Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Random Friday Thoughts — May 14, 2021

It’s already the middle of May and before you know, Memorial Day and the “unofficial” start of summer will be upon us.

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

PANDEMIC PETS

I saw a sad story that a large number of pets bought or adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic are ending up in shelters now that people are heading back to work!

I’ve heard this about rabbits at Easter and Santa bringing pets to family that underestimate the amount of love and attention it needs.

How sad and tragic! 😦

#PUG20-SOMEDAY

As you know, #Pug2020 was pushed back to #Pug2021 with the pandemic. Since it’s already May, it’s looking more likely that it’ll be #Pug20-SOMEDAY.

Since I’m waiting to move into a more modernized apartment in my complex, the pug is on hold.

Plus, now that I’m vaccinated, I want to travel some when more of the world is vaccinated!

SO, TO HONOR PUGS (& THE CARPENTERS…

AND, MY FAVORITE THE CARPENTERS SONG

VACCINATION RATES

Here in the U.S., we’re doing great. 35.8% of Americans are fully vaccinated and 46.9% have at least one shot.

In Illinois, 35.3% are fully vaccinated and 49.7% have one shot down!

However, worldwide vaccination rates pale in comparison. Only 4.3% are fully vaccinated and 8.7% are halfway there. 😦

MORE TRAGEDY IN INDIA

Earlier this week, dozens of bodies were found floating down the Ganges River in eastern India as the country battles a heartbreaking surge in coronavirus infections.

While authorities don’t know the cause of death, 71 bodies were retrieved from the river Monday night alone!

A local official, Surinder, in Ghazipur says, “Due to the shortage of wood, the dead are being buried in the water. Bodies from around 12-13 villages have been buried in the water.”

Overall, India has had the second highest number of confirmed cases with over 24 million and over 262,000 deaths. Experts say the real figures are likely much higher!

The United States still leads the world in cases (32.8 million) and deaths (584,000+)!

ON A BRIGHTER NOTE… “SCHITT’S CREEK “

I was late to the party, but I finally got around to binge watching “Schitt$ Creek”. OMG, it was too funny!

Every cast member is excellent, but my favorites were Catherine O’Hara (Moira Rose), Annie Murphy (Alexis Rose), and Emily Hampshire (Stevie Budd). Okay, I absolutely loved Alexis!

This was my favorite, favorite, favorite Alexis moment. I won’t say what happened just before this to illicit this response, but I watched it time and time again. LOL

Of course, the comedic timing of the Levy family: Dan (David Rose), Eugene (Johnny Rose), and Sarah (Twyla Sands) was vital to the show’s success.

And, the addition of Noah Reid (Patrick) and his romance with David made the shows even sweeter. I absolutely loved when David performed Tina Turner’s “Simply The Best” for Patrick. (This’ll have to do since YouTube doesn’t have the video!)

And, then Dustin Milligan (Ted Mullens)

and Steve Lund (Jake) made the Schitt’s Creek experience even sexier! Oh, you just gotta love humor and eye candy!

One of my favorite Moira lines: “David, your inability to retain information that doesn’t directly pertain to you might actually require medical attention!”

Speaking of David, we have things in common.

My two favorite are Mariah Carey and our love of eating!!! And, we could have a third if any of you know a “Patrick” in his 40s or 50s in Central Illinois! 🙂

The six-season series is on Netflix.

RIP NICK KAMEN

Unless you spent time in dance clubs in 1986, most of you probably haven’t heard of Nick Kamen.

The English singer and model died last week at the age of 59 of bone marrow cancer.

His only hit in the U.S. was in 1987 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart when “Each Time You Break My Heart” made it to number five.

He had his friend Madonna to thank for that.

She recorded a demo of the song, but passed it on to Nick.

“Each Time” also reached the Top Five in the U.K. and to the Top Ten in France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden. 

However, here’s how many of you that were obsessed with MTV back in the 1980s knew Nick — from his modeling days with this Levi’s 501 commercial.

Last week, Madonna remembered her friend with this tweet:

“THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT”

I mostly read biographies, autobiographies, and books on real events. However, I deviate into fiction sometimes.

And, I normally like to see a television or movie version based on a fiction book first. (Reading “Hannibal Rising” before seeing the movie spoiled that for me. Or, maybe the movie version of “Hannibal Rising” was just bad!)

Yet, I just read Chris Bohjalian’s 2018 book, “The Flight Attendant”, and it’s incredible.

An alcoholic flight attendant wakes up in Dubai after hooking up with a hot man in first class on her flight.

The one night stand or doing the walk of shame would be the least of her problems. She waked up and the bed is covered in blood! His throat has been slashed and she can’t remember what happened!

Did she do it????

It’s now a HBO Max series that was renewed for a second season (expected in late 2022).

Since I don’t have HBO Max, I haven’t seen it. But, read the book.

“THE ROAD TO JONESTOWN: JIM JONES AND PEOPLES TEMPLE”

Jeff Guinn’s 2017 book was a concise and compelling read.

Here are some final things Guinn shared that you might not remember or have known:

Jones’s personal physician and Jonestown’s doctor Larry Schacht had been working to perfect a cocktail of Flavor Aid, tranquilizers, and potassium cyanide to make it taste less bitter.

When Jones asked one of his girlfriends in his inner circle, Maria Katsaris, if it was quick, she said yes and then lied, saying “it’s not supposed to be painful at all.”

Yet, in “The Poisoner’s Handbook”, Deborah Blum writes, “The last minutes of a cyanide death are brutal, marked by convulsions, a desperate gasping for air, a rising bloody froth of vomit and saliva, and finally a blessed release into unconsciousness.”

This all led to the Jonestown tragedy where more than 900 of his followers were poisoned with that cyanide-laced Flavor Aid drink. (One-third were children that were killed first and found at the bottom of the mass of people.) 😦

PARTING THOUGHTS

Even today, people don’t recall any of the good that Jim Jones did before he became delusional and a drug addict.

What people remember is “not drinking the Kool-Aid” when it comes to religious leaders and institutions and politicians and their fanatical views.

Sadly, it wasn’t even “Kool-Aid”. It was the cheap imitation, “Flavor-Aid” — just like Jim Jones was a cheap imitation knockoff of God!

ANOTHER NICK KAMEN FAVORITE

“I Promised Myself” from 1990 was another one of my favorite Nick Kamen songs.

It reached #1 in Austria and Sweden and the Top Five in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.

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 7, 2021

Happy Mother’s Day weekend!

I’ll take a moment to remember my mother, Dessie, and be thankful that I still have my sister, Tammy, in my life.

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

STICKS & STONE MAY BREAK MY BONES

…but words shall never hurt me!

As kids, we’ve all heard that saying (or something like it). And, I believe, for the most part, it’s true.

I know that when you’re young and impressionable or if you’re a grown-up with insecurities (who doesn’t have some), hurtful words from parents, friends, lovers, or spouses can hurt. Actually, words said in anger do have a lasting impact.

However, being called a “f***ing fa**ot” by a speeding car driving by definitely doesn’t hurt my feelings. It just pisses me off.

This happened last Friday afternoon on one of my many daily walks around Lake Decatur.

It was from a group of youngsters and the man/boy in the back seat yelled it out the window. This person had no clue who was on the other side of busy U.S. 36. He was just being juvenile and ignorant.

I’m sure if it was a woman walking, he’d yell something sexist and stupid.

I was a teenager and young adult in the conservative dark Reagan-era years when homophobia was rampant and the world was scared of gay people and AIDS. (It didn’t help that it took President Reagan almost six years to mention it publicly!)

So, “f***ing fa**ot” is something that most LGBTQ people have heard before. However, it was scarier back then (in the 1980s and 1990s) because those people threatened us with baseball bats!

I’m a very secure person and my immediate reaction last Friday was to go back to reading my book and enjoying my day, while the thought bubble above my head said, “f***ing idiot”!

This is a perfect time for Heather Mooney! 🙂

Before I move on, I just hope that it made his day a little better to yell that out the window at a stranger. And, I hope he becomes more educated before he spawns a child and projects his ignorance onto another generation!

While I know there are others here (and in the U.S. and across the world) that share that narrow-minded mentality, Decatur and Central Illinois, I’ve met so many of you and I know there are so many more loving, caring, and beautiful people that make the world a better place!

Let’s carry on…

GOODBYE OLYMPIA DUKAKIS

Academy Award and Golden Globe winner (“Moonstruck”) Olympia Dukakis passed away last weekend at the age of 89.

In her almost 60 year career, she acted in more than 130 stage productions, over 60 movies, and in 50 television series!

I remember her most fondly as Anna Madrigal, the transgender “mother” of the tenants at 28 Barbary Lane in the “Tales of the City” series.

I always wanted to move into an apartment complex like 28 Barbary Lane and have Mrs. Madrigal as my landlady!

Armistead Maupin’s book series is my favorite and I’ve read it many times over the years. It was made into four continuing series (1993, 1998, 2001, and the most recent on Netflix in 2019).

And, as a gay man, I must mention her role as Clairee Belcher in 1989’s classic, “Steel Magnolias”!

Come on, you know the rest of it!!! All together now…

“…come sit by me.”

And, if you want to watch the entire 30-second scene…

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The 2020 U.S. presidential election is estimated to have cost $14 billion dollars, that’s with a “B”!
  • Gay and bisexual men are seven times more likely to report binge-eating than straight men and 12 times more likely to binge and purge. (National Eating Disorders Association)
  • Kenta Seki is a Los Angeles-based fitness guru? Neither did I, but I do now! 🙂

“THE MEANING OF MARIAH CAREY”

As you know, I love Mariah Carey. I’ve been a huge Mariah Carey fan since the spring of 1990 when I first heard “Vision of Love”.

I’ve seen her go through the highs with international success and we’ve see her hit the lows — the ice cream cart ordeal on MTV.

So, when Mariah’s biography, “The Meaning of Mariah Carey” came out in the fall of 2020, I didn’t know what to expect.

Once I read it, I love Mariah even more — if that was even possible.

I knew her life and career was a rags to riches story, but I never realized just how hard she had as a child.

Not only was her family poor, but she also had a very difficult time of being biracial — she wasn’t Black enough for some family members and too white for others.

I was astounded at some of the things her sister made her do as a teenager and some of the things she did to Mariah! And, once Mariah became an international superstar with money flowing in, I was saddened to hear how her family tried to siphon that money away.

And then, there’s the whole creepiness of her first husband (and manager), Tommy Mottola!

Here’s a review of the book I read and it sums it up perfectly: “improbable and inspiring journey of survival and resilience as she struggles through complex issues of race, identity, class, childhood, and family trauma during her meteoric rise to music superstardom.”

“The Meaning of Mariah Carey” is an excellent book! Read it now!

Here are a few things I learned:

Since I now live in Central Illinois, it’s interesting that Mariah’s mother was born in Illinois’ capital of Springfield and grew up there in the 1940s and 1950s, which Mariah describes as “a center of insidious institutional racism”.

After years of racially-motivated crimes in the early 1900s in Springfield, the city had a strong Ku Klux Klan presence in the 1920, which Mariah summed up this way, “Springfield was a city openly cloaked in hate.”

On a happier note, I loved the wine quote about working with David Morales. “I’d have a couple splashes of wine, and we would just go wherever the spirit took us — which were almost always high-energy dance tracks with big, brand-new vocals.”

A couple splashes! What a cool description! 🙂

And, it was interesting to read who the song “My All” was written about!

I finally got to see Mariah in concert in December 2017 with her “All I Want For Christmas: A Night of Joy and Festivity” show in Las Vegas at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

Mariah was phenomenal, beautiful, and she sounded flawless and the sets were incredible!!!!!!!

After my separation and eventual divorce, that show lifted my spirits and it would be the most magical 90 minutes I’ve enjoyed in the past few years!

FINAL NOTES ABOUT MARIAH & CHRISTMAS

About “All I Want For Christmas”, that she wrote in her early-20s for her fourth album, 1994’s “Merry Christmas”: “I wanted to write a song that would make me happy and make me feel like a loved, carefree young girl at Christmas.

Mariah added, “I wanted to sing it in a way that would capture joy for everyone and crystallize it forever. Yes, I was going for vintage Christmas happiness!”

HOW DID I MISS THIS???

I’m usually on top of pop culture, but I totally missed this bus on this!

Recently, I was catching up on magazines and I was shocked to learn that Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy died a year ago this weekend (May 8, 2020) of COVID-19! He was 75.

The famed Las Vegas entertainer’s publicist announced on April 28, 2020, that Horn tested positive for the virus and was responding well to treatment.

I also didn’t know that Siegfried (Fischbacher) announced on January 11, 2021, that he had terminal pancreatic cancer and died two days later in Las Vegas at the age of 81!

As you recall, Roy (on the left in the photo) was the one that was attacked at the Mirage on October 3, 2003, by a seven-year-old white tiger named Mantecore. It was on his 59th birthday!

As the story goes, Horn held his microphone to Mantecore’s mouth and told him to say “hello”. The tiger bit Horn’s sleeve. Horn swatted the tiger and barked “release!”.

Horn, became dizzy, tripped, and fell onto his back. (He ended up having a stroke.)

Mantecore moved to stand over him and then bit into Horn’s neck and dragged him offstage!

SO WHAT HAPPENED TO MANTECORE?

Horn asked that nothing happen to the tiger and it was re-integrated back into the duo’s pack of cats.

Mantecore died more than a decade later, in March 2014, at Fischbacher and Horn’s Little Bavaria estate in Las Vegas at the age of 17!

“THE ROAD TO JONESTOWN: JIM JONES AND PEOPLES TEMPLE”

Last week, I talked about Jim Jones and shared some interesting things from Jeff Guinn’s compelling 2017 book.

Here are a few more tidbits from that great book.

The bisexual Jones believed that everyone, women and men, desired him. One follower in his close knit managerial team was not afraid to stand up to him. Harriet Tropp told him that she didn’t desire him because “You are 47 and fat”, but she added, “I don’t have romantic illusions. They say the greatest orgasm is death, so I hope we have the great pleasure of dying together.”

Once in Jonestown, the cost to feed almost a thousand people was extravagant and they began to see less meat and more watered down rice dishes and beverages, like water and cheap Flavor Aid.

As Jonestown began to fall apart in the fall of 1977, Jones and his inner circle were already thinking of how to conduct a mass suicide. Some suggested people being shot, but Jones preferred poison.

In early August 1978, Jones told his followers that he had terminal lung cancer. However, there was no evidence of this — yet another deceit by Jones to his cult.

“JONESTOWN:  TERROR IN THE JUNGLE”

If you don’t have time to read Guinn’s book, this SundanceTV documentary following Jones’ life was incredible!

I saw it in the fall of 2018 and gave it an “A”!

“DA 5 BLOODS”

The latest Spike Lee movie garnered mix reviews.

If you know what to expect from one of his movies, you’ll enjoy it. After the compelling opening montage, the first hour dragged a bit. However, the second hour was riveting.

It’s about four older Black American vets returning to Vietnam to search for the remains of their fallen squad leader and buried treasure.

Delroy Lindo’s performance as Paul was insane! He deserved an Oscar nomination.

Now there was talk that Chadwick Boseman might get an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in the movie, but that didn’t happen.

GRADE: B-

FAVORITE MARIAH CAREY SONGS

Before I share my five favorite Mariah Carey songs, let me tell you how difficult this was to narrow down.

Here’s how much of a superstar she is:

She’s had 36 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1990. Of those, 28 reached the Top Ten and 27 made the Top 5!!!

And, 19 went on to top the Hot 100 and she’s had two different runs of five or more consecutive #1 songs!

Mariah also had at least one #1 song on the Hot 100 for eleven straight years (1990-2000) and she’s had the most #1 singles on the Hot 100 than any other solo artist!

If that’s not impressive enough, Mariah has sold more than 200 million records worldwide and is the biggest selling certified female artist in the United States.

“DREAMLOVER”

“VISION OF LOVE”

“MAKE IT HAPPEN”

“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU”

“EMOTIONS”

What’s your favorite Mariah Carey song?

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

P.S. My full Mariah Carey blog is here:

The Meaning of Family & “The Meaning of Mariah Carey”

For most people, family is very important.

They’re there for you through life’s ups and downs and there when you need a friend and to celebrate in your happiness. Sadly, that isn’t the case for all.

I’m so happy that my sister, Tammy, is still in my life and she lives nearby!

The sad reality is that not all families are created equal. To some, the family we choose (friends) is closer and more reliable than the one we acquire at birth.

Mariah Carey’s autobiography got me to thinking a lot about family.

I’ve been a huge Mariah fan since the spring of 1990 when I first heard “Vision of Love”. It was the first of her five consecutive number ones songs and the start of her reign as the queen of pop radio!

I can’t believe her career in now in its fourth decade — 31 years and counting!

I finally got to see her in concert in December 2017.

The “All I Want For Christmas: A Night of Joy and Festivity” show in Las Vegas at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace was amazing and the sets were incredible!

Mariah was phenomenal, beautiful, and she sounded flawless!!!!!!!

After my separation and eventual divorce, that show lifted my spirits and it would be the most magical 90 minutes I’ve enjoyed in the past few years!

“THE MEANING OF MARIAH CAREY”

As I’ve already stated, I love Mariah. I’ve seen her go through the highs with international success and we’ve see her hit the lows — the ice cream cart ordeal on MTV.

And, then there was the truly surreal E! reality show “Mariah’s World”! The eight episode season debuted in December 2016 and was totally over the top. I loved it!

When Mariah’s biography, “The Meaning of Mariah Carey”, came out in the fall of 2020, I didn’t know what to expect.

Once I read it, I loved her even more — if that’s even possible.

I knew her life and career was a rags to riches story, but I never realized just how bad she had it as a child.

NOW, LET’S TALK ABOUT MARIAH’S FAMILY!

Not only was her family poor, but she also had a very difficult time of being biracial — she wasn’t Black enough for some family members and too white for others.

I was astounded at some of the things her sister made her do as a teenager and some of the things she did to Mariah! And, once Mariah became an international superstar with money flowing in, I was saddened to hear how her family tried to siphon that money away.

And then, there’s the whole creepiness of her first husband (and manager), Tommy Mottola, then head of Sony Music!

Here’s a review of the book I saw online and it sums it up perfectly: “improbable and inspiring journey of survival and resilience as she struggles through complex issues of race, identity, class, childhood, and family trauma during her meteoric rise to music superstardom.”

I’d like to share a few things I learned (without giving too much away since I want you to read it!):

Since I now live in Central Illinois, it’s interesting that Mariah’s mother was born in Springfield, Illinois’ capital, and she grew up there in the 1940s and 1950s, which Mariah describes as “a center of insidious institutional racism”.

After years of racially-motivated crimes in the early 1900s, Springfield had a strong Ku Klux Klan presence in the 1920s, which Mariah summed up this way, “Springfield was a city openly cloaked in hate.”

On a happier note, I loved the wine quote about working with David Morales. “I’d have a couple splashes of wine, and we would just go wherever the spirit took us — which were almost always high-energy dance tracks with big, brand-new vocals.”

A couple of splashes! How fun — what a cool description! 🙂

And, it was interesting to read who the song “My All” was written about!

As I said before, I’ve always loved Mariah and I’m glad I got to see her in concert. I’d love to see her again!

And, after reading the book, I’m so glad she has so much money to spoil her twins, Moroccan and Monroe, who just turned ten!

FAVORITE MARIAH CAREY SONGS

Before I share my ten favorite Mariah Carey songs, let me tell you how difficult this was to narrow down!!!

Not only does Mimi have enough of a Christmas catalog to rank the best Christmas songs separately, here’s how much of a superstar she is:

She’s had 36 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1990. Of those, 28 reached the Top Ten and 27 made the Top 5!!!

Nineteen (19) went on to top the Hot 100 and she’s had two different runs of five or more consecutive #1 songs!

Mariah also had at least one #1 song on the Hot 100 for eleven straight years (1990-2000) and she’s had the most #1 singles on the Hot 100 than any other solo artist!

If that’s not impressive enough, Mariah has sold more than 200 million records worldwide and is the biggest selling certified female artist in the United States.

“WITH YOU”

“I DON’T WANNA CRY”

“LOVE TAKES TIME”

“THERE’S GOT TO BE A WAY”

“SOMEDAY”

“DREAMLOVER”

“VISION OF LOVE”

“MAKE IT HAPPEN”

“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU”

From the book, Mariah writes:

About “All I Want For Christmas”, the song she wrote in her early-20s for her fourth album, 1994’s “Merry Christmas”: “I wanted to write a song that would make me happy and make me feel like a loved, carefree young girl at Christmas.

Mariah added, “I wanted to sing it in a way that would capture joy for everyone and crystallize it forever. Yes, I was going for vintage Christmas happiness!”

“EMOTIONS”

And, a bonus track!!! We’ve all been here! 🙂

“GTFO”

So, those are my favorites. What’s your favorite Mariah Carey song?

Again, “The Meaning of Mariah Carey” is an excellent book! Read it now!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — March 26, 2021

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

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

COVID-19 VACCINATIONS

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

In Illinois, that number is at 14.5%!

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

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

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

REMEMBERING GARRY BOWIE

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

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

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

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

Garry was 59.

“THE GREAT BELIEVERS”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPRING & SUMMER BBQS

On a lighter note…

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

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

“PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN”

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

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

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

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

GRADE: A

“9-1-1: LONE STAR”

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

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

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

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

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

MORE JIMMY CARTER

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

Today, I’m sharing a few more tidbits:

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

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

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

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

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

ONE MORE THING ABOUT INA GARTEN

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

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

ONLY NINE MONTHS AWAY!

The countdown is on to Christmas!

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

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

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

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

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

Things I learned from Gabourey:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This really made me laugh!

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

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

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

SPEAKING OF…

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

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

“PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN” SOUNDTRACK

The soundtrack is phenomenal!

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

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

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

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — February 19, 2021

The weekend is almost here and while we’re still shivering, relief is on the way.

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

LOVE SNOW, BUT NOT THE COLD!

When I started putting this week’s “Random Friday Thoughts” together, I was going to share a humorous joke about the cold and snow.

However, after two powerful ice and snow storms across Texas that has left millions without power and heat, I put it at the bottom of the blog.

I know we experience power outages across the country when we have severe weather (ice storms, heavy wet snow, tornadoes, and severe thunderstorms), but to this magnitude is mind-blowing.

Come on Texas Governor Greg Abbott, get your act together and help these people.

Stop blaming the failure of renewable energy sources (wind and solar power).

Leave politics out of it for now!

COUNTRY WITH A RAINBOW TWIST

Last week I talked about a racist (or just a drunken, closet racist) country music star that people still want to support financially by buying more of his music than he was selling before his racist slip-up. Well, enough about him!

At basically the same time as this story was blowing up, another country music star was sharing his personal truth in a beautiful way.

While his family and personal friends already knew, 36-year-old T.J. Osborne, the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the country duo Brothers Osborne came out as a proud, gay man.

Big deal, you think, because people are gay! However, in a very ageist, sexist, racist, and homophobic genre, J.T. is the only openly gay artist signed to a major country label!  

Brothers Osborne have charted nine country radio hits, two of which have hit the Top 5 — their 2015 hit, “Stay a Little Longer” reached #2 on the Country Airplay chart and they were featured on Dierks Bentley’s #2 2018 Country Airplay hit, “Burning Man”.

Other than the fact that I thought T.J. was so dreamy and hot, I never thought he might be gay.

However, my gaydar went off with the “Stay a Little Longer” video, which featured same-sex couples kissing! Of course, it caused controversy! 🙂

And, here’s a little fun trivia about Brothers Osborne. T.J.’s name is Thomas John and his older brother and band mate is John Thomas!

“THE CROWN” — SEASON 4

The latest season of this incredible, award-winning Netflix series was my absolute favorite.

I loved the first two seasons with Claire Foy and Olivia Colman and Josh O’Connor are great in season three, but season three just seemed so disjointed to me.

However, season four with my girl crush Gillian Anderson as tyrant (oops, Prime Minister) Margaret Thatcher took the series to a whole new level.

Even if you haven’t watched the first three seasons, watch this one. You don’t need to see their first three to follow the storyline.

Anderson (Thatcher), O’Connor (Prince Charles), Emma Corrin (Princess Diana), Colman (Queen Elizabeth II), and Helena Bonham Carter (Princess Margaret) all got Golden Globe nominations.

The series was also nominated.

“THE WHITE TIGER”

This incredible Netflix drama is set in India and drives home the stark difference in lives of the haves and the have nots!

Adarsh Gourav is amazing as Balram, a dirt poor stone crusher in a small village, who dreams of becoming a chauffeur.

As an intelligent kid that had to drop out of school, he was told her was a “white tiger”, one person that’s born to each generation.

Once he lands a job as a driver, all goes well until a tragic turn of events one night leaves Balram having to make a life-changing decision.

The biggest English speaking star in the movie is Priyanka Chopra Jonas (“Quantico”).

GRADE: A

“THE WEST WING”

As much as I love politics (politicians, not so much), believe it or not, I never watched “The West Wing” during its seven-year run on NBC from 1999-2006.

It’s one of my dear friend, Katie’s favorite shows. She was always on me in Duluth to watch it, so I started. I got through season three, but was always finding other things to watch.

And, in November, she dropped the bombshell that it was leaving Netflix Christmas Eve! Guess what I did in all of my free time in those five weeks? Yes, I binge watched and finished the series.

Final thoughts: I loved the Christmas episodes, you definitely saw a quality change in the show after creator and writer Aaron Sorkin left, and while I still enjoyed them, seasons six and seven were my least favorites.

Oh, Donna, Josh, and C.J. were my favorite characters!

IF YOU MISS SORKIN’s INTELLIGENCE…

Definitely check out his latest, his directorial debut, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”, on Netflix!

It was my #3 movie of 2020 and it’ll rack up several Oscar nominations this year! Here’s what I said about it in November:

“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

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON “

David Grann’s 2017 book subtitled “The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” is so compelling and it was one of the best books I read in the past year.

It tells the story of the Osage Indians and how they had to continually move from place to place so the white man could expand on their land.

Finally, they were given rocky, useless land in Oklahoma. When oil was discovered there, they became the richest people in the world per capita. Then, one by one, they ended up dead — murdered!

The book also tracks the up and coming career of the young FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover.

When Mollie Burkhart’s sister Anna was murdered in the 1920s, it was common to charge the Osage close to $6,000 for a funeral. That’s equivalent to about $80,000 today! It was because the white man knew the Osage had all the oil money!

How pathetic!

While the murders continued, one Osage member replied, “It is a question in my mind whether this jury is considering a murder case of not. The question for them to decide is whether a white man killing an Osage is murder — or merely cruelty to animals.”

The book is currently planned for production as a film directed by Martin Scorsese with Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro set to star.

MORE FROM “GROCERY”

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a few interesting tidbits from an incredible book I read last year, Michael Ruhlman’s 2017’s “Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America”! I’d definitely recommend it!

Who would think to write an entire book on just how groceries came to be, the changes grocery stores have to make to accommodate how quickly we change our eating habits, and just how small the profit margins are in the grocery business?

While I gave up eating beef more than a decade ago, Ruhlman shares some very interesting information about cattle and what would happen to them if we stopped eating beef. Intriguing!

Here are a few more things I learned:

Beef makes up about 40% of a grocery’s meat section (almost half of that is ground), chicken makes up 20%, pork 11%, and lamb 2.5%.

Before cows were fed corn (89% of it genetically modified which eventually makes the animal sick), it took them about four years to grow to the weight needed to slaughter. Now it only takes fourteen to seventeen months to attain that weight!!! Disgusting. I’m so glad I gave up beef!

If we didn’t use pigs, chicken, and cows for meat, eggs, and milk, the author claims they would only exist in the wild and “We would likely get rid of them for being a nuisance, scarcely different than rats and mice, the lives of which most seem to have moral qualms about extinguishing.”

And, a decade after World War II, the 1950s, frozen foods would become a $50 billion industry in the U.S. ($300 billion worldwide). This is all thanks to Clarence Birdseye: “Birdseye discovered in the 1920s that peas quickly blanched before being frozen result in a vividly green pea.”

GROUNDHOG HUMOR

After two bitterly cold weekends across Central Illinois and the Midwest, I’ll state it again, “I love the snow, but not the bitter cold!

Thanks Punxsutawney Phil, you damn rodent!

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 5, 2021

Happy 2021! Yes, I know it’s the first weekend of February (where did January go?)!

However, other than my Christmas wishes in December and my favorite movies of 2020 in January, I haven’t had a “Random Friday Thoughts” blog since November 20, 2020!

So, here goes and thank you for checking it out!

SUPER BOWL WEEKEND

Who cares? While I don’t care, I know there are many that do.

The only time I’m even remotely interested in the big game is when there’s someone on the halftime show I want to see (J Lo in 2020, Lady Gaga in 2017, Madonna in 2012, and Janet Jackson (and her boobie) in 2004!

Again, it was NOT planned — it was a “wardrobe malfunction”! (I actually typed that with a straight face without laughing out loud!)

This year, it’s The Weeknd!

So, here’s my favorite The Weeknd song — my #9 song of 2015.

GUACAMOLE

While I’m talking about the Super Bowl, this weekend is the biggest selling weekend of the year for avocados!

It’s estimated that the United States alone eats enough guacamole this weekend to fill the Super Bowl stadium!

Meanwhile, the biggest selling food for other holidays: corn (Fourth of July), turkeys (Thanksgiving, duh!), and strawberries (Valentine’s Day).

Those interesting facts are from one of the most intriguing books I read last year — Michael Ruhlman’s 2017’s “Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America”!

A few fun other things from that book…

In the 1930s, inland Americans only ate about 10 pounds of chicken per person per year compared to about 50 pounds of beef and pork.

Two of the biggest changes in the way we shop came in 1988 thanks to Walmart Supercenters and Whole Foods Market!

While the grocery section accounts for a large portion of a store’s sales, produce (second in sales) is the most profitable.

It’s hard to educate ourselves to eat better because while there 535 lawmakers in Congress, there are more than 10,000 lobbyists in Washington to persuade (con) them — 20 lobbyists to each politicians!

“MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM”

The Golden Globes nominations were announced earlier this week and it comes as no surprise to me that Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman were nominated. I expect them to get Oscar nominations, too.

This was my #5 movie of 2020. As I wrote in January when I posted my 20 favorite movies I saw in 2020, “I could watch Oscar and Emmy winner Viola Davis act her way through a phone book.”

When I started hearing all the Oscar buzz about Boseman, I was hoping it wasn’t because he had just died in late August. Well, give that man his posthumous Golden Globe and Oscar now. Incredible performance!

You can see it on Netflix.

GRADE: A-

“PIECES OF A WOMAN”

And, speaking of the Golden Globes and the Oscars, Viola Davis will have some stiff competition from Vanessa Kirby (“The Crown”).

This movie is downer, but Kirby’s performance in the opening 24 minutes of this drama is amazing!

It’s on Netflix.

GRADE: B+

KYLIE & DUA LIPA

While we look forward to see what the “new normal” will be in 2021 as the world tries to get a grasp on the Covid-19 pandemic, it’ll be interesting to see what awaits us in the world of entertainment.

For me, I want Kylie Minogue to announce a “Disco 2021 Tour” to support her critically acclaimed album (and my favorite of 2020), “Disco”.

The third single, “Real Groove”, features a fantastic version with chart-topper Dua Lipa!

And, the Studio 2054 remix is incredible!

WALKING AND READING

I spend a lot of time walking and reading (12-plus miles daily) — yes, both at the same time. So, I get a lot of books read.

Although they weren’t new books (within the last few years), a disturbing trend I noticed was the lack of quotation marks with dialogue. It was so offsetting and hard to follow! Please stop this! 🙂

The first time I noticed it was in “LaRose”.

“LaROSE”

Over the years, when “Entertainment Weekly” gives a stellar review for a book that sounds interesting and I jot it down to read.

Over the years, that’s how I found Sarai Walker’s “Dietland”, “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins, and “Sweetbitter” by Stephanie Danler.

This summer, I read three more from that old list.

Louise Erdrich’s 2016 “LaRose” was a very informative fictional book about the Ojibwe tribe.

It tells the story of a hunting accident that leaves a little boy dead and it’s heartbreaking what the hunter’s family has to do to make things right with the family that lost the child.

“THE IMMORTALISTS”

Chloe Benjamin’s 2018 best seller “The Immortalists” was a great book.

Four brothers and sisters in 1969 New York City go to see a fortune teller that specializes in telling people the day they’ll die.

The book follows the youngsters as they maneuver through life trying to deal with the fact that she might be right and how it shapes the decisions they make and how they live their lives.

I have to hand it to Benjamin on her amazing description of gay love and sex with one of the characters!

“THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR”

And, another book on that “EW” list was Canadian author Shari Lapena’s 2016 crime caper, “The Couple Next Door”.

Marco and Anne are heading to dinner at their duplex neighbor’s townhouse when their baby sitter cancels on them at the last minute.

Since they live in a nice, safe neighborhood, they decide to leave their baby Cora at home with a baby monitor and they take turns checking on her every 30 minutes.

When they finally get home after midnight, Cora is missing! Was she kidnapped for ransom? Was she taken and murdered?

Of these three, it was the best.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

My (Stay at Home) Favorite Movies of 2020

The deadly Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on every aspect of our lives in 2020.

The movie industry was especially hard hit. Movie production stopped, motion pictures were delayed, and theaters closed down changing the way we viewed first run movies.

With that being said, I only saw 26 movies last year.

I barely had enough to rank my Top 20 of 2020 without adding in a Lifetime and a Hallmark Christmas movie! 🙂 Kidding aside, I wanted to see them because of the LGBTQ storylines.

However, after seeing one of them, I regretted it. More on that one later!

A parting thought: While I love seeing movies on the big screen, the thing I missed most was getting my large popcorn (without that nasty butter on top) and a large Coke Zero with a splash of cherry and my refills on both before leaving the theater! 🙂

So, before I share my Top 20 movies I saw in 2020, here was my favorite movie I saw in 2019!

“THE FAREWELL

Oh, let me know many you saw and your favorite movie you saw in 2020!

“HARRIET

I absolutely love Cynthia Erivo! Check her out in “Bad Times At The El Royale”, my #10 movie of 2019.

“HILLBILLY ELEGY

This made the list mainly because of the Oscar nomination-worthy performances of Amy Adams and Glenn Close!

“SHIRLEY

Two words: Elisabeth.Moss. Okay, two more words: Logan.Lerman.

“KNIVES OUT

Fun, snarky, all-star cast whodunnit!

“1917

Oscar winner with the great George MacKay and an acting Harry Styles!

“MANK

I expect a BEST PICTURE Oscar nomination for this one — very Hollywood. You can see it on Netflix!

“HAPPIEST SEASON

Hulu LGBTQ Christmas movie with the incredible Kristen Stewart.

“THE CHRISTMAS SETUP

Yes, it’s a Lifetime Christmas movie. However, it was very touching and I teared up twice (for the right reasons).

It stars real life, charming couple Blake Lee and Ben Lewis. Oh, Fran Drescher, too!

“PALM SPRINGS

Hilariously funny Hulu original with many awesome f-bombs!

“THE HUNT

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

“FORD V. FERRARI

Awesome movie, acting, and story telling!

“RICHARD JEWELL

True story based on the 1996 Summer Olympics bombing in Atlanta, Georgia, with the fantastic Kathy Bates.

“THE JOKER

Twisted and fun and Joaquin Phoenix was great!

“I AM WOMAN

Biopic honoring the late great iconic feminist singing legend Helen Reddy!

“THE INVISIBLE MAN

Elisabeth Moss again! 🙂 I can’t wait for season 4 of “The Handmaid’s Tale”!

“MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM

I could watch Oscar and Emmy winner Viola Davis act her way through a phone book. I expect Oscar nominates for Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman. It’s on Netflix.

“JOJO RABBIT”

Who knew a movie about Adolf Hitler could be funny?!

“THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

If you’re missing the beautiful writing of “The West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin, check out this all-star Netflix film that will rack up several Oscar nominations this year!

WORST MOVIE OF THE YEAR!!!

“The Christmas House” — this Hallmark Channel movie was so painful, I stopped watching halfway through it. LGBTQ storyline or not, no thanks!

Movies missing out on the Top 20:

#25 “Dashing in December”

#24 “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” (Fantastic acting, but I seriously felt like I was on an LSD trip for two hours!)

#23 “Jingle Jangle”

#22 “Little”

#21 “The Prom” (Even my girl crush Nicole Kidman and Queen Meryl Streep couldn’t propel this to the level that I’d want to watch it again. However, it was enjoyable one time!)

“THE BOYS IN THE BAND

Catty New York City queens definitely NOT enjoying a birthday dinner party in the late-1960s. Amazing performances! So, one Ryan Murphy Netflix movie made the countdown! 🙂

Before I reveal my favorite movie I saw in 2020, here’s a bonus!

MOVIES I’M LOOKING FORWARD THIS YEAR

“THE WHITE TIGER” (January 22, 2021)

“A QUIET PLACE PART II” (April 23, 2021)

“DEATH ON THE NILE” (September 17, 2021)

“HALLOWEEN KILLS” (October 15, 2021)

“ARMY OF THE DEAD” (Summer 2021??? on Netflix)

Zombies! Las Vegas! Zack Snyder! Sign me up NOW!

And, now my favorite!

“PARASITE

So worthy of winning the Academy Award for Best Picture! WOW!

Wishing and hoping for a much better year for us in 2021.

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

Random Friday Thoughts — November 13, 2020

We’ve made it to the middle of November and Thanksgiving is not far off now. I can’t wait to feast!

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

DECORATED FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Christmas for me runs from November 1st through January 30th!

My trees are up, my cards are ready, and my tunes are putting a jingle in my step!

This is my main tree in the living room.

And, in my bedroom, my tree without icicles! Ironically, every ornament was picked up at yard sales this year in Decatur!

I love the idea so much that next year I’ll place all of my personal ornaments on this tree just to highlight them for you.

And, I’ll put the yard sale ornaments on the main tree with all the icicles!

Happy Holidays!

MY ONLY POLITICAL POST THIS WEEK!

This was too funny not to share! 🙂 If it makes you mad, just be diplomatic in your response.

“DISCO” WEEK!

I’ve already been enjoying Christmas music while I write out my holiday cards. However, Mariah Carey, Michael Buble, Reba, and The Carpenters are temporarily on pause.

I’ve been jamming out and partying to Kylie Minogue’s highly-anticipated new deluxe album, “Disco”!

What a perfect distraction from the U.S. presidential election and the dismal and sad Covid-19 pandemic!

So far, my favorite songs on the album are “Real Groove”, “Supernova”, “Last Chance”, “Where Does The DJ Go?”, “Fine Wine”, and “Spotlight”.

This is, in addition, to the first three single releases, “Say Something”, “Magic”, and “I Love It”.

GRADE: A

“SPOILER ALERT: THE HERO DIES”

This 2017 book is subtitled, “A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Other Four-Letter Words”.

It’s by TVLine editor-in-chief and former “Entertainment Weekly” and “TV Guide” columnist Michael Ausiello.

IT’S ABSOLUTELY THE BEST BOOK I’VE READ IN YEARS!

I’ve been wanting to read it since it came out, but real life and my own drama (D-I-V-O-R-C-E) got in the way.

By page eight, I was ready to date and fall in love in again. By page 26, I had tears streaming down my cheeks and I was happy no one was close enough to me as I was reading and walking by Lake Decatur to see me crying!

The book is amazing. While it’s a heartbreaking story of finding love, fighting for love, and then losing that love in a painful, year-long death sentence, it’s a beautiful love story!

Many will never experience the love that Michael and Kit did.

Ausiello knew just when to drop a funny line, a pop culture reference, or a naughty memory to bring a smile to my face alongside the tears.

One of the “other four-letter words” could be my favorite word (think “F).

Another is one I absolutely love, but I can’t use it without offending someone! (I won’t even give you a hint on that one, but if you’re busy this weekend and on Monday, I’ll see you next Tuesday!)

Also, after reading this beautiful book, “olive oil” take on a whole new meaning and I hope to get to use it one day! ❤️

“RATCHED”

While Netflix’s “Ratched” feels like another season of “American Horror Story”, it was definitely much better than the last two seasons!

It’s very twisted and entertaining. The color scheme in the sets and wardrobe is gorgeous and is a lead character in itself!

I absolutely love Sarah Paulson as Nurse Mildred Racthed! Well, I love Paulson in everything she does and I’d watch her read a phone book!

And I love Finn Wittrock for many reasons!

But, the dreamiest character in an early episode was Daniel Di Tomasso.

And, if there’s only one Emmy nomination for acting in this series, it’s definitely Tony Award winner and Oscar nominee Sophie Okonedo.

She plays Charlotte Wells, a patient suffering from multiple personalities! Okonedo is amazing to watch!

Another season is coming.

GRADE: B+

“THE ANGEL OF DARKNESS”

I just finished Caleb Carr’s 1997 follow-up to “The Alienist”.

If you watched season two of the TNT series, read this book. It’s totally a different story although Libby Hatch is still featured.

Some that die in the series live in the book and others bite the bullet (spoiler alert)!

DRINK UP!

While I’m one of the few Americans that have never seen any movie in the “Star Wars” series or “The Mandalorian”, I’d partake in this in a heartbeat.

Yo Baby Yoda!

It’s Grey Goose Vodka with muddled kiwi fruit, fresh lime, demerara syrup and bitters 🥝.

The cocktail was created by Michael Young, co-owner of the restaurant Vault in Banbridge in the United Kingdom.

THE MILLENNIUM SERIES

I just finished reading the last three books in Stieg Larsson’s Swedish crime series, which were written by David Lagercrantz.

As you might know, Larrsson wrote the first three books, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2005), “The Girl Who Played with Fire” (2006), and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2007).

He turned them in and died before reaping any money or success from them!

Writer Lagercrantz wrote the next three books in the series with the Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist characters.

His books are “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” (2015), “The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye” (2017), and “The Girl Who Lived Twice” (2019).

I definitely enjoyed the three newer books. They definitely had more of an American influence, while mainly still based in Stockholm, Sweden.

You can definitely tell the last were (likely) influenced by the Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election with this line: “a string of troll factories that spewed out fake news… not only caused chaos and influenced political elections.”

And, in the “Things That Make You Go Hmmm” category…

In the last book, there’s a very evil, crooked rich tycoon with several hotels around the world (including one in Las Vegas) with ties to Russia and a wife he cheats on that’s from Hungary (which neighbors Slovenia)!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony