Posts Tagged ‘Barbra Streisand’

Random Friday Thoughts — August 3, 2018

Welcome to the first weekend of August.  Summer is chugging right along and before you know it, fall will be here.

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

THANK GOD FOR RBG!

Fantastic news this week from 85-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

My senior colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, he stepped down when he was 90, so think I have about at least five more years.”

This is a major sigh of relief after the sad news earlier this summer that Anthony Kennedy is stepping down, which might allow 45 to make the court more conservative!

Come on Democrats, give the Republicans a dose of their own medicine like in 2016 when President Obama’s SCOTUS nominee Merrick Garland didn’t get confirmed.

Back to Ginsburg — she was appointed by President Bill Clinton and was confirmed by a 96 to 3 vote in August 1993.

“RBG”, a documentary about Justice Ginsburg this year has already grossed $13.1 million and will be released to DVD on August 28, 2018.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

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MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT FROM MY IDOL

President Jimmy Carter recently spoke at the Carter Center and he stated that the U.S. has lost its long-term commitment to human rights.

He says, “We should be the champion of human rights. We’re a superpower, not based solely on military power; part of that definition should be a commitment to human rights.”

And, this is from earlier this year!

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NATIONAL CHEESECAKE DAY

Earlier this week, it was “National Cheesecake Day”.  Here are four of my favorites that I’ve made over the years.

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SHADE (AND I LOVE IT)

You already know that while I love their food, I won’t pay to eat at Chick-fil-A because of its well known history of being anti-LGBTQ.

A new store is opening soon in Glastonbury, Connecticut, and their next door neighbor, McDonalds, wants people to know that, at the golden arches, “WE WELCOME EVERYONE”.

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While the other side of the sign advertises Quarter Pounders, the message is clear with Chick-fil-A in the background!

McDonald’s manager says with a smile that it didn’t mean anything to the anti-gay chain restaurant,  “It just means that everyone is welcome, young old, everyone.”

“A SHADE SHADY (NOW PRANCE)”

Perfect time for RuPaul’s 1993 #1 Billboard Dance Club Songs hit, “A Shady Shade (Now Prance)”.

This was the follow-up to the international hit, “Supermodel (You Better Work)” (1992, #2 Billboard Dance Club Songs) and “Back To My Roots” (1993, #1 Billboard Dance Club Songs).

“SHARP OBJECTS”

Amy Adams comes to television in a big way on HBO’s “Sharp Objects”, based on Gillian Flynn’s first novel.

Many of you know the former “Entertainment Weekly” writer from her blockbuster novel and movie, “Gone Girl”.

In “Sharp Objects”, there are more gone girls, but these young girls turn up dead!

Adams plays Camille Preaker, a St. Louis newspaper reporter and alcoholic, sent back to her small hometown in the southeast Missouri Boothill to cover the tragedy unfolding in Wind Gap.

Also, Camille was recently discharged from a psychiatric hospital and is a “cutter”.  It’s especially painful to watch when she’s carving into her own body!

On a happier note, it’s great seeing Adams and the stunning and sexy Chris Messina together again.

They played a married couple in 2009’s “Julie and Julia”, about chef Julia Child.

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DEMI LOVATO

Since Amy Adams’ character is into “cutting” and in light of singer Demi Lovato’s recent drug overdose, I want to share this information. (Lovato is an admitted “cutter”.)

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There’s a nationally-recognized self-harm help program called S.A.F.E. (Self-Abuse Finally Ends) Alternatives.

The toll-free information hotline number is 1-800-DON’T-CUT (366-8288).

“OZARK”

Season 2 of the amazing Netflix series “Ozark” starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney, one of my all-time favorites, is less than a month away.

The killer new season premieres August 31st.

The show picked up four Emmy nominations including one for Bateman for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.  Both Bateman and Linney are nominated for Screen Actors Guild Awards!

In the new trailer, it’s chilling when Wendy says, “We do not kill people.”

FUN LIQUOR BOTTLES 

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AND, I DEFINITELY WANT TO TRY….

these Ketel One flavors:  Peach & Orange Blossom, Grapefruit & Rose, and Cucumber & Mint.

I just have to catch them on sale!

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“GOD’S OWN COUNTRY”

You can watch this stunning English drama on Netflix starring Englishman Josh O’Connor and Romanian Alec Secareanu.

O’Connor plays Johnny, a young man living with his father and grandmother on the family farm in northern England.  Johnny now has more responsibility after his father’s stroke.

He leads a lonely existence and drowns his sorrows in alcohol and cheap, meaningless sex.

The family hires Gheorghe, a Romanian migrant worker, for the upcoming lambing season and sparks begin to fly between the two young men.

But, can Johnny admit his feelings for Gheorghe and come out to his family that may or may not be accepting?

O’Connor won the British Independent Film Award for Best Actor beating out his co-star for the honor.

GRADE: B+

“THE CROWN”

By the way, O’Connor was just cast to play Prince Charles in seasons 3 and 4 of the incredible Netflix series, “The Crown”, which returns in 2019.

“BORG VS. McENROE”

As a teenager, I played tennis by returning volleys against my grandparent’s garage.  Bjorn Borg did the same thing in Sweden.  Guess which one became one of the greatest tennis players of all time? 🙂

I remembered being glued to the television for the 1980 Wimbledon final between Borg and John McEnroe.

Borg was going for his fifth consecutive Wimbledon final.  Believe it or not, at the time, I had pride in my country and was rooting for McEnroe.

But, after seeing the incredible and nail-biting “Borg vs. McEnroe”, in retrospective, I would have rooted for Borg all the way!

Sverrir Gudnason plays Borg and Shia LaBeouf plays McEnroe.

GRADE:  A

WHAT?  NEVER PLAYED TENNIS???

Swedish actor (of Icelandic origin) Sverrir Gudnason plays Borg in “Borg vs. McEnroe” and he’s absolutely gorgeous and captivating!

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When the soon-to-be 40-year-old landed the role, here’s what he had to say, “I had never even been on a tennis court in my life and I didn’t just learn to play tennis, I learned to play tennis like Bjorn Borg.”  (By the way, he plays Borg at 26-years-old!)

Gudnason’s next big role comes this November as Mikael Blomkvist in “The Girl in the Spider’s Web”, the second movie in the Millennium series following “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2009/2011).

FORMER “REBA” STAR GOES TO BAT FOR OUR TEAM!

Some of you may know Steve Howey from “Shameless”.  I know him from playing Van Montgomery, Reba’s son-in-law on the WB/CW comedy, “Reba”, from 2001-2006.

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The straight, married father of twins shocked some and confused many when he tweeted four words, “I’m gay and proud”.

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Howey, who isn’t gay, says “My whole point was to be a champion, a supporter, of the movement.  I can say it and have no problem with it.  If you are, be proud and say it.  I’m just here to hold the flag up and say I’m in support.  If that helps you come out or say it with pride, that’s all my intention was.”

Howey goes on to tell “The Advocate” (June/July 2018), “If it’s difficult to come out of the closet in Los Angeles, it’s got to be f*cking terrifying in Des Moines, Iowa; or Boulder, Colorado.”

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 16, 2018

I hope March is treating you well.  For the winter-weary, spring can’t be too far away.

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

AN UNOPPOSED MORON

Leslie Gibson, a Republican running unopposed in Maine’s House 57th District, deleted a tweet calling 18-year-old Emma Gonzalez a “skin head lesbian”.

She’s a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where last month a shooter killed 17 people and injured 14 others.

Skinhead

The complete tweet said, “There is nothing about this skin head lesbian that impresses me and there is nothing that she has to say unless you’re a frothing at the mouth moonbat.”

Gibson apologized in another tweet:  “I would like to extend to you my most sincere apology for how I addressed you. It was wrong and unacceptable.”

He added, “You are doing work that is important to you. I would like to extend my hand in friendship and understanding to you.”

While he’s a moron, he does have a right to an uneducated opinion.  But, maybe he does know a thing or two about being a “frothing at the mouth moonbat”, whatever the hell that is!

By the way Gibson, Gonzalez is not a lesbian.  She identifies as bisexual — you know the “B” in LGBT!

“CALL ME BY YOUR NAME” ON DVD!

If you didn’t catch this four-time Oscar-nominated, critically acclaimed movie in its theatrical run, please see it now!

89-year-old James Ivory won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the movie.

call me

It’s beautiful, touching, loving, heartbreaking, and sensual.

As I wrote back in January, “It’s not only a coming-of-age love story between Elio (Timothee Chalamet) and a slightly older American graduate student Oliver (Armie Hammer) visiting northern Italy, but it’s a beautiful bond of love between a teenager and his parents.”

GRADE:  A

WE ALL DESERVE AN ELIO MOMENT

After I saw “Call Me By Your Name”, I shared my own stories of innocence, lust, and living.

It’s been my most read blog (non-weather-related) of 2018!  Thank you for all of you that checked it out the first time.

Anthony1982

If you didn’t get a chance to read it, please click below on the link and it’ll open in a new window so you won’t lose your place in this week’s “Random Friday Thoughts”!

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2018/01/29/we-all-deserve-an-elio-moment/

MIKE WALLACE

Just finished reading my sixth book of the year, Mike Wallace’s “Between You and Me: A Memoir”.  While it isn’t an autobiography, it did cover part of his career.

MW

It tells stories about the news he covered including interviews with Anwar Sadat, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X.

Also, it talks about some of the people he admired — Tina Turner, Barbra Streisand, and Shirley MacLaine.

BRETT KISSEL

Two years ago, in February 2016, I blogged about a hot Canadian country music singer in “American Country Radio Needs Brett Kissel”.

I was talking about his amazing album, “Pick Me Up” and I concluded that blog with, “Here’s hoping American audiences will get to hear Brett on the radio in 2016!”

Well, that didn’t happen in 2016 or 2017!  Hopefully, 2018 will be Kissel’s year to break here in America.

Brett Kissel

Last December, he released his latest album, “We Were That Song”.

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The title track became his 10th Top Ten hit song on Canadian country music radio!

The album features many standouts and potential singles.

My favorites are “Damn!”, “Cecilia”, “Slow Me Down”, “Between You and Me”, and “Guitars and Gasoline”.

By the way, “Damn!” features Dave Mustaine of Metallica and Megadeth fame and country music legend Charley Pride makes an appearance on the track, “Burgers and Fries”.

The second single, “Anthem”, just cracked the Top Ten in Canada on the country charts marking his 11th Top Ten.  It’s also one of my favorites from the album.

“We Were That Song” is a strong album, but it’s not doing as well on the Canadian country album chart as its predecessor.

“Pick Me Up” was fantastic, so check out the new album, too.

By the way, American Country Radio (STILL) Needs Brett Kissel!

GRADE:  B+

Here’s that blog from two years ago to hear more about and from Brett Kissel:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/american-country-radio-needs-brett-kissel/

THEY SAID WHAT???

Margaret Sanger (founding mother of the “birth control” movement before women were given the right to vote in 1920):  “No woman can call herself free who does not have control over her own body.”

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Sanger, who died in 1966, was not afraid to go up against and speak out against the very powerful Catholic church and its views on birth control and natural law.

She told CBS newsman Mike Wallace, “Oh, I certainly take issue with it, and I think it’s untrue and I think it’s unnatural.  It’s an unnatural attitude to take.  How do they know?  I mean, after all, they’re celibates.  They don’t know love, they don’t know marriage, they know nothing about bringing up children nor any of the marriage problems of life, and yet they speak to people as if they were God.”

Just imagine what she would have said about the sexual abuse scandal!

“THE FLORIDA PROJECT”

This movie about people down on their luck and finances living in a “project” (The Magic Castle Motel) in Kissimmee, Florida (near Walt Disney World), is sad and incredible.

The real star of the movie is Brooklynn Prince, who plays 6-year-old Moonee.  She’s spectacular for a child actor expressing a happy childhood of not knowing just how bad things are in her life.

Bria Vinaite, is great as Moonee’s white trash mother, Halley.

My sister and I grew up in a bug-infested apartment and we didn’t have much during our childhood, so I could definitely relate to this movie.

Willem Defoe earned a “Best Supporting Actor” Oscar nomination for his role as Bobby, the manager of the motel.  Either it was a slow year for actors in that category or Defoe was just too great and very subtle in his touching role.

GRADE:  B+

“DARKEST HOUR”

This historical drama about Winston Churchill earned six Oscar nominations including “Best Picture” and “Best Actor” for Gary Oldman.

A couple of weeks ago, I predicted that Oldman would win the Oscar, even though Timothee Chalamet (“Call Me By Your Name”) deserved it more.

I went on to say this about Oldman, “He was great and so was the make-up.”  By the way, the movie did get a nomination for “Best Makeup and Hairstyling”.

However, while compelling, “Darkest Hour” was too cut and dry.

I enjoyed John Lithgow’s Churchill on the first season of “The Crown” better.

GRADE:  B-

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

They Said What??? Barbra Streisand, Ke$ha, & Sharon Osbourne

NEVADA STATE SENATOR KELVIN ATKINSON
(talking about marriage equality during a debate over a measure to repeal the state’s gay marriage ban):  “If this hurts your marriage, then your marriage was in trouble in the first place.”
TALK SHOW HOST/REALITY STAR SHARON OSBOURNE
(denying rumors that she and Ozzy are getting a divorce):  “It’s our business. We’re dealing with it. We’re not getting divorced.  However, am I happy? No. Am I upset? Yes. I am. I’m devastated right now. It’s a disease that not only hurts the person that has the disease but it hurts the family, it hurt people who love you. We’re dealing with it, we’ve dealt with worse and we will deal with it and this too shall pass.”
FORMER BALTIMORE RAVENS FOOTBALL PLAYER BRENDON AYANBADEJO
(on his fight for marriage equality):  “bigger calling than football.”
MORE AYANBADEJO
“I think the star power, especially with athletes, allows us to hit a demographic. … I think this allows us to have our voice reach a little bit deeper to people who wouldn’t normally hear our message.”
ACTRESS/SINGER/SUPERSTAR BARBRA STREISAND
(accepting the Chaplin Award from the Film Society of Lincoln Center):  “Ever since I can remember, people have been calling me bossy and opinionated.  Maybe that’s because I am. Three cheers for bossy women!”
COMEDIAN DAVID ALAN GRIER
(to Baltimore’s Fox 45 television station promoting his new movie, “Peeples”, after informing them that they misspelled his name.):  “This is the raggediest TV studio I’ve ever been in in my life… The sequester hit you hard.”
POP STAR KE$HA
(talking about her new MTV series, “My Crazy Beautiful Life”):  “I’m very well-known around the world for being a wild party animal — you see that too, don’t get me wrong.  But you also see me… reading the reviews and trying to make my show better, and rehearsing and going over the lights, and going over the choreography, and changing into costumes. I am so involved with every little thing I do. I think people are probably going to be surprised at how seriously I take everything I do.”
MORE KE$HA
(talks about her next tour after this summer’s double bill with Pitbull):  “What I’m doing is keeping the essence of my last tour, which is just wild, debauchery, raw, and more or less unplanned.  We have some planned moments, but I like having it where it’s a little bit less structured, because then I can do whatever I feel like, whenever it hits me. That was very much on my last tour, but now I’m just amping it up. I’m making [my show] bigger, better, funner, louder, brighter, with more pyro, more glitter, and more dancers, just more of everything. I very much agree with Dolly Parton that ‘more is more.”
Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — January 4, 2013

It’s the first Friday of the new year and I hope the first three days of 2013 treated you well.  A past Friday blog tradition for me was to feature three of my favorite songs from the 1980s, my favorite decade of music.  While I’m still going to highlight one each Friday, I’m going to mix it up a bit.  On each Friday in 2013, I’m going to do a random blog with no rhyme or reason.

IT’S COLD, BUT WHERE IS THE SNOW?

Global Warming Protest

All of these snowmen may be protesting “global warming” (yes, I know it’s a reality), but it’s been cold enough for me lately.  Over the past two weeks, temperatures in the Quad Cities are running about three degrees colder than average.  Five of those mornings (including January 1 and 2, 2013, at 5°) have been in the single digits.

But, where is the snow?  We’ve only picked up 5.3″ of snow this winter at the Quad City International Airport in Moline, Illinois, and 4.9″ of that fell on December 20, 2012.  While this is about 6″ behind where we should be on January 4th, last year at this time, only 1.4″ of snow had accumulated!

As skimpy as the snow has been the past two winters, this is not a record.  Back in the winter of 1939-1940, the first accumulating snow of the winter had not even occurred!  It would be January 7, 1940, before that winter saw a measurable snow.

SO, WHY ARE WE DEALING WITH THIS?

Icy Streets From 122012 Storm

This is my street in Moline.  I live on a side street or secondary street.  Why, more than two weeks after the only winter storm of this season, are streets still a sheet of ice?  (Disclaimer:  I know this isn’t a problem that is exclusive to Moline.  I’ve heard others in the Quad Cities complaining about the same thing.)

From a meteorological standpoint, I’ll defend local public works departments to a certain extent.

When that winter storm started on Wednesday, December 19th, and continued into the early morning hours of Thursday, temperatures were still above freezing and much of what we’re dealing with now fell as rain.  When temperatures dropped below freezing and the rain transitioned to almost 5″ of snow (with much more northwest of the metro area), it became an instant ice rink.  (I guess we can now say Moline has two ice rinks and this one was much more effective with a lot less maintenance and problems!)

That’s where my defense ends and my questions start.  We live in the Midwest.  This is not Kentucky or Tennessee where a light accumulation of ice or snow brings the area to a standstill.  It’s been fifteen days since that storm and temperatures for the last two days of 2012 made it up to 36°.  It’s not too cold to apply salt, sand, or whatever is being used these days to melt this and make our streets safer.  As citizens, we’re given so many hours to clean our sidewalks after a snow.  The same should be required of our streets.

I guess there is some good news.  Temperatures today through much of next week are forecast to be generally in the 30s, which will allow the ice melt on its own!

ARE THE FISH FROZEN?

With temperatures the past few mornings at the coldest levels this winter, ice is forming on the cattail in the fish pond from the water coming out of the fountain.  The good news is that the de-icer is still keeping the surface of the pond from freezing.  The fish are handling the cold, but they are definitely not moving much.  With milder days ahead, I hope to see them swimming around next week.

Icy Fish 2

DOWNRIGHT CREEPY

While we were unwinding one night on our December cruise, Gretel was playing with Ray’s phone and came up with this creepy picture.  We’ll call it Grethony!  It looks like something from a horror movie.

Grethony

2012’S BIGGEST TOUR

Now that 2012 is behind us, Pollstar released the list of the most profitable worldwide tours last year.  I’ve very happy to say that I got to see the #1 tour in Las Vegas on October 13, 2012, and three weeks from today, I’ll be seeing the #5 tour, also in Las Vegas.

2012 Top Tours

While Madonna’s tour brought in an incredible $296.1 million and tickets averaged around $140 each, she wasn’t the act demanding the most money.

Madonna MDNA

At #33 on the list, the Rolling Stones made $35.5 million in just five shows with an average ticket price of $529.51!

And, at #22, Barbra Streisand’s 12 shows brought in an incredible $40.7 with average ticket prices at $263.52.

LADY GAGA REACHING OUT

The-Born-This-Way-Ball-Tour- Lady Gaga

I’m getting excited to see Lady Gaga on January 25th in Las Vegas.  The North American leg of her “Born This Way Ball” tour kicks off one week from today with two shows in Vancouver, British Columbia.  I can’t wait to see what changes she’ll make to the set list.

Several hours before Gaga hits the stage at each of her American shows, her Born This Way Foundation will provide the “Born Brave Bus”, which offers a free, safe space for 13- to 25-year-olds “to learn more about local resources on anti-bullying, suicide prevention, and mental health services.”

Born Brave Bus

So, other than the amazing music, over the top costumes, and incredible sets, you can see why she is so loved!

Gaga, you rock!

I ♥ MY WEATHER IDOL EVEN MORE

WGN-TV chief meteorologist Tom Skilling is the best in the business.  And, after seeing his participation with the NOH8 project, I love him even more!

Tom NOH8

From left to right, that’s Tom, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago student Bruce Caulkins, and WGN-TV anchor/reporter Sean Lewis.

And, back in 2010, Miss ABBA and I submitted our pictures for NOH8, too.

ABBA Anthony NOH8NOH8 Heart

For those of you that don’t know what NOH8 is, it’s a “charitable organization whose mission is to promote marriage, gender and human equality through education, advocacy, social media, and visual protest.”

SAYING GOODBYE TO CHRISTMAS 2012

Our Christmas trees and decorations are still up and I plan on enjoying them for one more week and then they come down next weekend.  So, I’ll say goodbye to Christmas 2012 in my blog with this video produced by 1980’s pop star Boy George of Culture Club.  Christmas doesn’t have to be a “drag”.

“You Ruined My Xmas” — Supreme Fabulette

“SILENT NIGHT”

Silent Night

This was the worst movie I’ve seen in a very long time.

While I love “Entertainment Weekly”, the magazine led me astray when it gave the movie, “Silent Night”, a grade of “B”.  This holiday horror movie spent five whole days in theaters and made $14,567 before it was released on DVD  in early December 2012.

So, last weekend, I was very excited to check it out.  The premise of a crazed Santa going on a Christmas killing spree sounded like cheap fun.

The acting was horrible and there was no snow on the ground and this movie took place, I think, in Wisconsin.  I guess since the movie was probably filmed on a shoestring budget in the summer, there was no snow and no explanation of why they weren’t having a White Christmas.  Oh, that’s right, Santa was a killer!

The only thing going for the movie was some creative methods of killing off the characters:  can you say “wood chipper”!  But, even that scene was overshadowed by the jokey acting.  And, I sure hope respected actor Malcolm McDowell was paid a lot of money to be in this disaster.

If you want a scary holiday movie, don’t rent this.  If you want a holiday movie that should have scared you, but instead makes you laugh, this is your movie.

GRADE:  D (a few of the creative methods of murder boosts it up from an “F”).

PEEPS’ FRIDAY ’80S FLASHBACK

There are two acts that I’d like to see in concert in 2013, Culture Club (if they reunite) and Depeche Mode.

Depeche Mode kicks off their world tour in Tel Aviv, Israel in early May with dates running through July 29th.  No U.S. dates have been announced yet.

In August 1989, they released the first single from “Violator”, which would become their biggest American album.

“Personal Jesus” peaked at #28 and the follow-up single, “Enjoy The Silence” in early 1990, would become their only Top Ten American hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Personal Jesus” — Depeche Mode

Have a great weekend.

Anthony

New Christmas Sounds: Two Are Great & One Is A Lump Of Coal

When it comes to Christmas music, the standards are hard to beat.  While there are newer originals that are incredible like “Secret of Giving” by Reba (1999), there are also some really bad new songs each Christmas season.  This Christmas, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Colbie Caillat, and Cee Lo Green all have new albums.

And, while I’ve already bought three new Christmas CDs this year, there are two more that I want to pick up.

Blake Shelton Christmas

Blake Shelton’s “Cheers, it’s Christmas” is one of them and to be honest, while I like his voice, I really want it because he does a duet with Reba on “Oklahoma Christmas”.

Also, I’m not an “American Idol” fan even with the amazing Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.  However, I finally broke down this past summer and bought my first “AI” alumni CD, “Trespassing” by Adam Lambert.  It was great, but it totally bombed!

With that being said, I was very apprehensive about the new holiday disc from last year’s winner Scotty McCreery.

ScottyMcCreery

Yes, he’s cute and he has that great, masculine Josh Turner-like voice, but did I really want to take a chance on “Christmas With Scotty McCreery”.  I finally decided yes, so I’ll going to buy it.

So, what about the three new Christmas CDs that I bought?  Two are fantastic, but one of them has a drawback.  The third is acceptable and I would only recommend it for one reason.  It would be closer to a “lump of coal”.

coal

“MERRY CHRISTMAS, BABY” — ROD STEWART

Rod Stewart

Ladies and gay men, you may have swooned in the 1970s when he sang “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” and “Young Turks” in the 1980s, but does that gravelly voice translate into holiday cheer?

“Merry Christmas, Baby” is Rod Stewart’s first holiday disc and I can’t believe that we made it through all of the past holidays without him.  This disc is definitely going to be a holiday classic.

Stewart excels in the classics, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”, “White Christmas”, “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and “Blue Christmas”.

Several duets are featured and my favorite is  “Winter Wonderland” with Michael Buble.  He also has nice duets with Cee Lo Green on “Merry Christmas, Baby” and “We Three Kings” with Mary J. Blige.

Rod does a great duet with the late Ella Fitzgerald on “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”  God rest her soul, but I have to say that I’m not a fan of singers recording new songs with people who have passed on.   (If this trend continues, I hope Madonna releases a Christmas CD next year and does “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” with the late John Lennon.)

There is one original song on the disc, “Red-Suited Super Man”, and it’s a fun song.

“Merry Christmas, Baby” has been played many times since I bought it.  I love this disc.

GRADE:  A

“ON THIS WINTER’S NIGHT”  — LADY ANTEBELLUM

Lady Antebellum Christmas

I absolutely love the harmonies of country music’s hottest trio, Lady Antebellum.  I saw them open for Reba a few years ago and I love their energy and their voices.

You can’t go wrong on their new Christmas album, “On This Winter’s Night”.

Every song on the disc is pure Christmas joy from the upbeat fun of Hillary Scott’s “Holly Jolly Christmas” to Charles Kelley getting down on a fun “Blue Christmas”.  Other perfect standouts are “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, “The First Noel”,  “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”, “Silent Night (Lord of My Life)”, and “Silver Bells”.

My only gripe, and this is a big one that long time fans may agree with me on, is that this disc feels like a ripoff to make some quick money on their popularity.

Of the twelve songs, six of them were released on the trio’s 201o EP, “A Merry Little Christmas”.  So, if you’re a fan and you bought that one two years ago, you’re paying for the same six songs this year with only six new songs!  (Santa may place the record company on his “naughty list” for marketing the recycled songs!)

Putting that behind me, if you made confectionery concoctions as tasty as any song on this disc, you’d definitely be in demand year around for your baking!

GRADE:  A 

“This Christmas”  — JOHN TRAVOLTA & OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN

John Olivia Christmas

John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John set the world on fire with the 1978 blockbuster, “Grease”.  Their hit song, “You’re The One That I Want”, is one of the best-selling duets of all-time.  However, while lightning does strike twice, that doesn’t always happen in the entertainment business.  Their follow-up movie together, 1983’s “Two of A Kind”, was a box office bomb, but Olivia did score a top 5 hit, “Twist of Fate”, from the movie soundtrack.

After Travolta got a text from Olivia last year about how successful their “Grease” duet still is, they decided to do a Christmas CD together to benefit her charity, “The Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre” in Melbourne, Australia and his charity, “The Jett Travolta Foundation”, in memory of his 16-year-old autistic son, Jett, that died in early 2009 in the Bahamas after he fell and hit his head.

I’ll get the bad news out of the way first and then focus on the good.  The opening song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, is probably the worst version I’ve ever heard.  As much as I love Olivia, she couldn’t get “Physical” enough to save this disaster!  Three songs later, “This Christmas” would have been better without John’s vocals.

Enough picking on John.  I like the man and I love his acting.  He does a fine job singing solo on “This Christmas Waltz”.

He and Olivia are joined by Barbra Streisand on “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and it’s excellent.  Four songs later, Cliff Richard joins them on “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (you may remember Cliff from Olivia’s 198o’s hit, “Suddenly” from “Xanadu”).  Tony Bennett and The Count Basie Orchestra show up on “Winter Wonderland” and James Taylor drops in on “Deck The Halls”.

Olivia’s solo, “Silent Night” is incredible and their medley “Auld Lang Syne/Christmas Time Is Here” is a great closer to an uneven album.

The most exciting song on “This Christmas” is the one that I think should have been sequenced as the first song on the album, “I Think You Might Like It”.  It’s a very fun song and if I close my eyes while listening to it, I see Danny & Sandy in “Grease” dancing to it around the Christmas tree.  Here is the new video from Olivia & John!

GRADE:  C+   (There are great songs on it and there are some not so great songs, but the album is for a good cause.  It’s Christmas and the holidays are about charity!)

And, while we’re talking about amazing Christmas albums, these three are still my favorites.

Happy listening and Merry Christmas early!

Anthony