Archive for May, 2016

Random Friday Thoughts — May 27, 2016

Happy Memorial Day weekend!  It’s the unofficial kick-off to the summer season.  I hope you have a great one.  It’ll be especially nice for those with a three-day weekend (Ray!).

I wasn’t planning on an installment of Random Friday Thoughts, but here it is.  Surprise!

Pool

We’re running behind schedule this year, but we’re putting up our pool this weekend.

We closed it down in late September, but I’m ready to float the weekends and afternoons away — especially now that we’re enjoying summer-like, above average temperatures in the Quad Cities.

R.I.P. BETH HOWLAND

Beth Howland, who played ditzy waitress Vera, on the long running 1970s-1980s CBS sitcom, “Alice”, has died of lung cancer. She was 74.

Vera

Howland actually died December 31, 2015, but her actor husband, Charles Kimbrough, told The Associated Press that it “her choice” not to have a memorial service or funeral.  That’s why the news is just now coming out.

As a kid, I loved her character and comedic timing.

“GOODNIGHT MOMMY”

For whatever reason, the 2014 Austrian psychological thriller/horror movie, “Goodnight Mommy”, just hit Redbox and I highly recommend it!

Susanne Wuest is incredible in the role as “The Mother” and twins, Elias and Lukas Schwarz, are mesmerizing.

The movie was Austria’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film for the 88th Annual Academy Awards, but it wasn’t picked as a nominee.  Oscar fail!

Before I saw the movie, I wrote, “the trailer definitely creeps me out”.  Wait until you see the movie!

I don’t give too many movies this grade, but “Goodnight Mommy” gets….

GRADE:  A+

LET’S CHARGE FOR PLASTIC BAGS!!!

I know Earth Day is in April.  But, there’s something that we can do to cut back on pollution and some communities are working hard to make it happen.

As I travel across the country (and the world), I see more and more businesses charging for those paper-thin, flimsy plastic bags that Walmart and other stores use.

They’re cheap to produce and many aren’t used again because they rip open before you even get home!  Many end up blowing in the wind or floating in area lakes and rivers.

Ban Bags

More businesses are selling cloth reusable bags and I think that’s fantastic.

Aldi stores sell the reusable bags, but they also have plastic bags.  However, if you want one (whether you throw it away or reuse it), you pay for it.

I know it’d get expensive if you’re paying for the plastic bags at big stores like Walmart, but it’d probably prompt you to buy quality, reusable bags.  And, the environment would love you for it.

Many communities are even banning or proposing bans on the plastic bags.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY (AND EVERYDAY)

Fish Be You

POLITICS TIDBITS

I was wrong!

In my “Random Friday Thoughts — December 19, 2014”, I predicted that Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush would be the two candidates on November’s ballot for U.S. president.

Hillary AP

Well, it looks like I’ll be right with the Democratic nominee come June 7th once New Jersey and California vote, but who would have thought the presumptive nominee out of seventeen candidates on the Republican side would be Donald Trump!

DT Masks

Scary, right?  Yes!  I don’t need to wait for an answer!

NEXT VEGAS PLAN CHANGES 

Going to Las Vegas is an annual pilgrimage for me and Ray.

We love to eat, gamble, catch a couple of shows, walk, walk, walk, and see the sights.

Las Vegas

We love checking out the beautiful hotels and casinos — especially the displays made of flowers at the Bellagio.  I really want to visit one December when the glitzy city is decorated for Christmas.

However, our next trip in late July will not include a visit to the gorgeous The Venetian and The Palazzo.

The CEO is donating $100 million (yes, million) to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign! I’m sorry, but I will not help fund in any way that sorry excuse of a man that wants to be president!

There are plenty of other places there to try my luck at the slots — and eat desserts!

We’ll be visiting the Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood.  It’s a tradition for us to eat there and have the weekend champagne brunch at the Stratosphere.

Spice Market Buffet Las Vegas

Have I mentioned how much I love buffets, slot machines, and Las Vegas?

FOR THE LOVE OF NANCY REAGAN

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan died earlier this year of congestive heart failure at the age of 94.  Her husband, Ronald, our country’s 40th president, died back in June 2004 at the age of 93.

JustSayNoNancyReagan

Since it’s an election year, I’ve mostly been reading biographies and autobiographies of political figures.  I’ve read books from Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jimmy Carter, plus books on presidential wannabees Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee.

I just finished Nancy Reagan’s “My Turn” and Kitty Kelley’s “Nancy:  The Unauthorized Biography”.

What I concluded from Nancy’s book is that she definitely heavily influenced Ronald Reagan in his two terms as California’s governor (1967-1975) and his two terms as president (1981-1989).

Even in her own words, I don’t think she was probably a very nice person (outwardly).  However, I don’t think she was the evil pariah that Kelley made her out to be.

But, reading some of the accusations made by Kelley — including an affair with Frank Sinatra, date rape, and unplanned pregnancies — it definitely makes one wonder what was really going on in the lives of one of the most conservative political families.

nancy.jpg

To restore some of my faith in Ms. Reagan, I read Michael Deaver’s “Nancy: A Portrait of My Years with Nancy Reagan”.

Although it’s a short book, don’t waste your time.  It’s basically the “CliffsNotes” version of Nancy’s “My Turn”.

He told the same stories she did with very little new insight.  The book only one earned its worth when in the last thirty or so pages, he addressed Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s Disease.

RonaldReagan

There’s one thing that I would never dispute about the Reagans — their love for each other in their 50+ years of marriage.  It’s very admirable.

I still have a few more books to read about them — about their love and President Reagan’s autobiography.

PRESIDENT REAGAN, I NO LONGER HATE YOU

I didn’t personally know or like the Reagans (especially the President).

There’s one big reason that I used to despise Reagan and it was much deeper than him defeating my favorite President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 presidential election.  Here’s a blog from the summer of 2012 to explain.  (Clicking on this blog link will open a new window, so you won’t lose your place in today’s reading.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/president-reagan-i-no-longer-hate-you/

TWO WEEKS IN CHINA

Since my last “Random Friday Thoughts”, Ray and I spent two weeks in China.  We met some really nice people in our tour group from all over the world, including New Zealand.

We climbed the Great Wall of China, cruised on the Yangtze River (when we weren’t fogged in and unable to move), saw the stunning Gorges, endured the worst smog I’ve ever seen in Beijing where our trip started and ended, and witnessed the lights and glamour of Shanghai, the reason we went to China!

AP Ray Shanghai.jpg

Maybe because it was for a tour group, the food was pretty bland and too Westernized.  I’m ready to enjoy my favorite Asian food in the Quad Cities, Osaka Buffet, in Moline, for some “real” tasty cuisine.

Would I ever go back to China?  Probably not.  Would I recommend seeing it once in your lifetime?  Definitely!

PICK HIT OF THE WEEK

The first time I heard “Faded” by 18-year-old British-born Norwegian record producer Alan Walker (with vocals by Iselin Solheim), I fell in love with the song.

Instantly, I searched out more songs from Walker and much to my chagrin, I found there isn’t an album — yet.

The ethereal, very moody, and captivating song is already a chart-topping smash in Austria, Belgium,  France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Vietnam, and eight other counties!

Here is the United States, the song is racing up the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart jumping from #26 to #17 this week and it’s already in the Top Ten on the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart.

It’s getting some airplay at Top 40 radio here, but I hope it really catches on soon.  If you haven’t heard it, here it is.

Call B100 and 101.3 KISSFM here in the Quad Cities and request it.  Just tell them that Anthony from Local 4 requests that you play it. 🙂

“LONDON SPY”

If you’re looking for an intelligent television series to add to your summer viewing, you have to check out this five-part BBC America series. (You can catch it on Netflix.)

“London Spy” stars one of the best English actors working today, Ben Whishaw, who’s also appearing on Broadway in “The Crucible”.

Ben_Whishaw

It doesn’t hurt that Whishaw is charming and adorable, too!  But, I’m recommending this thriller because he’s incredible and the story is very suspenseful.

It also stars Jim Broadbent (“Moulin Rouge!”) and Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling (“45 Years”).

GRADE:  A

THAT’S IT 

Since I don’t write as much as I used to or as much as I’d like, I appreciate you checking out this week’s “Random Friday Thoughts”.  As always, feel free to let me know if you agree or disagree — just do it diplomatically.

Have a great holiday weekend and remember the great men and women that made this Memorial Day weekend a holiday.

Anthony

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Did Oscar Get It Right on “Best Picture”?

This is not BREAKING NEWS!

The 88th annual Academy Awards were almost three months ago and this is not a spoiler:  “Spotlight”, Leo, Brie, Alicia, and Mark came away as the winners in the movie and acting categories.

Oscar-Nominations-2014

It’s taken me this long to see all of the nominees (the exception is “Carol”, which hopefully, I’ll get around to seeing next weekend — sorry Cate and Mara!)

So, did Oscar voters get it right?  Maybe I should rephrase that — “Do I agree with the Hollywood vote casters?  Yes, except for one category.

If you’ve already seen them, feel free to weigh in.  Here are my short reviews.

BEST PICTURE

The nominees:  “The Big Short”, “Bridge of Spies”, “Brooklyn”, “Mad Max:  Fury Road”, “The Martian”, “The Revenant”, “Room”, and “Spotlight”.

And, the Academy Awards goes to:  “Spotlight”!

“SPOTLIGHT”

This incredible story is about the Boston Globe’s investigation that broke open the Catholic church sex scandal and cover-up.

The acting was above par with Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams both picking up Best Supporting Actor and Actress nominations, respectively.  For both of those actors, I agree that “it’s an honor to be nominated”.  Like Oscar, I think someone else in the categories shined brighter.

GRADE:  B+

“THE BIG SHORT”

This movie about the housing bust is very talky with very little physical action and that’s a good thing.

Ryan Gosling was awesome, as always, and an almost unrecognizable Christian Bale was very intruiging.  Bale picked up a nomination for “Best Supporting Actor”, but I didn’t pick him as the winner in that category.

GRADE:  B

“BRIDGE OF SPIES”

This Steven Spielberg directed “Cold War” caper was an enjoyable movie starring the always stellar Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance, who won the Oscar for “Best Supporting Actor”.

GRADE:  B

“BROOKLYN”

I saw this Oscar-nominated Best Picture on the flight to China and what a beautiful love story it turned out to be.

Best Actress nominee Saoirse Ronan was heartbreaking as Eilis, a 1950s woman living in New York City and having to choose between the man she met and loves in the U.S. and a charming man back home in Ireland.

GRADE:  A

P.S.  I would have loved to see Saoirse and my dreamboat, Ben Whishaw on Broadway this spring in “The Crucible”.

Ben_Whishaw.jpg

Damn you, Tony Awards, for snubbing them both! (Okay, different blog at a different time!)

“MAD MAX: FURY ROAD”

I’ve never seen any of the previous “Mad Max” movies and since they star the hateful Mel Gibson, that’s a good thing.

As beautiful as Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron are, I admit that during the first thirty minute of this movie, my thoughts were “WTF”.  Oh, if that’s too harsh for your sensitivities, I was thinking, “WTH”!

But, then it all started making sense and the movie blew me away.  I want to see it again just to marvel at director George Miller’s brilliance.

GRADE:  B

“THE MARTIAN”

Here’s what I wrote in my “Random Friday Thoughts — February 19, 2016”:

“I finally got around to see this $614.2 million dollar blockbuster that’s nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor for star, Matt Damon.

Everyone (and their mother) has already seen this, so I won’t write a long review.  I loved this movie much better than “Gravity”, which I didn’t like, and I haven’t seen “Interstellar”.

Damon does a great job in the role, but Oscar winning-worthy?  No.

My biggest complaint — the 2 hour, 21 minute running time was excessive and I think the movie could have been just as entertaining 30 minutes shorter.

GRADE:  A-

“THE REVENANT”

This movie took home three Academy Awards (“Best Actor” for Leonardo DiCaprio, Alejandro G. Inarritu for “Best Director”, and Emmanuel Lubezki for “Best Cinematography”).

The cinematography was breathtaking and beautiful.  While the movie was brutal, graphic, and realistic, you couldn’t take your eyes off the screen.

When I’m watching a movie and there’s an animal that is killed or injured, I tell myself that it’s a “Holly (insert animal here)” for “Hollywood (fake) animal”.  Well, there were many “Holly animals” in this one. 🙂

GRADE:  A

“ROOM”

From my “Random Friday Thoughts — March 11, 2016”:

“When I read the blockbuster book, “Room” by Emma Donough, I didn’t know what I’d think of the movie adaptation when it was announced.  Even after seeing the trailer last summer, I still was unsure.

However, after watching the potent movie that earned star Brie Larson this year’s Best Actress Oscar, my reservations were unfounded.

Because I had read the book, tears were streaming down my face after just the first ten minutes of the movie.  Tears continue to fall at different times in the movie.

GRADE:  A

So, there you have all eight nominees for “Best Picture”, the Oscar winner, and my grades.

You’ll notice that my top picks (based on grades) were “Brooklyn”, “The Revenant”, and “Room”.  If it was based solely on that, I’d say Oscar was wrong.

It was definitely a hard choice for me for “Best Picture” between “The Revenant” and “Spotlight”.  However, with the social message, the real life emotions, and the changes it brought in humanity, “Spotlight” rightfully won the Oscar.

And, I want to add that Oscar was correct honoring Inarritu for “Best Director” and Lubezki for “Best Cinematography” for “The Revenant”.

Soon, I’ll blog about the acting categories since I still need to see “Carol”.  As of now, I agree with three of the four winners.

Stay tuned  or coming soon, whichever you like best.

Anthony

Delirium with Ellie Goulding and Years & Years

British  and international pop star Ellie Goulding kicked off her “Delirium World Tour” in Europe in January to promote the “Delirium” album that came out last November.  It was one of my favorite albums of 2015.

Ellie CD

The North American leg of the tour is now underway and tonight, I’ll be seeing Ellie, along with the British trio, Years & Years, in Rosemont, Illinois, just outside of Chicago.

Years & Years

Last fall, I came close to seeing Olly Alexander and the guys when I visited San Francisco, but the show was sold out.  This time around with Ellie, I wasn’t going to miss out!

Now that the show is just hours away, I want to share my eight favorite Ellie Goulding songs and my eight favorite Years & Years songs.  Why eight?  I hear it’s a lucky number.  So, if you’re lucky enough to get to meet Ellie or Olly and the guys, tell them Anthony says “hello”.

Since Ellie is the headliner, I’ll start with her, although “Communion” by Years & Years was my #2 album of 2015.  (In retrospective, if I had it to do all over again, it’d be #1. Sorry Giorgio Moroder!)

MY EIGHT FAVORITE ELLIE GOULDING SONGS

#8 CD

“AFTERTASTE”

7

“DEVOTION”

6

“OUTSIDE” (WITH CALVIN HARRIS)

#5 MOVIE

“YOUR SONG”

4

“I NEED YOUR LOVE” (WITH CALVIN HARRIS)

3

“LOVE ME LIKE YOU DO”

2

“SOMETHING IN THE WAY YOUR MOVE”

1

“LIGHTS”

More Years & Years

MY EIGHT FAVORITE YEARS & YEARS SONGS

#8 MOVIE

“WORSHIP”

#7 CD

“WITHOUT”

#6 CD

“GOLD”

5

“TAKE SHELTER”

#4 CD

“DESIRE” (FEATURING TOVE LO)

#3 CD

“REAL”

#2 CD

“KING”

#1

“SHINE”

Now, I just have to get through work and then drive to Chicago for Friday night’s show.

Here’s to a fun night with Ellie, Olly, Mikey, and Emre.

Anthony

 

Kent State Shootings — 46 Years Later

 

[The text of this blog was written four years ago in 2012.]

Kent State University is located in northeastern Ohio and if not for what happened there 46 years ago today, many of you would have no clue where it is located.

Kent State Univ Shootings-4May70

Four students were shot to death by the Ohio National Guard and 9 others were injured at an anti-Vietnam War protest.

Four of the wounded students are asking for a new investigation.  They asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to look at digitally enhanced audio evidence they claim shows that an officer ordered the Guard to fire on the unarmed students.

When I worked in Mansfield, Ohio, I got to attend the 30th anniversary of the shootings.  Being on Campus that in 2000, it felt so real like it was still 1970.

Here is the story that I posted for WMFD.  Please forgive the less than HD quality since I recorded it off my digital camera from a VHS tape!  VHS, really?:)

Anthony