Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

Random Friday Thoughts — September 30, 2016

It’s now been a couple of days back at work for me after five days in Cleveland, Ohio.

Ray was at a conference and I went along and spent time with “Mom” (Betty).  It was nice seeing her again since the last time was over a year ago when she was in the Quad Cities.

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

THEY SAID WHAT??? — PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE VERSION

Monday night’s first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was the most watched in history.

84 million people tuned in and this doesn’t include the millions who watched online or at other venues like parties, bars, restaurants, and offices.

This beat out the 1980 debate between President Jimmy Carter and eventual winner Ronald Reagan.  80.6 million watched that debate.

A CNN/ORC poll after Monday night’s showdown showed that Clinton easily won it by a margin of 62%-27%, the third largest win in debate history.

debate

Between Trump snorting like a pig, drinking water like he’d walked through the desert, and constantly saying “wrong” during many of Clinton’s answers and rebuttals and Hillary smiling like a Cheshire Cat because she knew Donald was coming unglued, it was an interesting night.

Here are my favorite soundbites:

Donald:  “I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament.  I have a winning temperament.”

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Hillary:  “I have a feeling by the end of this debate I am going to be blamed for everything that ever happened.”

Donald:  “Why not?”

Hillary:  “Join the debate by saying more crazy things.”

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Donald:  (on who’s to blame for the Democratic National Committee security breach.  It could have been Russia or China) “It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”

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Hillary:  “Donald, I know you live in your own reality.”

Hillary:  “He loves beauty contests, supporting them, and hanging around them.”

BEST TWEET ABOUT THE CANDIDATES

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JUST IGNORE HIM — HE’S USED TO IT!

Because most of the people that read or will come across my blog are compassionate and caring, you’ll likely click on the video below (it’s less than a minute and you don’t even need the sound up!)

Vote this November!  It’s important!

CANCER SUCKS

In the past I’ve shared many stories about cancer.  The bottom line is that it sucks.

cancer

While I’ve had a couple of scares that, fortunately, didn’t turn out turn out to be cancer, I did lose my grandfather, my hero, and my father to cancer.

Canadian country music star Brett Kissel, one of my favorites, is raising awareness of the disease on his latest single from his album “Pick Me Up”.

Brett Kissel

He’s also donating the money from “I Didn’t Fall In Love With Your Hair” with Carolyn Dawn Johnson to cancer research in Canada.

What a powerful video!

This single is dedicated to his mother, Brenda, a survivor who’s battled cancer several times and has gone through more than forty surgeries!

You can help out by buying the single here (it’s track 10).  But, let me tell you the entire album is spectacular!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/pick-me-up/id1023505720

And, that’s not all.  Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and two-time cancer survivor W. Brett Wilson is matching the sales of the single up to $25,000 through October 28th.

Kissel has a nice run going with eight consecutive Top Ten hits on the Canadian Country music chart and this is looking like it’ll be his ninth!  It moves up eleven this week to #31!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PRESIDENT CARTER!

I want to take a moment to wish my favorite President Jimmy Carter a very happy birthday this weekend.

On Saturday, our 39th U.S. president turns 92 years old.

Jimmy CarterJimmy Carter

I got to visit his presidential museum and library earlier this month in Atlanta, Georgia, and it was amazing seeing all of the history of his long, rewarding life.

President Carter is the second-oldest living president.  George H.W. Bush turned 92-year-old back in June.

FIVE YEARS & COUNTING

It’s five years today!  Happy fifth anniversary Ray and Gretel!

These pictures were taken shortly after it became official in Vander Veer Botanical Park in Davenport, Iowa.

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Our wedding posse, oops, party (from left to right:  Ray’s sister Cindy, my “Mom” Betty, Ray, Gretel, me, and my sister Tammy.)

Wedding 1

The first years!

And, if you haven’t seen it before, here’s a compilation video of our wedding reception, which was held the next day in our back yard.

We planned it and decorated all by ourselves!  It was beautiful — even if I say so myself!

While the video is labeled “One Year Anniversary”, it’s now five!

Ray and Gretel, here’s to the next five years!

IN SHOCKING POLITICAL NEWS…

Texas Senator and former presidential wannabe Ted Cruz announced that he’ll be voting for Donald Trump in November.

santorum vest

Also, another former presidential wannabe (and several times loser) Rick Santorum has been appointed to Trump’s Catholic Advisory Council.

Heather Mooney’s response to both of these shockers!

HeatherMooney

SERIES & SEASON FINALES

If you haven’t seen the season finales of “Mr. Robot” and “Aquarius”, skip down until you see olives.  Yes, I said olives. 🙂

spoiler-alert

Season two of “Mr. Robot” is over and while the season was much different than the incredible first season, it was enjoyable.

The season two finale was very bold.  It had some very strong language and confrontations.

Speaking of confrontations, the showdown between E Corp’s Scott Knowles and Tyrell’s wife, Joanna, over the death of Knowles’ dead (and pregnant) wife, Sharon, was literally painful to watch!

joanna

And, the last scene with Elliot, Tyrell, and the phone call with Angela makes me look forward to what’s likely to be a shorter season three in 2017.

GRADE:  B  (Season one — GRADE:  A)

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The season two finale of “Aquarius” on NBC with David Duchovny will likely serve as a “series finale”.

For two years, we’ve watched Duchovny as Los Angeles Police Detective Sam Hodiak working his job (the right way and, also, bending the law), sexing up the ladies, and teasing his pretty boy, younger partner Brian Shafe (Grey Damon).

Grey Damon

At the same time, since it’s the late-1960s, we also watched Charles Manson and his “family” terrorize Los Angeles, which as we all know, ended in a savage bloodbath of actress Sharon Tate and four others inside her Hollywood home.

It was a strong season that few people watched and it was an enjoyable two years.

While the show hasn’t been “officially” cancelled, I’m almost certain it won’t be back.

GRADE:  B+  (Season one — GRADE:  B)

WELCOME BACK “HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER”

“How To Get Away With Murder” is back for its third season and the premiere episode proves that show has plenty of life left in it.

However, as was teased at the end of the episode, that’s not the case for a major character.  Someone will die by the end of the season.

Here’s a teaser for the remaining fourteen episodes this season.

You can catch the show Thursday nights on ABC.

DO YOU KNOW HOW OLIVES ARE STUFFED?

Yes, I thought about this the other day and I just had to look it up, so I’m sharing it with you.

I figured that olives were stuffed by humans and machines. I was right.

This is an incredible short video showing the process.

After watching this video, I know it’s a job.  But, could you imagine how monotonous it would be!

PICK HIT

Some of the biggest names in country music, from today to yesteryear, created an instant classic.

To celebrate “The 50th Annual CMA Awards”, CMA brings us “Forever Country”, a single that was produced by CMA Award winner Shane McAnally and features 30 superstars including Reba, George Strait, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Martina McBride, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Randy Travis, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Trisha Yearwood, Brett Eldredge, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Little Big Town, Kacey Musgraves, and many more.

The song is a medley of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”, and Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again”.

The single was downloaded 93,000 times and streamed 5.7 million times in its first week.  That helped it debut at #1 on the Billboard Country Songs chart.

While this is an achievement that only two other songs have done, it’s only getting limited airplay at country radio.

Don’t even get me started about the current state of country radio!!!!!!!!

IT’S THAT TIME OF THE YEAR

So, fall officially arrived a week ago last Thursday.  That evening, at the Moline Walmart, I saw that the garden section was already the Christmas section.

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So, it’s truly one-stop shopping now.  You can pick up Halloween candy and costumes, buy frozen turkeys and canned cranberry sauce, and shop for your artificial tree and decorations all at the same time!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

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Random Friday Thoughts — September 2, 2016

Greetings from Charleston, South Carolina!

As a meteorologist, I’ve never been interested in chasing tornadoes. But, I’m stoked that Tropical Storm Hermine (formerly a hurricane before hitting Florida) is bearing down on South Carolina and it’ll be soaking us with heavy, wind blown rains today!

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That red outlined area is where we are and it indicates a “Tropical Storm Warning”!

WHY ARE WE HERE?

Ray has a conference in Atlanta, so we took off a few days early to explore the southern charm of Charleston and Savannah, Georgia, and the beaches at Hilton Head, South Carolina.

In the weeks leading up to this last hooray of summer, we ate healthy and exercised like crazy.  We wanted to indulge in good ol’ Southern cooking with no calorie counting.

So, here are my “Random Friday Thoughts” this week.  As always, if we disagree, just do it diplomatically.

GET WELL WISHES FOR HOLLY DUNN

If you listened to country music in the late 1980s, you definitely heard Holly Dunn.  Her breakthrough hit, in 1986, was the Top Ten smash, “Daddy’s Hands”.

She scored a total of thirteen country hits with nine of them reaching the Top Ten.

“Are You Ever Gonna Love Me” in 1989 and this one, “You Really Had Me Going” in 1990, topped the charts.

After her last album in 2003, Holly left country music to focus on another love — art.

Now, at 59, she’s fighting for her life.

In March, she was diagnosed with a “rare and aggressive” form of ovarian cancer.  She had surgery and she’s now undergoing chemotherapy, but the statistics are bleak.

Holly says, “Good thing I don’t believe in statistics!”

She has faith, but is still asking for prayers, “I have since grown more tumors and it is going to be more of a battle than I anticipated, but I have a huge faith in the healing power of God and the healing power within me that originates from my God. I look towards a future when I am completely healed and cancer free. I ask for prayers of strength and courage as this journey continues.”

My thoughts and prayers go out to you, Holly.

PAULA DEEN IS ONE CRAZY WOMAN

Before heading off to the southeastern United States, I read Paula Deen’s “It Ain’t All About the Cookin'”.

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It was a very brutally honest book that shared all of the downs Paula endured in her life before she because a famous restaurateur and television cooking star.

I won’t give too much away, but I’ll share a quick story from the book of her being single and lonely for a long time and wanting to find love.  She even makes that story funny!

Paula writes, “Just because there’s snow on the roof doesn’t mean there’s no fire in the furnace.  No one knew how I felt — even my children, who could no more imagine their momma’s feet pointed up to Jesus than they could imagine me deserting them!”

Paula!

WOULD YOU LIKE SOME BISCUITS WITH THAT GRAVY?

Paula learned her craft by watching her grandmother, just as I learned much of the cooking basics I’ve built upon in my lifetime from my grandmother Helen.

Helen

I’ve always regretted not paying close attention to my grandmother when she was making southern biscuits.

However, at the end of the one of Paula’s chapters, she has a recipe for biscuits that sounds just like my grandmother’s.  So, this fall or winter, I’m making breakfast from scratch — including homemade biscuits!

THE EMPIRE CRASHES…

Paula’s television culinary empire came crashing down in the summer of 2013 when she was accused of being racist by a former employee.

If you don’t remember the details, I’m sharing it again because that problem and that word is still very much part of today’s landscape.

Here’s what I wrote in my “Random Friday Thoughts” on June 28, 2013:

“Food Network star Paula Deen is all over the television these days.  She’s the talk of radio, her face is all over the magazines, and blogger are feasting on a buffet talking about her.  There are many things being said about her — some say give her a break because she hasn’t said anything you probably haven’t said and some say she’s a racist.

Paula Deen Happy

Paula’s whirlwind downfall started recently after she was called to testify last month in a 2012 $1.2 million sexual and racial workplace discrimination lawsuit brought against her and her brother Earl “Bubba” Hiers by former restaurant manager Lisa Jackson.

Jackson, who is white, claims that Deen said this when asked about a theme for a wedding, “Well what I would really like is a bunch of little n—–s to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around.  Jackson says that Deen laughed and said, “Now that would be a true southern wedding, wouldn’t it?  But we can’t do that because the media would be on me about that.”

In that deposition last month, Deen admitted to using the “n-word” in the past.  However, she maintains that she hasn’t used it in years and when she did, it was because a black man held a gun to her head at her former place of employment.   Earlier this week on “Today”, Matt Lauer asked Deen , “Are you a racist?” and the 66-year-old grandmother responded, “No, I am not.” and “The day I used that word it was a world ago.  It was 30 years ago.”

This week, Deen was fired from the Food Network and she lost sponsorships with Wal-Mart, Smithfield Foods, Home Depot, and Target.  QVC is still deciding on Deen’s fate.

Domestic Diva Martha Stewart says, “”I feel sorry for Paula Deen.  She’s a public figure and I know you have to be extremely careful being a public figure.”  And, civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton adds, “A lot of us have in the past said things we have regretted saying years ago” and “You cannot deal with what is fair or not fair until we see an outcome of the present circumstances she is accused of, not something that happened 20 years ago.”

So, with that being said, I want to know what you think.  Here’s what I think.

IF (and notice that’s a big IF) Paula made that joke about the wedding idea in any era, then or now, it’s not funny.  It’s stupid.  If Paula responded with the n-word after a man held a gun to her head as she stated, while not still acceptable, it’s more likely a case of forgiveness given the circumstances.

I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s South and that awful word was a commonly used word.  Sadly, my late father was one of the most racist, homophobic, sexist, and the list goes on, man I think I’ve ever met.  And, even my late grandmother, who was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, uttered that word in my childhood, but she wasn’t using it to be ugly.  As I grew from a child to a teenager, I educated her that although people use that word, it’s not right.

And, as Paula stated in the interview with Lauer, that word is used too freely in today’s society in movies and music.  I agree and that has to stop, too.  I don’t care if you are an African-American or you identify as a black man or woman, that word has to stop in all circles.  While I’m a gay man, I don’t refer to myself as the derogatory “f-word” and I’d be truly offended if someone else did.

In this country, you’re supposed to be “innocent until proven guilty”.  How do we know that Lisa Jackson is telling the truth?  I’d really be saddened to know that Paula Deen was not a racist and these allegations ruined her life and career.

Paula Deen Crying

My only advice to Paula is stay off television, avoid interviews, and stop posting internet apologies.  I know you’re hurt and scared, but the tears and the pleas make you seem too apologetic.  As you’ve stated, people who know you know the truth — whatever that truth is.

The bottom line is that if Paula Deen is a racist and she freely used the n-word as Jackson claims, more people would be coming out of the woodwork to make other allegations.  They haven’t!

And, I have to say that I commend Paula for the heartfelt and seemingly genuine comments in the interview, “I believe every creature on this Earth … was created equal, no matter who you choose to go to bed at night with [and] no matter what church you go to pray.”  And, “There’s a couple of kinds of people that I don’t like that I am prejudiced against, Matt, and that’s thieves and liars.”

Lisa Jackson, if you’re a liar, I hope you get yours.”

…BUT THE PHOENIX RISES

After losing sponsors and her “Food Network” show, Paula took time to be with her family.

She now has a web television show on http://www.pauladeen.com she still has her “The Lady and Sons” restaurant in  Savannah, Georgia, and I’ll be eating there on Labor Day!

POOR MTV AND THE “VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS”

Remember when MTV actually played music videos on television.  Just as youngsters today waste hours at a time online, I did the same watching the same music videos on television.

Back in the day, the Video Music Awards (VMAs) was a fun show with all of the best stars.  Now, for the most part, it’s painful to watch.

This year, when I’d flip over to the VMAs during commercials (I was watching AMC’s “Fear The Walking Dead”), comedians Key & Peele’s alter-ego psuedo-hosts were painful to watch.  It didn’t get much better when Olympics-gold medalist Michael Phelps struggled to read the prompter and introduce a boring Future performance.

If this is the “future” of the VMAs, may the show sign off and rest in peace!

IT’S BRITNEY BITCH! (G-EAZY)

My first thoughts when seeing Britney Spears’ performance at the MTV VMAs was how hot she was and the amazing color and outfit she was wearing!  (And, I don’t even watch fashion shows!)

Then, I had to laugh Tuesday when I read that the Parents Television Council (PTC) blasted MTV and its parent company stating, “Sadly, last night’s program contained concerning levels of sexualization throughout the night.”

A spokesperson specifically mentioned Britney’s outfit to “Entertainment Weekly” stating that G-Eazy, who performed with her, was “totally covered up”.

Yes, it would have been interesting to see Eazy wearing a similar outfit, but I thought what he wore made him look sexier than ever.

As a Britney fan, I admit the two had very little chemistry together.  But, I loved the performance and, yes, I know she was lip-syncing. 🙂

“GLORY” — BRITNEY SPEARS

Last Friday, Britney released her ninth studio album, “Glory”.

Glory BS

It’s a very different, more mature sound for her.  While there’s still a dance vibe, the beat-per-minutes are not as dance club driven, but more sensual in a slow-groove kind of way.

As any music fan knows, the sequence of the songs is a well thought out process and it shows here.

The first four songs, “Invitation”, “Do You Wanna Come Over?”, the current single, “Make Me…” and “Private Show” are incredible.

The album features some standout ballads such as “Just Luv Me”.

And, Britney gets very naughty on “Slumber Party” .  I guess living and working in Vegas does affect your song selection and there’s nothing wrong with that.

While I liked her last album, “Britney Jean”, which many saw as a commercial flop, this album is much better.

Britney-Spears-Femme-Fatale

It’s no “Femme Fatale”, my favorite album of 2011 and my favorite Britney album.

“Glory” is highly recommended!

My goal in 2017 is to see Britney again in concert!

GRADE:  B+

“STAR TREK BEYOND” DUBSTEP

“Star Trek Beyond” is now up to a $242.9 million for its worldwide box office budget.  It’s the third most highest grossing in the film series.

It was released a few weeks after one of its stars, Anton Yelchin, died in a freak accident this summer.

In this dub smash video, you can tell the stars of the movie (and Anton) were have a good time off-camera.

PICK HIT

Australian record producer and musician Flume (Harley Streten) and Canadian singer Kai are enjoying huge success in the U.S. with “Never Be Like You”, the first single from Flume’s Top Ten summer album, “Skin”.

It’s already a Top Ten Billboard Dance hit and it’s at #11 on the Top 40 radio airplay charts.

It’s an incredible song and I’m bummed that Flume will be playing two shows in Atlanta at the Tabernacle while I’m there next week and both shows are SOLD OUT!

“Rolling Stone” listed “Never Be like You” as one of the 30 best songs of the first half of 2016 and I totally agree.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — February 12, 2016

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be sharing my “Random Friday Thoughts” with you again on a regular basis and the feedback has been great.  Thank you for not only reading to see what I’m thinking about, but also commenting.

As always, you don’t have to agree with me, but be diplomatic about it if you disagree.

WARNING — THIS IS NOT DIPLOMATIC!!!

This is the response I got earlier this week to last week’s blog explaining why I support Hillary Clinton for president, which featured a photo of my beautiful family.

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Pathetic!  But, we know there are many people out there like this!  Putting ignorance aside, let’s move on…

Here is the blog that brought out the hate:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/02/03/my-teenaged-daughter-a-damn-good-reason-i-support-hillary-clinton/

WHAT I REALLY WANT FOR VALENTINE’S DAY…

Candy is always nice and flowers are beautiful, but here’s how I plan on spending Valentine’s Day — a little snow storm, a few glasses of wine by the fireplace with Ray, and the return of the sixth season of “The Walking Dead” Sunday night!

Walking Dead VD

SNOWY VALENTINE’S DAY

If you live in the Midwest, especially across eastern Iowa and northern Illinois, snow is in the forecast late Saturday night and Sunday.

In the Quad Cities, I’m still expecting 3″ or so of snow that’ll fall mostly on Valentine’s Day.

The snow diminishes to flurries Sunday night and Monday.

CHARLIE SHEEN’S SCARY DR. SAM

There are medications now to make living with HIV more manageable and it’s no longer a death sentence.   However, unless someone is hiding information from me and the 37 million people living with HIV and AIDS across the world, there is no (realistic) cure.

In my opinion, actor Charlie Sheen is a poor spokesperson for those living with HIV, even though the high visibility is a good thing.  Sheen’s antics since going public with his HIV-positive status has made me shake my head in surprise or shock more than once.

Now, the story is even more insane and bizarre when you find out that he’s associated with an Australian doctor who claims he injected himself with Sheen’s tainted blood and cured the infection with goat milk!  Goat milk???

This is how Dr. Sam Chachoua describes himself on Twitter!

Dr Sam

I’m not buying into any “effective way to treat” cancer or AIDS.  If it was that easy, he’d be winning every award there is for humanity and wouldn’t have to make his claim to fame through the troubled Sheen!

Sad!

ABC NEWS — BLATANTLY SEXIST MOVE

ABC News made a big blunder last Saturday night when hosting a New Hampshire presidential debate by not allowing candidate Carly Fiorina to participate.

While I’m not a fan of Fiorina and I can’t say she wasn’t invited because she is a woman, she had every right to be there.

In the Iowa Caucus last week, she beat Chris Christie in both votes and delegates and got just as many votes and delegates as John Kasich and had the same number of delegates as Jeb Bush.

So, it makes no sense that she wasn’t invited.  Jim Gilmore wasn’t invited either, but rightfully so.  He picked up only 12 votes in the Iowa Caucus last week and is polling at 0%!

After the New Hampshire Primary Tuesday, both Christie and Fiorina dropped out of the presidential race.  Dr. Ben Carson, we’re waiting on you (and Gilmore) next.

TRAIN WRECK INTRODUCTION OF CANDIDATES

Maybe it’s a good thing that Fiorina wasn’t there.  The introduction to the ABC News debate looked more like a skit from NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”.

This is hilarious — just as funny as seeing Marco Rubio falling on his face and getting agitated by Christie!

GLENDA JACKSON

Two-time Best Actress Oscar winner Glenda Jackson, now 79, was last seen in a Hollywood movie 24 years ago, but she’s been very busy.  She was a member of Parliament from 1992 through March 2015.

She’s gained a new fan in me with her openness.  Here are some of the things she recently told “Entertainment Weekly”.

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On “12 Years a Slave” winning the Best Picture Oscar and social change:  “But how can you say that 12 Years a Slave or Selma has caused a fundamental cultural shift? And then you have these black guys being shot by policemen. Would that the Oscars could change the world but, I’m sorry, it just ain’t true.”

On the media making Donald Trump a viable Republican presidential candidate:  “It’s going to come down to what people are prepared to back with their votes, in terms of the status quo, and whether they’ll still go with that nutcase with the worst hair in the world. All that money and you think he could buy himself a decent wig.”

On her Oscar-nominated role in the bisexual love story, “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, in which she played a businesswoman in love with an artist (Murray Head), who loves a doctor (Peter Finch). “Best film script I’d ever read.”

“It was about relationships between people who wanted more than they could furnish. And, of course, United Artists was scared to death of it and didn’t know how to sell it. Apologies to Uncle Sam, but in America, they think homosexual affairs are about sex. But they are about love.”

“AMERICAN CRIME”

The first season of ABC’s Emmy-winning series “American Crime” was great and featured a college actor friend of mine, W. Earl Brown, in a major recurring role.

The second season of the drama, airing now, is phenomenal.

Felicity Huffman and Lili Taylor are both superb in their roles as the principal of an elite private school that’s facing a student sex scandal and as the mother of the young man that’s the victim in that scandal, respectively.

However, the standout this season is 21-year-old Canadian actor Connor Jessup.  Every moment he’s on camera trying to hold it together and make it through the day, your heart breaks for Taylor.

We’re a little past midway through the ten episode season, so it’s not too late to get caught up.  And, since season two is not a continuation of season one, you don’t have to know anything about the first season.

“BURNT”

Bradley Cooper stars in this movie as an acclaimed chef that lost everything because of a drug addiction.

He tries to make a comeback in London, but the road to redemption is not a smooth one.

The foodie in me loved the food porn.

But, while watching the movie, I was also hoping that my chef friend, Monika Sudakov, and the chef I most admire, Grant Achatz, are not like Cooper’s character, Adam Jones, when they’re in a high pressure kitchen making their culinary creations!

GRADE:  B

BRETT KISSEL

When you think of Canadian county music stars, I’m sure Shania Twain, Terri Clark, and Anne Murray come to mind.  However, the only Canadian male country singer I can think of off the top of my head is Paul Brandt.  I love his voice and have some of his earlier American releases.

Recently, I saw the nominations for the Juno Awards and Brett Kissel caught my eye –he’s up against Brandt this year.

So, I went to YouTube and started watching his videos and before I knew it, I bought his fall 2015 release, “Pick Me Up”.

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It’s crazy how he’s already had seven Top Ten country hits on the Canadian chart, but is still an unknown here in America.  He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, so I hope his American radio debut is coming soon.

“Pick Me Up” is a great country album with a slightly different feel than today’s American hit makers.  It’s a real feel that I think is missing from the current bro-country sounds you hear overplayed on U.S. country stations.

The album features the two Canadian hits, “Airwaves” (#1) and the title track (#6), which are both great country songs.  My other upbeat favorites are “I Hope It’s Me”, “Cool With That”, and “I Can Play Guitar” (with Hunter Hayes).

If you love ballads, “Why Won’t You” is amazing and “Feet Back on the Ground” is a beautiful tribute to those of us that love our mamas, even if they’re no longer with us!

After buying and loving “Pick Me Up”, I’ll now have to get Kissel’s 2013 album, “Started With a Song”.

Here’s hoping American audiences will get to hear Brett on the radio in 2016!

GRADE:  A-

“THE RIVER LIVE TOUR”

In his long career, Bruce Springsteen has done it all and he’s still doing it.  There’s a reason he’s called “The Boss”!

His current 42-show concert tour will play America through April and then Europe and Israel this May, June, and July.

It’s called “The River Live Tour” and it’s exactly that — his entire 1980 20-song double album, “The River”, played in sequential order!  In addition to that, he also does other songs — about 30 in all in a concert that runs about 3 1/2 hours!  The man must be a machine!

Here I’m featuring the first release from “The River” and my favorite Springsteen song, “Hungry Heart”.  It was his third Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and his first Top Ten.  It peaked at #5.

So, think about it.  If any of your favorite artists would perform a full-length album in addition to other hits, who would it be and what album?

Mine would be “Rumor Has It” (1990), “For My Broken Heart” (1991), and “Starting Over” (1995) by Reba McEntire, Madonna and her 1983 self-titled debut, and Toni Braxton’s 1993 self-titled debut.

MORE GLENDA JACKSON IN “ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY”

Margaret Thatcher

On her disdain of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher when South African President Nelson Mandela visited Parliament in 1996:  “I stood to watch Mandela and there was bloody Margaret Thatcher, the woman who had called him a terrorist, sitting in the front row in this big f*cking hat, obstructing the view. Acting like she was doing everybody a f*cking favor by coming there.”

hillary2016

On Hillary Clinton and her presidential run:  “I would like to see her become the first female president…  the Republicans don’t have anybody who can take her on politically. So it’ll be very ugly.”

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

I hope you enjoyed the read.  Please share your thoughts with me and have a great weekend.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Anthony

 

Random Friday Thoughts — August 14, 2015

The weekend is almost here and after working the past eight Saturdays, I’m back to having my weekends off again!

I plan on having a fun one and I hope the same for you.  Let’s kick it off with my “Random Friday Thoughts”.

As always, let me know what we agree on and what we don’t!

FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER HAS CANCER

My favorite President, Jimmy Carter, who is now 90-years-old, revealed Wednesday that he has cancer.

Jimmy Carter

It was discovered during a recent liver surgery.  He also stated that the cancer had spread to other body parts.

He plans to undergo treatment and says he’ll share more details next week.

I’ll say an extra prayer for President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, for a speedy recovery.

President-Jimmy-and-Rosalynn-Carter1

I’ve been a huge fan of his since I was an 11-year-old boy growing up in Kentucky when he was running for President in 1976.

I even devoted a full blog to him in March 2012 that I want to share again with you.  (You can click on the link below and it’ll open in a new window so you don’t lose your place in this week’s blog!)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/forget-marilyn-i-want-my-week-with-jimmy/

REPUBLICAN RACE SHOWDOWN

After a television debate last week with most of the Republican candidates vying to become the next President of the United States, most people talked about Donald Trump and his rude comments.

Fox News commentator Megan Kelly started a question with “You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals’, and Trump replied, “Only Rosie O’Donnell”.

Rosie O'Donnell

While a sad expression of honesty from a man who wants to run this country, it must be working for him.  An NBC News poll after that debate showed Trump as the front-runner with an increasing lead.

Donald Trump had 23% followed by Ted Cruz (13%) and Ben Carson (11%).

Carly Fiorina surged to fourth place (8%) and is now tied with Marco Rubio.

The rest of the top ten: Jeb Bush and Scott Walker (7%), Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee (5%), and Rick Perry and John Kasich (2%).

santorum

Rick Santorum and George Pataki are in last place with 0%!

THEY SAID WHAT???

REPUBLICAN FRONT RUNNER FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

(about Fox News commentator Megyn Kelly after her questioning in that debate):  “there was blood coming out of her eyes … blood coming out of her wherever.”

MORE TRUMP

(after an uproar accusing him of being sexist with the hormonal overtones to his comment about Kelly):  “Do you think I’d make a statement like that? Who would make a statement like that? Only a sick person would even think about that.”

Kelly Trump

FOX COMMENTATOR MEGYN KELLY

(speaking about the personal attacks from Trump):  “Mr. Trump is an interesting man who has captured the attention of the electorate. That’s why he’s leading in the polls. Trump, who is the frontrunner, will not apologize. And I certainly will not apologize for doing good journalism, so I’ll continue doing my job without fear or favor. And Mr. Trump, I expect, will continue with what has been a successful campaign thus far. This is a tough business and it’s time now to move forward.”

POP ICON & ACTRESS CHER

Cher Dressed to Kill Tour

(About going back out on tour after having to cancel the second leg of her “Dressed To Kill Tour” because of an acute viral infection affecting her kidneys):  “You know, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do this. That’s my wish. But I can’t say that I actually will be able to… My will is pretty strong, so… I don’t know.”

MARVIN GAYE’S SUE HAPPY FAMILY

The family of late R&B legend Marvin Gaye sure loves to sue people.

They successfully sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell over the mega hit “Blurred Lines” claiming that it ripped off “Got To Give It Up”.  Gaye’s family was awarded $7.4 million in damages for copyright infringement, but this is being appealed.

Empire

Now, a son is ready to sue the makers of Fox’s very successful #1 drama, “Empire”, claiming that it was his idea.

I’m thinking two things:  First, they don’t want Taraji P. Henson’s “Cookie” to come down on their asses and secondly, that family needs to get a life – their own!

MORE “MARVIN GAYE”

Singer and songwriter Charlie Puth topped the charts earlier this year with “See You Again” with Wiz Khalifa.  The song was featured in “Furious 7” and was a tribute to the late actor Paul Walker.

Puth is now racing up the charts with “Marvin Gaye” with a little help from Meghan Trainor.

The song is already one of 25 most played songs at Top 40 radio in the U.S.

I especially like the fun, sexy, and LGBT-inclusive video!

REBA — YOU TAKE THE GOOD, YOU TAKE THE BAD

Sadly, since my last “Random Friday Thoughts” in late July, my idol and country superstar Reba McEntire and her husband Narvel Blackstock announced they were separating after 26 years of marriage.

On a more positive note, I saw Reba in concert for the 13th time when she played the Mississippi Valley Fair last week.  She also announced last week, “Until They Don’t Love You”, would be the second single from her album, “Love Somebody”.

Reba Until They Don't Love You

This song sounds amazing live and she also performed it on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” Wednesday night.

You can click on this link to see it:  http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/video/reba-mcentire-until-they-dont-love-you/2890917

“YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE”

If you listened to music in the late-1970s, you probably know that’s part of a lyric ( “You have to believe we are magic, nothin’ can stand in our way”) from Olivia Newton-John’s #1 smash “Magic” from the motion picture, “Xanadu”, that hit theaters about this time in 1978.

Now, Olivia has re-recorded part of that song with her daughter, Chloe Lattanzi and DJ extraordinaire Dave Aude.

Olivia and Chloe look incredible re-enacting the vibe from “Xanadu” in and around Las Vegas.

I believe that this song and remix will return Olivia to the Billboard Dance chart.  Her last appearance on that chart was back in 1988 when “The Rumour” peaked at #17.

Olivia’s last Top 40 on the Hot 100 was “Soul Kiss” back in 1985.  It reached #20.

“HANNIBAL”

I’m truly saddened that there’s only three episodes of “Hannibal” left.

Hannibal-NBC-Poster-2012

This was definitely one of the most intelligent, thrilling, artistically creative, and well acted shows on television.  Maybe it was too intelligent!

I’ll especially miss Gillian Anderson as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier!

However, I’ll still see Anderson in “The X-Files” in January 2016 and I’m really enjoying her as Metropolitan Police Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson on the BBC hit show, “The Fall”.

It also stars Jamie Dornan, best known as Christian Grey of “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

If you haven’t checked out the two seasons of “The Fall”, it’s a must see!

“MR. ROBOT”

Another show I highly recommend is my new summer favorite, the incredibly intelligent “Mr. Robot” on USA Network.

MR. ROBOT

Rami Malek is the breakout star as Elliot Alderson, a computer hacker by night and a security technician at a cybersecurity company by day.

Elliot suffers from chronic depression and social anxiety disorder, which makes him quirky and very awkward in social situations.

Christian Slater stars as Mr. Robot.

This is definitely a thriller drama you need to check out and it was renewed for a second season even before the first episode aired!

FALLING IN AND OUT OF LOVE WITH COUNTRY MUSIC 

This part will be very familiar if you read my blog earlier in the week!

Growing up in Kentucky, I was raised on country music — Tanya Tucker, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton.

In the 1980s when I went away to college, it was all about pop and dance music (Madonna, Janet Jackson, Taylor Dayne), and the second “British Invasion” (Erasure, Duran Duran, Culture Club).

While I stuck with dance and pop music in the 1990s, I also started listening to Reba McEntire and Patty Loveless and they brought country music back into my life.

I’ve always been more of a fan of female singers.  However, I’ll admit that in the music video age, a good-looking singer in a cowboy hat could grab my attention long enough for me to listen to the music.

That turned me on to Clay Walker’s music.

Clay Walker

From his debut hit, “What’s It To You” in 1993 that topped the chart to his last Top 40 country hit, “Where Do I Go From You” in 2010.  In his career, he’s scored 29 Top 40 hits, 17 of which hit the Top Ten, and six topped the country charts.  As a matter of fact, five of his first six were #1 hits.

“This Woman and This Man” is still my all-time favorite Clay Walker song.  It topped the chart for two weeks in early 1995.

Once country radio started cutting back on airplay for Reba, Patty, Pam Tillis, Lorrie Morgan, Martina McBride, and females no longer in the younger demographics, I lost interest in the format.

In the past fifteen years, the only male country singer I became fan of was Keith Urban.

keith_urban

However, with the recent crossover of Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time” and the anticipation of Reba’s concert last week in the Quad Cities, I glanced at the country chart.

I watched a few videos and I liked “Make Me Wanna” by Thomas Rhett (I actually interviewed his father, Rhett Akins, back in 1997).

MICHAEL RAY — ALBUM PICK HIT 

michael-ray

Michael Ray’s “Kiss You in the Morning” is the most played country song in the U.S. this week.

I just bought his self-titled debut album and I’m so glad I did.  Here is the link to my review of the album and you’ll get to hear more of my favorite tracks from it:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/michael-ray-could-bring-me-back-to-country-music/

And, it’s pretty cool that even with his busy touring schedule and with radio and television appearances, Michael had a chance to read my blog and review of his album and tweeted back at me.

Michael Ray Tweets

“THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL”

As much as I love movies, it’s crazy that I still haven’t been to the theater this calendar year.  The last theater movie for me was “Unbroken” back in late December!

I’ve been waiting to see “Jurassic World”, but my summer work schedule nixed that.  And, I’m definitely going to see “Everest” on the big screen (the release date is now September 25, 2015).

Now, I’ve found another one that looks amazingly funny and bold and it has a 95% positive rating on the site, “Rotten Tomatoes”.

“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” is the story of a 1970s teenager, Minnie Goetze, played by British actress Bel Powley, and her affair with her mother’s boyfriend told from her diary.

Kristin Wiig, who’s been in two of my favorite movies over the past year, “The Skeleton Twins” and “Welcome To Me”, plays Minnie’s mother and Alexander Skarsgard (“True Blood”) stars as Wiig’s boyfriend.

The movie is only playing in selection theaters now, but will be expanding in August.  Hopefully, it’ll be in the Quad Cities this fall!

“UNDER THE DOME” — THE END?

I loved the first season of “Under The Dome” on CBS and suffered through the end of season two.

under-the-dome

After watching just a bit of the season three premiere, I’d had enough.  And, I guess America has, too.

The show premiered with 13.5 million viewers (17.76 million with DVR figures added).  Last week’s episode was down to an astonishing 3.88 million!

I highly suspect that the show will be cancelled (along with “Extant”).

CBS entertainment chairman Nina Tassler at the Television Critics Association’s press tour earlier this week told reporters that the dome will come down in the finale.  “Entertainment Weekly” reports that “producers have written the finale to serve as a potential series finale or a season finale”.

Regardless of the fate of the show, two great things came out it — one gorgeous and one gory!

600full-mike-vogelCOW UNDER THE DOME

Sorry, I couldn’t resist!  I still try to catch the show’s opening just to see the dome split the cow in half!

FALL IS GETTING CLOSER

Okay, let me get that taste out of your mouth!  Look what’s new from M&M for this fall season: Pecan Pie M&Ms!

Pecan Pie M&M

Yum!  I can’t wait to try them!

While I love spending time floating in the pool and I love snow (but not the extreme Midwestern cold), fall is my new favorite season.

Fall

That all sounds incredible, but it’s really all about…

“THE WALKING DEAD”

On August 23rd, “Fear The Walking Dead” premieres on AMC and hopefully that’ll hold me over until October 11th when the sixth season of “The Walking Dead” begins.

Here’s the incredible new trailer for “The Walking Dead”!

THAT’S IT FOR NOW

Thank you for checking out my “Random Friday Thoughts”.  Let me know your thoughts on anything I wrote about today.

Have a great weekend.  I’m going to relax and enjoy the pool.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — July 25, 2014

Happy Friday!   The weekend is here and I hope you have a great one.

While this is a condensed “Random Friday Thoughts”, it’s still something unexpected and fun to post since I’ve missed my blog.

MIDDLE EAST FIGHTING

As the fighting in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine escalates, the death toll continues to rise.  So far, roughly 760 people have died in Gaza and the Israeli death toll is around 35.

Earlier this week, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines both halted flights from the U.S. to Israel, while airlines in Germany, Italy, and France joined in prompting the European Aviation Safety Agency to issue an advisory.

“PRAY FOR PEACE”

Meanwhile, country music and entertainment superstar Reba McEntire released her first new song since 2012 asking the world to “Pray For Peace”.

Reba

Reba stated on her Facebook page, “The idea to write the song “Pray For Peace” came to me last year as I was walking on our place in Gallatin, Tn. For days I’d sing, “Pray for Peace”, over and over. It wasn’t until several months later did the other parts start to fall in place. Some, not until we got into the studio to record it.”

She adds, “It’s an act of perseverance, prayer, hope, fellowship and mostly love.”

You can see the finished video (with music) here:  http://reba.com/

MADONNA CATCHES HEAT

Also, international music icon Madonna is earning praise and a lot of flak for posting this picture on social media.

Madonna Flowers

The caption was “These flowers are like the innocent children of GAZA! Who has a right to destroy them? No One!!!! CEASE FIRE! #peaceinthemiddleeast” -Madonna.”

Responses on her Facebook page have been rather passionate.

Positive:   “She Can Support whoever she wants to… so whats the Problem? Im a Madonna’s Fan, Im Not Supporting Israel, Im not supporting Gaza, Im Just Supporting The Peace, The Children’s Life are Important, Doesn’t matter the side of they come from.

And, ” Thank you Madonna for shedding light on human rights abuses in the Middle East. Every life is precious and no child should die.

Negative: “you Madonna have no rights to say this kind of things about the children in Gaza !  These children are taught from childhood to hate us and want to kill us and destroy the people of Israel ! …  “SHAME ON YOU MADONNA !  I’m not a fan anymore!”

And, “Madonna talking about politics is a bit like George w Bush trying to point Iraq on a map before attacking it.”

Madonna Defend Human Rights

This prompted Madonna to post this follow-up an hour or so later.

Madonna Hamas

EMMY NOMINATIONS — A HIT AND TWO MISSES

Kudos to the Emmy Awards for nominating transgender actress Laverne Cox is the proper category “Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series” for her work in “Orange Is The New Black”!

Hannibal-NBC-Poster-2012

Sadly, no nominations were given to the NBC series, “Hannibal” or for any of the actors.  This is by far, the best and most intelligent show on television!  Maybe next year?

And, Emmy also snubbed “The Walking Dead” for acting awards AGAIN!  There was a lot of buzz and hope that Melissa McBride would get a nomination for her heartbreaking performance this season.

the-walking-dead-season-4-emmy-ad

McBride did win the “Saturn Award” this year and is nominated for the “Gold Derby TV Award” for Best Supporting Actress.

ERASURE IS BACK!

My favorite English band, Erasure, is gearing up for the release of their latest album, “The Violet Flame” in September.

The first single, “Elevation”, just came out and it’s incredible.  Andy Bell sounds amazing and it’s a fresh new sound for the every changing electronic duo.

I can’t wait to see them in concert in Chicago on October 4th.

If you’re not all that familiar with Erasure or you want to know just how much I love their music, check out this blog from June.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/my-fall-just-got-more-exciting-with-erasure/

GOP HAS A NEW FRONT RUNNER?

The “crazy train” may have derailed in 2012, but it may be back on the tracks for the 2016 presidential race.

Bachmann

Michele Bachmann tells RealClearPolitics, “there’s a chance I could run.”

REMEMBERING TAMMY FAYE

It was seven years ago last weekend that televangelist Tammy Faye (Bakker) Messner died after an 11-year battle with cancer.

tammy-faye book

I just finished her book and it made me look at her in a new light.

If you missed my blog about her, the book, her life, and her thoughts, here’s the link:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/remembering-tammy-faye/

CANCER SURVIVOR INSPIRES ME

Cancer is scary and we all know or love someone that has been touched by it.

I have and I’ve already had three cancer scares.  I just read the most incredible and the best book ever about a Chicago chef that faced his biggest fear, tongue cancer — something that could have either killed him or ended his career.

Life+On+the+Line

Check out Grant Achatz’s amazing story in this blog.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/chicago-chefs-courageous-fight-makes-me-fear-cancer-less/

STILL LOVE THIS CRAZY SONG

The Chainsmokers are an American DJ duo that have remixed songs for The Killers, Icona Pop, and Ellie Goulding.

Their first radio hit in America, #SELFIE, reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Top Ten on the Billboard Dance chart.

It also reached #1 in Finland, #2 in Sweden, and #3 in Australia and Norway.

VIDEO MAY BE APPROPRIATE FOR EVERYONE!

The video has been viewed more than 181 million times on YouTube.  Now, go take a selfie!

THAT’S IT

So there’s your surprise “Random Friday Thoughts”.  Have a great weekend!

Anthony

 

Chicago Chef’s Courageous Fight Makes Me Fear Cancer Less

My grandfather, John Henry Peoples, died of colon cancer at the age of 72.  His son, my father, died of brain cancer at the age of 55, in 1987.

I’ve already been to a dermatologist twice.  In 1999, I had a biopsy for something that ended up being nothing more than an “age spot” that disappeared with a cream treatment.  Last year, I found out that the spot on my scalp was “actinic keratosis”, a common pre-cancerous growth caused by the sun’s UV rays.  It was froze off.

However, in 2002, I had a scarier experience when my doctor discovered a mass in my scrotum.  An ultrasound concluded that it was testicular calcification, which affects about 2.4% of American men, mostly white.  While there is no treatment for it, there’s not enough evidence to conclude that it might lead to testicular cancer.

As I approach my 50th birthday this October, I’d be lying if I said that I don’t think about getting cancer.

With my family history and my own scares, I wouldn’t be shocked to develop cancer one day.  If that diagnosis ever comes, I now have Grant Achatz to look to for inspiration and courage.

Grant_Achatz

Many of you probably haven’t heard the name.

I didn’t know who Grant Achatz was until I saw an article in the April 2011 “Men’s Health” magazine about how to make the ultimate burger.  Since I don’t eat beef, I likely read the article because he was attractive and that stopped me long enough from flipping through the magazine to read the feature.

However, I didn’t even read this magazine article until a couple of years later.  (Yes, a stack of magazines sat in my closet that long before I got around to them.)

And, this spring, I finally read his 2011 book, “life, on the line:  A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat”.   While I loved Shania Twain’s “From This Moment On” that I read earlier this year, Grant’s book is hands down the best autobiographical book I’ve ever read!

Life+On+the+Line

From the title of the book, you probably gather that he almost died.

The book doesn’t waste anytime going there with Grant describing how he was peeling out his inner throat in the book’s first written page in the preface.  You were drawn in and were rooting so hard for this young man to beat the odds.

I promise I’ll get to the point of my blog and how Grant’s book touched and inspired me, but I want you to see what this young, amazing man accomplished in a short period of time.

I loved reading about his early life of being raised in his family’s restaurant business in Michigan and jello being the first food he learned to make.  He then became a line cook as a teenager, went on to the Culinary Institute of America in New York in 1993, and did his six-month externship at a hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Grant would be welcomed back there after his externship and then he thought he was ready to experience Chicago where he worked for renowned chef Charlie Trotter for a couple of months.

With the high pressure environment and degradation from Trotter to his chefs, it didn’t end the way Grant thought it would.  When he left Trotter’s restaurant, Trotter told Grant that since he didn’t last a year, that Grant couldn’t use the famed chef as a reference and that he “simply would not exist” to Trotter.

Younger Grant

He went back home dismayed and planned a trip to Europe with his girlfriend at the time, Cindy.  They saw London and Paris, where they ate at “3 Michelin stars” restaurants and Grant was disappointed.  They traveled on to Rome, Venice, and Florence.

It was at a winery that featured a little bistro-like eatery where Grant said he had the “best meal of my life” and it was there that he realized the one thing that every restaurant needed:  passion.

Grant came back from Europe with passion and he landed a four-year stint at chef Thomas Keller’s “The French Laundry” in California’s Napa Valley.

Grant and Thomas Keller

While there, Grant worked his way up from an entry-level position to sous-chef, the second-in-command and direct assistant to Chef Keller.

He took a position as the Executive Chef at Trio, located outside of Chicago in Evanston, Illinois.  In his three years there, Grant took the restaurant from a four-star Mobil Travel Guide to a five-star rating.

But, he wanted more and in May 2005, he opened his own restaurant, Alinea, in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.  The 64-seat restaurant quickly earned rave reviews for featuring a small tasting menu with about 18 or so courses.

Alinea Chicago

The food that Grant and his team created were nothing short of gastronomical art.

Grant Achatz Creating 2Grant Achatz Creating

GA Culinary Treat2GA Culinary TreatGA Culinary Treat3

I could just sit and stare at Grant’s incredible creations for hours.  Actually, I did with Grant’s hardcover coffee table book, Alinea, which features more than a hundred of his recipes and photographs.

One of Alinea’s first major achievements was being named “Best Restaurant in America” by Gourmet Magazine. 

This would be followed by the AAA Five Diamond Award (2007-2014), the Jean Banchet Award for Best Celebrity Chef and Best Fine Dining (2007), the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef (2008), the “3 Michelin stars” in 2011 and 2013, and countless other awards.

Grant Nick

Grant’s dreams of opening his own restaurant were made possible by Nick Kokonas, a regular customer with his wife, Dagmara, at Trio, the restaurant that brought Grant to the Chicago area.  Nick was so impressed with Grant that he defied his friends’ advice of investing in a restaurant since so many fail.

Grant and Nick’s business partnership with Alinea also developed into a strong friendship and that friendship would end up saving Grant’s life.

Before moving to Chicago in 2001, Grant had a health scare while he was living in California.  Doctors thought it might have meningitis, but it wasn’t.

In early 2004, Grant noticed a small white bump on his tongue that wouldn’t go away and the accompanying pain became more intense over the next few months.  He finally had a biopsy done and it came back negative.

One day, after not seeing his business partner for days, Nick came into the restaurant and Grant looked very sick and he told Nick of the pain that his tongue was causing him.  When Grant showed Nick his tongue, Nick instantly knew there was a problem and demanded that he go see an oral surgeon.

achatz.grant

On July 13, 2007, Grant was diagnosed with Stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue.  The man who was making a career of creating the most exquisite dishes was faced with two dire realities:  an invasive, destructive, and painful surgery that would take away 75% of his tongue or death.

I shed many tears reading Grant and Nick’s accounts of the fear and the sadness they both felt after the diagnosis and Grant facing the fact that he was dying.  My heart was breaking for this young man (only 33-years-old) and his two small sons, Kaden and Keller.

After meeting with specialists in New York City and Chicago, including the surgeon that operated on famed movie critic, Roger Ebert, for thyroid and salivary cancer, the news wasn’t good for Grant.

Ebert-Before-and-After

Ebert knew the hell that Grant faced with battling cancer and having part of his jaw removed.  Ebert’s surgeon, Dr. Harold Pelzer, recommended that Grant have surgery.  However, Dr. Pelzer did mention another surgeon, Dr. Everett Vokes, at the University of Chicago, that had a less conventional approach to surgery.

Everett Vokes

Dr. Vokes was working on clinical trials that avoided surgery as the first option.  Instead, chemotherapy would be administered first, along with a medication that would interfere with the cancer growing and spreading throughout the body.  That would be followed by radiation, which was intense, devastating and painful.

The non-conventional approach worked and in December 2007, Grant’s cancer was in remission.

cancer

Cancer has touched all of our lives.

Whether you’re living with it or you’re a survivor, whether you know someone who is living with it or is a survivor, or if you’ve lost a loved one to cancer, “life, on the line:  A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat” is the most honest, encouraging, thoughtful, and touching book I’ve ever read.

If I ever develop cancer, I hope I have the courage of Grant Achatz, a friend like Nick Kokonas, and a visionary like Dr. Everett Vokes.

I hope that Grant lives a long and healthy life and that he keeps making gastronomical art in his kitchens.  And, since I only live three hours from Chicago, I hope one day to visit Alinea to view the work of this culinary genius in person.

Anthony

They Said What??? Michael Douglas, Woody Harrelson, & Glenn Beck

FORMER FOX NEWS COMMENTATOR GLENN BECK

“For any role that I have played in dividing, I wish I can take them back.  I don’t wish I could take back the truth that was spoken but perhaps – not perhaps – many times I could have said it differently.”

ACTOR/PLAYWRIGHT HARVEY FIERSTEIN

“Can you imagine if I was on a school board and I came in and I said, ‘you know, I don’t want any Jews or Christians teaching my kids, because they believe in people living inside whales, and they believe in slavery, and stoning women who have had an affair, so I just don’t want any of those Christians or Jews.’  Can you imagine?  But they feel just absolutely free to say that about gay people.”

ACTOR WOODY HARRELSON

“People compare Obama to Lyndon Johnson, but I think a better comparison is between Obama and Nixon. Because Nixon came into office saying he was going to pull out of Vietnam, and then he escalated the war.  A lot of us were led to believe that Obama was the peace president, but there are still, I think, 70,000 troops in Afghanistan.”

ACTOR MICHAEL DOUGLAS

(opening up that human papillomavirus was the cause of his cancer):  “Without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV, which actually comes about from cunnilingus.”

DR. CONRAD MURRAY

(to Michael Jackson’s daughter, Paris, after her recent suicide attempt.  Murray is serving jail time for his role in the iconic singer’s death in 2009):  “I don’t know if there is anything I can do to salve your pain or help you with your problem, but I wanted you to know that I am here for you.  I always will be available to listen to you, answer your questions or to share with you the plethora of beautiful and savored untold stories of your father as well as his venerable points of view that he shared with me.”

SCOTT THORSON, LIBERACE’S CHAUFFER AND EX-BOYFRIEND

“Liberace introduced me and Michael in the late 1970s. It was right around the time ‘Thriller’ was coming out and Michael and I became lovers.  Our relationship went on for six or seven years. Michael was very generous too. He treated me well.”

MORE THORSON

“Liberace and I had both undergone plastic surgery around the same time Michael underwent a nose job because he didn’t think he was handsome.  We all healed together at the Liberace compound in Palm Springs.”

MINNESOTA VIKINGS RUNNING BACK ADRIAN PETERSON

(about having an openly gay teammate):  “Simple things, as far as showers and things like that, you know, of course, anyone would be uncomfortable.  But you know, I’m a grown man. There’s things that I can deal with. I’m comfortable in my skin. I’ll still high-five them. Pat them on the butt when he’s doing good, and go on about my business.”

ACTRESS/SINGER CHARICE PEMPENGCO

(who played Sunshine Corazon on “Glee” announcing that she is a lesbian):  “To those who can accept me, thank you very much. We are all equal, whether you are gay or straight… I am proud of who I am. I love myself, that is why I am doing this. To my fans who I know are disappointed – I know some of you will turn your back on me too – sorry. You know I am sincere. From the bottom of my heart, sorry.”

MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER PLAYER ROBBIE ROGERS

(the sport’s first openly gay athlete on coming out and returning to the sport after retirement):  “My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended.”

Anthony