Posts Tagged ‘12 Years A Slave’

Random Friday Thoughts — February 12, 2016

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be sharing my “Random Friday Thoughts” with you again on a regular basis and the feedback has been great.  Thank you for not only reading to see what I’m thinking about, but also commenting.

As always, you don’t have to agree with me, but be diplomatic about it if you disagree.

WARNING — THIS IS NOT DIPLOMATIC!!!

This is the response I got earlier this week to last week’s blog explaining why I support Hillary Clinton for president, which featured a photo of my beautiful family.

Rude Blog Comment.jpg

Pathetic!  But, we know there are many people out there like this!  Putting ignorance aside, let’s move on…

Here is the blog that brought out the hate:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/02/03/my-teenaged-daughter-a-damn-good-reason-i-support-hillary-clinton/

WHAT I REALLY WANT FOR VALENTINE’S DAY…

Candy is always nice and flowers are beautiful, but here’s how I plan on spending Valentine’s Day — a little snow storm, a few glasses of wine by the fireplace with Ray, and the return of the sixth season of “The Walking Dead” Sunday night!

Walking Dead VD

SNOWY VALENTINE’S DAY

If you live in the Midwest, especially across eastern Iowa and northern Illinois, snow is in the forecast late Saturday night and Sunday.

In the Quad Cities, I’m still expecting 3″ or so of snow that’ll fall mostly on Valentine’s Day.

The snow diminishes to flurries Sunday night and Monday.

CHARLIE SHEEN’S SCARY DR. SAM

There are medications now to make living with HIV more manageable and it’s no longer a death sentence.   However, unless someone is hiding information from me and the 37 million people living with HIV and AIDS across the world, there is no (realistic) cure.

In my opinion, actor Charlie Sheen is a poor spokesperson for those living with HIV, even though the high visibility is a good thing.  Sheen’s antics since going public with his HIV-positive status has made me shake my head in surprise or shock more than once.

Now, the story is even more insane and bizarre when you find out that he’s associated with an Australian doctor who claims he injected himself with Sheen’s tainted blood and cured the infection with goat milk!  Goat milk???

This is how Dr. Sam Chachoua describes himself on Twitter!

Dr Sam

I’m not buying into any “effective way to treat” cancer or AIDS.  If it was that easy, he’d be winning every award there is for humanity and wouldn’t have to make his claim to fame through the troubled Sheen!

Sad!

ABC NEWS — BLATANTLY SEXIST MOVE

ABC News made a big blunder last Saturday night when hosting a New Hampshire presidential debate by not allowing candidate Carly Fiorina to participate.

While I’m not a fan of Fiorina and I can’t say she wasn’t invited because she is a woman, she had every right to be there.

In the Iowa Caucus last week, she beat Chris Christie in both votes and delegates and got just as many votes and delegates as John Kasich and had the same number of delegates as Jeb Bush.

So, it makes no sense that she wasn’t invited.  Jim Gilmore wasn’t invited either, but rightfully so.  He picked up only 12 votes in the Iowa Caucus last week and is polling at 0%!

After the New Hampshire Primary Tuesday, both Christie and Fiorina dropped out of the presidential race.  Dr. Ben Carson, we’re waiting on you (and Gilmore) next.

TRAIN WRECK INTRODUCTION OF CANDIDATES

Maybe it’s a good thing that Fiorina wasn’t there.  The introduction to the ABC News debate looked more like a skit from NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”.

This is hilarious — just as funny as seeing Marco Rubio falling on his face and getting agitated by Christie!

GLENDA JACKSON

Two-time Best Actress Oscar winner Glenda Jackson, now 79, was last seen in a Hollywood movie 24 years ago, but she’s been very busy.  She was a member of Parliament from 1992 through March 2015.

She’s gained a new fan in me with her openness.  Here are some of the things she recently told “Entertainment Weekly”.

glenda-jackson

On “12 Years a Slave” winning the Best Picture Oscar and social change:  “But how can you say that 12 Years a Slave or Selma has caused a fundamental cultural shift? And then you have these black guys being shot by policemen. Would that the Oscars could change the world but, I’m sorry, it just ain’t true.”

On the media making Donald Trump a viable Republican presidential candidate:  “It’s going to come down to what people are prepared to back with their votes, in terms of the status quo, and whether they’ll still go with that nutcase with the worst hair in the world. All that money and you think he could buy himself a decent wig.”

On her Oscar-nominated role in the bisexual love story, “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, in which she played a businesswoman in love with an artist (Murray Head), who loves a doctor (Peter Finch). “Best film script I’d ever read.”

“It was about relationships between people who wanted more than they could furnish. And, of course, United Artists was scared to death of it and didn’t know how to sell it. Apologies to Uncle Sam, but in America, they think homosexual affairs are about sex. But they are about love.”

“AMERICAN CRIME”

The first season of ABC’s Emmy-winning series “American Crime” was great and featured a college actor friend of mine, W. Earl Brown, in a major recurring role.

The second season of the drama, airing now, is phenomenal.

Felicity Huffman and Lili Taylor are both superb in their roles as the principal of an elite private school that’s facing a student sex scandal and as the mother of the young man that’s the victim in that scandal, respectively.

However, the standout this season is 21-year-old Canadian actor Connor Jessup.  Every moment he’s on camera trying to hold it together and make it through the day, your heart breaks for Taylor.

We’re a little past midway through the ten episode season, so it’s not too late to get caught up.  And, since season two is not a continuation of season one, you don’t have to know anything about the first season.

“BURNT”

Bradley Cooper stars in this movie as an acclaimed chef that lost everything because of a drug addiction.

He tries to make a comeback in London, but the road to redemption is not a smooth one.

The foodie in me loved the food porn.

But, while watching the movie, I was also hoping that my chef friend, Monika Sudakov, and the chef I most admire, Grant Achatz, are not like Cooper’s character, Adam Jones, when they’re in a high pressure kitchen making their culinary creations!

GRADE:  B

BRETT KISSEL

When you think of Canadian county music stars, I’m sure Shania Twain, Terri Clark, and Anne Murray come to mind.  However, the only Canadian male country singer I can think of off the top of my head is Paul Brandt.  I love his voice and have some of his earlier American releases.

Recently, I saw the nominations for the Juno Awards and Brett Kissel caught my eye –he’s up against Brandt this year.

So, I went to YouTube and started watching his videos and before I knew it, I bought his fall 2015 release, “Pick Me Up”.

Brett Kissel.jpg

It’s crazy how he’s already had seven Top Ten country hits on the Canadian chart, but is still an unknown here in America.  He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, so I hope his American radio debut is coming soon.

“Pick Me Up” is a great country album with a slightly different feel than today’s American hit makers.  It’s a real feel that I think is missing from the current bro-country sounds you hear overplayed on U.S. country stations.

The album features the two Canadian hits, “Airwaves” (#1) and the title track (#6), which are both great country songs.  My other upbeat favorites are “I Hope It’s Me”, “Cool With That”, and “I Can Play Guitar” (with Hunter Hayes).

If you love ballads, “Why Won’t You” is amazing and “Feet Back on the Ground” is a beautiful tribute to those of us that love our mamas, even if they’re no longer with us!

After buying and loving “Pick Me Up”, I’ll now have to get Kissel’s 2013 album, “Started With a Song”.

Here’s hoping American audiences will get to hear Brett on the radio in 2016!

GRADE:  A-

“THE RIVER LIVE TOUR”

In his long career, Bruce Springsteen has done it all and he’s still doing it.  There’s a reason he’s called “The Boss”!

His current 42-show concert tour will play America through April and then Europe and Israel this May, June, and July.

It’s called “The River Live Tour” and it’s exactly that — his entire 1980 20-song double album, “The River”, played in sequential order!  In addition to that, he also does other songs — about 30 in all in a concert that runs about 3 1/2 hours!  The man must be a machine!

Here I’m featuring the first release from “The River” and my favorite Springsteen song, “Hungry Heart”.  It was his third Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and his first Top Ten.  It peaked at #5.

So, think about it.  If any of your favorite artists would perform a full-length album in addition to other hits, who would it be and what album?

Mine would be “Rumor Has It” (1990), “For My Broken Heart” (1991), and “Starting Over” (1995) by Reba McEntire, Madonna and her 1983 self-titled debut, and Toni Braxton’s 1993 self-titled debut.

MORE GLENDA JACKSON IN “ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY”

Margaret Thatcher

On her disdain of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher when South African President Nelson Mandela visited Parliament in 1996:  “I stood to watch Mandela and there was bloody Margaret Thatcher, the woman who had called him a terrorist, sitting in the front row in this big f*cking hat, obstructing the view. Acting like she was doing everybody a f*cking favor by coming there.”

hillary2016

On Hillary Clinton and her presidential run:  “I would like to see her become the first female president…  the Republicans don’t have anybody who can take her on politically. So it’ll be very ugly.”

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

I hope you enjoyed the read.  Please share your thoughts with me and have a great weekend.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Anthony

 

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Random Friday Thoughts — July 11, 2014

Today’s “Random Friday Thoughts” does feature my random thoughts or it’d be called something else.  However, many of them today are personal and I do have a revelation to share at the end of the blog.

I hope you have a great weekend whatever you choose to do.

WE HAVE COMPANY THIS WEEKEND

Betty, my friend from Ohio and the woman I call “Mom”, is visiting us this weekend.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ll be taking her to the John Deere Classic golf tournament for lunch Friday to visit with my good friends, Dawn and Shilah!

Also, Betty will want to go to Osaka Buffet and the casino!  Those are two of my favorite places.  Okay, the casino only if I win!

GRETEL TURNS 13

Also, this weekend, Gretel talked us into have a bonfire for s’mores if the storms don’t dampen her fun to celebrate her 13th birthday.

Gretel Summer 2014

Holy cow!  I can’t believe she’s now a teenager!

It seems just like yesterday that Miss ABBA and I were introduced to a little pigtailed, bespectacled, soon-t0-be 8-year-old girl and now she’s a teenager!

GretelABBA2009

Happy Birthday, Gretel!

SPEAKING OF MISS ABBA

It was this week back in 2000 that I drove to a llama farm 2.5 hours from where I was living in Youngstown, Ohio, and got Miss ABBA.

On the way there, I knew I was getting a “girl” and her name “ABBA” was already decided.

ABBA July 2000

While she’s been in puppy heaven for almost 2.5 years now, I’ll never forgot that July day or the almost 12 years of love and happiness that followed!

You can check out this video if you’d like to see the goofy golden over the years.  I’m posting it to make you smile and not cry.  So, I’d understand if you watch it without listening to Patty Loveless’ beautiful song.

ONE MORE ANNIVERSARY

And, one more anniversary to mention this week.

It was 20 years ago that my friends, Steve and Dennis, helped move me to Chicago as I said goodbye to small town Kentucky.

Chicago Move 1994

That was the beginning of phase two of my life that included me meeting a psycho on my 30th birthday that almost killed me, meeting Christopher, who I was with for nine years, and meeting Betty, who is Christopher’s mother.

It was also during those first two years in Chicago that I started my television weather career that would take me to Rhinelander (WI), Lubbock (TX), Youngstown, Mansfield, and Columbus (OH), back to Chicago as a news writer for Fox News Chicago, and then to Salisbury (MD), Moline and Rock Island (IL).

Where will phase three, in 2015, take me?

“NICKEL DREAMS”

Tanya Tucker has always been one of my favorite country singers.

Until I read her book, “Nickel Dreams”, I didn’t fully understand how wild and crazy she was.

Tanya+Tucker Nickel+Dreams

Check out the blog I wrote about Tanya, the book, and her music.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/im-glad-tanya-tucker-shared-her-nickel-dreams/

“FREAK UNIQUE”

Pete Burns, the lead singer of the English new wave band Dead or Alive, had moderate success in the U.S., but he and the band are big, HUGE, in Japan.

Pete Burns Freak Unique

His autobiography, “Freak Unique”, was incredible and a fun read.

In it, Pete shares it all and doesn’t hold back.  He explains in, sometimes gory, detail some of the things that got him just as much attention as his music did.

Here’s the link to the blog I posted this week about the book and Pete.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/pete-burns-is-a-freak-unique/

NON-STOP

I’ve been wanting to see the Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore airplane thriller, “Non-Stop”, since it hit theaters earlier this year.  The movie has gone on to make almost $200 million at the box office.

It’s finally out on DVD and I rented it this week.

It was definitely enjoyable and I spent the entire movie trying to figure out who the terrorist(s) was, because I never for a moment thought that it was Neeson’s character, U.S. federal air marshal Bill Marks.

“Non-Stop” is a thrilling movie that will definitely make you look around the plane the next time you fly.

There is a scene at the 1 hour, 33 minute mark that suspended belief and knocked the movie back part of a grade point!  Seriously?

The most distracting thing about the movie is to see Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years A Slave”) play a flight attendant with just a  few lines and very little to do except look distressed.

I really wish that this movie came out before “12 Years A Slave” because it is such a waste of her talent after seeing her play Patsey, the role that won her the Academy Award.

GRADE:  B

THAT’S IT

For now and the near future, this is my last “Random Friday Thoughts”.

I love writing and sharing my thoughts, but with my overnight work schedule and the lack of sleep, I feel it’s time I take a break and nap in the afternoon.

I appreciate all of you for taking the time to read my blogs over the past 2.5 years and to share your thoughts whether you agree or disagree with me.

I do have three other blogs to share with you over the coming weeks.  I’m not sure when they will pop up, but I’ll let you know when I post them.

Again, thank you for the past support and have a great weekend!

Anthony

Movies — “12 Years A Slave”, “Kill Your Darlings”, “About Time” & “Gravity”

For the most part, the weather is getting nicer.  I know we’ll start spending more time outdoors, but there will always be time to rent movies.

I’ve watched a few lately and if you haven’t seen them, I’ll let you know if you should.

“ABOUT TIME”

When I saw the trailer for this British romantic comedy in theaters last year, I knew I would be waiting to see it on DVD.

The time travel movie is about a young man, Tim Lake, (Domhnall Gleeson) that can go back in time and change his life for the better.  He does this to get to know Mary (Rachel McAdams) better.

The $12 million movie was a box office hit bringing in $87 million.

It was directed by Richard Curtis who also directed “Love Actually”.

While a cute movie, “About Time” is no “Love Actually”.

GRADE:  B

“KILL YOUR DARLINGS”

This drama set in the 1940s covers the college life of some of the men that would go on to define the “beat generation”.

It stars Daniel Radcliffe as poet Allen Ginsberg, Ben Foster as William S. Burroughs, and Jack Huston as Jack Kerouac.

When Ginsberg heads off to Columbia University in New York City, he meets the very charming and beautiful blond-haired Lucien Carr, played to perfection by Dane DeHaan.

Carr is anti-establishment, a player, and unstable.  He gets people, young (Ginsberg) and mature (David Kammerer played by “Dexter” star Michael C. Hall), to do his college homework and papers for him.

Without giving too much away, since the movie is called “Kill Your Darlings”, it’s a pretty safe bet that one of the characters dies and the defense in court is shocking.  But, you have to remember that it’s the 1940s.

It was a good movie and Radcliffe’s sex scene in the movie proves that he no longer “Harry Potter”!

 GRADE:  B

“GRAVITY”

This seven-time Academy Award winner grossed more than $715 million at the box office.

From a technical standpoint, it was beautiful and Sandra Bullock turns in a great Oscar-nominated performance.

While enjoyable, outside of the technical achievement, I didn’t find that it had too much substance.  I know I’m probably alone in that assessment.

GRADE:  C

“12 YEARS A SLAVE”

I finally got around to seeing the Best Picture of 2013 and it was definitely worth it.

12 Years A Slave

While the movie covered the darkest period in American human rights history, it was riveting and you couldn’t take your eyes off it.  It was painful knowing that a portion of America thought it was okay to enslave, beat, rape, and treat others with no dignity.  Sadly, some still think that way!

The all-star cast was incredible.  While heartbreaking to watch her as Patsey, Lupita Nyong’o deserved her Oscar.

In another year that didn’t include Jared Leto as Rayon in “Dallas Buyers Club”, Michael Fassbender would have walked away with a gold statuette, too, as sadistic plantation and slave owner Edwin Epps.

GRADE:  A+

All of these movies are available now at Redbox and other movie outlets.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — April 4, 2014

FINALLY, IT’S FRIDAY!

I don’t use the phrase “T.G.I.F” very often, but I’m really thankful to God that today is Friday and I have a weekend with nothing planned.

Several things are on the docket work wise and public relations-wise the next two weekends, so I’m going to chill out this weekend with Ray and my sister, Tammy.

I hope you have a great weekend and make the best of it.  Here are my random thoughts for this week!

GUILTY!

Last Friday, I shared the story of Jessica Dutro, an Oregon woman on trial for murder, murder by abuse, second-degree assault, and four other charges in the death of her 4-year-old son, Zachary, because she thought he was gay!

Her boyfriend had already pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter for his part in the child’s death.

dutro-boggess-canady

Wednesday evening, the jury deliberated a little more than hour before finding her guilty on all seven charges!

“The Oregonian” reports that Dutro showed “no reaction” when the verdict was read.

Her sentencing date is set for April 18th.

LATEST ON MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT 370

Weeks after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on a routine flight from Kuala Lumpar International Airport in Malaysia to Beijing, China, we still don’t know what happened and the families of those on-board are still being fed misinformation.

Malaysia-Bejing Flight Map

It’s now a criminal investigation and Khalid Abu Bakar, the inspector general of the Royal Malaysian Police Force, says “As we have said earlier, only the passengers has been cleared. The rest? No.”

This means the pilot and co-pilot are still being investigated.

Last Words MA 370

While it may not be a big deal to some people, it seems the authorities in Malaysia are again showing their incompetence under the scrutiny of the world.

Officials are now reporting that the last words from the cockpit were “Good night, Malaysian three-seven-zero” rather than “All right, good night”, which they reported two weeks ago.

For the sake of the families, I hope they find answers and get closure soon.

“12 YEARS A SLAVE”

One of the things I plan on this weekend is finally getting to see the Oscar-winning movie, “12 Years A Slave”, now that it’s out on DVD.

12 Years A Slave

Also, I plan on seeing the Oscar-nominated Martin Scorsese film, “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Yes, that’s all I need — a movie that glorifies the use of the f-word, as if it isn’t one of my favorite crutch words.

If you recall, from my January 17, 2014 “Random Friday Thoughts”, the f-bomb is used 506 times in this movie, which is second only to documentary called “F*ck”, which is about the f-word.  It’s used 857 times in that one!

SUNNY FORECAST FOR WILLARD SCOTT

Former “Today” show weatherman Willard Scott got married earlier this week on April Fool’s Day.

Willard Scott

The 80-year-old married his girlfriend of almost eleven years, Paris Keena, in Fort Myers, Florida.

The couple met back in the late-1970s and remained friends.  Scott was married to Mary Dwyer from 1959 until her death in 2002.

Congratulations Willard and Paris.  I forecast sunny and happy days for you!

BEST WISHES TO SARA & LINDA, TOO

Congratulations and well wishes also go out to “The Talk” co-host Sara Gilbert and record producer Linda Perry.

Sara and Linda

The couple was married this past Sunday in an ocean side Malibu wedding and are now away on their honeymoon.

Sara and Linda have been dating since 2011.

For the reception party, Linda surprised Sara, who loves ’80s female rockers, with a concert featuring Terri Nunn of Berlin (“The Metro” and “Take My Breath Away”), Dale Bozzio of Missing Persons (“Destination Unknown”), Annabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow (“I Want Candy”), and Martha Davis of the Motels (“Only The Lonely”)!

How incredible would that be!!!!!

You’re probably more familiar with Sara, who starred on “Roseanne”.  But, Linda has produced for Christina Aguilera (“Beautiful”), Pink!, and Britney Spears.

She was also the lead singer of 4 Non Blondes, a one-hit wonder, that reached #14 in 1993 with the smash, “What’s Up?”

While it was a modest hit in the U.S., it reached #1 in Austria, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, and several more European countries.

“FROZEN”

“Frozen”, Disney’s latest animated blockbuster, is now the biggest animated film in history.  It’s crossed the one-billion dollar mark at $1.07 billion!

Frozen

When it was released a couple of weeks ago to the home market, it sold more than 3.2 million blue-rays and DVDs and in February, it became the biggest digital release ever!

I finally got around to seeing it.  Gretel, our 12-year-old daughter, has seen it several times already and loves it.  She says it’s one of her favorite Disney movies.

I guess my expectations were too just high with its box office success and the Oscar win for Best Animated Feature.  While I enjoyed the movie, it was no “Beauty and The Beast” and Belle will always be my favorite.

Beauty-And-The-Beast

GRADE:  B-

PICK HIT

The “Frozen” soundtrack is just as popular as the movie.  It’s the only album that has sold more than a million copies in 2014.  Since its November release, the soundtrack has sold 1.8 million copies and has spent eight weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 200 album chart.

Frozen Soundtrack

“Let It Go”, the first release from the album, picked up an Oscar for Best Original Song.  That song by Adele Dazeem has been downloaded around 1.8 million times!

What?  Damn you, John Travolta!  You’re right, it’s not Adele Dazeem, it’s “Wicked” star Idina Menzel!  🙂

John and Idina

“Frozen” is now ready to melt dance clubs across the country.  The song’s remix just debuted on the Billboard Dance Chart.  While Dave Aude’s remix is great, this is my favorite version by Papercha$er.

This will be Menzel’s fourth dance chart hit.  Her biggest hits on that chart were the #5 smash, “Defying Gravity”, from “Wicked” in 2007 and “Gorgeous” from her 2008 album, “I Stand”, peaked at #3.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Jimmy Carter

Train WreckMoscato Strawberry Lemonade

READY FOR THE BACKYARD POOL

That Moscato Strawberry Lemonade has me thinking of hot summer days in our backyard pool.

While the chill has settled in again across the Quad Cities after Monday’s 69° high, I can’t wait to lounge and soak up the sun dreaming of my 50th birthday vacation celebration this October.  It’s only six months away!  Only?

One of these days soon, I’ll write a blog and announce where it is.  Now, I just have to pay for it!

Until then and until we can swim outside, here’s a flashback to the summer of 2010 with Miss ABBA and Gretel that still melts my heart!

Pool Summer 2010

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

This Sunday, country music legend Merle Haggard will celebrate his 77th birthday.

Merle Haggard

Along with Buck Owens, Haggard helped define the “Bakersfield Sound”.

Since his first hit in 1963 to his last Top 40 appearance on the Billboard Country chart in 2005 in a duet with Gretchen Wilson, Haggard charted 84 songs!

Of those, an astounding 74 of them reached the Top Ten!  And, 38 made it all the way to the top of the charts!

My favorite Merle song reached #1 in 1974 and was the lead single from his Christmas album, “A Christmas Present” in November 1973 and his next studio album in February 1974, “If We Make It Through December”.

That song also hit #28 on the Billboard Hot 100, which was his only crossover.

My other favorite was his 1968 hit “Mama Tried”, which topped the country charts for four weeks.

Merle Haggard  -- Young

Happy Birthday Merle!

THAT’S IT

Have a fantastic weekend!  I hope I wasn’t too controversial in my thoughts this week.  I’ll have more to share next week.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — February 21, 2014

My favorite two days of the week are upon us — the weekend.  Okay, technically, those aren’t “days”.  But, I’m sure you get the point.

Whatever you have planned, make the best of it and enjoy.  Thank you for checking out my random thoughts.

FIVE YEARS!  HERE’S TO FIVE MORE…

Saturday marks the fifth year that Ray and I met in person for the first time.  While we chatted before then, we had drinks for the first time on February 22, 2009.   It was champagne and we hit it off rather well and after he left, Miss ABBA, the golden, and I talked and agreed that he was worth a second date.

That came a couple of days later with lunch at Exotic Thai in Moline and the rest is history, as they say.

Here’s one of our first pictures together from the spring of 2009!

Ray Anthony Spring 2009

To mark five years together, we’ll have champagne this weekend and go have lunch at Exotic Thai Monday.  We do that each year to mark those dates and Miss ABBA is still with us — in our hearts.

“LOOKING”

The eight episode, HBO series, “Looking”, is about three gay friends in San Francisco looking to find themselves and love.

Looking

It stars Jonathan Groff, who is best known for his Tony Award-nominated and Grammy Award winning role on Broadway in “Spring Awakening” and on “Glee” as Jesse St. James.  He also voices the character of Kristoff in the worldwide Disney smash, “Frozen”.

Frozen

“Looking” has been criticized as “boring” and lacking diversity, even with one of the leads and a major recurring character being Hispanic.

I love the show.  It’s funny and it’s sexy.  My only gripe is that there’s only eight episodes and they’re only 30 minutes long!

Here’s the trailer and remember that it’s HBO, so there are so are some adult themes.

I have to admit that I have a crush on Patrick, Groff’s character.  Or, maybe I just have a crush on Groff?

JENNIFER NETTLES IS AN ALLY

Jennifer Nettles, the leader singer of the country duo Sugarland and a married mother of a one-year-old boy, is a friend of the LGBT community.

jennifer-nettles

Nettles tells PrideSource that country music is slowly evolving and becoming more accepting.  “It’s exciting to see within the country genre, yet at the same time, for me in terms of social motivation and evolution and moving forward, I always feel — be it within a music genre or a religious movement or whatever — like, ‘OK, come on, let’s move faster. Let’s get there faster. Let’s get it done.”

She adds, “This should have already been behind us. So I am excited about it, but I want it to continue and be more.”

Sugarland, featuring former member Kristen Hall, who is a lesbian, took “Something More” to #2 on the Billboard Country chart in 2005, from their debut album, “Twice The Speed of Life”.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Sarah Palin Olympics Shoveling SnowSummer Hot

ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOKS

We’ve had a lot of snow this winter.  We’re now up to 54.3″ in the Quad Cities.

21714 Snow Update

That makes this the 5th snowiest winter on record (and the snowiest since I moved to the Quad Cities in November 2005)!

However, there’s some confusion.  A local newspaper and some local television meteorologists are reporting it as the “snowiest winter” on record.  What they are referring to is the snowiest “meteorological winter” on record.   “Meteorological winter” is the months of December, January, and February.

But, if you use that analogy, do you magically just forget about the snow that falls in October, November, March, and April?  That’s why when we list the snowiest winters on record, the National Weather Service runs the snow totals from summer to summer to cover all the snows from the first to the last.

One thing that isn’t confusing.  It’s the snowiest February on record in the Quad Cities with 21.8″!

Here’s a cool shot of the solar lights around our fish ponds trying to shine through the snow.

Snow globes

Gretel is definitely making the most of the snowy winter.

Gretel Snow HillGretel in Snow

At this point last winter, we had only picked up 14.5″ of snow in the Quad Cities!

“MOST UNPLEASANT CITY RIVALING SOCHI”

How would you like to win that honor?  Russia’s blantant homophobia aside, we’ve heard the less than desirable reports of hotel and facility issues with the 2014 Winter Olympics hosting city.

Now, MissTravel.com, a travel dating site, recently polled more than 3,000 people and asked what the “most unpleasant city rivaling Sochi” is and the winner (or loser) was Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

In second place was New Delhi, the capital of India.  Also ranking high on the list was Rio de Janerio, the site of the 2016 Summer Olympics!

Two American cities also made the list, Detroit, Michigan and Youngstown, Ohio.

I lived and worked in Youngstown for years from the late 1990s until the summer of 2002 and met some really nice people there.  I hope I don’t lose friends over what I’m going to say.  And, to put a positive spin on the dubious “honor”, I’ll start with a nice photo of Youngstown.

Youngstown 2

When I talk to people about all the places I’ve lived (there have been ten), I refer to the former booming steel town as “the most deplorable city I’ve ever lived.”

I know the loss of the steel mills and jobs, rampant crime, and mob activity took its toll.  From 1930-1960, more than 165,000 people called Youngstown home.  In 2012, the population is down almost 100,000 people to just around 65,000!

Youngstown 1

Sorry, Youngstown.  I guess I’m not alone.

SERIOUSLY, BILLY RAY CYRUS IS BACK ON THE CHART AGAIN!

I was still living in Kentucky, in 1992, when “Achy Breaky Heart, by Billy Ray Cyrus was so popular.  It spent five weeks at #1 on the Billboard Country chart and reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

At the time, I was appalled by the song and the fact that we were both from Kentucky.  I was okay with the down home country image that Loretta Lynn portrayed to the world about the Bluegrass state, but not with Cyrus!

Then, when Reba appeared on “TV Guide” with him, I just about died.

Reba Billy Ray Cyrus

Now, I have to admit that I took a chance and listened to the new Buck 22 song, “Achy Break 2”, which features Miley’s dad!  And, Billy, you rock now.

“Achy Breaky 2” is at #80 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is up to #11 on the Hot Rap songs chart!

So, to make amends, here’s a more recent picture of Reba and Billy Ray.

More recent Reba BRC

Billy Ray, this is my sincerest apologies for disliking you so much more than twenty years ago!

One final note is that Buck 22 is Damon Elliott, a well-respected music producer and the son of singer Dionne Warwick!

“ENOUGH SAID”

This little romantic comedy that made $21.8 million at the box office was one of the last roles for the late “The Sopranos” star James Gandolfini.

Enough Said

He and Julia Louis-Dreyfus play a couple of divorcees, Albert and Eve, who meet at a party and start dating.  The only problem is that Eve is the masseuse of Albert’s ex-wife and she starts filling Eve’s head with all of Albert’s faults.

The movie is very touching and very funny.  It’s hilarious to watch these two awkward adults fall for each other.

GRADE:  B+

“CARRIE”

I absolutely love the 1976 original with Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie.

Carrie

So, I didn’t have an opinion one way or the other when I heard that a remake was coming out.  I love director Kimberly Peirce’s “Boys Don’t Cry”, so having her behind the movie helped.  It was also a positive that stars Chloe Grace Moretz (“Let Me In”) and Julianne Moore are incredible.

Carrie

While some of the special effects were awesome, the high school drama seemed very Disney and silly.  Maybe it’s because the original was so creepy that the suspense never built up for me in this one.

For a dollar in Redbox, you might enjoy it.  Otherwise, watch the original.

GRADE:  C

“SURE OF YOU”

I finished reading my eighth book of 2014 this week, “Sure of You”, which is the sixth book in Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of The City” series.

Sure of You

While you may not have read them, you’ve likely been following along with me about the book series in my blog.

It’s now 1988, twelve years after the first book and three years after the last book, “Significant Others”.   While the book had some fun parts, this was my least favorite of the series, so far, because there wasn’t much happiness to be found.

Like real life, friends drift apart over the years and that takes place here with some of Barbary Lane’s favorite tenants.

One chance meeting in the last book leads to love in this book and that is a happy point.  However, one person becomes very successful and leaves San Fransisco and their family for fame in the “Big Apple”.

“DJANGO UNCHAINED”

I finally got around to seeing my first Quentin Tarantino movie, “Django Unchained”.

Dja

The lengthy, Oscar-winning movie for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Christop Waltz was entertaining and fun.  However, it too long and too much of a joke.

Maybe that was the intent — to make you laugh through the horror that was slavery in America.  Even the shoot outs were jokey and fake with the overkill of blood.  Don’t get me wrong, I love “The Walking Dead”, “Dexter”, “Hannibal”, and “American Horror Story”.  So, I can handle the blood.

After seeing this, I’m really ready to see this subject matter handled accurately with “12 Years A Slave”!

GRADE:  B-

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

In 2014, I’m taking a break from the 1980s music and featuring some of the country songs I loved growing up and when I listened to more country before going pop!

I remember a couple of my favorites from Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers Band.

Gatlin Brothers

From 1973 until their last hit in 1989, the trio reached the Top 40 on the Billboard Country chart 34 times.  Of those, 17 made the Top Ten and 3 topped the chart.

My favorites were “Broken Lady” (#5, 1976) and “All The Gold In California” (#1, 1979).

When researching Larry Gatlin for the chart information, I was surprised to see that he’s very conservative (not a problem) and a regular contributor for Fox News (less comfortable).  So, I was concerned about featuring the song because I didn’t want to promote him if he was anti-gay.  But, I haven’t come across anything to point to that.  Hopefully that proves that you can be a “Christian” and not be anti-gay!

Granted, if I learn otherwise about Gatlin, I’ll come in and delete this and that will be another blog topic altogether!

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

I hope you have a fantastic weekend.  Other than the plans I mentioned earlier, I’m having lunch with Ray and my sister, Tammy, Saturday and enjoying a blizzard tonight!

No, you didn’t miss a weather report.  I’m talking about a Red Velvet Cake Blizzard, silly!

Red Velvet Blizzard

After posting this blog early Friday morning, I added this line Friday afternoon because my local Dairy Queen was out of Red Velvet Cake blizzard!

That might be a good thing because I’m getting mixed reviews about them.  Some say they weren’t good, but I also heard that they excellent.  Oh well, better luck with the next blizzard, Peeps!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — November 22, 2013

The weekend before Thanksgiving is here and we have a little light snow in the Quad Cities!  While I have a couple of events to attend and one to emcee, I want to start decorating inside!  Whatever plans you have this weekend, I hope you have a good one.  Here are my random thoughts for this week.

TORNADO AFTERMATH

My heart goes out to the victims of last Sunday’s tornadoes in Illinois.  There were 119 reported tornadoes mostly in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan.  (Tornadoes were also reported in Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee.)

Washington Illinois

Washington Illinois

Those are images of the devastation in Washington, Illinois, about 100 miles southeast of the Quad Cities, near Peoria.  Winds in that EF-4 tornado, that killed one man and injured 122 others, were determined to be around 190 miles-per-hour.

At least eight people died in the twisters, six in Illinois and two in Michigan.

THE WORLD CHANGED (AGAIN) 50 YEARS AGO TODAY

On November 22, 1963, Americans woke up and the Vietnam conflict was still raging on.  In Fort Worth, Texas, light rain was falling.

Later that day, the world would be shocked and saddened as President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas.  Since then, there have been many books and movies that cover this tragic event.

parkland

“Parkland”, a little seen fall movie co-produced by actor Tom Hanks, is the latest.  While it covers the Kennedy shooting, it focuses more on what happened when the President and his shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, were both taken to Parkland Hospital, where they both died two days apart.

While only grossing about $650,000 in its limited theatrical run, the all-star movie features Zac Efron in a very mature role as Dr. Jim Carrico, the first doctor that attended to the ill-fated president.  The also stars Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden and Oscar nominees Paul Giamatti, Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Bob Thornton, and Jacki Weaver.

The movie is compelling and it doesn’t come across as a boring history recap.  It does feature some good-looking men, great 1960’s hair and decor, but a lot of blood.

GRADE:  B

THANKSGIVING INVITATION

If you’re looking for somewhere to spend Thanksgiving, to volunteer and serve food, or if you want to make food to serve those in need, feel free to help out my very dear and open-minded friends, Constance and Erin, and their church.  Here are the details.

Thanksgiving Riverside United Methodist Moline

For more on what they need:  http://qcriverside.com/volunteer-for-thanksgiving-dinner

JOAN JETT’S FLOAT FOR THE THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE

Rocker Joan Jett will be performing at next week’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  However, she’ll be changing floats because she’s a vegetarian!

Macys-Parade

She’ll no longer be performing on the South Dakota float.  The state’s Cattleman’s Association issued this statement, “When we learned that about Miss Jett, we were rightly concerned about her representing South Dakota and a state that is so heavily reliant on agriculture and livestock production to drive our economy.”

Joan Jett

Jett says, “I’ve decided to switch from South Dakota to another float because people’s political agendas were getting in the way of what should be a purely entertainment driven event.  I will remain focused on entertaining the millions of people watching, who will be celebrating a great American tradition.”

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Holiday Workout Madness Mental Institution

“AMERICAN HORROR STORY:  ASYLUM”

I know that millions of you are spending time with the witches in “Coven”, but Ray and I just got out of the “Asylum”.

While I loved the first season, “American Horror Story:  Murder House” with crazy Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange) and the strangely sexy, “Rubber Man”, the 13 episode, ten-hour second season, “Asylum”, was an emotional roller coaster ride of sadistic depravity, murder, sex, gore, and religion that I didn’t want to end.

American Horror Story Asylum

Although I just finished watching it, I want to go back and watch seasons one and two again!

In season one, it was easy to choose my favorite characters: Constance (Lange), her son, Tate (Evan Peters), her daughter, Addie (Jamie Brewer), and Chad (Zachary Quinto) and his lover, Patrick (Teddy Sears).  However, in season two, it’s impossible.

Sarah Paulson, who had a minor role in the first season, has plenty of scenery to chew on in the new installment.  She plays, Lana Winters, a lesbian reporter, in 1964, visiting Briarcliff Mental Institution to get an exclusive story on serial killer, “Bloody Face”.  Well, needless to say, and this isn’t a spoiler, Sister Jude (Lange) gets Lana institutionalized!

Sarah PaulsonJessica

Each returning actor plays a different character in each new season of “American Horror Story” and from the picture above of Sister Jude, you realize that some things change very quickly and there’s a reason why she doesn’t look very religious there.

What I love about the second season is that just when you think friendships are formed, things are not as they seem.  Each character doesn’t know who to trust!

zachary-quinto

Zachary Quinto was fantastic and creepy as Dr. Oliver Thredson and it was great to see Joseph Fiennes again, as Monsignor Timothy Howard.  While a man of the cloth, he does have some stimulating, partially clothed scenes and he has been working out! 🙂  (Totally non-related to this blog, but his full name is Joseph Twisleton Wykeham Fiennes.  Isn’t that a cool name?)

Joseph-Fiennes-American-Horror-Story

And, my final standout performance and character was the once meek Sister Mary Eunice.

Lily Rabe

Lily Rabe, the daughter of the late actress Jill Clayburgh, was incredible as her Mary Eunice transformed during the season.

While all of the episodes were spectacular, I think my favorite was “Unholy Night”.  You’ll never look at Christmas the same way again!

Unholy Night

Between mental illness, a serial killer named “Bloody Face”, Nazis, aliens, and medical experiments gone awry, let’s just hope that you never have to visit a facility like Briarcliff, unless it’s sitting on your couch.

GRADE:  A+

“SEXIEST MAN ALIVE”

Adam Levine is a very busy man.  He’s still recording music with Maroon 5, coaching singers on “The Voice”, and he was a guest on “American Horror Story:  Asylum”.

He now has another honor and accomplishment.  “People” magazine just named him this year’s “Sexiest Man Alive”!

adam-levine-tattoos

You mean that qualifies as sexy?  Don’t answer that, it’s a rhetorical question.  And, if want an answer, say it like they do in the South, “hell yea”!

THIS IS WAY TO JINGLE BELLS!

K-Mart is ready for the holiday season and wants us to pay attention.  You have my attention and ’tis the season!

MOVIES THAT ARE TOO UPSETTING

“Entertainment Weekly” recently highlighted “8 Great Movies Too Upsetting To See Twice”.  Of those listed, I saw “United 93” several times.  It’s about one of the hijacked planes from 9-11 that was headed toward Washington D.C. when it crashed into a Pennsylvania field.

Some of the others listed were “Requiem for a Dream” (2000) and “Leaving Las Vegas” (1995).

Boys Don't Cry

I have one that “EW” left out.  I was blown away back in 2000 with Hilary Swank’s Oscar-winning performance in “Boys Don’t Cry”.  After seeing the movie, my sister bought me the VHS copy, which I haven’t opened nearly a decade later.  I’m sure I’ll watch it again, but not yet.

The movie is based on a true story.  Swank plays Brandon Teena, a Nebraska trans man, who was born a woman, but lived as a man.  Brandon was raped and killed by men from the small town when they found out.

“THE PURGE”

In this summer psychological thriller, it’s 2022 and crime and unemployment rates are at all-time low.  It’s because the government has instituted a 12-hour period once a year where all criminal activity, including murder, is legal.

While many are out for blood on this night, home security salesman James Sandin (Ethan Hawke), his wife, Mary (Lena Headey) and their two children are locked away in their home waiting out the 12-hour “purge”.

However, their son, Charlie, notices an injured man begging for help to get away from a group of masked criminals and he lets the man in.

The Purge Masks

The masked criminals are definitely creepy and add some life to an otherwise lifeless movie.  Needless to say, the masked group gets into the Sandin home, but what are neighbors for, if only to come in and save the day!  Or, do they do?

The $3 million dollar movie went on to gross $89.3 million and a sequel is in the works.

GRADE:  B-

CHENEY PUBLIC DISPUTE

It might be an interesting Thanksgiving at the Dick & Lynne Cheney household if all of the family gets together.

Liz Cheney

After their daughter, Liz, who’s running for political office in Wyoming reiterated her views on marriage equality (she told “Fox News Sunday” that she supports “the traditional definition of marriage”), her lesbian sister, Mary, blasted her on Facebook.

Mary wrote, “Liz — this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree you’re just wrong — and on the wrong side of history.”

Mary Cheney, Heather Poe

Mary’s wife, Heather Poe (left in above picture), also commented, “I can’t help but wonder how Liz would feel if as she moved from state to state, she discovered that her family was protected in one but not the other.  Yes, Liz, in fifteen states and the District of Columbia you are my sister-in-law.”

Here is the part that irritates me.  Mom and Dad Cheney and Liz all say that Liz loves her younger sister and her family (Mary and Heather have two children).  However, how can you say that and know that having those anti-marriage equality views denies every married LGBT couple countless benefits from the federal government and in 35 states!

Go Team Mary & Heather!

PICK HIT

Winning Grammy Awards and having international success doesn’t always make singers a household name in America.

Outside of the Latin music charts where she’s scored 16 hits in the U.S., most Americans probably don’t know Italian singer Laura Pausini.  She did score two #1 Billboard dance hits in 2003 from her English debut album, which is incredible.  Check out “Surrender” on YouTube.

Laura Pausini

In Italy, Pausini has scored 25 Top 40 hits.  Of those, 16 reached the Top Ten and six topped the chart.

She has sold around 70 million albums, singles, and DVDs worldwide.  For the first release, Limpido”, from “20 – The Greatest Hits”, which has is her latest #1 in Italy, Laura has teamed up with another international superstar with only modest success here in the U.S.

Kylie Minogue

Like Laura, Kylie has sold about 70 million records worldwide.  In the U.S., she’s had 5 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with two reaching the Top Ten.  However, in the U.K, Kylie has scored 49 Top 40 hits with 35 of them reaching the Top Ten, and 8 topped the charts!

This is their recent collaboration and I really hope I get to see them both in concert in 2014.

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

The English band, Haircut 100 only reached the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 one time.

““Love Plus One” only reached #37 in 1982.  Although that makes them a “one hit wonder”, it’s still one of my favorite songs of that decade.  The song did reach #8 on the Dance/Club Play chart.

It’s also featured in one of my favorite coming-of-age movies, “Edge of Seventeen”, from 1998.

CHRISTMAS SONG KICK-OFF

Okay, technically I’ve already featured videos from Kelly Clarkson and Erasure letting you know how much I love their new Christmas albums.  But, beginning this week and running through Christmas, I’ll feature one of my favorite holiday videos.

It’s from Janice Dickinson, one of the most successful models of the 1970s and 1980s and the self-described first “supermodel”.  She now runs a talent agency.

This is one that I watch multiple times each holiday season and I smile and laugh each time.

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND

I hope you enjoyed this week’s random thoughts as much as I love thinking about, researching, and writing them each week.  Let me know what you agree with and what you may not agree on.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Anthony