Posts Tagged ‘Bette Midler’

Random Friday Thoughts — November 11, 2016

On Wednesday, my “Random Friday Thoughts” went through a major re-write.

The script changed.

I had to delete the part of thanking God that more Americans and enough blue states “elected a proven leader as the 45th president of the United States and sent an egocentric, racist, and overall, scum bag packing.”

So, here’s the updated version.  Thank you for checking out my thoughts.  If you disagree, do it diplomatically!

A HEARTFELT THANK YOU

Senator Hillary Clinton, I want to take a moment to thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me hope that all I’ve worked for in life would continue on through your presidency.

Thank you for being a forward-thinking First Lady.  My one vote made a difference in 1992 and, again, in 1996.

Thank you for all of the years fighting for those that needed a voice, a strong person and not just a strong woman.  You were there for children, mothers, the LGBTQ community, people of color, minorities, the environment, but most of all, the world.

We failed you!

Hillary AP

I’ll never forget that cold, January day in Davenport, Iowa, when I had a chance to tell you “good luck” and you placed your hand on my shoulder.

I hope that we meet again.  You’ve been an inspiration to me for 20-plus years and for that, I’m grateful and honored to have fought the fight with you.

We may have lost this battle, but I’m still with you.

(Editor’s note — that’s me, by the way:  As I’m sitting here Friday morning, proof reading and putting the finishing touches on today’s blog, I’m tearing up again reading back what I wrote a couple of days ago.  I was more invested in this election, more than any before it, and I’m devastated.  Laugh if you want because I fear that I won’t be the only one shedding tears over the next four years.)

REMEMBERING MY SWEET MOTHER

I think about my mother for one reason or another every day.

Dessie Birthday 1989

My mother, Dessie, died 26 years ago this week.  At times, it seems just like yesterday and at other times, it seems so long ago, which it was.

Dessie 1990

Mom, Tammy and I miss you greatly.  But, we both know that you are with us every step of the way in life.

Many of you checked out the blog I wrote about my mother last year on the 25th anniversary of her death.  If you didn’t, here it is again.

Mom — 25 Years & Half of My Lifetime Without You

“A REMARKABLE MOTHER”

As I’ve stated before, I get much of my real reading done on the treadmill after work. Since I knew the anniversary of my mother’s death was coming up, I wanted to read about another incredible woman —  Lillian Carter, the mother of my favorite President Jimmy Carter.

“A Remarkable Mother” is from 2008 and was published twenty-five years after Miss Lillian’s death at the age of 85.

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I’ve read many funny stories about Miss Lillian.  She definitely said what she wanted and she didn’t care what her son’s presidential handlers thought.

She was a strong advocate for racial equality back in southwestern Georgia during the turbulent period all the way through the 1960s, when President Lyndon Johnson was running for re-election.

If you didn’t know, she even joined the Peace Corps and traveled to India when she was almost 70-years-old.

There are many fun quotes and stories I remember reading over the years and President Carter shares many of them in the book.

This is my favorite.  When Jimmy Carter was running in the 1976 presidential race, a female reporter from “The Washington Post” met Miss Lillian in Plains, Georgia, and said, “Miss Lillian, your son claims that he will never tell a lie.  Do you believe him when he says that?”

Miss Lillian said Jimmy had always been truthful and she didn’t think that would change, but the reporter didn’t drop it.  Finally, Lillian said, “Well maybe a little white lie every now and then.

When the reporter said, “Aha!  Aha!  And what do you mean by a little white lie?

The always quick thinking Miss Lillian responded, “Well do you remember a few minutes ago when I met you at the door and said that you look very nice and that I was glad to see you?

I sure hope that my mother and Miss Lillian are friends in heaven.  They are just two of the remarkable mothers we’ve lost!

SAD MICHAEL BUBLE NEWS

Singer Michael Buble and his wife, Luisana Lopilato, are putting their careers on hold following the devastating news that their 3-year-old son, Noah, has been diagnosed with cancer.

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He’s being treated here in the United States.

A couple of weeks ago, I previewed Michael’s new album, “Nobody But Me”, which is incredible.

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In my random thoughts on October 21, 2016, here’s what I wrote: “My early favorites are “I Believe in You”, “On an Evening in Roma (Sott’er Celo de Roma)”, “Today is Yesterday’s Tomorrow”, “God Only Knows”, “Someday” (a duet with Meghan Trainor), and the title track.”

For Michael and his family, I’m featuring “God Only Knows” this week.

I’ll be saying an extra prayer for Noah, Michael, and his family !

Also, it’s that time of the year that his 2011 album,”Christmas”, goes into heavy rotation and it’s sensational.

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ANOTHER THANK YOU, BUT THIS ONE ISN’T SO NICE

I’m moving on from this week’s presidential election after these three parting thoughts.

I expected the race to be close and it was.  As of this writing, Hillary Clinton (60.3 million) got more votes than Donald Trump (60 million).  It’s incredible that with more than 126 million votes cast, there was only a difference of about 338-thousand votes.

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There are two camps I blame for Clinton’s loss.  One is the 38% of Americans that didn’t vote.

However, the people who I mostly blame for Trump winning the presidency are not just the people that voted for him.  While that’s vital, it’s the people that didn’t like either Clinton or Trump, the “protest voters”.

4.1 million people voted for Gary Johnson and 1.2 million for Jill Stein.  In toss-up states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida, the margin of win was small enough that the “protest votes” for Johnson and Stein were enough to turn blue-leaning states red.

I’m all for having three or more viable parties that have a chance to win a presidency. However, I tried and tried to tell people who didn’t like either front-runner that a vote for Johnson or Stein was a vote for Donald Trump.

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Well, since we live in an “electoral college” voting world, thank you very much.  Your protests were successful in electing Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States.  I hope you can live with it.  I’ll have to.

Thank you again!

MY ABSOLUTE FINAL THOUGHT

I’m going to highlight this, so there’s no confusion — I don’t believe that every person that voted for Trump is a racist, but there are those that are and you know who you are.

Trump

With that being said, if you deny that Trump didn’t do enough to distance himself from the love and flattery he was getting from David Duke AND if you don’t think that Trump also repeatedly made very racist remarks in his campaign, then you’re clearly (God, how do I say this with people being so sensitive) ignorant, misinformed, in denial, oblivious, or you just don’t care?

That kind of hate used to live in the darkness of night and hide under sheets.  That isn’t just a part of our sad history in the United States, it’s still very alive today.  The only difference now is that it doesn’t have to hide.

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If you believe in a higher spirit, say with me, “may God be with us”!

Tammy Faye 2

BETTE MIDLER GETS CANDID 

Okay, that’s not shocking at all.

Bette

But, for once, I’m not talking entirely about her no-holds-barred Twitter feed.  It’s about that and her own mortality.

She recently spoke to “Entertainment Weekly” and Twitter came up:  “I look at it as entertainment, but I don’t need that much entertainment in my life.  Then you feel like you’re missing out on your life.  I don’t have that much time left, so I’m going to spend it looking around and observing and thinking and memorizing poetry.” 

In the spring of 2017, Midler returns to Broadway as the widowed and brassy Dolly Gallagher Levi in “Hello Dolly”

In honor of her upcoming 71st birthday (December 1st) and the holiday season, here’s Bette with “Cool Yule”, the title track of her 2006 Christmas album.

Bette, thank you for being the voice of reason in such a crazy world!

“CHRISTINE”

The most popular movie with the title, “Christine”, is based on Stephen King’s novel about a possessed vintage car.  But, now there’s another movie with that title that I can’t wait to check out.

It’s a true life story about a Florida news anchor in the 1970s that changed television news forever and shocked and scarred viewers.

It stars one of my favorite actors, Michael C. Hall (“Dexter” and “Six Feet Under”) and Rebecca Hall (no relation).

PET SHOP BOYS CONCERT

Last weekend, I finally got to see the Pet Shop Boys in concert on their “The Super Tour” in Chicago.

Here they are performing their Top Ten hit, “Always on My Mind”.

If that whetted your appetite to go back in time, here are my 20 favorite Pet Shop Boys songs.  And, since they only had six Top 40 hits in America, I bet you’ll find some fun ones you haven’t heard.  Just click below.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/my-20-favorites-from-the-brilliant-pet-shop-boys/

I GUESS I HAVE O.C.D.

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With that being said, I’ve been listening to Christmas music for a couple of weeks now and here in the Quad Cities, Mix 96 has switched over to continuous holiday music!

BRETT ELDREDGE PUTS A “GLOW” IN CHRISTMAS

It’s early fall, but there are already several new Christmas albums on the market to fill your holidays.

The a cappella group Pentatonix just released their third Christmas set in less than four years (!).

Country acts Chris Young, Jennifer Nettles, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, and Rascal Flatts are offering holiday cheer this year.

glow

“Glow” is the first Christmas album from Illinois native and relative country newcomer Brett Eldredge.

He’s already released two hit country albums and, since 2012, has scored five Top Ten hits on the Billboard Country chart.  His latest, “Wanna Be That Song” is at #12 and will likely be his sixth Top Ten.

But, we’re talking Christmas and “Glow” here.

The standard edition features eleven songs and the Target exclusive gives you three more.

The only original song on the album is the title track.  I’ll be forthright in saying that I love the classics and I have to warm to new originals and I did with “Glow”.

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Brett is not only an attractive young man, he also has a very strong voice.

If you only buy the standard edition, you’ll likely listen to the eleven songs (“I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, “White Christmas”, “Winter Wonderland”, and many more) and think, “it doesn’t sound very country”.  It doesn’t.  The music is very much jazzed up.

It’s like he’s channeling Michael Buble and that’s a good thing.  But, comparing Eldredge’s voice to Buble’s is like comparing Mick Jagger’s voice to Paul McCartney’s.  Both strong, but very different in delivery.

Now, if you buy the Target exclusive, the three additional songs are the only ones on the album that lets you know that Eldredge in a country music star.

It’s like you changed discs in the player from a jazz artist to a country one.

“Glow” is an exceptional Christmas album and it solidifies the fact that pop star Meghan Trainor should be on every duet!

On this album, she sings “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Eldredge and just last month, she appeared with Michael Buble on “Someday” from his “Nobody But Me” album.

GRADE:  A

“A VERY KACEY CHRISTMAS”

Grammy Awards, ACM Awards, and CMA Awards winner Kacey Musgraves also just delivered her first Christmas collection, “A Very Kacey Christmas”.

Although she’s a country music singer, like Brett Eldredge, you only have to start this album to know she’s true to the genre. It’s real country with real Texas twang and I mean that in the very best way.

kacey

This album features many popular Christmas classics such as “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “Let It Snow”, and “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve”. But, Musgraves expands the cultural horizons with “Feliz Navidad” and “Mele Kalikimaka”.

She’s not afraid to show what an amazing songwriter she is on the album with four original songs (out of the twelve featured).

My favorite original on the album is “Ribbons and Bows”, followed closely by “Present Without A Bow” with Leon Bridges, and “A Willie Nice Christmas”, which features country music outlaw and legend, Willie Nelson.

While you do hear songs about having too much to drink at Christmas (that spiked egg nog will get you every time), it’s very rare for an artist to sing about staying “higher than the angel on top of the tree”!

If you know anything about Musgraves, you know she boldly sings songs that she wants to and she doesn’t stick to the tired and safe guidelines of country music.

Her first country radio hit, the Top Ten smash “Merry Go ‘Round” featured her brother “hooked on Mary Jane”.

And, Musgraves other Top Ten hit, “Follow Your Arrow”, not only was about rolling joints, but she told you to “Kiss lots of boys/Or kiss lots of girls/If that’s something you’re into”, which is definitely not your parents or grandparents country music.  (Okay, there was Garth Brooks’ “We Shall Be Free”, which told us we would be free “when we’re free to love anyone we choose.”)

The point I’m getting at here is she takes chances.  The biggest on this Christmas album is with the remake of The Chipmunks’ “Christmas Don’t Be Late”.  Yes, that one!  However, with Musgraves in control and without Alvin, Simon, and Theodore terrorizing Dave, it’s a bona fide true country Christmas song.

The only misfire on the album and this is strictly a personal thing for me is including “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas”.  It’s one of my least favorite holiday songs.  However, I’ll add that Musgraves’ performance is incredible, as it always is.  I just don’t like the song.

“A Very Kacey Christmas” is definitely a great addition to your growing list of Christmas albums.

GRADE:  B+ (Thanks Hippopotamus!)

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — August 5, 2016

I’m back from my five-night getaway to Las Vegas!

I’ve never been there in late July and I’ll likely not visit that time of the year again since it was 115° the day we arrived and the following day!  I’ve always said “it’s a dry heat”, but after experiencing it, hot is hot!

AP Ray Night View Vegas

We’re still highly considering making Las Vegas home in a few years.  But, for now, we’ll just make our annual pilgrimage there.

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts and, as always, feel free to share yours and if we disagree, do it diplomatically.

VEGAS & BUFFETS

We prepared for the incredible amount of food we would indulge in by eating very healthy and working out longer hours for three weeks before the trip.

I love buffets.  I only take very small portions, so I can sample more things.  Usually a bite or two will be enough, but I did have two helping of the amazing Lobster Eggs Benedict at Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace and the incredible chilled crab legs at Stratosphere.

We always visit the Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood to see our favorite server, Viena, and feast on the Mediterranean food, cupcakes, and cotton candy.

Last year, we discovered Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan and went back again this time.  It was incredible.  This year, my favorites were the Eggs Benedict, the Almond Joy gelato, and the creme brulee!

So, how much food is eaten in Las Vegas?

Vegas Buffets.jpg

Incredible!

I WAS ONE OF THE “WILD BOYS” WITH DURAN DURAN

It’s only taken me more than three decades, but I finally got to see one of my favorite 1980’s bands, Duran Duran, in concert for the first time and it was well worth the wait.

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Original band members Simon LeBon, John Taylor, and Roger Taylor were full of energy and had the crowd at Mandalay Bay singing and dancing right along with them. (Nick Rhodes is still on the “The Paper Gods Tour”, but he’s having to miss a few shows to attend to family matters back in the U.K.)

But, while many of my favorite songs were performed, my all-time favorite Duran Duran song wasn’t on the playlist. 😦

Here are my Top Ten favorite Duran Duran songs (this will open in a new window).

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/my-ten-favorite-duran-duran-songs/

What’s your favorite Duran Duran song?

NAUGHTY, BUT NICE!

We also saw the very naughty and sensual Cirque du Soleil show “Zumanity” at New York-New York.  I’d highly recommend it.

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This is my third Cirque show.

A couple of years ago, I saw “Michael Jackson ONE” and “The Beatles LOVE”.  Those shows are in a different category because not only do they feature amazing acrobatics, but the music is the soundtrack to many of our lives!

On my next visit to Las Vegas, I definitely want to see the aquatic show, “O”, at Bellagio.

“GLORY”, GLORY, HALLELUJAH

I’ve decided if I nap all the way to August 26th, then it’ll be like tomorrow and then I won’t have to wait three weeks for…

Glory BS

“Glory”, Britney Spears’ ninth studio album!!!

She’s calling it “the beginning of a new era”.  I can’t wait and I hope to see her again in early 2017 in Las Vegas.

Summerfest in Milwaukee, in 2011, seems so long ago!

Now that I’ve had my “come-to-Jesus” moment, I can focus on this week’s random Friday thoughts.

THIS WEEK JUST GOT SO MUCH BETTER & HOTTER!!!

After Britney announced “Glory” earlier this week, I didn’t think the week could get any better.  Wrong!

Friday afternoon, she dropped the video to “Make Me (Oooh)”!!! Early on, I thought the hottest video of the summer would be Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home”!

No way, it’s Britney, bitch!

This video is so hot that it makes the Las Vegas “heat wave” seem like a cool summer day!

You’ll actually need misters in your house to cool you off while watching this.  Beware:  it’ll also make your popsicles melt in the freezer!

BREAKING AND ENTERING TO MAKE ME (OOOH)!

While I don’t watch late night television with my work schedule, Jimmy Kimmel is definitely becoming one of my favorites!  (To the other Jimmy, I still like you, too.)

It’s stuff like this that makes me smile. 🙂  It helps that Britney and her hot dancers are involved in the funny act!

CAUGHT UP ON “THE WALKING DEAD”?

spoiler-alert

If you haven’t finished season six, don’t watch the trailer or read what I wrote down below. Same for season two of “Fear The Walking Dead” — spoilers ahead.

DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION

Hillary Clinton is the official Democratic nominee for president of the United States after last week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Hillary AP

Yes, I’m with her!

A FEW HIGHLIGHTS

Bernie Sanders:  “Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her tonight.”

DEM 2016 Debate

Bernie Sanders:  “Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States.”

First Lady Michelle Obama:  “Because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters…can take it for granted that a woman can be president.”

CHELSEA THOUGHTS

Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Hillary and former President Bill Clinton, sent out this fundraising email in July during the Republican National Circus  Convention:

“When Republicans repeatedly get on stage at their national convention and toss attack after attack at my mom, calling her things I’d never say in front of my children — let alone on live TV — they’re talking about a caricature they’ve imagined, not the woman that I love and respect.

My mom is compassionate, kind, and hardworking — when I was growing up, it seemed like she could do anything. She’d spend all day in court litigating on behalf of children and families, then come home and ask me over dinner what I learned in school, what my favorite part of my day was, and what I hoped would happen tomorrow. And then she would sit with me while I did my homework or practiced the piano or worked on my science project.”

chelsea hillary

I live in the real world and I know there are people that won’t support Hillary for whatever reasons they want, but what a lovely testament to a mother!

I’d be saying the same things if my mother were alive and running for president.

SUSAN SARANDON, WHY BOTHER TO ATTEND?

Don’t get me wrong, I love actress Susan Sarandon.

We just happened to be on the different side of the fence this political season (and she still is) — Team Hillary here and she’s Team Bernie.

And, clearly, she’s making no effort to unify.

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I fully understand her frustration if it was still spring and we weren’t at the Convention.  I was feeling this way in early summer 2008, but I quickly got behind Senator Barack Obama and fully supported his successful bid for president.

Susan, move on or move out!

MY POST-REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CIRCUS CONVENTION THOUGHTS

I didn’t watch it and I only saw the soundbite versions.  That was enough for me.

So, Heather Mooney, please assist me.

How was the convention?

HeatherMooney

With that, I can’t wait to share “Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion” with my 15-year-old daughter now that she’s old enough to see it!

LET’S RETURN TO THE “BEACHES”

“Beaches”, with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey, is one of my all-time favorite movies and the soundtrack still holds a special place in my heart.  We had “Wind Beneath My Wings” played at my mother’s funeral in 1990.

Later this month, production gets underway on the “Lifetime” movie remake with Idina Menzel playing Midler’s movie role of C.C. Bloom.

The cool thing is that the movie and Menzel have Midler’s approval.

Midler Beaches

Menzel will be performing at least two Midler classics from the movie, “Wind Beneath My Wings” and “The Glory of Love”.

Of course, those songs are iconic.  But, “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today” is also one of absolute favorite tear jerkers.

The movie is set to air in 2017.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

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“THE WALKING DEAD” SEASON 7 

I’m so ready for October 23rd to get here.  No, that’s not my birthday (that’s October 13th).

Season 7 of “The Walking Dead” returns on AMC.  We’ll finally find out which character dies a violent death at the hands of Negan and his barbed wired-covered baseball bat Lucille.

If you’re a die-hard fan, you’ve probably already seen this incredible three-minute trailer released at Comic-Con.

I love how the first 82 seconds teases you and the last 104 introduces you to new characters and the ones that were safe from Negan and Lucille!

We already know that a major character is savagely murdered.  My guess is Abraham, but an online poll has Glenn at 36% and Abraham at 32%.

Here’s a thought:  Why not shock everyone and just have Negan go completely batty and kill off TWO PEOPLE?  We wouldn’t expect that!

“HELLO MY NAME IS DORIS”

This little comedy stars Oscar and Emmy Award winner Sally Field and Max Greenfield of Fox’s “New Girl”.

Doris, a single woman in her 60s, is dealing with losing her mother and comes under pressure to sell all of the junk from her house where she and her mother lived.  Doris is a hoarder.

At work, after an elevator encounter, she become increasingly obsessed with a new co-worker that’s young enough to be her grandson.

There were a couple of moments in the movie when the cute little comedy teetered on the borderline of creepy.

Field is incredible, as always, and this movie proves how funny she is while still allowing her to have dramatic crying scenes, for which she is famous.  Think M’Lynn from “Steel Magnolias”.

GRADE:  B+

“THE FAMILY FANG”

This dysfunctional family dramedy stars Oscar winners Nicole Kidman and Christopher Walken and Golden Globes winner Jason Bateman.

Kidman is spectacular, as always.  But, that’s about it.  The trailer is better than the movie.  It’d save you a couple of bucks and a couple of hours.

This movie only made about $15-thousand in theaters.

GRADE:  C

“FEAR THE WALKING DEAD”

I’ve already talked about the return of “The Walking Dead” in October.

The second half of the much improved second season of “Fear The Walking Dead” also premiered a new trailer at Comic-Con.

“Fear The Walking Dead” returns to AMC on Sunday, August 21.

SONG OF THE SUMMER

In reality, it seems like Drake’s “One Dance” and Justin Timberlake’s infectious “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” are the top contenders for “Song of the Summer”.

However, the one that I can’t stop listening to when it comes on the radio is Meghan Trainor’s “Me Too”, my pick for song of the summer.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

2016: My (Not So) Lofty Expectations

It’s hard to believe not just that another year has passed, but that it seems to have gone by so quickly!  I think that comes with getting older.  There’s just not enough hours in a day.

Now that 2016 is here, I’ll share the same wish to you that I shared a few days ago when I looked back on my 2015 in a blog, “I wish you and yours the very best as you travel down the road of life.”

Time

So, what do I want to accomplish and do with my time in the new year?

I want to nap more.  My work schedule is a strange one and I always feel sleep-deprived.  Part of that is my fault because I always find things I could or should be doing in the afternoons when I should be snoozing for a couple of hours.

I’ll strive to be a better person.  In 2016,  I hope not to let other people’s actions or incompetence agitate me.  Yes, I’m human and so many people disappoint me with their inaction.

I plan on sticking close to my budget.  This will allow me the opportunity to travel as much as I can in the new year.

In 2015, I was fortunate to go to New York City, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Anchorage, and to Mexico twice, Riviera Maya in the summer and to Puerto Vallarta in December.

Here are some of my favorite pictures I took in 2015 from home and afar from some of these amazing places I visited.

https://www.facebook.com/anthony.peoples.3/media_set?set=a.10153326556919849.1073741954.500579848&type=3

I saw some great concerts and shows last year (Madonna, Janet  Jackson, Bette Midler, Michael C. Hall in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, and Renee Fleming in “The Merry Widow”).

This year, I’d love to see Britney Spears in Las Vegas.  I saw her a few years back on the “Femme Fatale Tour” and she was incredible.  And, I hear she has new music dropping this year.

Britney Las Vegas

We already have two trips planned for the new year.  One, we booked in the spring of last year and paid for it in monthly payments for the remainder of 2015.  There’s there budget thing again!  I’m sure we’ll announce when and where before we go. 🙂

Also, for Christmas, we gave Gretel a trip to New York City for her spring break.  She’s always wanted to go and she loved the pictures of our trip there last New Year’s Eve, my first time.

AP Ray NYC

She wants to see Madame Tussauds and probably visit a museum.  Ray hasn’t said what he wants to do and I’ve already bought tickets to see Carly Rae Jepsen at Terminal 5!

If you haven’t checked out her 2015 album, “Emotion”, you’re missing out on a pop masterpiece!  It was my #3 favorite album of last year and if you only know her from “Call Me Maybe”, this set of songs is more mature and just as catchy!

And, in May, Ray and I are going to see Ellie Goulding and Years & Years in concert in Rosemont, outside Chicago.

I love Ellie Goulding’s music, but I chose this concert to see the opening act.  Years & Years released “Communion” last summer and it’s incredible.

Lead singer Olly Alexander’s voice is so soulful and powerful.  If you love Adele, you have to check out “Communion”.  And, it was my #2 album of last year.

Click here and another window will open and you can see my favorite albums of 2015 and hear more selections from Years & Years to see what I’m talking about.  You’ll also see what album was my favorite since I mentioned #3 (Carly Rae) and #2 (Years & Years)!

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2015/12/30/my-favorite-albums-of-2015/

While I already mentioned Britney, 2016 also promises new music from Lady Gaga and Kylie Minogue and if I’m really lucky, new albums from Erasure, Patty Loveless, Lionel Richie, and Enrique Iglesias!

However, my most anticipated album of 2016 is by Matthew Koma.  I loved his song “Tempted” with Giorgio Moroder and his work with Zedd.  But, it’s his solo album that I want.

Here’s a fun song from Matthew, but you may want to check the title before you click on it — if there are kids in the room. 🙂

So, that’s it for me and a few of the things I look forward to in 2016:  sleep more, smile more, not let people tick me off as much, travel more, and see some fantastic shows.

Those expectations aren’t all that lofty, right?

Happy New Year!

Anthony

 

My Enjoyable 2015 — The Year in Review

It’s my favorite time of the year.  I look forward to the new year and take time to reflect back on the past year and share the highlights with my friends.  I hope life is treating you well and that you have so much to be thankful for –not just at the holidays, but every day.

For me, there is so much to love about the holidays — the twinkling lights, the sounds of Christmas music, the amazing feasts, and the beautiful snow (it’s still early in the season).

Snow Saturday Morning

My family is doing well.  I’m still the morning meteorologist for the CBS affiliate in the Quad Cities.  I’ve been there almost three years.

Ray is the Economic Development and Planning Director for the city of Moline, a job that he excels at and still loves after ten years.  Miss Gretel, a high school freshman, aspires to be a movie director.  (Hopefully, a very successful one, so we can have a mansion somewhere near Hollywood where there’s warmth all year around and we can have avocado, lemon, lime, and orange trees!  Okay, that’s really long-term planning!)

My sister, Tammy, is still in Moline and her two sons and two granddaughters now live in the Quad Cities.  It makes her very happy to have them here and not several states away.

As you know, we love to travel and try to get in a few concerts throughout the year. Paying bills isn’t the only reason we work! J

In early December of last year, we took Gretel and Tammy on an eastern Caribbean cruise.  It was a nice way to put off winter longer.

Anthony Gretel Ray

Tammy

Ray and I started 2015 in New York City.  We flew there on New Year’s Eve, but got into town too late to get anywhere near the televised festivities and Taylor Swift rocking in 2015.

It was my first visit to the “Big Apple” and we did a lot of walking and sightseeing.  I loved the beautiful window displays decked out for Christmas, Rockefeller Center, and the gigantic Christmas tree.  We also saw the new World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial, Times Square, the Empire State Building, and we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.  Along with the great food, we saw Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”) off Broadway in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and we attended “The Merry Widow” at the Metropolitan Opera.

Hedwig

We made our annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas in May, where we ate some amazing food (buffets, of course!)  We discovered a new brunch this year that you have to check out when you’re there next – Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.  On a future visit, I’m determined to visit the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace.

In June, we took Gretel to Riviera Maya (Cancun) and she got to use her passport for the first time.

In late September and early October, I accompanied Ray to his two back-to-back work conferences – the first was in San Francisco, California.

Wine Country

On his one free day, we took a bus trip for wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma Valleys.  While he worked, I went sightseeing and saw Chinatown, Golden Gate Park and the National AIDS Memorial Grove.  I also walked to the Castro District and was so touched to see the house where Harvey Milk diligently worked to plant the seeds for the LGBT movement.  While I was only a teenager when he was murdered, I was overwhelmed just being there where it all happened four decades ago.

While I would never want to live in downtown San Francisco (very dirty and expensive), I was blown away by the funkiness of Haight-Ashbury.  I’d move there in a heartbeat.  The “Summer of Love” was still very much alive!

To celebrate our four year wedding anniversary, we took a scenic boat tour on San Francisco Bay, which took us around Alcatraz, Sausalito, and under and around the majestic Golden Gate Bridge.

From there, it was off to the second leg of the two-week getaway and his next conference in Anchorage, Alaska.  If you’re ever going to visit, do it before October.  Most of the tours are over by this time as the Frontier State settles in for a long northern winter.

AP Ray AK

We did get to visit an animal sanctuary where we saw bear, moose, deer, bison, eagles, and other animals.  On the drive there, we saw snow-covered mountains and glaciers, tasted natural Alaskan spring water, and saw a few salmon swimming.  Also, we got to visit Prince William Sound, now fully recovered from 1989’s Valdez Exxon oil spill.

This year, we saw five concerts.  On our trip to Vegas in May, we saw the divine Miss M, Bette Midler.

Bette

She’s still incredible.  In August, I saw Reba McEntire in the Quad Cities.  I’ve now seen Reba 13 times.

In October, we saw three shows in three different cities:  In Anchorage, we saw Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox.  If you’ve never heard of them, Google them because they are amazing.  Days later, we saw Madonna in Saint Paul, Minnesota (my fourth Madonna concert), and then in late October, we took an overnight road trip to Omaha, Nebraska, and saw Janet, Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty!  She is so beautiful and talented.

20151030_204005

That’s what we did in 2015. I’m already looking forward to what adventures lie ahead in 2016. I guess I should wrap this up so I can start planning trips and concerts for next year so I’ll have things to share with you next Christmas.

I wish you and yours the very best as you travel down the road of life.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — July 24, 2015

It’s hard to believe that July is almost over and that means we’re getting closer to fall, my new favorite season.  Sorry winter!

Have yourself a great weekend and thank you for checking out my random thoughts.

BLAKE & MIRANDA GETTING DIVORCED

Marriages and relationships take a lot of work and when both people are celebrities, it’s much harder.  So, I’m a little surprised at people’s shock about the impending divorce of country singers Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert after four years of marriage.

FILE - In this Feb. 13, 2011 file photo, Blake Shelton, left, and Miranda Lambert arrive at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Shelton and Lambert announced their divorce after four years of marriage.A statement from Sheltonís spokesman provided a statement from both of them on Monday, July 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

FILE – In this Feb. 13, 2011 file photo, Blake Shelton, left, and Miranda Lambert arrive at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Shelton and Lambert announced their divorce after four years of marriage.A statement from Sheltonís spokesman provided a statement from both of them on Monday, July 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

Yes, I’m bummed about it.  But, I’m not shocked.

Country singer Chris Young, who has toured with Miranda and considers himself a friend of the couple, is speaking out that he had nothing to do with the couple’s marriage problems.

CY

That response was prompted after the gossip-mongers at TMZ reported what they learned from “multiple sources familiar with the situation”!  Have I ever mentioned that I can’t stand TMZ and its bitterness?

I always hope that love is real for everyone and I hope Blake and Miranda find it again.  I’m definitely a romantic that wants the fairy tale.

SPEAKING OF FAIRY TALES

Can you believe this year marks the 25th anniversary of “Pretty Woman”?

pretty-woman

The romantic comedy that skyrocketed Oscar winner Julia Roberts to fame made $463 million dollars at theaters after its spring 1990 release.

“THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN”

Okay, this one is far from the fairy tale or a romantic comedy!

I just finished reading Paula Hawkins’ “The Girl on the Train”.   I walked so much on the treadmill just to finish the book because I didn’t want to put it down!

The Girl on the Train

This is a definite hands down, take the train, bus, car, bicycle, or whatever means necessary to pick up this book!  Actually, you probably already have since “Variety” reports “The Girl on the Train” is the fastest-selling adult novel in history, having sold more than two million copies in the U.S. alone since it was published in January.”

In the book, Rachel is an alcoholic, divorced woman who becomes obsessed with a couple she sees on a regular basis from the train she takes into London.

One day, Rachel sees something strange that will trigger a series of events that will have you feverishly turning the pages to see what’s real, what’s not, and what really happened.  It’s a page turner until the end!

It’s been reported that Emily Blunt (“Into The Woods” and “The Devil Wears Prada”) is set to star as Rachel (and also reported that she’ll play Jess/Megan).

Emily Blunt

Since I’m a real-life television meteorologist and not a Hollywood casting agent, as a fan of the book, here’s my dream cast. And, in case you haven’t read the book, I’m only giving character names and not how they play into the story.

I know actors and projects have to line up, so I’ll offer several people for each role.

Tom — Michael Fassbender, Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”), Hugh Dancy (“Hannibal”), James Marsden, and Andrew Lincoln (“The Walking Dead”)

Michael FassbenderDexterHugh DancyJames MarsdenAndrew Lincoln

Scott — Grey Damon (“Aquarius”) and Shawn Ashmore (“The Following”)

Grey DamonShawn Ashmore

Let’s go with it that Emily will take the role of either Rachel or Jess/Megan.

Jess/Megan and Anna —  Elisabeth Rohm (“Stalker), Jennifer Aniston, and Evan Rachel Wood (“True Blood”)

Elisabeth RohmJennifer AnistonEvanRachelWood

And, finally, Dr. Kamal Abdic — Manish Dayal (“The Hundred-Foot Journey) and Enrique Iglesias

Manish DayalEnrique Iglesias

Okay, I’ve enjoyed my fantasy casting enough.  One more “reported” claim about the movie is that the locale will move from London to the United States.

Tate Taylor (“The Help”) has signed on to direct.

Paula, your thoughts on the casting?

And, in honor of Rachel! 🙂

gordons_gin__tonic_in_can_250ml

“THE SNOWMAN”

Normally, the books I read are about real people and real events.  Just before I jumped on the train, I read “The Snowman”, a 2007 crime thriller by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo.  It’s the seventh book in the Detective Harry Hole series.

Nesbo+Snowman

“Time” magazine featured an article years ago about Scandinavian authors that may achieve the success of Stieg Larsson and his “Millennium series” (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl Who Played with Fire”, and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest”.)

I wrote Nesbo’s name and “The Snowman” down on a piece of paper and finally got the book and it was incredible.

Detective Harry Hole is on the trail of Norway’s first serial killer.  And, is there a connection between the season’s first snow, the appearance of a snowman, and the victims?

Another must-read if you like crime novels!

There is talk of a movie adaptation of the book.  Legendary director Martin Scorsese was once attached to it, but now director Tomas Alfredson (“Let The Right One In” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”) is set to direct it.

THEY SAID WHAT???

Remember on Mondays back when I blogged all the time, I had the feature, “They Said What???”  Why not revisit it with these fun ones!

REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL WANNABEE LINDSEY GRAHAM

(on “CBS This Morning” about Donald Trump’s racist comments about Mexicans): “Run for president but don’t be the world’s biggest jackass.”

Pitbull

POP SINGER PITBULL

“I want to tell Marco Rubio, step it up!  Jeb Bush, step it up!  Hillary Clinton, step it up!  Because Donald Trump can’t be president.”

(More Pitbull to Trump):  “I want him to know I’m not a politician. I’m a musician. I’m a Latino first. I support our people.”

DIRECTOR/ACTOR TYLER PERRY

(speaking of the media reporting on Whitney Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown):  “It makes me sad to know that everybody wants to be the first to report something awful. So much so, that they find it OK to speak death onto those who are still alive. May I ask you all to please show some decency and respect?”

IRRELEVANT “ONE-HIT WONDER” SINGER SINEAD O’CONNOR

(on Facebook blasting “Rolling Stone” for its Kim Kardashian West cover):  “What is this c**t doing on the cover of Rolling Stone? Music has officially died.  Who knew it would be Rolling Stone that murdered it? Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh can no longer be expected to take all the blame. Bob Dylan must be f**king horrified. #BoycottRollingStone”

Kim KW Rolling Stone

SHOCK JOCK HOWARD STERN

(responding to “North Dakota Today” news co-host Chris Berg.  When talking about Stern’s salary of a reported $95 million, Berg asked how Stern could be making that much money.)

Berg

“Douche, you can do the same thing. Leave Fargo, get a show and work on your comedy chops and work on being interesting.”

Howard Stern Rolling Stone

(MORE STERN):  “The reason I worked so hard is so I wouldn’t have to live in Fargo, North Dakota, honestly. No offense if you live there. I’m pretty sure if you’re living there, you’re trying to get out … Gee whiz … I didn’t know Fargo still existed … Good lord. Well, anyway.”

DJ/PRODUCER SKRILLEX

(on Justin Bieber):  “Justin is a f**king virtuoso.  He’ll school you at every-thing: Ping-Pong, basketball, freestyle rapping.  The kid is so competitive.  Whatever he does he’s super good at, so you don’t stand a chance.  It’s not even fair.”

And, here’s Justin’s latest with Skrillex and Diplo.  I love this song and the video is so cool.  It’s takes me back to the fun days of music videos on MTV.

DONUTGATE

I like donuts and I cannot lie!  (You can sing that along to “Baby Got Back” if you want.)

Donuts

And, while they’re so delicious, the unhealthy treat was thrust into the national spotlight recently when pop tart Ariana Grande was busted “allegedly” licking a donut in a California shop without paying for it.

I’m glad that charges will not be filed against her for the silliness.  Yes, it’s gross if she actually Frenched the pastry for someone else to buy, but there are more pressing matters for us to deal with here in America.

Here’s another perspective on the matter.  When you were young, could you see yourself doing that if you were dared by a friend?  I can’t say that my young self would have done it, but I can’t say that I wouldn’t have!

SUMMER 2016 PROJECT

While there’s still several weeks left in summer 2015, I’m already making plans for next summer and setting my goals high.

Back in the summer of 2012, I ventured into making jelly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I made 44 jars of mint, jalapeno-mint, apple mint, lemon balm-basil, and rosemary-lavender-lemon-mint jellies in many festive colors. While rainbow-colored, I didn’t call it “gay jelly”.

I just came across a recipe for pickling vegetables and it looks simple and tasty.

So, next year, pickles and pickled veggies!

ACCEPTANCE OF THOSE IN LOVE

As I’ve talked about in the past, my relationship with my alcoholic father was strained at best.  When sober, he was more tolerable.  However, overall, he didn’t like people, including his own family.

I know if he was alive today he would likely not be a part of his gay son’s life.  But, who knows, he could have softened in his golden years and surprised me.

I usually don’t think of him (he died in 1987), but I did think of him again when Jennifer Hudson’s “I Still Love You” was nominated earlier this week for an MTV VMA “Moonmen” award for “Video With a Social Message”.

The album (and song) didn’t catch on with radio or music buyers, but the video and the song are incredible.

TILDA SWINTON AS YOU’VE NEVER SEEN HER

Oscar winner Tilda Swinton is all for looking bad for a great role.

She’s hardly recognizable in “Snowpiercer” as Deputy-Minister Mason or as Madame D. in “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, a very old woman.

But, check out the 54-year-old actress in the new movie, “Trainwreck”!  (It’s the picture on the left.)

tilda-transformation

Incredible!  What a chameleon.

SKIP “IT FOLLOWS” AND RENT “THE BABADOOK”

“It Follows” was critically acclaimed and made enough money that a sequel is being discussed.

The premise is cool — a supernatural “it” stalks people after they’ve had sex.  The only way for it to leave you alone is if you pass it along to someone else.

After watching the very SLOOOOOOOW movie, I realized that if “It Follows”, it’d definitely catch them!

Watch the trailer, which is better than the movie and save a couple of dollars renting it.

GRADE: C

However, if you want something supernatural that’s scary, check out the Australian-Canadian psychological thriller, “The Babadook”.

“Mister Babadook” is a pop-up storybook that mysteriously appears and re-appears in the home of a mother and her 6-year-old troubled son.

The supernatural entity starts tormenting people when they are made aware of its existence.

Essie Davis are Noah Wiseman excellently portray the fear and horror of being tormented by the “Babadook”.

And, how cool is the word “Babadook”?

GRADE:  B

MID-YEAR CANADIAN MUSIC LEADERS

In my last “Random Friday Thoughts” back on July 3rd, I reported that at the halfway point of 2015 that Taylor Swift leads in album sales and Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars have the top-selling single in the U.S. with “1989” and “Uptown Funk”, respectively.

I guess our friends to the north in Canada have the same taste.  Here are the sales there through mid-year and T-Swizzle has now surpassed Ed Sheeran in album sales and Ronson and Mars lead there, too.

Taylor_Swift_-_1989

Top Selling Canadian Albums (through June 30, 2015)

1. Taylor Swift, 1989 — 172,000 sold
2. Ed Sheeran, X — 170,000
3. Fifty Shades Of Grey, soundtrack — 134,000
4. Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour — 132,000
5. Yoan, Yoan — 101,000
6. Hozier, Hozier — 101,000
7. Drake, If You’re Reading This… — 101,000
8. Maroon 5, V — 92,000
9. Meghan Trainor, Title — 86,000
10. Mumford & Sons, Wilder Mind — 84,000

Top Selling Singles (through June 30, 2015)

1. Mark Ronson Feat. Bruno Mars, Uptown Funk! — 526,000 sold
2. Ed Sheeran, Thinking Out Loud — 346,000
3. Wiz Khalifa Feat. Charlie Puth, See You Again — 315,000
4. Maroon 5, Sugar — 289,000
5. Rihanna/Kanye West/Paul McCartney, FourFiveSeconds — 289,000
6. Hozier, Take Me To Church — 279,000
7. Ellie Goulding, Love Me Like You Do — 245,000
8. Omi, Cheerleader — 242,000
9. Andy Grammar, Honey, I’m Good — 204,000
10. Walk The Moon, Shut Up & Dance — 200,000

“SHOW ME YOURS”

A couple of years ago, singer Hailey Rowe released “My Boyfriend Is Gay”.  It was a fun song and the video was incredible frisky and sexy.  It ended up being my favorite song of 2013.

Now, Canadian singer and internet sensation Scotty Dynamo has released the next big gay thing.

His “Show Me Yours” video reminds me of a modern-day version of “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John, which was very scandalous and controversial back in 1981.  Maybe that’s why the song ended up spending ten weeks at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 and was the biggest-selling single of the 1980s in the U.S.

BETTE MIDLER & DIVINE INTERVENTION

Congratulations to Bette Midler on the 32 sellouts shows on the “Divine Intervention Tour”!  It made an incredible $36 million!

Bette

We saw the amazing Las Vegas show in May!

GUESS THAT’S ENOUGH FOR NOW

As I’ve said many times, I wish I was wealthy enough to just write all the time.  But, I must pay the bills and find time to get a few hours of sleep, pay the bills, and go on vacation.

Thank you very much for checking out my random thoughts.  Let me know what you think about them.  If you agree with something, let me know.  If not, tell me that, too.

I value your thoughts as much as I appreciate you checking out mine.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine’s Day!  It’s going to be a snowy one in Iowa and Illinois, but it’ll make it more romantic! 🙂

champagne

I hope you and yours have a great weekend.  If there’s no “yours”, you still have every reason to enjoy the day and make the most of it.

I had many single years and I still treated myself to champagne and chocolates whenever I wanted them!  Indulge.  Life is too short.

Here are my random thoughts this Friday.  As always, thank you for checking them out.  If you agree with me, let me know.  If you disagree, let me know nicely. 🙂

BEST WISHES TO MICHAEL SAM

Michael Sam, the Associated Press defensive football player of the year in the Southeast Conference, came out last Sunday telling the public something that his teammates have known since last fall.

Sam told ESPN, “I came to tell the world I’m an openly proud gay man.”

Michael Sam

Sam is expected to be drafted into the National Football League and that would make him the first openly gay player drafted in the NFL.

Michael, I wish you the very best in football and in life and I’m not alone.

Bette Midler

And, here is an incredible commentary from Dale Hansen, a sportscaster with WFAA, the ABC affiliate in Dallas, Texas.  This is so true!

However, we still have a long way to go.  This is a series of tweets from Kent State University wrestler Sam Wheeler.  He’s been suspended indefinitely until the athletic department decides on how to handle the situation.

Sam Wheeler Kent State Wrestler

ZOMBIES SLAY OLYMPIANS

While the ratings for the 2014 Winter Olympics for NBC are off slightly from four years ago, people were watching this past weekend.

However, last Sunday night, in the key television viewing demographics, 18-49-year-olds, the season four mid-season premiere of “The Walking Dead” killed the rush for the gold, silver, and bronze.

The Walking Dead

In that demo group, “The Walking Dead” scored a rating of 8.2 beating the 6.9 for NBC’s Sochi Winter Olympics.  Overall, 15.8 million people tuned in for “The Walking Dead”.

RACIST SOCHI TWEET?

Former Russian gold medalist figure skater Irina Rodnina, who lit the Olympic torch for the opening ceremonies of the Sochi games, is now at the center of a controversy that screams of racism.

Rodnina

Rodnina, who is now a member of Parliament in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, tweeted this doctored picture of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama from last September.

Racist Sochi Tweet

Pro-Kremlin television personality Vladimir Soloviev says this is not a big scandal and that Rodnina is free to post whatever she wants.  He went on to say the Tweet was not racist and that the reaction is too sensitive, “I advise everyone who attacked her that the next time they go out for a coffee, they should not call it a black coffee but an African-American coffee.”

I think this is racist whether it’s posted by a Russian politician or someone in the United States who feels as Rodnina does!

Your thoughts?

THIS “ARROW” HITS THE BULLS EYE

“Arrow” actor Stephen Amell wishes the athletes that have been training all their lives the very best in Sochi, Russia, but he holds nothing back on this thoughts about the country’s anti-gay laws.

Stephen Amell

On Facebook, Amell posted, “For everyone asking, we’re taking a mini hiatus so people can grit their teeth and suffer through an Olympic games marred by homophobia and mediocre public interest.”

FOOD FOR THOUGHTS

Weather ChannelSnow

Davenport Cold

That was in Davenport, Iowa, the other morning.  Luckily, it was actually only -23°!

SO LONG, MULDER & SCULLY

We just finished watching all 202 episodes of “The X-Files” and the two movies.  While enjoyable, I still feel that the series finale was rushed and not very rewarding for such a stellar nine-year series that changed television.

the_x_files_i_want_to_believe-wallpaper

After watching “The X-Files:  I Want T0 Believe” again, the 2008 big screen movie is incredible and greatly under appreciated.  While it did have the feel of a more adult (language, violence, and gore) expanded television monster-of-the-week episode, it is very powerful.

Mulder, Scully, Skinner, Doggett, Reyes, Krycek, The Smoking Man, the Lone Gunman, aliens, and Chris Carter, thank you for the memories.

HELLO FISHER FAMILY OF FREAKS

Before we move on to “Fringe” to wrap up the last two seasons, we’re going back to “Six Feet Under”.  We’re now on season three (of five).

six feet under

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dysfunctional family like the Fishers and their crazy friends and loved ones.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that I love Michael C. Hall.  And, to see him as a very tormented David Fisher, who’s also gay, is very interesting.

PICK HIT

Singer Hailey Rowe is back with a very inspiring song and video.

Hailey Rowe

While she isn’t a household name, she scored my favorite song and video of 2013 with “My Boyfriend Is Gay”.

Her latest release is “Don’t Need Your Approval”.

“CAPTAIN PHILLIPS”

“Captain Phillips” is nominated for six Oscars this year, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Barkhad Abdi.  It also gained attention when Tom Hanks was snubbed for a Best Actor nomination.

Captain Phillips

The $55 million movie earned $215.3 million at the box office.  It’s based on real life events when Somali hijackers took over the “MV Maersic Alabama” in April 2009 and kidnapped the cargo ship’s captain, Richard Phillips, for ransom.

It’s a well crafted movie by director Paul Greengrass (“United 93”) and Oscar winner Hanks does a great job playing Phillips as a strong leader in the face of terror and possible death.  Even Adbi and the other three first-time Somali actors hold their own in the movie.

If you didn’t follow the story when it was news almost five years ago, you’ll enjoy the movie more.  As I was watching it, I kept wondering if Hollywood would change something in the outcome for dramatization since it’s “based on a true story”.

After seeing the movie, was Hanks snubbed?  I don’t think so based on the two Oscar-nominated performances I’ve seen so far (Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club” and Christian Bale in “American Hustle”).  Will Abdi win the Supporting Actor award?  No.

If you like an action packed thriller, you’ll definitely like “Captain Phillips”.  If you want to see Greengrass at his best, watch “United 93”.

GRADE:  B

“RUNNER RUNNER”

This thriller starring Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck is entertaining enough with a few twists.

Runner Runner

Timberlake plays Richie Furst, who used to work on Wall Street and is now getting his Master’s Degree.  Since he isn’t eligible to get help with his tuition, he recruits college students to gamble online and he get a kick back.  When he’s reported, the school’s dean tells him he must quit or he won’t get his degree.

He takes a chance gambling on the site knowing the odds and loses all his money.  He then flies to Costa Rica to try to get his money back from Ivan Block (Affleck), who is the online gaming king.

It’s a cat and mouse game, but you don’t know who’s playing who.

GRADE:  C

NEW TWITTER FOLLOWER

I’m still relatively new to Twitter and I find it interesting.  I only have 142 followers, but one of my new followers is someone I’ve been a fan of for almost 30 years — Andy Bell of Erasure.

Andy Bell

Since the follow, we’ve corresponded a couple of times.  If you’re an Erasure fan, check out this encouraging and fun tweet from Andy.

Andy 2

“Make It Wonderful” is the second single from last fall’s “Snow Globe” album and the remixes will be available February 24th.  Here is the amazing “Morlando Club Mix”.

Some of the “many” things that Andy may have been talking about is the anticipated new album and tour this fall!

“BABYCAKES” & “SIGNIFICANT OTHERS”

If you read my “Random Friday Thoughts” each week, you know that I’ve been spending a lot of time on the treadmill walking and reading.  I’ve lost 8.8 pounds since the beginning of the year, but it’s getting harder now.

I’m also reading Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of The City” series.  I just finished the fourth and fifth books in the nine-book series.

“Babycakes”, the fourth book, takes place around 1983, seven years after the first book.

babycakes

The AIDS pandemic claims the life of a recurring character and a main character is dealing with the loss of his best friend and lover.  He takes a trip to England and runs into a major character that was absent in the third book.

One character becomes a television reporter after breaking the story of the survivors of the Jonestown Massacre.  Another story line involved a favorite couple trying to have a baby with sterility and infidelity playing a major role.  As the book ended, one life started and another ended.

This was my least favorite of the four books, so far, and part of it might have been the fact that it was new to me since it wasn’t made into a miniseries like the first three books.

SIGNIFICANT OTHERS

The series found its mojo with the fifth book, “Significant Others”.

Two different retreats, one for a women’s festival (lesbians) and one for older men (rich Republicans), take place on Russian River north of San Francisco in 1985.  We meet three new characters that play a big role in some of the lives of the original “Tales of The City” group.

One character faces the unknown when he takes the HIV test and what he’ll tell his wife and another is still dealing with the loss of his friend/lover from AIDS in the third fourth.  He meets a new friend that could be something long-term, but they live on opposite coasts!

I can’t wait to see what happens in the sixth book!

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

Kentucky-born singer John Conlee had a long, successful string of 27 hits on the Billboard Country charts from 1978-1987.  Of those 27 hits, 22 reached the Top Ten, and 7 topped the charts.

My two favorites are “Backside of Thirty”, his third hit and second number one from 1979, and his first country hit, “Rose Colored Glasses” that peaked at #5 in 1978.

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

Have a great weekend.  I think we’re having heart-shaped pizza and a heart-shaped strawberry ice cream cake this weekend with Gretel and my sister, Tammy.

Anthony

You’ll Perform For How Much? Okay, I’ll Pay It To See You

I’m excited that we’ll be flying out to Las Vegas tomorrow to see Lady Gaga Friday night on the “Born This Way Ball” Tour.  This will mark my second or third time seeing Lady Gaga, depending on your definition of a concert.  I’ll explain that tomorrow. 🙂  What a tease!

Born This Way Ball Tour

As of now, the Lady Gaga concert is the only one I have planned in 2013.  However, I’d still love to see Helen Reddy, Olivia Newton-John, Shania Twain, Lorrie Morgan, and Depeche Mode in concert.  And, if the opportunity presented itself, I’d love to see Josh Groban, Reba, and Britney Spears again!

Last year, I saw only four concerts:  The Band Perry (Davenport, Iowa) , Elton John (Las Vegas), Madonna (Las Vegas), and Pam Tillis (Bettendorf, Iowa).  While two of those concerts were inexpensive (free and $15), the others were much more expensive ($125 and $375)!

I want to talk about how expensive concert tickets are these days, the best concert deal I know of, and share with you all of the acts that I’ve seen in concert one time.  Tomorrow, I’ll share the artists that I’ve seen multiple times.

2012 Top Tours

In a recent blog, I talked about Madonna’s “MDNA” tour being the number one worldwide tour in 2012 making $296.1 million .  But, today, I want you to focus on the number after the artist’s name, the average ticket price.  As you see, several artists in the Top Ten (Madonna, Roger Waters, Lady Gaga, Cirque Du Soleil – “Michael Jackson:  The Immortal”, and Elton John) all earned an average of more than $100 for a ticket!

Although the average Madonna ticket was $140.38, just outside the Top Ten, Barbra Streisand (#22) ticket prices averaged $263, Celine Dion (#29) $157, the Rolling Stones (#33) were the big winners in every sense with an average ticket price of $529!!!! At #37, people paid an average of $165 to see Andrea Bocelli.  And, Vicente Fernandez (#49) tickets averaged almost $141.

With these ticket prices, I checked to see how much I paid the last time I saw New Kids on the Block at Alpine Valley in East Troy, Wisconsin, in 1990.

New Kids 1990

What???? Only $25.50 (before service charges) for reserved seats!  Holy cow!  So, just as a comparison, I decided to go to Ticketmaster and check to see how much it’d cost to see 2013’s version of the New Kids, One Direction.  Since there wasn’t a concert in Milwaukee, I’ll use Tinley Park (near Chicago).

One Direction

I know this is like comparing apples to oranges, but what a difference.  $25.50 vs. $89.50!  Everything is more expensive these days.  Nevertheless, to see concerts, even in the Quad Cities, you still have to be ready to hand over your cash.

One of the best bargains I know is Northalsted Market Days held in early August in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago.  It’s the largest two-day street fair in the Midwest and it’s so much fun.  There are street vendors, food, liquor, live concerts (last year’s line-up included Olivia Newton-John, The Pointer Sisters, Sheena Easton, and Karmin), and lots of half-naked people!  I mean, seriously, you don’t see this every day (pictures from 2010)!  You gotta love gay pride and Market Days in Chicago!

Twister Market Days 2010 Gay Pride 2010

All for the bargain price of $8 a day for “Market Days”!

With that being said, I want to share the artists that I’ve seen in concert once!  Now, the list is long!   Keep in mind that several of these were at Market Days or they were opening acts, so I haven’t spent a fortune on concerts in the past 28 years.

For the artists that I didn’t take pictures of in concert, I’ll add a video or album cover!

My very first concert was in the mid-1980s — John Cougar Mellencamp in Carbondale, Illinois.  (This video is not from that tour, but it’s one of my favorite songs from John!)

Bette Midler (Las Vegas, Nevada – 2015)

Bette

Enrique Iglesias (Rosemont, Illinois – 2014)

Enrique Iglesias 2014

Erasure (Chicago, 2014)

Erasure 2014

Shania Twain (Las Vegas, Nevada — 2014)

Shania 2014

Olivia Newton-John (Las Vegas, Nevada — 2014)

Olivia 2014

Ke$ha (Tinley Park, Illinois — 2013)

Kesha June 2013

Rick Springfield (Bettendorf, Iowa — 2013)

Rick Springfield May 2013

Depeche Mode (Tinley Park, Illinois — 2013)

Depeche Mode Tour 2013

Britney Spears & Nicki Minaj (West Allis, Wisconsin — 2011) 

*I want to see Britney again.  Maybe another trip to Las Vegas when she starts her rumored residency there!*

Britney SpearsNicki Minaj

Patty Loveless (Columbus, Ohio — 2001) 

*This concert was my birthday present that year and I’d love to have new music from Patty and to see her again.*

Josh Groban (Moline, Illinois — 2011)  

*Amazing musician.  I can’t wait for his new CD February 5th.  Maybe I’ll get to see him play live again.*

Josh Groban

Elton John (Las Vegas — 2012) 

*Amazing!  This was a bonus concert, since we went to Las Vegas for my birthday to see Madonna and got these tickets at the last-minute!*

Elton John

Dixie Chicks (Chicago — 2006) 

*Great entertainers*

The Human League (Chicago — 2002)  

*Although it took me 20 years to see them after their #1 hit, “Don’t You Want Me”, I absolutely loved seeing them.  I felt 18 again!*

Keith Urban  & Taylor Swift (Moline –2009) 

*Keith was amazing and Taylor was enjoyable back then.*

Keith Urban Taylor Swift

Scissor Sisters (Chicago — 2010) 

*What a fun time.  I had a blast!  I love my Scissor Sisters!*

Scissor Sisters

Lady Antebellum (Bloomington, Illinois — 2008) 

*Great energy and beautiful harmonies*

Lady Antebellum 2008

LeAnn Rimes & Phil Vassar  (Salisbury, Maryland — 1995) 

*LeAnn was so sweet.  The show was fun.*

LeAnn Rimes 2005Phil Vassar

“Glee in Concert” (Chicago — 2011) 

*Gretel’s birthday present and when Darren Criss (Blaine) walked by us, he touched my hand!  Swoon!”

Glee Live

Expose (Chicago — 2008) 

*Great dance band with many hits during my formative years in the late-1980s.  Fun time!*

Expose 2008

Clay Walker (Merrillville, Indiana — 1996)

Sweet Sensation (West Allis, Wisconsin — 1990) 

*Fun freestyle dance trio.  No frills show — just singing and basic choreography.*

Terri Nunn of Berlin (Chicago — 2009)

*She was beautiful and incredible.  I’ve been a fan of Berlin since the early-1980s when “Pleasure Victim” and “Sex (I’m A)… came out.*

Terri Nunn Berlin

Martin Solveig (Las Vegas — 2012) 

*French DJ that opened for Madonna.  He has so much energy.  I bought his CD, “Smash” and it was my second favorite of last year, behind Madonna!*

Kelly Clarkson (Moline — 2008) 

*This was the concert where she and Reba were on stage together and sang each other’s songs.*

kelly-clarkson

Faith Hill & Tim McGraw (Rhinelander, Wisconsin — 1996)  

*I met both of them in the early part of their careers before they were megastars.  I hope to see them again in Las Vegas this weekend!*

Faith Hill 1996 Tim McGraw 1996

Kristine W (Chicago — 2009) 

*One of the most talented and successful dance artists in Billboard Dance chart history!*

Kristine W

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts (Chicago — 2010) 

*It took almost 30 years to see her, but, even now, “I Love Rock & Roll”!*

Joan Jett

Jody Watley  (Chicago — 2009) 

*Looking For a New Love” anyone?*

Jody Watley

Jennifer Holliday (Chicago — 2010) 

*AMAZING!  The original Effie White from Broadway’s “Dreamgirls”!*

Jennifer Holliday

Jon Secada (Chicago — 2010)

Jon Secada

CeCe Peniston (Chicago — 2009) 

*”Finally, it has happened to me… Meeting Mr. Right, the man of my dreams/The one and only true love or at least it seems?/With brown cocoa skin and curly black hair…” *

CeCe

White Tie Affair (Chicago — 2010) 

*Lead singer Chris Wallace’s solo debut, “Remember When (Push Rewind)” was one of my favorite songs last year.  It’s still trying to catch fire at Top 40 radio.  Check it out.  I’ll make it easy for you.  I’ll put the video under his picture.* 🙂

White Tie Affair

David Kersh (Cleveland, Ohio –1998)

David Kersh

Martina McBride (Darien Lake, New York — 2001) 

*Part of Reba’s “Girls Night Out” Tour*

Martina McBride

Sara Evans (Darien Lake, New York — 2001) 

*Part of Reba’s “Girls Night Out” Tour*

Sara Evans

Jamie O’Neal (Darien Lake, New York — 2001) 

*Part of Reba’s “Girls Night Out” Tour*

Jamie_O'Neal

Jason De Rulo (Rosemont, Illinois — 2010) 

*Opened for Lady Gaga three years ago.  Great CD.*

Jason+Derulo+JasonDeruloCoverTCC

Tracy Lawrence (Davenport, Iowa — 2011) 

*Fun country music and very nice man.  I interviewed him in Lubbock, Texas, in 1997, and I introduced him to the stage in Davenport two summers ago!*

Tracy Lawrence

JoDee Messina (Bettendorf, Iowa — 2011)

JoDeeMessina

Amber  (Chicago — 2010) 

*Major international dance artist!*

Amber

George Strait (Rosemont — 2011)

*Saw the “King of Country” with Reba.*

George Strait

Lee Ann Womack (Rosemont — 2011)

Lee Ann Womack

Martha Wash (Chicago — 1991)

Bjorn Again (Chicago — 2002) 

*ABBA tribute band.  They were flawless!*

bjorn-again

En Vogue (Chicago — 2009)

En Vogue

Blake Lewis (Chicago — 2010) 

*”American Idol” runner-up to Jordin Sparks.*

Blake Lewis

Lucas Prata (Chicago — 2009)  *Dance artist*

Lucas Prata

Joe Nichols (Virginia Beach, Virginia — 2005)

Joe Nichols

Eden’s Edge (Moline — 2011)

Eden's Edge

Steel Magnolias (Moline — 2011)

Steel Magnolia

Toby Keith (Tinley Park, Illinois — 1995) 

*Before he was all political and anti-Dixie Chicks, he was good in concert early in his career.*

Toby Keith

September (Chicago — 2010)  *Swedish dance band*

September

Linear (West Allis — 1990)

Linear

Dino (Cincinnati, Ohio — 1989)

Dino

I enjoyed this little trip down memory lane and I hope you did, too.  Tomorrow, I’ll feature the artists that I’ve seen in concert multiple times.  One of them I’ve seen enough times that I’m surprised there isn’t a restraining order!

By the way, I loved my shirt I wore for the Madonna concert and I already have one picked out for Gaga!

Madonna Anthony

Anthony