Archive for October, 2021

Random Friday Thoughts — October 29, 2021

Hello there and Happy Halloween!

The way I trick or treat continues to change. Yes, I’ll still take Snickers, Baby Ruth, Milky Way, Almond Joy, and Twizzlers if you offer.

But, this is more my way of thinking now!

I’ve only posted two new features over the past six weeks.

The first was about the biggest events and my 100 favorite songs of the second era of my life from 1999-2021 (since I did one last year for my first 35 years).

Here’s the link: https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2021/10/08/my-life-the-next-era-1999-2021/

The last one was some stories about my recent birthday trip to Greece.

Here’s the link: https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2021/10/22/my-big-fat-greek-holiday-2021/

I supplied the links if you didn’t get a chance to read them the first time or if you want to re-visit them.

While I’m not ready to start back my weekly “Random Friday Thoughts”, I want to share some with you this week just for the fun of it.

Happy Halloween! Be safe and beware of psychos!

I don’t mean the ones that are intentionally scary because of Hollywood and Halloween! 🙂

A “HAPPY HALLOWEEN” MEMORY!

Ten years ago, my golden retriever, ABBA, went trick-or-treating for the last time.

Here she is during “surgery”!

She went as a lobotomized dog with a rubber brain under the bandage. However, as you can see, she decided that part wasn’t for her when the trick-or-treating started! 🙂

ABBA was such a trooper and she got her own fun-size “3 Musketeer” bar and loved eating it!

Yes, I took it out of the paper! 🙂

At the bottom of today’s blog, another fun and very scandalous Halloween flashback of me partying in Houston in 1992!

“HALLOWEEN KILLS”

After a year delay because of the pandemic, I was excited to see “Halloween Kills”. After seeing it, I’m glad I watched it for free on Peacock instead of paying to see it in the theater.

First I’ll share what I liked about the movie: I loved that some of the actors from 1978’s “Halloween” returned. Some may be in 2022’s “Halloween Ends” and a few won’t!

The movie also filled in some of the blanks from what happened in 1963 when Michael Myers first killed to his 1978 killing spree in the original movie that kicked off the franchise.

To add to some of those tidbits, a new actor played Dr. Sam Loomis and the resemblance was startling! (Donald Pleasence died in 1995 after starring in five of the franchise’s first six movies. “Halloween Kills” is the 12th installment!)

The next to the last kill in the movie was phenomenal and the moment of death is classic. Also, the final kill was surprising and shocking!

Now what I didn’t like about it!

For starters, the lack of a storyline for Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode! After seeing this movie, I get it that they’re saving her for the “finale” (yeah, right) of the franchise.

The whole mob scene at Haddonfield Memorial Hospital went on way too long. The mentality of the mob was eerily similar to the real-life deadly events at the Capitol in January 2021 in Washington D.C. And, to think that the fictional mob scene in “Halloween Kills” was shot in the fall of 2019!

While I enjoyed the movie as a whole, I’ll never watch it again!

This movie’s predecessor, 2018’s “Halloween” made $255.6 million worldwide. “Halloween Kills” is a box office smash at $93.8 million worldwide against a $20 million budget.

Final thoughts: The trailer is better than the movie, you see many of the kills, you saved money by not going to see it, and you didn’t waste almost two hours!

GRADE: C

P.S. ONE MORE “HALLOWEEN KILLS” THOUGHT

Watch the 2018 “Halloween” movie instead. It’s much better.

Here’s what I said back then and I gave it a “B”:

“It was very entertaining and I loved the winks back to all of the other movies in the franchise that this one pretended didn’t exist.

I loved that the movie was very violent (Micheal Myers as a practicing dentist!).  It could be because he’s psychotic and has been locked up and drugged for 40 years!

While the movie was great, it didn’t scare me since nothing can compare to the 1978 original!”

“CRUELLA”

If horror isn’t your thing and that brand of “Halloween” violence may be too much for you, another fun Halloween-ish movie to check out is “Cruella”. (“Halloween-ish” because Cruella likes to dress up!)

While it came out in May, I just saw it on my flight back from Greece and it was very enjoyable.

This movie introduces us to Estella Miller, who as an adult becomes Cruella de Vil. Oscar winner Emma Stone (“La La Land”) is incredible.

But, my favorite character was Baroness von Hellman played by two-time Oscar winner Emma Thompson (one of those Academy Awards was for acting and the other was for writing.)

GRADE: B

HOLD UP, ONE MORE “CRUELLA” THOUGHT

While Stone was incredible as a young Cruella and will be returning in the sequel, she’s no Glenn Close from 1996’s “101 Dalmatians” and 2000’s “102 Dalmatians”.

But, then again, Emma Stone has an Oscar and Close is, sadly, an eight-time Academy Award nominee without a win! Sacrilegious.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Who doesn’t love donuts (or doughnuts)? I know they are so, so unhealthy, but yum.

“THE DONUT KING”

I just watched the informative and entertaining 2020 documentary, “The Donut King”.

It tells the story of Cambodian refugee Ted Ngoy, who came to United States in the 1970s, and built a multi-million dollar empire by baking donuts.

I was blown away by the fact that almost all of the privately owned donut shops in California at one time were owned by Cambodians!

This is a great rags to riches story! But, there’s a twist — how he ends up losing his fortune!

GRADE: B+

ANOTHER NIGHT AT THE “DISCO”

If you regularly read my blog, you know that I was absolutely enthralled by Kylie Minogue’s critically acclaimed, “Disco” album last November. It brought fun and optimism to a pandemic world!

And, I almost lost it in the fall of 2020 when Kylie commented on my tweet!

Now, I’m so excited that Kylie is ready for another round of late night partying, escapism, and disco beats with “Disco: Guest List Edition”!

It features duets and remixes with Dua Lipa, Jessie Ware, Gloria Gaynor, and Years & Years (Olly Alexander).

While that would be exciting enough, there’s also going to be a deluxe version, which features five discs (the original “Disco” deluxe album, the new Guest List Edition of duets and remixes, the Live Infinite Disco Livestream concert DVD, and a CD disc of the music from that virtual concert, plus a BluRay of the concert!)

I’m in heaven!!! I’m also captivated by the new video from Kylie and Years & Years “A Second To Midnight”, the album’s first release.

I keep watching it over and over! Is it November 12th yet? I want my new “Disco”!

AND, ONE MORE KYLIE NOTE!!!

The Queen liked a second tweet of mine this summer with three blue hearts! 💙💙💙

Now, if only there could be a “Disco 2022 Tour”, I’d never have to see another another concert after that!

“PETER RABBIT 2: THE RUNAWAY”

My final movie thought is about “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway”. While it was entertaining, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the original.

Back in the spring of 2018, I highly recommended “Peter Rabbit” and gave it a “B+”!

GRADE: C+

“AMERICAN HORROR STORY: DOUBLE FEATURE”

The latest season of “American Horror Story” just wrapped and it couldn’t end soon enough.

It was divided into two parts (six episodes of “Red Tide” and four episodes of “Death Valley”).

While I enjoyed some of it, it was the worst season of “American Horror Story” and there have been some stinkers!

I definitely didn’t enjoy most of the season, yet I kept watching!

GRADE: D

Now that this season is over (and the series has been renewed for three more seasons!), how do the ten seasons rank in my opinion?

#10 “Double Feature” (season ten, 2021)

#9 “Freak Show” (season four, 2014) — The highlight!

#8 “Hotel” (season five, 2015)

#7 “Roanoke” (season six, 2016)

#6 “Apocalypse” (season eight, 2018)

#5 “Coven” (season three, 2013)

#4 “1984” (season nine, 2019)

#3 “Murder House” (season one, 2011)

#2 “Cult” (season seven, 2017)

#1 “Asylum” (season two, 2012)

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Houston 1992

And, then there’s this one from 2010. I think I made a great Lady Gaga!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

My Big Fat Greek Holiday 2021

It’s often said that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. I don’t plan on writing a thousand words, but I want to share some stories behind the photos I posted from my recent visit to Greece. (P.S. I lied, before I wrote this additional line, it ended up being 1,761 words!) 🙂

I always say that “it’s nice to get away, but it’s also nice to come home”. Well, I didn’t say that when I visited Morocco in the fall of 2018 or when I was ready to leave Greece last Sunday.

I wish I could have stayed longer and island hop along the Mediterranean. Hopefully, I’ll do that with my sister, Tammy — sooner rather than later!

From the time I left for the airport in Bloomington, Illinois, for my three flights to the time I arrived at the hotel in Athens, Greece, it took about 25 hours (not counting the time change).

The return home took three hours longer — an early wake-up call, the drive to to the airport, three flights, two delays, sit time before the first flight and between flights, and an hour drive home.

But, it was all worth it!

Back to my arrival at the hotel in Greece. The room was great and the rooftop view of the city was incredible!

I could see the Acropolis and I was mesmerized by the houses and buildings as far as the eye could see. About half of Greece’s 11 million people live in Athens.

After getting settled into the hotel, I took a walk to see what was nearby and I got lost! As it neared the time to meet my tour group for the introduction, I freaked out a little, but I found my way back.

The Greece trip was the fifth excursion I’ve taken with Gate 1 Travel — Danube River cruise (2013), Scandinavia (2017) , Morocco (2018), and Bangkok, Thailand (2019). My trip to China was through another company and my 50th birthday excursion to Paris, France, and Tel Aviv, Israel was a trip I planned on my own.

The nice thing about these tours is that you normally gravitate toward a few people that you spend more time with touring the sites, eating meals, and sharing laughs and life stories. And, you usually keep in touch with them years after the trip is over!

For me, my Peeps on this trip were (from left to right), Matt, Marcellus, and Cortney.

We talked a lot about relationships and travel.

Well, there was one other topic that became a running joke (or was it a joke?) — certain museum statues and some souvenir options kept that topic alive. 🙂

As the trip progressed, I bonded with Jessica and her mother, Cheryl, from Iowa.

It should come as no surprise that there’s so much history in Greece — from the start of the Olympics (in Olympia), attacks from foreign empires, and the discovery of many of the ruins after earthquakes and mud from floods buried many of the sites for more than a thousand years!

Some of them were only discovered in the late-1800s and entire towns were moved for the excavation. Hello Delphi!

While visiting the Acropolis, it was so relaxing to look out across Athens and seeing the Aegean Sea was so peaceful. This is one of my favorite photos I took on holiday.

After visiting the Acropolis and its museum, our fantastic tour guide, Elena, treated us to baklava and Greek coffee. I love desserts and the one piece of baklava I had was divine.

Okay, here’s a funny story. I actually had two pieces!

Two people from our tour group were off on their own shopping or spending more time at the museum and there was an open seat next to me at our table. That piece of baklava was just staring at me saying, “eat me”.

As we were ready to leave, I gave up on them coming back and their friend said “eat it”. It was my birthday, so I didn’t need to be told again. Midway through that second piece, they walked in!

Oh well! 🙂

By the way, I didn’t care for the Greek coffee. When I get to the bottom of my coffee, I don’t want muck in my cup! Muck = Yuck!

That visit was earlier in the day. For dinner that night, I tried Ouzo for the first time.

OPA!

For scientific reasons, I added ice cubes to the Ouzo because the chemical reaction makes it “cloudy”.

And, in full disclosure, there was Ouzo left on the table, so I had a second one at the end of the meal!

OPA!

While I had some amazing food (eggplant in tomato sauce topped with feta, Greek salad, and a pork gyro to name a few), my absolute favorite meals were the breakfasts.

There’s just something about Mediterranean breakfast that I love (I still salivate thinking of my Israeli breakfasts in Tel Aviv).

However, both mornings in Athens, I finished my two plates of breakfast with a large bowl of Greek yogurt with honey, nuts, dried fruit, and even a candied fig! And, a few pastries!

Yes, I love plating food for photos and I don’t waste. I take bites of many things and only what I’ll eat!

Oh, by the way, a true Greek salad doesn’t include lettuce — just tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, peppers, olives, olive oil, feta cheese, and seasoning.

The fresh veggies, the olives, and feta in Greece are amazing!

One thing I didn’t eat on the entire trip was a fish dish. I was told by my dear Greek friend, John, in the Quad Cities, that fish is more popular on the Greek islands!

The most scenic part of the trip was the drive from Olympia to Delphi, up in the mountains, along the breathtaking Corinthian Bay.

My favorite hotel views were in Olympia (second floor balcony with a grove of pomegranate, orange, and olive trees below)…

and this Delphi hotel balcony view (also from the second floor).

These three photos were some of my favorites I took on the trip.

Those two are from Nafpaktos, where we stopped for herbal tea and honey, which was refreshingly tasty.

This next one was from a surprise lunch complete with a cooking demonstration, in which some in our group made our three appetizers, and a Greek dancing lesson with participation!

Thank you Lillian for the photo! It was nice hanging out with you, too!

And, see the whole religious correlation — wine, water, and bread! 🙂

As my trip to Greece was coming to an end, we were back in Athens for a farewell evening organized by our knowledgeable, personable, and amazing guide (and historian) Elena.

On the rooftop of our hotel, The Stanley, many of us pulled together tables with the expansive view of Athens and the Acropolis all aglow surrounding us as we enjoyed appetizers and several bottles of Greek wine!

Along with the great company and laughs, I loved the dessert — a chocolate mousse atop chocolate crumbles, and a very tasty violet! I love how the floral flavor just popped as you chewed it.

Of the many countries I’ve visited, I’d go back to Morocco and Copenhagen, Denmark, in a heartbeat.

Greece is another one.

There’s still so much in Athens I didn’t see and I want to have my “Mamma Mia” experience in the Greek Islands (Mykonos, Santorini, and Paros, for starters) — the beauty, the food, and maybe even the “dot dot dot”! 🙂

A cruise on the Aegean Sea would also be amazing!

Three of my big international trips were to celebrate my birthday. There was Paris, France, complete with a dinner cruise on the Seine River, a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and sitting at the stage of the historic Moulin Rouge sipping champagne as I turned 50!

And, my 54th in Marrakesh, Morocco. Turning 57 in Athens was also memorable.

As you read this you may have wondered about the closeness of my new friends in some of the pictures. A co-worker asked what it was like with COVID-19 over there.

Well, most of the museums required proof of vaccination, we needed a negative COVID test coming into the country, and upon arrival at the airport, you could have been randomly chosen to take a test.

We were required to wear masks at all times on the bus, at the hotels, museums, and restaurants (when not eating and drinking), and on the flights.

Here’s one last funny story to share.

Those of us leaving Greece Sunday had to meet before breakfast in Olympia Friday for our COVID test to return to the United States.

While we were all negative coming into Greece and we expected the tests to come back negative, it was still a little stressful.

We took the tests and had breakfast. Then we were off to see the home of the first Olympics and settle in for a three-hour ride to Delphi.

As we neared the town, I laughed because my phone was down to 15% and thought my sister would be proud of me. I never let my phone drain that low. It then hit me!

I recalled unplugging my charger and cord (black) that morning after the test, but I didn’t remember taking my power adapter/converter (ivory) out of the wall! Guess what, I didn’t and I still had two more nights in Greece without an adapter!

Well, my new buddy, Marcellus saved the day and loaned me his converter that night and the next night in Athens before the farewell party.

My phone was now at 80% and that would be enough to get me onto the plane for the flight back to the U.S. where I could fully charge it.

That’s when I saw our flight out the next morning was delayed an hour and then I started thinking too much and couldn’t fall asleep.

So, I watched “Coyote Ugly” dubbed in Greek!

So that’s a recap of my birthday/holiday trip to Greece!

Now that I’m back, I keep telling myself, “Must not book new trip, must not book new trip, must not book new trip…”

OH WAIT!

One last funny story — when we arrive in Delphi on the next to last night, they met us with a tray of refreshing drinks. It was a beautiful, colorful “wine”.

I took a sip and it was so tasty. I took a second sip and it was gone!!! I thought, I can’t believe I gulped that down in just two sips. I seriously thought I might have to visit Betty Ford!

It wasn’t until breakfast the next morning when I realized it was CHERRY JUICE! Whew! 🙂

Anthony

My Life – The Next Era (1999-2021)

It’s time for the sequel of my life!

If you’re a regular reader of my random thoughts, you know I love making lists and countdowns.

On September 11, 2020, I posted a blog of the 13 biggest events of my first 35 years. (13 because I was born on the 13th and it’s my favorite number).

Along with that, I intended to share my 35 favorite songs of those first 35 years. Well, the initial list ended up with 236 songs, so I decided to be like the Billboard Hot 100 and share my top 100 songs of that era of my life.

In case you didn’t see it last year or last week when I posted it again, here it is:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2020/09/11/my-life-the-first-35-years/

Well, it was well-received, so why not be like Hollywood and make a sequel???

So, here are the top eight events that shaped the next era of my life (1999-2021) along with not my just my 22 favorite songs of the past 22 years, but my 100 favorites of that era!

EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY LAST 22 YEARS

MEETING REBA McENTIRE (APRIL 2005)

While Reba McEntire became a powerhouse superstar in the mid-1980s, I was all about dance and pop music in my 20s during her rise to super stardom.

However, I discovered her at Sidetrack, in Chicago, on country night in 1990.  That voice singing “Rumor Has It” blew me away and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

Regardless of what was happening in my life, good or bad, when Reba released a new album, there were songs I felt she recorded just for me.

I’ve now seen Reba in concert thirteen (13) times and I got to meet her in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in 2005.

MOVING BACK TO CHICAGO (JUNE 2002)

After my mother died in November 1990 and my grandmother, Helen, passed away in November 1993, I felt it was time to leave Kentucky and I moved to Chicago the following summer.

I stayed for two years before kicking off my television news career in the summer of 1996 in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. After jobs in Lubbock, Texas, and Mansfield, Columbus, and Youngstown, Ohio, working for a homophobic, racist, and sexist news director, I felt it was time to take a break from television.

So, Miss ABBA, my golden retriever, and my ex, Christopher, headed back to Chicago, where we had met in early 1995. (Look at how youthful we were 26 years ago!)

It was a very enjoyable return to the “windy city”.

I had a great time at Roscoe’s Tavern (a very popular gay bar on Halsted), worked as a freelance writer for the morning show at Fox News Chicago, and went back to school to earn my meteorology certification.

By the way, I don’t make it a point to lie, but I saw that sticker and it was just too much fun not to stick it on my shirt for a photo op! 🙂

In the summer of 2004, Christopher and I realized our nine-year relationship had run its course, so I took a job in Salisbury, Maryland, and Miss ABBA and I moved to Delmarva for a year-and-a half before returning to the Midwest in November 2005.

When I started putting together the recap of my second era (1999-2021), I thought about the events that shaped the past 22 years of my life and I started thinking of my favorite songs of the past two decades-plus.

That list started with 221 songs and after the first cut, it was still at 155. After thinking long and hard, I narrowed it down to one hundred, just like the Billboard Hot 100!

Here’s to you, Casey Kasem! (Hint, the other 60 are at the bottom of this blog, along with some surprises!)

#40 “LOVE YOURSELF” (JUSTIN BIEBER) (2015)

#39 “I’LL BE” (REBA McENTIRE) (2000)

#38 “WOMANIZER” (BRITNEY SPEARS) (2008)

#37 “FADED” (ALAN WALKER) (2015)

#36 “THE EDGE OF GLORY” (LADY GAGA) (2011)

While that’s the official version of “The Edge of Glory”, here’s the version I love more. And, I “borrowed” the sparklers idea for my wedding reception!

#35 “WHO WOULDN’T WANNA BE ME” (KEITH URBAN) (2003)

#34 “CAN’T GET YOU OUT OF MY HEAD” (KYLIE MINOGUE) (2001)

NOW, BACK TO MY LIFE EVENTS….

LIVING NEAR MY SISTER AGAIN (AUGUST 2011)

Other than my years of living on campus at Murray State University in the 1980s, less than a half hour from where I was born and raised, I never lived apart from my sister, Tammy, until I moved to Chicago in 1994 and she moved away, too.

My career took me all over the country and my sister made Clarksville, Tennessee, home. After her marriage with her L-O-S-E-R husband ended and life dealt her several bad hands, I convinced her to move to the Quad Cities (Moline, Illinois) in 2011.

While she wasn’t thrilled to have to make her home there and deal with more snow than she was used to, it was nice to be in the same city again. We could now see each other whenever we wanted and we’d spend holidays together again.

After I moved away for 3.5 years, she joined me in Decatur, Illinois. It’s nice to have my best friend around again!

Love you Tammy!

MY 50TH BIRTHDAY TRIP TO PARIS & TEL AVIV (OCTOBER 2014)

While I don’t remember my first birthday, you see from the picture above that it happened and it was celebrated.

Other birthdays that stand out for me are my 30th, in Chicago, when I met a very attractive man that ended up being a psycho that try to kill me (stalker much?), my 48th, in Las Vegas, in 2012, seeing Elton John the night before and Madonna on the big day…

… and my 54th on an incredible solo trip to Morocco with a surprise birthday cake from my tour group!

However, it’s going to be really hard to top my 50th birthday!

In 2013, I took my first “real” international trip (officially, Cancun was the first in the early-1990s, but North America doesn’t really count any more!).

For my ex’s 50th, he chose a Danube River cruise of Europe. The following year, for my 50th, I chose to celebrate the milestone birthday with a trip to Europe (Paris, France) and the Middle East (Tel Aviv, Israel).

While the trip was incredible and I paid my own way, my actual birthday present was like a fairy tale. (He did well!)

I was treated to a dinner cruise on the Seine River, followed by a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower at night to see the sprawled out city of Paris twinkling in the distance.

And, the night didn’t end there. 

It was then off to the historic Moulin Rouge for a show and champagne. 

At midnight, I turned 50 during the show sitting right at the stage staring at boobies, acrobatic routines, and a woman in a water tank with snakes!

For the record, years later, in the spring of 2019, I’d have my own encounter with a beautiful albino python in Bangkok, Thailand. I called it my Britney Spears moment! Britney is now free!

Then it was off to Tel Aviv for three days. From the hotel room, you could see the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean Sea!

Each morning, I looked forward to the Israeli breakfasts, which are world-renowned and very tasty and filling! 

However, my favorite meal was at בני-הדייג, which translates to Benny The Fisherman, right on the Sea.

That was just the salads and “starters” that they brought out.  Yes, fifteen of them, including the bread basket!

Sadly, I didn’t get a stamp on my passport from Israel.

This was during the 2014 Ebola scare and the customs agent was so flustered from ranting at a woman in front of us for sticking her passport in her mouth that he forgot.  He refused to let her go through his line because he wasn’t going to touch her passport.  And, I really don’t blame him.  However, his approach was a little abrasive.

On the return flight home, the snow-covered Alps were beautiful!

This crazy song went viral in 2013 and ended up being my third favorite song of that year. It didn’t make the Top 100 on this countdown, but it was on the initial list. So, it’s a bonus. 🙂

Now, back to the countdown of my favorite songs of the past 22 years!

#33 “LOOKIN’ FOR A GOOD TIME” (LADY A) (2008)

#32 “TURN ON THE RADIO” (REBA McENTIRE) (2010)

#31 “I KNEW I LOVED YOU” (SAVAGE GARDEN) (1999)

#30 “TOXIC” (BRITNEY SPEARS) (2004)

#29 “YOU BELONG WITH ME” (TAYLOR SWIFT) (2009)

And, of course, there’s a cute and sexy alternative version of the Taylor teen love story!

#28 “IF I DIE YOUNG” (THE BAND PERRY) (2010)

#27 “MUSIC” (MADONNA) (2000)

#26 “LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT” (KYLIE MINOGUE) (2002)

#25 “LIFE GOES ON” (LEANN RIMES) (2002)

#24 “BECAUSE OF YOU” (REBA McENTIRE & KELLY CLARKSON) (2007)

#23 “IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS” (MICHAEL BUBLE) (2011)

What! A Christmas song made it onto the countdown!!! Don’t be shocked!

My fourth favorite song of my first 35 years was Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”!

NOW BACK TO MY LIFE EVENTS OF THE PAST 22 YEARS!

MEETING PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER & ROSALYNN CARTER (JULY 2017)

In September 2016, I got to visit the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum in Atlanta, Georgia.

However, it would take a major change in my life and relocation to meet my childhood idols, President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter.

In the summer of 2017, I was living in Panama City, Florida, and I drove 180 miles (3.5 hours) through the backwoods of Florida, Alabama, and Georgia in the darkness of night to fulfill that life-long dream.

Once I arrived in Plains, Georgia, at the Marantha Baptist Church, I was one of the last people to make it in to hear a Sunday school lesson from President Carter.

After his lesson and the Sunday service from the pastor, I got to meet the man and woman that I helped put in the White House in the 1976 presidential election.

For the record, I was just a 12-year-old boy, but I got to go into the voting booth with my grandmother Helen back in Mayfield, Kentucky.  She let me choose her candidate and, of course, it was Jimmy Carter.

My vote four years later didn’t keep the Carters in Washington D.C. and they headed back to Plains.

You might notice that the photo is autographed! I sent a copy of the photo inside of an anniversary card to the lovely couple and they signed it and sent it back!!!!!!!!!!

AND HILLARY CLINTON (JANUARY 2016)

I’ve admired Hillary Clinton since she became the First Lady of the United States in January 1993.

There is no politician that hasn’t been raked over the coals in their career.  And, now with 24-hour news channels and less objectivity in their reporting for higher ratings, it’s easy to vilify people, especially if it’s a strong woman — like Hillary.

I went to hear Hillary speak on a cold winter’s day in Davenport, Iowa, in January 2016.

When she finished, I politely edged my way through the crowd toward the roped off area in front of the stage.  I lucked out and we talked a little – we exchanged hellos and I wished her success.

“Politely edged” sounds nicer than “aggressively made” my way through the crowd! 🙂

Now, my 22 favorite songs of the past 22 years!

#22 “I WANNA GO (BRITNEY SPEARS) (2011)

#21 “CAN’T FIGHT THE MOONLIGHT” (LEANN RIMES) (2000)

#20 “SURRENDER” (LAURA PAUSINI) (2002)

#19 “IF I FALL YOU’RE GOING DOWN WITH ME” (THE CHICKS) (2001)

I’ve never met Natalie Maines of The Chicks and it’s one of the biggest regrets of my life.

When I took my second television job in Lubbock, Texas, (Natalie’s hometown), in 1997, as a reporter and Saturday anchor at the CBS affiliate, her sister, Kim, was the 10 p.m. weekday producer.  What a sweetheart!

1997 was also the year that Natalie and sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison exploded onto the country music scene with “I Can Love You Better”, which went on to reach #7 on the Billboard Country chart.

I had a chance to see them and meet the unknown band and real life prevented me from going! Bummer!

#18 “MY BOYFRIEND IS GAY” (HAILEY ROWE) (2013)

#17 “SOMEBODY LIKE YOU” (KEITH URBAN) (2002)

#16 “YOUTH” (TROYE SIVAN) (2015)

#15 “WE’RE SO GOOD TOGETHER” (REBA McENTIRE) (2000)

#14 “SOME DAYS YOU GOTTA DANCE” (THE CHICKS) (2001)

#13 “SILENCE” (MARSHMELLO & KHALID) (2017)

#12 “YOU’LL THINK OF ME” (KEITH URBAN) (2004)

NOW, BACK TO MY BIGGEST LIFE EVENTS OF THE PAST 22 YEARS!

MEET, FALL IN LOVE, GET MARRIED, AND THEN DIVORCE (2009-2017)

We’ve all been there (well, at least half of us).

You meet someone that’s an Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) to your Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) — with or with sex work involved!

You fall in love and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.

I got to have a wedding, a beautiful reception, and a gorgeous cake!

And, I was a “like a dad” and I got to experience helping to raise a child. I loved and was loved in return, we traveled the world — Europe, Israel, China, and Scandinavia — and my golden retriever, ABBA, had two more people to shower her with love, and I got to foster 60 koi and goldfish!

While things didn’t work out, I’m glad that I got to experience the good before the bad.

There are many things I miss about those days and there are things I don’t miss. The serenity of the koi pond is definitely high on the list of things I miss!

This is a feeding frenzy in the summer of 2016!

Oh, if you were hoping for sordid details, there were several circumstances leading to the demise of the relationship. Those are being saved for the book (which is being written)!

WE NEED A BREATHER!

Now, back to my favorite songs of the past 22 years!

#11 “SOMETHING” (LASGO) (2001)

#10 “TILL THE WORLD ENDS” (BRITNEY SPEARS) (2011)

#9 “BAD ROMANCE” (LADY GAGA) (2009)

#8 “BLANK SPACE” (TAYLOR SWIFT) (2014)

#7 “EVERYTIME WE TOUCH” (CASCADA) (2005)

#6 “EVERYTIME” (BRITNEY SPEARS) (2004)

NOW BACK TO THE BIGGEST EVENTS OF MY PAST 22 YEARS

MISS ABBA (MAY 2000-FEBRUARY 2012)

My golden retriever, ABBA, and I traveled down many roads together. 

From the llama farm in Ohio where I picked her up in July 2000 to swimming in Lake Michigan when we lived in Chicago to the salty waters of the Atlantic Ocean on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and then back to the cold, snowy Midwestern winters in the Quad Cities, Miss ABBA loved it all and she loved life!

She didn’t mind doggie sitting (or walking) her blind Shar Pei friend, Panda, and she loved road trips so much that you had to spell out R-I-D-E. She loved her fast food hamburgers and she loved treats and cakes!

And, she was the perfect drinking buddy!

From that first ride from the Ohio llama farm to her new life away from Dolly and Fletcher (her mom and dad) and her siblings to the last fateful ride, she enjoyed life so much and never met a stranger.

I wish we were more like ABBA!

As I was lying on the bed comforting ABBA on those final two days in early 2012, these words just came to me and I put them on paper.

While I’m not a poet, I still love this — my goodbye to Miss ABBA!

If you can’t read my writing through the tears:

The fog hangs in the air shrouding the light, not only in the sky, but in your eyes

You look lost and just want to sleep with me close by your side

I listen to you breathe and each breath sounds deeper

Is it the end or just a peaceful sleep

As I caress your neck and shoulder blades,

You snore even louder as I try harder to hold back the tears

I don’t want you to hear me cry,

I want you to let go and not fight for me

You’ve been there for me all your life

And I want to be there for you now, my love.

My best friend — ABBA (May 22, 2000-February 3, 2012)

This is one of my favorite pictures taken of Miss ABBA in her last month with us…

The song in the video tribute below is “Over My Shoulder” by one of my favorite singers, Patty Loveless, from her 1994 album, “When Fallen Angels Fly”.

Okay, this silly photo will take the sadness away…

FINAL BONUS TRACK!

When I put together a recap of my first 35 years and my 100 favorite songs of that era of my life (1964-1999), Olivia Newton-John placed four songs on the countdown: #3 “Xanadu”, #47 “Let Me Be There”, #50 “If You Love Me (Let Me Know)”, and #68 “Magic”.

I finally got to see her in concert at The Flamingo in Las Vegas in May 2014.

As a bonus, I’m featuring two of my favorites in one video — Olivia and Las Vegas.

In 2015, DJ Dave Aude re-worked Olivia’s hit “Magic” and “You Have To Believe” became a #1 dance song for Olivia and her daughter, Chloe Lattanzi.

And, one final fun fact, Olivia met her future husband and Chloe’s dad, Matt Lattanzi, on the set of the movie, “Xanadu”!

Just a random thought, since you know me for random thoughts, I think #Pug2020, which became #Pug2021, and then #Pug20-something, needs to become a reality in 2022!!!

I need a new drinking partner or, at least, a movie and television binge-watching partner!

When I was in Bangkok, Thailand, in the spring of 2019, I saw this in the taxi and I know it was a sign!

NOW BACK TO THE COUNTDOWN OF MY FIVE FAVORITE SONGS OF THE PAST 22 YEARS!

#5 “SOMEBODY” (REBA McENTIRE) (2004)

#4 “NOT READY TO MAKE NICE” (THE CHICKS) (2006)

#3 “CONSIDER ME GONE” (REBA McENTIRE) (2009)

Before I reveal my two favorite songs of the past 22 years, how about another bonus track!

This one didn’t make the list of my Top 100 favorites, but it was one of the 221 on the initial list and was my 13th favorite song of 2014! 🙂

As I reveal my two favorites from 1999-2021, both are two of the most underrated songs that radio should have sent to the top of every chart!

#2 “ALL THE LOVERS” (KYLIE MINOGUE) (2010)

This one did top the airplay chart in Poland and it reached #1 on the Billboard Dance Club songs chart!

And. it’s so naughty and scandalous! 🙂

#1 “DANCING ON MY OWN” (ROBYN) (2010)

This one only topped the chart in Robyn’s native Sweden!

NOW, THE BIGGEST EVENT OF MY PAST 22 YEARS…

THE DEPLORABLE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION! (NOVEMBER 8, 2016)

While this could be a divisive discussion starter, that is not the purpose.

We know “what happened”, since there’s a book about this with that title. It’s been five years now — almost half of the country was on the winning side, but a majority of us were on the losing end.

That statement, “a majority of us were on the losing end”, doesn’t just mean the almost 66 million people that voted for Hillary Clinton.

I’m talking about America’s reputation on the world stage and the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first months — a major misstep that had now resulted in more than 700,000 deaths since early 2020 in the United States.

DISCLAIMER: If Hillary Clinton had been elected president, we would still likely have seen a significant death toll from Coronavirus. However, I believe with all my heart and intelligence, it wouldn’t be at 709K and counting…

But, is that why the 2016 U.S. presidential election is the biggest event of my past 22 years? In part, yes. However, it ranks above ABBA’s death and the failure of my relationship because it’s partly to blame for the separation and divorce.

That loss affected me greatly as 2016 turned to 2017. In the five years since, I’ve accepted it and moved on. Does it still bother me? Yes. Is there anything I can do about it? No.

Michelle Obama, in her 2018 autobiography, “Becoming”, sums it up best the day after that shocking loss: “And I will always wonder about what led so many women, in particular, to reject an exceptionally qualified female candidate and instead choose a misogynist as their president. But the result was now ours to live with.”

If you want to share comments about how/if that win or loss affected you, feel free. Do it diplomatically with respect to me and my friends.

The point was not to discuss politics, I’m just sharing my life — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Thank you for taking the time to travel down the road of the second era of my life!

Before you leave, if you’re not interested in #41 to #100, scroll down a little for some of my favorite photos of the past 22 years!!!

Will I write a third? Probably not. Do you know how old I’d be by then! 🙂

However, if I had two front-runners for favorite songs for my final chapter of life — the new Kylie Minogue and Elton John songs rock my world and are on repeat!

Now, that’s it…. except for some of my favorite photos of the past 22 years!

Wait, my friends, let’s keep going. They haven’t made “last call”!

You know I love lists and I’ve mentioned 100 favorites songs several time in this life recap even though the countdown started at #40 like “American Top 40”.

Scroll down and see which songs just missed out.

You might find one of your favorites on here, you might discover several songs you’re not familiar with, and some that might make you say, “Anthony has some very interesting tastes”, or “No <musical act> on the countdown?”

#41 “MY LOVE IS YOUR LOVE” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1999)

#42 “NEED YOU NOW” (LADY A) (2009)

#43 “THAT’S THE KIND OF MOOD I’M IN” (PATTY LOVELESS) (2000)

#44 “MURDER ON THE DANCEFLOOR” (SOPHIE ELLIS-BEXTOR) (2001)

#45 “SAY SOMETHING” (KYLIE MINOGUE) (2020)

#46 “CHOW DOWN (AT CHICK-FIL-A)” (WILLAM BELLI, DETOX, VICKY VOX) (2012)

#47 “YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN” (TAYLOR SWIFT) (2019)

#48 “OH SANTA” (MARIAH CAREY) (2010)

#49 “KING” (YEARS & YEARS) (2015)

#50 “ALL FOR YOU”(JANET JACKSON) (2001)

#51 “TEQUILA MAKES HER CLOTHES FALL OFF” (JOE NICHOLS) (2005)

#52 “WHAT DO YOU SAY” (REBA McENTIRE) (1999)

#53 “SUDS IN THE BUCKET” (SARA EVANS) (2004)

#54 “GOOD DIRECTIONS” (BILLY CURRINGTON) (2006)

#55 “DANCING” (KYLIE MINOGUE) (2018)

#56 “DAME OTRO TEQUILA” (PAULINA RUBIO) (2004)

#57 “THE WAY YOU LOVE ME” (FAITH HILL) (2000)

#58 “WHAT WAS I THINKIN'” (DIERKS BENTLEY) (2003)

#59 “BORN TO FLY” (SARA EVANS) (2000)

#60 “LONG TIME GONE” (THE CHICKS) (2002)

#61 “REMEMBER WHEN (PUSH REWIND)” (CHRIS WALLACE) (2012)

#62 “HOME” (MICHAEL BUBLE) (2005)

#63 “COWBOY TAKE ME AWAY” (THE CHICKS) (1999)

#64 “BORN THIS WAY” (LADY GAGA) (2011)

#65 “LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO” (TAYLOR SWIFT) (2017)

#66 “FREE AND EASY (DOWN THE ROAD I GO)” (DIERKS BENTLEY) (2007)

#67 “I’M YOURS” (JASON MRAZ) (2008)

#68 “FREE” (FAITH HILL) (2002)

#69 “CAN’T FEEL MY FACE WITHOUT YOU” (THE WEEKND) (2015)

#70 “POKER FACE” (LADY GAGA) (2008)

#71 “TURN UP THE RADIO” (REBA McENTIRE) (2012)

#72 “HIGHER LOVE” (KYGO & WHITNEY HOUSTON) (2019)

The original by Steve Winwood and Chaka Khan from 1986 also made my list of my favorite songs of my first 35 years — #91!

#73 “LOT OF LEAVIN’ LEFT TO DO” (DIERKS BENTLEY) (2005)

#74 “I DON’T FEEL LIKE DANCIN'” (THE SCISSOR SISTERS) (2006)

#75 “DON’T TELL ME” (MADONNA) (2000)

#76 “WHAT DO YOU MEAN?” (JUSTIN BIEBER) (2015)

#77 “BLEEDING LOVE” (LEONA LEWIS) (2007)

#78 “WORK FROM HOME” (FIFTH HARMONY) (2016)

#79 “CALL ME MAYBE” (CARLY RAE JEPSEN) (2011)

#80 “SORRY” (MADONNA) (2006)

#81 “SIT STILL LOOK PRETTY” (DAYA) (2016)

#82 “I NEED YOU” (LEANN RIMES) (2000)

#83 “CRAZY IN LOVE” (BEYONCE) (2003)

#84 “SORRY” (JUSTIN BIEBER) (2015)

#85 “FIREWORK” (KATY PERRY) (2010)

#86 “AIRWAVES” (BRETT KISSEL) (2015)

#87 “I RUN TO YOU” (LADY A) (2009)

#88 “I DIDN’T JUST COME HERE TO DANCE ” (CARLY RAE JEPSEN) (2015)

#89 “PLAY” (JENNIFER LOPEZ) (2011)

#90 “YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL” (JAMES BLUNT) (2005)

#91 “TOUCH MY BODY” (MARIAH CAREY) (2008)

#92 “CRUSH (1980 ME)” (DARREN HAYES) (2003)

#93 “MUST BE DOIN’ SOMETHIN’ RIGHT” (BILLY CURRINGTON) (2005)

#94 “HAVEN’T MET YOU YET” (MICHAEL BUBLE) (2009)

#95 “DON’T CHA” (THE PUSSYCAT DOLLS) (2005)

#96 “DON’T SAY GOODBYE” (PAULINA RUBIO) (2002)

#97 “LET ME LOVE YOU” (DJ SNAKE & JUSTIN BIEBER) (2016)

#98 “WHEN GOD FEARING WOMEN GET THE BLUES” (MARTINA McBRIDE) (2011)

#99 “RAIN” (BEN PLATT) (2019)

#100 “ON THE FLOOR” (JENNIFER LOPEZ) (2011)

Now, that’s it….

Anthony