Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The 4 Fs of Our Future — Fantasy, Frustration, Fear, & F***!

Earlier this year, even as people were dying at an alarming rate from the COVID-19 pandemic, I saw a glimmer of hope.

Vaccinations were showing promise of success and would be made available free of charge to Americans. In March, I got my first Moderna shot.

A month later, I got my second shot and two weeks after that, I was fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

What does that mean? Well, it means that the vaccination is not 100% effective. Nothing is — except death! How morbid, but true.

However, it meant that while I could still get COVID-19, I’d probably not die from it or end up in the hospital. I loved that sense of security.

So, back in March, four months ago, I started thinking about all that I’ve missed since the pandemic brought life to a standstill in 2020.

The “new normal” meant that I’d finally get to meet people across Central Illinois, go on dates, and maybe fall in love again.

I’d get to have people over for dinner, host holiday parties, socialize, and enjoy the nightlife (if I chose to do so)!

Professionally, I could emcee and attend fundraisers and bid in silent auctions!

That vaccination turning point also opened up the world again for domestic and international travel.

Concerts also started being announced, which meant that I might finally get to see Kylie Minogue live on tour.

All of that optimism, all of that excitement, all of that, just a figment of my imagination — a fantasy???

Well, it could be!!!

In mid-May, here in the U.S., about 36% of American adults were fully vaccinated and 47% had gotten at least one shot. It was so encouraging.

Now, more than two months later, the number of those getting vaccinated have hit a roadblock!

Fully vaccinated adults has stalled at 60% (those with one shot stands at 68%).

COVID-19 cases are now on the rise in all 50 states.

In just the past two weeks, the number of new COVID-19 cases has tripled and restrictions are going back in place!

That’s from earlier this week from Clark County, Nevada, which includes Las Vegas, a new COVID-19 hot spot!!!

Officials in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Hawaii are warning people NOT to travel to Las Vegas!

Well, I’m now thoroughly disappointed and I hope I don’t upset your sensitivities and sensibilities!

For those that refuse to get vaccinated and take precautions, Debra Morgan of “Dexter” says it best!

That may sound harsh, but I want a life again! And, I’m sure you do, too!

My thoughts this summer of turning the corner with the COVID-19 pandemic was like the final scene of “Longtime Companion”, one of the first critically acclaimed and awarded movies dealing with the AIDS epidemic.

Three of the main characters were pontificating (I love that word) about wanting to be there when they found a cure for AIDS. They got lost in the moment and fantasized about seeing their friends again that they’d lost to AIDS.

Like Willy, Fuzzy, and Lisa, I just want to be there and have a life again after COVID-19!

GET VACCINATED PEOPLE!

Anthony

Dying To Live: Death Sentence 1981 ≠ Undetectable 2021

Hate is an awfully strong word and I try very hard not to use it. 

I’m human and there are some people, living and dead, that I do hate or that I have hated.

Ronald Reagan, one of the most popular and beloved presidents, is one of those people.

More on that in a moment, but we’ve hit a milestone in the United States.

While it likely started in the late-1970s, a new disease was introduced to the public this week in 1981 — an epidemic that ended up killing hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, friends and lovers.

And, for many years, it was ignored by the U.S. president (Reagan) and the government!

These days, those deaths are still happening for people that are diagnosed too late or that don’t have access to life-saving and costly drugs (without insurance). However, with proper medication and healthier living, HIV (and AIDS) is now a livable condition that’s more of a medical inconvenience.

But, let’s flashback to the spring and early summer of 1981. 

Doctors in New York and California started noticing that some of their young, gay patients were coming in with weakened immune systems and were developing pneumonia and cancer.

On July 5, 1981, “The New York Times” published one of the first articles on this new disease that didn’t even have a name. In 1982, it was incorrectly labeled “GRID” (gay-related immune deficiency) — how homophobic and ignorant!

While the Times was one of the first to mention this “rare cancer”, the U.S. media, including the Times, did a poor job getting the message out about this new fatal disease.

“GRID” was changed to “AIDS” (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) once doctors realized that it didn’t only affect gay men.

The early 1980s was a scary time because there was so much that doctors didn’t know and this led to fear and misconceptions about how you could get it.

It’s taken me almost 30 years, but I can now say that I no longer hate Ronald Reagan! 

I’ve always questioned his legacy. At the time, I would have loved to ask him about his actions, or lack of actions, in the 1980s that led to my hateful feelings toward him. 

While AIDS (unnamed at the time) was identified in the summer of 1981, President Reagan didn’t mention the deadly disease publicly until a press conference, years later, in 1985.

That same year, teenager Ryan White, a hemophiliac who contracted the disease through a blood transfusion, was barred from his Indiana school.

And, actor Rock Hudson died of AIDS, making him the highest profile person to succumb to the disease and his face became synonymous with AIDS in the years to come.

Still, nothing from the White House! President Reagan didn’t give his first speech on AIDS until early 1987, almost six years into the epidemic! 

His ignorance, his fear of AIDS, and the government’s slow reaction to fighting the disease in the 1980s led to the deaths of more than 90,600 people, mostly gay men, in the United States that decade.

HOPE — THE FIRST ROUND OF MEDS

In 1987, AZT, the first AIDS drug was introduced and ACT UP, an activist group, formed to protest the $10,000/year price tag.

In the years to come, more medications would become available — the drug “cocktails” in the mid-1990s were more effective, but patients would take up to 60 pills daily!

In 2006-2007, it was estimated that the cost of extending the life of an HIV patient for 24 years was $618,900!

HIV & AIDS — 40 YEARS LATER

Today, some 38 million people are living with HIV worldwide.

Of that number, as of 2018, 1.2 million are Americans. Sadly, more than one-in-ten don’t even know it! GET TESTED!

Over the 40 years since AIDS became public, 35 million people have died worldwide.

700,000 were Americans with gay men and transgender women making up about 79% of that staggering number.

Four decades later, by the grace of God, I’m still HIV-negative, but I have friends that are positive and I’ve know people that have died of AIDS.

Thankfully, we now have drugs, when taken properly, make it IMPOSSIBLE to spread the virus!

National Institute of Health: “U=U means that people living with HIV who achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load—the amount of HIV in the blood—by taking and adhering to antiretroviral therapy (ART) as prescribed cannot sexually transmit the virus to others.”

FINAL THOUGHTS ON MY IMPRESSIONABLE YEARS

I was 16-years-old when the first AIDS cases went public and I became sexually active in the 1980s as fear and hate spread across the world toward gay people because of the disease.

It’s hard not to dislike (or hate) the man running the country when people in your community were dying a very painful death and the government dragged its feet. 

My views of President Reagan didn’t soften any in the 1990s as I headed into my 20s and then my 30s seeing more and more people contract HIV and develop AIDS. 

We witnessed the resistance of religious leaders, school officials, and parents to educate kids about safe sex — they thought abstinence would keep children safe (it would, but it’s not a reality when hormones are raging)!  That mentality started in the 1980s during the uptight, conservative regime of Reagan.

While there may never be a cure for HIV and AIDS, those that get HIV can now, at least, lead a more “normal” life.

This hope made me look closer at Reagan.  As he grew older and Alzheimer’s disease robbed him of his mind, I knew that no matter how much I despised him, it couldn’t bring back all of the people that AIDS killed.

I asked myself, “how he could be so calm and collected and be so ignorant during the early years of AIDS?” 

The truth is that he probably had so many people telling him what to do and what to avoid saying because his political base didn’t want to hear about the disease those “queers” were spreading! Middle and upper class white, heterosexual couples didn’t think it affected them!

I now realize it’s time for me to move on and to find peace with the man who had many faults.  What man doesn’t?  I can’t forgive him, but I no longer hate him. We can’t change history and the government’s inaction in the 1980s with AIDS. 

While I can’t ask President Reagan what he was thinking when he ignored the disease for so long, I hope that the former president and all of the men, women, and children that died of AIDS during his presidency (and since) can come to peace with each other in that higher place.

When I finally make it to heaven, I hope I see Reagan hanging out with the more than 700,000 Americans that have died of AIDS — the majority of them gay men.

However, in heaven, all would be forgiven and I could see Ronald Reagan at a disco or a tea dance with all those that suffered during his presidency and all that succumbed to AIDS in the 33 years after he left office.

“AND THE BAND PLAYED ON”

I just re-read Randy Shilts’ enlightening history of the first years of the AIDS epidemic about the failure of the American government which led to so many people dying.

While San Francisco was believed to be the AIDS capital of the U.S., there were far more cases and deaths of AIDS in New York City.

Mayor Ed Koch and Dr. David Sencer, the city’s health commissioner, failed miserably in providing for those in the fight in the early years.

The only real help was coming from the Gay Men’s Health Crisis center, which was founded by the iconic advocate Larry Kramer.

If reading a 600-page book about the AIDS epidemic may be too much for you, the 1993 Emmy-winning movie of the same name, with an all-star cast, is incredible.

“THE GREAT BELIEVERS”

This 2018 book by Rebecca Makkai is amazing!

It tells the story of how the AIDS epidemic decimated Chicago’s gay community in the early-1980s. While fiction, it felt so real — especially if you or your friends lived through that era watching your friends die.

Makkai’s story is so well researched and touching. It had you rooting for characters that you knew were doomed by the “gay cancer” and President Ronald Reagan’s blind eye.

The book isn’t just about a group of friends dying and struggling to stay alive in 1985 Chicago. It also takes you to 2015 Paris and ties the two stories and timelines together!

As a former Chicago transplant (I lived there two years in the 1990s and two more years in the early-2000s), it was fun hearing the names of places I hadn’t thought about in years (Nookie’s and Ann Sather).

Amy Poehler is adapting the book into a television series. I can’t wait to see who is cast as Yale, my favorite character. As I was reading it, I could definitely see Yale in my younger self!

“The Great Believers” is the best fiction book I’ve read in the past year!

“LONGTIME COMPANION”

And, for those of you that may not have seen it, 1990’s “Longtime Companion” is still one of my favorite movies of all time.

It was one of the first widely recognized theatrically-released movies (mainstream) that dealt with AIDS in the 1980s. It earned a Golden Globe Award for acting for Bruce Davidson and he also earned an Oscar nomination.

Thank you for taking the time travel down this road 40 years later!

Be safe and play safe!

Peace!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — June 11, 2021

Where does the time go? I can’t believe we’re already heading into the middle of June already.

I guess for those of us that love fall and winter, that’s a good thing. 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to check out my random thoughts.

CONQUERING THE MEDIA WORLD!

I make my living as a television meteorologist — I get paid to talk about the weather!

Now I’m branching out and it all started by walking off calories around Lake Decatur — while reading a book! 🙂

In May 2020, a month after arriving in Central Illinois, Clay Jackson featured a photo of me walking and reading in Decatur’s Herald & Review newspaper.

Almost a year later, I was approached for a feature story in the paper’s “Together Decatur” column with reporter Donnette Beckett. (This photo is from Clay Jackson and the Herald & Review.)

The article raised my visibility as “that guy that walks around the lake reading a book”!

The newspaper story led to a twice monthly 10-15 minute Friday morning radio appearance on Talk 101 FM on the “Busboom & Wolfe” show to talk about what I’m reading.

The first two topics were former vice presidents Herbert Humphrey and Walter Mondale and the AIDS epidemic which became public 40 years ago this summer.

And, later this summer or early fall, I’ll be doing a weekly segment on our morning show about what I’m reading!

Isn’t it funny that something I started doing in the summer of 2017 in Panama City, Florida (walking outdoors while reading), is leading to other media ventures.

And, it all started as a healthy way to eat my desserts and junk food and keep the weight off!

TAKE A BITE OUT OF PRIDE

While I make beautiful and tasty cheesecakes, the thought of decorating and icing a cake terrifies me!

I wish I was talented enough to make this fun Pride cake!

PRIDE MONTH FUNNY

I found this postcard some time back in the 1990s and I feel this is a perfect time to share it. 🙂

Happy Pride Month 🏳️‍🌈 to my LGBTQ and “straight, but not narrow” friends!

YOUNGER”

It’s hard to believe that the amazingly funny and touching TVLand series “Younger” is now over after seven great seasons (the longest running original series in the network’s history).

Sutton Foster (Liza) is so incredible, charming, and beautiful. Her chemistry with Hilary Duff (Kelsey) and Molly Bernard (Lauren) (so insanely brass and funny) made the show.

And, then there’s Nico Tortorella (Josh)!

No other words are needed except I need to find a man in his 40s or 50s like Nico!

Also, the addition of Steven Young (Rob) was a treat!

SEASON SEVEN FINAL THOUGHT: I was a little saddened that one of the funniest characters of the first six seasons only made ONE appearance in the last season and it was via Skype or Zoom or something!

SERIES FINALE FINAL THOUGHT: I was bummed that a certain regular character didn’t show up until almost the end. WTH?

But, how it ended was just how I wanted it to end!!! It gives me hope for love! I won’t say which team I was always on, but when see the finale, you’ll know! 🙂

If you’ve never seen the comedy/drama, here’s the trailer for the first season.

SERIES GRADE: A

ONE LAST “YOUNGER” NOTE

My favorite line in the series finale was from Maggie (Debi Mazer), Liza’s best friend and lesbian roommate:

“I don’t understand straight people, you’re crazier than the gays!”

“JOHN WAYNE GACY: DEVIL IN DISGUISE”

As I’ve stated before, I find serial killers and cults fascinating.

Although I read “Killer Clown” many years ago, I just finished watching Peacock’s six-part documentary about serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who killed, at least, 33 young men and boys in the Chicago area in the 1970s.

Of those, 26 were buried in the crawl space of his home!

As a 14-year-old kid in western Kentucky, six hours south of Chicago, when the story broke, I was petrified to think that there were people like Gacy that preyed on young boys like myself!

While Gacy’s story isn’t new, what made this series intriguing is that it featured a long interview with Gacy himself!

And, of course, this infamous May 1978 picture with then-First Lady Rosalynn Carter was featured. It was taken at the annual Polish Constitution Day Parade in Chicago, which Gacy helped organize.

To put this timeline into perspective, this was seven months before we’d learn he was a suspected serial killer. (I only say “suspected”, because he was arrested in December and wasn’t convicted yet!)

One final note and quote from the series: About sleeping in the same house with his last victim’s body in the other room (15-year-old Robert Piest), Gacy told the interviewer, “The dead won’t bother you.  It’s the living you have to worry about.”

HOW DEMENTED IS THIS?

While in prison to pass the time before his 1994 execution, Gacy painted and was able to collect money from them until the mid-1980s.

Some sold for as much as $20,000!

There’s one that I really want. Well, I’d take a replica!

BEST RECENT LAS VEGAS HEADLINE

Now that more of the U.S. is opening up for business again, I absolutely love this April 2021 Las Vegas Sun headline!

At least one of my favorites is making a comeback!

I mean, really, who wants a buffet and bottomless mimosas? 🙂

Laughing, joking, kidding! 🙂 I do!

TAKING A SHORT BREAK!

Thank you for always checking out my thoughts. See you soon!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — June 4, 2021

The first five months of 2021 are now behind us and it’s “unofficially” summer. For those that prefer the warmer months, enjoy (and enjoy them for me)! 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to check out what’s on my mind this week!

HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

Cheers!

And, here’s to the amazing transgender women, gay men, lesbians, and allies, who had had enough of police brutality and the bulls–t at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in 1969 and rebelled!!!

It’s because of you that Gay Pride parades started in 1970 on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots!

“PRIDE”

Just in time for Gay Pride month, I watched the amazing new six-episode FX/Hulu series “Pride”, which chronicles the LGBTQ movement, decade by decade — from the 1950s to 2000s.

A few interesting things I learned:

  • After Joseph McCarthy’s “red scare” (Communist hunt) faltered in the 1950s, he moved on to outing gays working for the federal government.  In the “Lavender Scare”, President Eisenhower fired thousands of federal gay employees because they were a “security risk”.

This is rather ironic since J. Edgar Hoover, a self-loathing, closeted homosexual was the head of the FBI! I usually don’t like using the word “homosexual”, even though it was widely used then, because it’s outdated and clinical, but it serves the scumbag Hoover well!

  • In the 1960s, bartenders could be arrested for serving gays an alcoholic drink!
  • The Gay Liberation Front started in 1969. As lesbians became more vocal in the fight, the “gay” community became the “gay and lesbian” community. It wasn’t until the 1990s when “bi” and “transgender” became widely acceptable in the “LGBT” acronym.
  • And, finally, in the 1970s author Betty Friedan (“The Feminine Mystique”) was very homophobic and she thought lesbians would take over the women’s movement. She called it the “Lesbian Menace”! Luckily, lesbians rebelled against her.

“Pride” is an incredible documentary!  

WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM!

Well, maybe not all since there are lactose intolerant people and some others are just weird. 🙂

Now that it’s warming up (winter is good for ice cream, too), here are a few fun facts about Dairy Queen:

Texas has more Dairy Queens than any other state (more than 600) and you can find a Dairy Queen in 30 countries across the world.

“Thrillist” says the largest Dairy Queen is a two-story, 7,500 square foot restaurant in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

In the U.S., the largest is right here in Central Illinois, in Bloomington, Illinois. Meanwhile, the world’s busiest location in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

The concept of soft serve ice cream came in 1938 by John Fremont McCullough and his son Bradley. Two years later, they partnered with ice cream shop owner Sherb Noble to open the first Dairy Queen in Joliet, Illinois!

But, Dairy Queen doesn’t serve “ice cream” since the soft-serve doesn’t “qualify”!

The company says, “To be categorized as ice cream, the minimum butterfat content must be 10 percent, and our soft-serve has only 5 percent butterfat.” 

While Oreo is the most popular Blizzard flavor in the United States, it’s Green Tea in China!

“SUPERNOVA”

This LGBTQ drama, now on Hulu, is about Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci), a couple that’s been together for 20 years.

They’re traveling through the English countryside to be together to deal with Tusker’s early onset of dementia.

After a very slow start, the movie becomes very touching midway through when they attend a surprise dinner party with family and longtime friends.

GRADE: B

GAY FOR PAY

Both Firth and Tucci have played gay characters before. There was a time in not so long ago-Hollywood when actors (gay, straight, or closeted) were afraid of taking gay roles.

They feared it would end their box office appeal.

In today’s age, it’s almost sacrilegious for an LGBTQ role to go to a straight actor. This is especially true for transgendered roles.

I’m really torn about this.

As a gay actor, you want to be believable playing a straight character. Yet, there are those that want LGBTQ characters played only by LGBTQ actors.

I’m really behind this in transgender roles because under our LGBTQ umbrella, the most slighted group is the “T” (and yes, “B”, you’re right up there, too!)

Thank you “Pose” for the most impressive trans cast ever on television!

THEY SAID WHAT???

JAKE BORELLI (openly gay actor who plays the gay Dr. Levi Schmitt on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy”): “Actors are trained, hopefully, to be able to play something that is not themselves. I think it starts to become a double standard when you say that straight people can’t play gay roles, because then the flip side of that double standard is that gay people can’t play straight roles — and I don’t think that is correct.”

“PRODIGAL SON”

While I totally enjoyed the premise of this Fox series — a serial killer’s (unstable) son is a criminal profiler for the New York City Police Department and he needs to consult his dad, at times, about cases.

Midway through season two, I made the decision to stop watching it after the season two finale.

This also happened with “NOS4A2”.

Well, I didn’t have to go through with it since both were cancelled after the second season!

Ironically, the last six episodes of “Prodigal Son” were incredible and the shocking season finale that may well act as the series finale was very rewarding!

However, the silliest thing about the whole series is that Malcolm’s younger sister, Ainsley, was the top reporter in New York City!!!

The character was so unbelievable as a reporter in the biggest television market in the country! But, I do love the actress, Halston Sage.

EMMY NOMINATIONS

Now that the Memorial Day deadline has passed, this year’s Emmy nominations will be announced on July 13th!

I seriously think that Oscar and Tony Award winner Catherine Zeta-Jones (“Chicago”) should get a nomination in the “Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series” category for her role as Dr. Vivian Capshaw in “Prodigal Son”!

Her character was very understated in the first few episodes in her seven-episode run, but boy when it was revealed who/what she really was, get out of the way!

I especially loved her final scene with Bellamy Young (“Scandal”)!

The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony is scheduled for September 19th on CBS.

FINAL DAIRY QUEEN TIDBITS

In the past two decades, the restaurant chain earned two entries into the Guinness World Records.

It created the world’s largest Blizzard in 2005 which weighed 8260.85 pounds!

And, in 2011, in Canada, it made the biggest ice cream cake in Toronto, Ontario — a 20,000 pound sponge cake with vanilla ice cream topped with crushed Oreo cookies! I hope my Canadian friends got to sample it. 🙂

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — May 28, 2021

For those of us celebrating the “holiday”, I say “Happy Memorial Day weekend”!

For the men and women in our Armed Forces that died during their military duties to keep us safe, I say, “thank you”!

And, for those checking out my random thoughts this week, I appreciate it.

NEW CDC GUIDELINES

More states are relaxing their mandates with the drop in COVID-19 cases in the United States.

Concerts are happening again, businesses are going back to 100%, and more stores are allowing customers without having to wear masks.

While I’m fully vaccinated, I’m still going to wear my mask into stores, in indoor public places, and in heavier populated areas until more of America is fully vaccinated!

Sorry, not sorry! 🙂

What are your thoughts? Will you continue to rock the mask or ditch it?

DOGS IN BANGKOK

Thailand is taking a new approach after a recent surge in COVID-19 cases — using dogs to sniff out Coronavirus!

Angel, Bobby and Bravo are three of six Labrador Retrievers trained by veterinary researchers at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok to sniff out a unique odor in people’s sweat produced by Coronavirus!

The three have tested thousands of samples in May from college staff, students and people outside the university.

After a few seconds of sniffing sweat samples in metal containers, the dogs can tell which people have the virus. If the test sample is positive, the dog will sit in front of it!

Another reason to love dogs!

“BORN THIS WAY” TURNS 10

Can you believe that Lady Gaga released her iconic album, “Born This Way”, ten years ago this week?

Where does time go?

The Grammy-nominated album topped the charts around the world and went on to sell more than six million copies.

The first release, the title track, hit #1 all across the world and spent six weeks at the top in the U.S. Worldwide, it sold more than 10 million, making it one of the best selling singles of all time!

Three other singles from the album, “Judas”, “The Edge of Glory”, and “You & I” all reached the Top Ten in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100.

“BETTY FORD”

Lisa McCubbin’s 2018 biography, subtitled “First Lady, Women’s Advocate”, Survivor, Trailblazer”, is amazing!

Many know the former First Lady because of her addiction to alcohol and prescription medication that led to her time in a recovery program and for starting the Betty Ford Clinic in 1982.

What an incredible woman! I would have loved to have met her!

Here are a few things I learned from McCubbin’s book:

  • When President Ford took over for Nixon, he and Betty still lived in their Alexandria, Virginia, home for a period. On his first day on the job, he came home to a small party with ham, salad, lasagna, and champagne.

As Betty took a tray of lasagna out of the oven, she replied, “Jerry, something’s wrong here. You’re president of the United States and I’m still cooking.”

  • Betty Ford was known for speaking honestly and candidly, whether the topic was the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), abortion, marijuana, or pre-marital sex. After giving an interview with “McCall’s” magazine asking her some very personal questions, Betty responded, “They’ve asked me everything but how often I sleep with my husband and if they’d asked me that, I would have told them: as often as possible!”

“ARMY OF THE DEAD”

Zack Snyder’s “Army of the Dead” is finally here and to no one’s surprise, it was the most watched movie of the weekend on Netflix!

I’ve been so excited ever since I heard about it. It’s a heist movie featuring two things I love — Las Vegas and zombies.

Maybe I was too excited for it! While enjoyable, I was a little surprised with its 2.5 hour running time.

It was definitely over the top with violence (great for a zombie movie), but there were several parts that could have been cut. A two-hour running time would have worked better.

My favorites characters were Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick) and Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer).

And, of course, the “G–damned zombie tiger”, which the story tells was part of Siegfried & Roy’s show!

Would I watch it again? Maybe.

I definitely recommend it, but Snyder’s 2004 remake of “Dawn of the Dead” was better!

By the way, a follow-up prequel, “Army of Thieves”, has already been shot! It was directed by actor Schweighöfer, who stars in both movies.

GRADE: B

“JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH”

This 2021 drama is the story of Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in Chicago in the late-1960s.

He was betrayed by William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield), an FBI informant.

While Kaluuya won every Best Supporting Actor award for his performance, I really think that Stanfield, who was also nominated in the Oscar category with Kaluuya, deserved it more!

“Judas” picked up six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and came away with two wins — Kaluuya’s acting award and the other for Best Original Song.

GRADE: B

ANOTHER OSCAR THOUGHT (OR TWO)

While Kaluuya was great in “Judas and the Black Messiah”, I thought that his co-star, Stanfield, should have won the Oscar after seeing the movie.

I felt the same way after seeing all of the nominees in the Best Actress category. Frances McDormand won for “Nomadland”.

Maybe it’s just that Kaluuya and McDormand are just so incredible and subtle that I just expect so much from them that I overlooked both to win the Oscar.

Oh, by the way, I picked Carey Mulligan in “Promising Young Woman” for Best Actress. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s fantastic and I want to see it again.

When I graded it earlier this year, I gave it an “A”!

“STARSTRUCK”

Regular readers of my blog already know that Kylie Minogue’s “Disco” was my favorite album of 2020. I still listen to it several times a week!!!

I’m excited that Kylie is working on releasing an extended version of the critically acclaimed album later this week.

If I were a gambling man (and I am), I’d venture to say that a “Disco Tour” will also be announced for 2022! 🙂

Ahead of the “new” album, Kylie joined Olly Alexander for a remake of the “Years & Years” hit, “Starstruck”, which I expect on the new album!

Here’s the lyric video and the song.

🎶 If I could bottle you up, I would sip you like cosmic juice”! 🎶

Happy Birthday 🎂 Kylie!!!!!!!! 🍾🥂🌼🌷

“CASTLE ROCK”

If you’re a Stephen King fan, this two season Hulu series was probably very enjoyable for you with all of the references to his huge horror catalog.

While I’m familiar with only some of his work, I still enjoyed it.

Season one focused quite a bit on the Shawshank State Penitentiary (years after the movie). I loved it because of Sissy Spacek and the creepiness of Bill Skarsgard (“It”).

However, I watched “Castle Rock” mainly to see season two and a young Annie Wilkes of “Misery”.

Lizzy Caplan was amazing as the woman made famous by Oscar winner Kathy Bates in the hit 1991 blockbuster movie. Also, Tim Robbins was great, too.

SEASON ONE GRADE: B

SEASON TWO GRADE: A-

“BORN THIS WAY BONUS — “THE EDGE OF GLORY”

While this isn’t the “official” video to “The Edge of Glory”, it’s definitely a favorite of mine and it makes my heart melt!!!

See, my jaded, divorced heart still has hope for a happy ending! 🙂

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

P.S. Here’s the full blog about the “Born This Way Ball” concert I saw in Las Vegas in January 2013.


			

Random Friday Thoughts — May 21, 2021

It was just last week that I referenced Memorial Day being the “unofficial” start to summer.

After dealing with frosty temperatures a week ago, it’s now feeling like summer here in Illinois with highs heading up well into the 80s.

Our big warm-up started Thursday and will last into next week!

Yuck! I only like the 80s when we’re talking music!

Thank you for taking the time to check out my random thoughts!

GOODWILL AND GOOD GRIEF!

My sister loves going to Goodwill stores. Yard sales are more up my alley.

Now that the people across the country are feeling more comfortable and getting out of their homes, some are doing some spring cleaning.

You’d think that Goodwill store would benefit greatly from this. However, check out this headline and tidbit from the Associated Press:

The Twitter post states, “Americans cleaning out their homes during the pandemic have been donating defective and unusable items to Goodwill. The stores say the donations are hurting them rather than helping and want people to stop giving them their trash.”

Come on people, throw your damn trash away and recycle things that are still in good shape!

“ARMY OF THE DEAD”

I’m so excited that the Zack Snyder Las Vegas/zombie heist film hits Netflix this weekend!!!! I know what I’ll be watching!

A follow-up, a prequel, “Army of Thieves”, has already been shot!

It was directed by actor Matthias Schweighöfer, who stars in both movies.

“THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW”

Six-time Academy Award nominee Amy Adams and Oscars winners Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”) and Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”) and Oscar nominee Jennifer Jason Leigh star in this Netflix psychological thriller.

Okay, no matter what JJL does, I’ll always see her as “Hedy” in “Single White Female” (1992)!

It’s basically an update of the 1954 Jimmy Stewart/Alfred Hitchcock thriller “Rear Window” and 2007’s “Disturbia” with Shia LeBeouf.

In this version, Amy Adams’ Anna Fox is a New York City agoraphobic who spends her time drinking red wine and watching her neighbors.

That’s it!

Ha, just kidding!!!

One night she sees a neighbor being attacked. Or, did she? Was it a just part of a drunken stupor?

This movie definitely rises above the fray and now I plan on reading the book.

By the way, I didn’t see the plot twists ahead of time and that brought the grade up!

GRADE: A

VERY RANDOM THOUGHTS

The internet and entertainment word is abuzz about the possibility that “Bennifer” is a thing again.

Am I jaded and the only one that doesn’t care if Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are together again?

I just have so little faith in Hollywood couplings and marriages (maybe in marriage altogether)!

My only real concern if they’re together again is that there could be a “Gigli 2”? (Okay, I didn’t actually see the 2003 original, but neither anyone else, in theaters, since it was a box office bomb!)

After watching season four of “Fargo”, the television series, I don’t think Chris Rock should give up his day job as a comedian to be a dramatic actor.

He wasn’t convincing as a mob boss! However, his final scene in the series had potential!

However, the highlight of the season was seeing Timothy Olyphant playing Dick “Deafy” Wickware , a 1950 Mormon U.S. Marshal agent.

What? Another U.S. Marshal? Yes, but it was much different than Raylan Givens on “Justified.

MUST SEE VIDEO!!!

I’ve earned back some of my gay points!

A few weeks I commented that I wish Madonna would just focus on making music again because her Twitter feed seems so desperate.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love her and I can’t wait to see the Netflix documentary on the “Madame X Tour” since I didn’t get to see it.

However, I’m obsessed with the incredible performance of Elton John and Olly Alexander (from the group Years & Years) at the 2021 BRIT Awards.

They performed the Pet Shop Boys 1987 Top 10 hit “It’s A Sin” (which is also the name of the HBO Max series featuring Alexander about the early AIDS epidemic in London).

You can tell that Elton is ready to hit the road again this fall with his “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” farewell tour.

“YOU” BOOK SERIES

After watching the first two season of the creepy, stalker, “love story” Netflix series, “You”, I decided to read the first two Caroline Kepnes book it’s based on.

It was interesting to see how the author saw Joe Goldberg, Beck, and Love and how much was changed when it became a television series.

Spoiler (not really): Book 1 (“You” — 2014) and Season 1 were pretty close, yet there was much more of difference between Book 2 (“Hidden Bodies” — 2016) and Season 2.

A third book, “You Love Me” came out in April 2021, but I haven’t read it yet. The third season of the series is expected later in 2021.

Here’s the trailer for the first season, which originally aired on Lifetime.

“MEMORIAL”

Bryan Washington’s fall 2020 fictional book, “Memorial”, is a great read.

It tells the story of a young gay interracial Houston couple, Ben and Mike, navigating a failing relationship and a cultural divide.

Mike is waiting for his mother from Japan to arrive when he decides to fly to Japan to spend time with his dying father, who abandoned the family when Mike was a teenager.

Mike drops the bombshell that he’s leaving his mother there with Ben, who’s Black, and has never met his boyfriend’s mother for an indefinitely period of time!

“PARTY DOWN”

A revival of the comedy, “Party Down”, is in development more than a decade after it ended.

I recently watched the two-season, 20 episode series that originally aired in 2009 and 2010.

It’s about a group of entertainment types (actors, writers, and comedians) working at a catering company, Party Down, to pay the bills while they wait for their big break.

It stars Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation”), Lizzy Caplan (“Castle Rock”), and Jane Lynch (pre-“Glee”).

Season one was very funny and season two was enjoyable, but not as funny.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — May 14, 2021

It’s already the middle of May and before you know, Memorial Day and the “unofficial” start of summer will be upon us.

Thank you for taking the time to check out my random thoughts.

PANDEMIC PETS

I saw a sad story that a large number of pets bought or adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic are ending up in shelters now that people are heading back to work!

I’ve heard this about rabbits at Easter and Santa bringing pets to family that underestimate the amount of love and attention it needs.

How sad and tragic! 😦

#PUG20-SOMEDAY

As you know, #Pug2020 was pushed back to #Pug2021 with the pandemic. Since it’s already May, it’s looking more likely that it’ll be #Pug20-SOMEDAY.

Since I’m waiting to move into a more modernized apartment in my complex, the pug is on hold.

Plus, now that I’m vaccinated, I want to travel some when more of the world is vaccinated!

SO, TO HONOR PUGS (& THE CARPENTERS…

AND, MY FAVORITE THE CARPENTERS SONG

VACCINATION RATES

Here in the U.S., we’re doing great. 35.8% of Americans are fully vaccinated and 46.9% have at least one shot.

In Illinois, 35.3% are fully vaccinated and 49.7% have one shot down!

However, worldwide vaccination rates pale in comparison. Only 4.3% are fully vaccinated and 8.7% are halfway there. 😦

MORE TRAGEDY IN INDIA

Earlier this week, dozens of bodies were found floating down the Ganges River in eastern India as the country battles a heartbreaking surge in coronavirus infections.

While authorities don’t know the cause of death, 71 bodies were retrieved from the river Monday night alone!

A local official, Surinder, in Ghazipur says, “Due to the shortage of wood, the dead are being buried in the water. Bodies from around 12-13 villages have been buried in the water.”

Overall, India has had the second highest number of confirmed cases with over 24 million and over 262,000 deaths. Experts say the real figures are likely much higher!

The United States still leads the world in cases (32.8 million) and deaths (584,000+)!

ON A BRIGHTER NOTE… “SCHITT’S CREEK “

I was late to the party, but I finally got around to binge watching “Schitt$ Creek”. OMG, it was too funny!

Every cast member is excellent, but my favorites were Catherine O’Hara (Moira Rose), Annie Murphy (Alexis Rose), and Emily Hampshire (Stevie Budd). Okay, I absolutely loved Alexis!

This was my favorite, favorite, favorite Alexis moment. I won’t say what happened just before this to illicit this response, but I watched it time and time again. LOL

Of course, the comedic timing of the Levy family: Dan (David Rose), Eugene (Johnny Rose), and Sarah (Twyla Sands) was vital to the show’s success.

And, the addition of Noah Reid (Patrick) and his romance with David made the shows even sweeter. I absolutely loved when David performed Tina Turner’s “Simply The Best” for Patrick. (This’ll have to do since YouTube doesn’t have the video!)

And, then Dustin Milligan (Ted Mullens)

and Steve Lund (Jake) made the Schitt’s Creek experience even sexier! Oh, you just gotta love humor and eye candy!

One of my favorite Moira lines: “David, your inability to retain information that doesn’t directly pertain to you might actually require medical attention!”

Speaking of David, we have things in common.

My two favorite are Mariah Carey and our love of eating!!! And, we could have a third if any of you know a “Patrick” in his 40s or 50s in Central Illinois! 🙂

The six-season series is on Netflix.

RIP NICK KAMEN

Unless you spent time in dance clubs in 1986, most of you probably haven’t heard of Nick Kamen.

The English singer and model died last week at the age of 59 of bone marrow cancer.

His only hit in the U.S. was in 1987 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart when “Each Time You Break My Heart” made it to number five.

He had his friend Madonna to thank for that.

She recorded a demo of the song, but passed it on to Nick.

“Each Time” also reached the Top Five in the U.K. and to the Top Ten in France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden. 

However, here’s how many of you that were obsessed with MTV back in the 1980s knew Nick — from his modeling days with this Levi’s 501 commercial.

Last week, Madonna remembered her friend with this tweet:

“THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT”

I mostly read biographies, autobiographies, and books on real events. However, I deviate into fiction sometimes.

And, I normally like to see a television or movie version based on a fiction book first. (Reading “Hannibal Rising” before seeing the movie spoiled that for me. Or, maybe the movie version of “Hannibal Rising” was just bad!)

Yet, I just read Chris Bohjalian’s 2018 book, “The Flight Attendant”, and it’s incredible.

An alcoholic flight attendant wakes up in Dubai after hooking up with a hot man in first class on her flight.

The one night stand or doing the walk of shame would be the least of her problems. She waked up and the bed is covered in blood! His throat has been slashed and she can’t remember what happened!

Did she do it????

It’s now a HBO Max series that was renewed for a second season (expected in late 2022).

Since I don’t have HBO Max, I haven’t seen it. But, read the book.

“THE ROAD TO JONESTOWN: JIM JONES AND PEOPLES TEMPLE”

Jeff Guinn’s 2017 book was a concise and compelling read.

Here are some final things Guinn shared that you might not remember or have known:

Jones’s personal physician and Jonestown’s doctor Larry Schacht had been working to perfect a cocktail of Flavor Aid, tranquilizers, and potassium cyanide to make it taste less bitter.

When Jones asked one of his girlfriends in his inner circle, Maria Katsaris, if it was quick, she said yes and then lied, saying “it’s not supposed to be painful at all.”

Yet, in “The Poisoner’s Handbook”, Deborah Blum writes, “The last minutes of a cyanide death are brutal, marked by convulsions, a desperate gasping for air, a rising bloody froth of vomit and saliva, and finally a blessed release into unconsciousness.”

This all led to the Jonestown tragedy where more than 900 of his followers were poisoned with that cyanide-laced Flavor Aid drink. (One-third were children that were killed first and found at the bottom of the mass of people.) 😦

PARTING THOUGHTS

Even today, people don’t recall any of the good that Jim Jones did before he became delusional and a drug addict.

What people remember is “not drinking the Kool-Aid” when it comes to religious leaders and institutions and politicians and their fanatical views.

Sadly, it wasn’t even “Kool-Aid”. It was the cheap imitation, “Flavor-Aid” — just like Jim Jones was a cheap imitation knockoff of God!

ANOTHER NICK KAMEN FAVORITE

“I Promised Myself” from 1990 was another one of my favorite Nick Kamen songs.

It reached #1 in Austria and Sweden and the Top Five in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — May 7, 2021

Happy Mother’s Day weekend!

I’ll take a moment to remember my mother, Dessie, and be thankful that I still have my sister, Tammy, in my life.

Thank you for taking the time to check out my random thoughts!

STICKS & STONE MAY BREAK MY BONES

…but words shall never hurt me!

As kids, we’ve all heard that saying (or something like it). And, I believe, for the most part, it’s true.

I know that when you’re young and impressionable or if you’re a grown-up with insecurities (who doesn’t have some), hurtful words from parents, friends, lovers, or spouses can hurt. Actually, words said in anger do have a lasting impact.

However, being called a “f***ing fa**ot” by a speeding car driving by definitely doesn’t hurt my feelings. It just pisses me off.

This happened last Friday afternoon on one of my many daily walks around Lake Decatur.

It was from a group of youngsters and the man/boy in the back seat yelled it out the window. This person had no clue who was on the other side of busy U.S. 36. He was just being juvenile and ignorant.

I’m sure if it was a woman walking, he’d yell something sexist and stupid.

I was a teenager and young adult in the conservative dark Reagan-era years when homophobia was rampant and the world was scared of gay people and AIDS. (It didn’t help that it took President Reagan almost six years to mention it publicly!)

So, “f***ing fa**ot” is something that most LGBTQ people have heard before. However, it was scarier back then (in the 1980s and 1990s) because those people threatened us with baseball bats!

I’m a very secure person and my immediate reaction last Friday was to go back to reading my book and enjoying my day, while the thought bubble above my head said, “f***ing idiot”!

This is a perfect time for Heather Mooney! 🙂

Before I move on, I just hope that it made his day a little better to yell that out the window at a stranger. And, I hope he becomes more educated before he spawns a child and projects his ignorance onto another generation!

While I know there are others here (and in the U.S. and across the world) that share that narrow-minded mentality, Decatur and Central Illinois, I’ve met so many of you and I know there are so many more loving, caring, and beautiful people that make the world a better place!

Let’s carry on…

GOODBYE OLYMPIA DUKAKIS

Academy Award and Golden Globe winner (“Moonstruck”) Olympia Dukakis passed away last weekend at the age of 89.

In her almost 60 year career, she acted in more than 130 stage productions, over 60 movies, and in 50 television series!

I remember her most fondly as Anna Madrigal, the transgender “mother” of the tenants at 28 Barbary Lane in the “Tales of the City” series.

I always wanted to move into an apartment complex like 28 Barbary Lane and have Mrs. Madrigal as my landlady!

Armistead Maupin’s book series is my favorite and I’ve read it many times over the years. It was made into four continuing series (1993, 1998, 2001, and the most recent on Netflix in 2019).

And, as a gay man, I must mention her role as Clairee Belcher in 1989’s classic, “Steel Magnolias”!

Come on, you know the rest of it!!! All together now…

“…come sit by me.”

And, if you want to watch the entire 30-second scene…

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The 2020 U.S. presidential election is estimated to have cost $14 billion dollars, that’s with a “B”!
  • Gay and bisexual men are seven times more likely to report binge-eating than straight men and 12 times more likely to binge and purge. (National Eating Disorders Association)
  • Kenta Seki is a Los Angeles-based fitness guru? Neither did I, but I do now! 🙂

“THE MEANING OF MARIAH CAREY”

As you know, I love Mariah Carey. I’ve been a huge Mariah Carey fan since the spring of 1990 when I first heard “Vision of Love”.

I’ve seen her go through the highs with international success and we’ve see her hit the lows — the ice cream cart ordeal on MTV.

So, when Mariah’s biography, “The Meaning of Mariah Carey” came out in the fall of 2020, I didn’t know what to expect.

Once I read it, I love Mariah even more — if that was even possible.

I knew her life and career was a rags to riches story, but I never realized just how hard she had as a child.

Not only was her family poor, but she also had a very difficult time of being biracial — she wasn’t Black enough for some family members and too white for others.

I was astounded at some of the things her sister made her do as a teenager and some of the things she did to Mariah! And, once Mariah became an international superstar with money flowing in, I was saddened to hear how her family tried to siphon that money away.

And then, there’s the whole creepiness of her first husband (and manager), Tommy Mottola!

Here’s a review of the book I read and it sums it up perfectly: “improbable and inspiring journey of survival and resilience as she struggles through complex issues of race, identity, class, childhood, and family trauma during her meteoric rise to music superstardom.”

“The Meaning of Mariah Carey” is an excellent book! Read it now!

Here are a few things I learned:

Since I now live in Central Illinois, it’s interesting that Mariah’s mother was born in Illinois’ capital of Springfield and grew up there in the 1940s and 1950s, which Mariah describes as “a center of insidious institutional racism”.

After years of racially-motivated crimes in the early 1900s in Springfield, the city had a strong Ku Klux Klan presence in the 1920, which Mariah summed up this way, “Springfield was a city openly cloaked in hate.”

On a happier note, I loved the wine quote about working with David Morales. “I’d have a couple splashes of wine, and we would just go wherever the spirit took us — which were almost always high-energy dance tracks with big, brand-new vocals.”

A couple splashes! What a cool description! 🙂

And, it was interesting to read who the song “My All” was written about!

I finally got to see Mariah in concert in December 2017 with her “All I Want For Christmas: A Night of Joy and Festivity” show in Las Vegas at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

Mariah was phenomenal, beautiful, and she sounded flawless and the sets were incredible!!!!!!!

After my separation and eventual divorce, that show lifted my spirits and it would be the most magical 90 minutes I’ve enjoyed in the past few years!

FINAL NOTES ABOUT MARIAH & CHRISTMAS

About “All I Want For Christmas”, that she wrote in her early-20s for her fourth album, 1994’s “Merry Christmas”: “I wanted to write a song that would make me happy and make me feel like a loved, carefree young girl at Christmas.

Mariah added, “I wanted to sing it in a way that would capture joy for everyone and crystallize it forever. Yes, I was going for vintage Christmas happiness!”

HOW DID I MISS THIS???

I’m usually on top of pop culture, but I totally missed this bus on this!

Recently, I was catching up on magazines and I was shocked to learn that Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy died a year ago this weekend (May 8, 2020) of COVID-19! He was 75.

The famed Las Vegas entertainer’s publicist announced on April 28, 2020, that Horn tested positive for the virus and was responding well to treatment.

I also didn’t know that Siegfried (Fischbacher) announced on January 11, 2021, that he had terminal pancreatic cancer and died two days later in Las Vegas at the age of 81!

As you recall, Roy (on the left in the photo) was the one that was attacked at the Mirage on October 3, 2003, by a seven-year-old white tiger named Mantecore. It was on his 59th birthday!

As the story goes, Horn held his microphone to Mantecore’s mouth and told him to say “hello”. The tiger bit Horn’s sleeve. Horn swatted the tiger and barked “release!”.

Horn, became dizzy, tripped, and fell onto his back. (He ended up having a stroke.)

Mantecore moved to stand over him and then bit into Horn’s neck and dragged him offstage!

SO WHAT HAPPENED TO MANTECORE?

Horn asked that nothing happen to the tiger and it was re-integrated back into the duo’s pack of cats.

Mantecore died more than a decade later, in March 2014, at Fischbacher and Horn’s Little Bavaria estate in Las Vegas at the age of 17!

“THE ROAD TO JONESTOWN: JIM JONES AND PEOPLES TEMPLE”

Last week, I talked about Jim Jones and shared some interesting things from Jeff Guinn’s compelling 2017 book.

Here are a few more tidbits from that great book.

The bisexual Jones believed that everyone, women and men, desired him. One follower in his close knit managerial team was not afraid to stand up to him. Harriet Tropp told him that she didn’t desire him because “You are 47 and fat”, but she added, “I don’t have romantic illusions. They say the greatest orgasm is death, so I hope we have the great pleasure of dying together.”

Once in Jonestown, the cost to feed almost a thousand people was extravagant and they began to see less meat and more watered down rice dishes and beverages, like water and cheap Flavor Aid.

As Jonestown began to fall apart in the fall of 1977, Jones and his inner circle were already thinking of how to conduct a mass suicide. Some suggested people being shot, but Jones preferred poison.

In early August 1978, Jones told his followers that he had terminal lung cancer. However, there was no evidence of this — yet another deceit by Jones to his cult.

“JONESTOWN:  TERROR IN THE JUNGLE”

If you don’t have time to read Guinn’s book, this SundanceTV documentary following Jones’ life was incredible!

I saw it in the fall of 2018 and gave it an “A”!

“DA 5 BLOODS”

The latest Spike Lee movie garnered mix reviews.

If you know what to expect from one of his movies, you’ll enjoy it. After the compelling opening montage, the first hour dragged a bit. However, the second hour was riveting.

It’s about four older Black American vets returning to Vietnam to search for the remains of their fallen squad leader and buried treasure.

Delroy Lindo’s performance as Paul was insane! He deserved an Oscar nomination.

Now there was talk that Chadwick Boseman might get an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in the movie, but that didn’t happen.

GRADE: B-

FAVORITE MARIAH CAREY SONGS

Before I share my five favorite Mariah Carey songs, let me tell you how difficult this was to narrow down.

Here’s how much of a superstar she is:

She’s had 36 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1990. Of those, 28 reached the Top Ten and 27 made the Top 5!!!

And, 19 went on to top the Hot 100 and she’s had two different runs of five or more consecutive #1 songs!

Mariah also had at least one #1 song on the Hot 100 for eleven straight years (1990-2000) and she’s had the most #1 singles on the Hot 100 than any other solo artist!

If that’s not impressive enough, Mariah has sold more than 200 million records worldwide and is the biggest selling certified female artist in the United States.

“DREAMLOVER”

“VISION OF LOVE”

“MAKE IT HAPPEN”

“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU”

“EMOTIONS”

What’s your favorite Mariah Carey song?

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

P.S. My full Mariah Carey blog is here:

The Meaning of Family & “The Meaning of Mariah Carey”

For most people, family is very important.

They’re there for you through life’s ups and downs and there when you need a friend and to celebrate in your happiness. Sadly, that isn’t the case for all.

I’m so happy that my sister, Tammy, is still in my life and she lives nearby!

The sad reality is that not all families are created equal. To some, the family we choose (friends) is closer and more reliable than the one we acquire at birth.

Mariah Carey’s autobiography got me to thinking a lot about family.

I’ve been a huge Mariah fan since the spring of 1990 when I first heard “Vision of Love”. It was the first of her five consecutive number ones songs and the start of her reign as the queen of pop radio!

I can’t believe her career in now in its fourth decade — 31 years and counting!

I finally got to see her in concert in December 2017.

The “All I Want For Christmas: A Night of Joy and Festivity” show in Las Vegas at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace was amazing and the sets were incredible!

Mariah was phenomenal, beautiful, and she sounded flawless!!!!!!!

After my separation and eventual divorce, that show lifted my spirits and it would be the most magical 90 minutes I’ve enjoyed in the past few years!

“THE MEANING OF MARIAH CAREY”

As I’ve already stated, I love Mariah. I’ve seen her go through the highs with international success and we’ve see her hit the lows — the ice cream cart ordeal on MTV.

And, then there was the truly surreal E! reality show “Mariah’s World”! The eight episode season debuted in December 2016 and was totally over the top. I loved it!

When Mariah’s biography, “The Meaning of Mariah Carey”, came out in the fall of 2020, I didn’t know what to expect.

Once I read it, I loved her even more — if that’s even possible.

I knew her life and career was a rags to riches story, but I never realized just how bad she had it as a child.

NOW, LET’S TALK ABOUT MARIAH’S FAMILY!

Not only was her family poor, but she also had a very difficult time of being biracial — she wasn’t Black enough for some family members and too white for others.

I was astounded at some of the things her sister made her do as a teenager and some of the things she did to Mariah! And, once Mariah became an international superstar with money flowing in, I was saddened to hear how her family tried to siphon that money away.

And then, there’s the whole creepiness of her first husband (and manager), Tommy Mottola, then head of Sony Music!

Here’s a review of the book I saw online and it sums it up perfectly: “improbable and inspiring journey of survival and resilience as she struggles through complex issues of race, identity, class, childhood, and family trauma during her meteoric rise to music superstardom.”

I’d like to share a few things I learned (without giving too much away since I want you to read it!):

Since I now live in Central Illinois, it’s interesting that Mariah’s mother was born in Springfield, Illinois’ capital, and she grew up there in the 1940s and 1950s, which Mariah describes as “a center of insidious institutional racism”.

After years of racially-motivated crimes in the early 1900s, Springfield had a strong Ku Klux Klan presence in the 1920s, which Mariah summed up this way, “Springfield was a city openly cloaked in hate.”

On a happier note, I loved the wine quote about working with David Morales. “I’d have a couple splashes of wine, and we would just go wherever the spirit took us — which were almost always high-energy dance tracks with big, brand-new vocals.”

A couple of splashes! How fun — what a cool description! 🙂

And, it was interesting to read who the song “My All” was written about!

As I said before, I’ve always loved Mariah and I’m glad I got to see her in concert. I’d love to see her again!

And, after reading the book, I’m so glad she has so much money to spoil her twins, Moroccan and Monroe, who just turned ten!

FAVORITE MARIAH CAREY SONGS

Before I share my ten favorite Mariah Carey songs, let me tell you how difficult this was to narrow down!!!

Not only does Mimi have enough of a Christmas catalog to rank the best Christmas songs separately, here’s how much of a superstar she is:

She’s had 36 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1990. Of those, 28 reached the Top Ten and 27 made the Top 5!!!

Nineteen (19) went on to top the Hot 100 and she’s had two different runs of five or more consecutive #1 songs!

Mariah also had at least one #1 song on the Hot 100 for eleven straight years (1990-2000) and she’s had the most #1 singles on the Hot 100 than any other solo artist!

If that’s not impressive enough, Mariah has sold more than 200 million records worldwide and is the biggest selling certified female artist in the United States.

“WITH YOU”

“I DON’T WANNA CRY”

“LOVE TAKES TIME”

“THERE’S GOT TO BE A WAY”

“SOMEDAY”

“DREAMLOVER”

“VISION OF LOVE”

“MAKE IT HAPPEN”

“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU”

From the book, Mariah writes:

About “All I Want For Christmas”, the song she wrote in her early-20s for her fourth album, 1994’s “Merry Christmas”: “I wanted to write a song that would make me happy and make me feel like a loved, carefree young girl at Christmas.

Mariah added, “I wanted to sing it in a way that would capture joy for everyone and crystallize it forever. Yes, I was going for vintage Christmas happiness!”

“EMOTIONS”

And, a bonus track!!! We’ve all been here! 🙂

“GTFO”

So, those are my favorites. What’s your favorite Mariah Carey song?

Again, “The Meaning of Mariah Carey” is an excellent book! Read it now!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — April 30, 2021

I find it hard to believe that the first four months of 2021 are now behind us. I’m hoping the next eight brings us happiness and joy.

Thank you for taking the time to check out my thoughts this weekend!

PEOPLE, PLEASE GO BACK!!!

As with any situation in life, one death is one death too many!

With that being said, I’m dismayed to hear that about 8% of Americans are reportedly not going back to get their second COVID-19 shot! (That translates into millions of people!)

I know people are concerned about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after a few deaths were reported from the millions of shots administered.

Also, I know people are a little freaked out when they hear how some are feeling after their second Moderna and Pfizer shot.

I had no side effects from either my first or second shot! And, I’m almost through with the two-week waiting period after my second shot.

With that being said, people please go back and get your second shot!!!

I want America vaccinated and safe, so we can turn the corner on this pandemic and start the “new normal” way of life!

(RELIGIOUS) CULTS

If you regularly read my blog, you’ve probably realized I’m truly intrigued by serial killers and cults (and many other less creepy things)!

Now, let’s talk cults. Oh, hello Scientology!

You’re not alone when it comes to religious institutions (for legal purposes, I’ll add a word) ALLEGEDLY brain-washing people under the guise of Godliness. While there are many, today I’m talking about Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple.

As a child in 1940s small town Indiana, Jones idolized Adolf Hitler! (If this wasn’t a red flag, I don’t know what is!)

While Jones would eventually convince (and force) 900-plus people to gruesomely commit suicide by poison, he, like his coward idol Hitler, died of a gunshot wound to the head — most likely, self-inflicted!

“THE ROAD TO JONESTOWN: JIM JONES AND PEOPLES TEMPLE”

Jeff Guinn’s 2017 book was a concise and compelling read.

Here are some things Guinn shared that you might not remember or have known:

Jones moved Indiana to California (Redwood Valley in Mendocino County and was associated with churches in Los Angeles and San Francisco) before heading to the jungles of Guyana in South America to a community he named after himself, Jonestown.

Even as early as 1975, Jones preached “I love socialism, and I’d die to bring it about. But, if I did, I’d take a thousand with me.”

On several occasions, Jones told his followers about Masada, an Israeli fortress in the mountains “where almost one thousand Jewish revolutionaries, women, and children committed suicide rather than surrender to a Roman army about to breach the walls.”

On Memorial Day 1977, before abruptly leaving San Francisco for Guyana, Jones took part in an anti-suicide rally at the Golden Gate Bridge, where he stated to the audience that for the first time in his life, he was suicidal.

ON A MUCH LIGHTER & TASTIER NOTE

Lately, I’ve been craving a donut shop that isn’t a chain store.

I haven’t found one in Decatur, but check this out — exclusively at Sam’s Club, there’s Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnut Smartfood Popcorn!

From now until the end of May, you can get an 18-ounce bag with the retail price of $4.96.

Well, I’d never pay $5 for almost a pound of popcorn, but it sounds delicious! (Okay, I would pay that for a large popcorn at the movie theater and get my free refill!)

Also, at Sam’s Club, there’s Popcornopolis’ Fried Pickle and Ranch (same price for just 12 ounces) and Herr’s Fire-Roasted Sweet Corn Popcorn (about $4 for an 11-ounce bag)!

“THE SOUNDTRACK OF MY LIFE”

I totally enjoyed reading Clive Davis’ 2013 autobiography, “The Soundtrack Of My Life” and I can’t believe it took me almost a decade to get around to it!

What a walk down memory lane!

I loved reading how he brought Columbia Records out of the easy listening days of Andy Williams and Barbra Streisand in the 1950s and 1960s into the world of rock & roll with Janis Joplin and Bruce Springsteen.

His next major chapter in music was founding Arista Records and launching the careers of Barry Manilow in the 1970s and Whitney Houston in the 1980s.

While at Arista, he also revived the careers of Santana, Luther Vandross, Dionne Warwick, and Aretha Franklin.

While there, he was instrumental in expanding pop music at Arista to launch Laface Records with L.A. Reid and Babyface and Bad Boy Records with Sean Combs/Puff Daddy/P.Diddy/Puffy/Piddy (or whatever the hell he wants to be call on a given day!)

I also loved hearing his story about how he clashed with certain artists — Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Dayne, Melissa Manchester, and Manilow to name a few.

And, after Arista, he started J Records and brought the world Alicia Keys.

What an incredible book to read about his almost 60-year career in the music business. This spring, the legendary Clive Davis turned 89!

I also learned that “How Will I Know”, which Whitney Houston took to #1 in 1986 was originally written for Janet Jackson.

And, my favorite Taylor Dayne song, “I’ll Be Your Shelter”, her #1 song from 1990, was pitched to and rejected by Tina Turner.

DOCUMENTARY — “THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES”

I highly recommend the 608 page book!

But, if that’s not your thing, there’s an amazing music-filled documentary about Clive Davis and the book on Netflix!

NEW REBA MUSIC

Just last week, I hinted at new Reba McEntire music.

Her video, “Somehow You Do”, a ballad written by 12-time Oscar nominee and two-time Golden Globe winner Diane Warren, dropped last Friday. (She’s also won a Grammy Award!)

It’s from new Glenn Close and Mila Kunis movie, “Four Good Days”, out now.

Warren also wrote Reba’s “What If” Red Cross charity single, from 1997, that went on to reach #23 on the country chart and her #4 country hit “I’ll Be” in 2000 from the “So Good Together” album.

A LITTLE WEEKEND HUMOR

“MADAM SECRETARY”

Back in March, I shared some interesting tidbits from reading former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s autobiography, “Madam Secretary”.

I also shared the story of interviewing her in Youngstown, Ohio, back in 1999.

Here are a few parting notes from that great book:

Once Bill Clinton offered Albright “Secretary of State, upon Hillary’s recommendation, making her the first woman “Secretary of State”, she called every one of her predecessors in the position.

Henry Kissinger congratulated her and teased her that she took one of the interesting things about him away — his foreign birth. (He was born in Germany and Albright in Czechoslovakia.)

Albright wrote: “I chided him back by saying he would still be the only secretary who spoke with an accent.”

After Albright, two other women became Secretary of State — Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton.

Obviously we know Hillary’s connection to Albright (Bill Clinton). Rice has a connection to Albright, too. While a student of the University of Denver in the 1970s, Rice was mentored by Albright’s father, Josef Korbel!

And, in honor of one of my favorite shots (when I do them), Madeleine Albright’s nickname is “Fireball”!

Cheers!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony