Posts Tagged ‘AIDS’

Random Friday Thoughts — August 27, 2021

August is coming to an end and next weekend is Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of the summer season. (Sorry, Connie!)

Thank you for taking the time to check out my Random Friday Thoughts! I’ll start out with a positive vibe. Well, positive unless you dread fall and winter!

BRING IT ON!

Other than those things, I’m looking forward to my birthday trip (if international travel isn’t halted or they tell us Americans to stay away!).

However, another thing I’m eagerly anticipating before the Christmas season is the return of my fantasy crush — serial killer Dexter Morgan!

“DEXTER: NEW BLOOD”

One of my favorite series of all time is coming back as a “limited series” this fall. (Yes, I’m a huge fan of the killer series!) 🙂

“Dexter” originally ended after eight seasons in September 2013. After 95 great episodes, the series finale was a DUD!

By the grace of God, we’re getting another season of ten episodes this fall and winter to make up for that finale!

Showtime’s president of entertainment Gary Levine earlier this week said, “For me, it’s a revisiting of Dexter and a proper finale for a brilliant season.”

The new season debuts on Showtime November 7, 2021.

Oh, Paramount, please make sure that when the season is finished that it’s released on DVD to complete my collection!

ONE MORE FALL TREAT!

Nabisco is making fall a little tastier with two new “limited edition” Oreo cookies.

“Salted Caramel Brownie Oreo” boasts two creme layers – caramel and brownie – between chocolate wafers with a sprinkling of salt on top.

While that sounds delicious, I’m really excited to try the “Apple Cider Donut Oreo”, which features an apple cider-flavored creme between two golden Oreo wafers.

And, my beautiful, wonderful sister, Tammy, bought me a bag of the Apple Cider Donut Oreos, so I’ll open them when she visits next!

EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON!

Last week, my sister, Tammy, and her boyfriend, took a little road trip to Metropolis, Illinois, for a short getaway and to try our hands at the slots.

We also got to hang out with our cousin, Steve, and my dear friend, Dennis, from back in the day when we were in our carefree 20s!!!

While at the casino the first night, I had lost almost all the money I brought to lose. I then played a game my sister had won over a hundred dollars on. As my money melted away, I got a bonus!

In that bonus round, I covered the board with snow leopards on the last spin and broke even for the night and cashed out!

Incredibly, the next night, I got another bonus on that game and filled the board again. With that $250 spin, I ended up one hundred dollars ahead and cashed out!

As we got back into Decatur the next afternoon, we heard a loud pop behind us and didn’t see anything. By the time I approached my sister’s street to drop her off, I had a flat tire.

So, that’s where my $100 profit went! 🙂

However, in the long wait for Roadside Assistance, I changed the tire myself since there a strange person lurking around and it wasn’t such a great neighborhood!

ARBY’S DISAPPOINTMENT

While driving back, we stopped at the Arby’s in Salem, Illinois. I was so excited to try the Market Fresh Southwest Chicken Avocado Wrap.

This restaurant’s version of the sandwich and the marketing department vision of the sandwich were much different.

That’s the advertisement.

The actual sandwich was mostly the wrap. There was very little filling (just a few thin slices of chicken and you really had to look hard to see any avocado).

Big disappointment! It’s no wonder I rarely eat fast food!

PFIZER APPROVED BY THE FDA

Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine.

Like the Moderna vaccination, it’s a two-shot regimen (the Johnson & Johnson vaccination is “one and done”).

Holdouts, now that it’s the first COVID-19 vaccine approved by the U.S. government, let’s get those vaccinations numbers up and put this pandemic behind us!

WELCOME BACK, ELTON JOHN!

Elton John is a musical icon that’s been charting hits in the U.S. since his first hit, “Your Song” charted in 1970, and reached the Top Ten in 1971.

He’s now back on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time since July 2000 with his latest song, “Cold Heart (Pnau Remix)”, a duet with Dua Lipa.

The song features Elton singing part of his 1990 hit “Sacrifice” (one of his best and most underappreciated hits) and Lipa belting out his 1972 classic “Rocket Man”. The song is remixed by Australia’s Pnau (brothers Nick and Sam Littlemore and Peter Mayes).

While the song debuts at #81 on the Hot 100, it breaks onto the Adult Contemporary chart at #16 and #3 on the Hot Dance/Electronic chart!

“Cold Heart (Pnau Remix)” extends John’s lead on the AC chart with 74 entries. Barbra Streisand is in second with 64 and Neil Diamond is in third place with 59.

One more interesting note: Lipa becomes just the latest partner of Elton’s on the Hot 100.

He’s charted with Kiki Dee twice (first with the 1976 four-week #1 hit, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”). Elton also spent four weeks at the top in 1986 on “That’s What Friends Are For,” with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder.

His other Hot 100 duet partners were Jennifer Rush (1987); Aretha Franklin (1989); George Michael on “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” (No. 1, one week, 1992); Kiki Dee again (1993); RuPaul on the remake of “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” (1994); and LeAnn Rimes (1999).

REMEMBERING TOM T. HALL

Kentucky-born country music singer and songwriter Tom T. Hall died last week at the age of 85.

During his decades of chart hits from 1967-1985, Hall scored 39 country hits. Of those, 21 reached the Top Ten with seven making it to #1, including “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died” and “I Love”.

However, his biggest achievement is the one that impacted my life the most.

In 1968, he wrote, “Harper Valley P.T.A.”, which became an international hit for Jeannie C. Riley.

It topped both the country chart and the Billboard Hot 100 and won a Grammy Award for Riley. It was also nominated for Song and Record of the Year.

The single sold more than six million copies and I had one of those records. However, as a 4-year-old, I played it constantly until an evil step-sister (a bratty teenager) broke it!!!

“Harper Valley P.T.A.” was my 5th favorite song of my first 35 years! Yes, I love compiling lists!

“BETTY FORD”

Here are the final thoughts from Lisa McCubbin’s amazing 2018 biography subtitled, “First Lady, Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer” that I haven’t shared with you.

  • At a three-day conference in Cleveland, Ohio, for International Women’s Year, Betty wrapped up her speech about her support of the ERA with “I spoke out on this important issue because of my deep personal convictions. Why should my husband’s job, or yours, prevent us from being ourselves.” She paused and concluded, “Being ladylike does not require silence.” Amen sister!
  • On May 24, 1978, President and Mrs. Ford where back in their former home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the unveiling of their official White House portraits. This was Betty Ford’s first visit back at White House since they left in January 1977 and it was just a couple of weeks after she left her alcohol and drug program in Long Beach, California. President Jimmy Carter said, “Betty Ford has earned the admiration of our nation for her courage and complete candor. She is the most popular person in our country today.”
  • Elizabeth Taylor was one of the first celebrities to stand up in the fight against AIDS and when she asked Betty Ford to help her to remove the stigma with the deadly disease, Ms. Ford didn’t hesitate.
  • In 1985, Taylor awarded her the first “AIDS Project Commitment to Life Award” in Los Angeles. The 2,500 attendees gave Ms. Ford a standing ovation when she walked onstage to accept the award. She told the crowd, “Tonight is about conquering fear and saving lives” and added just like the country’s attitudes about cancer and alcoholism have changed, “attitudes toward AIDS can change as well.”

WHAT A TRAILBLAZER! I wish I could have met her!

MY THOUGHTS ON “DEXTER” SEASONS 1-8

So, which were your favorite or least favorite seasons?

I plan on watching the series again before the new season. I wonder if my original reviews on the first eight seasons will hold up?

Season 1: (A+)  — Three words:  Ice Truck Killer!  Plus, I love Sergeant Doakes (“Surprise Motherf***a”)!

Season 2: (B)  —   I gave it a higher grade for Doakes and a lower grade because of Lila (you gotta love Paris)!

Season 3: (B-) —  This season had so much potential especially when Assistant District Attorney Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits) saw Dexter kill someone early on, but the show lost its way for most of the season.

Season 4:  (A) —  The Trinity Killer & Rita taking a much deserved bath!

Season 5:  (B-) — Lumen got old fast, but having Jonny Lee Miller (Jordan Chase) on the show saved it from getting a “C”.  However, the story line was weak.

Season 6:  (A-)  —  The “Doomsday Killer” and the Book of Revelation killings were intriguing.   The “Nebraska” filler episode dropped the season back a partial grade.

Season 7:  (A+) — The dynamics of Dexter and Debra this season after she witnessed his kill at the end of season six were incredible.  Debra’s fragility of discovering what Dexter is and having to compromise her position with Miami Metro to save her brother was a powerful story to watch unfold.   And, it was fun seeing Dexter as the mouse in the “cat and mouse” game with his every move being watched by not only Debra, but also by Isaac Sirko and the Koshka Brotherhood (the Ukrainian based international crime syndicate).  If that wasn’t enough, he and Debra then had to come up with a strategic plan after Captain LaGuerta found evidence that Doakes wasn’t the “Bay Harbor Butcher” and she started investigating Dexter!

When I originally posted my thoughts on the series in 2013, I only wrote about the first seven seasons. When I re-posted it in February 2014, I only gave the final season a grade because I didn’t want to spoil anything. Now I’ll elaborate!

Season 8:  (B) — If the finale hadn’t been so silly, I’d given it an A-.

I loved Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling as Dr. Evelyn Vogel, an expert on psychiatry and Sam Underwood was fantastic as Zach Hamilton, a budding serial killer. You can see more of Underwood in “The Following”.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, it could be!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GET VACCINATED PEOPLE!

Anthony

Dying To Live: Death Sentence 1981 ≠ Undetectable 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOPE — THE FIRST ROUND OF MEDS

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

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

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

HIV & AIDS — 40 YEARS LATER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FINAL THOUGHTS ON MY IMPRESSIONABLE YEARS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“AND THE BAND PLAYED ON”

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

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

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

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

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

“THE GREAT BELIEVERS”

This 2018 book by Rebecca Makkai is amazing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

“LONGTIME COMPANION”

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

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

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

Be safe and play safe!

Peace!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — June 11, 2021

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

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

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

CONQUERING THE MEDIA WORLD!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TAKE A BITE OUT OF PRIDE

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

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

PRIDE MONTH FUNNY

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

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

YOUNGER”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SERIES GRADE: A

ONE LAST “YOUNGER” NOTE

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

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

“JOHN WAYNE GACY: DEVIL IN DISGUISE”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOW DEMENTED IS THIS?

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

Some sold for as much as $20,000!

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

BEST RECENT LAS VEGAS HEADLINE

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

At least one of my favorites is making a comeback!

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

Laughing, joking, kidding! 🙂 I do!

TAKING A SHORT BREAK!

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

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — 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 — 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 — June 5, 2020

It’s been a couple of months since I last shared some “Random Friday Thoughts”!

I’ve been busy with the move, transitioning into a new job and schedule, and just walking, reading, and binge watching television.

As always, if you disagree with me, do it diplomatically!

While I always say that, I’m stressing it today because of recent events across the country!

VIOLENCE AND RACISM

If the unprecedented COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic isn’t enough to depress America, the outward racism and violence across the country is pathetically sad!

Here are my thoughts in a tweet last Sunday. Let me clear: protests SHOULD BE peaceful ☮️ and looters and rioters SHOULD BE ARRESTED!

There is a difference between protesting and being a criminal!

And, he’s worried about being fact-checked on Twitter?

NO “GLEE” FOR LEA MICHELE

The word “glee” means “great delight”, but when it comes to “Glee” star Lea Michele, it’s more of nightmare.

Well, I guess she is more of a nightmare!

On May 29th, Michele tweeted about the death of George Floyd.

Lea

This opened the gates of hell for her.  

A guest actor from the “Glee” series called Michele out for her rude behavior to her when she was on the show.  Then many other guests and co-stars came out to share their horror stories!

While her “Glee” co-star Amber Riley didn’t address the social media stir with words, this GIF pretty much says it all!

Ouch!

Glee Rachel Slushie

COVID-19 — YESTERDAY’S NEWS???

My friends, please be vigilant and be safe!

The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has now topped 1.9 million and the death toll has surpassed 109-thousand!

With the murder of George Floyd and the unruly riots that are burning U.S. cities, Coronavirus has taken the backseat on television news coverage.

But, as America reopens, please be sanitary and keep yourself (and me and my family) as healthy as possible so we can move on to the “new normal”!

ON A LIGHTER NOTE — COVID-19 RELATED

HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

While there won’t be amazing parades with music divas performing and scantily clad men and women, the LGBTQ community is still proud!

This is still one of my favorite Pride pictures of all time when I was in Chicago!

So, in honor of pride, cheers…

And, dance like you just don’t care!

ON A SADDER NOTE OF PRIDE — THANK YOU LARRY KRAMER!

Sadly, most people don’t know Larry Kramer.

What’s even sadder is that most of the youth in the LGBTQ community today don’t know the pain and sacrifices this man went through to give them chances that many of his friends never had back in the 1980s and 1990s.

And, many people living with HIV and AIDS are alive today and owe much of it to Kramer!

Sadly, the 84-year-old advocate died in late May.

Kramer was a Hollywood screenwriter and gained fame in 1969 penning the Oscar-nominated film “Women in Love”. 

But, his fortune came four years later on the flop, “Lost Horizon”. That film gave Kramer the financial security to do something he wanted to do —  write about the gay community.

He did and his 1978 novel, “Faggots”, about the out and openly gay community of New York City in the 1970s before AIDS, was very controversial.

Middle America was shocked about the easy come and easy go world of sex and drugs and the gay community shunned him because he exposed its seedy secrets.

But, Kramer became a beacon of hope for gay men dying of AIDS in the 1980s by starting the Gay Men’s Health Crisis Center (GMHC) and ACT UP, an activist group that put the heat on politicians (most notably President Ronald Reagan, President George H.W. Bush and New York Mayor Ed Koch) to get off their asses and start fighting AIDS!

Kramer was so outspoken and blunt that he was forced out of GMHC, the group he founded!

His biggest literary success was the autobiographical Off-Broadway play, “The Normal Heart”, in the 1980s.  It played on Broadway in 2011 and was made into a hit movie by Ryan Murphy in 2014.

There’s an amazing HBO documentary called “Larry Kramer In Love & Anger” that you must see to learn more about this incredible man.

“THE CELLULOID CLOSET”

This 1981 book by Vito Russo covered the representation of the LGBTQ community in entertainment through the early years into the 1980s!

What an eye-opening read!

It’s appalling to know that gays and lesbians, when they were shown in movies in the early days of film, were only there to be made fun of, even though they weren’t even referenced as “homosexuals”.

Once movies in the 1960s and 1970s moved beyond using gays, lesbians, and cross-dressers as sight gags and to be made fun of, they became either the victims of heinous crimes or they would commit suicide because of “being that way”!

Even critics, from reputable publications like “Time”, “Newsweek”, “The New York Times”, and others perpetuated this appalling stereotype, even after gay liberation started at the beginning of the 1970s.

No wonder it took America until the 2000s to really make progress in LGBTQ rights!

Even one of my all-time favorite movies, the 1991 Oscar-winning “The Silence of the Lambs” made the serial killer a transvestite that killed to be more like a woman! 

And, it starred a lesbian, Jodie Foster, one of my favorite actresses!

The late actor Richard Burton, who played a gay character, summed it up best to gossip columnist Liz Smith talking about homophobic theater critics, “Are they even vaguely aware that some of the greatest voices in the theater belong to homosexuals? They frighten me. Because they’re supposed to be the intellectuals, and I suddenly realize that they’re the audience for this film. I have never known anyone who took great exception to homosexuals that there wasn’t something very wrong with that person himself. “

And, “Abuse” director Arthur J. Bressan was asked by the mother of a teenage boy auditioning for his movie if her son would turn out gay by acting in the film. He replied, “No, and if he plays Hamlet he won’t inherit Denmark, either!”

One final interesting note from this book: director Herbert Ross made some of the most homophobic movies to come of out of Hollywood!

He was also the director of such major films such as “Funny Lady”, “The Turning Point”, “Goodbye Girl”, and “Footloose”.

And, here’s the irony, his biggest hit was 1989’s “Steel Magnolias”, one of the gayest (non-gay) movies ever made!

come sit by me!”

TV VIEWING & BINGE WATCHING

After binge-watching 60-plus hours of television in April, I got caught up on “9-1-1”, “9-1-1: Lone Star” “Prodigal Son”, “The Good Doctor”, and “The Sinner”!

I also watched season three of “Ozark” and it was incredible! WOW!

While the nominations aren’t out yet, just go ahead and give Laura Linney, Janet McTeer, and Tom Pelphrey their Emmy Awards now!

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!

In May, I watched the series finales of “How To Get Away With Murder” and “Homeland”. Both were perfect!

Thank you Viola Davis, Shonda Rhimes, and Peter Nowalk for six amazing, crazy years of “Murder”!

And, Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin, these eight years of “Homeland” were so intense and rewarding!

These A+ finales join “The Americans”, “Breaking Bad”, and “Six Feet Under” as my favorites series I’ve watched from beginning to end!

Sorry “Dexter”! Loved the entire series except that finale! Really???

OTHER MAY TELEVISION BINGEING

I’m also now caught up on “Sex Education”, “Mindhunter”, “You”, and “Eastsiders”.

“Eastsiders” is a funny, touching LGBTQ series on Netflix.

Check it out since the fourth and final season was just nominated for eight Daytime Emmy Awards!

Congrats to creators Kit Williamson and John Halbach and the incredible cast! Hi Willam!

If you’ve never seen it, live a little and start with the six episode final season and you’ll be hooked and want to see it from the beginning!

The finale was so touching, beautiful, and funny!

LADY GAGA “CHROMATICA”

The sixth studio album from Lady Gaga, “Chromatica”, came out in late May.

The second single, “Rain on Me”, with Ariana Grande, debuted last week at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

It follows “Stupid Love”, which reached #5 on the Hot 100.

“JAMES CAMERON’S TITANIC”

Earlier this year, I read the 1997 picture book about the making of the “Titanic” movie.

Titanic

With text by Ed Marsh and photographs by Douglas Kirkland, it was very enlightening to see what all went into Cameron’s masterpiece.

ALSO READ…

Earlier this year, I also read “The Perfect Storm” by Sebastian Junger (1997), Tatum O’Neal’s “A Paper Life” (2004) and Dame Judi Dench’s “and furthermore” (2010).

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 — July 26, 2019

It was great last week sharing some random thoughts with you, along with my funny story involving the movie and the very graphic sex scene! 🙂

This week, I learned first hand to be careful what you write (especially if you have a blog) in today’s technological age!

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

WAIT!  I SAID WHAT???

Writers calls it “foreshadowing”.  I’d probably call it something with expletives!

Five years ago, on the Fourth of July, I reviewed a movie that really touched me and I shared a personal anecdote.

It was the Chilean drama “Gloria” and I said it was one of the best movies I’ve seen in the past few years.”

In it, Paulina Garcia plays Gloria, a 58-year-old divorcee facing single life again after her two grown child moved out.  But, Gloria didn’t just sit at home.  She went out drinking and socializing to meet men — hoping she’d find “the one”.

In that blog, I added, I was so impressed with her strength and determination”.  I also wrote about finally finding “the one” and summed “Gloria” up with “I just couldn’t imagine doing it in my late-50s or 60s!!!”

Wait, what was that again? “I just couldn’t imagine doing it in my late-50s or 60s!!!”

How prophetic in 2014 that I’d be talking about my own life in 2019 as I approach my mid-50s single for over two years!

Olivia Pope wine.gif

Reading that was definitely a “WTF” moment!

However, “I GOT THIS”!  I’ve already shared with you that 2020 is the year for change.  I’ll take back my life and start living again!

#NextChapter2020 and #Pug2020

“Gloria” ended up being one of my 20 favorite movies in 2014.

Here’s how I ended my review of the movie, “Garcia’s heartbreaking performance was amazing and she made me wish that Gloria was my friend.  The role won Garcia the Silver Bear Award for Best Actress at the 63rd Annual Berlin International Film Festival.”

GRADE:  A

“GLORIA BELL”

I absolutely love Julianne Moore, but I had serious reservations about whether I wanted to see director Sebastian Lelio’s re-imagining of his original “Gloria”.

Well, I rented it and Moore and John Turturro were amazing.  Except for Americanizing the soundtrack and Moore freely exposing herself with confidence, I couldn’t wait for the movie to be over!

If you love Moore and you haven’t seen the original, rent it and you’ll enjoy it.  Otherwise, rent the original!

GRADE:  C+

“POSE”

Although the second season debuted back in early June on FX, real life got in the way of me catching up on this amazing drama.

pose

After watching the first episode of season two, “Acting Up”, I saved it to watch again!  It was the absolute best episode of the young, incredible series!

Season two picks up three years after the first season (1987).

Last season, two characters learned they’re HIV-positive.  “Acting Up” is about their fight to stay alive when so many of their friends are dying at an alarming rate and the government could care less about their suffering!

It also touched on the fear of taking the life-saving, but also toxic new drug AZT — the only HIV/AIDS drug available at the time.

pose billy porter

For the first season, Billy Porter (Pray Tell) and the show both picked up Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Television Awards nominations.

Both were just nominated for Emmys this year!  This makes Porter the first openly gay black man to be nominated in the “Outstanding Lead Actor” drama category!

I also wish that Mj Rodriguez (Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista) had gotten a nomination, too.

One final note about season two:  it’s now 1990 and Madonna just released “Vogue”, which brought the underground ball scene of New York City to a mainstream audience!

Here’s Candy (Angelica Ross) in her “Blonde Ambition” best!

Candy as Madonna

Next week, I want to talk about the powerful fourth episode, “Never Knew Love Like This Before”.  Why not this week?  I want to give you a chance to get caught up!

spoiler-alert

“Pose” is already renewed for a third season!

As Pray Tell says, “THE CATEGORY IS LIVE.WORK.POSE.”

FIVE MONTHS TO CHRISTMAS

Christmas is now less than five months away!

Recently, it was announced that actress/singer Lea Michele (“Glee”) will be starring in the ABC holiday movie, “Same Time, Next Christmas”, in December.

Lea Michele Christmas.JPG

She’ll also be releasing her first Christmas album later this year!

THIS CHRISTMAS(LAND) GIVE ME THE CREEPS

The ten-episode AMC series, “NOS4A2”, wraps up Sunday night and has already been renewed for a second season of Christmas horror!

It’s a “supernatural horror drama” that’s pretty damn creepy because Christmas and child abductions drive the story line.

Zachary Quinto (“Star Trek”) is unrecognizable, at times, as the immortal 135-year-old Charlie Manx!

A young woman, “Vic” McQueen, realizes she has a supernatural ability to track down Manx, who feeds off the souls of children.

He then drops the living, yet soulless kids, off at Christmasland.  It’s a very twisted part of Manx’s imagination where every day is Christmas Day!

By the way, it’s pronounced “Nosferatu”.

GRADE (before the finale):  B

SLOW DOWN CHRISTMAS, LET’S TALK HALLOWEEN!

Last week, Jamie Lee Curtis posted on Twitter that not one, but two more “Halloween” movies are on the way!

Capture

On October 16, 2020, “Halloween Kills” hits theaters and then the following fall on October 15, 2021, “Halloween Ends”!

“Halloween (2018)”, the eleventh movie in the franchise, was critically acclaimed and made $255.5 million worldwide!

Halloween

As we all know, “You can’t kill the boogeyman!”

REMEMBERING LAURA BRANIGAN

Since I talked about “Gloria”, I want to take a moment to memorialize Laura Branigan, who died of a brain aneurysm at her home almost fifteen years on August 26, 2004.

From 1982-1987, she placed seven Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

Of those, three reached the top ten:  the Grammy Award-nominated, “Gloria” (#2, 1982), “Solitaire” (#7, 1983), and “Self Control” (#4, 1984).

While “Gloria” peaked at #2 on the Hot 100, it topped the Cash Box singles chart in the United States in November 1982.

It also hit #1 in Canada and spent seven weeks at the top of the chart in Australia in early 1983.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Thoughts — February 8, 2019

We’re snowed in again here in the Northland of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin with  almost a foot of new snow!

Here’s hoping that we all have a fantastic weekend and thank you for checking out my random thoughts.

I’M TAKING THE PLUNGE!!!!!!!

I’ve always wanted to do a Polar Plunge, but I’ve never had the opportunity.

Now, I get to do it for a great cause — Special Olympics Minnesota!

On February 16th in Duluth, Minnesota, a group of co-workers and I are raising money and are jumping into the frigid waters of Lake Superior.

Polar Plunge

Any donation, large or small, will add up!

Once you go to the page and if you want to make a smaller donation that what’s listed, just type it into the box!

Thank you in advance and here’s the link:

https://reg.plungemn.org/participant/anthonypeoples

OUT AND PROUD & CLOSETED AND OUTING

I’ve always been out.  For me, the closets are for clothes.  But, that’s not the case for many others.

In the mid-1980s, as Rock Hudson was dying of AIDS and his management team was giving lame excuses for his sickness, one of my favorite authors and a leading LGBTQ activist Armistead Maupin outed him as being gay.

While it was an “open secret”, Maupin confirmed to mainstream news agencies that Hudson was gay.

Doris Day Rock Hudson 1985

Maupin also came down hard on lesbian actress Lily Tomlin in the 1990s for waiting so long to come out.

Personally, I think the LGBTQ community needs visibility.  Kids need role models to look up to when they feel alone in some small town or in a family that doesn’t accept gay people.

While I’d love for rumored LGBTQ celebrities and politicians to come out and be proud, it’s their choice.  I would not out them.

However, for politicians that are anti-LGBTQ or support anti-LGBTQ legislation, I’m all for outing them without any remorse at the first hint of them being deceptive and closeted!

Even for those “straight” celebrities that support religions (or cults pretending to be religion, TC/JT, I’m looking at you) that are anti-LGBTQ, I’m all for someone outing them when there’s proof!

“Come out, come out, wherever you are!”  

Was Maupin right or wrong with outing Hudson as a gay man or saying Tomlin shouldn’t have waited so long to come out?

What do you think?

“THE UNTOLD TALES OF ARMISTEAD MAUPIN”

While I’ve read Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the Cities” novels many times (there are nine of them), the series was first written for a California newspaper.

The story begins in San Francisco in the 1970s and follows a core group of friends that become “family” over time.

If you’ve never heard of it, go to the library and get them or buy the first one on Amazon and you’ll be hooked!

“The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin”, a 2017 documentary, follows Maupin from his conservative upbringing in North Carolina (where he even worked for racist, homophobic Senator Jesse Helms) to becoming a writer in San Francisco and coming out.

It’s also an incredible love story!

GRADE:  A

So far, the “Tales of the City” novels have been made into three amazing miniseries with Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis.

A fourth arrives on Netflix this year!

“THE WIFE”

“And, the Best Actress Oscar goes to Glenn Close in ‘The Wife’!”

That’s what I predict we’ll be hearing Sunday, February 24th, at the 91st Academy Awards ceremony.

After six previous nominations and six losses, I think this is Close’s year.  Sorry, Lady Gaga, you may have more chances.

Close plays Joan, the wife of Jonathan Pryce’s Joseph Castleman, who’s awaiting a call from the Nobel Prize committee to see if he’ll earn one for his literary work.

Spoiler, not Spoiler: he does!

As the story unfolds, we see how Joseph and Joan meet and how their lives have played out over the decades — professionally and personally.

Close plays the perfect wife standing by her famous writer husband, but also feels the sting of disappointment over how her husband depends on her and takes her for granted — professionally and personally!

GRADE:  A

“BOY ERASED”

The main point I want to stress here is that “gay conversion therapy” is still going on across the U.S. and it’s sad, pathetic, and damaging!

This movie, with the always incredible Nicole Kidman and Lucas Hedges, is based on Garrard Conley’s 2016 “Boy Erased:  A Memoir” about his time in an Arkansas facility.

Pop singer Troye Sivan, director/actor Xavier Dolan, and Joe Alwyn (Taylor Swift’s boyfriend) also turn in amazing performances.

Since I hadn’t read Conley’s book when the movie was announced, I decided to wait to do so and now I’m ready to read it.

“Boy Erased” will be more powerful to people who are not all that familiar with gay conversion therapy.

While the movie was very touching, it was a bit sanitized.  For those of us that have heard the horror stories of conversion therapy, I felt it was too Hollywood-ized and needed a rougher edge!

It’s still a must see!

GRADE:  B

LAST TWO BOOKS READ IN 2018

It’s a tradition for me to read “Christmas in Plains” by my idol President Jimmy Carter every year at the holidays!

Christmas In Plains

“JACKIE AFTER JACK”

After finishing Ted Sorensen’s 800+ page biography of John F. Kennedy and “Christmas in Plains”, I jumped right into Christopher Andersen’s “Jackie After Jack”.

Anderson Jackie after Jack

Sorensen’s book on President Kennedy was more about Kennedy as “President” rather than Kennedy as a husband, father, brother, and friend.

I was shocked into reality with the abrasive tone difference at beginning of Andersen’s book, which pretty much talks about Kennedy’s assassination in graphic detail.

Of course, when you’re reading books about people, you don’t know how much is fact and how much is hearsay.

But, if only a fraction of the book is true, Jackie certainly loved her children and she was definitely what we’d call a “gold digger” today!

By no means do I think that President Kennedy, Senator Bobby Kennedy, and Jackie were angels, but, in retrospect, I’m a little disturbed about their alleged homophobia.

Andersen mentions several times about Jackie wanting to toughen her son, John John, up because she was didn’t want him to “grow up to be a fruit”.

I’m not giving a free pass on that, but I’m putting it in the context of the 1960s and 1970s and how most people have evolved when it comes to being gay.  I know the Kennedys would have been much more accepting in today’s world!

Thank God “homosexuality” (a truly clinical term that had implications of mental illness prior to 1973 in the United States) has now progressed to being “gay” and part of the acronym LGBTQ!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony