Archive for May, 2014

Shania Is Iconic, But I Feel I Know Eilleen More

Shania Twain is drop dead gorgeous!

Shania Twain 4

She’s a multi-Grammy Award winner and the 1999 Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association “Entertainer of the Year”.

She’s also the  top-selling country female artist of all time and she has the top-selling country album of all time, “Come On Over”, and the list goes on and on and on.

Come On Over

I can’t wait to see her show, “Shania:  Still The One”, in Las Vegas this Saturday night.

Shania Still The One

While I’ve been listening to all of my Shania albums leading up to the concert, I also just read her autobiography, “From This Moment On”.

Shania Twain and Book

While I may not have much in common with the superstar and millionaire Shania Twain, I’m amazed at how much Eilleen Regina (Edwards) Twain, the real person and not the international celebrity, and I have in common.

I knew that I would like the book, but I didn’t have any idea how much I’d love it.  Since I’d highly recommend you reading the book and getting to know the both Eilleen and Shania, I won’t give away too many details.

Throughout some of this blog, I’ll refer to Shania as Eilleen since she didn’t change her name until 1992, right before the release of her first album, “Shania Twain”, the following year.

Eileen Twain 2

Eilleen Regina Edwards was born in Windsor, Ontario (Canada), on August 28, 1965, and her parents divorced when she was a small child and she was later adopted by her mother’s second husband, Jerry Twain.

Little Eilleen and her siblings (two sisters and two brothers) lived most of their childhood in Timmins, Ontario, a city with a population of about 43,000.

Money was tight for the Twain family and Eilleen found herself being moved from place to place, usually when her parents got so far behind on rent that they were evicted.  The living spaces were always cramped and the kids usually had to sleep together in the same room (and for Eilleen and her sister, Carrie Ann, the same bed).

 

I know that cramped feeling all too well since my sister and I grew up in a five-room apartment with our parents.  My sister, Tammy, had to share the bed with our mother and I slept in twin beds in the same room as my father.  We were in the apartment for almost twenty years until my mother died!

As I wrote earlier, I’m going to focus somewhat on how much I have in common with Eilleen/Shania because that’s why her life and her story touched me so much.

 

In the book, Shania talks about living in the basement of one place as a child that had an old, tattered, and disgusting carpet on the floor.  She didn’t even want to touch it with her feet, so she’d always wear socks.

One day, she decided she was going to rip up the carpet because the floor had to be in better shape.  When she did, the floor was covered in maggots!  She decided to leave the carpet and try to forget what was living underneath it!

Shania never invited classmates to her house because food was very scarce and the living arrangements were less than ideal.

We had a similar upbringing with no frills in the food department with just enough food for the four of us to eat and our apartment was infested with cockroaches.  The landlord never seemed to care enough to hire an exterminator and aerosol bug bombs didn’t faze them!

The-Carpenters

Another thing that Eilleen and I had in common growing up in the 1970s was our love of the velvety, smooth voice of Karen Carpenter and her brother, Richard.

And, we both thought Terry Jacks’ “Season in the Sun” was an incredible song!

Shania also talks about the domestic violence between her parents (another similarity we share).  Once, she finally convinced her depressed mother to leave her abusive husband by driving more than 400 miles from their hometown of Timmins to Toronto, to live in a homeless shelter and then in transitional housing for two years!

 

Looking at how glamorous Shania is, I enjoyed reading about her being such a tomboy and working with a tree-planting crew during the summers during her teen years.

She talks about the tragic accident that killed her parents when she was 22-years-old.

That forced her to leave the big city of Toronto and move back to Timmins to keep her family together and finish raising her sister and two teenaged brothers.  Eventually, she starting working in Huntsville, Ontario, about six hours south of Timmins, at Deerhurst Resort, as a singer and performer.

Shania Deerhurstdeerhurst

It was here that Eilleen Twain was discovered by Nashville scouts, was signed to the Mercury Nashville Records label, and then changed her named to “Shania”, which means “on my way” in Ojibwa.

Since Shania didn’t have the money to move to Nashville immediately, she talks about locking herself away in seclusion in a little shack owned by her boyfriend’s family in the middle of nowhere to write songs for her first album.

In a typical northern Ontario winter, it snows all the time and the average temperatures regularly drops to around twenty to forty degrees below zero.  It sounded incredible!

Shania Twain

When Shania finally moved to Nashville, her self-titled debut album was recorded and released in 1993.  It featured only one song co-written by Shania.

Here’s where I have to disagree with Shania, but I can definitely see her point.  She’s not proud of that first album and I understand as a singer/songwriter that you want to have control of what you put your name on.  But, she was a newcomer to country music and not even American, so her label basically had her shop around from Nashville songwriters to pick songs for the debut.

I was working at Charlie’s, a gay country bar in Chicago, and we played her first single, “What Made You Say That”, all the time and I fell in love with the album and her voice.

That song only reached #55 on the Billboard County chart.  The follow-up, “Dance With The One That Brought You”, also reached #55 on the country chart.  That video was directed by future Oscar winner Sean Penn!

While that album didn’t blow Nashville or country music away, it did grab the attention of international rock superstar producer Robert “Mutt” Lange, who had produced chart toppers by AC/DC, Def Leppard, Foreigner, The Cars, and Bryan Adams.

The two met at “Fan Fair” in Nashville in the summer of 1993 and started writing songs for the follow-up album.  During that time, they fell in love and were married at the end of 1993.

Mutt Shania Wedding

That follow-up album, “The Woman in Me”, came out in February 1995.  It went on to sell 20 million copies worldwide (12 million of those in the United States).

the-woman-in-me

It also produced seven Top 40 country hits, including four #1 hits:  “Any Man of Mine”, “(If You’re Not in it For Love) I’m Outta Here”, “You Win My Love”, and “No One Needs To Know”.

In the book, Shania shares the story of legendary director and photographer John Derek, the husband of “10” actress Bo Derek, shooting the art work for “The Woman in Me” album and the videos to the first two hits from that album, “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” and “Any Man of Mine”.

Shania Twain John Derek

I laughed and thought Derek was crazy when he told Shania, who weighed 115 pounds, that she was overweight and that he wasn’t pleased with her nose and he wanted to cut it off!

Now I know that celebrities have people work their magic on hair, make-up, and costumes, but there is no one, not even Shania, that’s going to convince me that she’s not a beauty to start with it.

I find Shania absolutely stunning in the video for “You Win My Love, the fifth hit from “The Woman In Me” and her third #1 song.

Her 1997 album, “Come On Over”, garnered worldwide sales of more than 40 million (one-half of that was in the U.S. alone).

The album also produced 11 Top 40 country hits, which is unheard of.  Of those, eight reached the Top Ten, with three, “Love Gets Me Every Time”, “You’re Still The One”, and “Honey, I’m Home” all topping the country charts.

And, her last album, “Up”, from November 2002, sold eleven million copies in the U.S.

Up Shania Twain

Those three albums made Shania an international superstar.  She was also touring the globe constantly while being a wife and mother.  Her son, Eja (pronounced “Asia”) was born in August 2001.

Once the relentless touring of more than a decade was over, Shania began spending all her time at her château near Zurich, Switzerland, and renovating another home in New Zealand.

shania-twain-and-marie-anne-thiebaud

It was during this time that her best friend, Marie-Anne Thiebaud, a woman who worked for her husband and one of Shania’s best friends, started acting more hot and cold than ever and began cancelling get togethers.  (The two women were pregnant at the same time and had grown close.)

In the spring of 2008, Shania learned that her husband and Marie-Anne were having an affair.  Shania talks, at length, about the love that she and Mutt had and that she felt that they were growing apart.  However, she was willing to do whatever it took to save her marriage.

Through tears, sadness, and hanging out with family and real friends, Shania realized that her friend, Marie-Anne, was not a friend, but a home wrecker.

I smiled when Shania told a humorous story that I’m sure wasn’t funny, at the time, for her.  A friend forced Shania to stop referring to “the other woman” as a “friend”, because she was a “bitch” and another very strong, harsh word that you shouldn’t call a woman!

While Shania didn’t want to say it, she admits when she did, it was “cathartic”!  See You Next Tuesday!

Shania Twain 1

Working on the book helped Shania put the infidelity and the broken marriage into perspective.

Reading the story of Mutt and Shania’s courtship and the connection they had during much of their fourteen year marriage was touching.  I also felt sadness as Shania described the depression she felt when she was told by Frederic Thiebaud, the husband of the mistress, that his wife and her husband were having an affair.

Shania Twain 2

As time went by, Shania cherished the friendship that was developing with Frederic (Fred) more and more.  Shania’s son, Eja, had known Fred since he was born and he felt a bond with him.

Over time, the trust that developed between Shania and Fred allowed for a deeper, personal attraction to develop into love.

Shania Twain Frederic Thiebaud Wedding

On January 1, 2011, Shania and Fred were married in Puerto Rico.

I’m so happy for the couple and their two children, Shania’s son and Fred’s daughter.  Everyone should have a fairy tale ending after personal heartbreak enters one life.

ShaniaFred

I think that a beautiful quote that Fred sent Shania (via fiction writer Maria Robinson) sums up their relationship and it should go for everyone that’s ever had a broken heart, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

Reading “From This Moment On” allowed me to see this happy ending through Shania’s eyes.  I should say that I see it as Eilleen sees it.  Shania writes, “Whereas I used to see a division between Eilleen the person and Shania the personality, now they have merged into one”.

What Made You Say That Shania

I fell in love with Shania, the entertainer, with “What Made You Say That”, before superstardom kicked in.  However, I really felt I got to know the real Shania by sharing so many of the struggles that Eilleen went through to become the person and the personality of Shania Twain.

“From This Moment On” is an incredible book.  I didn’t want it to end.

Shania, thank you for sharing it.

Shania Twain 5

I’m so excited to see Shania’s show Saturday night in Las Vegas.

I’ll even smile an extra smile that night thinking that Shania is still at the top of her game, professionally and personally.  And, somewhere, maybe in Switzerland, karma is waiting for a woman with “body language posturing like a mean, hissing cat”!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — May 23, 2014

It’s Memorial Day weekend and that’s the “unofficial” kick-off to the summer season.

This is a three-day weekend for some of you, but, if you’re like me, Monday is a “typical” work day.

Graves_at_Arlington_on_Memorial_Day

Whichever it is, we need to remember the great men and women, regardless of sexuality or race, that made the ultimate sacrifice of giving their life serving in the United States armed services.   We should be doing this every day, but especially Monday!

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts.  As always, let me know what you agree or disagree with and why.

(Warning:  I have a story about “Hannibal” and if you’re a queasy person or have a phobia of gore, skip past that story.)

ONE FORMER WEATHERMAN HAS LOST IT!

Back in late April, I blogged about “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak and his tweet about “coming out” as a heterosexual.

PatSajak

In my “Random Friday Thoughts — April 25, 2014”, I wrote, “At first glance, I thought it was interesting.  Then, I thought about it a little more and starting thinking that either he had had a few drinks or that he was being funny.”

However, now I think he’s lost it.

As some of you may know, Sajak was a fill-in weather man in Nashville, Tennessee, in the mid-1970s and then was the main weatherman for the NBC affiliate in Los Angeles before “Wheel of Fortune”.  He was basically a weather “personality” and as far as I know, he is not a “meteorologist”, with formal training.

Pat Sajak Nashville Weather

I say that because of this shocking tweet he sent out earlier this week.

Pat Sajak Global Warming

What the f, oops, hell is he talking about?  “Alarmists” and “unpatriotic racists”?  I’ve been called many things in my personal and professional life, but never those terms.

Recently, in two different public speaking engagements on weather, I was asked if I believe in “global warming”.  At both events, I said, “yes” and I gave the analogy that the atmosphere is just like the human body.  You can’t abuse it for decades and not expect it to fail on you.

I also added that while I believe that “global warming” is real, we still don’t know precisely how it will affect future generations.  Any theories about what could happen are basically educated forecasts.

But, Sajak is just way off base here and needs to entertain puzzle solvers!

QUINCY JONES DOESN’T MINCE WORDS

Multi-Grammy Award-winning producer Quincy Jones doesn’t beat around the bush when he speaks of Michael Jackson’s new album , “Xscape”, that debuted this week at #2 on the Billboard album chart in the U.S. and at #1 in the U.K.

Michael Jackson Xscape

In a CBC Radio interview, the legendary producer says he’s not a fan of the “new” music.  He also added this, “They’re trying to make money. And I understand it. Everybody’s after money, the estate, the lawyers. It’s about money.”

michael-jackson-quincy-jones

Jones produced or co-produced three of Michael’s biggest albums, 1979’s “Off The Wall” (worldwide sales of 20+ million), 1982’s “Thriller” (worldwide sales of 110+ million), and 1987’s “Bad” (worldwide sales of 45+ million).

“THE KING OF POP” IS REWRITING MUSIC HISTORY

With the first single from the album, “Love Never Felt So Good”, a “duet” with Justin Timberlake, jumping from #22 to #9 this week on the Billboard Hot 100, Michael sets two new records on that 55-year-old chart.

Billboard Hot 100

He becomes the first artists to have Top Ten hits in each of five decades.  He first reached the Top Ten in 1971 when “Got To Be There” reached #4.  He’s now had top ten hits in the ’70s (four), ’80s (seventeen), ’90s (six), ’00s (one), and ’10s (one).  By the way, those Top Ten hit numbers (in parenthesis) do not include hits with the Jackson 5 or The Jacksons.

If you do the math, that’s 29 Top Ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100.  That places him in third place with most Top Ten hits behind Madonna in first place with 38 and the Beatles in second with 34.  Behind Michael are Stevie Wonder in fourth place with 28 and Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, and Elton John are tied for fifth place with 27 Top Ten Hot 100 hits each.

http://www.michael-jackson-photos.com/

One other record that Michael extends with “Love Never Felt So Good” making the Top Ten is the longest span of Top Ten hits.

Since his first appearance in the Top Ten when “Got To Be There” moved from #13 to #9 on November 20, 1971 to this week, that time span is now 42 years, five months and one week.

This puts him ahead of Santana (33 years and eight months) and Cher (33 years and one month).

Cher Cyndi Lauper

Since I’ll being seeing Cher in two weeks in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, why not feature that historic, career song, “Believe”?  It spent four weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1999, making her the oldest woman to ever top that chart.  She was 52 at the time.  So young!

“HANNIBAL” SEASON FINALE!

As I gleefully blogged last week, NBC’s ratings-challenged, “Hannibal”, was renewed for a third season.

The second season finale is tonight and I can’t wait to see it.

Hannibal S2

“Entertainment Weekly” writes of the finale, “TV’s most deliciously twisted romance — the freaky foodie’s psychic bromance with profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) — reaches a shocking consummation.  Be prepared to say, What just happened?! a lot.  Bring a bib.  Fannibals:  The eating is tasty, and bloody messy to boot.”

“EW” gives the finale a grade of “A-“.

We know from the first episode of this season that there is a showdown between Hannibal and FBI agent Jack Crawford.  We were teased with a two-minute fight, with blood and injuries, before the episode flashed back twelve weeks to show us how we got to that point.

Hannibal Jack Showdown

If you’re familiar with the Thomas Harris books or the “Hannibal” movie, you know the story of Mason Verger, his man-eating pigs, and his drug-fueled self-mutilation.

I commend NBC and its Standards & Practices (the department responsible for the moral, ethical, and legal implications of the program that network airs) for totally going all out with Mason’s facial destruction and how calm Will and Hannibal were while the act was taking place!

Mason Face Off

If that scene is any indication, the finale is going to rock and creep out fans.

While there are some characters that I want to be Hannibal’s next meal, I don’t want Will or Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) to die.

hannibal gillian

NBC, I have two suggestions to make this incredibly written, acted, and produced show a ratings success.

Move it to Sunday night and open up your checkbook and pay whatever it takes to bring Jodie Foster on as Clarice Starling, an agent that has worked her way up the ranks and is now the Agent-in-Charge of the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI!

Jodie Elysium

“HANNIBAL” FUNNY

Hannibal Funny

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

MilkCloud Joke  Jesus Godzilla

BOTH ARE BOX OFFICE HITS

So, some people see Jesus, God, and Godzilla in cloud formations.  And, they’re also packing into movie theaters to see them, too!

Last weekend, “Godzilla (2014)” ripped up $100.9 million in box office receipts in the U.S. in just the first four days.  When you add in the foreign box office, the legendary monster has scared up a $204.3 in ticket sales.

godzilla_2014_poster

Meanwhile, “Heaven is For Real” is now up to $85.5 million at the box office and it’s been in the American Top Ten for its five weeks of release.

Heaven Is For Real

Other “God” related movies that are seeing some heavenly returns are “God’s Not Dead” ($59 million), “Son Of God” ($67.8 million), and “Noah” ($343.3 million).

WHY I KNOW HEAVEN IS FOR REAL

While I might want to see “God’s Not Dead”, I have no desire to see “Heaven Is For Real”.

However, I do feel that heaven is real.  I’ve prayed to God every night since I was kid and while none of us have proof that he exists, most of us believe in heaven and hell.

The reason I know heaven is for real is because my mother, Dessie, my grandparents, John and Helen Peoples, and Miss ABBA are waiting for me there.

ABBA July 2000

Yes, that’s a baby picture of Miss ABBA from early July 2000 when we brought her home from a Tuscarawas County, Ohio, llama farm, when she was about six weeks old.

That little bundle of golden retreiver was born fourteen years ago this week on May 22nd.

ABBA11thBIRTHDAY

And, this is the Golden Honey Locust tree we planted two years ago in memory of Miss ABBA.  It’s getting bigger and sure is beautiful this spring.

ABBA Tree 2014

MARK HARMON, WHAT HAPPENED?

NCIS star Mark Harmon turns 63-year-old this fall and we’re all getting older.  Trust me, I know first hand.

However, I just saw video of him at a CBS party to promote the new fall line-up and I was baffled by his hair style (or lack thereof)!

CBS Party Mark Harmon

It has nothing to do with age because he’s still a good-looking man, but seriously check a mirror first before you go in front of a camera.

Yes, I’ve been a fan of his since the early days (even when he played Ted Bundy for the television movie, “The Deliberate Stranger” in 1986 that earned him a Golden Globes nomination).

Here are a couple of flashback pictures!

mark-harmon1981 Eddie Awards

I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY

While the book came out in 2010, I just finished reading Chely Wright’s “Like Me:  Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer”.

Chely Wright Like Me

It was an incredible read with Chely opening up about her love of God, living a lie of keeping her sexuality a secret to become a country music star, and her coming out.

From 1997-2005, Chely charted nine Top 40 country hits including her 1999 chart topper, “Single White Female”.

CMT Flameworthy Video Music Awards

If you didn’t get a chance to read my blog about Chely and her struggles with coming out that almost cost her her life, here’s the link:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/chely-wright-knows-that-god-loves-her/

THAT’S IT

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts this week.

Whatever you do this weekend, enjoy it and be safe.

We’re going to grill turkey burgers tonight, plant tomatoes and peppers in the garden and put up the swimming pool Saturday, and check out “Godzilla”.

Anthony

Chely Wright Knows That God Loves Her

“Dear God, please don’t let me be gay.  I promise to be a good person.  I promise… I promise… I promise… I promise… Please take it away.  In your name I pray.  Amen. ”

Variations of that prayer were a daily part of country singer Chely Wright’s life from the time she was a third grader until she privately accepted that she was gay.

Fast forward to January 26, 2006 — a cold winter’s morning when Chely stood defeated in her Nashville home with a loaded 9 millimeter gun in her mouth.  After all of the years of living in denial and fighting to be happy, but not out, she was ready to end it all.

However, the tears started falling and Chely just couldn’t pull the trigger.  She put the gun on the mantle and went back upstairs and stayed in bed for a couple of more days.

chely wright

The former Academy of Country Music’s Top New Female Vocalist and one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” couldn’t handle the stress of being gay and not being able to be open and honest about it.

That month of depression in January 2006 and the suicide attempt was a turning point for Chely.

Today, she’s happily married to LGBT rights advocate Lauren Blitzer (they met and married in 2011) and she’s the mother of twin boys, George Samuel and Everett Joseph, who turn one-year-old last weekend.

chely-wright-weddingChely's Twins Turn One

Although the book came out in 2010, I just got around to reading her autobiography, “Like Me”, which not only talked about her love of God, her family, country music and singing, but also her struggles with being a lesbian and having to hide her personal life to be a successful country music star.

Chely Wright Like Me

Richelle Rene Wright was born in the fall of 1970 in Kansas City, Missouri, and raised in a small Kansas town of 1,600 people.  She was the youngest of three children.

Even as a child, Chely knew that she was different.  She even had feelings for a teacher when she was just a little girl.

While Chely dated boys growing up in Kansas, she knew that it wasn’t going to change the feelings she felt toward women.  She moved to Nashville as a teenager to work at Opryland, where she had her first lesbian affair.

After landing a recording contract, Chely’s first album, “Woman in the Moon” and her first singles arrived at country radio in 1994 and 1995.

Chely Wright - Woman In The Moon

While the three singles got some radio airplay, none of them cracked the Top 40 on the Billboard Country chart.  However, at the gay country bar, Charlie’s, in Chicago, that I worked at during that time, “Sea of Cowboy Hats”, was a hit with the two-steppers.

Chely released a second album in 1996, but it, too, failed to catch on at country radio.  Meanwhile, she continued to tour extensively across the U.S. and visit and perform for troops around the world.

She always lived a double life.  When she wasn’t the “country singer” touring and promoting her songs, she was in an on-again and off-again relationship for about ten years with a music industry woman named Julia.

In 1997, she scored her first hit on the Billboard Country chart.  “Shut Up and Drive” reached #14.  It was followed by two more modest hits that reached #39 and #36, respectively.

While working to make it big as a country singer, she kept a low profile with Julia.  Julia even got married to a man, but that marriage ended in divorce and she and Chely got back together.  During this time, Chely also dated men, including her dear friend, Vince Gill.

Vince Gill

Even as she lived in the closet with country music fans, Chely hit the big time in 1999 when her album, “Single White Female”, went gold (selling more than 500,000 copies) and the title track topped the country charts in September.

In the book, Chely held nothing back about how hard it was to love God so much, yet struggle with being gay.  And, being in a genre of music that, for the most part, lacked compassion for gay people, she felt she was living a lie with her fans.

In late 2000, she met and started dating rising star, Brad Paisley.

Brad Chely

She had deep feelings for Paisley and he fell in love with her.  However, because she was a lesbian, her love for him wasn’t the same and he just couldn’t handle her getting close and pushing away.

brad-paisley-chely-wright

Throughout “Like Me” and since its publication, Chely regrets the way that relationship ended because she did care for Brad.

While Chely scored five more hits after the chart topper, “Single White Female”, through 2005, “It Was” was the biggest.  It made it up to #11 in 2000.

Chely knew that people on Music Row and in Nashville gossiped about her personal life and she had heard rumors that some thought she was gay.  Those dated back to 1994, just as she was starting her career.

However, Chely confirmed this with John Rich, a former member of the band, Lonestar, and one-half of the duo, Big & Rich.  The two had worked together back in 1990 at Opryland.

One night, in March 2005, the two of them were hanging out when Rich confronted her.

John Rich Chely Wright

Chely writes that Rich told her that people were talking about her and wondered if she was gay and that it wasn’t cool if she had “chosen to live that lifestyle” and that fans and the industry wouldn’t allow it.  He also told her, “People don’t approve of that kind of deviant behavior.  It’s a sin.”

She goes on to talk about how uneasy she started feeling because, at that point, he hadn’t asked her about her sexuality.  Rich was just telling her what he thought and what he felt that country music fans would think.  Finally, he asked, “You’re not gay, are you?”

Taking a deep breath, Chely exclaimed, “No, John, I’m not gay” to which Rich replied, “Good”.

JohnRich2

John Rich would go on the defensive again in late 2007 when he commented on a radio talk show that marriage equality would lead to incestuous marriages.

Days later, he offered this lame apology that was nothing more than damage control, “However, I also believe that intolerance, bigotry and hatred are wrong. People should be judged based on their merits, not on their sexual orientation. We are all children of God and should be valued and respected.”

Back in 2007, I interviewed Lonestar in Lubbock, Texas.  Luckily, for me, it was lead singer Richie McDonald and keyboardist/vocalist Dean Sams.  Rich was fired from Lonestar the following year and I’m so happy that I never met that homophobe!

Chely Wright Like Me

When Chely’s book came out in 2010, she also released her seventh studio album, “Lifted Off The Ground”, which focused around her personal struggles.  It reached #32 on Billboard Country album chart.

In June 2011, Chely released a documentary about the three years leading up to her coming out called “Wish Me Away”.

It won “Best Documentary” at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the “Documentary Channel Audience Award” for “Best Documentary” at the Nashville Film Festival.

Chely has also founded two organizations:  Reading, Writing and Rhythm (RW&R), which helps supply musical instruments and equipment to promote music in America’s schools, and about ten years later, in 2010, she started “The Like Me Organization”, which provides assistance, resources, and education to LGBT individuals and their family and friends.  It also works to prevent LGBT bullying and teen suicide.

Chely NOH8

So, while country radio and the Grand Ole Opry are missing out on a first-class talent, it’s great that real fans and LGBT people still have Chely around to offer support and give people courage to be themselves and not be afraid.

Chely, thank you for sharing your story and touching the lives of those that may be afraid to make that step to “come out”.

“Like Me:  Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer” is a must read!

CMT Flameworthy Video Music Awards

Chely, best wishes to you, Lauren, and the boys.

Anthony

While this blog was ready to be posted last week, I held off on it once Chely tweeted this about the loss of her mother, Cheri.

Chely -- Loss of Mother

Random Friday Thoughts — May 16, 2014

Another weekend is upon us and I can’t believe that next weekend is Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial kickoff to the summer season.

Have a fantastic weekend and I appreciate you checking out my random thoughts.  As always, let me know what you agree with and what you don’t.  I love feedback as long as you’re nice about it.

OKAY PEOPLE, OPEN YOUR MIND AND CLOSE YOUR MOUTH

There were basketball playoff games over the past week, but the big story is the National Football League (NFL) draft and Michael Sam.

Sam, the University of Missouri football first-team all-star player that publicly came out as gay three months ago, became a seventh round draft pick by the St. Louis Rams.

Michael Sam

If he plays this fall in a professional game, he’ll become the first active NFL player to have publicly come out.

When the announcement was made that he was drafted by the Rams, a very emotional Sam cried and then smashed cake into the face of his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano, a former University of Missouri swimmer.

And, then, for the love of God, he kissed his boyfriend to celebrate!  OMG, clutch my pearls!

Michael Vito Kiss Cake

It was a monumental moment and the White House sent out this message from President Barack Obama, “The President congratulates Michael Sam, the Rams and the NFL for taking an important step forward today in our Nation’s journey. From the playing field to the corporate boardroom, LGBT Americans prove everyday that you should be judged by what you do and not who you are.”

While Sam got encouraging and welcoming tweets from future Rams’ teammates, there was a big uproar over the kiss!

Former Super Bowl champion Derrick Ward tweeted, “I’m sorry but that Michael Sam is no bueno for doing that on national tv”.  He added:

Derrick Ward

And, Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones tweeted “horrible” and “OMG” about the kiss.  Those tweets were deleted and he was reprimanded by the team, given a fine, and ordered to attend sensitivity training.

jones_dolphins

He has since apologized to Michael Sam about the tweets.  However, I don’t know about Michael, but I don’t want Jones to apologize for speaking out about how he feels.  His disapproval and ignorance is real.  His apology is empty, condescending, and nothing more than damage control.

I have more to say about this whole reaction to Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend and people’s negative response.  But, I want to share a link about a previous blog I wrote back in June 2012 about public apologies after homophobic comments are made.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/your-apology-really-doesnt-mean-that-much-to-me/

Now, back to Michael Sam and his boyfriend, Vito.

Michael Vito Beach

They appear to be a happy couple and I’m glad that Sam is out now and the two of them can be public about the love they share for each other.

I’m also very happy that they can openly celebrate Sam’s accomplishment.  How many little boys and teenagers wish that one day they’ll be drafted into the NFL?  And, when that time comes, they should be able to share it with the one that they love!

People that were appalled by the public display of affection really need to get over it.  They find that kiss unacceptable, but they’ll accept bad and criminal behavior from their NFL stars?

Ray Rice

Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens is awaiting sentencing for dragging his fiancée out of an Atlantic City casino elevator.  He was found guilty of third-degree aggravated assault and could face a 3-5 year sentence and a fine for the spousal abuse.

Then there’s Daryl Washington of the Arizona Cardinals.  He pleaded guilty last month of choking his ex-girlfriend, the mother of his child, and causing her to fall and break her collarbone.

daryl washington

And, Michael Boley of the Cincinnati Bengals was arrested for abusing his child.

Michael Boley

And, the list of bad behavior and criminal acts from NFL players goes on and one and people are bent out of shape over a same-sex kiss!  This is the 21st century people and love is love.

Michael, congratulations.  Michael and Vito, I wish you the very best in life and love!

Vito Michael Champagne

Cheers!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Pug FactoryEating  Laughing

KARL ROVE IS SUCH AN IDIOT

Karl Rove, the Senior Advisor for President George W. Bush is in news again and this time, in desperation, he stoops to an all-time low.

Rove Clinton

Rove is on the defensive after suggesting that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suffered a brain injury in a fall she suffered back in 2012 that required hospitalization.  Rove made this sick insinuation based on the glasses Clinton wore during  testimony a month later!

Even people in his own party are speaking out against this tactic.

Former House Speaker and 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich says he is “deeply offended” by Rove’s comments.

newtngingrich

With Clinton, Gingrich sees a correlation to what people were saying about former President Ronald Reagan’s health when he was a candidate, “I was angry when people did this to Reagan in 1980 and I am angry when they do it to her today”.

Gingrich also added, ” I’ve have many policy disagreements with Hillary[,] but this kind of personal charge is exactly whats wrong with [A]merican politics.”

Karl Rove, go away — now!

2016 RUN FOR PRESIDENT

Earlier this month, before Rove’s comments, Zogby Analytics polled 893 likely voters and found that Hillary has a substantial lead over former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in a possible showdown for the 2016 race for President.

hillaryclinton_jebbush

With a +/-3% margin, Mrs. Clinton leads Bush 52%-36%.  Her lead over Paul was 52% to 35% and she was 16% ahead of Christie.

None of these candidates have thrown their hat into the ring yet.

PICK HIT

I’ve been a huge fan of the German dance band, Cascada, since I first heard “Everytime We Touch” back in late 2005.  That song went on to reach #10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 2009, Cascada had another Top 40 American radio hit with “Evacuate The Dancefloor”.  It made it up to #25.

Those two songs and 2008’s remake of Rascal Flatts’ #1 country hit, “What Hurts The Most” all topped the Billboard Dance chart.

Cascada-Blink

Cascada is back with a new single, “Blink”.

MORE “HANNIBAL” ON NBC

NBC’s “Hannibal” is without a doubt one of the best shows on television.

I’m so thrilled that the network has enough faith in the critically acclaimed, but severely ratings-challenged drama to renew it for a third season.

Hannibal

There are only two episodes left this season (the season two finale is next Friday night, May 23rd) and we already know that the serial killer Hannibal could be going down in the finale.

In case you’re one of the millions that haven’t watched “Hannibal”, here’s how season two started before the episode flashed back twelve weeks to show us how this showdown came about.

How will it end now that Jack Crawford knows Hannibal is a killer?

ARE JOURNALISTS PSYCHOPATHS?

Since I work in the news business and I’m talking about “Hannibal”, I have to share a couple of funny lines from the May 2nd episode, “Naka-Choko”.

Hannibal - Season 2

Shady, sensationalist reporter Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) confronts FBI profiler, Will Graham (Hugh Dancy).

Freddie Will Allegedly

And, then there’s this correspondence between Will and Hannibal.

Will Psychopath

PICK HIT BONUS

This week, the latest Michael Jackson album, “Xscape”, was released.  I featured the first single, “Love Never Felt So Good”, in my blog last week.

The official video is out now and it’s incredible!

The song debuted at #20 last week on Billboard’s Hot 100 and the album could debut at #1 on next week’s chart.

I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

The country band, Lonestar, from Texas, have hit the chart with six gold and platinum albums since their self-titled debut release in the fall of 1995.

Lonestar

Their first hit, “Tequila Talkin'”  peaked at #8 in 1995 and the follow-up, “No News”, topped the chart for three weeks in April 1996.

In all, Lonestar has charted 23 Top 40 songs on the Billboard Country chart.  Of those, 18 made the Top Ten, and nine have reached the top!

Also, their hit “Amazed” was number one on the Country charts for eight weeks in 1999 and it even made it to the top of the Hot 100 for two weeks the following year!

Back in 1997, I interviewed lead singer Richie McDonald and keyboardist/vocalist Dean Sams in Lubbock, Texas, and they were both great guys.

Lonestar Sara Evans

For those near the Quad Cities, Lonestar and Sara Evans will be playing at this year’s Rosefest Outdoor Concert Series at the Wild Rose Casino in Clinton, Iowa, on July 11th.

THAT’S IT

I think that’s enough this week.

We have a wedding to attend in Dubuque, Iowa, this weekend.  While the weather is going to be nice Sunday, I’m torn about whether to work outside to get the garden ready when we get home or go to the movie.

We’ve only been to the theater once this year.  Back in January, we saw the Oscar-nominated and amazing “August:  Osage County”.

godzilla_2014_poster

I really want to see “Godzilla (2014)” after seeing the trailer.  With the suspense and creepiness of the previews, I think it could be this year’s “World War Z”!

“Godzilla” opens Friday!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — May 9, 2014

If you read my blog on a regular basis or if you’re new to it, I love my weekends and I always start counting down to them when I head into work on Monday morning at 2 a.m.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the ladies out there, whether it’s a child, a pet, a fish, or a plant to which you show your love.

TammyDessie

This is my sister, Tammy, and our late mother, Dessie, from the 1980s.

Here are my random thoughts for this Friday.  As always, let me know if you agree of disagree with any of them.

MORE SEX ALLEGATIONS & “THE X-MEN” SERIES

Just as the seventh movie in the successful “X-Men” series hits theaters in two weeks, another sexual assault lawsuit is filed against director Bryan Singer.

Bryan Singer

The director is distancing himself from the promotion of the $225 million “X-Men:  Days of Future Past” starring Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and many more.

x-men-days-of-future-past-poster

Singer says, “I do not want these fictitious claims to divert ANY attention” from the film.  He goes on to say, “I promise when this situation is over, the facts will show this to be the sick twisted shakedown it is.”

This all started back in mid-April when failed actor Michael P. Egan III, now 31, filed a sexual assault lawsuit against Singer and two other entertainment heavyweights claiming they involved him in a Hollywood sex ring back in the 1990s when he was a teenager and an aspiring actor.

Bryan Singer - Mike Egan III

Now, Egan’s lawyer, Jeff Herman, is representing a British man, now in his 20s, known as “John Doe No. 117”, who claims that Singer sexually assaulted him back in 2006 when the director was in the U.K. promoting “Superman Returns”.

I’m really torn about this.  I wasn’t there, so I don’t know if anything inappropriate happened.

However, I find it really hard to believe that Egan is just now coming forward with these allegations for something that happened back in the 1990s.  And, this wasn’t a one-time thing.  It allegedly happened multiple times in California and Hawaii!

If these allegations are true, I hope Singer and the other two men named in the lawsuit pay dearly.  If they’re innocent and this is character assassination, I hope it doesn’t affect their careers in the long-term and the accusers get help with their problems!

CAMPAIGN ROAD BUMP FOR GOP CANDIDATE

Steve Wiles

34-year-old Republican Steve Wiles supports North Carolina’s constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage and he’s running for a state Senate seat there. 

And, he’s also running from his past.

Steve Wiles - Mona Sinclair

It appears that in his early-20s, he was gay and worked at the Winston-Salem gay bar, Club Odyssey, as “Mona Sinclair”!

The Winston-Salem Journal reports that Wiles first stated, “That’s not me” and “no” when asked if was gay.

In another interview, Wiles says, “I have already apologized to the people who matter most to me for the things I did when I was young.”

Before his campaign website, Twitter account, and Facebook page were taken offline, Wiles posted this on Facebook:

Facebook Steve Wiles

Sorry, Steve, but you say that “equality doesn’t mean infringing on someone else’s right”.  Plain and simple, marriage equality is a “right” that every human should have in their lifetime.  It’s your problem that you’re using religion as a litmus test to define “marriage”.

And, another thing that’s more appalling than your self-righteous views and denial of your past is that picture of Mona Sinclair!  If this story was going public, at least get a more flattering picture out there.  Didn’t you learn anything from RuPaul?

TOMMY LASORDA DOESN’T MINCE WORDS

Tommy Lasorda, who managed the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1976-1996, is a long time friend of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

As you know, Sterling was fined $2.5 million, banned for life from the NBA, and may be forced to sell the team for making racially insensitive comments to his girlfriend, Vivian  Stiviano.

tommy-lasorda-donald-sterling-and-v-stiviano

Lasorda was in West Palm Beach, Florida, to pick up an honorary doctorate from Northwood University. 

He told the local ABC affiliate, WPBF, that he’s known Sterling for more than thirty years and Sterling said things he shouldn’t have said.

However,  it’s what he said about Stiviano that surprised me!

He just said it so nonchalantly.  I just hope Stiviano doesn’t cross any streets any time soon!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Brunei Crazy Bitter Tiger

I KNOW THAT CAT!

That last cartoon is definitely Gretel’s mean orange cat, Tiger.

Tiger from Hell

She’ll love on me and just when she earns my trust and I consider her my “friend”, she attacks me with teeth and back claws drawing blood!

That’s why I want to trade her in for two dogs.

I just need to convince Gretel to take the cats to her mother’s house and to make Ray see that we need two loving dogs!

“PRAYERS FOR BOBBY”

We’ve heard so much over the past few years of teenagers being bullied and taking their own lives.

Suicide is hard for survivors to handle regardless of the age of the person who dies.

For me, it’s especially hard to think of young people killing themselves because someone is using God and “The Bible” to bully someone over something they don’t understand.

Bobby Griffith

This happened to Bobby Griffith in 1983.  I just read the book about his life and death and how his mother learned to unconditionally love her gay son after it was too late.

Here’s the blog I posted earlier this week if you missed it.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/dont-just-pray-for-the-bobbys-of-the-world-love-them/

ZACHARY QUINTO

“Star Trek” actor Zachary Quinto is looking better than ever.  He’s currently shooting “Agent 47”, the sequel to “Hitman” that was released in 2007.

He posted this selfie recently on Instagram.

Zachary Quinto

While I’ve seen both “Star Trek” movies he’s been in, along his creepy performance as Dr. Oliver Thredson in “American Horror Story:  Asylum” and as Chad Warwick in the first season of “American Horror Story”, he captured my attention back in 2006 as Sasan in Tori Spelling’s “So NoTORIous”.

Zachary Tori

Sadly, that 10-episode series on VH1 only lasted one season.

But, a few years ago, the station I was working at was doing a satellite interview with Tori and I got to chime in and ask her a question.  I complimented her on her performances in “Trick” and “So NoTORIous” and she was flattered that I had seen them.  She told me that she would have loved to have done another season of  “So NoTORIous”.

If “The Comeback” can come back, let’s bring “So NoTORIous” back for season two on VH1 or any network!

PICK HIT

Legendary music icon Michael Jackson has been dead for almost five years now, but he makes his debut on this week’s Billboard Hot 100 at #20 with his highest charting single since “Butterflies” went to #14 in 2002.

Michael Jackson Xscape

“Love Never Felt So Good”, a duet with Justin Timberlake, is the first single from the new Michael Jackson album, “Xscape”, that comes out Tuesday, May 13th.   It was downloaded 80,000 times in just the first three days of release last Friday!

With his solo hits, feature hits with other artists, and adding in the Jackson 5 and the Jacksons hits, “Love” becomes Michael’s 66th hit on the Billboard Hot 100 Top 40.

Of those, 42 have reached the Top Ten with 18 topping the Hot 100.

Meanwhile, for Justin, with his solo hits, feature hits with other artists, and ‘N Sync hits, “Love” marks his 35th hit on the Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 chart.

21 of those hits have reached the Top Ten and give have topped that chart.

HYDRANGEAS FOR MOTHER’S DAY?

Sorry, Madonna, I’m talking about hydrangeas this Mother’s Day.

We have several in our front yard, including some called “Limelight Green”.

Here’s something that I didn’t know.  You can actually influence the color of your hydrangeas, whether they are pink or blue, by changing the acidity of the soil!

Hydrangea pH Levels

In its May 2014 email newsletter, Wallace’s Garden Center states, “in general, more acidity makes hydrangeas turn blue, less acidity (or more alkaline soil) promotes pink-that is, unless we’re talking about white hydrangeas, which, alas, are limited to white.”

It does says that this doesn’t happen overnight!

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

Texas-born singer Johnny Lee enjoyed several years of hit-making on country radio from 1976-1985.

In that time period, he scored 19 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Country chart with 12 of those reaching the Top Ten.

LFL Johnny Lee

In 1980, his song, “Looking For Love” was featured in the movie, “Urban Cowboy”.

It topped the country chart for three weeks and even reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.  The song went on to sell more than a million copies.

Lee would pick up four more #1 country hits.

From 1982-1984, Lee was married to Charlene Tilton, who played Lucy Ewing on the hit CBS series, “Dallas”.

THAT’S IT

I think this is a good stopping point.  As always, thank you for reading my blog.  I appreciate it.

Have a great weekend whatever you do.  I think we’ll hit a few yard sales and work out in the yard some to enjoy the warmer weather.

Anthony

“Philomena” Will Make You Laugh & Cry

I finally got around to seeing the Oscar-nominated British film, “Philomena”, last weekend and it was incredible.

PHILOMENA

The movie is based on a real-life story of Philomena Lee, a teenager who becomes pregnant and is sent off to an Abbey in Ireland by her father to have the child.  After bonding with the little boy, Anthony, for a few years, he is adopted by an American family.

Lee, played with perfection by Judi Dench, who earned a Best Actress nomination at this year’s Oscars, waits 50 years before sharing her daily torment with her grown daughter.  The daughter just happens to meet a reporter who helps Philomena find her son.

“Philomena” will make you laugh and cry.  It’s a must see.

GRADE:  A+

And, here is the real Philomena Lee with her daughter, Jane, in 2013.

Philomena Lee

Anthony

Re-posted from:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/random-friday-thoughts-may-2-2014/

Don’t Just Pray For The “Bobbys” of The World, Love Them

Life is too short, especially for teenagers and young adults that think life is not worth living.

It’s especially vile when those kids kill themselves because of people’s distorted view that God is a hater.

Bobby Griffith

When he was 16-years-old, Bobby Griffith was so tormented that he confided to his brother and best friend, Ed, that he was gay.  When the pressure of that secret became too much to keep,  Ed told his mother, Mary, that his little brother was gay.

Mary And Bobby Griffith

Being a devout Christian, who feared God, Mary felt that Bobby would lead a miserable life and that God would condemn her son to hell and she would not see him in the afterlife.  Her repeated efforts for Bobby to “pray away” the gay, her constant spouting of Bible verses, and talks about damnation were too much.

On a summer night in 1983, at the age of 20, Bobby jumped off an overpass in Portland, Oregon, and was struck and killed by a semi-trailer.

Bobby 2

Sadly, there are too many Bobbys in this world who are told or that believe that their life is not worth living if they’re gay.

Society is slowly moving forward and letting the Bobbys know that their life has meaning.  We have a long way to go, but we’re making progress.

I just finished reading “Prayers for Bobby: A Mother’s Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son” by journalist Leroy F. Aarons, who worked closely with Mary Griffith and her family to form the story of Bobby’s life and his being gay.

He also used Bobby’s diary entries and there’s no denying that Bobby’s self-worth was low because he thought God hated him.

Prayer For Bobby book cover

In the months following Bobby’s death, Mary looked hard for answers as to whether her son was in heaven or hell.  Her church, the Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church, in Walnut Creek, California, made her think it was hell and that she’d never see her son again.

However, after meeting with Reverend Larry Whitsell at the Metropolitan Community Church in Concord, California, Mary started thinking differently about Bobby, his homosexuality, heaven and hell.

Mary Griffith

Years after Bobby’s suicide, Mary became a leading activist to show schools, churches, and society that every gay person should be given the chance to lead a happy, fulfilling life.

Mary wanted others, especially parents, to learn from her mistake — her fatal mistake of allowing her son to feel unloved and unworthy of her love and God’s love.

sigourney-weaver-prayers-for-bobby

In 2009, the book became an Emmy and Golden Globes-nominated movie on Lifetime.  “Prayers For Bobby” starred Sigourney Weaver and Ryan Kelley.

It was my second favorite movie of 2010, the year I saw it.

pflag_header

If you suspect that your child is gay or that a loved one is gay and you don’t know how to deal with it, check out P-FLAG National, the group formerly known as Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays, just like Mary did.

It changed her life and in return, her determination has saved countless other gay kids from becoming another Bobby, a victim of suicide.

Here’s the link to PFLAG:

http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?pid=194&srcid=-2

Mary Griffith 2

Show love and compassion and don’t let your son, daughter, or loved one become the next Bobby!  And, don’t find this acceptance when it’s too late like Mary Griffith.

In memory of  Bobby Griffith, here is one of his favorite songs (“Shake It Up” from 1982) from his favorite band, The Cars, in the year leading up to his death.

Anthony