Archive for February, 2017

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.

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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.

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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.

President-Jimmy-and-Rosalynn-Carter1

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!

dishing.jpg

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!

BW.jpg

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!”

champagne

“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

Two Rounds of Snow Today

UPDATED POST:  Wednesday, February 8, 2017, 5:00 p.m.

Officially, 1.3″ of snow fell in Moline overnight and this morning (15.5″ for the winter now) and 1.2″ accumulated in Davenport (18.3″ for winter now).

ORIGINAL POST:  Wednesday, February 8, 2017, 5:40 a.m.

After the overnight snow, another round of light snow will move across Iowa and Illinois today.

This is what it looked like in Rock Island, Illinois, at 4 a.m. today.

4am-rock-island-snow

The first disturbance brought a dusting to about one-half of an inch of snow to eastern Iowa and west-central Illinois before the morning commute.

Another piece of energy bringing snow to western Iowa at daybreak will track across the “Hawkeye State” with snow this morning and early afternoon mainly along and south of Interstate 80.

wwa

A “Winter Weather Advisory” is in effect through 6 p.m. Wednesday for hometowns south of the Quad Cities.  They’ll likely see 2-3″ of snow.

snow-totals-today

Along Interstate 80 and for the Quad Cities, 1-2″ of snow will accumulate.  Northern hometowns will see a trace to about one-half of an inch.

Tonight will be very cold with lows dropping into the single digits.  After a breezy day with highs in the 20s Thursday, we’ll warm up nicely Friday and Saturday with highs around 50°-55°.

Anthony

Storms Today, But Snow Tomorrow!

February is already off to an interesting start.

We had a near record high of 57° yesterday in the Quad Cities, thunderstorms overnight into Tuesday morning with vivid lightning and some small hail, and now some snow is on the way.

As the wet weather comes to an end Tuesday morning and temperatures crash Tuesday afternoon, a disturbance moving out of the Plains will bring a band of light snow to the area Wednesday.

snow-wednesday

The snow could start late Tuesday night with the best chances of seeing accumulation across our southern hometowns.  They could pick up an inch or so.

2-8-snow-totals

In the Quad Cities, we might get around one-half inch.

Northern hometowns will only see a few flurries — if anything.

After a couple of colder days Wednesday and Thursday with highs in the upper-20s, we warm to near 50° again Friday and Saturday.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — February 3, 2017

The first month of 2017 is already behind us.  I hope the year is off to a good start for you.

I appreciate you checking out my random thoughts.  Feel free to share yours diplomatically and concisely!

WITH SADNESS & REGRETS

Mr. Panda, our blind shar-pei buddy that we housed for periods of times over the past years, crossed the “Rainbow Bridge” earlier this week.

ABBAPanda

The beautiful and strong little guy would have turned 14 at the end of March.

As you may recall, he lived in Chicago, was a rescue, and lost his eyesight many years ago to glaucoma. Even though he spent the last half of his life sightless, he was still a happy, loving, crazy little critter!

FIVE YEARS ALREADY!

The news of Mr. Panda crossing the “Rainbow Bridge” comes near the anniversary of us saying goodbye to my precious golden, ABBA.

I can’t believe it was five years ago today!

Here are the two of them on a spring walk when Miss ABBA decided she was going to be Mr. Panda’s “seeing eye dog”.

ABBAWalkingPanda

The photo I posted ended up making the sports section of the “Geneseo Republic” thanks to my good friend and columnist, Dan Dauw.

ABBAWalkingPandaArticle

Miss ABBA, I still think of you daily, but it’s with smiles now instead of tears.

Here’s a look back at her beautiful, golden life.

And, on we go…

BUILDING WALLS & BARRIERS

I’m going out on a limb here and say that most of us have been in relationships — successful ones and failed ones.

Lack of communication is probably to blame for a number of the failed relationships and it’s likely at the heart of the problems in the successful ones, too.

NOH8 Heart

We build walls around our heart and it causes friction, insecurity, miscommunication, and eventually, hate.

While those walls are emotional, the talk of building physical walls between people and countries is at all-time high.

Check out this incredible airlines commercial from Aeromexico driving home the message that ideological and physical barriers hurt people!

MURDER IN AMERICA

It’s a proven fact that most of the murders here in the United States are committed by people of the same race — white people are mostly killed at the hands of other white people, black people are mostly responsible for killing black people, etc.

The reasons for the senseless murders are many:  domestic problems, drugs, robbery, stupidity, etc.

KILLING SPREES CAUSED BY HATE AND IGNORANCE

quebec-city

Last Sunday, police say this white man walked into a Quebec City (Canada) mosque, opened fire, and killed six people and injured eight others.

When I heard this and the words “mosque” and Canada came up, the first thing that crossed my mind is that this wasn’t a “suicide bombing” by a Middle Eastern group attacking its own people.

Pulse

Last summer, when news broke about a gunman storming into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people and hurting 53 others, I didn’t think it was an LGBT person going in with a vendetta.

And, when nine African Americans were massacred in a downtown Charleston, South Carolina, church, I didn’t think the shooter was another black person .

Roof.jpg

In all three of these incidents, I instantly thought the motivation was hate.  Today, I still feel certain it was.

The accused Quebec City shooter is reported to have “far-right, nationalist views” and publicly supported Donald Trump and the French rightist party led by Marine Le Pen.

Th man behind the Pulse shootings was disgusted by gay people and might even have been a self-hating gay man himself, and the Charleston shooter is a self-proclaimed white supremacist.

Notice I didn’t use their names.  They don’t deserve any more publicity!  We know the hateful things they did or are accused of doing.

I’d love to say that people will be nicer and things will get better.  But, I’m a realist and I’m saddened and scared for our future — our intolerance of people that look or act different than us.

“THERE’S GOT TO BE A WAY”

I’m thinking about this even more after listening to all of Mariah Carey’s albums again.

On her 1990 self-titled debut, she had a song called “There’s Got To Be A Way”.

It features the chilling lyrics, “In another land they still believe/color grants supremacy/I don’t understand how there can be/regulated bigotry”.

Sadly, in this day and age, you don’t even have to go to another country.  It’s alive here in America and now those people don’t even have to hide under sheets in the darkness of night or behind a computer screen.

Optimistically, Mariah sings on, “Some of us don’t even wonder/some of us don’t even care/couldn’t we accept each other/can’t we make ourselves aware”.

Let’s hope!

Hope

FINDING HOPE WHERE WE CAN!

On a much brighter note, we’re now only six weeks away from the live action version of Disney’s remake of “Beauty and the Beast”.

The final official trailer came out earlier this week.

It gives us a comprehensive look at the movie and we finally hear Ariana Grande and John Legend’s remake of the Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson’s theme song.

I’m excited even more for the March 17, 2017 premiere.

The original “Beauty and the Beast” in 1991 made $425 million and it was the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.  (It lost to “The Silence of the Lambs”.)

WHERE ARE THOU, SNOW?

Only 0.4″ of snow officially fell in the Quad Cities in Moline, Illinois, for the month of January.

There have only been two other winters on record that date back to the 1870s where less snow accumulated in January.

lack-of-january-snow

Only a trace of snow fell in January 1989 and January 1944.

This January ties 1973 as the third least snowiest on record.

“GROUNDHOG DAY BLIZZARD”

While this winter is rather skimpy on snow, six years ago today we were digging out of the “Groundhog Day Blizzard”.

Snow started falling on January 31, 2011, and by the time the storm departed February 2, 2011, the Quad Cities tied the record for a single snowstorm with the one from January 11-13, 1979 at 18.4″!

Blizzard 2-2-2011

The bulk of the snow in 2011, 14.8″ fell on February 1st, with 1.7″ the day before that, and 1.9″ the day after the big snow.  If you look at those totals, the 16.7″ that fell on February 1st and 2nd set the record for the most snow in 24 hours in the Quad Cities!

Days later, Gretel and I took advantage of the snow by playing snow zombie attack and Ray helped us dig a tunnel, which ABBA loved.

February 5 2011February 6 2011

Come on “Old Man Winter”, I want one more big snow this winter!

“THE HYPNOTIST”

As I’ve stated many times, I read books, mostly autobiographies, biographies, or real life events, while walking on the treadmill.

Occasionally, I check out some fiction.  I just finished Fiona Barton’s “The Widow” and a Swedish book translated into English, “The Hypnotist” by Lars Kepler.

After reading Jo Nesbo’s “The Snowman” in 2015, I’ve come to realize that Scandinavians love their violent novels.

“The Hypnotist” picks up after a vicious and savage attack on a family leaves the mom, dad, and their little girl dead and in pieces.  The only survivor was a teenage boy stabbed hundreds of times.

Detectives are in a race against time to talk to the boy because he is the only one that saw the killer(s).  They learn that he has an older sister not living at home and the killer could be after her next.

The only way they can reach the boy’s memories of the brutal attack is to use hypnosis by a discredited doctor.

The use of hypnosis opens up old wounds from ten years ago and brings forth a new crime spree as detectives race to catch the savage murderer and a newly discovered serial killer.

A great read!  Now, I need to find the hit 2012 movie based on the book.

“THE SNOWMAN”

Since I mentioned Nesbo’s “The Snowman”, I’m ecstatic since I learned the movie based on the book comes out this fall!

Nesbo+Snowman

Actually, it debuts on my birthday, October 13th, with my dreamboat Michael Fassbender in the lead role.

the-snowman

Until there’s an official trailer, here’s what I wrote about the book in July 2015 if you want to check it out.

“Normally, the books I read are about real people and real events.  Just before I jumped on the train [Paula Hawkins’ “The Girl on the Train”], I read “The Snowman”, a 2007 crime thriller by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo.  It’s the seventh book in the Detective Harry Hole series.

“Time” magazine featured an article years ago about Scandinavian authors that may achieve the success of Stieg Larsson and his “Millennium series” (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl Who Played with Fire”, and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest”.)

I wrote Nesbo’s name and “The Snowman” down on a piece of paper and finally got the book and it was incredible.

Detective Harry Hole is on the trail of Norway’s first serial killer.  And, is there a connection between the season’s first snow, the appearance of a snowman, and the victims?

Another must-read if you like crime novels!

There is talk of a movie adaptation of the book.  Legendary director Martin Scorsese was once attached to it, but now director Tomas Alfredson (“Let The Right One In” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”) is set to direct it.”

PICK HIT

LeAnn Rimes is back this week with “Remnants”, her 13th studio album!  While it’s just now coming out in the U.S., it was released last fall in the U.K.

Here at home, Rimes is best known for many huge country hits that kicked off with 1996’s “Blue”.  Those hits continued through 2004-2006 when she scored three Top Ten Country smashes from her “This Woman” album.

She also scored huge pop hits with “How Do I Live” and with tracks from the “Coyote Ugly” soundtrack (“Can’t Stop the Moonlight”).

Rimes also had amazing, but less commercially successful, albums like “Twisted Angel” (2002) and “Whatever We Wanna” (2006).  I highly recommend both!

She’s currently in the Top Ten on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart at #6 with “Long Live Love” from the new “Remnants” album.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony