Posts Tagged ‘ABBA’

My Life: The First 35 Years

While it’s not a milestone birthday, like my first, another one is approaching.

My life’s longevity has surpassed both of my parents (my mother died at 47 and my father at 55) and I’m grateful for that.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that as we get older, we pontificate about life more.

We think about the past — good and bad — and wonder what the future holds. And, Good Lord, with 2020 and Covid-19, I hope it’s an improvement!

With that in mind, I started thinking about the events and the songs that have influenced me most in life.

So, today, I’m sharing the 13 most memorable events of my first 35 years (1964-1999). Why 13? It’s my favorite number and I was born on the 13th!

EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#13 KENT STATE MASSACRE (MAY 4, 1970)

While I was only five years old when this happened and I didn’t understand the Vietnam War or the protests, I vividly remember the news that evening and this iconic photograph.

As you may recall, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed students killing four and wounding nine others.

On the 30th anniversary of the deadly shootings, I covered the story for a television station in Mansfield, Ohio.

#12 MADONNA MARRYING SEAN PENN (AUGUST 1985)

It’s no secret that I love Madonna. I’ve seen her in concert four times and I remember buying her first album at Terrapin Station in Murray, Kentucky, in 1983, before she was a household name.

But, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I shed tears the day she married Sean Penn in 1985!

Not because I was happy. I just knew it wouldn’t last and it was my “Madonna”! 🙂

#11 JEFFREY DAHMER & MY MILWAUKEE SUMMER (1990)

Back in 1990, I moved from Kentucky to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While I was only there for the summer into the early fall, I enjoyed my job as a bartender at “Partners”, one of the oldest LGBTQ bars in the city.

OMG, I was so young — in stone-washed jeans and a New Kids on the Block t-shirt! 🙂

On a slow Sunday night, a couple came in and ordered drinks.  Jerry was a good-looking man and his lady friend, who was older than him, was D’nell. 

While Jerry flirted with me, it was my bond with D’nell that would stand the test of time. She became my “Mom” and I called her that until her death in early 2009.

One night I went out drinking with my friends and co-workers in the seedier part of the gay district at C’est La Vie and Club 219.

Needless to say, I had way too much to drink and the scary alley, while unsavory, was a great place to puke before we moved on elsewhere!!!

I didn’t think too much about it at the time, but when serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested, I got chills. Club 219 was one of his favorite haunts and he picked up many of his victims there!

I used to keep journals and my night at Club 219 coincided with the stalking and murdering timeline. He very well could have been lurking in the corner that night I was totally wasted!

#10 VANESSA WILLIAMS TURNING OVER HER MISS AMERICA CROWN (JULY 1984)

It was a beautiful night in 1983 when Vanessa Williams became the first black Miss America.

It was a very sad day in the summer of 1984, when the 21-year-old turned over her crown after artistic (and unauthorized) nude pictures surfaced in Penthouse. (Even as a gay boy, I bought the magazine to see what the fuss was all about!)

Another admission: I was saddened and cried watching this press conference! I was hoping that she’d fight to keep her crown and tell the Miss America pageant to “f*ck off”, but that didn’t happen!

But, Vanessa has gone on to a very successful singing and acting career with numerous Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award nominations!

As a bonus, my favorite Vanessa Williams song!

Here’s my blog from earlier in 2020 dedicated just to Vanessa! (It’ll open in a new window.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2020/03/18/vanessa-williams-still-reigns/

Along with the events that impacted my first 35 years, I’m sharing my 35 favorites songs from those 35 years!*

Casey Kasem is my inspiration. I still recall all the weekends I spent listening to Casey count down the 40 biggest songs in America!

As I compiled my comprehensive list, it started out with 236 of my favorites!!!

As a teenager, I remember telling my grandmother Helen that a certain song was my “favorite” and she replied, “they’re all your favorites”!

But, when I was a youngster, there could only be one winner!

So here goes… enjoy the countdown and the videos!

#35 “GLORIA” (LAURA BRANIGAN) (1982)

#34 “SUGAR SUGAR” (THE ARCHIES) (1969)

#33 “LIZZIE AND THE RAINMAN” (TANYA TUCKER) (1975)

#32 “YOU ARE” (LIONEL RICHIE) (1983)

#31 “NEVER SURRENDER” (COREY HART) (1985)

MORE EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#9 “JOHN WAYNE GACY’S CHICAGO MURDER SPREE (1970s)

Just before Christmas 1978, John Wayne Gacy was arrested in Des Plaines, Illinois (near Chicago), for the murder of 15-year-old Robert Piest.

During his confession, police would learn there were many other bodies.

Gacy is known to have killed, at least 33 young men and boys. Of those, 26 were buried in the crawl space of his home!

When the news of this serial killer broke, I was a 14-year-old gay boy living in western Kentucky, just six hours away.

This had a very chilling effect on me since I was the same age as some of his victims. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that people could kill others just for the thrill of it!

#8 KAREN CARPENTER’S DEATH (1983)

Karen and Richard Carpenter were on “top of the world” in the 1970s topping the chart with their amazing melodies and her incredible voice.

After years of battling anorexia nervosa, the music world was shocked on February 4, 1983, when Karen died of a heart attack. The years of starvation had destroyed her body.

Karen’s battle with an eating disorder brought that subject to the forefront for America. I know the awareness has saved many lives.

#7 AIDS EPIDEMIC (FROM THE SUMMER OF 1981 TO NOW)

For almost 30 years from the 1980s through the early-2010s, I strongly despised, even hated, President Ronald Reagan.

In the summer of 1981, a new “gay cancer” (it would be called AIDS later) was attacking and quickly killing homosexuals in alarming numbers.

However, President Reagan didn’t mention the deadly disease publicly until a press conference in 1985. And, it’d be six years into the AIDS pandemic (1987) before he gave his first speech on AIDS — after more than 20,000 Americans had already died!

What a terrifying time for a 16-year-old boy that wasn’t even sexually active yet.

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.”

#6 “HALLOWEEN IN HOUSTON” & ELECTING BILL & HILLARY CLINTON (1992)

My first time on a plane was in October 1992 when I flew to Houston to celebrate Halloween with my friends Steve and Dennis.

There were so many amazing costumes in the big city including 1992 presidential candidate Ross Perot!!!

That pretty much summarizes the PG version of our nights on Montrose in the gay district.

There are many more scandalous pictures of that trip elsewhere in my blog’s history, including ones of yours truly!

Remember I was in my carefree 20s and it was before Facebook!!! 🙂

Clearly, there was boob admiration going on here between the two of us — he won!

Since my outfit was rather risque, I didn’t drink much that night and maybe that was a good thing! 🙂

However, after an intoxicating Sunday night with vodka cranberries, we flew back to Kentucky Monday and on Tuesday, I cast my first vote for the Clintons, which sent them to the White House for what would turn out to be eight years! 🙂

Now, back to the countdown!

#30 “MERRY CHRISTMAS DARLING” (THE CARPENTERS) (1970)

#29 “SOS” (ABBA) (1975)

#28 “DREAMS” (GABRIELLE) (1993)

#27 “YOU MAKE MY DREAMS” (DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES) (1981)

#26 “SO EMOTIONAL” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1987)

#25 “TARZAN BOY” (BALTIMORA) (1985)

#24 “EMOTIONS” (MARIAH CAREY) (1991)

#23 “BORDERLINE” (MADONNA) (1984)

#22 “ONLY IN MY DREAMS” (DEBBIE GIBSON) (1987)

#21 “I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY (WHO LOVES ME)” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1987)

EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#5 THE DEATH OF MY FIRST IDOL — MY GRANDFATHER (1978)

My first two idols in life were my my mother, Dessie, and my grandfather, John Henry Peoples.

Sadly, my life with my grandfather was cut short since I had just become a teenager when he died in early 1978.

I’ll never forget his last Christmas as he was dying from colon cancer, it was remarkable how he stayed in good spirits.

I’ll always cherish the weekends we spent together at Kentucky Lake camping out and fishing.  Also, all of the memories of just piddling around in the back yard and in his work garage remain vividly clear in my mind.  He made me feel loved and appreciated.

I never really liked the taste of beer.  But, as a kid, it was so cool that he would let me suck the suds off his beer cans when he’d open them. 

Maybe it’s because of the suds that I’ve now moved on to bubbly champagne as an adult (along with vodka and wine)!

When I finally get to heaven, I can’t wait to say “thank you” and let him know how much I idolized him.  I know, as a kid, I never told him.

There was also talk that I was almost named after my father.  I’m grateful that I wasn’t.  However, it would have been an honor to have been a “John Henry” Junior!

#4 JIMMY CARTER BECOMING PRESIDENT (1976)

In November 1976, as a 12-year-old boy in Kentucky, I cast my first presidential vote for the Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter, and four years later, at 16, I voted for him again. 

So, you might be thinking, that’s impossible.  Many things go on in Kentucky that aren’t talked about in other states, but kids still can’t vote. 

Well, since my Grandmother Helen was not very literate, I accompanied her into the voting booth and I got to vote for the candidates of my choice.  Even then, I knew what I was doing.  🙂

Now, you might be thinking, why Carter?  Maybe it was because he was a Southerner and he talked like me!  I’m kidding.  I just liked him.

At age 12, I didn’t know anything about “gay rights”, but then again, there was no such thing as “rights” for those kind of people in the mid-1970s!

While Carter was a deeply committed Christian that taught Sunday school and prayed several times a day, he was the first president to address gay rights and his administration was the first to meet with gay rights activists.  He was opposed to the Briggs Initiative in California that would have banned gays from teaching in public schools.

In the summer of 2017, while living in Panama City, Florida, I drove through the darkness of night and across the backwoods of the Southeast to hear President Carter give a sermon at his church in Plains, Georgia, and I got to meet my idols, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter!

#3 MY DECADE LONG STRUGGLE WITH BULIMIA (1986-1995)

Over the years, I’ve written many times about eating disorders from Karen Carpenter’s anorexia nervosa to my own battle with bulimia.

Just know that eating disorders affect men and women, girls and boys, the young and the elderly!

I wrote, “In early 1995, I was down to 116 pounds and I thought I was fat… I’m still obsessed with weight gains and losses, eating too much, and fighting the urge to binge and purge.”

Another time I shared, “… I fight the food demon of overeating every day.  A few pounds to the average person is a huge burden, a catalyst for insecurity, and a path for destruction to a food addict.”

While I was a practicing bulimic for nine years from 1986-1995, I got my act together for more than two decades.

Beyond the scope of this blog, I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times and then I just get up and start over again!

Like other addictions, it’s a daily struggle and not something that’ll just go away.

Let the countdown roll on….

#20 “AIN’T EVEN DONE WITH THE NIGHT” (JOHN COUGAR MELLENCAMP) (1981)

#19 “DIM ALL THE LIGHTS” (DONNA SUMMER) (1979)

#18 “ON MY OWN” (PATTI LaBELLE & MICHAEL McDONALD) (1986)

“ON MY OWN” (REBA McENTIRE, MARTINA McBRIDE, TRISHA YEARWOOD, & LINDA DAVIS) (1995)

#17 “NO FRILLS LOVE” (JENNIFER HOLLIDAY) (1985)

#16 “I AM WOMAN” (HELEN REDDY) (1972)

#15 “TWO OF HEARTS” (STACEY Q) (1986)

#14 “FASCINATED” (COMPANY B) (1987)

#13 “I LOVE MY RADIO” (TAFFY) (1986)

#12 “TOP OF THE WORLD” (THE CARPENTERS) (1973)

#11 “MISSING YOU” (JOHN WAITE) (1984)

“TAINTED LOVE” (SOFT CELL) (1982)

“WE DON’T HAVE TO TAKE OUR CLOTHES OFF” (JERMAINE STEWART) (1986)

“ONE PROMISE TOO LATE” (REBA McENTIRE) (1987)

“OH L’AMOUR” (ERASURE) (1986)

“DON’T YOU WANT ME” (THE HUMAN LEAGUE) (1981)

“HARPER VALLEY P.T.A.” (JEANNIE C. RILEY) (1968)

“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU” (MARIAH CAREY) (1994 ORIGINAL)

“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU” (MAKE MY WISH COME TRUE EDITION) (MARIAH CAREY) (2019)

EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#2 MOVING TO CHICAGO (1994) & KICKING OFF MY TV CAREER (1996)

In November 1993, my grandmother Helen (the last of my living parents and grandparents) died.

I was still in my hometown helping to take care of her and since Tammy was young and had her own family, I had no reason to stay in Kentucky any longer.

I often wondered “Is There Life Out There?” (the title of a huge Reba McEntire song in 1992), and I struggled through the 1993 holidays and the early winter months of 1994.

In the spring of 1994, my friend Steve shared with me the PBS series, “Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the Cities” and Mary Ann Singleton (Laura Linney) became my inspiration to make a change in my life!

Over Memorial Day 1994, Steve, Dennis, and I went to Chicago to party for the weekend and we had a blast.

At Gentry’s on Rush, the owner started sending over free cocktails and the boys (and the music) were so hot!

It was there that I fell in love with “Dreams” by Gabrielle (back at #28) and Sarah Brightman’s “Once in a Lifetime” from the “Dive” album!

It was also that weekend that I decided I was moving to Chicago!

Six weeks later, over the Fourth of July weekend, I moved to the big city and it was the best decision I ever made!

It was an interesting two years — bartending in a country gay bar, meeting a psycho on my 30th birthday that ended up trying to kill me several times, and then meeting someone that would become my longest relationship (9 years).

It was also during my first residency in Chicago that my television news career took off in the spring of 1996. My first network-affiliated television weather job was in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, that summer. And, from there, jobs in Texas, Ohio, Maryland, Illinois, Florida, and Minnesota followed!

#1 MY MOTHER’S DEATH (NOVEMBER 7, 1990)

My beautiful, wonderful mother, Dessie, died of a heart attack on the morning of November 7, 1990.

While I’ve lived more than half of my lifetime without her, I’m grateful for the 26 years we had together.

She was there to see me make my theatrical stage debut in “The Curious Savage” and saw me present weather at Murray State University’s television station that was only broadcast on cable systems in two cities.

My mother was there in the spring of 1989 when I became the first college graduate in our family.

One of the funniest stories I have of my mother happened in the spring of 1990. I took her to Sunday brunch at 101st Airborne in Nashville, Tennessee.  

She didn’t drink, but her champagne glass was empty every time the server came by and mine was always full since I kept switching glasses with her. I’m sure the waitress thought Dessie was such a lush and I was so innocent allowing my mother to drink so freely while I just sipped my champagne! 🙂

There have been so many times over the past 30 years that I’ve wanted to grab the phone to share something with her and then realize that I couldn’t do it!

As I reflect back on my life with my mother, I was so fortunate to be loved. She wasn’t just my mother — she was my biggest supporter, she was my rock, and she was my friend!

When I think of all of the things I wrote about today and not having a chance to talk to her about them, I can still smile and feel warm inside.

I know that my mother is with me — in my heart and in my memories!

P.S. The #38 song at the bottom of the blog was played at my mother’s funeral!

To quote Casey again, back to the countdown because “we don’t stop until we get to the top!”

“XANADU” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1980)

“IMAGINE” (JOHN LENNON) (1971)

“LET IT BE” (THE BEATLES) (1970)

Casey, take us home, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!”

I appreciate you taking time to check out my fun little walk down memory lane.

Anthony

*Okay, since I ❤️❤️❤️ LISTS & COUNTDOWNS, I’m really sharing my 101 favorites!

Why 101? There were “101 Dalmatians”! 🙂

#101 “SO MANY MEN, SO LITTLE TIME” (MIQUEL BROWN) (1983)

#100 “LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER” (THE CAPTAIN & TENNILLE) (1975)

#99 “DREAM WEAVER” (GARY WRIGHT) (1975)

#98 “KISS AN ANGEL GOOD MORNIN'” (CHARLEY PRIDE) (1971)

#97 “OBJECT OF MY DESIRE” (STARPOINT) (1985)

#96 “EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE” (THE POLICE) (1983)

#95 “ANOTHER SAD LOVE SONG” (TONI BRAXTON) (1993)

#94 “I’LL TUMBLE 4 YA” (CULTURE CLUB) (1983)

#93 “CHAINS” (PATTY LOVELESS) (1989)

#92 “FAITH” (GEORGE MICHAEL) (1987)

#91 “HIGHER LOVE” (STEVE WINWOOD & CHAKA KHAN) (1986)

#90 “CAN’T FIGHT FATE” (TAYLOR DAYNE) (1989)

#89 “SAD SONGS (SAY SO MUCH)” (ELTON JOHN) (1984)

#88 “EDGE OF SEVENTEEN” (STEVIE NICKS) (1982)

#87SAY YOU, SAY ME” (LIONEL RICHIE) (1985)

#86 “IT MATTERS TO ME” (FAITH HILL) (1995)

#85 “DO YOU REALLY WANT TO HURT ME?” (CULTURE CLUB) (1982)

#84 “I KNEW YOU WERE WAITING (FOR ME)” (ARETHA FRANKLIN & GEORGE MICHAEL) (1987)

#83 “JESSIE’S GIRL” (RICK SPRINGFIELD) (1981)

#82 “EXCEPT FOR MONDAY” (LORRIE MORGAN) (1991)

#81 “LOUISIANA WOMAN, MISSISSIPPI MAN” (CONWAY TWITTY & LORETTA LYNN) (1973)

#80 “I LOVE ROCK & ROLL” (JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS) (1982)

“I LOVE ROCK & ROLL” (BRITNEY SPEARS) (2002)

#79 “HEAVEN’S JUST A SIN AWAY” (THE KENDALLS) (1977)

#78 “OPEN YOUR HEART” (MADONNA) (1986)

#77 “WITH EVERY BEAT OF MY HEART” (TAYLOR DAYNE) (1989)

#76 “TAKE ME AS I AM” (FAITH HILL) (1994)

#75 “1999” (PRINCE) (1982)

#74 “MAMMA MIA” (ABBA) (1975)

#73 “I CAN DREAM ABOUT YOU” (DAN HARTMAN) (1984)

#72 “EMPTY GARDEN (HEY HEY JOHNNY)” (ELTON JOHN) (1982)

#71 “ONLY IN MY MIND” (REBA McENTIRE) (1985)

#70 “NO MORE WORDS” (BERLIN) (1984)

#69 “WEST END GIRLS” (THE PET SHOP BOYS) (1984)

#68 “MAGIC” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1980)

#67 “I GUESS THAT’S WHY THEY CALL IT THE BLUES” (ELTON JOHN) (1984)

#66 “I RAN (SO FAR AWAY) (A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS) (1982)

#65 “TRUE” (SPANDAU BALLET) (1983)

#64 “IS THERE SOMETHING I SHOULD KNOW?” (DURAN DURAN) (1983)

#63 “DREAMLOVER” (MARIAH CAREY) (1993)

#62 “THIS WOMAN AND THIS MAN” (CLAY WALKER) (1995)

#61 “COLD HEARTED” (PAULA ABDUL) (1989)

#60 “COME GO WITH ME” (EXPOSE) (1987)

#59 “IT’S NOT RIGHT BUT IT’S OKAY” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1999)

#58 “YOU GOT IT (THE RIGHT STUFF) (NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK) (1988)

#57 “FLASHDANCE (WHAT A FEELING)” (IRENE CARA) (1983)

#56 “FRIENDS & LOVERS” (GLORIA LORING & CARL ANDERSON) (1986)

#55 “SUNGLASSES AT NIGHT” (COREY HART) (1984)

#54 “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY” (JANET JACKSON) (1986)

#53 “LOOKING FOR A NEW LOVE” (JODY WATLEY) (1987)

#52 “DANCING ON THE CEILING” (LIONEL RICHIE) (1986)

#51 “LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE BOY” (DENIECE WILLIAMS) (1984)

#50 “IF YOU LOVE ME (LET ME KNOW)” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1974)

#49 “MAKING LOVE OUT OF NOTHING AT ALL” (AIR SUPPLY) (1983)

#48 “(THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU” (THE CARPENTERS) (1970)

#47 “LET ME BE THERE” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1973)

#46 “HOW WILL I KNOW” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1985)

#45 “WHAT MADE YOU SAY THAT” (SHANIA TWAIN) (1993)

#44 “KARMA CHAMELEON” (CULTURE CLUB) (1983)

#43 “BLAME IT ON YOUR HEART” (PATTY LOVELESS) (1993)

#42 “TOO SHY” (KAJAGOOGOO) (1983)

#41 “BELIEVE” (CHER) (1998)

#40 “THE REFLEX” (DURAN DURAN) (1984)

#39 “FOREVER YOUR GIRL” (PAULA ABDUL) (1989)

#38 “WIND BENEATH MY WINGS” (BETTE MIDLER) (1989)

#37 “I’LL BE YOUR SHELTER” (TAYLOR DAYNE) (1990)

#36 “KIDS IN AMERICA” (KIM WILDE) (1981)

Random Friday Thoughts — July 24, 2020

I know many of you are taking advantage of the summer heat and humidity and enjoying outdoor activities.

Some may just be vegging out inside in the air conditioning.

Me, I’m just fantasizing! Oh, I mean, I’m dreaming of fall and winter! 🙂

Actually, we’re only five months from Christmas! I’ve already decided how I’m decorating my two trees this year! 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to check out my random thoughts. If you’d like to comment (or disagree), do it diplomatically!

THE IRONY!

In the 2016 failed presidential election, there was all this talk about building “a wall”, the “wall”, that “wall”, the wall THAT.NEVER.HAPPENED.!

And, now this recent headline about Mexico shutting down the borders — to keep Americans out!

Again, the irony! 🙂

LESS IRONIC, BUT JUST AS TRUE!

“HALLOWEEN KILLS” …. DEAD FOR A YEAR!

While it comes as no surprise with the rampant spread of Covid-19 and rising death tolls, Michael Myers’ victims will live to see another day (well, actually 364 of them)!

The latest installment in the “Halloween” franchise, which was scheduled to hit theaters October 16, 2020, has been pushed back to October 15, 2021.

Here’s what director David Gordon Green and original “Halloween” director John Carpenter had to say about the delay.

TINA TURNER IS BACK!

Norwegian DJ/Producer Kygo is making the world a better place. Okay, he’s taking our mind off real life events for four minutes.

He talked Tina Turner into briefly coming out of retirement for a new remix to her 1984 hit, “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, her only #1 solo hit on the Billboard Hot 100!

And, since we won’t see a new season of “Younger” anytime soon, enjoy seeing sexy Charles Michael Davis in the video, which also stars Laura Harrier.

“THE CLINTON TAPES”

Taylor Branch’s 2009 book is subtitled, “Wrestling History with the President”.

This mammoth book (668 pages) was a very interesting read.

Branch, a long-time friend with President Clinton, met almost monthly with Clinton during his eight years in the White House.

They had one-on-one conversations (except when Hillary or Chelsea would drop in to say good night) about life and events he was dealing with as President. He’d use these recordings to vent, write his memoirs, and put the transcripts in his Presidential Library.

What I learned from the book:

In February 1999, Clinton told Branch that he thought George W. Bush would be the GOP candidate for the 2000 presidential race and that he thought Elizabeth Dole could be his running mate.

Also in that session, while he said he was behind Hillary running for the Senate in New York, it “would waste her unique strength across the country”. Clinton thought that a Gore-Hillary ticket would be their best chance to beat Bush in 2000, “but I don’t think Al would ever do it.”

As the 2000 race was getting underway, Clinton sized up the two leading Republican candidates. He thought George W. Bush was “unqualified to be president, but he had shrewd campaign instincts”. On the other hand, he thought John McCain “would make a good president, but he had no idea how to run”.

When they left the White House, the Clintons’ debt from having to hire personal lawyers during the seven-year-plus Whitewater investigation by special prosecutors Ken Starr and Robert Ray was $14 million! (That investigation led to the Paula Jones investigation and the Monica Lewinsky affair and testimony.)

All this starting from a failed land deal in which the Clintons lost more than $35,000 (about $135,000 today — adjusted for inflation)!

The Whitewater investigation that lasted through much of Clinton’s two terms ended with “no charges, required no admissions, made no adverse findings, and alleged no misstatements from Clinton in any sworn testimony”, which had been the whole basis for the impeachment!

Clinton said it was “irksome” that no major news outlets wanted the story, but he was glad it was over.

“THE POLITICIAN” SEASON 2

While there’s no Jessica Lange this time, I absolutely loved the second season of Netflix’s “The Politician” with Ben Platt.

Also, it’s incredible having Bette Midler and Judith Light in high profile roles. I expect Emmy nominations for both next week! 🙂

Definitely check it out.

UPDATE ON “BUBBLES”

No, I’m not talking about Michael Jackson’s chimpanzee (neither are no longer with us)!

I’m talking about Bubbles, the python that Britney Spears accessorized with at 2001 MTV Video Music Awards.

It’s still alive and has retired! 🙂

I had my own Britney moment in March 2019 when I visited the WHO Snake Farm in Bangkok, Thailand.

At the conclusion of the snake show, we not only got to see an Albino Burmese Python, which is white with patterns in butterscotch yellow or burnt orange (most Pythons are dark colored), but we could have it draped over our shoulders!

It was so cool, but Britney wore it better. And, no, I didn’t start lip-syncing “I’m A Slave 4 U”! 🙂

On a humorous side note, we were told not to worry about the snake being hungry since “it had a small child yesterday”! 🙂

FYI — snakes have poor eyesight and they don’t have ears, so they can’t hear you.  If you encounter one, let it crawl on by — or slowly move away and once you’re out of striking distance, run! 

That’s not my advice — that’s what we were told to do! (Thailand has a lot of snakes, so they should know!)

MY LOVE OF ABBA

It’s no secret I love the Swedish band ABBA.

Recently, I shared how I came to be a fan and what inspired me to name my golden retriever after the band.

It wasn’t just them or their music, it was actually something from Australia!

Also, I shared my ten favorite ABBA songs. (By the way, “Dancing Queen” barely made the Top Ten!)

If you missed it, just click here and it’ll open in a new window.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2020/07/17/abba-the-iconic-band-the-dog-the-six-degrees-of-separation/

Now, sing and dance around the room embarrassing your spouse, kids, grandkids, pets, or co-workers! 🙂

“WALK OF SHAME”

I just watched the 2014 box office bomb, “Walk of Shame” again and I laughed as much as I did six years ago! (The movie only made $59,209 — yes, that’s thousands and NOT millions!)

It doesn’t hurt that Elizabeth Banks is so adorable and funny and her co-star is my future ex-husband, James Marsden.

Here’s what I wrote about the movie the first time I saw it.

“Critics hated it and it was panned by the few movie goers that saw it… Elizabeth Banks plays Meghan Miles, a Los Angeles television news anchor, who is dumped by her fiance.  Her two friends force her to go on the town.  After getting drunk and hooking up with the very hunky Gordon, played by James Marsden, she leaves his place when he falls asleep and checks her messages.  The network is coming to see her show for a promotion to do the national news.

When she leaves Gordon’s place, her car is being towed away with her purse in it.  In her quest to get the car back, she runs into altercations with local drug dealer, prostitutes, the police, and that’s only part of the drama and the chaos.

Many of us have done the ‘walk of shame’ and this is one I’d definitely do again!”

GRADE:  B

trailer

And, if that wasn’t enough, it was my 10th favorite movie of 2014, so here’s a bonus!

“THE WEATHERMAN”

This 1995 creepy thriller by Steve Thayer is fiction, but it covers three things I know a bit about: the weather, television news, and serial killers. It also takes place in Minnesota!

As a major weather event occurs each season, a woman is murdered. As police zero in on the killer, you guessed it, the (television) “weatherman” becomes the prime suspect.

Horror novelist Stephen King loved the book!

“DIRTY JOHN: THE BETTY BRODERICK STORY”

The second season of was definitely NOT as exciting as season one of the series with Connie Britton and Eric Bana.

“The Betty Broderick Story” stars Amanda Peet (“The X-Files”) and Christian Slater (“Mr. Robot”) in the true life story of a scorn woman pushed to murder her ex-husband and his new wife.

Both actors are great, but the story line was too simplistic, repetitive, and way too drawn out.

I was totally over it by the finale!

GRADE: C

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

ABBA: The Iconic Band, The Dog, & The Six Degrees of Separation

ABBA — those four letters are iconic!

Yet, for me, they have an added, special meaning.

If you follow me on social media or if you’ve regularly read my blog over the years, “ABBA” instantly makes you think of my beautiful late golden retriever.

If you’re seeing this from anywhere else across the world, the four letters, “ABBA”, instantly identifies one of biggest and the best musical acts ever!

My love of Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Benny, and Bjorn inspired me to name my dog ABBA and it’s the inspiration for today’s blog — a love letter to the foursome and a big “Thank You For The Music” and for the memories!

As I get into the meat and potatoes of today’s blog, I’ll be sharing a few personal stories that connect me to ABBA — the super group and the dog!

This was my dinner in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2017, which is where Bjorn was born and a city that played a big part in ABBA’s musical history. (Okay, that’s a slight deviation there, but I said this was going to be personal!) 🙂

ALMOST 50 YEARS ALREADY!

We’re not quite there yet, but it’s mind-boggling to think that we’re approaching the 50th anniversary of ABBA’s world domination!

They scored their first Swedish hit, “People Need Love”, in the summer of 1972 as “Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid”, then recorded “Ring Ring” for the 1973 Eurovision Song Contest.

But, it was winning Eurovision the next year, in 1974, with “Waterloo” that propelled ABBA to international fame!

I still listen to ABBA’s music regularly and it brings me just as much joy today as it has over my lifetime!

However, I was inspired to share my stories and my love of Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny, and Frida (Anni-Frid) after reading Carl Magnus Palm’s 2001 biography called, “Bright Lights, Dark Shadows: The Real Story of ABBA”, which sat on my bookshelf for almost two decades!

Crazy, right?

What a great read! Check it out!

Growing up in the southern United States (Kentucky) in the early-1970s, I was country when country wasn’t cool!

I was still infatuated with Tanya Tucker, while my teenage cousins (our summer baby sitters) were dancing around to the Carpenters, Olivia Newton-John, and ABBA. But, I was slowly coming around to pop music!

Somehow I acquired the 45 rpm single “SOS” and I was hooked on ABBA!

It was just two years earlier that I bought my first pop single, “Delta Dawn” by Helen Reddy, at the age of eight!

And, just as I was getting on the ABBA bandwagon as a fan, the international super group was coming undone and were calling it quits.

In the summer of 1980, they released the single, “The Winner Takes It All”.

It was the lead single from the upcoming November album, “Super Trouper”, with Agnetha singing lead.

While Bjorn says the song is about divorce and it’s fiction, he and Agnetha divorced early that year.

Yet, that wasn’t the end. The group would release what would become their last studio album, “The Visitors”, in November 1981.

The lead single in America was “When All Is Said And Done” with Frida singing lead.

Like “The history book on the shelf/Is always repeating itself”, Frida and Benny ended their relationship and divorced earlier in the year!

With both couples in ABBA divorced, new relationships pursued, and outside musical ventures already underway, there was no reason for the band to make new music together.

1990s ABBA-RENAISSANCE

While they hadn’t charted on the American singles charts since early 1983, the world would experience an ABBA-renaissance a decade later!

It started in the summer of 1992, when my favorite English pop group of the 1980s, Erasure, released “Abba-esque”.

That four-song EP featured remakes of the ABBA hits, “Lay All Your Love on Me”, “SOS”, “Take a Chance on Me”, and “Voulez-Vous”.

The duo scored an American Top 10 Dance Club Songs hit with “Take a Chance on Me”.

An ABBA revival was just getting underway and was ready to sweep the world!

After eight studio albums and countless compilation and greatest hits albums in the 1970s and 1980s, the real ABBA was ready to claim their rightful place again in music history.

“ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits”, featuring 19 of the group’s biggest hits, was released in September 1992.

It has gone on to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide making it the best-selling ABBA album ever!

In the spring of 1994, I was getting ready to make the biggest (and best) decision of my life.

I was moving from my small hometown of Mayfield, Kentucky (population around 10,000) to Chicago, the third largest city in the U.S. This move would lead to my career as a television meteorologist and it opened the world of international travel to me.

That spring, while packing to move, “ABBA Gold” was on repeat and the song I remember most vividly was “Knowing Me, Knowing You”.

THE BIG SCREEN LOVE AFFAIR WITH ABBA

After the international success of the Erasure album and “ABBA Gold”, the band’s profile would be raised even more in 1994 and 1995 with the release of two Australian dramedies — “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and “Muriel’s Wedding”.

In “Priscilla”, the movie centers around three drag queens on a cross country trip across the Australian Outback. One of the queens is obsessed with ABBA and two of them perform “Mamma Mia”.

In “Muriel’s Wedding”, socially awkward Muriel spends much of her time fantasizing about a glamorous wedding to get out of Porpoise Spit, Australia, by listening to ABBA (and 1970s music)!

Like in “Priscilla”, Muriel and her friend, Rhonda, perform an ABBA number. They choose “Waterloo”!

After seeing “Muriel’s Wedding” in 1995, I decided that my next dog would be named “ABBA”.

That became a reality in the summer of 2000, when I got my golden retriever. And, yes she was named ABBA!

October 2011

With their chart domination and stardom in the 1970s and with “ABBA Gold” and those two Australian movies in the 1990s, the world already had two chances to fall in love with iconic group.

However, the music of ABBA was getting ready to conquer another entertainment staple and a whole new audience!

ABBA 2.0 — “MAMMA MIA!”

The musical “MAMMA MIA!”, featuring a story line based around the music of ABBA, opened in London in April 1999. Almost a year later, it made its North American debut in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

My personal connection with the musical: Before it opened on Broadway in the fall of 2001, it played at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago that summer, where I first saw it.

Since we got to the venue early, we stopped in at Dunkin’ Donuts, right around the corner. And, you’ll never guess who was standing right in front of me?

It was Louise Pitre, who was playing Donna in Chicago and would originate the role on Broadway! I so wish I had said “hello”, but I let her be!

Pitre earned a Tony nomination in 2002 in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role category!

Worldwide, since 1999, based on limited available data, ‘MAMMA MIA!”, the musical, has grossed almost $2.1 billion (yes, that’s BILLIONS)!!!

BUT, WAIT!!!!

In the summer of 2008, the movie version of “Mamma Mia!” with Meryl Streep in the lead role became an international blockbuster bringing in $615.7 million at the box office.

It spawned a successful sequel in 2018, “Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again” ($395 million).

There’s even talk of a third movie that may feature new ABBA music!

And, before I share my ten favorite ABBA songs, I have the ultimate connection to the group as if naming your dog after them, isn’t enough. 🙂

It’s like “life imitates art” or “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”!

In late 2016, being the planner that I am, a trip to Scandinavia was booked for August 2017 to see much of Norway, some of Sweden, and Copenhagen, Denmark (loved it)!

However, in early 2017, my ex and I decided to end our eight-year relationship, but the big down payment on the Scandinavian trip was already paid!

So, in true ABBA fashion — the band with their last two albums and us with our trip — we honored our commitment to travel together even as divorced or separated couples!

That was us in Gothenburg, Sweden.

We parted amicably with fond and beautiful memories of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark!

A LITTLE CHART HISTORY FIRST

Okay, let’s kick off the countdown with a little ABBA chart trivia.

Ironically, Australia was one of the ABBA’s biggest success stories, while the U.S. was one of their biggest disappointments! It’s no secret that the band didn’t enjoy touring and that’s vital to success in America!

On the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States, ABBA scored 14 Top 40 hits.

Of those, four reached the Top Ten (“Waterloo” #6, 1974; “Dancing Queen” #1, 1977; “Take a Chance on Me” #3, 1978; and “The Winner Takes It All” #8, 1980).

Shockingly, in the U.S., “Dancing Queen” was the band’s only #1 song on the Hot 100. Yet, when you add in sales and other variables, “Take a Chance on Me” was their biggest hit in America!

MY TEN FAVORITE ABBA SONGS

I narrowed this list down to 23 songs and it was so hard cutting it down to just my ten favorites!

“DANCING QUEEN”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Original working title was “Boogaloo”!

“GIMME! GIMME! GIMME! (A MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT)”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: ABBA rarely allows artists to sample their music, but Madonna was permitted to use the instrumental introduction of this ABBA hit in her #1 2005 smash “Hung Up”!

“SUPER TROUPER”

“TAKE A CHANCE ON ME”

“WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE”

“FERNANDO”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Originally recorded for a Frida solo album!

INTERESTING TIDBIT #2: Spent a record setting 14 weeks at #1 in Australia!

“KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU”

“WATERLOO”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Original working title was “Tango”!

FROM “MURIEL’S WEDDING”

“MAMMA MIA”

FROM “THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT”

“SOS”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Considered as Agnetha’s first “heartbreak classic”!

INTERESTING TIDBIT #2: I still think Pierce Bronson should be sued for slaughtering (not slaying) the song in the “Mamma Mia!” movie! 😦 🙂

Now that you know my favorite ABBA songs and my history with the band, I have one more confession to make… as a teenager, I had the biggest crush on Benny!

Thank you for taking the time to ready my love letter to ABBA. What are you favorite ABBA songs or memories?

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — July 3, 2020

Since it’s been a rather bizarre year so far, it probably comes as no surprise that summer is here and 2020 is already half over!

Have a safe and enjoyable Independence Day and thank you for checking out my random thoughts!

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

It’s going to be “hotter than a firecracker” * out there this holiday weekend as temperatures top out around 90° across Illinois (heat indices will be near 100°)! 

* Technically, firecrackers and sparklers can burn to more than 1800° to 3000°+, so it’s just hot!

PUT A LITTLE SPARKLE IN YOUR FOURTH!

I have another thought or two to share about the flamboyant showman.

On my first visit to Las Vegas in 1993, I didn’t get to visit the “official” Liberace Museum (thanks Dennis for your hangover! LOL).

However, I did get to see an exhibition of some of his possessions on my July 2016 trip. It was called the “Liberace Garage”!

By the way, I know I could rock those boots! 🙂

MY FAVORITE FOURTH OF JULY

My favorite Independence Day is, without a doubt, probably one of your favorites, too.

Back in 1976, the United States was celebrating its 200th birthday, its bicentennial.

As a kid, I was mesmerized with the sight of more than a dozen tall ships and tens of thousands of boats filling New York Harbor.

On my transistor radio, “Fernando” by ABBA was playing.  It’s hard to believe that just one month later, the band would release the iconic “Dancing Queen”!

No other Fourth of July comes close for me as positively memorable!

MY LEAST FAVORITE FOURTH OF JULY

On the other hand, for the worst, none compares to the 4th of July in 2007!

I was working the morning show and on my drive in, it started pouring rain. In the three minute drive to the station, it was coming down in buckets.

As I was running toward the door, my keys flew out of my hands and went underwater in a puddle.  I got to the door and banged and banged, but no one heard it! It was 1:45 a.m.

So, I dug through my bag and found my spare car keys.  I drove to the other side of the building and, this time, one of the producers heard me knocking and opened the door.

Since I was soaked, I decided to go back home and change into a dry suit.

As torrential rains continued falling, a wall of water came crashing into the intersection. Without warning, in just seconds (real-time seconds), my car stalled and died as the water quickly came up to the door.  At the same time, three other cars met the same fate as mine.

I quickly thought about the power doors and windows! If there was a shortage, I would be locked inside!

Yes, I had a Jessica Savitch flashback moment!

For those of you that don’t know her or remember her, Savitch is/was one of my idols.  She was the weekend news anchor, the “Golden Girl” of NBC News, back in the late 1970s. 

Savitch drowned in an overturned car in a flooded ravine back in 1983!

Three intoxicated teenagers came running through the water and helped me push my car into an alley.

Soaking wet, I walked fifteen blocks to my house bare-footed in a ruined suit.

I ended up with three large blisters on the soles of my feet. Luckily, I didn’t step on anything sharp, which would have allowed bacteria in the nasty floodwaters to make me sick!

By the way, I made it back in time to get my weather graphics done and was on the air at 5 a.m.!

As a meteorologist, I’ve never encountered the force of raging water and now I know first hand just where “flash flooding” gets its name. 

It just two or three seconds, the water came out of nowhere and submerged the cars!

Remember, it only takes about six inches of flowing water to sweep a person off their feet, a foot of moving water to make a car buoyant, and only two feet of raging water to sweep a car away!

“OZARK”

“Ozark”, one of my favorite shows, will be returning for a fourth and FINAL season. 🙂 😦

Netflix announced earlier this week that final season will feature fourteen episodes instead of the usual ten.

It’ll also be divided in two parts, seven episodes each (like the final season of “Breaking Bad”).

The return date is unknown.

ANOTHER “OZARK” THOUGHT

When the 72nd Emmy Awards nominations are announced on July 28th, I have a request (or three)!

In May, I wrote that season 3 “was incredible! WOW!”, so “just go ahead and give Laura Linney, Janet McTeer, and Tom Pelphrey their Emmy Awards now!”

And, in June, I added that “I’ve loved Linney since I saw her as Mary Ann Singleton in ‘Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the Cities’ in 1994 and I feel this is her year to collect another Emmy!”

AUDITION”

Barbara Walters’ 2008 autobiography, “Audition” is incredible!

After reading it, I’m sorry for two things: that it took me this long to read it and that even at 576 pages, I wished it was longer!

In television news, Barbara is an icon and a trailblazer for women.

We all know of her famous specials and interviews, her time spent on “Today”, “20/20”, and “The View”, along with her million dollar-plus salary (back when it was unheard of for most network anchors — especially women).

However, her home life was very interesting.

Her famous father would earn several fortunes and lose them all, she had a mentally challenged older sister, and she was very open about her successes and failures in love and in her career.

I wish she had talked more about the lavish parties she hosted at her New York City penthouse. I’ve read that they are to die for!

“Audition” is a fantastic read!

“MY THOUGHTS BE BLOODY”

Another interesting book I read this spring was “My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry That Led To The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln” by Nora Titone.

The book doesn’t dwell much on the night of Lincoln’s shooting death.

It focuses on the lives of Edwin Booth (a rich, world-renowned famous actor) and his less successful younger brother, John Wilkes Booth, a failed actor and oil businessman.

It wasn’t just the inferiority complex that John Wilkes felt when it came to acting and financial stability that led to his decision to kill Lincoln.

Politics and slavery deepened the familial divide that led to John Wilkes Booth outshining both his brother and famous Shakespearean actor father’s achievements through infamy!

DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES

Daryl Hall & John Oates are still one of the few acts that I’ve never gotten to see in concert! (The other four are Kylie Minogue, Culture Club, Toni Braxton, and Vanessa Williams).

In the summer of 1980, the duo’s “Voices” was the first album I bought with my own money. Actually, it was a cassette.

In Rob Sheffield’s book “Talking to Girls About Duran Duran” (2010), he had a chapter on Daryl Hall & John Oates.

He calls the “H20” cover art, “Hall & Oates’ second-gayest album cover”.

Now, while Sheffield doesn’t mention which Daryl Hall & John Oates album had the gayest cover, I’d venture to guess it was their fourth album — the self-titled effort that included their hit “Sara Smile” (#4, 1976). 🙂

And, Sheffield shares part of an interview to “Rolling Stone” in January 1985 from Daryl Hall saying he wasn’t into John Oates in that way, “he’s not my type — too short and dark” and then he (Hall) adds, “The idea of sex with a man doesn’t turn me off…”

Wait? What?

You mean as a 15-year-old, in the summer of 1980, when they became my favorite act, I had already missed my window of opportunity with an older, experienced man? (Hall was 33-years-old!)

No, I didn’t have “daddy issues” at the time! (I still don’t!) 🙂

Here’s the entire quote: “The idea of sex with a man doesn’t turn me off, but I don’t express it. I satisfied my curiosity about that years ago. I had lots of sex between the ages of three or four and the time I was fourteen or fifteen. Strange experiences with older boys. But men don’t particularly turn me on. And, no, John and I have never been lovers. He’s not my type. Too short and dark.”

To pay tribute to this dynamic duo and their influence on my life, here are my ten favorite Daryl Hall & John Oates hits.

It’s so hard narrowing it down to ten since they charted 29 hits in the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Of those, sixteen reached the Top Ten and six topped the charts!

My ten favorites are:

#10 “Did It In a Minute” (1982) — #9 “Adult Education” (1984) — #8 “One On One” (1983) — #7 “Maneater” (1982) — #6 “Say It Isn’t So” (1983).

“OUT OF TOUCH” (#1, 1984, two weeks)

“KISS ON MY LIST” (#1, three weeks, 1981)

“I CAN’T GO FOR THAT (NO CAN DO)” (#1, one week, 1982)

“PRIVATE EYES” (#1, two weeks, 1981)

YOU MAKE MY DREAMS” (#5, 1981)

Here’s a little bit more Daryl Hall & John Oates trivia for you. BMI reports that the duo had fourteen songs to be played more than a million times on the radio!

P.S. Notice I didn’t refer to them as “Hall & Oates”? They don’t like that.

John Oates told “Esquire, “There isn’t one album that says Hall and Oates. It’s always Daryl Hall and John Oates, from the very beginning. People never note that. The idea of ‘Hall and Oates,’ this two-headed monster, this thing, is not anything we’ve ever wanted or liked.”

So there! 🙂

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

My Favorite Movies of 2019

It’s hard to believe that the first two decades of the 2000s are behind us!

Now that it’s 2020, here are my favorite movies that I saw in 2019.  The list was held off because I was seeing one of the movies that made the list on New Year’s Eve!

Some of them were in the Oscar race last year since critics and those living in large metropolitan cities get to see movies before most of America!

Before I kick off my countdown, here’s my favorite movie I saw in 2018!

“CALL ME BY YOUR NAME”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $41.9 MILLION

Just missing out on the countdown:  #40 “The Old Man and the Gun”; #39 “Beautiful Boy”; #38 “The Front Runner”; #37 “Hotel Artemis”; #36 “Gloria Bell”; #35 “Widows”; #34 “22 July”; #33 “At Eternity’s Gate”; #32 “The First Man”; and #31 “The Mule”.

At #30 “On The Basis of Sex”; #29 “Green Book”; #28 “Rocketman”; #27 “Boy Erased”; #26 “Us”; #25 “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”; #24 “Yesterday”; #23 “Mary Poppins Returns”; #22 “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” and #21 “If Beale Street Could Talk”.

Now, my favorite 20 movies I saw in 2019.

#20

“THE FAVOURITE”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $96.0 MILLION

19

“A STAR IS BORN”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $434.9 MILLION

#18

“A SIMPLE FAVOR”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $97.6 MILLION

#17

“MIDSOMMAR”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $42.3 MILLION

#16

“MA”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $60.6 MILLION

15

“LAST CHRISTMAS”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $118.5 MILLION

#14 Movie

“SECOND ACT”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $72.3 MILLION

13

“BOMBSHELL”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $18.3 MILLION

12

“THE HATE U GIVE”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $34.9 MILLION

11

“HOTEL MUMBAI”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $21.3 MILLION

Bonus

We’re halfway through the countdown of my favorite movies I saw in 2019.

As a bonus, here’s a look at one of my favorites movies of not only 1995, but one of my favorite movies of all time! I can’t believe it turned 25 this year!

(While the movie premiered in 1994 in its native Australia, it debuted in the United States in 1995!)

It also launched the careers of Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths.

Muriel.gif

10

“BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $31.9 MILLION

#9

“ARCTIC”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $4.1 MILLION

8

“ALADDIN”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $1.05 BILLION!!!

#7 MOVIE

“A PRIVATE WAR”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $3.8 MILLION

6'eren_RGB_FINAL

“HUSTLERS”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $157.1 MILLION

GREEN 5

“JUDY”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $37.9 MILLION

#4 CD

“THE WIFE”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $18.2 MILLION

3

“BEN IN BACK”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $10.1 MILLION

Holiday Bonus

Before I reveal my two favorite movies I saw last year, I want to celebrate another one of my favorite movies that turned 25 in 2019!

I had just moved to Chicago in the summer of 1994 and I remember feeling so metropolitan seeing a LGBTQ movie on the big screen that fall!

Ironically, I featured another Australian movie earlier with “Muriel’s Wedding” and now it’s “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert.gif

Guy Pearce was so beautiful as Adam Whitely/Felicia Jollygoodfellow!

The movie won an Oscar for “Best Costume Design”!

#2 CD

“CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $12.4 MILLION

Before I reveal my favorite movie that I saw in 2019, the two least favorite movies I saw this year were:  “Vice” (great acting, cheesy movie about evil people) and “Good Boys” (just the worst — I laughed once)!

For “Good Boys”, watch the funnier trailer instead and don’t waste 90 minutes of your life!

Now back to the countdown!

1

“THE FAREWELL”

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE:  $19.6 MILLION

Now, on to the new year!

2020

Oscar nominations will be announced on Monday, January 13, 2020.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Thank You For The Beautiful Music and a Lifetime of Wonderful Memories!

Life is a funny thing.

Most of us try to do what’s right.  We strive to treat those we love and care for with affection.  But, with real life constantly getting in the way, do we really stop long enough to tell them how much we care for them and appreciate them?

That’s my purpose today.

When I’m done, I’ll call my sister and tell her I love her.  But, this is about Olivia Newton-John.  I want her to know how much she has touched my life!

Olivia 1

As you likely know, especially since I regularly write about her, Olivia is battling cancer again.

She was first diagnosed back in 1992 and beat it.  It returned in 2013, then again in May 2017 and just last month, I learned that she now has Stage IV cancer.

One thing I know from being a fan is that Olivia is a fighter and I know she’ll continue living life to its fullest.  That’s more than some, including myself, are doing even without cancer!

Olivia Don't Stop Believin

I just finished reading Olivia’s autobiography, “Don’t Stop Believin'”, and it was beautiful!

I enjoyed hearing about her childhood, her singing and acting career, and her dear friendships with two ladies I truly admire and love, Karen Carpenter and Helen Reddy.

Olivia Karen

helen olivia.JPG

It was Helen Reddy and her ex-husband that were instrumental in Olivia taking on the iconic role of Sandy in “Grease”!

I’ve been a huge Olivia fan since I heard her first Top Ten hit, “Let Me Be There”, in 1973, as an 9-year-old listening to country music on WNGO-AM 1320, back in Mayfield, Kentucky.

Olivia Newton-John - Let Me Be There

All these years later, I have a confession to make.  As an little kid, I thought the beautiful voice belonged to Olivia Newton and the booming, manly back-up singer was named John! 🙂

From her first hit, “If Not For You”, in 1971, to her last Top 40 Billboard Hot 100 smash, “Soul Kiss” (#20, 1985), the English-born, Australian-raised singer charted with 27 Top 40 hits. Of those, 15 reached the Top Ten!

Olivia had five of those Top Ten hits reach #1:  “I Honestly Love You” (1974), “Have You Never Been Mellow” (1975), “You’re The One That I Want” (1978, with John Travolta), “Magic” (1980), and “Physical” (1981), which spent ten weeks at the top of the chart!

Olivia 2

In early 2014, Olivia announced “Summer Nights”, a 45-show residency at the Donny and Marie Showroom at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino on the Strip between April and August.

I saw her amazing show on May 30th of that year.

Olivia

Since it’s my favorite number, I’m counting down my thirteen favorite Olivia Netwon-John songs that charted in America!  It was so hard narrowing down the list! 

(Chart positions are from the Billboard Hot 100 unless otherwise noted and the year listed is when the song peaked.)

Along the way, I’ll add three bonus songs and share some personal stories about a few of the hits!

Again, Olivia, thank you for the music!

13

“TWIST OF FATE” (#5, 1984)

12

“MAKE A MOVE ON ME” (#5, 1982)

#11 Movie

“I HONESTLY LOVE YOU” (2 WEEKS AT #1, 1974)

#10 MOVIE

“YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE” (with Chloe Lattanzi & Dave Aude)

(#1 Billboard Dance Club Songs, 2015)

In this re-imagining of Olivia’s #1 hit “Magic”, which you’ll see later in my countdown, DJ extraordinaire Dave Aude takes Olivia and her daughter Chloe Lattanzi to the top of the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart!

The fun video features an incredible looking Olivia and a graveyard of Las Vegas signage of the city’s casino history, show girls, Chippendales, and Britney, Tina Turner, Marilyn Monroe, and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.  Oh wait, those are illusionists! 🙂

“You Have To Believe” was my #16 song of 2015!

Bonus

Being a gay teenager in small town Kentucky in the early-1980s without knowing anyone else like myself was very isolating.

Back then, you didn’t think about falling in love since you didn’t hear about those things, but the release of “Physical” and its homoerotic video was definitely eye-opening and it gave this kid hope!

“PHYSICAL” (10 WEEKS AT #1, 1981-1982)

9 CD

“A LITTLE MORE LOVE” (#3, 1979)

#8 MOVIE

“HAVE YOU NEVER BEEN MELLOW” (1 WEEK AT #1, 1975)

In 1978, Olivia had the starring role as Sandy in “Grease”, a movie that racked up $396 million at the box office.

When I saw the movie, I was a shy, introverted 13-year-old boy still listening to country music.  Occasionally, I’d sneak a listen to ABBA, the Bay City Rollers, and the Bee Gees!

I connected with the innocent Sandy and was petrified when she came out dressed to the nines in leather and holding a cigarette!

I’m no longer naive! 😉

olivia-newton-john-grease-sandy

That was a turning point for me.  Somewhere after “Grease”, I started listening to more pop or Top 40 music and I came across an 8-track recording of Olivia’s sultry album “Totally Hot”.

Totally Hot

It was one of three 8-tracks that I owned.  The other two were “Helen Reddy’s Greatest Hits” and “Glass Houses” by Billy Joel.

#7 CD

“DEEPER THAN THE NIGHT” (#11, 1979)

#6 CD

“MAGIC” (4 WEEKS AT #1, 1980)

#5 MOVIE

“IF YOU LOVE ME (LET ME KNOW)” (#5, 1974)

Bonus

“I NEED LOVE” (1992)

In the summer of 1992, Olivia was ready for another comeback with the release of her third greatest hits album, “Back to Basics:  The Essential Collection 1971-1992”.  It included four new songs.

A world tour was also planned, but it was scrapped when Olivia was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The first single from the collection, “I Need Love” really touched me more than a quarter-century ago.  It’s even more powerful for me now as I approach the age of 55 and still single a couple of years after my divorce.

The song talks about wanting more than just a one-night stand or cheap sex.  These lyrics sum up exactly how I felt then in my 20s and how I feel now in my 50s!

“Another place, another time/I would take my chances/Oh I know I could take you home tonight/But I don’t want to wake up with you wishing I was alone”

“I’m not lookin’ for a Band-Aid on loneliness/I’m not lookin’ for a temporary get me through the night/I’m holding out for something more than physical/I need love to make the sex right”

Give the song a listen because unless you’re a die-hard Olivia fan, I know you probably never heard it on the radio!

4

“PLEASE MR. PLEASE” (#3, 1975)

green 3

“SUDDENLY” (with Cliff Richard) (#20, 1981)

#2 MOVIE

“LET ME BE THERE” (#6, 1974)

#1

We’re now up to my favorite Olivia Newton-John song!

I’ve watched the movie “Xanadu” several times and I can’t hear this song without smiling and feeling good.

The soundtrack was more popular than the movie and the title song reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980.

Back in 2014, when I turned 50, I compiled the soundtrack of my life — my all-time favorites songs — and “Xanadu” came in at #4!

Olivia, as your birthday nears, I wish you a “Happy Birthday”!

olivia-newton-john john-easterling.png

Stay strong and keep fighting!

Bonus

“YOUR GOOD GIRL’S GONNA GO BAD” (FROM “SORDID LIVES”)

Years after mainstream fame was behind her and Olivia was living life to the fullest, her friend Del Shores gave her an incredible role.

In 2000, when he made a movie of his play, “Sordid Lives”, he cast Olivia as Bitsy Mae Harling, a lesbian bar singer with a “reputation”!

She reprised the role in the 2008 Logo miniseries.

sl onj.JPG

If you’ve never seen this Texas “black comedy about white trash”, you have to find it and spend two hours laughing!

Here’s Olivia singing the theme song (contains adult language) and her and the cast in the end credits performing Tammy Wynette’s “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad”.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — November 23, 2018

I hope you’re having a great and happy Thanksgiving holiday and the kick-off to the Christmas season!

Thank you checking out my Random Friday Thoughts!

THANKSGIVING

turkey_thanksgiving

Before work, I enjoyed the Thanksgiving feast with my friend, Katie, and her family and friends.

I still have vivid memories (and pictures) of Thanksgiving pasts!

Our Turkey 2012

ABBATG2007

PLAY THAT CHRISTMAS SONG NOW!

A few weeks ago, I highlighted the soundtrack to “It’s Christmas, Eve” on the Hallmark Channel by LeAnn Rimes.

LeAnn

I wrote, “It’s the best Christmas album in the past few years!!!!” and I gave the album an “A”!

Not only am I telling you again to get the album, but I’m thrilled that LeAnn saw my review and called me “sweet” on Twitter. 🙂

LeAnn.JPG

By the way, LeAnn and I crossed paths back in Salisbury, Maryland, in 2005.  She was just as sweet and fantastic then as she is now!

AnthonyLeAnn

Check out this mix from the soundtrack!  Incredible!

LeAnn and family, Merry Christmas and Happy 2019!

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

While “Bohemian Rhapsody” went through cast changes (Sacha Baron Cohen was originally cast as Freddie Mercury) and a rocky road from development to screen, the movie was amazing!

In just three weeks, the $52 million production has already made $404.1 million (one-third of that in the U.S.)

Emmy winner Rami Malik (“Mr. Robot”) was incredible as Queen lead singer Mercury and will very likely be nominated for a Best Actor Oscar!

GRADE:  A- 

QUEEN — BY THE NUMBERS

In the U.S., the band scored eleven Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

Its first “Killer Queen” reached #12 in 1975.

Queen hit the Top Ten five times (two of those were with “Bohemian Rhapsody” — #9 in 1975, #2 in 1991).  “Rhapsody” also reached #33 on the Hot 100 this year, too, when the movie soundtrack came out.

They topped the chart twice:  “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (1980, 4 weeks) and “Another One Bites The Dust” (1980, 3 weeks).

As risque as Mercury could be, in 1984, the band’s relatively tame video “I Want To Break Free” was banned on MTV because the band was wearing women’s clothes!

Because of that ban in Reagan’s uptight America, the song only reached #45 here.

However, it hit #1 in three countries and the Top Ten in eight others around the world!

“MAMMA MIA!  HERE WE GO AGAIN”

In 2008, “Mamma Mia! was one of my favorites of the year and it grossed $615.7 million worldwide.

I was excited when the sequel was announced to hit theaters in the summer of 2018.

Mamma Mia Here We Go Again.jpg

Well, that was until I heard that a major character (my favorite) was dead in the sequel, but would appear briefly.

So, I refused to go see it in theaters.  But, it made $393.4 million worldwide.

Now that it’s on DVD and Redbox sent me a free movie for my birthday, I saw it.

Pros:  Jeremy Irvine, Lily James, Meryl Streep (in the closing credits production number), the closing production number, Cher, and Jeremy Irvine. 🙂

Cons:  incoherent mess (at times), the “I Kissed The Teacher” production number and several others, and Cher.

Instead of sharing the trailer for the movie, here’s the amazing closing credits production number!

GRADE:  B- 

JEREMY IRVINE

I put Jeremy Irvine in my “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” review because I’ve loved him since his 2011 movie debut in “War Horse”.

Jeremy_Irvine

I even enjoyed him in 2015’s reviled “Stonewall”!  About that movie, I know it was “white-washed”, but it still told a very important story in LGBTQ history!

“BOY ERASED” & “BEN IS BACK”

There are a few more movies I want to see this year.

“Boy Erased” (with the always incredible Nicole Kidman and the incredible Lucas Hedges) about gay conversion therapy ( P.S.  IT’S WRONG AND IT DOESN’T WORK!),

“Green Book”, “Mary Poppins Returns”, and “Ben Is Back”.  (I may have to wait until 2019 for some of them since they’re only playing in bigger cities for now!)

I absolutely love Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges (him again) blows me away.  When I heard they were doing a movie together, I was excited.

All I knew about it was that Ben is a drug user and he shows up on Christmas Eve.  So, I figured it was going to be a drama-filled holiday.

However, when the full trailer debuted, I was floored.  It’s so much more intense and powerful than I expected.

I’ll definitely be there when it opens in Duluth, Minnesota!  WOW!

Final note from the trailer:  When Ben says, “I’m not going to die.”

Really?  If this is like horror movie foreshadowing when they say “I’ll be right back”, you’re know they’re doomed and they won’t be back!!!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — October 5, 2018

Happy first week of October!

Thank you for taking the time to check out my Random Friday Thoughts!

MORE REFLECTIONS ON PRESIDENT CARTER

President Jimmy Carter turned 94 earlier this week.

Here’s a note I left at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, a couple of years ago on my visit.

Msg JC & R.jpg

AP Jimmy Carter Presidential Library  Museum.jpg

AMERICA’S MOOD

It’s summed up perfectly by Dana Scully and the always incredible, beautiful, and intelligent Gillian Anderson!

Dana Scully.JPG

COMFORTING ROBERT KENNEDY 

Just moments after giving his victory speech in the California Democratic primary at the Ambassador Hotel in June 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was making his exit through the kitchen.

That’s when an assassin’s bullets mortally wounded the Democratic presidential hopeful.

18-year-old hotel busboy, Juan Romero rushed to Kennedy’s side and cradled him and kept his head off the restaurant floor.

Kennedy.JPG

Romero died earlier this week of an apparent heart attack in Modesto, California. He was 68.

Earlier this year, Romero said, “I kneeled down to him and I could see his lips moving, so I put my ear next to his lips and I heard him say, ‘Is everybody OK?’ I said, ‘Yes, everybody’s OK.’ I put my hand between the cold concrete and his head just to make him comfortable.”

“THE WALKING DEAD”

Like 45 and his old tweets that come back to bite him in the ass, I’m retracting something I said in my April 20, 2018, blog.

Under the ominous headline, GOOD RIDDANCE “THE WALKING DEAD”, I wrote, “After eight seasons, I’m giving up on AMC’s “The Walking Dead”.  The seventh and eighth season were painful and I didn’t find them enjoyable… Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), I’ll miss you, but I can’t take the show anymore!”

Well, hell’s bells!  Now that I know Lincoln is leaving the show early in the ninth season, I now have to watch it to say goodbye to my future ex-boyfriend.

Andrew Lincoln

By the way, I saw the first five minutes of the October 7th premiere episode and it looks great.

Okay, show runners, while the details of how he departs is unknown to the public, I hope his death (?) is heartbreaking!  And, as an added bonus, can Judith go along with him?

I’m normally not a shipper, but may I request Jesusaron?

“YOU”

Last week, I talked about the Lifetime stalker drama, “You”.

I’m still loving it and I was laughing out loud with these two lines from the last episode.

you-lifetime

Beck’s thoughts after the quick intimacy with Joe: “What was that? Eight seconds? Hell yeah, he’s got that Trump just took Pennsylvania look!”

Also, from Beck, “You’re a coward. Britney got through 2007 though, right?”

BASEBALL SEASON

I’m a fair weather baseball fan.

Kris Bryant.JPG

By the way, that Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs. 🙂

I don’t really follow a particular team although when I lived in Chicago, I rooted for the Cubs. And, then when the White Sox made the World Series, they were my team.

There are just too many games for me, but I start to pay attention when the 30 teams are whittled down and the Division Series, the League Championship Series, and the World Series take place.

The Division Series (quarterfinal round) got underway this week!

In the August 6-13, 2018 issue, “Time” reported that the average age of those watching Major League Baseball (MLB) rose from 52 in 2000 to 57 in 2016. (42 is the average age of National Basketball Association viewers!)

Not only are MLB viewers getting old, there are fewer young people watching the games.  A recent survey showed that nearly two-thirds of people ages 18 to 36 didn’t watch baseball!

By the way, I was huge Cleveland Indians fan when I lived in Ohio and Grady Sizemore played for the team (2004-2011).

Sizemore

And, as a kid, I had the biggest crush on Kansas City Royals third baseman, George Brett!

Brett

“MANIFEST”

The new hit, “Manifest” on NBC is creepy, sad, and awesome!

In 2013, a flight takes off from Jamaica and arrives in New York five years later.  However, to the people on board, it was a typical three-hour flight with some turbulence.

But, the world has moved on without them.

I was blown away by the premiere and the second episode was equally compelling!  I love the premise, the acting, and I’m touched with the sentimentality!

While I can’t wait to see how the story develops, I’m majorly crushing on Josh Dallas!

josh-dallas-manifest

I may have to binge watch “Once Upon a Time” when I’m snowed in this winter to catch more of him!

Totally random here, but one advantage to a “Manifest”-like situation is not having to deal with 45 in the White House!

FALL TELEVISION MVP

I’m happy to see more of my network television shows back from summer break.

“9-1-1” on Fox is still sexy, thrilling , and fun.  The earthquake episodes were fantastic.

And, here’s to the new hotties:

Ryan Guzman (Eddie Diaz, a new firefighter on “9-1-1”)

Ryan Guzman.jpg

and from the USA Network show, “The Purge”, Gabriel Chavarria (Miguel Guerrero, a US Marine who returns home on Purge Night to save his sister, Penelope).

Gabriel Chavarria.jpg

HARVEST SEASON IS HERE

Before you know it, a hard freeze and snow will be on the way.  Harvest those crops!

Harvest Season.JPG

CANDY CORN PIZZA

Would you try it? 🙂

CC pizza

“A LEGENDARY CHRISTMAS”

Finally, more information about the upcoming John Legend Christmas project.

john legend - A Legendary Christmas

The new album (and 25-date Christmas tour) is called “A Legendary Christmas” and it comes out October 26th!

Fourteen songs will appear on the album and it includes several original songs and many classics like “Please Come Home for Christmas”, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, and “The Christmas Song” (featuring Esperanza Spalding).

Stevie Wonder brings his harmonica skills to the album’s first song, “What Christmas Means to Me”.

“SONS OF ANARCHY”

I just started binge-watching the seven season, 92-episode FX series, “Sons of Anarchy”, which ran from 2008-2014.

After the first two seasons, I’m very impressed.  I even Googled to see if “motorcycle club” life was as violent as the series portrays it and from what I read, it’s pretty rough to be part of that gang!

Charlie Hunnam has grown up from when I first saw him in the 1999-2000 original UK series “Queer As Folk”.  He’s still gorgeous and nicely buffed as rough Jax Teller.

Charlie Katey.JPG

And, I’m blown away by Katey Sagal, who play’s Jax’s mother, Gemma, and is the real life wife of “Sons of Anarchy” creator Kurt Sutter.   Many will remember her as Peg Bundy on Fox’s long-running series “Married… with Children”.

Sagal won the Golden Globe Award for “Best Actress” in a Television Series Drama for the third season.

In the second season, there’s a brutal rape and beating of a major character and it’s painful to watch.  It’s even more heartbreaking watching her try to recover without her family knowing about it!

Here’s an interesting tidbit that you may remember if you’ve watch the series.

Half_Sack.png

Other than Hunnam, I’m crushing on Johnny Lewis, who plays “Half-Sack” (no, I won’t explain his nickname!) in seasons one and two.

When I went online to find out more about the actor, I learned that he dated Katy Perry many years ago.

Johnny Lewis Katy Perry.JPG

However, I was shocked to learn that he’s dead.

Lewis and his 81-year-old landlady Catherine Davis were found dead at Davis’ home in September 2012.

Police were called after neighbors heard the woman screaming.  Authorities say Lewis broke into the house, beat Davis to death and killed her cat, Jesse.

They found his body in the driveway and believe he fell to his death from the building.

Lewis had just been released from jail just five days before the murder, but the autopsy found no alcohol or drugs in his body.

His family says he had occasional spurts of violence, which stemmed from untreated head injuries suffered from a high-speed motorcycle accident one year earlier!

“JAKE SHEARS”

It’s hard to believe that the last Scissor Sisters album came out in 2012.

I was so grateful to see them in Chicago in 2010.

This was the pre-concert and post-concert after dancing and getting caught in the rain!

AP SS Final

This is sexy Jake Shears, one of the two lead singers for the band (with Ana Matronic).

Scissor Sisters

In August, Jake released his self-titled debut album and it’s phenomenal.  Sadly, it hasn’t made a splash in America like it did in Europe!

Jake.jpg

There are many incredible songs on the album and my favorites are “Good Friends”, “S.O.B.” (which stands for sex on the brain), “Everything I’ll Ever Need”, “Creep City”, and “Sad Song Backwards”!

GRADE:  B+

“DANCING QUEEN”

If you love Cher and you love ABBA, then this album is a combination of unicorns, rainbows, and bell bottoms if you’re a dancing queen!

It’s expected to debut in the Top 5 on the Billboard 200 album chart!

And, the album’s first single, “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” moves into the Top Ten on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart, her 14th top 10 hit on that chart!

Cher

GRADE:  B+  

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — September 14, 2018

This week’s random thoughts will be a short one because my sister Tammy and her boyfriend are here in Duluth, Minnesota, visiting me.

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

PIZZA BUFFET

On Thursday, we checked out Sammy’s Pizza buffet.  I’ve been looking forward to checking it out since moving here and it was decent!

I loved the pizza crust and the chicken wings, but it’s no Wise Guys Pizza in Davenport, Iowa, where Tammy works.

I love Wise Guys more because it alternates three dessert pizzas (cherry, apple, and cinnamon sugar crumb) and their boneless chicken wings are amazing!

SOPHIA LOREN 

To Italian food and wine (and Sophia Loren)!

sl 2

Sophia Loren

“FEAR” IS A WONDERFUL THING!

I haven’t read Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear”, but knowing that “that man” will be raked over the coals, fear is a wonderful thing!

Fear.JPG

“OZARK” — SEASON 2

I absolutely loved season one of the Netflix series, “Ozark” and season two doesn’t disappoint!

To catch you up if you haven’t started watching this incredible series, Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) and his business partner have been laundering drug money in Chicago.

His partner decides to swindle the drug cartel and it doesn’t end well for him.  As Marty is about to be killed, he remembers a brochure about the Ozarks and tells them that it’d be easy for him to launder about one-half billion dollars there.

So, that takes Marty, his wife Wendy (the always fantastic Laura Linney) and their two children to Ozarks of Missouri.

Bateman was nominated for an Emmy for season one and both Bateman and Linney were nominated for Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Season two is the “Wendy” season.  Next year when Emmy nominations are announced, I want Linney to get a nod for Best Actress.

Also, Julia Garner deserves a Supporting Actress nomination for her strong, yet heartbreaking performance of trashy Ruth Langmore.

“Ozark” has yet to be renewed for season 3, but it’ll come.  And, when it does, I hope Janet McTeer, who plays Helen Pierce, the Chicago-based attorney who represents the cartel, is back!

GRADE:  A-

“TALES OF THE CITY”

More on Laura Linney, who I absolutely love.  She’ll be reprising her role of Mary Ann Singleton in “Tales of the City”, which is coming to Netflix in 2019.

If you’re not familiar with Armistead Maupin’s series, it’s incredible.

The first installment debuted in the U.S. on PBS in 1994.

Tales Miniseries

Since then, there’s been “More Tales of the City” and “Further Tales of the City”.

And, Linney’s Singleton is my favorite.

It shows that a small town kid can learn a lot about life in the “big city”.  For her, it was San Francisco. For me, it was Chicago!

Mary Ann

In a March 2014 blog, I thanked Maupin for the amazing book and television series and for motivating me in my career and life!

If you missed it, just click here and it’ll open in a new window.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/armistead-maupin-thank-you-for-motivating-me/

ONLY A MONTH AWAY NOW

The new “Halloween” movie hits theaters Friday, October 19th, and it’s getting rave reviews from the Toronto International Film Festival.

Here’s the latest trailer and it’s phenomenal!

It’s much more indicative that the showdown between Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael Myers will be final!

Here was the first trailer — it’s more of a set-up of the new movie.

CHER & ABBA COLLIDE!

If you saw this summer’s “Mamma Mia:  Here We Go Again”, you know that Cher made a cameo appearance.

It was also announced that she was so enthralled with the music of ABBA that she decided to do an ABBA cover album.

It comes out September 28th and I’ve already ordered it.  Cher is also going out on tour to promote the album!

Cher

Since we’re on the subject of ABBA covers, one of my favorite bands of all-time, Erasure (Andy Bell and Vince Clarke), released a four-song EP, “ABBA-esque”, in 1992.

erasure abba esque.jpg

My only regret is that it was just an EP.  Andy and Vince, how about a re-issue with several more songs to make it a full length? 🙂

RICHARD NIXON

I don’t know what you think of President Richard Nixon. While I didn’t know him personally, I’ve concluded that he wasn’t a good man!  I’m not talking politically because he was a snake in the grass.

I just finished reading Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s “All The President’s Men” (about breaking the Watergate story while reporting for “The Washington Post”) and the sequel, “The Final Days”, my 22nd and 23rd books I’ve read this year.

Woodward Bernstein.JPG

But, interestingly enough, I read “The Final Days” first since I didn’t realize I had “All The President’s Men”! 🙂

This is like reading “The Deathly Hallows” (2007) in J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series before reading 1997’s “The Philosopher’s Stone” and the other five books!

It was very interesting that this wasn’t just a little break-in at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters at the Watergate complex in June 1972, it was a much bigger debacle of dirty politics and insecurity.

Those underhanded tricks started back in 1969 after Nixon moved into the White House.

And, what’s very crazy about the whole thing is that Nixon was almost guaranteed re-election in 1972 and to think he was all brought down by lies and a cover-up!

debate

It’s not like he was expected to lose an election to a credible woman that should have easily been elected — before collusion (allegedly) and election tampering and interference from an enemy of the United States (Hello, Vladimir Putin)!

Trump Putin

“FROST/NIXON”

Before reading the two Woodward and Bernstein books, I watched the 2008 drama, “Frost vs. Nixon”, which was directed by Ron Howard.

It starred Frank Langella as President Nixon and Michael Sheen as television talk show host David Frost.

It earned five Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and Best Actor for Langella.

GRADE:  B+

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

 

 

 

Random Friday Thoughts — November 17, 2017

Can you believe Thanksgiving is now just days away?

Thanksgiving Forecast

I hope you have an incredible feast and enjoy everything about the holiday season.

Thank you for checking out my “Random Friday Thoughts”.

THANK YOU AUSTRALIA!

Australians earlier this week overwhelmingly (62%) voted “yes” for marriage equality!

Thank you for seeing that “Love Is Love Is Love”.  And, thank you LeAnn Rimes for this incredible #1 U.S. Dance hit!

“COURT”ING CONTROVERSY”

75-year-old Australian tennis legend Margaret Court, who won 62 major titles in her career is a long-time opponent to marriage equality.

courttennis

In one of my first blogs ever back in January 2012, I wrote about Court when she said this (and much more) about being LGBT, “It is not something you are born with. My concern is that we are advocating to young people that it is OK to have these feelings.”

At the time, I wrote, “While I fully disagree with Court, I’m glad she stands by her views and I hope one day she can open her mind for equality.”  Clearly, she hasn’t.

So, ironically, I concluded my blog then with, “You old wind bag, feel free to speak your mind, but if you get on the “court” and make a lob, expect a return volley.”

No regrets!

NAVRATILOVA, MATCH & GAME POINT!

Openly gay tennis pro and LGBT rights activist Martina Navratilova posted this awesome tweet for Court.

Martina

“MR. ROBOT”

The third season of the USA Network hit series is moving right along and recently addressed #45!

Zhang (who’s also “Whiterose”), China’s Minster of State Security, tells the right wing TV host Frank Cody: “I may have a potential candidate for president I want you to back.” (with “that man” on the television).

Cody:  <nervous laugh> “Look, the country’s desperate right now, but you can’t be serious.  I mean the guy’s a buffoon.  He’s completely divorced from reality.  How would you even control him?”   

Zhang (Whiterose):  “If you pull the right strings, a puppet will dance anyway you desire!”

ON THAT NOTE

Putin

Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings in Russia hit a record level of 88% with the annexation of Crimea in March 2014!

Wonder what it now that he influenced the 2016 U.S. presidential election?

“MINDHUNTER”

If crime procedurals and serial killers are your thing, you’ll love the Netflix series, “Mindhunter”.

Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany star as FBI agents in the late-1970s that start the FBI’s “Behavioral Science” division to study criminal psychology and criminal profiling.

They want to learn from serial killers and this criminal profiling can help them catch future killers.

Groff (“Glee”, “Hamilton”, and Kristoff in “Frozen”) is adorable in this series.  In life, his character, Holden Ford is socially awkward, but it’s his fascination with crime and killers that pushes this project forward.

It’s especially fun seeing the very sexy Groff, who’s gay in real life, play a very sexually active straight man in graphic sex scenes, much like Neil Patrick Harris did on “How I Met Your Mother” — without the graphic sex scenes.

Also, it’s great to see Anna Torv (“Fringe”) back in a series and I love the fact that she eats tuna out of the can!  She rocks!

I find it hilarious that since “behavioral science” is a new division within the FBI that it’s relegated to the basement!  Sounds like another FBI show that studied paranormal activity and was put in the basement!

GRADE:  A-

BEST “MINDHUNTER” LINE THIS SEASON

Holden: “How do you get to be the president of the United States if you’re a sociopath?”

Breathe Trumpsters!  He was talking about President Richard Nixon!

WHO LISTENS TO CHRISTMAS MUSIC?

Nielsen released data on Christmas music on the radio from last year and what groups do you think listen to holiday music the most?  The results may surprise you.

  • Millennials (Age 18-34): 36%
  • Gen X (Age 35-54): 31%
  • Boomers & Beyond (Age 55+): 25%
  • Gen Z (Age 13-17): 8%

“MARIAH CHRISTMAS TO ALL”

With that in mind, I put together my “12 Days of Mariah Carey”, I mean my 12 favorite Mariah Carey Christmas songs.

MC Santa

If you missed the countdown earlier in the week, you have another chance.  What do you think is #1?  Are you right?

Just click here:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2017/11/14/oh-santa-the-holidays-have-a-new-face/

TAYLOR SWIFT — “reputation”

Last Friday, Taylor Swift released “reputation”, the follow-up to her megahit “1989”, that’s gone on to sell more than 10 million copies worldwide.

Taylor-Swift-reputation

“reputation” sold 1.05 million copies in just its first four days to become the biggest selling album of 2017.

That’s four consecutive first week million sellers for Swift!

One thing I can say about the new album is that “Tim McGraw”‘s Taylor Swift is DEAD!!!!

This album is definitely more grown up and angrier with jabs to the older men she’s dated and veiled slams to Kanye West and Katy Perry (or “drama queens”).

I love the first two singles, “Look What You Made Me Do” and “Ready For It”.

The video to the album’s first single is incredible.  Even if you’re not a Swift fan, at least click on the video and watch the last 30 seconds.  Amazing and funny!

My favorite songs on the album are “Delicate” and “Gorgeous”.

I also love “I Did Something Bad”, “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”, “Getaway Car”, “Dress”, and “Don’t Blame Me”.

“End Game” with Ed Sheeran and Future is great, too.

GRADE:  A-

“PATTI CAKE$”

I’ve heard really good things about the summer drama “Patti Cake$”.

As I started watching the first 10-15 minutes of the movie, I was unsure what I was going to think about it.  However, it clicked and I loved it.

Danielle Macdonald plays Patricia Dombrowski, who’s mockingly called “Dumbo” in her New Jersey neighborhood.

She’s down on her luck and her home life is appalling.  She lives with her mother and terminally ill grandmother.  They’re poor and behind on their bills and are constantly getting collection agency calls.

But, the hardship comes naturally for Patti.  Her mother, Barb (Bridget Everett) loves to get drunk and sing karaoke at the dive bar where Patti works.

Patti’s calling is writing rhymes and rapping with her best friend, Jheri, played by a very charming Siddharth Dhananjay, a YouTube star from India.

By the end of the movie, you’re rooting for Patti and being thankful that Barb isn’t your mother.

 

GRADE:  A-

Another interesting note about “Patti Cake$” is that while watching the movie, it had a very “Muriel’s Wedding” feel with rap music substituted for ABBA songs.

The reason could be that Macdonald is Australian, just like Muriel Heslop and actress Toni Collette.

“PATTI CAKE$” BONUS — “PBNJ”

“THE BEGUILED”

First off, the movie stars my “girl crush” Nicole Kidman and the very sexy Colin Farrell.

It’s set in 1864, near the end of the Civil War.

Martha Farnsworth (Kidman) runs a home for young girls in Virginia.  One day while out hunting mushrooms, one of the girls finds an injured Union soldier (Farrell).

Against their better judgement, they nurse him back to health instead of turning him over to the Confederate Army.

Well, being the only (hot) man in a house of two women (Kidman and Kirsten Dunst) and a sexually provocative teenage vixen (Elle Fanning), you can imagine there’s “tension” and things go bad.

GRADE:  B+

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony