Archive for February, 2017

Record Warmth, Then Severe Storms

UPDATED POST:  Tuesday, February 28, 2017, 11:13 a.m.

It’s now looking like that there’ll be a widespread severe weather outbreak across Illinois this afternoon and evening.

Here’s the updated categorical risk from the Storm Prediction Center.

Updated Moderate.gif

That large area of “moderate” risk in downstate Illinois is rather ominous since it wasn’t on the earlier update at 7:37 a.m.

For the Quad Cities and our part of Iowa and Illinois, we’re still under the “slight” to “enhanced” chances of severe weather this afternoon and evening.

Our biggest threat will be wind damage, followed by large hail.

But, there’s still a chance of a few strong tornadoes in our area.

As of this update, there are no watches in effect.

I’ll keep you updated as needed today.

Anthony

ORIGINAL POST:  Tuesday, February 28, 2017, 5:05 a.m. (Map updated at 7:37 a.m.)

A storm system will bring us record or near record warmth today and then our first real severe weather threat this evening and early tonight.

severe-update

A warm front associated with that storm moved through eastern Iowa and the Quad Cities earlier Tuesday morning with non-severe storms.

High temperatures today will warm into the 60s to near 70°.  The record high in the Quad Cities today is 66°.  That was set just last year.

Interestingly enough, our record low for today was set two years ago at -18°.  What a difference a year makes!

With unseasonably warm temperatures in place this afternoon, strong to severe thunderstorms will be breaking out across Iowa and Illinois as the cold front arrives.

SVR WX LATER TODAY.png

These storms could bring large hail, damaging winds, and even a few tornadoes, especially east of the Mississippi River.  This threat will last through the evening hours.

Tomorrow, as colder air comes in, the rain showers could mix with or change over to light snow.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — February 24, 2017

Today’s random thoughts is short and sweet.  I don’t think I have anything too controversial in here, but with human nature, I can’t be sure. 🙂

Have a great last weekend of February!

OSCARS WEEKEND

Millions will be tuned in Sunday night to see the best of Hollywood (at least those nominated and chosen) accept their awards and make political speeches.

Oscar-Nominations-2014

I’m basing my picks on my “entertainment” knowledge.

The only nominated movies and performances I’ve seen, so far, in the top categories are “Arrival”, “Captain Fantastic”, “Florence Foster Jenkins”, and “Hell Or High Water”.

My picks for the big prizes are:

Best Picture:  “La La Land”.  I saw “Arrival” and it’s definitely not going to be that one.

Best Actor: Denzel Washington.  If not, it’ll be Casey Affleck.  However, I’d love for it to be Viggo Mortensen.

Best Actress:  Emma Stone

Best Supporting Actor:  Mahershala Ali

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis

LIBYAN TRAGEDY

Earlier this week, at least 74 bodies of migrants washed ashore from the Mediterranean Sea in Libya.

libya

Libya is a North Africa country on the other side of the world that I’d never want to visit, even if it borders the beautiful Mediterranean Sea.

It’s a country strife in human rights violations and political  regimes.

While it’s so far away (and tragedies like this one are a frequent occurrence), it’s gotten minor news coverage.  Sadly, many across the rest of the world probably had little concern about it as it crossed their online news feeds.

But, for some reason (maybe since I’m pontificating about life and my future), it really hit me.

I didn’t know those people and I know things like this happen.  Yet, those people yearned for something better.  They were willing to sacrifice the most prized gift we’re given — life — for it.

What it all comes down to is that those people were someone’s loved ones!

CAITLYN JENNER SAYS “CALL ME”

It’s no secret that I’ve never been a Caitlyn Jenner fan.

While she’s educating herself more and making progress, I still feel she’s out of touch with what life is really like for the average transgender American.

However, “from, well, one Republican to another”, she’s finally stepping up and speaking out against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and her “friend” in the White House.

While I say “kudos” to Jenner on this, I’m still shaking my head to think that she didn’t have the foresight to see this coming!

This leads me into part two of this thought process!

JACKIE EVANCHO & TRANSGENDER RIGHTS

16-year-old classical singer Jackie Evancho sang the National Anthem at the Inauguration of #45 last month.

To those familiar with her, this was a little (or a lot) confusing since her sister, Juliet, is transgender.  It probably wouldn’t be a stretch to think of how the new administration would feel about LGBT rights, specifically transgender rights.

Earlier this week, the president rolled back federal government protections allowing transgender students to use the bathroom associated with their gender identity.

Evancho reached out to #45 via Twitter: “I am obviously disappointed in the decision to send the bathroom issue to the states to decide. “.

j-j

She also tweeted:  “ u gave me the honor 2 sing at your inauguration. Pls give me & my sis the honor 2 meet with u 2 talk rghts ❤

So far, she hasn’t heard back from him.

What are your thoughts?  I’m torn.

Maybe she performed to make a connection to discuss her sister and transgender rights?  Or, did she do it for the publicity and a possible bump in record and concert ticket sales?

Before the performance, she and her family were questioned about the new administration’s views and her transgender sister and they basically said that it’s a performance and not political.

Well, I do have issues with that one.  It is political!

REMEMBERING AL JARREAU

As I mentioned last week with the passing of French actress Emmanuelle Riva, real life gets in the way and I miss some things (even with real news and fake news on Facebook).

I was saddened to learn that jazz, R&B, and pop legend Al Jarreau died the weekend before Valentine’s Day at the age of 76.

He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and didn’t release his first album until he was 35 years old!

If you’re not a jazz or R&B music fan, you’ll likely remember him singing the theme to the late-1980s ABC hit show “Moonlighting” with Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd.

Jarreau charted 11 Top 40 hits on the R&B chart with four reaching the Top Ten.

On the Billboard Hot 100, he had three hits.  The “Moonlighting” theme reached #23 in 1987, but “We’re In This Love Together” from 1981, my favorite, was his biggest.  It reached #15.

Throughout his career, Jarreau won seven Grammy Awards and was nominated for 17 more.

CHRISTMAS MUSIC RELEASES STRESS

When I find myself stressed or really bummed out, Christmas music always snaps me back into reality.

The past few weeks have been rather stressful and Wednesday morning, I found myself letting Mariah Carey soothe me.

If you’ve never heard her version of “Oh Santa” or seen the retro video, check it out.

Hey, don’t feel bad for clicking on the video, Christmas is only ten months away!

CLOSING IN ON HISTORY

Don’t think too hard and don’t Google it.  What artist has had the most Top Ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100?

Could it be Elvis?  The Beatles?  Madonna?  Whitney Houston?  Michael Jackson?  Mariah Carey?  Janet Jackson?

It’s actually Rihanna!

Rihanna Rolling Stone

With “Love On The Brain” moving into the Top Ten this week on the Billboard Hot 100, Rihanna is now in third place in music history!

It becomes her 30th Top Ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and she didn’t scored her first until 2005!

So, who’s ahead of her?

In second place with 34 Top Ten Hot 100 hits, it’s The Beatles.

Their first was “Love Me Do” in 1962 (it hit #1) and their last was “Free As A Bird” (peaked at #6) in 1995.

And, in first place, it’s Madonna, with 38 Top Ten hits!

Madonna1985

Her first Top Ten hit was “Lucky Star” (#4 in 1984) and her most recent was “Give Me All Your Luvin'” (with Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.) in 2012.  It peaked at #10.

Behind Rihanna for the most Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten hits are Michael Jackson in 4th place with 29 and Stevie Wonder is in 5th place with 28.

Elton John, Mariah Carey, and Janet Jackson are tied in sixth place with 27 Top Ten Hot 100 hits and the Rolling Stones, Whitney Houston, and Paul McCartney are in ninth place with 23.

rihanna-perfume

By the way, Rihanna was just named Harvard’s “Humanitarian of the Year” and will be appearing in the final season of “Bates Motel”, now airing on A&E, as Marion Crane, Janet Leigh’s iconic character from the original “Psycho” movie!

CAITLYN, UNTIL THE PHONE RINGS, “CALL ME”

OR, “CALL ME MAYBE”

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony

Record Heat, Storms, & Snow — Oh My!

You know the expression.  “You live in the Midwest, so if you don’t like the weather, wait fifteen minutes and it’ll change.”

We’re seeing unprecedented record heat across the Quad Cities this February with five consecutive days with record high temperatures.  Today will be the sixth.

record-warmth-update

Today’s predicted high of 76° in the Quad Cities will set the all-time record warm temperature for February.  That was just established this past Sunday when we reached 74°.

As of right now, this is the fifth warmest February on record in the Quad Cities.

Even as temperatures drop back to near 60° for highs Thursday and Friday, that’ll still be well above the average of 38° for this time of the year.

Showers will break out Thursday afternoon and build into a more widespread rain with a few thunderstorms Thursday night and Friday.

By Friday night and Saturday, colder air wraps into the storm system and light snow is possible.  We could see some light accumulation from around Interstate 80 northward.

Snowflake

Another wintry mix is possible Sunday.

Anthony

More Record February Warmth

It’s pretty hard to believe that it’s actually February and not May.

I know it’s early, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see blooms and leaves on trees soon!

Blooms

The average high this time of the year is 37° in the Quad Cities and for the first week of May, the average highs in the metro area are around 69°.

Record warmth moved in Friday when we topped out at 73° in the Quad Cities.  We reached 70° on Saturday for another record high, but the warmest came Sunday.

The 74° high Sunday established the all-time record warmest temperature for February.

Record Warmth.png

We’ll see another record high today, tomorrow, and Wednesday.

I’m forecasting 75° Wednesday and that would set another all-time record high for February for the Quad Cities.

Enjoy this while you can.  Winter returns this weekend with a major winter storm across parts of Iowa and Minnesota later this week.

We could see some light snow Friday night and early Saturday!

Meteorologist Anthony Peoples

Reba Invites You To Church – Country Style

“Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope” is Reba McEntire’s 29th studio album, but it’s her first Christian album.

reba-faith

It debuted at #1 on this week’s Billboard County Albums chart and at the top of the Christian Albums chart, too.  On the Billboard 200 Albums chart, which includes all music, it debuted all the way up at #4.

It sold 52,000 copies in its first week!

I’ve always wanted Reba to do a full gospel album after she recorded “Sky Full of Angels” for her 2003 “Room To Breathe” album.

The deluxe version of the new album features 22 songs.

“Back To God” is the first single.

On the gospel classics, Reba’s voice and musicianship are simple and stunning!

There are many songs that, if you didn’t know more about this album, you’d think they were just more Reba country songs.

But, as Reba once joked around the 1995 release of “Starting Over” album, whatever genre of music she sings becomes country when the words come out of her mouth.

The song I love the most on the album is “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”.  The album version is four minutes of pure bliss!

My favorite “country” gospel numbers on this album are “I’ll Fly Away”, Hallelujah Amen”, “I Got The Lord on My Side”, “How Sweet Thou Art”, “Sing It Now”, “Oh Happy Day”, and “God And My Girlfriends”.

“Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope” is almost perfect.  I think when an artist stretches an album out to 22 songs, there are ultimately a couple that wouldn’t have made the cut on a shorter album.  But, I’ll take those songs here just to have more new Reba music.

With the divisive election last November and the circus of the past few weeks, this album does soothe the soul.

I was raised in a Pentecostal church that preached all about fire, brimstone, and damnation and I still find solace in gospel music!

Reba Anthony 2005

Reba, I’ve been a fan forever.  I’ll follow you down any musical road.

If you’re listening, how about a bonafide dance album next?  Your voice and EDM could be amazing!

GRADE: A-

LeAnn Rimes Gives Us More Than “Remnants”

Whether country music stations play her new songs or not, LeAnn Rimes’ albums usually debut in the Top Ten on the Country Albums charts.

Her last Top Ten album on the Billboard 200, which includes all genres, was 2007’s “Family”.

LeAnn Rimes is back with her latest album, “Remnants” and it’s flawless.

remnants

I definitely love LeAnn’s country music.  My favorites in that genre are “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way”, “Something’s Gotta Give”, “Some People”,”One Way Ticket (Because I Can)”, and “Big Deal”.

I met LeAnn in Salisbury, Maryland, in the fall of 2005.  She was a sweetheart.

AnthonyLeAnn

LeAnn has released many pop-oriented albums in her career and “Twisted Angel” (2002) is still one of my all-time favorites of hers.

Her new album, “Remnants” is the latest pop effort.  It was released last fall in the U.K. and just came out last week here in the U.S.

The highest charting single from the new album is “Long Live Love”.  The Dave Aude remix is currently #2 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart!

Twelve of the thirteen songs on “Remnants” are absolutely perfect!

My favorites are the soulful “Do It Wrong”, the religious-tinted “I Couldn’t Do That To Me”, “Love Is Love Is Love” (which LeAnn sings about not wanting to start an argument, just a conversation about tyrants, politics, religion, and love), the torch song-sounding “Outrageous Love”, and “The Story”.

Just because radio is missing out this amazing voice and music doesn’t mean you have to!

GRADE:  A

Random Friday Thoughts — February 17, 2017

I hope you had a nice Valentine’s Day, especially if you’re part of the 55% of Americans that celebrate the day.

Roses

If you’re in a relationship, I hope you got chocolates, flowers, or whatever makes you happy.  And, if you’re not seeing anyone, I hope you treated yourself to something nice.

Thank you for checking out my Random Friday Thoughts.

“HOUSE OF CARDS”

We just finished binge-watching the first four seasons of “House of Cards”.

I absolutely love Robin Wright as First Lady Claire Underwood and Kevin Spacey as President Frank Underwood.

Season five debuts on Netflix May 30, 2017.

If you haven’t watched the show and you love politics, you have to start!

Check out this amazing scene from season three.  Claire has to tell the world that an American citizen jailed in Russia for being openly gay and protesting the country’s anti-LGBT laws committed suicide.

To Russia and the rest of the world that still think this way (Americans, #45, and his cabinet members, some of you could use some educating, too), wake up, open your eyes and your heart, and let’s start more of a dialogue!

A NEGRO TRAVEL GUIDE?

It’s sad to think this is reality, but it’s definitely not hard to believe in our country with all the hatred — then and now.

I was reading an “Out” magazine article that mentioned “The Negro Motorist Green Book”.

TNMGB.gif

It was a resource travel guide that started publication in 1933.

Its purpose was to keep black motorists safe and to let them know what places refused to serve non-whites, provide information on “sundown towns”, predominately or all-white towns that practiced segregation, and much more.

After the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there must have been enough security (or hope) in the United States that it ceased publication in 1966.

Sadly, with the open hatred of people that aren’t white in the “post-January 20, 2017th world”, it might need to come back.

And, while we’re at it, maybe a rainbow version is needed, too, to keep the LGBT community safe from the haters, too!

PICK HIT FOR VALENTINE’S DAY

Last fall, as Michael Buble was ready to launch his latest album, “Nobody But Me”, he and his wife, model Luisana Lopilato, dropped out of the public eye when his 3-year-old son, Noah, was diagnosed with cancer.

buble-family

Two weeks ago, Buble released this encouraging update:

MB.jpg

Last Friday, the video to “I Believe in You” was released and if you don’t smile or shed a tear after seeing this video, hopefully you got a heart for Valentine’s Day because you need one. 🙂

Oh, if that didn’t encourage you to watch it, Derek Hough of “Dancing With The Stars” fame is absolutely drop dead gorgeous (and shirtless) in the video!!!!!!

REMEMBERING EMMANUELLE RIVA

With so many celebrity deaths already this year, the passing of French actress Emmanuelle Riva was pretty much overlooked in America.  She died of cancer January 27, 2017, in Paris.

In 2012, she became the oldest woman to earn an Academy Award Best Actress nomination for her heartbreaking turn in “Amour”. (She was 85 at the time.)

“Amour” was my #6 movie of 2013.

“REMNANTS”

Whether country music stations play her new songs or not, LeAnn Rimes’ albums usually debut in the Top Ten on the Country Albums charts.

Her last Top Ten album on the Billboard 200, which includes all genres, was 2007’s “Family”.

LeAnn Rimes is back with her latest album, “Remnants” and it’s flawless.

remnants

I definitely love LeAnn’s country music.  My favorites in that genre are “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way”, “Something’s Gotta Give”, “Some People”,”One Way Ticket (Because I Can)”, and “Big Deal”.

I met LeAnn in Salisbury, Maryland, in the fall of 2005.  She was a sweetheart.

AnthonyLeAnn

LeAnn has released many pop-oriented albums in her career and “Twisted Angel” (2002) is still one of my all-time favorites of hers.

Her new album, “Remnants” is the latest pop effort.  It was released last fall in the U.K. and just came out last week here in the U.S.

The highest charting single from the new album is “Long Live Love”.  The Dave Aude remix is currently #2 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart!

Twelve of the thirteen songs on “Remnants” are absolutely perfect!

My favorites are the soulful “Do It Wrong”, the religious-tinted “I Couldn’t Do That To Me”, “Love Is Love Is Love” (which LeAnn sings about not wanting to start an argument, just a conversation about tyrants, politics, religion, and love), the torch song-sounding “Outrageous Love”, and “The Story”.

Just because radio is missing out this amazing voice and music doesn’t mean you have to!

GRADE:  A

“SING IT NOW: SONGS OF FAITH & HOPE”

“Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope” is Reba McEntire’s 29th studio album, but it’s her first Christian album.

Reba faith.jpg

It debuted at #1 on this week’s Billboard County Albums chart and at the top of the Christian Albums chart, too.  On the Billboard 200 Albums chart, which includes all music, it debuted all the way up at #4.

It sold 52,000 copies in its first week!

I’ve always wanted Reba to do a full gospel album after she recorded “Sky Full of Angels” for her 2003 “Room To Breathe” album.

The deluxe version of the new album features 22 songs.

“Back To God” is the first single.

On the gospel classics, Reba’s voice and musicianship are simple and stunning!

There are many songs that, if you didn’t know more about this album, you’d think they were just more Reba country songs.

But, as Reba once joked around the 1995 release of “Starting Over” album, whatever genre of music she sings becomes country when the words come out of her mouth.

The song I love the most on the album is “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”.  The album version is four minutes of pure bliss!

My favorite “country” gospel numbers on this album are “I’ll Fly Away”, Hallelujah Amen”, “I Got The Lord on My Side”, “How Sweet Thou Art”, “Sing It Now”, “Oh Happy Day”, and “God And My Girlfriends”.

“Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope” is almost perfect.  I think when an artist stretches an album out to 22 songs, there are ultimately a couple that wouldn’t have made the cut on a shorter album.  But, I’ll take those songs here just to have more new Reba music.

With the divisive election last November and the circus of the past few weeks, this album does soothe the soul.

I was raised in a Pentecostal church that preached all about fire, brimstone, and damnation and I still find solace in gospel music!

Reba, if you’re listening, how about a bonafide dance album next?  Your voice and EDM could be amazing!

GRADE: A-

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony

Incredible Stretch of February Warmth

Is this really February across the Midwest?

Global Warming Protest

Halfway through February, temperatures are running more than five degrees above average, while rain and snowfall are running below average.

After a chilly day Wednesday, but still above average, a big warm-up is on the way.  It’s a warm stretch of weather that is almost unprecedented for February.

As I stated yesterday and the data supports it even more today, we could hit the 60-degree mark or higher Friday through Monday.  That would be four straight days of 60°+ temperatures in February.

60s.png

Since record-keeping started in the Quad Cities back in the 1870s, this has only happened three times.

In February 2000, we had five consecutive days of 60°+ days.  Highs ranged from 60°-71°.

We saw four days of 60°+ temperatures in February 1976.  The highs ranged from 62°-71°.

But, the longest stretch was in February 1930 when we had seven days of 60°+ heat.  Highs in that stretch ranged from 60°-69°.

Now, tell me again, what was that groundhog’s prediction about winter?

Anthony

Remembering Whitney Houston

In the past year, we’ve lost 1980s musical icons David Bowie, Prince, and George Michael.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years ago this weekend that the music world was crushed to learn of the passing of Whitney Houston.

whitney

Sadly, a little over three years later, her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, died, too, in an eerily similar fashion.

This Grammy Awards weekend, I’m remembering Whitney by sharing my ten favorite Whitney songs.  (By the way, she won six Grammy Awards and was honored with the Grammy Hall of Fame Awards, thus seven!)

whitney-houston

Bonus

Since Whitney had so many classics, here are some of my favorites that couldn’t fit it in the Top Ten:

“Saving All My Love For You”, “I’m Every Woman”, “My Name Is Not Susan”, “Love Will Save The Day”, “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”, “Heartbreak Hotel”, “Fine”, “Step By Step”, “I’m Your Baby Tonight”, and “If I Told You That” with  featuring the late great George Michael!

As I begin my countdown, you’ll notice her upbeat songs rank higher since that’s when I was a youngster out clubbing and enjoying the dance floor!  🙂

10

#9

#8 MOVIE

7

6

#5 MOVIE

4

green 3

BIRTHDAY-CAKE-2-year-old

1

What are you favorites?

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — February 10, 2017

Happy Friday and Happy Weekend!  I hope you have a great one whatever you do.

The highlights for me will be watching the season four finale of “House of Cards”, this week’s “How To Get Away With Murder” and “Madam Secretary”, and the return of “The Walking Dead”!  And, I hope to work in seeing “La La Land”!

Thank you for checking out my thoughts.  As always, if you disagree with me, do it diplomatically and be concise. 🙂

LADY GAGA SUPER BOWL HALFTIME SHOW

Lady Gaga is an amazing performer.  I’ve seen her in concert three times and I’d go see her again another three times.

I guess I can count her “Super Bowl LI” halftime show as my fourth Gaga show.  Like tens of millions across the world, I was blown away!

Gaga SB.jpg

While Gaga is earning rave reviews for her energy, her vocals, her performance, and her costumes, you know there are going to be haters.

Some say she wasn’t “political” enough.  Yes, she could have been more blatant about it.  However, if you stop and think about it, she did two things that were political and brave.

She opened with “God Bless America” and then segued into “This Land Is Your Land”, which Woody Guthrie wrote in 1940 as a contradiction to Kate Smith’s late-1930s patriotic “America” song, which he thought was unrealistic.

Some versions of “This Land” also include Guthrie’s original lyrics:

This Land.jpg

Gaga, in front of the football crowd and the millions watching — even in red states — brazenly sang of equality for all during “Born This Way”.

She didn’t hold back with the lyrics “don’t be a drag, just be a queen”, she sang about being “gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgender”, and that no matter what your race, you were born this way and born to be brave!

That’s a first for the Super Bowl halftime spectacle!  Take that!

It’s estimated that 113.7 million people watched “Super Bowl LI”, but the audience spiked during Lady Gaga’s halftime show, which generated a 50.0 rating, which means that one out of every two televisions on at the time were tuned into the game!

MORE ON GAGA

After the performance, some (the insecure) took to social media and started fat-shaming her.  Seriously?

This isn’t the first time people took aim at Gaga over her weight, which is even sadder considering she’s recovering from an eating disorder.

GagaLatest

That was about four years ago.  I wrote about it at the time and even talked about my own battle, Karen Carpenter’s, and others.

Here’s the link (it’ll open in a new window):

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/you-need-to-shut-your-fat-mouth/

“SNOWDEN”

Edward Snowden is a hero to some and a traitor to others.  After exposing the American government for spying on the lives of Americans (and people across the entire world), he’s now exiled in Russia.

Director Oliver Stone’s movie about Snowden, with the always charming Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the whistle blower, came and went in 2016.

Watching the trailer, it was Gordon-Levitt’s voice that was hard for me to grasp.  However, it was less distracting in the 2-hour-plus movie. But, once I heard the actor’s voice and the real Snowden’s voice, I’m more baffled than ever about the voice portrayal.

While Gordon-Levitt is compelling as Snowden, the real stars of the movie are Shailene Woodley as his girlfriend Lindsay Mills and the computer special effects and the music score.

It’s frightening to know just how much information governments collect on citizens every time we’re online or use our cell phone.

Even before Snowden, this movie, or Russian or Chinese computer hackers, it doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to know that the most private of our correspondences are not private at all.

Overall, the movie was too long and it seemed like a dramatization of a Wikipedia page on Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency.

But, if you really didn’t get bogged down in the real-life Snowden that played out in the news, it’s worth your time.

GRADE:  B-

SARAH PALIN

While we’re political opposites, I’d still love to have dinner with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd.  (Now, this dinner would have to take place at a restaurant — not Chick-fil-A or Cracker Barrel — because I wouldn’t want to feast on moose or reindeer, although Alaskan salmon would be great!)

Recently, I finally got around to reading her 2009 book, “Going Rogue” and watching the movie “Game Change” about the 2008 presidential election with Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Julianne Moore as Palin.

sarah-palin-going-rogue-book-cover.jpg

I enjoyed learning more about Palin and the events that shaped her life and her views.  I admire her love and commitment to her family.

With that being said, at that dinner with Palin, I’d ask her about a reoccurring theme in the book for clarification.

Early on (page 45), Palin writes that she has “respect for equality” and later on (page 395), she says she’s “tired of divisions”.  She also says, “too many of us have felt ignored and become disillusioned.”

I find these comments ironic because she is/comes across as very divisive.  Also, when she talks about respecting equality, who is that for?  Clearly, it’s not for the LGBT community.

Trust me, when she talks about feeling ignored, I’d have to ask her again how can she say that without thinking about the LGBT community with discrimination laws and the fight for marriage equality.  Her version of equality and my version are different.  Mine includes ALL AMERICANS!

This brings me to another point that Palin makes.  She says it doesn’t matter where you grew up, who you are, your gender, race, or religion “if you love this country and will defend our Constitution, then you’re an American”.

sarah palin

It’s clear from the book that she loved Ronald Reagan as much as I love Jimmy Carter, who she detests.

CarterPres

My final dinner discussion point would be that Palin stressed that our 52 American diplomats and citizens held hostage for 444 days in Iran (November 1979-January 1981) were released minutes after President Reagan was inaugurated.

She writes, “The enemies of freedom took notice”.

Future enemies might have taken notice, but what Palin failed to clarify is that those 52 hostages were ALREADY on that plane to freedom while Jimmy Carter was still president.  The plane was held on the tarmac until Reagan was officially sworn in as one last swipe at Carter’s presidency.

Long before #45’s administration coined the phrase “alternative facts”, Palin is/was on board with them, too.

DINNER PARTY WITH….

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?

Hillary AP

Of course, I’d love to dine with Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton and President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter.

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But, after reading legendary gossip columnist Liz Smith’s 2005 book, “Dishing:  Great Dish – And Dishes – From America’s Most Beloved Gossip Columnist”, I now desperately want to attend a dinner party hosted by Barbara Walters at her Fifth Avenue apartment!

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Smith says, “Whether or not she has the position of society’s grand dame, Barbara certainly knows how to host New York’s most interesting dinner parties.”

Smith adds that Walters doesn’t hesitate to have her guest mingle outside of their “circles”, sing songs, make speeches, give a toast, or write poems.  It sounds incredible!

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Walters starts her lavish parties with “excellent caviar, toast, the works.”  She calls that the easy part.

This is followed by “The Children’s Menu” — “small delicious hamburgers, tiny baby hot dogs on delicate buns… a miniature ramekin of macaroni and cheese, french fried potatoes, incredible little dishes of coleslaw, and large servings after of ice cream and sauces.  All of this served with incredible wines followed by coffee and big glasses of what most host and hostess forget — ice water.”

The entertaining book also shares interesting recipes, including the fun Elvis-inspired “fluffernutter”.

Smith also tells funny stories about the secret food lives of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, “mountain oysters”,  and she shares this great quote from Larry Gelbart, the creator of “M*A*S*H”, “Champagne is only ginger ale that knows somebody!”

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“BACK TO GOD” CONTROVERSY

Country music icon and one of my idols, Reba McEntire, just released her first Christian/Gospel album, “Sing It Now:  Songs of Faith & Hope”.

It’s expected to debut at #1 on the Country and Christian album charts and in the Top Ten on the “Billboard 200”, which charts all genres of music.

Her new single, “Back To God”, has already topped the Christian sales chart, but the song is getting more press with some outlets claiming that it’s pro-Donald Trump.

If you know anything about Reba, regardless of her political affiliation, she does not preach about it.  Yes, she’s friends with former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara Bush and she’s donated money to both Democrats and Republicans.

But, “Back To God”, is not singing the praises of #45.  The song was originally on Randy Houser’s debut album in 2008, so it was released during George W. Bush’s presidency!

The bottom line is that the song talks about how society seems broken.  Regardless of your party affiliation, you have to admit that we, as Americans and the human race, are in a bad place now and the lack of respect for our fellow man only adds to the sad state of affairs.

So, sing it Reba and preach on!

I’ll have my review on the new Reba album soon.  Also, I highly recommend, “Remnants” by LeAnn Rimes. It’s spectacular and I’ll have my full thoughts on that one, too.

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony