Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Random Friday Thoughts — August 20, 2021

Happy Friday! Are you ready for the weekend?

As much as I love my career and my job, I’m ready for the weekend from the moment when I wake up for work at 2:30 a.m. on Mondays! 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to check out my random thoughts. It’s okay to disagree, just do it diplomatically!

GET OVER YOURSELF, CHICAGO LEADERS!

I’m not going to harp too much about the current spike in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Yes, most of them are associated with the “delta variant”, yet the latter two are mostly those that are unvaccinated!

However, with all of the confusion about the pandemic, the vaccinations, and the ever-changing rules and mandates, I’m agitated with Chicago leaders.

The Chicago Department of Public Health issues weekly updates of states and territories in the U.S. that it’s issued travel advisories for that have the highest increase of COVID-19 cases.

It goes on to say, “Any unvaccinated people traveling from these states and territories are advised to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Chicago or quarantine for a 10-day period upon arrival. Vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine or receive a negative test.”

What bothers me is that people coming to Chicago ARE NOT LIKELY going to get a COVID-19 test within three days of arriving and ARE NOT LIKELY going to quarantine themselves for ten days!

So, stop the confusion if you’re not going to enforce this by stopping people on the interstates, bus stations, train stations, and airports!!!!

This is all for public relations!

Okay, I’ll step down from my soap box!

REMEMBERING JEANETTA JONES

For those that follow television weather and meteorologists, I have some sad news to share.

Jeanetta Jones, whose smiling face and cheerful presentation graced The Weather Channel from 1986-2006, has died from COVID-19!

I was such a big fan of her on-air presentation!

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Over the past week or so, people on social media have been sharing picture comparisons of their fall plans and their fall plans now that the “delta variant” is rampant across the country and the world.

I thought I’d join in with a comparison with a shout-out to my favorite Batman movie, 1993’s “Batman Returns”, and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman!

“FRENCH EXIT”

Since I’m talking Michelle Pfeiffer, I just watched her latest movie, “French Exit” and it was great.

Pfeiffer picked up a Golden Globe nomination this year in the Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy category, but she lost out to Rosamund Pike in “I Care A Lot”, which I really enjoyed, too.

“French Exit” was overlooked by the Academy Awards, but the Best Actress category was incredible this year — Carey Mulligan, Viola Davis, Frances McDormand, Andra Day, and Vanessa Kirby!

While it’s a comedy, it deals with some very heavy topics, such as suicide.

Pfeiffer plays Frances Price, a Manhattan heiress that’s almost broke after her husband’s death. She and her son, Malcolm (Lucas Hedges), have few options.

So, from the title, they head to Paris with their cat, which plays a big role in the bizarre story.

In France, they meet Madame Reynard (a very enjoyable Valerie Mahaffey).

On the transatlantic voyage across the Atlantic, Danielle Macdonald makes an appearance as Madeleine, a “witch” that Malcom hooks up with. (It’s funny calling her a witch because Frances uses a very risque, hilarious description of her.

It’s always great to see Macdonald. I loved her in “Patti Cake$” and “I Am Woman”.

GRADE: B+

WHAT IS MIDDLE AGED?

Recently, I watched the 1976 Oscar-winning classic, “Network”. However, watching it in 2021, one thing that caught my attention was that William Holden’s character was constantly referred to as “middle aged”.

Wait, Holden was almost 58-year-old when filming got underway and that really baffled me.

But, it made sense since the director, the producers, the writer, and both male leads were all in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. So, I just chalked it up to old white men running the show and calling themselves “middle aged”!

However, one thing I learned when looking up the definition of “middle age” is that it’s usually accepted as 45-65 years old — the middle of age of adulthood, which starts at 18!

Since I’m closing in on Holden’s age at the time of that movie, I still wouldn’t refer to myself as “middle age”, but if the dictionary says I am, I should start enjoying my middle-aged years and take a new lease on life! 🙂

BUT, here’s the irony about both William Holden and his co-star, Peter Finch. Finch died less than two months after the movie was released over Thanksgiving 1976 and Holden would be dead five years later.

So much for middle aged! 🙂

WHY I DRINK WINE!

Thanks Debby for sharing this with me! 🙂

“PLEASE LIKE ME”

I absolutely loved this four season Australian comedy (with a few dashes of drama) from quadruple threat Josh Thomas (creator, co-writer, co-director, and star).

The series ran from 2013-2016.

Josh is hilariously funny, but I definitely couldn’t date his character, Josh! 🙂

His roommate and best friend, Tom (Thomas Ward) is great and it introduced us to comedian Hannah Gadsby, who plays Hannah! 🙂

My absolute favorite character was Arnold (Keegan Joyce). And, he was SO.DAMN.SEXY.!

You can catch it on hulu.

“GRACE AND FRANKIE” UPDATE

Last week, I mentioned that I had watched the first six seasons of the Netflix series, “Grace and Frankie”, and couldn’t wait for the final season.

Well, last Friday, Netflix surprised fans by dropping the first four episodes of the seventh and final season. The concluding twelve episodes are expected in 2022.

So, I’ve decided to wait and binge watch all sixteen episodes in the new year!

When the series concludes with 94 episodes, that’ll make it the longest-running Netflix original series!

“NETWORK”

After 45 years, I finally watched the 1976 four-time Oscar winning movie, “Network”.

The black comedy is a satire of the television news business and the thin line between news and entertainment! (Wait, is that a real thing?)

Um, that rhetorical question is satirical, too! 🙂

Peter Finch (Best Actor), Faye Dunaway (Best Actress), and Beatrice Straight (Best Supporting Actress) won Academy Awards for acting and Paddy Chayefsky won for Best Screenplay.

William Holden was also nominated in the Best Actor category.

Five years later, Dunaway would play Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest”, a role and movie that she said ruined her career.

Well, her Diana Christensen was quite over the top in “Network”, too, and, in hindsight, it prepared her well for “Mommie Dearest”!

GRADE: B

“AMERICA IN SEARCH OF ITSELF”

Last week, I mentioned that this 1982 book by Theodore H. White subtitled, “The Making of the President 1956-1980”, was an enlightening read.

Here are a few more things I learned:

In the 1956 presidential election, Democrat Adlai Stevenson started hitting sitting President Dwight D. Eisenhower hard about his age.

Stevenson said that Ike was too old, at 66, to be a good President. Boy, have things changed since then. (Hello Ronald Reagan, 45, and Joe Biden!)

White wrote that President Richard Nixon blamed Gerald Ford’s loss to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 presidential election on his inability to get the Italian vote in New York. That state would have swung the win to Ford.

In the 1980 election between President Carter and Ronald Reagan, the federal government only gave each candidate $29.4 million to spend on the campaign ($93 million in 2021 USD). Meanwhile, the three networks spent north of $50 million for coverage ($165.7 million in 2021 USD)!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

I Want My “Girls Night Out” With Debbie (& Joey)!

While I’m not Catholic, I have many friends that are and I want to confess!

That was my last time in a church, in October 2018, at the Notre Dame de Lourdes Catholic Church in Casablanca, Morocco!

My apologies for digressing!

Back to my confession: I’ve had a gay boy crush on Debbie Gibson since 1987 when “Only in My Dreams” became a worldwide hit!

Not only do I love her new song and I’m excited about the new album, but Debbie is performing a series of shows in Las Vegas this summer!

She and Joey McIntryre are doing a residency at the Sands Showroom in the Venetian!

The first four shows in August sold out immediately and four more shows were added in September. The last show on Sunday, September 19th, is on the day I arrive in Las Vegas!

Here’s where my disappointment comes in!

I arrive at 3 p.m. and the show is at 7:30 p.m. I so want to buy a ticket to see Debbie and Joey, but I don’t have much of a safety net with time if my flight is delayed!

I’ve never seen Debbie in concert and I’ve wanted to since 1987. I did see Joey with New Kids three times from 1988-1990!

Now, about Debbie’s new music — the new album, “The Body Remembers” arrives August 20, 2021. This is her first new album in twenty years!!!

It features her new song and video, “One Step Closer”, which is a total banger!

So, I’m in total fanboy mode and I’m sharing my seven favorite Debbie Gibson songs!

Why 7? It’s Vegas, baby!

Kick it off, Debbie!

“FOOLISH BEAT”

“ELECTRIC YOUTH”

“GIRLS NIGHT OUT” (TRACY YOUNG #VEGASVIBE REMIX)

“OUT OF THE BLUE”

“STAYING TOGETHER”

“SHAKE YOUR LOVE”

“ONLY IN MY DREAMS”

And, in full equality, here are my seven favorite Joey McIntyre songs, which does include six from New Kids on the Block!

“STAY THE SAME”

“COVER GIRL”

“HANGIN’ TOUGH”

“TONIGHT”

“STEP BY STEP”

“CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT”

“YOU GOT IT (THE RIGHT STUFF)”

Debbie’s new album also features a duet with McIntryre, “Lost in Your Eyes”, a remake of her 1989 #1 hit.

Here’s to me seeing Debbie and Joey on Sunday, September 19th!

Anthony

P.S. If you’re still reading, here are a couple of bonus thoughts.

I saw New Kids in concert three times — in Du Quoin (IL), Cincinnati (Ohio), and East Troy (WI) and Jordan was my favorite.

And, I’ve seen Debbie’s friend (not enemy as the trash rags try to make it out to be), Tiffany, twice — in Du Quion (IL) opening for New Kids in 1988 and I saw her in Chicago at Gay Pride in 2010.

One final thought: if you ever get a chance, check out Debbie and Tiffany making the most of those rumors in 2011’s “Mega Python vs. Gatoroid” movie! 🙂

Dying To Live: Death Sentence 1981 ≠ Undetectable 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOPE — THE FIRST ROUND OF MEDS

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

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

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

HIV & AIDS — 40 YEARS LATER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FINAL THOUGHTS ON MY IMPRESSIONABLE YEARS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“AND THE BAND PLAYED ON”

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

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

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

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

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

“THE GREAT BELIEVERS”

This 2018 book by Rebecca Makkai is amazing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

“LONGTIME COMPANION”

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

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

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

Be safe and play safe!

Peace!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — June 11, 2021

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

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

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

CONQUERING THE MEDIA WORLD!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TAKE A BITE OUT OF PRIDE

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

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

PRIDE MONTH FUNNY

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

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

YOUNGER”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SERIES GRADE: A

ONE LAST “YOUNGER” NOTE

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

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

“JOHN WAYNE GACY: DEVIL IN DISGUISE”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOW DEMENTED IS THIS?

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

Some sold for as much as $20,000!

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

BEST RECENT LAS VEGAS HEADLINE

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

At least one of my favorites is making a comeback!

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

Laughing, joking, kidding! 🙂 I do!

TAKING A SHORT BREAK!

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

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — June 4, 2021

The first five months of 2021 are now behind us and it’s “unofficially” summer. For those that prefer the warmer months, enjoy (and enjoy them for me)! 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to check out what’s on my mind this week!

HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

Cheers!

And, here’s to the amazing transgender women, gay men, lesbians, and allies, who had had enough of police brutality and the bulls–t at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in 1969 and rebelled!!!

It’s because of you that Gay Pride parades started in 1970 on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots!

“PRIDE”

Just in time for Gay Pride month, I watched the amazing new six-episode FX/Hulu series “Pride”, which chronicles the LGBTQ movement, decade by decade — from the 1950s to 2000s.

A few interesting things I learned:

  • After Joseph McCarthy’s “red scare” (Communist hunt) faltered in the 1950s, he moved on to outing gays working for the federal government.  In the “Lavender Scare”, President Eisenhower fired thousands of federal gay employees because they were a “security risk”.

This is rather ironic since J. Edgar Hoover, a self-loathing, closeted homosexual was the head of the FBI! I usually don’t like using the word “homosexual”, even though it was widely used then, because it’s outdated and clinical, but it serves the scumbag Hoover well!

  • In the 1960s, bartenders could be arrested for serving gays an alcoholic drink!
  • The Gay Liberation Front started in 1969. As lesbians became more vocal in the fight, the “gay” community became the “gay and lesbian” community. It wasn’t until the 1990s when “bi” and “transgender” became widely acceptable in the “LGBT” acronym.
  • And, finally, in the 1970s author Betty Friedan (“The Feminine Mystique”) was very homophobic and she thought lesbians would take over the women’s movement. She called it the “Lesbian Menace”! Luckily, lesbians rebelled against her.

“Pride” is an incredible documentary!  

WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM!

Well, maybe not all since there are lactose intolerant people and some others are just weird. 🙂

Now that it’s warming up (winter is good for ice cream, too), here are a few fun facts about Dairy Queen:

Texas has more Dairy Queens than any other state (more than 600) and you can find a Dairy Queen in 30 countries across the world.

“Thrillist” says the largest Dairy Queen is a two-story, 7,500 square foot restaurant in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

In the U.S., the largest is right here in Central Illinois, in Bloomington, Illinois. Meanwhile, the world’s busiest location in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

The concept of soft serve ice cream came in 1938 by John Fremont McCullough and his son Bradley. Two years later, they partnered with ice cream shop owner Sherb Noble to open the first Dairy Queen in Joliet, Illinois!

But, Dairy Queen doesn’t serve “ice cream” since the soft-serve doesn’t “qualify”!

The company says, “To be categorized as ice cream, the minimum butterfat content must be 10 percent, and our soft-serve has only 5 percent butterfat.” 

While Oreo is the most popular Blizzard flavor in the United States, it’s Green Tea in China!

“SUPERNOVA”

This LGBTQ drama, now on Hulu, is about Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci), a couple that’s been together for 20 years.

They’re traveling through the English countryside to be together to deal with Tusker’s early onset of dementia.

After a very slow start, the movie becomes very touching midway through when they attend a surprise dinner party with family and longtime friends.

GRADE: B

GAY FOR PAY

Both Firth and Tucci have played gay characters before. There was a time in not so long ago-Hollywood when actors (gay, straight, or closeted) were afraid of taking gay roles.

They feared it would end their box office appeal.

In today’s age, it’s almost sacrilegious for an LGBTQ role to go to a straight actor. This is especially true for transgendered roles.

I’m really torn about this.

As a gay actor, you want to be believable playing a straight character. Yet, there are those that want LGBTQ characters played only by LGBTQ actors.

I’m really behind this in transgender roles because under our LGBTQ umbrella, the most slighted group is the “T” (and yes, “B”, you’re right up there, too!)

Thank you “Pose” for the most impressive trans cast ever on television!

THEY SAID WHAT???

JAKE BORELLI (openly gay actor who plays the gay Dr. Levi Schmitt on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy”): “Actors are trained, hopefully, to be able to play something that is not themselves. I think it starts to become a double standard when you say that straight people can’t play gay roles, because then the flip side of that double standard is that gay people can’t play straight roles — and I don’t think that is correct.”

“PRODIGAL SON”

While I totally enjoyed the premise of this Fox series — a serial killer’s (unstable) son is a criminal profiler for the New York City Police Department and he needs to consult his dad, at times, about cases.

Midway through season two, I made the decision to stop watching it after the season two finale.

This also happened with “NOS4A2”.

Well, I didn’t have to go through with it since both were cancelled after the second season!

Ironically, the last six episodes of “Prodigal Son” were incredible and the shocking season finale that may well act as the series finale was very rewarding!

However, the silliest thing about the whole series is that Malcolm’s younger sister, Ainsley, was the top reporter in New York City!!!

The character was so unbelievable as a reporter in the biggest television market in the country! But, I do love the actress, Halston Sage.

EMMY NOMINATIONS

Now that the Memorial Day deadline has passed, this year’s Emmy nominations will be announced on July 13th!

I seriously think that Oscar and Tony Award winner Catherine Zeta-Jones (“Chicago”) should get a nomination in the “Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series” category for her role as Dr. Vivian Capshaw in “Prodigal Son”!

Her character was very understated in the first few episodes in her seven-episode run, but boy when it was revealed who/what she really was, get out of the way!

I especially loved her final scene with Bellamy Young (“Scandal”)!

The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony is scheduled for September 19th on CBS.

FINAL DAIRY QUEEN TIDBITS

In the past two decades, the restaurant chain earned two entries into the Guinness World Records.

It created the world’s largest Blizzard in 2005 which weighed 8260.85 pounds!

And, in 2011, in Canada, it made the biggest ice cream cake in Toronto, Ontario — a 20,000 pound sponge cake with vanilla ice cream topped with crushed Oreo cookies! I hope my Canadian friends got to sample it. 🙂

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — May 28, 2021

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

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

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

NEW CDC GUIDELINES

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

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

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

Sorry, not sorry! 🙂

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

DOGS IN BANGKOK

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

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

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

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

Another reason to love dogs!

“BORN THIS WAY” TURNS 10

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

Where does time go?

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

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

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

“BETTY FORD”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“ARMY OF THE DEAD”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would I watch it again? Maybe.

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

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

GRADE: B

“JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH”

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

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

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

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

GRADE: B

ANOTHER OSCAR THOUGHT (OR TWO)

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

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

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

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

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

“STARSTRUCK”

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

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

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

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

Here’s the lyric video and the song.

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

Happy Birthday 🎂 Kylie!!!!!!!! 🍾🥂🌼🌷

“CASTLE ROCK”

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

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

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

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

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

SEASON ONE GRADE: B

SEASON TWO GRADE: A-

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

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

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

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

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


			

Random Friday Thoughts — March 26, 2021

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

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

COVID-19 VACCINATIONS

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

In Illinois, that number is at 14.5%!

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

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

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

REMEMBERING GARRY BOWIE

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

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

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

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

Garry was 59.

“THE GREAT BELIEVERS”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPRING & SUMMER BBQS

On a lighter note…

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

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

“PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN”

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

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

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

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

GRADE: A

“9-1-1: LONE STAR”

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

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

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

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

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

MORE JIMMY CARTER

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

Today, I’m sharing a few more tidbits:

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

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

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

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

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

ONE MORE THING ABOUT INA GARTEN

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

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

ONLY NINE MONTHS AWAY!

The countdown is on to Christmas!

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

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

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

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

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

Things I learned from Gabourey:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This really made me laugh!

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

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

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

SPEAKING OF…

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

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

“PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN” SOUNDTRACK

The soundtrack is phenomenal!

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

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

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

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — February 26, 2021

The shortest month of the year is almost over and that means spring is right around the corner!

Thank you for taking time to check out what I’m thinking about this week!

I always value your opinions even if we disagree. Just do it diplomatically!

DOGNAPPING AND SHOOTING!

UPDATE: A woman brought the two missing dogs into the LAPD’s Olympic station in Koreatown Friday night UNHARMED!

Two of Lady Gaga’s French Bulldogs were stolen and the other one, Asia, escaped after the dog walker was shot in West Hollywood early Wednesday night. 

The 30-year-old victim was taken to a local hospital and CNN reports that he is recovering well.

While they were missing, TMZ reported that Gaga was offering a “no questions” asked $500,000 reward for Koji and Gustav’s safe return!

FORGIVING STUDENT LOANS

Many in Congress want President Joe Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt.student

Biden told a town hall group in mid-February that he was prepared to write off $10,000, but not $50,000.

He added that community colleges should be free and that “any family making under $125,000 whose kids go to a state university they get into, that should be free, as well.”

I’m totally against forgiving $50,000 of debt! Why?

When I went to college and earned my degree in 1989 and I went back to school for three more years in the early-2000s for another certification, I paid for my education both times all by myself. My parents didn’t assist me financially and the government definitely didn’t erase my debt.

And, once I got my degree, it took more than a year (fall 1990) before I was offered a job in my field of study (television news). I wasn’t even able to take that job, which would have only paid a measly $13,000 a year!

After that, it wouldn’t be until the summer of 1996 that I was finally able to start my career. The offer, again, was $13,000!

With that being said, you can see why I have a problem just forgiving student loan debt!

ONE MORE THING…

Did you know that only 1.25 million students were enrolled in college in 1938?

With the G.I. Bill following World War II, nearly 7.8 million of the 16 million veterans that served in the armed forces decided to take advantage of the bill and go to college!

“ARMY OF THE DEAD” IS FINALLY COMING!!!!!!

“Army of the Dead”, Zack Synder’s highly anticipated zombie heist movie, finally has a Netflix release date of May 21st and the first trailer dropped Thursday! I’m so excited because it takes place in my favorite U.S. city!

It follows a group of mercenaries plotting a Las Vegas casino heist during a zombie outbreak. 

The ensemble cast includes Dave Bautista (“Guardians of the Galaxy” series), Garret Dillahunt (“Fear The Walking Dead” and “Justified”), and Raúl Castillo (“Looking”).

While I wouldn’t want it to happen with the real places, it’s fun seeing Planet Hollywood, Paris, and the iconic “Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas” sign crumble in a disaster flick!

“THE HUNT”

This is the movie that got Republicans and Donald Trump in an uproar — before any of them even saw it!

It’s a very sadistic and crazy survival story!

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

It was my #11 movie of 2020.

GRADE: B

“MRS. AMERICA”

This nine-episode FX on Hulu miniseries focused on the fight for women’s rights in the early-1970s with an all-star cast.

Uzo Aduba won an Emmy Award for her Shirley Chisholm, the first black candidate for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States.

Cate Blanchett was incredible as the mean, close-minded Phyllis Schlafly. (Her Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations are pending!)

I know it was the ’70s, but I still can’t understand how women (a lot of homemakers) could be against equal rights for women. And, about Schlafly again, it shocks me that she’d be opposed to gay rights with a gay soon. Sadly, she’s not alone. It still happens today!

One complaint I had about the series (unless I missed it somehow), how can you have a series about women’s rights and the ERA and not mention Helen Reddy and “I Am Woman”?

GRADE: B

THEY SAID WHAT???

Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd U.S. President (in 1807): “The appointment of a woman to office is an innovation for which the public is not prepared, nor am I.”

Supreme Court Justice Joseph Bradley (in 1873): “The paramount mission and destiny of women are to fulfill the noble and benign offices of wife and mother. This is the law of the Creator.”

“GROCERY”

All month long, in February, I’ve been sharing fun things from Michael Ruhlman’s awesome 2017 book, “Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America”.

Here are the final mind boggling or interesting things I learned:

Sugar Crisps cereal was introduced in 1949 by Post. It was the first cereal to be covered in sugar and now some cereals are more than 50% sugar!

Frito-Lay started putting 5% fewer chips in the bag and this added as much as $80 million dollars to the company’s bottom line since chips are a $1.6 billion a year business.

Apples are held in vast warehouses filled with oxygen and carbon dioxide, which puts them “to sleep”. When needed, companies “break the room”, thus “if you’re buying a ‘fresh’ American apple in August, it was harvested late last year.”

Between December and May, as much as 90% of fresh domestic tomatoes come from south Florida.

Americans eat 10 billion pounds of cheese each year!

And, one more fun fact!!!!

A 200-pound man uses 30% of his calories to feed his three-pound brain!

STORMY DANIELS BARES IT ALL

“Full Disclosure”, Stormy Daniels’ autobiography, came out in the fall of 2018 to critical success.

What a compelling story!

I’m not talking just about the encounter with Donald Trump and the subsequent threats on her life after her involvement with 45 came out.

From her very painful childhood to working in a strip bar while still a teenager in high school, Daniels is an incredible story teller.

While the book is a great read, her Twitter account is even better and wittier!

And, speaking of that…. In November, I tweeted Stormy to let her know I enjoyed reading her story and she “liked” it!

(By the way, while thunder and lightning are weather terms, it’s also what she calls her boobs!)

“AFTER VISITING FRIENDS: A SON’S STORY”

I just read this 2013 book by “GQ” editor Michael Hainey’s, which tries to find answers about his father’s death.

As a six-year-old, Hainey always believed that his 35-year-old father died of a heart attack in 1970.

However, as an adult, reading the three Chicago newspapers obituaries of his journalist father didn’t add up, so he started inquiring about the mystery decades later.

Great book!

“THE WOMAN WHO LOST HER SOUL”

Bob Shacochis’ 2013 book is fiction, yet it covers five decades of tragedies based on real-life events — rape and murder in World War II Europe as the Germans invaded small countries, murder in the Middle East and Turkey in the 1980s, to destitution in war and hurricane-ravaged Haiti in the 1990s.

It was interesting to see how the story would be weaved together with Haitian voodoo.

The book is a lengthy one at 715 pages and it’s definitely not happy feely with only one semi-redeeming character!

And, I wouldn’t call it a “masterpiece” as is quoted on the cover!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

My 2020 Christmas Thoughts

It’s my favorite time of the year! 

As you’re reading this, just know that I wrote it just before Halloween 🎃 and I’ve been enjoying my Christmas trees and decorations since November 1st! 🎄 

Despite a year turned upside down with a pandemic and turmoil, I hope this finds you in good health and good spirits.  I’ll have to be careful with my words since last year, I wrote, “I hope 2019 is a year that you’ll remember fondly. If not, there’s hope for us in 2020!”  Good Lord, I’m glad I forecast weather better than the future! 🙂

My recap starts in December 2019!  I headed out to Las Vegas on my last getaway before life as we know it changed.  

I saw Paula Abdul in concert and it was a fun show.  As she was singing her encore “Forever Your Girl”, she came out into the crowd and I got a hug from her!  You know, back when you could still hug strangers! 

Last Christmas, I dropped hints about the “next chapter” in my life.  I planned to leave television weather and move to Vegas in the summer of 2020.  I was going to wait tables and try to have a life — something that’s eluded me the past three years!

Thankfully, in February, my plans changed.  I took the morning meteorologist position at the NBC affiliate in Decatur, Illinois, in the middle part of the state.

While I grew up in Kentucky, I consider Illinois home after spending more than 15 years in the Quad Cities and Chicago.  As you read this, I’ve already been there almost 9 months and I’m loving my position and my schedule!

Once I moved back to the “Land of Lincoln”, my sister, Tammy, decided she’d move to Decatur, too. 

Now, we see can each other whenever we want and celebrate holidays without planning trips to do it.  I’m happy to spend more time with her!

I feel there’s so much to be optimistic for as we approach 2021.  

I have faith a vaccine will allow us to start enjoying life’s “new normal”.  I pray, as a country, humanity will turn a corner from the darkness of 2020 and the past four years! 

Personally, in 2021, I hope to take a real vacation and finally see Kylie Minogue in concert. 

Who knows, maybe I can’t accomplish both at the same time in a festive foreign city!   

(Maybe it’ll be “Xanadu” – ♪ “a place where nobody dared to go” where “a million lights are dancing and there you are – a shooting star”!)

With that being said, #Pug2021 will become a reality and, God-willing, if love comes my way, I’d gladly welcome it! 

“May hope and faith conquer fear and hate this Christmas!”

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — November 20, 2020

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving and Season’s Greetings!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

THANKSGIVING FORECAST

COVID DINING FOR ONE

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

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

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

“THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7”

“The Whole World Is Watching!”

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

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

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

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

The Whole World Is STILL Watching!

GRADE: A

“DISCO” UPDATE

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

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

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

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

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

“I AM WOMAN”

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

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

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

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

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

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

But, that’s just nitpicking!

GRADE: B+

MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS GIFTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JAPANESE CHRISTMAS DRINK

Here are a couple of fun looking Japanese holiday drinks.

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

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

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

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

AND, THANKS ALDI!

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

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

“THIS IS HOW WE JEW IT”

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

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

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

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

“FULL SERVICE”

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROYAL NAUGHTINESS

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

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

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

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

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

AND, SPEAKING OF THE ROYALS…

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

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

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

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

It was my #8 movie of 2018.

LEE HARVEY OSWALD IS HOT!

Okay, let me quickly clarify.

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

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

If he does, it’ll change the future.

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

GRADE: B+

TAKING A BREAK

Happy Holidays, my friends!

AND… LAST CALL… ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD!

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

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony