Archive for October, 2019

Thank You for Making Me Feel Invincible!

Happy Birthday to you ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*
¨*•♫♪ Happy Birthday to you ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥
¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ Happy Birthday dear Helen Reddy!!!!! ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥
¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ Happy Birthday to you! ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥

International superstar, Grammy Award winner, Golden Globe Award nominee and feminist Helen Reddy is celebrating her 78th birthday later this week (October 25).

HelenReddy2

My admiration for Helen is apparent with the many blogs I’ve written about her over the years.  On this special day, I want to say “thank you” for the incredible music she’s given us and I want to share my favorite Helen Reddy songs.

The first record I ever bought, thanks to my great grandparents, John and Helen Peoples, was Helen’s “Delta Dawn”.  I was almost 9-years-old and the writing was already on the wall! 🙂

Delta Dawn Helen Reddy

Also, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I owned three 8-track tapes and one was “Helen Reddy’s Greatest Hits”.  The other two were were “Totally Hot” by Olivia Newton-John and “Glass Houses” by Billy Joel.

In the 1970s, I was too young to see her in concert.  It appeared she would be one of the singer I idolized, but would never get to see live because she gave a farewell concert performance in western Canada in 2002.  In 2008, she announced she was done with singing and entertaining.

Lucky for us, in 2012, she made an appearance at a jazz club in San Diego, California, and did a benefit for a school outside of Los Angeles and decided that she felt the joy of singing and performing again.

That’s how I got to see her in concert in early 2013 near Chicago and I almost got to meet her, but there was a mix-up at the theater.

Helen Reddy 1

Luckily, my friend Jim arranged for this gorgeous consolation gift!Helen Reddy Autograph

At the time, I was living in Moline, Illinois, which is about three hours west of Chicago.

Back in the 1970s and the 1980s, Helen performed in Illinois and Iowa, including Davenport, Iowa.

While she may not have done a concert in Moline, the second largest city in the Quad Cities, I’m sure she remembers it.

In late October 1973, around her 32nd birthday, she and her band were heading back to California after playing a show in Philadelphia on a leased private jet.  It encountered an intense thunderstorm in the Midwest and the plane started going down.

Helen says they were losing altitude so fast that it felt like they “hit a brick wall” and that “interior paneling started to snap out of its moorings” and cabin baggage was flying through the aircraft.

The pilots were able to get out of the storm’s downdraft and they regained control of the plane and they made an emergency landing at “a little airfield”, as Helen called it.

Moline from the air

That “little airfield” ended up being in Moline, Illinois!  🙂

If you ever get a chance, read Helen’s very entertaining 2006 autobiography, “The Woman I Am”.

The Woman I Am

While the book covers the highs and lows of her entertainment career, she also talks quite a bit about her love of genealogy and tracing her family’s history, her beliefs in reincarnation, and acquiring Addison’s Disease, which also affected President John F. Kennedy.

It traces Helen’s life from her Australian childhood growing up in a vaudeville entertainment household, having her kidney removed as a teenager, her first marriage (also as a teenager) to an older man (33), who turned out to be an alcoholic and an abusive husband.   But, something good came out of that failed marriage — her daughter, Traci.

In 1966, Helen appeared on the Australian show “Bandstand” and won a trip to New York City for a record audition.

Helen Reddy 1966.JPG

At the time, women were still referred to as “girl singers” and labels were afraid to promote the careers of too many women.  So, success in America, the creme de le creme of the world music market, would have to wait.

Helen sang wherever she could in the United States and Canada to make ends meet for her and her little girl, all alone and a world away from her family “down under””.

In the book, Helen cracked me up by only referring to her second husband and manager, Jeff Wald, as “Number Two”!  (After they divorced in the 1980s, Helen learned how vindictive he had been in closing doors on her musical career and the games he played with her involving their two children.  He also swindled her out of most of her earnings that took Helen much of the next two decades to recover from financially!)

In 1971, Helen recorded “I Believe In Music”, an Adult Contemporary hit for country singer and actor Mac Davis, but it was the flip side of the single, “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” from the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” that became her first American hit.  It peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Helen Reddy I Dont Know How To Love Him.JPG

She would go on to chart thirteen more Top 40 hits on the Hot 100.  Six of them reached the Top Ten and three went all the way to #1!

Her Top Ten hits were “I Am Woman” (#1, 1972), “Delta Dawn” (#1, 1973), “Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress)” (#3, 1973), “You and Me Against the World” (#9, 1974), “Angie Baby” (#1, 1974), and “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady” (#8, 1975).

Her last Hot 100 hit was 1977’s “You’re My World”, which peaked at #18.

In honor of her birthday, I’m counting down my 10 favorite Helen Reddy songs!

10

“YOU AND ME AGAINST THE WORLD”

#9

“AIN’T NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY”

8

“EMOTION”

#7 CD

“PEACEFUL”

6

“I DON’T KNOW HOW TO LOVE HIM”

5

LEAVE ME ALONE (RUBY RED DRESS)”

Interestingly enough, Helen now condemns this song as repetitive and points out that you hear the title of the song 43 times in the single.  I bet you’ll go back and listen to it now and count along. 🙂

She once told an audience that it is “one song I will never ever sing again” and “that sort of songwriting doesn’t do much for me, but it was a hit. However, I don’t have to sing it anymore if I don’t want to, and I don’t want to.”

When I saw her in concert in 2013, she didn’t perform it! 🙂

4

“ANGIE BABY”

#3 CD

“DELTA DAWN”

As I mentioned earlier, this was the first record I ever bought as an 8-year-old!

#2 MOVIE

KEEP ON SINGING”

Before I reveal my favorite Helen Reddy song, I want to share the powerful story behind it.

I also want to express how much the song means to me and how it helped shape me into becoming the man I am today!

Back in 1971, her own experiences in the entertainment business prompted her to write a song for her debut album that would become iconic more than a year later!  That song was “I Am Woman”!

Helen Reddy album.jpg

She says, “Women have always been objectified in showbiz. I’d be the opening act for a comic and as I was leaving the stage he’d say, ‘Yeah, take your clothes off and wait for me in the dressing room, I’ll be right there’. It was demeaning and humiliating for any woman to have that happen publicly.”

Helen knew things had to change and she believed with the right song, her voice could do that, “I remember lying in bed one night and the words, ‘I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman’, kept going over and over in my head.”

While the song was included on her 1971 album, Helen re-recorded “I Am Woman” in May 1972 and it was shipped to radio.  It stalled out at #97 and dropped off the chart!

Months later, it was released again!

This time, it took off and by the end of 1972, “I Am Woman” topped the chart becoming the first #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 from an Australian-born artist and the first song written by an Australian to win a Grammy Award!

However, it was SO much more than that!

Helen Reddy became an icon in the fight for women’s rights and the song became an anthem for millions as the “women’s movement” for equality gathered steam.

Womens Lib.JPG

More than forty years after “I Am Woman” moved mountains for women demanding equality to men, the words of that song could apply to the LGBTQ community with regards to demanding the acceptance of Americans and the world for the same civil rights.

There are still 29 states in the United States where LGBTQ+ people can still be discriminated against with regards to employment, housing and more!

Helen Reddy, thank you for standing up for women in the early 1970s and for letting the strength of your words make me stronger in my fight until I make my (straight) brothers understand.

While I’m not a woman, the conviction of that song from my childhood inspired me as an adult to push forward in the gay rights and marriage equality movements.

It made me stronger and gave me the strength to stand up to anyone who ever tried to belittle me for being gay.

#1

“I AM WOMAN”

Helen has always been an advocate for women and gay men and equal treatment for all.

Thank you for the memories and thank you for all that you’ve done for us!

Happy Birthday and here’s to many more!

Anthony

 

 

 

Random Friday Thoughts — October 18, 2019

While I’ll still post a few new blogs before the end of the year, this is the next to last the “Random Friday Thoughts” of 2019!

As always, if you disagree with me, do it diplomatically and have a great weekend!

HILLARY CLINTON’S NEXT ROLE

While I’d love for Hillary Clinton to make an “eleventh hour” entry into 2020 Democratic race for president, I don’t think that’ll happen.

STILL. HOPING.

Still

Before you even say it, Ronald Reagan ran for president three times before winning in 1980!

However, I think I’ve already figured out her next role in the history of U.S. politics.

In early 2021 when the Democratic 46th president * takes office, I think Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will step down from the bench and Hillary will become the new Supreme Court Justice!

* Oh, a technically — it might the 47th president of the U.S. if 45 is impeached or forced to resign and that despicable Mike Pence becomes #46 for a few months!

Or, maybe Hillary could be Vice President and then ascend to Commander in Chief!

“MADAM SECRETARY” “MADAM PRESIDENT”

Spoiler Alert:  As the sixth and final season of the CBS hit, “Madam Secretary” kicked off earlier this month, it’s now “Madam President (sort of)”!

Capture.JPG

The show has never been subtle that Secretary of State (now president) Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni) is based heavily on real life Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Capture.JPG

The final season premiere was a very powerful and pointed episode.  It made no effort to mask “real life” in America today with these lines about Elizabeth’s opponent:

“…his disgusting attacks on immigrants, the media.  He’s not fit to be president.”

“He won the nomination, but that doesn’t mean honorable people should get behind him and validate his worst impulses.”

“His politics WILL divide the country even further!”

ONE BIG DEVIATION FROM REAL LIFE

President McCord realizes near 100 days into her presidency that Iran COLLUDED to release information on her competitor, which may have led to her winning the election!

This would make her an “illegitimate president”!

WHERE DO THEY COME UP WITH THESE STORY IDEAS???? 

Trump Putin

However, unlike Donald Trump, President McCord tries to find out how this happened and not make a love nest with a Vladmir Putin!

FINAL THOUGHT ON “THAT MAN”

Here’s a tweet that I responded to when I read his tweet about his “great and unmatched wisdom”!

DT wisdom

CLUTCH YOUR PEARLS OVER ELLEN DeGENERES & PRESIDENT BUSH!

Weeks later, people are still talking about comedian/talk show host Ellen DeGeneres sitting with former President George W. Bush at a Dallas Cowboys football game.

Ellen Bush

Many in the LGBTQ community blasted her for being friends with such a devil.  A couple of days after the game, I tweeted Ellen:

Ellen.JPG

Elton John is now defending her.

While I agreed with a few things that George W. Bush did as Texas Governor when I lived in Lubbock in 1997, we were usually at odds in our thinking process, especially when he was Commander-in-Chief.

One of the things I’m most proud of came early in his presidency.

In his 2003 State of the Union message, President Bush committed $15 billion (that’s billions with a “B”) to fight AIDS in Africa in what would be knows as PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief).

It’s still one of the biggest programs ever to fight a single disease by any country.

Laura Bush

By the way, I love former First Lady Laura Bush and I’d enjoy meeting President and Mrs. Bush one day to chat!

“ON BECOMING A GOD IN CENTRAL FLORIDA”

This quirky ten-episode Showtime series wraps up its first season this weekend.

It stars Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Kirsten Dunst as Krystal Stubbs, a struggling minimum-wage-earning water park employee near Orlando, Florida.

She schemes her way up the ranks of Founders American Merchandise (FAM), a cultish, flag waving, multi-billion dollar organization that made her family lose all of its money.  It also indirectly caused her husband’s death (a very interesting one at that)!

22-year-old Canadian actor Theodore Pelleren co-stars as pyramid scheme victim Cody Bonar.  He’s incredible and I’m calling it now — he’ll get an Emmy nomination in 2020!

In late-September, “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” was renewed for a second season!

As much as I enjoyed season one, I don’t think I’ll return for season two!

GRADE:  B

“OUR BOYS”

I was really intrigued with the gut-wrenching HBO Israeli series, “Our Boys”, since I have an indirect connection to it.

The events it dramatizes were happening in the months leading up to my trip to Tel Aviv, Israel, in October 2014, to celebrate my 50th birthday.

Tel Aviv Mediterranean Sea

Tensions were still running rather high on my visit and we were advised not to visit Jerusalem for safety reasons.

This series focuses on the murder investigation of Arab teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir.

Abu Khdeir was kidnapped and burnt alive in retaliation for the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teenagers by the Palestinian militant group, Hamas.

While the entire series is compelling, “Chapter 7: Judging by its End” is so tense and heartbreaking.

The series features standout performances from Shlomi Elkabetz (Simon), Adam Gabay (Avishay), Jony Arbid (Hussein, Mohammed’s father) and Ruba Blal-Asfour (Suha, Mohammed’s mother).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a boycott of the series because it portrays Israelis in a bad light.   Um, okay!!!!!!

GRADE:  A-

“THE CROWN” SEASON 3

I can’t wait until November 17th for the return of the critically acclaimed Netflix series, “The Crown”!

Olivia Colman succeeds Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and Tobias Menzies will play Prince Philip, replacing Matt Smith.

The third season covers the years 1964-1976, including Harold Wilson’s terms as prime minister until 1976.

Sexy Josh O’Connor (“God’s Own Country”) will play Prince Charles.

This trailer is so clever in how it prepares us for the transition from a younger Queen Elizabeth in seasons one and two to a more mature Queen (Oscar winner Colman in seasons three and four)!

The fourth season will include Gillian Anderson (“The X-Files” and “Hannibal”) as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and it’ll introduce Lady Diana Spencer.

“GOD’S OWN COUNTRY”

If you want to get a taste of O’Connor before the new season of “The Crown” arrives, check out “God’s Own Country” on Netflix.  It was my 8th favorite movie of 2018.

Along with O’Connor, this stunning English drama stars Romanian actor Alec Secareanu.

O’Connor plays Johnny, a young man living with his father and grandmother on the family farm in northern England.  Johnny now has more responsibility after his father’s stroke.

He leads a lonely existence and drowns his sorrows in alcohol and cheap, meaningless sex.

The family hires Gheorghe, a Romanian migrant worker, for the upcoming lambing season and sparks begin to fly between the two young men.

But, can Johnny admit his feelings for Gheorghe and come out to his family that may or may not be accepting?

O’Connor won the British Independent Film Award for Best Actor beating out his co-star for the honor.

GRADE: B+

“PURE GOLDWATER”

This book by John Dean and Barry Goldwater, Jr. covers the Arizona Senator’s life and his 1964 Republican Presidential campaign.  He lost to President Lyndon Johnson.

Pure Goldwater

While Goldwater was very conservative, in the 1980s when he was in his 80s, he turned against the close-minded values of the Republican party and was supportive of his gay grandson, Ty Ross.

Ty Ross 1

Ross, a former Zoli model turned interior decorator, says this about his grandfather, he “knew I was gay since I was a teen. He was fine with it, and it was never an issue. He wasn’t terribly religious. It was all kind of a non-issue in the family.  In the early 1990s, I went to go protest in support of a local ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity into the city charter, and there was this raucous debate.  My grandfather happened to be at our house when I got back. ‘I heard you went downtown. Good job, standing up for what you believe in.'”

Ty Ross 2

Ross adds, “He was aware I was in POZ. I was never dealt any shame about it or met with adulation. It was neither, which was good for me because I didn’t have to feel any guilt. We never really talked about me being HIV positive. Without a doubt, he knew I was positive and was supportive of me more in that I was involving myself in standing up for gay rights.”

Additionally, in June 1993, after consulting with military experts, Goldwater realized that gays posed no security risk and declared that the military should lift its ban on gays.

He was quoted as saying, “you don’t need to be ‘straight’ to fight and die for your country; you just need to shoot straight.”

Two months later, he told the LGBTQ magazine, “The Advocate” that people being worked up over gays in the military was “pointless” and “stupid”.  He added that the GOP’s stance on gays was “dumb”.

“GOLDWATER GIRL”

As a 17-year-old in Chicago, you’ll never guess who was a “Goldwater Girl”, campaigning for the Republican in the 1964 presidential election!

Hillary Clinton Goldwater

Appearing on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in November 1993, Goldwater told the story of Hillary campaigning for him, “I remember her going around in a gingham dress trying to get people to vote for me.  Trouble is, she didn’t get around to enough of them.”

In October 1996, less than two years before Goldwater died, Hillary made a surprise visit to Goldwater at his Paradise Valley home!

Goldwater Hillary

And, if you didn’t know, Hillary was raised in a very conservative household in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge.

I’m just glad Hillary was much quicker to get away from the Republican party than Goldwater. 🙂

MY PICK HIT IS CATCHING ON!

Whitney Houston is back on Top 40 radio!

“Higher Love” with Kygo is at #27 on Mediabase today!

The reworked song is from the Japanese version of Houston’s third album, 1990’s “I’m Your Baby Tonight”.

The video is so sexy and cute and the song will sound familiar — it’s a remake of Steve Winwood and Chaka Khan’s 1986 #1 hit, which is one of my all-time favorite songs!

NEW CHRISTMAS STAMPS

The new holiday offering from the United States Postal Service this year is artsy, but I’ll be looking for an alternative for my Christmas cards this year.

Wreaths

I may go with the same ones I used last year!

Diwali.jpg

As I stated in my blog last November, “I’m very intrigued by Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights… It symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance”.  We could really use that in the world these days!!!!!!!!”

Diwali (also known as Dipavali) is celebrated in the fall in the northern hemisphere.  This year, it’ll be on Sunday, October 27th in the U.S.

“CHRISTMAS IN THE CITY”

Lea Michele (“Glee”) will be releasing her first holiday album, “Christmas in the City” on October 25th.

Lea Michele Christmas

It’ll feature duets with two very sexy men!

Jonathan Groff (“Glee” and “Mindhunter”) joins her on “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and Darren Criss (“Glee” and “American Crime Story:  The Assassination of Gianni Versace”) sings “White Christmas” with Lea.

Broadway star Cynthia Erivo, who was amazing in “Bad Times at the El Royale” and will star in the upcoming “Harriet”, joins Lea on “Angels We Have Heard on High”.

Other classics included on the album will be “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”, “O Holy Night”, “Silent Night”, “Silver Bells” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.

“Do You Want to Build a Snowman” from “Frozen” is also featured.  (By the way, Groff is also the voice of Kristoff in the “Frozen” movie franchise!)

“ALL TOO HUMAN”

I also read George Stephanopoulos’ 1999 book subtitled “A Political Education” this fall.

All Too Human George Stephanopoulous

It covered the years 1992, when he worked to get Bill Clinton elected president, through 1996, when he resigned from being Clinton’s Senior Advisor shortly after Clinton was re-elected in November 1996.

Stephanopoulos talked openly about his abrasive relationship with Hillary Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony