airlines is telling the families of those on board that “beyond reasonable doubt” there are no survivors and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told the world that the flight “ended in the southern Indian Ocean”.

Malaysia Prime Minister

Unless there was an act of terrorism, in my heart, I feel that the plane crashed in the Indian Ocean and there are no survivors.

However, I don’t trust the Malaysian government and I believe the press conference they held earlier this week concluding the plane crashed is just damage control because officials there have botched this investigation and its interactions with the media since the beginning.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

19 Down Beliefs

ANOTHER 2014 CONCERT PLANNED

In late May, we’re going to see Olivia Newton-John and Shania Twain in Las Vegas and in June, we have tickets to see Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis in Clinton, Iowa, on the “Grits and Glamour Tour”.

Cher Cyndi Lauper

While there may be one more concert, we just bought tickets to see the “Dressed To Kill Tour” with Cher and Cyndi Lauper in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in early June.

The concert kicked off in Phoenix, Arizona, last Saturday night and it’s getting great reviews and Cher looks amazing.

I saw Cher and Cyndi Lauper on “The Farewell Tour” more than ten years ago.  This will be Ray’s first time.

I know it’ll be fun even though Cher doesn’t do my favorite song, “Red”, from her new album.

NCAA BASKETBALL BRACKETS

After winning the NCAA Men’s Basketball “March Madness” last year at the station and for one of the local newspapers, I was doing rather well going in to the “Sweet Sixteen”.

2014 Brackets

Sadly, last night, one of my “Final Four” teams, Baylor, lost miserably to Wisconsin.

If my other three “Final Four” teams continue to win, I’ll have a chance!

IOWA STATE CYCLONES

I have the Iowa State Cyclones winning one more game before falling to Virginia.

ISU is Ray’s alma mater, but that is not the reason I love watching them play.

Fred

That’s Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg.

He played for Iowa State in the 1990s and then went on to an NBA career from 1995-2005 playing for Indiana, Chicago, and Minnesota.  He’s been the head coach at Iowa State now since 2010.

DIVERGENT

“Divergent” opened with $54.6 million in the U.S. last weekend.

The movie looks interesting and I’ll likely see it when it comes out on DVD.  It stars Shailene Woodley and 29-year-old Englishman Theo James.

Theo James

There’s more to say about the movie, but it escapes me!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY #1

Mother Monster is celebrating her 28th birthday today.  Happy Birthday, Lady Gaga!

Lady Gaga

Since 2008, Gaga has charted with 13 Top Ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

While my favorite Lady Gaga songs are still “Bad Romance”, “The Edge of Glory”, “Marry The Night” and “Dance in The Dark”, there are many songs on her new album, “ARTPOP”, that are incredible.

Her new single, “G.U.Y.”, is definitely one of them!

Classic Gaga!

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”/HAPPY BIRTHDAY #2

While Lady Gaga is celebrating today, she’s not alone.

Reba

My idol, Reba McEntire, turns 59 today!

Reba Anthony 2005

Reba, I hope you’re having an amazing birthday.   While I don’t know if Reba is looking for songs for a new album, I hope so.

Nevertheless, for her birthday, let’s flash back to February 1995 when Reba took “Till You Love Me” to number 2 on the Billboard Country charts.

Reba has sold more than 80 million records worldwide, accumulated 25 #1 hits, which has her tied with Dolly Parton for the most numbers ones by a female country artist.

Reba easily has the most Top Ten hits by a country female artist with 59.

MY PARENTS’ ANNIVERSARY

March 28th seems to be a popular day.  It was on this date back in 1964 that my parents, Hollie Gene and Dessie, got married.

Dessie-Hollie-Anthony -- Fall 1964

They were married almost 23 years when Hollie died (Dessie died three years later).

However, that little bundle of joy in the picture turns 50 in October.  Yes, that’s me.

THAT’S IT

Happy Friday and thank you for checking out my random thoughts.  Have a great weekend.

Anthony

 

Beat The Cold & Snow With These Three Movies

I hope you enjoyed the first weekend of spring.

While it looked nice, it was a chilly one in the Quad Cities after Friday’s high of 62°!  That was the first 60-plus temperature this year and the warmest day in more than four months!

Saturday LeClaire

Now, we have a little snow (an inch or two) on the way today and tonight.  The good news is that it won’t last long and much warmer weather is expected by the weekend!  Yes, I’m already thinking of the weekend and it’s just Monday!

So, if you want to cuddle up on the couch tonight and Tuesday and if you’re not watching “The Following”, I have a few suggestions to definitely check out if you want to rent movies!  I love my Redbox!

“INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED”

This Mexican comedy-drama directed and written by star Eugenio Derbez stunned the American box office when it opened last fall and I can see why.

Instructions Not Included

The $5 million dollar movie is now up to $90.2 million in box office revenues.

Of that amount, $39.3 million was made in the U.S.  “Instructions” is now the highest grossing Spanish-language movie of all time and it’s the 4th highest grossing foreign film domestically.

In Mexico, by the second week in release, it had become the highest grossing Mexican film of all time.

Derbez stars as Valentin’, a bum that likes to sleep around.  One day, a former fling shows up at his door while he’s entertaining a couple of women.  She hands him a baby and gets money to go back down to pay the taxi.  She doesn’t return.

instructions_not_included

Valentin’ begins tracking down the American mother and realizes that she may be in Los Angeles.  He and the little girl, Maggie, head off in search of the baby’s mother, Julie.

He gets a job as a stunt man after saving the baby’s life in front of a director.  Over the years, Valentin’ and Maggie grow close.

Valentin Maggie

And, that’s where the drama comes in.

This movie is a definite must-see.  You won’t even notice that you have to read subtitles!

GRADE:  A

“NEBRASKA”

This black & white movie was nominated for six Academy Awards this year, including Best Picture, Best Director for Alexander Payne, Best Actor for Bruce Dern and Best Supporting Actress for June Squibb.

Nebraska

Dern stars as Woody Grant, an elderly Billings, Montana, man who thinks he’s won a million dollars in a sweepstakes.  Since he’s suffers from memory loss, he heads off walking several times to Lincoln, Nebraska to collect his money.

You can see the stress that this brings to his wife, Kate (Squibb) and his son, David, played by former “Saturday Night Live” comedian, Will Forte, in a dramatic role that he aces.

David gives in and decides to drive to Nebraska with his father.  On the way, there will be a family get together in Woody’s small Nebraska hometown the weekend before they arrive in Lincoln.  Once Woody tells people he’s won a million dollars, family and friends all come forward to demand their share of the winnings.

June Squibb

The movie was very hard to watch at times because it was so awkward, but real.  I felt like I was a voyeur in the Grant family’s life.

While Dern and Forte were amazing, June Squibb made the movie.  The fact that she didn’t have a filter and said what she was thinking, her performance definitely deserved an Oscar nomination — if not for the cemetery scene alone and it was funny!

GRADE:  A-

“OLDBOY”

Director Spike Lee’s remake of the 2003 South Korean cult film, Oldboy, was a box office bomb, but it was very entertaining and intriguing.

OLDBOY

Josh Brolin stars as Joe, an alcoholic advertisement executive.  He drinks during the work day just to get through it and he’s good at what he does.

However, one night, after he botches a pretty much sealed high-profile deal over dinner, he gets wasted and wakes up being held captive in a “room” after following an Asian woman with an umbrella through an alley.

In his captivity, he finds out the he’s being framed for the rape and murder of his ex-wife.  His infant child, Mia, survived the attack.

Josh Brolin

Joe is held prisoner for 20 years and then he’s drugged and released in a box in the middle of a field with cash and a cell phone.  While in captivity, he was forced to watch a video of his grown daughter, Mia, talking about how she’d feel to meet her father again.

That’s where it gets violent and very creepy.

The movie also features incredible performances from Samuel L. Jackson, Elizabeth Olsen, who’s one of the best new actresses out there, and Sharlto Copley (“District 9” and “Elysium”).

While I enjoyed this movie, when it hits theaters, it was one of the weakest openings for Thanksgiving of all time.  It only grossed $850,000 in the first five days.

“Summer of Sam” is still my favorite Spike Lee movie, but this is solid, too.

GRADE: B

As you know, I love watching movies and I’m sure I’ll have a few more short reviews to share with you soon.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — March 21, 2014

Well, according to the calendar and astronomy, winter is over and spring is here.

After six straight months (since October 2013) of below average temperatures in the Quad Cities and more than 64″ of snow, I’m ready to work in the yard and mow it and plant a garden.

I hope you have a great weekend.  Here are my random thoughts for this week.

FRED PHELPS IS DEAD

The founder and leader of the cult group, Westboro Baptist Church, in Topeka, Kansas, died Thursday at the age of 84.

While I will not happily dance around or protest his funeral, I’m not saddened by his passing.  And, that is a little sad.

fred-phelps

The man and his family, for years, have protested the funerals of soldiers and celebrities with their signs telling us everything that God hates, mostly gay people.  However, the group doesn’t choose words as gentle as “gay”.

If you took these protests at face value, you’d come to the conclusion that his God is not a very happy God since he hates so much.   All I know is that his God is not my God!

And, is this really what you want the children of the future to grow up thinking?

WBC Kids

I feel for Phelps’ family that are mourning his death.  However, with Fred gone, there’s a little more love in the world today and a little less hate.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Wet My PlantsPlaneEffective

GREAT NEWS ABOUT AIDS

In New York City, for the first time since 1983, AIDS is no longer on the list of the Top Ten causes of death.

STOP AIDS

In 2012, there were 609 deaths from AIDS.  That is still 609 too many!

One year earlier, there were 766 deaths, which ranked AIDS as the 9th leading cause of deaths in New York City.

Health Commissioner Mary Bassett says that better treatment is allowing people to live longer.

Also, here’s some other great news out of the “Big Apple”.  The number of new HIV cases has dropped there unlike other parts of the United States where the number of cases of men who have sex with men is still rising.

While that’s very encouraging, people must also remember that people are still getting infected with HIV and AIDS is still killing people.  It hasn’t gone away.

“THE NORMAL HEART”

78-year-old activist and author Larry Kramer was one of the most vocal advocates in the 1980s to make government officials aware of the HIV/AIDS pandemic that was killing so many gay men and he forced them to take it seriously.

Larry Kramer

Kramer was the founder of the political action protest group, ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, in 1987.

A few years before he wrote “The Normal Heart” and it played Off Broadway in 1985.  It’s now an upcoming HBO movie by “American Horror Story” and “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy.

The Normal Heart HBO

In the movie, Mark Ruffalo plays Ned Weeks, a writer and HIV/AIDS activist that chose loud public confrontations to quiet private meetings, just like the real-life Kramer.

“The Normal Heart” also stars Matt Bomer, Julia Roberts, Alec Baldwin, Jim Parsons, Jonathan Groff, and Taylor Kitsch.

It premiers on HBO on May 25, 2014.

PICK HIT — DOUBLE FEATURE

It’s time now to lighten the mood just a bit and to steam up the windows now that it’s spring.

I just bought the new CDs from Kylie Minogue “Kiss Me Once” (amazing and fun) and Enrique Iglesias ” SEX+LOVE” (still need to listen to it).

Kiss Me OnceEnrique SEX AND LOVE

The beautiful singers even have a duet together, “Beautiful”, which is featured on both albums.

While Kylie’s current single is the incredible “Into The Blue” and Enrique’s current hit is “I’m A Freak” featuring Pitbull, I’m featuring two versions of a new release from Kylie called “Sexercize”.

If you like looking at sexy women, the first video is for you.  If you like gorgeous and hot men, the second is the one you should check out.

And, of course, we can’t leave Enrique out.

Something tells me that Kylie and Enrique are obsessed with sexy people and I’m okay with that!

“CYNDI LAUPER:  A MEMOIR”

I just finished reading Cyndi Lauper’s memoir and it was incredible to learn more about talented and zany singer that has been entertaining us for thirty years.

Cyndi Lauper A Memoir

She talks about music, videos, love, her commitment to the LGBT community, Cher, Madonna, and much more in the book.

From my Wednesday blog about the book, “She had a rough childhood with a creepy stepfather, school problems, keeping a job, losing a baby, sexual assault by former band members, and several health issues.”

If you’d like to read the entire blog about Cyndi and her book and to relive some of the classic videos, here’s the link:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/cyndi-lauper-is-unusual-but-most-of-all-shes-an-ally/

If not, enjoy this #3 hit from 1987, “Change of Heart”, from her second album, “True Colors”.

“CRISIS”

NBC’s newest drama, “Crisis” debuted last Sunday night with a “soft” opening with 6.5 million viewers.

“Entertainment Weekly” gave the show a grade of C+ and I definitely think the first episode was better than that.

Crisis

A group of elite teenagers of very powerful players in Washington D.C., including the President’s son, are ambushed and taken hostage.  We don’t know why or how this will play out over the 13 episode season.

But, I’m excited that I get another hour of television that features my favorite female crush, Gillian Anderson.

Crisis - Season Pilot

Her recurring role as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier on “Hannibal” (NBC, 9 p.m. Central) is not enough for me.

“Crisis” airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. Central on NBC.

“ALL IS LOST”

I just saw the latest Robert Redford movie, “All Is Lost”.

All Is Lost

While there was Oscar buzz and his performance was commanding for a one-man show, there wasn’t much else in the movie.

We never learned who he was, why he was out in the Indian Ocean, and why we should really care if he lived or died other than because he was a living person.

All I lost with this movie is the 106 minutes that I’ll never get back.

GRADE:  D

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

Today in this feature, I’m showcasing two artists that I’ve already seen in concert, but they’re heading back out for the “The Grits and Glamour Tour”.

Grits Glamour Tour

I met Pam in Bettendorf, Iowa, in November 2012, and she was a sweetheart.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This past December, we saw Lorrie’s Christmas show at Opryland Hotel.  She was so beautiful.

IMG_4551

Both women still sound amazing and it’ll be fun seeing them together.

Pam has had 22 hits on the Billboard Country charts with 13 of them making it to the Top Ten.  Of those, ten scaled the Top Five.

Her only #1 hit was 1995’s “Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life)”.

“Shake The Sugar Tree” is one of my favorite Pam Tillis songs.  It peaked at #3 in early 1992.

Lorrie has scored 25 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Country charts.  Of those, 14 have reached the Top Ten, and 11 made the Top Five.

She’s topped the charts three times: “Five Minutes” (1990), “What Part of No” (3 weeks at #1, 1993), and “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” (1995).

One of my favorite Lorrie songs failed to reach the Top Ten.  Sadly, “Something In Red” stalled at #14 in 1992.

THAT’S IT

Thank you for checking out my blog this week.

Happy Spring everyone!  I hope you have a fantastic weekend.

Anthony

Cyndi Lauper Is Unusual, But Most of All, She’s An Ally

As a kid, I loved the “Island of Misfit Toys” in the Christmas classic, “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”.

rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer-island-of-misfit-toys

When I was a teenager, I was captivated by the originality of Top 40 pop music newcomer Cyndi Lauper, with her crazy clothes, her bizarre hair styles and hair colors, and that unmistakable voice.

She was so unusual and in her autobiography, “Cyndi Lauper:  A Memoir”, she admits to being a “misfit” and mentions “Rudolph” and the “island”.

Cyndi Lauper A Memoir

While reading the book, I realized why, other than her music and her style, I was so mesmerized by her in the 1980s and, even, today.

This summer, Cyndi turns 61-years-old.

Cyndi Lauper 2

While she’s only eleven years older than me and eleven years younger than my mother, her approach to life reminds me so much of my late mother, Dessie.  My mother could have been Cyndi’s big sister if Cyndi was a southern woman!

Cyndi tells people the way it is and she takes no bull.  My mother was the same way.

cyndi lauper 1970s

Without giving away too many details of the book since I think you should read it, it was interesting to learn more about Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper before she became “Cyndi Lauper”.

She had a rough childhood with a creepy stepfather, school problems, keeping a job, losing a baby, sexual assault by former band members, and several health issues.

It was interesting hearing her take on the music business in her bands before she made it big with her #2 Billboard Hot 100 smash, “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”.

The follow-up, “Time After Time”, became her first chart-topper.

It was followed by the #3 hit, “She Bop”, the #5 “All Through The Night” and one of my all-time favorites, “Money Changes Everything”, which was only a modest radio hit reaching #27 in 1985.

Her debut solo album, “She’s So Unusual”, from 1983, would go on to sell 16 million copies worldwide.  Six million of those were in the United States.

cyndi-lauper-she' s-so-unusual

My favorite Cyndi Lauper performance has always been and is still “When You Were Mine”, the Prince classic, on 1985’s “American Music Awards”.  It was so captivating to me almost thirty years ago and it still takes my breath away today!

Cyndi was also part of the historic, “We Are The World” charity recording by USA For Africa that topped the chart in 1985 and she scored her first Top Ten hit movie theme, “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough”.

Illness, surgery, and turmoil with the record company delayed the release of the follow-up album, “True Colors” until 1986.

True Colors

However, it turned out to be another success selling more than 7 million copies worldwide.  More than 2 million of those were sold in the U.S.

The title track became Cyndi’s second #1 hit (third counting her contribution to USA For Africa).  “True Colors” also became an anthem for the LGBT community and for her friends that were dying from AIDS.

While radio changed in the late 1980s and 1990s and stop playing Cyndi with her last hit, “I Drove All Night”, which hit #6 in 1989, she kept recording albums and touring and scored 9 more Billboard Dance hits after her radio days.  Five of those reached #1 or #2.

In all, Cyndi has picked up 15 Grammy nominations over the past thirty years.  In addition to her Grammy Awards, she’s also won MTV Video Music Awards, American Music Awards, an Emmy Award for her acting on the NBC hit, “Mad About You”, and a Tony Award for “Kinky Boots”.

In the past twenty years, Cyndi has become a leading force in the fight for equality for her LGBT friends.  While the gay community fights very hard, it’s always encouraging when our straight brothers and sisters like Cyndi, Cher, Madonna, and Lady Gaga reach out and fight hard for our rights.

In 2007, Cyndi started the “True Colors Tour”, the “True Colors Fund” in 2010, and the “Forty to None Project” in 2012, which brings to light the fact that about 10% of youth in America is LGBT, but that small group makes up about 40% of the homeless youth in the U.S.  Cyndi and her organization want that number to drop to zero.

If you’re looking for an interesting, fun, ballsy book to read this spring or summer, you definitely have to check out “Cyndi Lauper:  A Memoir”.  It’ll take you back thirty years to remind you why you loved Cyndi Lauper so much in the 1980s and you’ll learn so much more about her.

I find it hilarious that she’s not afraid to set people straight and then tell us about it.  Bob Dylan, are you listening?

She's So Unusual 30th Anniversary

On April 1, 2014, Cyndi will be releasing “She’s So Unusual:  A 30th Anniversary Celebration”, a two-disc deluxe set featuring many songs from that hugely successful 1983 album, plus old and new remixes, early demos, and rehearsals.  It’s a must for die-hard Lauper fans.

Cyndi is also working on a new studio album and she’s heading out on tour again this spring with Cher on the “Dressed To Kill Tour”.

Cher Cyndi Lauper

I saw Cyndi and Cher in concert about ten years ago in Chicago and the show was incredible.

I’ll be seeing Cher and Cyndi for the second time in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on June 6th.

Cyndi, I know you won’t notice me in the crowds, but I’ll be screaming for you and singing along to your music.  Thank you for sharing your music, your humor, your strength, and your commitment with us over the past 30 years.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — March 14, 2014

It’s no surprise that I love my weekends.  It’s going to be relatively mild this weekend and I hope to take a few walks in the neighborhood and get some fresh air. I hope you have a great weekend, too.

Here are my random thoughts for this week.

MICHELE BACHMANN, THE WORLD HAS CHANGED!

Minnesota Representative and failed Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is still behind the times and she thinks that President Obama, liberal judges, and gay people are out to “take away” her religious rights.

Bachmann

I guess that’s better than her thinking we want to take her husband away from her!

Marcus Bachmann

Okay, let me get back on track.  She’s upset with not only the LGBT community, but also Arizona Governor Jan Brewer because she vetoed the very bad SB 1062 last month.

Bachmann says, “There’s nothing about gays in there. But the gay community decided to make this their measure.  I think the thing that is getting a little tiresome, the gay community, they have so bullied the American people, and they’ve so intimidated politicians. The politicians fear them, so that they think they get to dictate the agenda everywhere.”

ELECTION 2016

Since 2014 is just getting underway and the next presidential election is still about two years away, who are Iowa voters most excited about?

For Democrats, former Secretary of State, former First Lady, and 2008 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has incredible support with Democrats with 88% saying it’s a good idea for her to run for President and 11% saying it’s a bad idea.

president-hillary

Current Vice President Joe Biden only has 58% of the polled saying it’s a good idea for him to run in 2016.

Potential Iowa Voters

On the Republican side, of the candidates that were asked about, 2012 Vice President wannabe Paul Ryan has the support of 67% of Republicans with only 16% thinking it’s a bad idea.

Right behind him with 65% thinking it’s a good idea is former Arkansas Governor and failed presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

“GAYEST PRESIDENT YET”

Kudos to Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton.

Last summer, she could have been arrested for holding up this rainbow flag in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Russia.

Tilda Swinton Moscow

Recently, at  SXSW  in Austin, Texas, she topped herself by saying this about Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Well, Russia has the gayest president ever. No, that’s an offensive thing to say—not to him, but to the gay community.”

Putin

Tilda, if I didn’t already love you for your amazing work and, especially, your performance in “We Need To Talk About Kevin”, I’d love you even more now.

WINTER, GO AWAY!

As much as I love snow, a few days of 50° or higher this week and I’m now in “spring” mode!

When it comes to farmers’ almanacs and long-term forecasts, it’s fun to looked at the books’ generalized forecasts for the upcoming winter season.  But, there’s definitely no scientific validity to the daily forecasts for each month.  It’s definitely guess-work.

But, check out this “Farmers’ Almanac” forecast from last fall that I blogged about on August 30, 2013.

Farmers' Almanac

With temperatures from December 2013 through March 2014 running more than nine degrees below average in the Quad Cities and 62.4″ of snow this winter, almost twice the average winter’s snowfall, I say “kudos” to the “Farmers’ Almanac” for nailing this winter’s outlook.

“BAGGAGE CLAIM”

The romantic comedy, “Baggage Claim”, was the funniest movie I’ve seen since “We’re The Millers” last year.

Baggage Claim

Paula Patton stars a Montana Moore, a flight attendant who finds out that her younger sister who’s still in college is engaged.  She begins to feel the pressure from her mother who’s been married five times.

When her boyfriend, Graham, invites her, by letter, to spend Thanksgiving with him in Chicago, Montana is convinced that he’s going to pop the question.  Wait, he sends a letter inviting her????  What year is this?

Well, things don’t go as planned.

That’s when her two flight attendant friends, Gail and Sam, devise a master plan to get her married or engaged before her sister’s wedding in thirty days!

Gail and Sam Baggage Claim

Jill Scott is hilarious as the promiscuous Gail and Adam Brody is adorably cute and funny as Montana gay best friend, Sam.

With the help from others that work within the airline industry, the trio tracks down Montana’s exes that are flying over the holidays to see if any of them have changed and if they could now be the “one”.

While predictable, it’s funny, sexy, and cute.  Dare I say this, but it’s a modern-day “Pretty Woman” without Julia Roberts and prostitutes.

“Baggage Claim” is a definite must-see and I’m even considering buying the DVD!

GRADE:  A-

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Spring Forward Yelling

CONGRATULATIONS BELINDA CARLISLE

Today marks a very special anniversary in former Go-Go’s lead singer, Belinda Carlisle’s life.

It was nine years ago today that she stopped using drugs after almost 30 years of abuse!

belinda_carlisle_lips_unsealed_cover

She made those revelations in her memoir, “Lips Unsealed”, which I blogged about earlier this week.

Here’s an excerpt from my blog:  “In March 2005, Belinda was in London rehearsing for some tour dates and having talks about a new venture for her, an album of French pop songs.   In heartbreaking detail in the book, she went on a cocaine frenzy in her hotel room and envisioned herself dead of an overdose.  It gave her the strength to do something she had never been able to do.  She was going to finish the last of the cocaine sitting on the table and quit cold turkey.”

Belinda

Belinda, congratulations on nine years.  I know that overcoming an addiction is a daily fight and I wish you and your family the very best.

Here’s Belinda from last year with “Sun”.

If you missed my blog about Belinda, here’s the link:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/belinda-carlisle-from-the-germs-the-go-gos-to-beating-demons/

AMERICANS BECOMING MORE OPEN-MINDED

There will always be prejudiced against <insert minority group here>.  Otherwise, what would close-minded people have to talk about?

I want to comment and focus on the LGBT community and marriage equality.

“USA Today” reported in late February that a study by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) shows that the number of Americans supporting marriage equality has risen from 32% in 2003 to 53% last year!

LoveMarriageEquality

In that same time period, 17 states and the District of Columbia have allowed same-sex marriages.

The PRRI study also shows that in the past ten years, the number of people who say same-sex marriages are against their religious beliefs dropped from 62% to 51%.

The top three religions that were deemed most “unfriendly” to the LGBT community were the Catholic Church (58%), the Mormon Church (53%) and Evangelical Christian churches (51%).

gays_in_church

Robert P. Jones, the CEO of PRRI, says that 24% of those polled left their childhood religion and now have no religious identity.  One of the main reasons given was their church’s negative teachings or treatment of LGBT people.

In younger people, ages 18 to 33, that number jumps to 31%!

MILEY-KATY CAT FIGHT

There’s a pop music cat fight going on now and Madonna, Lady Gaga, and Elton John are not involved!

Recently, at Miley Cyrus’ “Bangerz Tour” stop in Los Angeles, Katy leaned in to give Miley an innocent kiss during the song, “Adore You”.

Miley Katy Kiss

So, here’s Katy’s side of the story.

Katy on Miley's Tongue

Well, Miley didn’t take kindly to Katy’s comment and Tweeted this.

Miley Response

Ladies, since we never really know where other people’s tongues have been, let’s just use Scope, kiss, and make up!

“ROMEO & JULIET”

We all know the story of the dreaded feud between the Montagues and the Capulets that doomed the love affair of their children, Romeo and Juliet.

In the latest box office bomb, Romeo is played by the stunningly drop-dead gorgeous English actor Douglas Booth and Academy Award nominee Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”) portrays Juliet.

romeojuliet1

The movie is definitely getting a bad rap.  If it wasn’t bad enough that the $24 million dollar movie only made $1.2 million in theaters, it was mostly panned by critics, and has an approval rating of only 21% on the website, “Rotten Tomatoes”!

I didn’t think the movie lacked energy as many have stated.  If you want to see a new version of the classic story, you won’t be thoroughly disappointed.

And, look on the bright side, if you start watching it and you think I’m wrong about the movie being okay, just stare at the beautiful Douglas Booth and make the best of it.

romeo-douglas-booth

GRADE:  B

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

Texan Clay Walker first appeared on the country music scene in 1993 when his debut single, “What’s It To You” and its follow-up, “Live Until I Die”, both topped the Billboard Country chart.

He was so dreamy and quickly became my favorite male country singer.

Clay Walker

I finally saw him in concert in Merrillville, Indiana, in early 1996.

Clay charted with 29 country hits with 17 of them reaching the Top Ten.

Of those, six topped the chart!  Including the two I previously mentioned, “Dreaming With My Eyes Open” (1994), “If I Could Make A Living” (1994), “This Woman And This Man” (1995), and “Rumor Has It” (1997) were also chart toppers.

I have many favorites of Clay’s, but I think this is my absolute favorite.

THAT’S IT

Happy St. Patrick’s Day weekend to you.  If you have a lot of green beer, make sure you have a designated driver!

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts.

Anthony

Belinda Carlisle — From The Germs & The Go-Gos To Beating Demons

It’s funny how comparing ages with someone at two different points in your life are so different.

I just finishing “Lips Unsealed” by former Go-Go’s Belinda Carlisle.

belinda_carlisle_lips_unsealed_cover

This fall, Belinda will turn 56-years-old and I’ll hit the big 5-0!

Back in 1981, I remember dancing around my bedroom to the Go-Go’s first hit, “Our Lips Are Sealed”, as a 17-year-old beginning my senior year in high school.  At that age, I had no real sense of age and time.  I thought people who were in their 20s were so mature and people who were 30-years-old were over-the-hill and ready for the grave.

I’d watch that video and think that the band was so much fun and so worldly.

What I definitely didn’t know then and I didn’t know until reading “Lips Unsealed” was that Belinda, the self-assured looking young lady in that video that was only six years older than me.  But, she was a scared, insecure singer and performer that didn’t really think she had what it takes to be a real star.  And, that she and the Go-G0s were wasted on drugs and alcohol more often than not.

Go Go' Beauty and the Beat

While helping to usher in “new wave” music in the United States, “Beauty and the Beat”, the Go-Go’s 1981 debut album, spent six weeks at #1 and sold more two million copies here at home.  At the time, it became the most successful debut of all time.

In addition to the #20 hit, “Our Lips Are Sealed”, which reached the Top 5 in Canada and Australia and in 2000 was named one of the greatest pop songs of all time by “Rolling Stone” magazine, the album produced the biggest hit of the Go-Go’s career, the #2 smash, “We Got The Beat”.

It’s so interesting to watch these videos now thirty years later and know from reading Belinda’s book how she and the Go-Go’s partied so hard at night and just went through the motions for some promotional events and concerts.

belinda_carlisle_lips_unsealed_cover

When I started reading the book about Belinda’s childhood and her being weight-conscious and being called fat, her parents’ divorce, and her abusive and alcoholic stepfather, I thought about my own struggles with eating disorders and how, no matter how much weight you lost, you still thought you could lose more.

I also thought about the abuse that my father brought upon my mother, my sister, and myself and how he was an okay person on the days he wasn’t drinking.

And, while I’ve never done a recreational drug in my life, as I was reading the book, it took me back to the 1970s when Belinda was deep into the growing Hollywood punk rock scene and I thought about how much fun hanging out in that seedy environment would have been.

Punk Belinda Punks

To hang out the parking lots of the clubs and see the pop, rock, and punk music stars walk by would have been incredible.  With all the people musicians have working for them these days, that could never happen now.

The-Go-Gos

While reading “Lips Unsealed”, at times, I felt she was boasting about how much cocaine and other drugs she did, along with the alcohol.  However, without that honesty, how could one really know how detrimental she was to herself, the band, and those that she cared most about, including her husband, Morgan Mason, that she married in 1986.

Belinda Morgan Mason 1986

After their successful breakthrough with their first album, the Go-Go’s follow-up, “Vacation” in 1982 reached the Top Ten and moved 500,000+ copies.  The title track was the only hit from the album reaching #8.

vacation

Their third album, in 1984, produced two hits that reached #11 and #32 on the Billboard Hot 100, and it was time for a change for the band.  Between drugs, alcohol, less success at radio, and infighting, the band called it quits, except for concerts here and there to make money and just to play music.

Belinda was ready to become a solo star.

Belinda Carlisle Belinda

Her first solo album, Belinda, went gold, in 1986 and produced her first hit without the Go-Go’s, “Mad About You”.

While the song reached #3 in the U.S. and #1 in Canada, it would be the only hit from the album.  Belinda did score a Top 30 dance hit with the remake of Freda Payne smash, “Band of Gold”.  I used to play it all the time when I was a disc jockey at the gay bar in Paducah, Kentucky.

Belinda Carlisle Heaven On Earth

Belinda’s solo career would sky-rocket with the release of her second album, “Heaven On Earth” in 1987.

It would produce three Top Ten hits, including the #1 smash, “Heaven Is A Place on Earth”, “I Get Weak”, which peaked at #2, and “Circle In The Sand”, which reached #7.

While she was on top of the world as a solo singer, her personal life was in shambles.  Her drug use and insecurities about her weight, her singing, and her performances were out of control.  She was also hiding her drug and alcohol addiction from her husband, who appeared in her “Mad About You” and “Heaven” videoes.

Good Heavens Tour

That was made easier since he was busy with his movie production career and she was touring.

Belinda’s third album, “Runaway Horses” produced only two modest hits in the U.S. with the biggest, “Leave A Light On”, reaching only #11.

While her career cooled because of the changing music scene in the early 1990s, Belinda was still a drug addict that would not admit that she had a problem.  In 1991, she found out she was pregnant and in April 1992 gave birth to her son, James Duke Mason.

Belinda and family

In a very touching story, Belinda talks about how one of her doctors spread lies about her alleged drug use during her pregnancy and how the trash tabloids picked up on  it.

Sadly, Belinda struggled to be a good mother and a good wife.  She spent the rest of the 1990s and the early part of the 2000s as a drug addict and alcoholic fearing that every talk or intervention with her husband would lead to him saying that was leaving her.

In March 2005, Belinda was in London rehearsing for some tour dates and having talks about a new venture for her, an album of French pop songs.

In heartbreaking detail in the book, she went on a cocaine frenzy in her hotel room and envisioned herself dead of an overdose.  It gave her the strength to do something she had never been able to do.  She was going to finish the last of the cocaine sitting on the table and quit cold turkey.

That was March 14, 2005.  Nine years later, she is still drug free.

belinda_carlisle

Weeks later, she was ready to give up her other addiction — alcohol.  She bought her favorite wine, Corbiere, and went home and drank it and passed out on April 3, 2005.  She is still on the wagon.

Belinda

In the past nine years of living healthy, Belinda starred in “Hairspray” in London’s East End, released her French album, “Viola”, in 2007, performs occasionally, and is getting ready to release her latest collection of songs, “The Anthology” and “The Collection” later this month.

Last year, Belinda released the incredible song, “Sun”.  She still looks and sounds amazing.

Belinda & SonBelinda Duke

Belinda and her husband, Morgan, call Los Angeles and France home, while her son, Duke, soon to be 22-years-old, is an actor and LGBT activist and he was named as one of the “100 most influential LGBT people in the world” in 2011 for “Out” magazine.

Belinda, Morgan, and Duke, I wish you all happiness and love.  And, my friends, you have to check out Belinda’s memoir, “Lips Unsealed”.

Anthony

 

Armistead Maupin, Thank You For Motivating Me

Armistead

Although Armistead Maupin has been writing his “Tales of the City” stories for forty years, I just discovered them twenty years ago this spring when PBS aired the first “Tales of the City” miniseries.

It’s very strange to see Michael in his 60s and Anna in her 90s.  But, then again, I’m no longer watching the last months of my 20s escape me!  Before I know it, 50 will be here.

But, if my 50s and my golden years are half as much fun and exciting as the lives of the “Tales” gang and Armistead Maupin’s life, it’ll be “fantabulous”.

Armistead, thank you for giving this small-town Kentucky boy the motivation and the courage to move to Chicago just four months shy of my 30th birthday, just as you allowed Mary Ann Singleton to leave Cleveland, Ohio,  for San Francisco.

Tales-5

And, just like Mary Ann becoming an on-air personality, I fulfilled my dream of becoming a television newscaster and meteorologist!

further+tales+of+the+city+sandra+oh+laura+linney

Anthony CBS4

Thank you for the memories of 28 Barbary Lane and beyond.

For the past few weeks in my “Random Friday Thoughts”, I’ve been sharing details of the “Tales of the City” books once I read them to introduce them to a wider audience.  Today, since I’m finished with the series, I want to share them in one blog entry.

ARMISTEAD MAUPIN’S “TALES OF THE CITY”

Although I read “Tales of the City” twenty years ago, I’m re-reading it again, along with the following eight books in Armistead Maupin’s series.

Tales of the City Book

Maupin started the series in the “San Francisco Chronicle” in 1976, after moving to the city in 1971 for a job at the Associated Press.

Armistead

“Tales of the City” is about a group of young people living at 28 Barbary Lane, a complex of apartments owned by Anna Madrigal, an older, eccentric landlady, who loves her marijuana and is harboring her own secrets.

The series focuses on the funky culture and “alternative lifestyles” of San Francisco, starting out in the 1970s.  The tenants are straight (Mary Ann and Brian), gay (Michael), bisexual (Mona), and asexual (Mrs. Madrigal).

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the miniseries that debuted on PBS in the United States giving them their highest ratings ever (at the time) for a dramatic series.  It stars Olympia Dukakis as Mrs. Madrigal and introduces us to future star Laura Linney.

Tales Miniseries

It’s still one of my favorite miniseries of all time.  I watched it for the first time as, in early 1994, as I was getting ready to make my big move to Chicago from small town Kentucky, just like Mary Ann Singleton did in the series from Cleveland to San Francisco!  And, I was just as naive as Mary Ann, too, twenty years ago!

If you lived through or if you love the groovy 1970s, you’ll love this series.

The final book in the series, “The Days of Anna Madrigal” was just released.

“MORE TALES OF THE CITY”

I just finished my fourth book this year, which matches what I read in all of last year!

More Tales of The City

“More Tales of the City” is the 1980 follow-up to Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City”.  “More Tales” is the second in the nine-book series.  I reviewed the first book last week and talked about it and the PBS television miniseries based on it that debuted in the U.S. twenty years ago this month.

In this book, we still follow all of the comings and goings of Anna Madrigal and her “children” at 28 Barbary Lane on Russian Hill in San Francisco.  It’s still the 1970s.

Mary Ann and Michael go on a cruise and both meet the men of their dreams, but Mary Ann’s is a man of mystery.  He just can’t remember it.  Mona escapes to a Nevada brothel (even though the book uses the w-house word) and learns a big secret.  Also, a major character dies, one has a health issue, and another is almost attacked!

After reading the first book, I started watching the first miniseries again.  Now that I’m two books in, I’ll continue on to the second installment miniseries that aired on Showtime in 1998.  Here’s that trailer and it does contain adult language and images.  (The first miniseries’ trailer is in last week’s random blog.)

Now, it’s on to book three in the series.

“FURTHER TALES OF THE CITY”

If you’ve been reading my blog over the past two years, you know that I often talk about music, movies, and television.  Lately, I’ve been including books, too.  My friend, Kelly Hager, would be so proud of me.

Over the past week, I just finished my fifth book of 2014!  That obviously means I’ve been spending a lot of time on the treadmill and it’s working.  I’m down 8.2 pounds since the start of the year!  Only 12 more pounds to go before this summer.

I just finished “Further Tales of the City”, the third book in Armistead Maupin’s nine-book “Tales of the City” series.

Further Tales

If you recall from my last two “Random Friday Thoughts” blogs, the series is about a “family” of friends at 28 Barbary Lane in San Fransisco in the 1970s.

In this book, it’s now 1981, President Reagan is just beginning his years in office and the Jim Jones’ Jonestown Masscare plays an integral role in the mystery and intrigue.

One character moves away from Barbary Lane, two residents begin a relationship with each other after years of avoiding it, and one couple re-unites only to break up again.

Someone strives to become a television reporter and another ends up dead and you’ll never guess who killed the character and what happened to the body!

Sadly, this was the last of the books to be made into a miniseries.  It aired on Showtime in 1998.  Here’s the trailer and it contains some adult situations and language!

Many moons ago, I read the first three books in the series that I just re-read.  Now, it’s on to book four and I have no idea what happens, so this is exciting!

“BABYCAKES” & “SIGNIFICANT OTHERS”

If you read my “Random Friday Thoughts” each week, you know that I’ve been spending a lot of time on the treadmill walking and reading.  I’ve lost 8.8 pounds since the beginning of the year, but it’s getting harder now.

I’m also reading Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series.  I just finished the fourth and fifth books in the nine-book series.

“Babycakes”, the fourth book, takes place around 1983, seven years after the first book.

babycakes

The AIDS pandemic claims the life of a recurring character and a main character is dealing with the loss of his best friend and lover.  He takes a trip to England and runs into a major character that was absent in the third book.

One character becomes a television reporter after breaking the story of the survivors of the Jonestown Massacre.  Another story line involved a favorite couple trying to have a baby with sterility and infidelity playing a major role.  As the book ended, one life started and another ended.

This was my least favorite of the four books, so far, and part of it might have been the fact that it was new to me since it wasn’t made into a miniseries like the first three books.

SIGNIFICANT OTHERS

The series found its mojo with the fifth book, “Significant Others”.

Two different retreats, one for a women’s festival (lesbians) and one for older men (rich Republicans), take place on Russian River north of San Francisco in 1985.  We meet three new characters that play a big role in some of the lives of the original “Tales of the City” group.

One character faces the unknown when he takes the HIV test and what he’ll tell his wife and another is still dealing with the loss of his friend/lover from AIDS in the third fourth.  He meets a new friend that could be something long-term, but they live on opposite coasts!

I can’t wait to see what happens in the sixth book!

“SURE OF YOU”

I finished reading my eighth book of 2014 this week, “Sure of You”, which is the sixth book in Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series.

Sure of You

While you may not have read them, you’ve likely been following along with me about the book series in my blog.

It’s now 1988, twelve years after the first book and three years after the last book, “Significant Others”.   While the book had some fun parts, this was my least favorite of the series, so far, because there wasn’t much happiness to be found.

Like real life, friends drift apart over the years and that takes place here with some of Barbary Lane’s favorite tenants.

One chance meeting in the last book leads to love in this book and that is a happy point.  However, one person becomes very successful and leaves San Fransisco and their family for fame in the “Big Apple”.

“MICHAEL TOLLIVER LIVES”

I’m almost done with Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” nine-book series.  Over the past week, I read books seven and eight, “Michael Tolliver Lives” and “Mary Ann in Autumn”, respectively.

If you’re familiar with the series, Michael Tolliver (“Mouse”) is one of the original tenants of Mrs. Madrigal’s 28 Barbary Lane.

Michael Tolliver Lives

It’s now 2005, almost thirty years since the first book.  Michael is no longer a youngster from Orlando, Florida, living in San Francisco’s Castro.  He’s now married to a younger man about 20 years his junior.  It’s a very happy union.

The bleakness from the sixth book in the series, “Sure of You”, is gone, even when we learn of an original “Tales” character’s death to cancer and the death of a loved one closer to Michael.

Also, the book is told in first person from Michael, which is a departure from the third person story telling of the previous six books.

“Michael Tolliver Lives” is one of my favorite books of the “Tales” series.

At the end of “Michael Tolliver Lives”, Mary Ann Singleton, now a married woman on the East Coast, returned briefly to visit an elderly friend that may not recover from a stroke.

Mary Ann

In “Mary Ann in Autumn”, it’s a couple of years later and Mary Ann and “Mouse” are back together again in San Francisco almost thirty years after they first met in 1970s.

A couple of secrets brings Mary Ann back to cry on Michael’s shoulder.  All of the years and the tears of twenty years apart are forgotten when they examine their friendship and what they’ve been missing.  It brought me so much joy to see them together poking fun at each other and pushing each other’s buttons as they head toward their golden years — both are in their late fifties and early sixties now!

And, boy, does Maupin have a few shockers up his sleeve that go all the way back to the original “Tales” book.

As much as I loved “Michael Tolliver Lives”, “Mary Ann In Autumn” is my new favorite after the first book.

“THE DAYS OF ANNA MADRIGAL”

I just finished the ninth and final book in Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series.  If you haven’t been following my blog over the past few weeks when I talked about each book that I read, take notice.

The books follow the lives of a group living at 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco in 1976 through current day.  The apartment complex is headed up by self-proclaimed matriarch Anna Madrigal and the final book is dedicated to Anna, who’s now 92-years-old.

The Days of Anna Madrigal

Needless to say when I started the book, I was bracing myself for the worse thinking this might be Mrs. Madrigal’s swan song.

I loved the flash backs in the book about Anna’s childhood at the Blue Moon Lodge, the Nevada whorehouse where she was raised by her mother, the madam, “Mother Mucca”.

While the book moves forward from Mrs. Madrigal’s childhood to the teenaged years and escaping Nevada, it was a pleasant ride.  It was also amazing to see her get to take one more trip back home to Winnamucca, even though most of what she remembered was already gone.

The book also updates us the lives of Michael Tolliver (“Mouse”), Mary Ann, and Brian, from the original “Tales” book.

THANK YOU

Armistead, thank you again for the stories and the memories.

Anthony

Late Season Winter Storm Tonight & Early Wednesday

We enjoyed one nice warm day and now it’s back to winter!

After hitting 58° in the Quad Cities Monday, we’ll see another mild day today (48°)  before winter takes over tonight and Wednesday.

Light rain will develop by this evening and change over to wind-blown snow tonight and early Wednesday.

Advisory

A “Winter Weather Advisory” goes into effect tonight south and east of the Quad Cities.

If you’re traveling toward Chicago, it’s a “Winter Storm Warning”.  Snowfall amounts there could reach 6-10″!

Here’s how much snow I’m expecting locally tonight and early Wednesday.

Snow Totals

We still need 7.5″ of snow to tie the all-time record for most snow in a winter season in the Quad Cities.

If you’re tired of the snow, 40s return Thursday and 50s are back for Friday.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — March 7, 2014

Happy Friday to you.  It’s March now and I’m ready for spring’s longer, warmer days and “March Madness”.

I hope you have a great weekend.  I plan on getting a few outdoor walks in and to watch several movies.  Here are my random thoughts for this week.

WAS ELLEN TRANS-PHOBIC?

Comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres is getting rave reviews for hosting this year’s Oscars last Sunday night.  Her selfie with A-list stars crashed Twitter and became the most retweeted tweet in history and she made it a profitable night for a pizza delivery man.

Ellen

However, a joke she made to Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award winner Liza Minnelli is not setting well with some in the transgender community.

In her monologue looking at Liza, Ellen said, “the best Liza Minnelli impersonator I’ve ever seen.  Good job, sir!”

This is Liza’s reaction.  Her sister, Lorna Luft, definitely thought it was funny!

Liza Reaction

As a gay man knowing how many drag queens imitate and look at Liza as a gay icon, I thought it was hilarious and I don’t think Ellen meant it mean-spirited.

After the show, Liza told tmz.com, “I think she thought it would be funny, but she never stopped after she said it and said, ‘My friend Liza Minnelli’.  So I think it went a little astray on her.”

But, without hesitation, Liza added, “I don’t think she meant any harm at all. She’s a wonderful lady and I think she did great.”

However, some are not as forgiving.

Bruce LaBruce

Most of America are still not all that familiar with the transgender community.  I admit that, as a gay man, I’m still learning, too.  However, there is a difference between transphobia, negative feelings and attitudes and feelings towards transsexuals and transgender people, and making a joke about a drag queen or a transvestite.

Ellen needs to contact Liza, if she hasn’t done so already, and say, “I apologize that my joke was not funny to you.  You looked fantastic Sunday night.”  And, we all need to step back and breathe and maybe learn a little more about our transgendered brothers and sisters.

OSCARS

I think host Ellen did a fantastic job hosting the Oscars telecast that was watched by 43 million people, up 6% in viewers from last year.

As for my Oscar picks, if I had played it safely, I would have correctly chosen 21-of-24.

However, I took a chance to stand out from the crowd and went against “Gravity” in the “Sound Mixing” and “Score” category.  Thus, I missed those two and got 19-of-24 right.  That’s much better than last year.

I correctly picked the top eight big categories.

Benedict U2

That is my favorite picture from the Oscars — “Sherlock” actor Benedict Cumberbatch photobombing Oscar-nominated rock band, U2.

And, the presenter that’s gotten the most post-Oscars buzz, unintentionally, was John Travolta.

Travolta Oscars

While introducing Broadway (“Wicked”), movie “(“Frozen”), and television (“Glee”) star Idina Menzel to perform the Oscar-nominated (SPOILER ALERT) and winning song, “Let It Go”, Travolta massacred Idina’s name.

John and Idina

In his enthusiastic introduction, Travolta says, “please welcome the wickedly talented, one and only Adele Dazeem”!

On Tuesday, Travolta released this statement, “I’ve been beating myself up all day. Then I thought … what would Idina Menzel say, She’d say, Let it go, let it go! Idina is incredibly talented and I am so happy Frozen took home two Oscars Sunday night!”

Needless to say, parody Twitter and Wikipedia pages popped up for the new star, Adele Dazeem!

Adele Dazeem

Okay, John I’m letting it go!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

JustinMichael Myers Winter

Let Us In

IS WINTER OVER?

March is definitely off to a cold start, but it’s starting to warm up.  After just the first three days of the month, Quad City temperatures were running more than 25.5° below average.

With two snows in the past week, we’re now up to 62.2″ of snow this winter in the Quad Cities, making this the third snowiest winter on record.

Snowy Winter

And, another inch of snow is expected tonight and early Saturday!

TOO EARLY FOR GARDENING, BUT…

While the ground is frozen and covered with inches of snow, I’m going to be optimistic and start gardening inside.

Late last summer, I bought three packages of seeds on ebay from Arkansas and I’m ready to start them with my “Seed Starter” kit Santa brought me for Christmas.

Seed Starter

Ironically, I hope the seeds I bought are what they say they are and nothing illegal!

I ordered Jerusalem Cherry, Pink Pampas Grass, and Ice White Cherry Tomato.

SPEAKING OF TOMATOES

“Better Homes and Gardens” is thinking of spring, too.  In the new March issue, it states that 86% of American gardeners raise tomatoes.

The magazine’s experts predict that “a hybrid like Black Pearl or Tye Dye” will be the “season’s hot tomatoes”.

ABBAtomatoes

While I love tomatoes, I always had them in the garden for Miss ABBA.

Now that she’s no longer with us, I still grow them and in the past two summers, I’ve perfected a fresh homemade salsa!

PICK HIT

Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin are household names in the United States.

J. Lo has charted 17 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with ten of them reaching the Top Ten and four topping of the chart.  Meanwhile, Ricky has had five hits on the Hot 100 with “Livin La Vida Loca” topping that chart in 1999.

Before this week, Ricky racked up 37 hits on the Billboard Latin chart.  Of those, 21 made the Top Ten and, incredibly, 11 of them reached #1.

Ricky and J. Lo are on their way to getting their latest #1 Latin hit with the help with Wisin, one half of the Puerto Rican raggaeton duo, Wisin & Yandel.

Wisin JLo Ricky Martin

“Adrenalina” debuted this week all the way up at #12 on the Billboard Latin chart and the video is incredibly hot!!!!!!!!!

It’s the first single from Wisin’s second solo album, “El Regreso del Sobreviviente” that comes out March 18, 2014, the same day as Kylie Minogue’s “Kiss Me Once” album.

Kiss Me Once

There is no correlation between Wisin and Kylie’s albums.  It’s just a shameless plug for Kylie.  I can do that, you know. 🙂

“SIX FEET UNDER”

While the HBO series ended its five-year run in 2005, we just got around to watching  and finishing it.

six feet under

What an incredible show!  While I wasn’t exactly prepared for its slow pace and it did get frustrating at times, the acting and the over-the-top story lines were amazing.  And, the last few minutes of the series finale were too cool.

By regularly reading my blog, you know I love Michael C. Hall.

He played David Fisher, one of the owners of the funeral home on the show.

Michael C Hall as David Fisher and Dexter

It was exciting to see him as a young, uptight gay man who would go on to become our favorite serial killer on Showtime’s “Dexter” for eight seasons.

Watching “Six Feet Under”, I realize that I lead a rather docile life compared to the crazy Fisher and Chenowith clans!

Six Feet Under starring Rachel Griffiths, Peter Krause, Michael C.Hall, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Freddy Rodriguez, Mathew St. Patrick, Justina Machado, Jeremy Sisto and James Cromwell

“THE DAYS OF ANNA MADRIGAL”

I just finished the ninth and final book in Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series.  If you haven’t been following my blog over the past few weeks when I talked about each book that I read, take notice.

The books follow the lives of a group living at 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco in 1976 through current day.  The apartment complex is headed up by self-proclaimed matriarch Anna Madrigal and the final book is dedicated to Anna, who’s now 92-years-old.

The Days of Anna Madrigal

Needless to say when I started the book, I was bracing myself for the worse thinking this might be Mrs. Madrigal’s swan song.

I loved the flash backs in the book about Anna’s childhood at the Blue Moon Lodge, the Nevada whorehouse where she was raised by her mother, the madam, “Mother Mucca”.

While the book moves forward from Mrs. Madrigal’s childhood to the teenaged years and escaping Nevada, it was a pleasant ride.  It was also amazing to see her get to take one more trip back home to Winnamucca, even though most of what she remembered was already gone.

The book also updates us the lives of Michael Tolliver (“Mouse”), Mary Ann, and Brian, from the original “Tales” book.

Armistead

Although Maupin has been writing these stories for forty years, I just discovered them twenty years ago this spring when PBS aired the first “Tales of The City” miniseries.

It’s very strange to see Michael in his 60s and Anna in her 90s.  But, then again, I’m no longer watching the last months of my 20s escape me!  Before I know it, 50 will be here.

But, if my 50s and my golden years are half as much fun and exciting as the lives of the “Tales” gang and Armistead Maupin’s life, it’ll be “fantabulous”.

Armistead, thank you for giving this small-town Kentucky boy the motivation and the courage to move to Chicago just four months shy of my 30th birthday, just as you allowed Mary Ann Singleton to leave Cleveland, Ohio,  for San Francisco.

Tales-5

And, just like Mary Ann, I fulfilled my dream of becoming a television newscaster and meteorologist!

further+tales+of+the+city+sandra+oh+laura+linney

Thank you for the memories of 28 Barbary Lane and beyond.

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

Grammy Award winning country singer Lynn Anderson was raised in California, but she was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Born to country music songwriter parents, Lynn earned early notoriety in horse show arenas winning 700 trophies, including the title of “California Horse Show Queen” in 1966.

That same year she was signed to a recording music contract.  Her first hit reached #36 and was followed by “If I Kiss You (Would You Go Away)”, her first Top Ten hit in 1967, peaking at #5.

Lynn Anderson

From that first hit in 1966 to her last hit in 1988, Lynn Anderson scored 47 Top 40 Billboard Country Hits.  Of those, 18 reached the Top Ten, and five topped the chart, including her fall 1970 release, “Rose Garden”.

That song topped the Country charts for five weeks, reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was a chart topper in Australia, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland.

She was also named Billboard Magazine’s “Female Artist of the Decade” in the 1970s.

Her last studio recording was 2010’s “Cowgirl II”.

Lynn is still touring and entertaining her fans and she recently attended a party in Nashville for radio personality Bob Kingsley with some of country music’s other legends, including my idol, Reba.

Lynn and Reba

“I BEG YOUR PARDON”, HERE’S MORE “ROSE GARDEN”

While Lynn Anderson scored almost 50 country hits in the U.S., “Rose Garden” was her only crossover to the Billboard Hot 100, where the song reached #3 in 1971.

However, in 1988, the Canadian synthpop/techno band, Kon Kan, sampled the song and “I Beg Your Pardon”, featuring Lynn’s “Rose Garden” made it up to #15 on the Billboard Hot 100.  It also made it to the top five in the Netherlands and the U.K.

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

I appreciate you taking the time to check out my Random Friday Thoughts.  Have a great weekend and we’ll do it again next Friday.

Anthony