Posts Tagged ‘Academy Awards’

Random Friday Thoughts — May 28, 2021

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

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

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

NEW CDC GUIDELINES

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

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

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

Sorry, not sorry! 🙂

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

DOGS IN BANGKOK

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

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

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

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

Another reason to love dogs!

“BORN THIS WAY” TURNS 10

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

Where does time go?

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

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

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

“BETTY FORD”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“ARMY OF THE DEAD”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would I watch it again? Maybe.

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

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

GRADE: B

“JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH”

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

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

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

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

GRADE: B

ANOTHER OSCAR THOUGHT (OR TWO)

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

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

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

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

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

“STARSTRUCK”

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

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

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

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

Here’s the lyric video and the song.

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

Happy Birthday 🎂 Kylie!!!!!!!! 🍾🥂🌼🌷

“CASTLE ROCK”

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

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

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

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

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

SEASON ONE GRADE: B

SEASON TWO GRADE: A-

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

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

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

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

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


			

Random Friday Thoughts — May 21, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

GOODWILL AND GOOD GRIEF!

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

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

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

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

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

“ARMY OF THE DEAD”

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

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

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

“THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW”

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

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

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

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

That’s it!

Ha, just kidding!!!

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

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

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

GRADE: A

VERY RANDOM THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MUST SEE VIDEO!!!

I’ve earned back some of my gay points!

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

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

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

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

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

“YOU” BOOK SERIES

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

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

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

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

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

“MEMORIAL”

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

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

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

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

“PARTY DOWN”

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

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

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

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

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

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — May 7, 2021

Happy Mother’s Day weekend!

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

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

STICKS & STONE MAY BREAK MY BONES

…but words shall never hurt me!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a perfect time for Heather Mooney! 🙂

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

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

Let’s carry on…

GOODBYE OLYMPIA DUKAKIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…come sit by me.”

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

DID YOU KNOW?

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

“THE MEANING OF MARIAH CAREY”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few things I learned:

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

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

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

A couple splashes! What a cool description! 🙂

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

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

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

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

FINAL NOTES ABOUT MARIAH & CHRISTMAS

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

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

HOW DID I MISS THIS???

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT HAPPENED TO MANTECORE?

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

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

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

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

Here are a few more tidbits from that great book.

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

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

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

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

“JONESTOWN:  TERROR IN THE JUNGLE”

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

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

“DA 5 BLOODS”

The latest Spike Lee movie garnered mix reviews.

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

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

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

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

GRADE: B-

FAVORITE MARIAH CAREY SONGS

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

Here’s how much of a superstar she is:

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

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

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

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

“DREAMLOVER”

“VISION OF LOVE”

“MAKE IT HAPPEN”

“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU”

“EMOTIONS”

What’s your favorite Mariah Carey song?

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

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

Random Friday Thoughts — April 9, 2021

Easter is now behind us, so there’s no doubt that spring is here! However, it’s still snowing across parts of country.

So, here’s my last thought on winter 2020-2021!

Don’t get me wrong. Summer is my least favorite season. I just thought it was funny.

With warmer weather settling in across the country, more and more activities will take us outdoors, so I appreciate you taking the time to check out my random thoughts!

BEING A LITTLE PERSONAL

My friends, thank you for the wonderful feedback and messages last week!

Instead of “Random Friday Thoughts”, I shared a rather personal blog about my life, some challenges and disappointments, and a look toward the future.

For those that took time to read it and share in my life, I appreciate it.

If you didn’t get a chance, here it is. (If you click on the link, it SHOULD open in a new window, so you won’t lose your place in this week’s blog!)

If it doesn’t, you can always hit the back arrow once you read it and you’re back to today’s blog. (Word Press changed that. It used to be simpler!)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2021/04/02/feelings-as-i-look-to-the-future/

SPIKE IN COVID-19 CASES

While better than it was earlier this year, we’re now seeing a spike in Covid-19 cases.

I guess that doesn’t really come as a surprise following spring break. But, I don’t think that is the only reason.

I know people are getting a little too comfortable or lazy!

Last week, I stopped at a convenient store in my hometown of Mayfield, Kentucky, and the store was very busy.

One employee was wearing a mask, but the others were not. The only three customers that were wearing masks were me, my sister, and her boyfriend!!!

You can’t tell me that everyone in there was fully vaccinated!

Come on people, let’s get most of the country (and the world) vaccinated before we become complacent and comfortable!

MY OSCAR PICK FOR “BEST ACTRESS”

The Academy Awards show is now just weeks away and the only category that I’ve seen all of the nominees is “Best Actress”. (Does that shock you with my affinity to women in entertainment?) 🙂

We’ve all heard the old saying about saving the best for last and in this case, it’s true.

I absolutely love Viola Davis (“How To Get Away With Murder”) and I’d watch her read a phone book and Vanessa Kirby (“The Crown”) deserved the nomination based on the first 24 minutes of her movie. These were the first two of the nominees I saw and I was leaning toward Davis.

Then, I saw Frances McDormand, who is just too amazing in everything she does, and Andra Day as Billie Holiday the same weekend. Day was my pick and it was a contest between her and Davis for my vote, until….

I saw Carey Mulligan in “Promising Young Woman”. I was mesmerized by her performance and I loved the downer of a movie. I can’t wait to see it again!

So my pick for Best Actress is Carey Mulligan!

“Promising Young Woman” is up for four other Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

In a recent blog, I gave the movie an “A”!

“LIFE ITSELF: A MEMOIR”

I really enjoyed reading film critic Roger Ebert’s 2011 autobiography, “Life Itself: A Memoir”.

Some of things I learned is that he’s from Central Illinois (Urbana) and went to college at the University of Illinois (Champaign) before moving away to work at the “Chicago Sun-Times”.

While they often disagreed and would get into very heated debates, he was very close to his longtime work partner Gene Siskel. He says that Siskel was very private with his health condition when he became ill and then died.

After discovering cancer from the 1980s had come back in 2006, Ebert believed he had himself to blame for his three failed surgeries that disfigured his face causing him never to eat, drink, or talk again.

(I won’t say why in case you want to read the book. All I’ll say is that he didn’t take the medical advice he likely should have!)

Ebert died in April 2013.

I definitely want to see the 2014 documentary about Ebert’s life.

FRIDAY FLASHBACK

For some reason, “Forget Me Nots” popped into my head earlier this week.

It was Patrice Rushen’s only Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. It reached #23 in the summer of 1982 and was nominated for a Grammy Award.

The song fared much better on the R&B (#5) and Dance charts (#2).

In her career, she accumulated eight hits on the dance charts and seven on the R&B charts.

“HIS VERY BEST, JIMMY CARTER, A LIFE”

More from the amazing 2020 biography by Jonathan Adler…

President Carter changed the role of Vice President. Before Carter, it was basically a useless role — other than becoming the leader of the free world in the case of the president died or became incapacitated.

But, President Carter made Vice President Walter Mondale’s role real. He invited him into meetings, gave him real responsibilities, and valued his opinions.

At a farewell dinner before President Carter left office in 1981, Mondale said, “Never once did you put me down. Never once did you fail to treat me with dignity.” He made a toast and added, “We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace.”

And, once Carter visited Camp David in Maryland, just outside of Washington D.C., he spent almost one-quarter of his presidency there — basically every other weekend and prolonged holidays. (However, this was a working “White House”, unlike Mar-a-Lago!)

“TYRANT”

If you’re missing “Homeland” and want a new Middle Eastern drama, I enjoyed this three-season series.

I saw season one a few years ago and then real life got in the way. Recently, I found it on Hulu, so I decided to check watch it in its entirety.

It tells the story of Barry, who lives in the U.S. with his wife and two teenagers, as they return to his Middle East country for a wedding. This is his first time back since leaving as a teenager.

Adam Rayner (Bassam “Barry” Al-Fayeed) and Moran Atias (Leila Al-Fayeed) are my favorite characters in the series and they’re both DDG (drop dead gorgeous)!

I loved the addition of Melia Kreiling (Daliyah Al-Yazbek) in seasons two and three.

Warning: I got the feeling that the season 3 finale was shot as a season finale and not a series finale since it was not renewed for a fourth season.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — March 26, 2021

Spring is here and it’s hard to believe we’re down to the last few days of March!

Make the most of your weekend and thank you for checking out my random thoughts.

COVID-19 VACCINATIONS

As we head into the second year of the Coronavirus pandemic, I’m so excited that 14.1% of Americans are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

In Illinois, that number is at 14.5%!

And, more than one in four (26.8%) Illinoisans have had at least one dose.

Earlier this week, I joined that group with the Moderna vaccine!!! (One shot down and one shot to go in April!)

Sadly, in the United States, there are more than 30 million reported cases of COVID-19 with 545-thousand-plus deaths!

REMEMBERING GARRY BOWIE

While that death toll rate is staggering and in any situation, one death is one death too many, I want to take a moment to remember Garry Bowie.

Like most of you, I didn’t know of the LGBTQ activist until he died in early April 2020 from COVID-19.

As the former executive director of Long Beach AIDS Foundation, Garry worked tirelessly helping people fight HIV and AIDS in the Greater Long Beach and Los Angeles areas.

What makes his death even more heartbreaking is that he was one of the longest living survivors of the AIDS epidemic. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1983, back when having HIV (and AIDS) was pretty much a death sentence!

Garry was 59.

“THE GREAT BELIEVERS”

I just read the most amazing book, 2018’s “The Great Believers” by Rebecca Makkai and it fits in perfectly with the previous thought.

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPRING & SUMMER BBQS

On a lighter note…

It’s time to start firing up those grills, so remember the rules for wine pairings.

While it’s recommended you serve white wine with chicken and fish and red with beef, here’s how it used to be! 🙂

“PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN”

What an incredible movie and it’s now at Redbox!

The dark comedy/drama is up for five Oscars: “Best Picture”, “Best Actress” (Carey Mulligan), Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing.

Mulligan is fantastic in this compelling and heartbreaking movie with a very strong #MeToo message.

It features an all-star cast, including Connie Britton (her one scene is powerful).

GRADE: A

“9-1-1: LONE STAR”

After finding this season’s 16 episodes of “9-1-1” and “9-1-1: Lone Star” on my DVR, I binge watched all eight episodes of the new season of each show, which were amazing.

And, WOW, the last 3 minutes of the winter finale of “9-1-1: Lone Star” brought tears to my eyes and it ended on a shocking out-of-nowhere cliffhanger!

While diversity is a staple of series from Ryan Murphy, I have to hand it to “Lone Star” for probably being one of the most diverse.

There’s a Muslim woman, a transgender man (trans women make up most of the few transgender characters on television), a Cuban woman, two Hispanic men, and then there’s Rob Lowe! 🙂

Also, in the main cast, you have two gay men (one white and one Hispanic) and they’re beautiful together.

MORE JIMMY CARTER

Last week, I sang high praises for Jonathan Alter’s 2020 biography, “His Very Best, Jimmy Carter, A Life”. I also shared a few things I didn’t already know.

Today, I’m sharing a few more tidbits:

Freshman Delaware Senator Joseph Biden, then 33, was the first Senator to endorse Jimmy Carter in his presidential run in early 1976.

John Hinckley Jr., who was obsessed with actress Jodie Foster, planned to assassinate President Carter in the fall of 1980 to impress her.

In September, he followed the president to Dallas and even shook his hand in Dayton, Ohio! But, he had decided that he’d kill President Carter in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 9th. (For the record, but not from this book, Hinckley was arrested at the airport in Nashville for possession of three firearms hours after President Carter arrived there!)

But, the book says that Hinckley had already decided that Carter would lose the 1980 presidential election, so he changed his mind to kill future President Ronald Reagan. He attempted that in March 1981!

Finally, famous celebrity chef and TV star Ina Garten (“Barefoot Contessa”) was an analyst in the Office of Management and Budget in the Carter administration to study nuclear weapons!!!

ONE MORE THING ABOUT INA GARTEN

“Southern Living” says Garten always keeps these three things in her freezer: vodka, vanilla ice cream, and bread!

Those are definitely three of my favorites! (Well, I love flavored ice cream and flavored vodka!)

ONLY NINE MONTHS AWAY!

The countdown is on to Christmas!

It’s only nine months away and this spring, Reba McEntire is getting into the holiday spirit by shooting a Lifetime Christmas movie!

The movie is tentatively titled, “Christmas In Tune”, and will feature a new Reba song.

Here’s the plotline from the press release: Christmas In Tune tells the story of Belle, a marketing executive who is worried she may lose her job.  She decides to reunite a singing duo for a charity Christmas concert in order, but the problem is — the singers are actually her parents and they have not spoken to each other in years! Soon the at-odds couple is helping Belle get her life in order and she begins her own romantic duet with the new man in her life.”

“THIS IS JUST MY FACE: TRY NOT TO STARE”

This is the 2017 autobiography from Academy Award and Golden Globe-nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe (“Precious”).

Things I learned from Gabourey:

False reports of her death started on Facebook and then spread to other outlets. About Facebook, she wrote, “You know, that social-media site you use to spy on your ex and find out at election time which of your family members are racist.”

She’s funny as hell and shares many hilarious stories!

At one point she talked about “a girl like me”. Whatever you do, don’t mistakenly think about her being fat or black. She won’t take fat-shaming sitting down or hesitate calling you a racist!

She responds, “Fat-shaming racists make me sick! Just kidding.” You know she’s kidding, right? (Well, personally, my ex used to tell me, “there’s a little bit of truth to your jokes!”)

Sidibe is very serious about calling it like it is, whether you can handle it or not!

At one point in the book, she told of the time she was having a “poor-off” with a really handsome guy that she didn’t know well and she made the comment, “Oh, yeah? Your family ever wait in line for government cheese?”

This really made me laugh!

My personal story: We were very poor growing up, but we didn’t have to wait in line for our government cheese. That’s because my aunt volunteered at the hand-outs and brought ours to us! 🙂

And, let me tell you, it was the best damn cheese I had until I tried international cheeses in my later adult life! 🙂

One other thing that Gabourey and I have in common: we’re both recovering bulimics.

SPEAKING OF…

March 31, 2021, marks my one-year anniversary of being back on the wagon after falling off in the 2019 holiday season through late March 2020!

One year later and one day at a time, it’s a struggle. But, I’m winning!

“PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN” SOUNDTRACK

The soundtrack is phenomenal!

The first song in the movie, “Boys (DROELOE remix) by Charli XCX is so much fun!

It also features a very different remake of “It’s Raining Men” from DeathbyRomy and a very haunting instrumental version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic”.

And, in a very cute romantic scene in a store, Paris Hilton’s “Stars Are Blind” is played. Am I one of the few that absolutely disliked Hilton, but loved that song???

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — February 5, 2021

Happy 2021! Yes, I know it’s the first weekend of February (where did January go?)!

However, other than my Christmas wishes in December and my favorite movies of 2020 in January, I haven’t had a “Random Friday Thoughts” blog since November 20, 2020!

So, here goes and thank you for checking it out!

SUPER BOWL WEEKEND

Who cares? While I don’t care, I know there are many that do.

The only time I’m even remotely interested in the big game is when there’s someone on the halftime show I want to see (J Lo in 2020, Lady Gaga in 2017, Madonna in 2012, and Janet Jackson (and her boobie) in 2004!

Again, it was NOT planned — it was a “wardrobe malfunction”! (I actually typed that with a straight face without laughing out loud!)

This year, it’s The Weeknd!

So, here’s my favorite The Weeknd song — my #9 song of 2015.

GUACAMOLE

While I’m talking about the Super Bowl, this weekend is the biggest selling weekend of the year for avocados!

It’s estimated that the United States alone eats enough guacamole this weekend to fill the Super Bowl stadium!

Meanwhile, the biggest selling food for other holidays: corn (Fourth of July), turkeys (Thanksgiving, duh!), and strawberries (Valentine’s Day).

Those interesting facts are from one of the most intriguing books I read last year — Michael Ruhlman’s 2017’s “Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America”!

A few fun other things from that book…

In the 1930s, inland Americans only ate about 10 pounds of chicken per person per year compared to about 50 pounds of beef and pork.

Two of the biggest changes in the way we shop came in 1988 thanks to Walmart Supercenters and Whole Foods Market!

While the grocery section accounts for a large portion of a store’s sales, produce (second in sales) is the most profitable.

It’s hard to educate ourselves to eat better because while there 535 lawmakers in Congress, there are more than 10,000 lobbyists in Washington to persuade (con) them — 20 lobbyists to each politicians!

“MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM”

The Golden Globes nominations were announced earlier this week and it comes as no surprise to me that Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman were nominated. I expect them to get Oscar nominations, too.

This was my #5 movie of 2020. As I wrote in January when I posted my 20 favorite movies I saw in 2020, “I could watch Oscar and Emmy winner Viola Davis act her way through a phone book.”

When I started hearing all the Oscar buzz about Boseman, I was hoping it wasn’t because he had just died in late August. Well, give that man his posthumous Golden Globe and Oscar now. Incredible performance!

You can see it on Netflix.

GRADE: A-

“PIECES OF A WOMAN”

And, speaking of the Golden Globes and the Oscars, Viola Davis will have some stiff competition from Vanessa Kirby (“The Crown”).

This movie is downer, but Kirby’s performance in the opening 24 minutes of this drama is amazing!

It’s on Netflix.

GRADE: B+

KYLIE & DUA LIPA

While we look forward to see what the “new normal” will be in 2021 as the world tries to get a grasp on the Covid-19 pandemic, it’ll be interesting to see what awaits us in the world of entertainment.

For me, I want Kylie Minogue to announce a “Disco 2021 Tour” to support her critically acclaimed album (and my favorite of 2020), “Disco”.

The third single, “Real Groove”, features a fantastic version with chart-topper Dua Lipa!

And, the Studio 2054 remix is incredible!

WALKING AND READING

I spend a lot of time walking and reading (12-plus miles daily) — yes, both at the same time. So, I get a lot of books read.

Although they weren’t new books (within the last few years), a disturbing trend I noticed was the lack of quotation marks with dialogue. It was so offsetting and hard to follow! Please stop this! 🙂

The first time I noticed it was in “LaRose”.

“LaROSE”

Over the years, when “Entertainment Weekly” gives a stellar review for a book that sounds interesting and I jot it down to read.

Over the years, that’s how I found Sarai Walker’s “Dietland”, “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins, and “Sweetbitter” by Stephanie Danler.

This summer, I read three more from that old list.

Louise Erdrich’s 2016 “LaRose” was a very informative fictional book about the Ojibwe tribe.

It tells the story of a hunting accident that leaves a little boy dead and it’s heartbreaking what the hunter’s family has to do to make things right with the family that lost the child.

“THE IMMORTALISTS”

Chloe Benjamin’s 2018 best seller “The Immortalists” was a great book.

Four brothers and sisters in 1969 New York City go to see a fortune teller that specializes in telling people the day they’ll die.

The book follows the youngsters as they maneuver through life trying to deal with the fact that she might be right and how it shapes the decisions they make and how they live their lives.

I have to hand it to Benjamin on her amazing description of gay love and sex with one of the characters!

“THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR”

And, another book on that “EW” list was Canadian author Shari Lapena’s 2016 crime caper, “The Couple Next Door”.

Marco and Anne are heading to dinner at their duplex neighbor’s townhouse when their baby sitter cancels on them at the last minute.

Since they live in a nice, safe neighborhood, they decide to leave their baby Cora at home with a baby monitor and they take turns checking on her every 30 minutes.

When they finally get home after midnight, Cora is missing! Was she kidnapped for ransom? Was she taken and murdered?

Of these three, it was the best.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

My (Stay at Home) Favorite Movies of 2020

The deadly Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on every aspect of our lives in 2020.

The movie industry was especially hard hit. Movie production stopped, motion pictures were delayed, and theaters closed down changing the way we viewed first run movies.

With that being said, I only saw 26 movies last year.

I barely had enough to rank my Top 20 of 2020 without adding in a Lifetime and a Hallmark Christmas movie! 🙂 Kidding aside, I wanted to see them because of the LGBTQ storylines.

However, after seeing one of them, I regretted it. More on that one later!

A parting thought: While I love seeing movies on the big screen, the thing I missed most was getting my large popcorn (without that nasty butter on top) and a large Coke Zero with a splash of cherry and my refills on both before leaving the theater! 🙂

So, before I share my Top 20 movies I saw in 2020, here was my favorite movie I saw in 2019!

“THE FAREWELL

Oh, let me know many you saw and your favorite movie you saw in 2020!

“HARRIET

I absolutely love Cynthia Erivo! Check her out in “Bad Times At The El Royale”, my #10 movie of 2019.

“HILLBILLY ELEGY

This made the list mainly because of the Oscar nomination-worthy performances of Amy Adams and Glenn Close!

“SHIRLEY

Two words: Elisabeth.Moss. Okay, two more words: Logan.Lerman.

“KNIVES OUT

Fun, snarky, all-star cast whodunnit!

“1917

Oscar winner with the great George MacKay and an acting Harry Styles!

“MANK

I expect a BEST PICTURE Oscar nomination for this one — very Hollywood. You can see it on Netflix!

“HAPPIEST SEASON

Hulu LGBTQ Christmas movie with the incredible Kristen Stewart.

“THE CHRISTMAS SETUP

Yes, it’s a Lifetime Christmas movie. However, it was very touching and I teared up twice (for the right reasons).

It stars real life, charming couple Blake Lee and Ben Lewis. Oh, Fran Drescher, too!

“PALM SPRINGS

Hilariously funny Hulu original with many awesome f-bombs!

“THE HUNT

Sadistic and crazy! If you love “The Purge” series, you’ll enjoy it and Betty Gilpin (“Glow”) was amazing.

“FORD V. FERRARI

Awesome movie, acting, and story telling!

“RICHARD JEWELL

True story based on the 1996 Summer Olympics bombing in Atlanta, Georgia, with the fantastic Kathy Bates.

“THE JOKER

Twisted and fun and Joaquin Phoenix was great!

“I AM WOMAN

Biopic honoring the late great iconic feminist singing legend Helen Reddy!

“THE INVISIBLE MAN

Elisabeth Moss again! 🙂 I can’t wait for season 4 of “The Handmaid’s Tale”!

“MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM

I could watch Oscar and Emmy winner Viola Davis act her way through a phone book. I expect Oscar nominates for Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman. It’s on Netflix.

“JOJO RABBIT”

Who knew a movie about Adolf Hitler could be funny?!

“THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

If you’re missing the beautiful writing of “The West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin, check out this all-star Netflix film that will rack up several Oscar nominations this year!

WORST MOVIE OF THE YEAR!!!

“The Christmas House” — this Hallmark Channel movie was so painful, I stopped watching halfway through it. LGBTQ storyline or not, no thanks!

Movies missing out on the Top 20:

#25 “Dashing in December”

#24 “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” (Fantastic acting, but I seriously felt like I was on an LSD trip for two hours!)

#23 “Jingle Jangle”

#22 “Little”

#21 “The Prom” (Even my girl crush Nicole Kidman and Queen Meryl Streep couldn’t propel this to the level that I’d want to watch it again. However, it was enjoyable one time!)

“THE BOYS IN THE BAND

Catty New York City queens definitely NOT enjoying a birthday dinner party in the late-1960s. Amazing performances! So, one Ryan Murphy Netflix movie made the countdown! 🙂

Before I reveal my favorite movie I saw in 2020, here’s a bonus!

MOVIES I’M LOOKING FORWARD THIS YEAR

“THE WHITE TIGER” (January 22, 2021)

“A QUIET PLACE PART II” (April 23, 2021)

“DEATH ON THE NILE” (September 17, 2021)

“HALLOWEEN KILLS” (October 15, 2021)

“ARMY OF THE DEAD” (Summer 2021??? on Netflix)

Zombies! Las Vegas! Zack Snyder! Sign me up NOW!

And, now my favorite!

“PARASITE

So worthy of winning the Academy Award for Best Picture! WOW!

Wishing and hoping for a much better year for us in 2021.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — November 20, 2020

Happy Holidays and thank you for taking the time to check out what’s on my mind this week.

While I have a couple of more blogs to posts in December, I’m taking a break from my “Random Friday Thoughts” until January!

Happy Thanksgiving and Season’s Greetings!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

THANKSGIVING FORECAST

COVID DINING FOR ONE

In these unsettling times, we just need something adorable and cute to make us forget everything else for a few monents.

This is how Atlanta-based writer Angela Hansberger deals with things. She arranged a pop-up restaurant for this cute little chipmunk she named “Thelonious Munk”.

She says it arrives daily to feast on “fun-sized sushi, almond crust pizza, and intricately-prepared micro tacos.”

“THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7”

“The Whole World Is Watching!”

It’s sad that a movie about the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago resonates so strongly in the United States in 2020!

The movie and Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay and directing are definite shoo-ins for Oscar nominations.

While there are many compelling performances, I think Yahya Abdul-Mateer II, as Bobby Seale, National Chairman of the Black Panther Party, has the best chance of getting a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Seale was the eighth defendant and not part of the “Chicago 7”.

The Whole World Is STILL Watching!

GRADE: A

“DISCO” UPDATE

Last week, I raved on how awesome the new Kylie Minogue album, “Disco”, is and I guess I’m not alone.

It debuted at #1 in the U.K. and is the biggest selling album of 2020 in its opening week.

By topping the chart, it’s now Kylie’s eighth #1 album there. She rules supreme as the artist with the most chart toppers — more than Elton John, George Michael, and Cliff Richard!

And, she becomes the first female artist in the U.K. to top the Official Charts in five consecutive decades!!! Kylie’s had a #1 album in the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, ’10s, and the ’20s!

This is one of my favorite songs from the album, “Where Does the DJ Go?”!

“I AM WOMAN”

I finally got around to watching the Helen Reddy biopic based on her life and her signature hit.

Tilda Cobham-Hervey was amazing as Helen and Danielle MacDonald was great in a limited role.

Evan Peters (“American Horror Story”) was also great as Helen’s manager and loser of a husband, Jeff Wald. (And, I’ll add “loser” in relation to Helen’s life and career. He may be in a much better place these days!)

I only have one complaint about the movie and it’s a small one.

The movie moves along so quickly that it made it sound like the anthemic song, “I Am Woman” was a smash out of the gates at Top 40 radio in America.

That wasn’t the case. The album version was released and it flopped. The song was re-recorded and then it became iconic.

But, that’s just nitpicking!

GRADE: B+

MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS GIFTS

Since this is my last “Random Friday Thoughts” of 2020, I’ll include a few early thoughts about Christmas.

Now that I’m much older I don’t want or need Christmas gifts (unless it’s homemade desserts). But, I have four Christmas presents that still stand out as my favorites in my life.

As a child, the first toy I can remember asking for and getting was a red cash register like this one.

I’m sure playing with money as a youngster helped me excel in math and money management today!

My favorite Christmas present growing up was a Panasonic tape recorder that I got in 1976.

I spent hours listening to the radio recording songs, making montages, and I remembering making a “Hurricane Allen” tape as the storm hit Texas in 1980.

The first song I ever recorded was “You Don’t Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show)”, which hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it won a Grammy for Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.

And, while Christmas 1990 was a sad one since my mother, Dessie, died in early November of that year, I’ll always remember my presents.

My mother had already put our Christmas presents in layaway.  I had chosen a $30 stone-washed denim jacket at Wal-Mart and the VHS (yes, VHS!) copy of “Pretty Woman”.

After my mother died, my lovely sister, Tammy, got those things out of layaway for me.

I still have that jacket and I’ll cherish it forever!

JAPANESE CHRISTMAS DRINK

Here are a couple of fun looking Japanese holiday drinks.

The first one (from 2019) is a Christmas Tree Latte from the Italian Coffee chain Segafredo.

It was light on the coffee and cream based and sweet like eggnog. On top of a mound of whipped cream were colorful, fruity balls that popped in your mouth!

And, here’s a Japanese Starbucks drink this year. Yum!

It’s red raspberry-flavored meringue/cheesecake pieces and white chocolate shavings topped with lots of whipped cream to create a classic red-and-white Christmas color palette.

AND, THANKS ALDI!

For this Christmas, we’ll be enjoying this Eggnog Wine treat that I picked up at Aldi.

It’s marketed as “a blend of white wine, egg yolk, festive spices, and finest cream!

“THIS IS HOW WE JEW IT”

If you loved “Chow Down (At Chick-Fil-A)” I shared a few weeks ago, let’s celebrate Hanukkah early!

This is from the 2015 holiday album, “Christmas Queens”.

Detox Icunt is amazing and so is this adorably cute Jewish boy!

Oh, how I’d love to be back in Tel Aviv, Israel again!

“FULL SERVICE”

This 2012 book by Scotty Bowers was subtitled, “My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars”.

Some of the gay people that Bowers wrote about were Vincent Price, Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Randolph Scott. He also shared very dirty stories about composer Cole Porter.

Since all of the big stars that Bowers dished on are dead, I’m just a little skeptical on how much of his stories are true. All of them could be!

Bowers died in the fall of 2019 at the age of 96.

A very toned down version of the book was the premise of Ryan Murphy’s amazing Netflix series, “Hollywood”.

Back in June, here’s what I said of the series, “It’s a very honest and risque look into Tinseltown. It’s amazing that it was so open about ‘homophobia’ and ‘racism’ in Hollywood back in the heyday! (Oh hell, who am I kidding? It’s still rampant today!) Another bold move for the series was having the mesmerizing Patti LuPone, at 71-years-old, in a lead role.”

ROYAL NAUGHTINESS

Bowers shared some naughty secrets about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Edward and American divorcee Wallis Simpson, in his book.

All I know is that Queen Elizabeth II can keep her corgis. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor loved pugs!

He owned at least eleven of them and most were bred in the United States.

Some of their names were “Imp”, “Disraeli”, “Trooper”, “Mr. Chu”, “Rufus”, “Winston”, “Davy Crockett”, “Minoru”, “Ginseng” and “Diamond”.

And, no, my #Pug2021’s name is not on that list! 🙂

AND, SPEAKING OF THE ROYALS…

The new season (four) of “The Crown” is now on Netflix.

While I haven’t watched it yet, I can’t wait to see more of Josh O’Connor (“God’s Own Country”) as Prince Charles.

And, of course, there’s the “chick I’d switch for” — Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher.

P.S. If you haven’t seen “God’s Own Country”, it’s incredible!

It was my #8 movie of 2018.

LEE HARVEY OSWALD IS HOT!

Okay, let me quickly clarify.

Australian actor Daniel Webber, who plays Oswald in “11.22.63”, is hot! 🙂

This 2016 Hulu series is based on a Stephen King novel. In it, James Franco’s character time travels back to 1960 to try and stop the assassination of President Kennedy.

If he does, it’ll change the future.

While this would be great for Kennedy (and America), how would that change everything else in the next 50-plus years?

GRADE: B+

TAKING A BREAK

Happy Holidays, my friends!

AND… LAST CALL… ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD!

This one from 2018 slays and is probably the best “Little Drummer Boy” version ever!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — March 6, 2020

Surprise!  I can’t believe it’s been almost two months since my last “Random Friday Thoughts”.

Thank you for taking the time to check it out.

CORONAVIRUS & VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE

As fears rise and the death toll climbs around the world, I’m even more alarmed (but, totally not shocked) that 45 appointed Vice President Mike Pence to lead his Coronavirus response team.

Coronavirus Pence Trump

I hope the U.S. response is swift and adequate and that it prevents a widespread outbreak here.

Pence IS NOT a medical expert and his previous judgement is poor!

In a December 1, 2016, blog on “World AIDS Day”, I wrote, “And, just last year, a county in southern Indiana had an outbreak of HIV cases that reached “epidemic” levels.  It was reported that there were about twenty new cases each week because of drug use and needle sharing.

Yes, Indiana — while Vice-President elect Mike Pence was governor and before he was picked to be second in command in the U.S.”

PETS, TOO!

Last week, a pet dog, a Pomeranian, of a Coronavirus patient, was placed in quarantine after testing “weak positive” for the virus in Hong Kong!

Hong Kong dog Coronavirus

This week, that was upgraded to a “low-level infection”.  It’s the first reported case of human-to-animal transmission.

By Friday, the number of those infected worldwide is approaching 104,000 with more than 3,500 deaths.  (Most are in China.) 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. reports 164 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in nineteen states.

The CDC is also confirming eleven deaths!

EDUCATE YOURSELF!

With that being said, educate yourself!

Corona

I saw a survey last week that showed because of the Coronavirus, 38% of Americans wouldn’t buy Corona beer “under any circumstances”!

Seriously, stop drinking altogether if you’re that brilliant!!!

IT WON’T HAPPEN BEFORE ELECTION DAY 2020, BUT…

JFK Meme Diversity Mortal June 10 1963.JPG

That is from President John F. Kennedy’s June 1963 commencement speech at American University.

“THE MAN”

In 2019, “Lover”, Taylor Swift’s seventh studio release, was my favorite album of the year!

Taylor Swift Lover

It’s already produced the #2 smashes, “Me” with Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco and “You Need To Calm Down”, Taylor’s love letter to her LGBTQ fans, and the title track, which reached #10 on the Hot 100.

Her latest single is “The Man”, one of my absolute favorites from “Lover”.  And, I can’t watch the new video enough!

Yes, that’s Taylor playing “The Man”, Tyler Swift!

My other favorites from the album are “I Forgot That You Existed”, “I Think He Knows”, “Cornelia Street”, “False God”, “You Need To Calm Down”, and “Afterglow”.

I hope the next single will be “I Forgot That You Existed” or “Cornelia Street”!

CHRISTMAS CARDS — BY THE NUMBERS

Okay, I know that Christmas was more than two months ago (or less than ten months from now), but I didn’t take my trees and decorations down until the last day of January.  Yes, I enjoy them for three months!

As I was putting away my Christmas cards, I analyzed them and here’s what I found out.

I heard back from 78% of the people I sent a card.

Do you think most people used Christmas stamps?  They did!

28% used Santa stamps and 20% used the new wreath stamps!

Wreaths

However, a high number (21%) used flag stamps.  Either they’re patriotic or just using up the stamps they had on hand?

By the way, this past Christmas when I was planning a summer 2020 move to Las Vegas (aborted mission), I actually used cactus stamps.

Cactus Christmas Stamps

I wonder how many of my friends noticed and wondered why I wasn’t using holiday stamps? 🙂

“STUPID LOVE”

Lady Gaga is back with new music!

“Stupid Love”, the first single, from her upcoming album, “Chromatica”, which will arrive April 10th, was released last week!!!

While I love the upbeat dance hit, it does borrow from “Born This Way”, probably unintentionally!

I’m very excited about the new music since I didn’t buy her last album, “Joanne”, which dropped in October 2016.

Do I lose gay points for that???

“JOJO RABBIT”

This Oscar nominated comedy-drama was hilarious and well acted.

While mostly a comedy,  when a kid has Adolf Hitler (director and screenwriter Taika Waititi) as an “imaginary friend”, it does feature a few dark scenes.

Roman Griffin Davis was fantastic as Jojo, Waititi was great, and Rebel Wilson cracked me up.

This is not a spoiler, but two of her best lines were “I’ve had 18 kids for Germany — such a great year to be a girl!”

And, in another scene, instead of saying “O-M-G”, she replies, “O-M-God”, which made me laugh so much!

GRADE:  A-

MADONNA CONTINUES TO MAKE MUSIC HERSTORY (HISTORY)!

“I Don’t Search I Find” recently became Madonna’s 50th #1 hit on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.

She extended her record of having the most #1 songs on any one Billboard chart!  Her closest competitor is George Strait, who has 44 number one songs on the Billboard Country charts.

“I Don’t Search I Find” is also the fourth chart topper from her 2019 album, “Madame X”!  (“Madame X” is also Madonna’s ninth #1 album!)

Madonna is also the only act to score a #1 hit on the Dance Club Songs chart in five decades!

She hit the top of that chart 9 times in the 1980s, 13 times in the 1990s, 18 times in the 2000s, 9 times in the 2010s, and, now, once (so far) in the 2020s!

It’s also Madonna’s 10th consecutive #1 on the Dance chart and every one of her singles since 2012 have topped the chart!

GIVE IT A LISTEN! 🎶

“JOKER”

I’m no longer a fan of super hero movies, but I still have an affinity to the Batman series after growing up with the cheesy television Batman series of the 1960s.

I still absolutely love 1992’s “Batman Returns” with Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Danny DeVito as the Penguin!

I waited for last fall’s “Joker” to arrive on DVD and it was great.

The movie grossed over a billion dollars worldwide and garnered eleven Academy Award nominations!

Joaquin Phoenix deservedly won the Best Actor Oscar for his manic performance as aspiring comedian and loser Arthur Fleck.

How he became the Joker is tragic, sadistic, and compelling!

GRADE:  B+

“PRISONER OF TEHRAN”

In “Prisoner of Tehran”, Marina Nemat, who now lives in Canada, writes of her early life in Iran during the “Islamic Revolution”.

It was the late-1970s and early-1980s when the Ayatollah Khomeini was taking control of the country from the Shah of Iran.

If you were even thought to be a Shah supporter or you weren’t all for Khomeini’s way of rule (less freedom for women, very anti-Western, and anti-American), you could be imprisoned, raped, and killed.

Nemat Prisoner of Tehran.JPG

By telling her story, it’s clear that Nemat escaped Iran.  However, her story before then is heartbreaking!

“CHILDREN OF JIHAD”

Subtitled “A Young American’s Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East”, this 2007 book from American Jewish writer Jared Cohen talks about his time spent in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Syria.

Cohen Children of Jihad

In his secret talks with Muslim youth, Cohen learned that they didn’t hate America or Jews, but despised the American and Israeli governments because they were anti-Islam.

Cohen went on to work for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice.

“THE KITE RUNNER”

While the book, “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini came out in 2003, it’s taken me this long to come across it and read it!

And, wow, what a powerful book!

I had to go back to check and make sure it was fiction and not a true story.  While it’s fiction, I know tragedies like this are also reality.

If you’re not familiar, it’s the story of two childhood friends raised together without mothers in Afghanistan, one’s rich and the other is poor.

Events unfold that separate them as teenagers and something brings their lives back into the same orbit again as adults.

The Kite Runner

Here is a powerful quote from the book!

The Kite Runner Quote

Now, I need to watch the movie!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

 

Random Friday Thoughts — January 17, 2020

Happy 2020!

2020

I hope the new year is off to a great start for you.  Even though we’re only a few weeks into 2020, I already feel overwhelmed with some of the things I’m working off that I’ll share one day!

Thank you for taking the time to check out my “Random Friday Thoughts”.  If you want to comment, feel free.  If you disagree, do it diplomatically!

MOVE ALONG, YOU’VE PROVED YOUR POINT!

We’re now just a few weeks away from the beginning of the voting process for the Democratic nominee for president in 2020.

After a few more suspended campaigns, we’re down to twelve “active major” candidates, which is still several too many!  (It’s a stretch that Bennet, Delaney, Gabbard, and Patrick are still in the race!)

I’m sure the Iowa caucus (February 3), the New Hampshire primary (February 11), the Nevada caucus (February 22), and the South Carolina primary (February 29) will weed out several more of those running.

However, it’ll likely be Super Tuesday on March 3, 2020, that will narrow the field to just the front runners.  Fourteen states have their primaries on that day.

So, Hillary Clinton, it’s time to jump into the race!

Still

Say what you want — diplomatically!

WE CAN CHANGE THE FACE OF INAUGURATION DAY 2020!

JFK JUNE 1963

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

High Crime.JPG

EERIE, SAD COINCIDENCE

Melanie Panayiotou, the sister of pop legend George Michael, died on Christmas Day.  She was in her 50s!

What’s eerie is that Michael also died on Christmas Day in 2016!  He was 53.

George Michael.gif

They are survived by their father and an older sister.

MILLIONAIRE “LOVER”

My favorite CD of 2019 was also the ONLY album to sell more than a million copies last year!

It’s astounding that the music landscape has changed so much with streaming, downloading singles, etc.!

Taylor Swift Lover

Taylor Swift’s “Lover” sold 1.085 million copies.  Of that, 699,000 were physical units (including mine) and the other 386,000 were digital copies.

Now I’m getting excited to see what the fourth single will be from the album.  I hope it’s either “I Forgot That You Existed” or “The Man”.

I would have added “Cornelia Street”, too, but it’s a ballad and her last single, “Lover”, was a ballad!

“FAST FOOD NATION:  THE DARK SIDE OF THE ALL-AMERICAN MEAL”

This incredible, eye-opening, and mind-boggling book by Eric Schlosser came out in 2001.

Fast_food_nation

While I know there have been improvements and advancements in raising animals for human consumption and in food processing and distribution, something tells me there are still so many horror stories today that threaten our health and our lives.

Even before reading this book, I was already considering giving up eating meat.  The first step will be to stop buying it for home (except when I’m hosting) and only eating meat when I’m out.

I’m sure I can do it since I gave up beef more than a decade ago!

While I know the research in the book is reliable, if only a fraction was true and our lives weren’t dictated by huge corporations and shady politicians, we Americans would change our eating habits.

Not just because it’d be healthier, but the production of meat, from raising livestock to slaughtering them for food, is so cruel and unsanitary!

A very compelling documentary to watch from 2009 is called “Food, Inc.”, which was nominated for Oscar!

In 2012, I wrote a very interesting blog called “Our Eating Habits Are Killing Us.”

Here’s the link if you want to read it and see some of the monstrosities we serve in our restaurants, including this:

6pound_000

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/our-eating-habits-are-killing-us/

“UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS: A STORY OF LOSS AND AGAIN”

I can’t believe that it took me so long to read Portia De Rossi’s 2010 heartbreaking book about her fight with food addiction and the obsession with weight loss!

Portia

I also didn’t expect that reading it would trigger me to fall off the food addiction wagon!

For a recovering bulimic or anorexic, eating is a nightmare.

Once you fall, it’s hard to get back on track.  The scale entices you with weight loss that you can’t do easily just by eating right and exercising.

Every pound that disappears is not just one step closer to a goal.  Sadly, it’s only more encouragement for the physically destructive behavior to continue!

After nine years as a practicing bulimic (1986-1995), I spent the next two decades “on the wagon”.  A separation (and ultimate divorce) caused a relapse for a few months, in 2017, but I overcame it.

And, I know I’ll overcome this recent relapse, too.  I just hope it’s sooner rather than later!

SKIP THIS BOOK!

“Call Me By Your Name” was my favorite movie I saw in 2018.  Afterwards, I read the book by Andre Aciman.

I was so excited when it was announced in 2019 that a sequel, “Find Me”, was on the way.

andre-aciman-call-me-by-your-name-find-me

I was thoroughly disappointed!

I was so excited that I’d see where Elio and Oliver were in life and if they ended up together!  However, most of the book (the first part) was about Elio’s father!

When we finally caught up Elio and in a fleeting moment, Oliver, it was too little, too late.

As for “Find Me”, don’t even look for it!

Pretend that this sequel doesn’t exist and just enjoy the beauty of “Call Me By Your Name” again!

It’s peachy!  🍑🍑🍑

peach 1

MORE BOOKS I READ LATELY

“Dispatches From The Edge:  A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival” by Anderson Cooper (2006)

What a riveting book about what Cooper saw in 2005 from the aftermath of the Indonesian tsunami, various wars, and Hurricane Katrina.

Anderson also talked quite a bit about his brother’s suicide.

I sure hope that he sought therapy after 2005 because he sounded very depressed and down.

Or, like me, writing is therapy and maybe authoring the book was therapeutic for him!

“Vice:  Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of The American Presidency” (2006) by Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein

I knew from living through the George W. Bush presidency that Dick Cheney was a despicable man.  However, I didn’t know that his wife, Lynne, was also a mean, snake of a woman, too.

But, then again, why should that shock me???

“Christmas in the Old West” (2003) by Sam Travers

A very informative and fun look at Christmases when the West was truly wild.  How people survived back then (1800s and early 1900s) still amazes me!

“The Words Lincoln Lived By:  52 Timeless Principles To Light Your Path” (1997) by Gene Griessman

A great quote from the book, which is perfect for the new year!

Lincoln (1858):  “By all means, don’t say ‘if I can’; say ‘I will'”. 

“THE FAREWELL”

“The Farewell” was my favorite movie of 2019!

Its star was also in my #5 movie of 2018, “Crazy Rich Asians”, in a much different role.

In “Asians”, Awkwafina was comedic relief and in “The Farewell”, she shows off her dramatic acting chops.

She also won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Comedy or Musical this month, but was snubbed and didn’t get an Oscar nomination!

It’s a the story of a Chinese family going back to their homeland from the U.S. to visit a loved one who’s dying of cancer.  However, the family chooses not to let her know!

GRADE:  A

“JUDY”

What an incredible movie!

If you’re a Judy Garland fan, you’re already familiar with what is covered in the movie.

If you just know Garland as Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” and maybe as Liza Minnelli’s mother, then definitely check out this movie.  It’s on DVD!

Renee Zellweger won the Golden Globe Award earlier this month in the Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama category and will be the one to beat when the Academy Awards are handed out.

“Judy” was my #5 movie of 2019!

GRADE:  A

“BOMBSHELL”

Even after seeing “The Loudest Voice” on Showtime last year, watching “Bombshell” was a different viewing experience about the toxic environment at Fox News.  (Oh, and about the toxic, creepy, nasty Roger Ailes!)

While John Lithgow was incredible as Ailes, it was definitely the women who made the movie — Charlize Theron (as Megyn Kelly), Nicole Kidman (as Gretchen Carlson), Margot Robbie (as a composite character created from many of the women that Ailes victimized), and Kate McKinnon (a co-worker, Jess Carr).

I expected Oscar nominations for Theron the Best Actress category and for Robbie in Best Supporting Actress category and they got them!

“Bombshell” ended up being my #13 movie I saw in 2019.

GRADE:  B

A WARM YOU UP THIS WINTER FLASHBACK!

Since we’re into the “dead of winter”, here’s something to warm you up!

It still astounds me that Kim Wilde only scored two Top 40 hits in the United States on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Kids in America” reached #25 in 1981 and “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” topped the chart in 1987.

She came close to scoring two more hits with “You Came” in 1988 (#41) and this one, “Say You Really Want Me” (#44), in 1987.

This video is so sexy and hot, but it was deemed “raunchy” in the U.K.!

SUPERBOWL TEASE

And, ahead of her Super Bowl halftime performance, a 2020 megamix of the sexiest woman alive — Jennifer Lopez!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony