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Movie Rental Suggestions

The February chill is sticking around through next week.

If you’re thinking of renting movies to avoid getting out in the cold, here are some that I recently saw.  With my reviews, if you’re on the fence about a movie, I might encourage or discourage you from renting them.

“THE JUDGE”

“The Judge” — fantastic storytelling and excellent acting (Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, and Vera Farmiga).

Duvall is definitely worthy of another Oscar if the buzz for Supporting Actor wasn’t so strong for J.K. Simmons for “Whiplash”.

Before this movie, I’ve never really paid that much attention to Downey Jr.’s acting, but he was flawless. And, he looks amazing for turning 50 this April.

GRADE: A

“CHEF”

A very funny and heartwarming story about a boy wanting to bond with his dad after his parents divorced.

It stars my chick crush, Sofia Vergara, but the standout is 11-year-old Emjay Anthony. His wit and puppy dog looks make you root for him and his dad to get close again.

From a culinary standpoint, pure food porn!

And, you have to watch Amy Sedaris in the deleted scenes. She had me laughing out loud.

GRADE: A

“INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS”

Oscar Isaac plays a Greenwich Village folk singer in the early-1960s.  The movie follows the ups and downs of his life over a week.

Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan co-star.

The soundtrack is incredible.  The interesting, fun tune “Please Mr. Kennedy” was nominated last year for a Golden Globe award.

And, there’s a cat in the movie that steals the show. :)

GRADE:  B+

“THE INTERVIEW”

After all of the fuss and Sony’s major screw-up in cancelling the movie’s Christmas Day 2014 release and then releasing it, “The Interview” is finally out on DVD.

While I enjoyed the movie and its juvenile humor, many of the funniest parts were in the “red band” trailer.  However, that would cheat you out of some very funny scenes in the 90-minute movie.

James Franco and Seth Rogen are a great team and after seeing some almost nudity in the movie, I’m more inspired than ever to eat healthier and lose weight this spring!

My favorite scene climaxes with Rogen’s character asking Franco’s, “what kind of porn do you watch?”

Here’s the more viewer friendly trailer for the movie.  However, while it’s very raunchy, I’d prefer you watch the red-band trailer if you’re grown up or open-minded!

GRADE:  B

“WHAT IF”

This quirky romantic comedy stars a grown-up Daniel Radcliffe (“Harry Potter”).

This is a movie that our 14-year-old daughter, Gretel, wanted to watch.  After seeing it, we told her not to date so casually like Chantry (Zoe Kazan) in the movie.

Ironically, I’ve never noticed Adam Driver (“Girls”) before in movies and now I’ve seen him in three in just the first two months of this year.  He was also in “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “This Is Where I Leave You”.

GRADE:  C+

“SPACE STATION 76″

If you like retro looking space movies that will take you back to your childhood (if you’re of a certain age), the cheesy “Space Station 76″ is for you.

It made me laugh several times, but if you want modern-day CGI, you’ll be disappointed.

GRADE: C+

“THE SKELETON TWINS”

Okay, I didn’t see this movie recently, I saw it at the end of 2015, but I’m featuring it again here because it was simply amazing and one of my favorites from last year.

Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, both of “Saturday Night Live” fame, are incredible as a brother and sister brought together again after not being in contact for ten years.

The movie is funny, sad, and thought-provoking and when Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” is featured, I bet it’ll make your “best of” list, too.

Okay, this is not a spoiler, but you still may not want to watch this until you see the movie. :)  This is for those of you that have already seen it.

GRADE:  A

Anthony

A Weekend To Warm Hearts

Valentine’s Day weekend is here and this year it comes after a Friday the 13th!

Jason

Let’s hope that Jason isn’t your partner because you’re likely not going to get roses or champagne by the crackling fire!

Roseschampagne

But, you never know, they may have cut those scenes from the “Friday the 13th” movies!

While temperatures are going to be bitterly cold in the Quad Cities this weekend, that won’t keep people away from the movie theaters for a date with Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele.

FIFTY-SHADES-TIE_720x1080

This weekend, to celebrate our sixth Valentine’s Day together, Ray is going to make his famous lasagna.  Okay, while it may not be famous, it should be because it’s delicious!

As for gifts, we have something for Gretel, our 13-year-old daughter.  As for us, we know how we feel for each other and we don’t need a gift to express that.  However, we may still pick up a box of chocolates Sunday for half price just to blow the healthy eating for a day or two!

On the other hand, I would definitely settle for a bag of the new “limited edition” Red Velvet Oreos!  Have you tried them yet?  Are they tasty?

red_velvet_oreo.0.0

And, how would this be to top off a weekend of love, Mercer’s Wine Ice Cream?

Mercers Wine Ice Cream

Yes, ice cream with actual wine.  It comes in eight incredible flavors:  Peach White Zinfandel, Strawberry Sparkling, Red Raspberry Chardonnay, Riesling, Port, Spice, Cherry Merlot, and Chocolate Cabaret.

Chocolate Cabanet Wine

The closest stores that carry it to the Quad Cities are Hy-Vee locations in Iowa City, Iowa, and Sycamore and Springfield, Illinois.

Since I won’t be driving there on this bitterly cold weekend and we do have the bottles of chocolate red wine, maybe we could mix that with ice cream and make our wine milk shakes!

Otherwise, our romantic weekend will consist of some fun adult beverages, watching movies and television, a crackling fire, and a nice family weekend.

Happy Valentine’s Day to your and yours.

If you’re single, Happy Valentine’s Day to you!  I had many of those and I didn’t mind since I could eat all of the chocolates myself — except what I shared with ABBA, my golden retriever.  Yes, I know you’re not “supposed” to give dogs chocolate, but it was in moderation!

Anthony

Beyonce Should Ask Kanye Not To Speak For Her

Was Beyonce robbed for “Album of the Year” at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards Sunday night when she lost to Beck for “Morning Phase”?

Kanye West ran up on the stage to re-enact his sabotage of Taylor Swift’s happy moment at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009 when he thought the award should have gone to Beyonce.

Kanye Beck

After the show, West angrily exclaimed, “Beck needs to respect artistry and he should’ve given his award to Beyonce.”

Beyonce-Album-Cover-750x400

Many in the industry (obviously not the Grammy voters) agree that Beck should not have won “Album of the Year”.

I don’t own any of the albums that were nominated, so I can’t say.  I know that Beck had one of the least commercial albums of the nominees, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the best.

So, did the Grammys make a mistake or was this just a major upset?

The two biggest upsets that I remember in recent memory were in the same year, 2011, when Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” lost to Arcade Fire for “Album of the Year” and when the award for “Best New Artist” was announced.

The nominees that night were Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence + the Machine, Mumford & Sons, and Esperanza Spalding.

When the envelope was opened and the winner was announced, there was a huge gasp heard around the world.

The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards - Show

The winner was jazz performer Esperanza Spalding!

I was one of the shocked people.

Did she rightfully win without ever having a radio hit?

She’s had three Top Three Jazz albums and only one of them reached the Top Ten on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart.

However, she’s now won four Grammy Awards:  That “Best New Artist” Grammy, plus two others in 2013 and one last year.

amfAR's 21st Cinema Against AIDS Gala, Presented By WORLDVIEW, BOLD FILMS, And BVLGARI: Red Carpet Arrivals

While he’s only been nominated twice and lost both times, Bieber has definitely had the most success with radio, album and single sales, concerts, etc.

Florence + the Machine has been nominated three times for Grammy Awards and still has no wins.  Meanwhile, Mumford & Sons has had 12 nominations with two wins.

And, the other “Best New Artist” nominee in 2011, Drake has amassed a total of 22 nominations and has won one Grammy Award.

Beyonce

While Beyonce would have loved to have won “Album of the Year”, she did win three Grammy Awards Sunday night to Beck’s two awards.

Two of her awards were for “Drunk in Love” with her husband, Jay-Z.

Overall, Beyonce is the most nominated woman in Grammy Awards history with 53 and she’s won a total of 20 Grammy Awards, the second most honored woman in Grammy history.

Kanye Beck

Here’s the rest of West’s comment about Beck and Beyonce, “I just know that the Grammys, if they want real artists to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us. We ain’t gonna play with them no more. And Beck needs to respect artistry and he should’ve given his award to Beyoncé.”

Grammy Awards, listen up!

West is a sore loser and he wasn’t even up for the award.  Maybe you should not invite him back next year.

Bring Beyonce and Beck back to the party, but lose Kanye’s invitation in the mail next year.

Anthony

 

 

My Fantasies Don’t Involve Football Leagues

I’m not really going to talk about the kind of fantasies that might involve Christian Grey (“Fifty Shades of Grey”) or since I mentioned football, Tom Brady.  Not that those would be bad, but…

Tom-Brady

Okay, minds out of the gutters.

Recently, I was talking about all of the “residencies” in Las Vegas, the ones coming up, and the “rumored” ones in the works.

Back in October 2012, I was fortunate to see the one of the best entertainers in music, Sir Elton John in “The Million Dollar Piano” at Caesars Palace.

Elton LasVegas

And, then last May, I saw Shania Twain at Caesars Palace.

Shania

And the night before I saw Shania, I saw Olivia Newton-John at the Flamingo.

Olivia

In addition to those “residencies”, I saw Madonna on my birthday in October 2012 at the MGM Grand.

Madonna

And, we saw Lady Gaga there on her “Born This Way Ball” Tour in January 2013 just three weeks before an injury, that required surgery, forced the cancellation of the rest of the tour.

Gaga Las Vegas

That was then and this is now.

Britney Spears is now playing a residency at Planet Hollywood and coming this summer at Caesars Palace, Mariah Carey will begin a residency in May and Reba and Brooks & Dunn will start in June.

Reba 2011

I absolutely adore Reba and I’ve seen her in concert twelve (yes, that’s 12) times and I met her ten years ago this April.

While I get lost in her beautiful voice, I would love to see Reba’s concerts in Vegas go back to the glitzy productions of costume changes, dancers, and various sets like when I first saw her in Chicago in 1995 and Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1996.

Every time since those first two shows, it was Reba in a no (or very few) frills concert — just her and her beautiful voice.

Reba’s new show with Brooks & Dunn is already selling out months in advance.

And, recently, it was announced that “The Boss” Diana Ross would be performing a nine-show engagement this spring at The Venetian.

The hotel is trying to become a competitive concert venue for residencies after a successful show with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

Also, hushed rumors on “The Strip” say that talks are in the works for residencies for Ricky Martin, Lionel Richie, and the subject of today’s fantasy (see, I’m back to that again).

NO, MY FIRST NAME AIN’T BABY, IT’S JANET, MISS JACKSON, IF YOU’RE NASTY

Just the other day, I was saying that I’d love to see Janet Jackson in a residency in Vegas and then I see an article that she might be close to signing a deal with either The Venetian or Planet Hollywood when Britney’s “Piece of Me” show is on hiatus.

It’s also rumored that Miss Jackson will be dropping a new album in 2015.

I have two of Janet’s concert VHS tapes (no typo there, VHS — not DVD): “The Velvet Rope Tour” and “Live in Hawaii”.

Now, here’s where my ultimate fantasy comes in, as if seeing Janet for the first time in concert wouldn’t be enough.

Janet-Jackson-And-Paula-Abdul

Before Miss Jackson takes the stage, special guest Paula Abdul, Janet’s former choreographer, would come out and do a 20-minute set of her high-energy dance and pop radio hits from the late-1980s and early-1990s.  And, it would have to include “Rush Rush”!

At this point, my imagination runs away from me.  As Paula wraps up her set, either in a special effects hologram or on the concert monitors, Paula and Janet are in a diner in the current day and you hear:

“What’s up girl?
He stood me up again
Again?
Mmhmm
Well what’s up with this guy?
Do you really like him that much?
Yes honey, I love him, he is fine,
he does a lot of nice things for me I know he used to do nice stuff for you,
but what has he done for you lately?

And, then the arena explodes with a fabulous light show and Janet kicking off a magical show with “What Have You Done For Me Lately”!

I can’t remember how many times my friend, Steve, and I did this video routine over the years getting ready to go out for a night of clubbing!

And, one final note about Vegas, concerts, and holograms.

I recently read that a new concert with a “hologram” Liberace is coming to town.

If that’s successful, I have one suggestion Vegas  — get Richard Carpenter on the line and bring the angelic-voiced Karen Carpenter back to life and back to the stage soon!

As you can tell, I’m obsessed with shows in Vegas.  There it isn’t just a concert, it is magic!

Don’t tell Ray, but I’ll be working on convincing him to retire to Las Vegas in a few years.

Anthony

It’s Still Snowing Sunday Afternoon

I admit late Saturday evening and early Saturday night, I was getting a little panic-stricken when it was still raining in parts of the Quad Cities.  But, with the “winter wonderland” out there today, I shouldn’t have been worrying so much.

Snowy Moline

 

Be very careful on area streets, roads, and interstates because of the accumulated snow and the winds picking up which is causing considerable blowing and drifting snow.  This is Interstate 280 East mid-afternoon Sunday.

I 280 East

It is still snowing across Iowa and Illinois Sunday afternoon and while the heaviest snow is now shifting east of the Quad Cities, a couple more inches of snow could accumulate before it ends tonight.

Afternoon Radar

Here are the forecast amounts I was calling on Saturday with this incoming storm.

Weekend Snowstorm 13115

I also added, “Remember that with any snow event, there could be isolated higher totals in any of these ranges.”

Through 6 p.m., the official total is 13.5″ for Moline (IL); 13.1″ Davenport (IA), and 12.4″ Dubuque (IA).  These will be updated again at midnight.

These totals are from the National Weather Service and their trained weather spotters across eastern Iowa and northern Illinois.

15.3″ Princeton (IL); 15.1″ Sterling (IL); 14.2″ Erie (IL); 13.8″ Le Claire (IA); 13.0″ Anamosa (IA); 12.2″ Rock Falls (IL); 12.0″ Iowa City (IA); 12.0″ Washington (IA); 12.0″ Charlotte (IA); 11.0″ Park View (IA); 10.5″ Mount Carroll (IL); 9.5″ Rock Island (IL); ; 9.0″ Morrison (IL); 8.8″ Muscatine (IA); 8.8″ Galva (IL); and 8.3″ Iowa City (IA).

I’ll have your complete weather forecast bright and early Monday morning on “CBS4 News This Morning” beginning at 5 a.m. — if I can make it into work.

Anthony

 

 

 

Heavy Snow Arrives Saturday Night & Sunday

Happy Saturday!

I hope you’re stocked up on whatever you might need to wait out this weekend’s snowstorm.  If not, you still have until early Saturday afternoon.

This is going to short and sweet if you like snow.

Heavy snow is on the way Saturday evening through Sunday evening and some hometowns may have a foot of new snow on the ground by the time it ends late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

WSWARN

A “Winter Storm Warning” has been issued for all of eastern Iowa and northern Illinois from Saturday evening through early Sunday night for heavy snow this weekend and gusty winds, considerable blowing and drifting snow, and falling temperatures Sunday.

A rain and snow mix will begin early Saturday afternoon across our southern hometowns and it will move northward and quickly change over to snow.

Moderate to heavy snow is likely for about a 12-hour period Saturday night into early Sunday.

This is the where the GFS has the storm system at 6 a.m. Sunday.  The darker shades of green show where the moderate to heavy snow will be falling.

6AM SUNDAY GFS UPDATE

Now, let’s talk snow amounts.

The storm has made another shift to the north in the overnight hours, so that means that the heaviest snow will also shift northward out of central Illinois, which was the thinking Friday night.

For simplicity’s sake, 6-12″ of snow are possible with this storm from Saturday evening through late Sunday night or early Monday morning!

Weekend Snowstorm 13115

In the Quad Cities, I’m expecting around 10″ of snow.

Right along Interstate 80 and to the north, that’s where the heaviest snow will fall.  Amounts of 8-12″ are likely.

If you live south of I-80, you’re still going to be heavy snow.  Amounts of 6-10″ will fall there.

Remember that with any snow event, there could be isolated higher totals in any of these ranges.

LAST TIME WE SAW THIS MUCH

If we pick up more than 8.3″ of snow in the Quad Cities from this storm, it’ll be the biggest storm since that much fell back on February 26 and 27, 2013.

And, it was four years ago today (on the calendar) that a three-day snowstorm started in the Quad Cities that would bring 18.4″ of snow to the area, tying a 1979 snowstorm for the biggest snow event in Quad Cities history.

Groundhog Blizzard of 2011

In that 2011 storm, 14.8″ of that 18.4″ total fell on February 1st alone.

BOTTOM LINE…

This is a dangerous situation unfolding with heavy snow, strong winds Sunday approaching 40 miles-per-hour, and considerable blowing and drifting snow.

Additionally, by Monday morning, temperatures will be near zero and wind chills will be much colder.  Monday’s highs will only be in the teens.

Since all of the pieces of the puzzle are in place, this is my only post today — unless something drastic and unforeseen happens.

Be safe and have a great weekend!

Anthony

P.S.  I’d like to thank my friends at the National Weather Service offices for the “Winter Storm Warning” base maps. :)

Saturday & Sunday Snowstorm

It’s been a tough week for meteorologists, especially those in the Northeast.

They were battered more by the public than by snow when a “historic” blizzard was not as widespread as originally forecast.  Nevertheless, some locations picked up more than two feet of snow and saw wind gusts above hurricane force of 74 miles-per-hour.

Back at home, in the Midwest, all week I’ve been advertising a weekend snow event that could be a little bit of snow if the northern and southern jet streams stayed north and south, respectively, or several inches to a nice, shovelable snow if the jets merged near Iowa and Illinois.

It seemed like every computer model run contradicted the previous run.  Finally, Friday morning, less than 36 hours before the snow commenced, more consistency prompted me to go with this snowfall projection.

OLD SNOWFALL PROJECTIONS

AP Morning Forecast

After analyzing data Friday afternoon, I believe that we’ll see even more snow that I was thinking this morning!

Here’s what me and my cohort in crime, CBS4 Chief Meteorologist Andy McCray and I are thinking for snowfall totals.

NEW SNOWFALL PROJECTIONS

NEW snowfall forecast

It now looks like 4-6″ of snow will fall across our northwestern hometowns, 6-8″ for much of the area, including the Quad Cities.

Some locations to the southeast of the metro area could see closer to 10″ of snow!  Also, remember with any snowstorm, isolated higher totals are possible.

TIMING OF THE STORM

Precipitation should begin Saturday afternoon first across our southern hometowns as a rain and snow mix.  By evening, it will continue to move northward and quickly change over to snow.

Snow is likely Saturday night into early Sunday with moderate to heavy intensity snow falling, especially from the Quad Cities southward.

This is GFS forecast map for 6 a.m. Sunday with the moderate to heavy snow in the darker shades of green.

6am Sunday GFS

In addition to the heavy accumulation of snow, the winds will become blustery and that will cause blowing snow to make driving even more difficult.

WSW

Around midday Friday, the Quad Cities’ National Weather Service office issued a “Winter Storm Watch” from Saturday evening through Sunday evening.

If the snowfall projections look certain by early Saturday morning, I suspect that the “Watch” will be upgraded to a “Winter Storm Warning” for the counties expecting the heavier snow.

WHERE WE STAND NOW ON SNOWFALL

As of today, January 30th, we’re up to 19.1″ of snow this winter, which is about where we should be at this point in the season (19.6″).  It’s a far cry from where we were at last year at this time (32.5″).

THINK BACK TO FOUR YEARS AGO!

It could be worse if you don’t like snow.

Groundhog Blizzard of 2011

Tomorrow’s start of the snow marks the four-year anniversary of the beginning of the big three-day snowstorm that ended on Groundhog Day 2011.

After picking up 1.9″ January 31st, an astounding 14.8″ fell on February 1st, and concluded with 1.9″ on February 2nd.

That 18.4″ storm tied the largest single storm in Quad City weather history.  The other one was in January 1979.

AND, IF ALL ELSE FAILS….

If, for some reason (and I don’t think this will happen), the snow doesn’t materialize, we could declare Sunday as “French Toast Day” to use up all the eggs, bread, and milk stores sold in advance of the storm!

Eggs Milk Bread

And, toilet paper doesn’t want to be forgotten!

This is my last update of the night unless something drastic comes in on the late evening model runs.  Otherwise, I’ll post an update Saturday morning.

Have a great weekend.

Anthony

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