Posts Tagged ‘COVID-19’

The 4 Fs of Our Future — Fantasy, Frustration, Fear, & F***!

Earlier this year, even as people were dying at an alarming rate from the COVID-19 pandemic, I saw a glimmer of hope.

Vaccinations were showing promise of success and would be made available free of charge to Americans. In March, I got my first Moderna shot.

A month later, I got my second shot and two weeks after that, I was fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

What does that mean? Well, it means that the vaccination is not 100% effective. Nothing is — except death! How morbid, but true.

However, it meant that while I could still get COVID-19, I’d probably not die from it or end up in the hospital. I loved that sense of security.

So, back in March, four months ago, I started thinking about all that I’ve missed since the pandemic brought life to a standstill in 2020.

The “new normal” meant that I’d finally get to meet people across Central Illinois, go on dates, and maybe fall in love again.

I’d get to have people over for dinner, host holiday parties, socialize, and enjoy the nightlife (if I chose to do so)!

Professionally, I could emcee and attend fundraisers and bid in silent auctions!

That vaccination turning point also opened up the world again for domestic and international travel.

Concerts also started being announced, which meant that I might finally get to see Kylie Minogue live on tour.

All of that optimism, all of that excitement, all of that, just a figment of my imagination — a fantasy???

Well, it could be!!!

In mid-May, here in the U.S., about 36% of American adults were fully vaccinated and 47% had gotten at least one shot. It was so encouraging.

Now, more than two months later, the number of those getting vaccinated have hit a roadblock!

Fully vaccinated adults has stalled at 60% (those with one shot stands at 68%).

COVID-19 cases are now on the rise in all 50 states.

In just the past two weeks, the number of new COVID-19 cases has tripled and restrictions are going back in place!

That’s from earlier this week from Clark County, Nevada, which includes Las Vegas, a new COVID-19 hot spot!!!

Officials in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Hawaii are warning people NOT to travel to Las Vegas!

Well, I’m now thoroughly disappointed and I hope I don’t upset your sensitivities and sensibilities!

For those that refuse to get vaccinated and take precautions, Debra Morgan of “Dexter” says it best!

That may sound harsh, but I want a life again! And, I’m sure you do, too!

My thoughts this summer of turning the corner with the COVID-19 pandemic was like the final scene of “Longtime Companion”, one of the first critically acclaimed and awarded movies dealing with the AIDS epidemic.

Three of the main characters were pontificating (I love that word) about wanting to be there when they found a cure for AIDS. They got lost in the moment and fantasized about seeing their friends again that they’d lost to AIDS.

Like Willy, Fuzzy, and Lisa, I just want to be there and have a life again after COVID-19!

GET VACCINATED PEOPLE!

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 — May 21, 2021

It was just last week that I referenced Memorial Day being the “unofficial” start to summer.

After dealing with frosty temperatures a week ago, it’s now feeling like summer here in Illinois with highs heading up well into the 80s.

Our big warm-up started Thursday and will last into next week!

Yuck! I only like the 80s when we’re talking music!

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

GOODWILL AND GOOD GRIEF!

My sister loves going to Goodwill stores. Yard sales are more up my alley.

Now that the people across the country are feeling more comfortable and getting out of their homes, some are doing some spring cleaning.

You’d think that Goodwill store would benefit greatly from this. However, check out this headline and tidbit from the Associated Press:

The Twitter post states, “Americans cleaning out their homes during the pandemic have been donating defective and unusable items to Goodwill. The stores say the donations are hurting them rather than helping and want people to stop giving them their trash.”

Come on people, throw your damn trash away and recycle things that are still in good shape!

“ARMY OF THE DEAD”

I’m so excited that the Zack Snyder Las Vegas/zombie heist film hits Netflix this weekend!!!! I know what I’ll be watching!

A follow-up, a prequel, “Army of Thieves”, has already been shot!

It was directed by actor Matthias Schweighöfer, who stars in both movies.

“THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW”

Six-time Academy Award nominee Amy Adams and Oscars winners Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”) and Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”) and Oscar nominee Jennifer Jason Leigh star in this Netflix psychological thriller.

Okay, no matter what JJL does, I’ll always see her as “Hedy” in “Single White Female” (1992)!

It’s basically an update of the 1954 Jimmy Stewart/Alfred Hitchcock thriller “Rear Window” and 2007’s “Disturbia” with Shia LeBeouf.

In this version, Amy Adams’ Anna Fox is a New York City agoraphobic who spends her time drinking red wine and watching her neighbors.

That’s it!

Ha, just kidding!!!

One night she sees a neighbor being attacked. Or, did she? Was it a just part of a drunken stupor?

This movie definitely rises above the fray and now I plan on reading the book.

By the way, I didn’t see the plot twists ahead of time and that brought the grade up!

GRADE: A

VERY RANDOM THOUGHTS

The internet and entertainment word is abuzz about the possibility that “Bennifer” is a thing again.

Am I jaded and the only one that doesn’t care if Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are together again?

I just have so little faith in Hollywood couplings and marriages (maybe in marriage altogether)!

My only real concern if they’re together again is that there could be a “Gigli 2”? (Okay, I didn’t actually see the 2003 original, but neither anyone else, in theaters, since it was a box office bomb!)

After watching season four of “Fargo”, the television series, I don’t think Chris Rock should give up his day job as a comedian to be a dramatic actor.

He wasn’t convincing as a mob boss! However, his final scene in the series had potential!

However, the highlight of the season was seeing Timothy Olyphant playing Dick “Deafy” Wickware , a 1950 Mormon U.S. Marshal agent.

What? Another U.S. Marshal? Yes, but it was much different than Raylan Givens on “Justified.

MUST SEE VIDEO!!!

I’ve earned back some of my gay points!

A few weeks I commented that I wish Madonna would just focus on making music again because her Twitter feed seems so desperate.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love her and I can’t wait to see the Netflix documentary on the “Madame X Tour” since I didn’t get to see it.

However, I’m obsessed with the incredible performance of Elton John and Olly Alexander (from the group Years & Years) at the 2021 BRIT Awards.

They performed the Pet Shop Boys 1987 Top 10 hit “It’s A Sin” (which is also the name of the HBO Max series featuring Alexander about the early AIDS epidemic in London).

You can tell that Elton is ready to hit the road again this fall with his “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” farewell tour.

“YOU” BOOK SERIES

After watching the first two season of the creepy, stalker, “love story” Netflix series, “You”, I decided to read the first two Caroline Kepnes book it’s based on.

It was interesting to see how the author saw Joe Goldberg, Beck, and Love and how much was changed when it became a television series.

Spoiler (not really): Book 1 (“You” — 2014) and Season 1 were pretty close, yet there was much more of difference between Book 2 (“Hidden Bodies” — 2016) and Season 2.

A third book, “You Love Me” came out in April 2021, but I haven’t read it yet. The third season of the series is expected later in 2021.

Here’s the trailer for the first season, which originally aired on Lifetime.

“MEMORIAL”

Bryan Washington’s fall 2020 fictional book, “Memorial”, is a great read.

It tells the story of a young gay interracial Houston couple, Ben and Mike, navigating a failing relationship and a cultural divide.

Mike is waiting for his mother from Japan to arrive when he decides to fly to Japan to spend time with his dying father, who abandoned the family when Mike was a teenager.

Mike drops the bombshell that he’s leaving his mother there with Ben, who’s Black, and has never met his boyfriend’s mother for an indefinitely period of time!

“PARTY DOWN”

A revival of the comedy, “Party Down”, is in development more than a decade after it ended.

I recently watched the two-season, 20 episode series that originally aired in 2009 and 2010.

It’s about a group of entertainment types (actors, writers, and comedians) working at a catering company, Party Down, to pay the bills while they wait for their big break.

It stars Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation”), Lizzy Caplan (“Castle Rock”), and Jane Lynch (pre-“Glee”).

Season one was very funny and season two was enjoyable, but not as funny.

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 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:

Random Friday Thoughts — April 30, 2021

I find it hard to believe that the first four months of 2021 are now behind us. I’m hoping the next eight brings us happiness and joy.

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

PEOPLE, PLEASE GO BACK!!!

As with any situation in life, one death is one death too many!

With that being said, I’m dismayed to hear that about 8% of Americans are reportedly not going back to get their second COVID-19 shot! (That translates into millions of people!)

I know people are concerned about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after a few deaths were reported from the millions of shots administered.

Also, I know people are a little freaked out when they hear how some are feeling after their second Moderna and Pfizer shot.

I had no side effects from either my first or second shot! And, I’m almost through with the two-week waiting period after my second shot.

With that being said, people please go back and get your second shot!!!

I want America vaccinated and safe, so we can turn the corner on this pandemic and start the “new normal” way of life!

(RELIGIOUS) CULTS

If you regularly read my blog, you’ve probably realized I’m truly intrigued by serial killers and cults (and many other less creepy things)!

Now, let’s talk cults. Oh, hello Scientology!

You’re not alone when it comes to religious institutions (for legal purposes, I’ll add a word) ALLEGEDLY brain-washing people under the guise of Godliness. While there are many, today I’m talking about Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple.

As a child in 1940s small town Indiana, Jones idolized Adolf Hitler! (If this wasn’t a red flag, I don’t know what is!)

While Jones would eventually convince (and force) 900-plus people to gruesomely commit suicide by poison, he, like his coward idol Hitler, died of a gunshot wound to the head — most likely, self-inflicted!

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

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

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

Jones moved Indiana to California (Redwood Valley in Mendocino County and was associated with churches in Los Angeles and San Francisco) before heading to the jungles of Guyana in South America to a community he named after himself, Jonestown.

Even as early as 1975, Jones preached “I love socialism, and I’d die to bring it about. But, if I did, I’d take a thousand with me.”

On several occasions, Jones told his followers about Masada, an Israeli fortress in the mountains “where almost one thousand Jewish revolutionaries, women, and children committed suicide rather than surrender to a Roman army about to breach the walls.”

On Memorial Day 1977, before abruptly leaving San Francisco for Guyana, Jones took part in an anti-suicide rally at the Golden Gate Bridge, where he stated to the audience that for the first time in his life, he was suicidal.

ON A MUCH LIGHTER & TASTIER NOTE

Lately, I’ve been craving a donut shop that isn’t a chain store.

I haven’t found one in Decatur, but check this out — exclusively at Sam’s Club, there’s Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnut Smartfood Popcorn!

From now until the end of May, you can get an 18-ounce bag with the retail price of $4.96.

Well, I’d never pay $5 for almost a pound of popcorn, but it sounds delicious! (Okay, I would pay that for a large popcorn at the movie theater and get my free refill!)

Also, at Sam’s Club, there’s Popcornopolis’ Fried Pickle and Ranch (same price for just 12 ounces) and Herr’s Fire-Roasted Sweet Corn Popcorn (about $4 for an 11-ounce bag)!

“THE SOUNDTRACK OF MY LIFE”

I totally enjoyed reading Clive Davis’ 2013 autobiography, “The Soundtrack Of My Life” and I can’t believe it took me almost a decade to get around to it!

What a walk down memory lane!

I loved reading how he brought Columbia Records out of the easy listening days of Andy Williams and Barbra Streisand in the 1950s and 1960s into the world of rock & roll with Janis Joplin and Bruce Springsteen.

His next major chapter in music was founding Arista Records and launching the careers of Barry Manilow in the 1970s and Whitney Houston in the 1980s.

While at Arista, he also revived the careers of Santana, Luther Vandross, Dionne Warwick, and Aretha Franklin.

While there, he was instrumental in expanding pop music at Arista to launch Laface Records with L.A. Reid and Babyface and Bad Boy Records with Sean Combs/Puff Daddy/P.Diddy/Puffy/Piddy (or whatever the hell he wants to be call on a given day!)

I also loved hearing his story about how he clashed with certain artists — Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Dayne, Melissa Manchester, and Manilow to name a few.

And, after Arista, he started J Records and brought the world Alicia Keys.

What an incredible book to read about his almost 60-year career in the music business. This spring, the legendary Clive Davis turned 89!

I also learned that “How Will I Know”, which Whitney Houston took to #1 in 1986 was originally written for Janet Jackson.

And, my favorite Taylor Dayne song, “I’ll Be Your Shelter”, her #1 song from 1990, was pitched to and rejected by Tina Turner.

DOCUMENTARY — “THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES”

I highly recommend the 608 page book!

But, if that’s not your thing, there’s an amazing music-filled documentary about Clive Davis and the book on Netflix!

NEW REBA MUSIC

Just last week, I hinted at new Reba McEntire music.

Her video, “Somehow You Do”, a ballad written by 12-time Oscar nominee and two-time Golden Globe winner Diane Warren, dropped last Friday. (She’s also won a Grammy Award!)

It’s from new Glenn Close and Mila Kunis movie, “Four Good Days”, out now.

Warren also wrote Reba’s “What If” Red Cross charity single, from 1997, that went on to reach #23 on the country chart and her #4 country hit “I’ll Be” in 2000 from the “So Good Together” album.

A LITTLE WEEKEND HUMOR

“MADAM SECRETARY”

Back in March, I shared some interesting tidbits from reading former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s autobiography, “Madam Secretary”.

I also shared the story of interviewing her in Youngstown, Ohio, back in 1999.

Here are a few parting notes from that great book:

Once Bill Clinton offered Albright “Secretary of State, upon Hillary’s recommendation, making her the first woman “Secretary of State”, she called every one of her predecessors in the position.

Henry Kissinger congratulated her and teased her that she took one of the interesting things about him away — his foreign birth. (He was born in Germany and Albright in Czechoslovakia.)

Albright wrote: “I chided him back by saying he would still be the only secretary who spoke with an accent.”

After Albright, two other women became Secretary of State — Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton.

Obviously we know Hillary’s connection to Albright (Bill Clinton). Rice has a connection to Albright, too. While a student of the University of Denver in the 1970s, Rice was mentored by Albright’s father, Josef Korbel!

And, in honor of one of my favorite shots (when I do them), Madeleine Albright’s nickname is “Fireball”!

Cheers!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — April 23, 2021

Two weeks ago in my “Random Friday Thoughts”, I jokingly posted about breaking up with winter because summer is hotter!

It snowed earlier this week here in Central Illinois!!! That’s what I get! 🙂

Oh, if winter looked like this in the real world, I’d be all for it twelve months a year!

Thanks Gus (Kenworthy) for making my day!

And, thank you for taking the time to check out my thoughts this week! (Oh, apologies to the uninitiated to my blog about the pictures above, but my thoughts are really random!)

REMEMBERING WALTER MONDALE

Earlier this week, the world lost a great man when former Vice President Walter Mondale passed away at the age of 93.

Before become President Jimmy Carter’s vice president from 1977-1981 and running as the Democratic nominee for President in 1984, he served as the U.S. senator from Minnesota from 1964-1976.

Here are some interesting facts from Jonathan Alder’s 2020 book, “HIS VERY BEST, JIMMY CARTER, A LIFE”:

President Carter changed the role of Vice President. Before Carter, it was basically a useless role — other than becoming the leader of the free world in the case of the president died or became incapacitated.

But, Carter made Vice President Walter Mondale’s role real. He invited him into meetings, gave him real responsibilities, and valued his opinions.

At a farewell dinner before President Carter left office in 1981, Mondale said, “Never once did you put me down. Never once did you fail to treat me with dignity.” He made a toast and added, “We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace.”

AND, ON A MORE INFAMOUS NOTE

While on a high school trip to Washington D.C., future serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer called the White House and talked his way into a tour and met Vice President Mondale!

AMERICA, GET ON WITH YOUR BAD SELF!

Even though thousands are still being diagnosed with COVID-19 daily in America and the death toll continues to rise, more and more of us are fully vaccinated!

In the U.S., 26.7% of us are fully vaccinated! That’s slightly more than one-in-four!

In Illinois, we’re at 26.9% and up to 43.3% for those with at least one shot.

While this is great news, I personally feel that some are getting a little too comfortable a little too soon. However, I’m happy to see things moving toward the “new normal”.

With that being said, more and more artists are announcing fall 2021 tour dates.

In the past few weeks, Eric Church, Kane Brown, Andrea Bocelli, and Sammy Hagar announced new tour dates and Elton John and James Taylor posted new dates for their previously postponed tours.

Meanwhile, last week, Reba postponed her 2021 road concerts to 2022 and Michael Buble did the same for his 2021 U.K. dates.

I’m still waiting for Kylie Minogue to announce dates for her late 2020 critically acclaimed album, “Disco”. As I said before, she’s at the top of my concert “bucket list” and I want to see her in some foreign city!

Call it wanderlust!

How comfortable are you attending concerts with 100% capacity later this year?

I’m ready for us to safely travel again. However, it may still be a while for international travel.

At this point, only 2.8% of the world is fully vaccinated!

REBA ANNOUNCEMENT

Oh, back to Reba! When she announced the postponement of her summer arena tour, she also dropped something that made me very happy!

Yes, new music!!!!!

“ARMY OF THE DEAD”

My two most highly anticipated movies this year are “Halloween Kills” (October 15, 2021) and Netflix and Zack Snyder’s “Army of The Dead” (May 21, 2021).

I’m excited for two reasons: (1) it’s about zombies and (2) it’s set in Las Vegas!

Let’s just hope the excitement for me when I visit in June is winning big bucks (or breaking even) — no explosions or zombies, please!

The full trailer is now out and if you love Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler”, take a look and listen!

RIP JIM STEINMAN

Earlier this week, the same day that Vice President Mondale died, the rock music world lost a legendary producer.

Jim Steinman produced some of the biggest hits in pop and rock music including Bonnie Tyler’s four week #1 smash “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in 1983 and Meat Loaf’s “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) in 1993, that topped the charts in 28 countries, including five weeks in the U.S., and Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now”, which hit #2 in 1996.

He also wrote and produced my favorite Air Supply song from 1983, “Making Love Out of Nothing At All”. It peaked at #2 for three weeks behind Bonnie Tyler’s “Eclipse”!

“ANOTHER ROUND”

Earlier this week, I checked out the 2020 Danish movie “Druk” (which means “binge drinking”) on Hulu.

While most of you haven’t heard of it, it’s actually nominated for two Oscars this year, including Thomas Vinterberg for Best Director.

My interest in the movie is that it stars Mads Mikkelsen (“Hannibal”).

It’s the story of four high school teachers in Denmark going through mid-life crises.

They decide to do an experiment with alcohol, since a leading psychiatrist believes that an alcohol blood content level of 0.05 makes you more creative and relaxed.

They test the theory and push it to the limits.

While a very interesting movie, I probably wouldn’t watch it again. However, the final scene is amazing!

Spoiler Alert: The captured image above is part of that incredible last scene.

GRADE: B

MORE MADS

If you love Mads Mikkelsen and you’re going through “Hannibal” withdrawals like me, check out “Arctic”, my #9 movie of 2019.

Awesome movie!

THEY SAID WHAT???

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace to Texas Governor Greg Abbott: “There were thousands of complaints of sexual abuse at migrant shelters during the Trump years. Not to say what’s going on now is right, but we couldn’t find one instance of you complaining & calling that out when President Trump was president.”

“ME”

I’ve read several book about and from Elton John, but his 2019 autobiography, “Me”, is by far the best!

I absolutely loved this book and I’d highly recommend it.

I was very intrigued about what he had to say about Michael Jackson (“He was genuinely mentally ill, a disturbing person to be around.”) and Tina Turner.

In 1997, he and Tina had planned to tour together but found her very difficult to work with. His band called her a “f**king nightmare” and Elton agreed!

Elton says she called him at home and told him, “She didn’t like my hair, she didn’t like the color of my piano – which for some reason had to be white – and she didn’t like my clothes.” And, then Elton says, she added, “You wear too much Versace, and it makes you look fat – you need to wear Armani.” 

I loved that he and Rod Stewart have female nicknames for each other.

And, I was so touched when he told the story of how he and his husband, David Furnish, met in October 1993. (Elton was feeling down, so he called a friend and said bring others over for a dinner party before they went out to celebrate Halloween. David was one of the people his friend brought along to dinner!)

He and David are now the dads of 10-year-old Zachary and 8-year-old Elijah.

Since I haven’t had a date in more than two years, I should try that when the “new normal” post-pandemic world begins!

Also, I was curious about what he’d have to say about Madonna.

If I recall correctly, Elton mentioned her four times and three were positive. The other time he spoke of Madonna was about his anger toward her and he said he apologized to her!

THE NIGHT I SPENT WITH ELTON JOHN

Ha! That’s just tease writing! I never spent the night with Elton John — just the evening! 🙂

For my birthday weekend in 2012, I had tickets to see Madonna’s “MDNA Tour” in Las Vegas.

Earlier that year, Sir Elton John was forced to cancel nine shows due to health reasons and it was announced in the summer that he would make up those dates in October.  But, I didn’t have tickets.

As luck would have it, just hours after arriving in Las Vegas, I searched ebay one last time and found fantastic rear orchestra seats for a great price. And, just like that, two hours later I was sitting there waiting for the show to begin!

I’ve always been a fan of Elton’s from the days of my childhood and his poppy ’70s songs, the fun, yet sometimes, moody hits of the ’80s, the more mature themed music of the ’90s when radio began to move away from playing his new songs (except for “The Lion King” and his tribute to Princess Diana), to his recent adult contemporary fare.

Elton closed out his 19-song set with his award-winning “Circle of Life” from “The Lion King”.

It was two hours of pure gold entertainment!!! 

LAST CHANCE TO SEE ELTON

In January 2018, Elton announced his final “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour that would play more than 300 shows worldwide.

The North American leg kicked off that September and ran through March 2019 and then moved to Europe for the summer and then back to North America though November. The show moved “down under” to Australia and New Zealand from late 2019 to March 2020 when COVID-19 shut down the tour and the world!

Dates are now rescheduled and the tour is expected to resume in Europe on September 1, 2021, and return to the U.S. and Canada in January 2022 for 43 shows through April!

MY FAVORITE ELTON JOHN SONGS

On the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., Elton has scored 58 Top 40 hits. Of those, 27 reached the Top 10 with 19 making it to the Top Five. Nine reached #1!

And, he’s had even more hits on the American Adult Contemporary charts. He’s scored 74 Top 40 hits with 40 of them making the Top 10 and 33 of those reaching the Top Five! Eighteen topped the charts!

So, it was so hard narrowing the list down….

“I’M STILL STANDING”

“THE LAST SONG”

“SAD SONGS (SAY SO MUCH)”

“EMPTY GARDEN (HEY HEY JOHNNY)”

“I GUESS THAT’S WHY THEY CALL IT THE BLUES”

What’s your favorite Elton song?

If you want to see the full blog and my other 15 favorite Elton John songs, here it is! (It should open in a new window!)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2021/04/20/finding-my-next-love-with-help-from-elton-john/

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Finding My Next Love With Help From Elton John?

Forget online dating and phone apps, I may have learned how to end my two-year dating drought and find the love of my life.

If that turns out to be the case, I owe it all to Elton John and his 2019 autobiography, “Me”, that I just got around to reading.

While I’ve read other books about Elton, I absolutely loved this book because it’s in Elton’s own words and from his heart. I’d highly recommend it.

Other than our gayness, there’s two others things Elton and I have in common — analyzing music charts and our love of statistics!

I was very intrigued about what he had to say about Michael Jackson (“He was genuinely mentally ill, a disturbing person to be around.”) and Tina Turner.

In 1997, he and Tina had planned to tour together but he found working with her very difficult. His band called her a “f**king nightmare” and Elton agreed!

Elton says she called him at home and told him, “She didn’t like my hair, she didn’t like the color of my piano – which for some reason had to be white – and she didn’t like my clothes.” And, then Elton says, she added, “You wear too much Versace, and it makes you look fat – you need to wear Armani.” 

I loved that he and Rod Stewart have female nicknames for each other.

And, I was so touched when he told the story of how he and his now husband, David Furnish-John, met in October 1993.

I don’t want to spoil it for you in case you decide to read “Me”.

It’s very clever and it’d be up my alley when I finally get to meet people socially in Decatur, Illinois, now that I’m fully vaccinated from COVID-19!

Sir Elton and David, who have now been together for almost 28 years, are the dads of 10-year-old Zachary and 8-year-old Elijah.

Also, I was curious about what he’d have to say about Madonna.

Elton is not one to hold his tongue and he’s said some mean-spirited things about Madonna in the past about her live performances and her beef with Lady Gaga over “Born This Way” being “reductive”.

If I recall correctly, Elton mentioned her four times in the book and three were positive. The other time he spoke of Madonna was about his anger toward her over Gaga and he said he apologized to her!

I SPENT THE NIGHT WITH ELTON JOHN!

Ha! That’s just tease writing! I never spent the night with Elton John — just the evening! 🙂

For my birthday weekend in 2012, I had tickets to see Madonna’s “MDNA Tour” in Las Vegas.

Earlier that year, Sir Elton John was forced to cancel nine shows due to health reasons and it was announced he’d make up those dates in October.  But, I didn’t have tickets.

As luck would have it, just hours after arriving in Las Vegas, I searched ebay one last time and found fantastic rear orchestra seats for a great price. And, just like that, two hours later I was sitting there waiting for the show to begin!

I’ve always been a fan of Elton’s from the days of my childhood and his poppy ’70s songs, the fun, yet sometimes, moody hits of the ’80s, the more mature themed music of the ’90s when radio began to move away from playing his new songs (except for “The Lion King” and his tribute to Princess Diana), to his recent adult contemporary fare.

When the lights went down and the stage lit up, Elton John had arrived and he opened with “The Bitch Is Back”. For the next two hours, he would perform some of his biggest hits of the 1970’s:  “Bennie and the Jets”, “Rocket Man”, “Levon”, “Tiny Dancer”, “Your Song”, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, “Philadelphia Freedom”, “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”, and “Crocodile Rock”.

After that decade, the selections became more scarce.  He performed “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” and “I’m Still Standing” from the 1980s.

Elton closed out his 19-song set with his award-winning “Circle of Life” from “The Lion King”.

It was two hours of pure gold entertainment!!!  Sir Elton John sounded great and was in a fantastic mood telling some really touching stories about his past, his collaborations, the friends he has lost (Ryan White, Lady Diana, and Elizabeth Taylor), and some naughty stories (John Lennon) and he did make one, very funny Madonna reference.

While talking about his glitzy Yahama piano, Elton said that the company went all out with the construction of the piano.  He said they even installed an aquarium on the front of it so if he got bored, he could watch the fish.  He then said that we could see fish and through optical illusions, the sides of the piano changed like his background and we saw fish swimming.

At that point, he said the fish reminded him of Madonna.  All of the sudden, a small gasp could be heard from the well-informed, and he hushed us, saying that he and Madonna have made up and that they met for dinner in France, “I hugged her and she kicked me in the balls”.  The crowd loved it!

Sir Elton John, you were simply amazing and I’m glad I got to spend two hours of my 2012 birthday weekend with you.

After seeing the show, I bought his “The Red Piano” DVD from his 2004-2009 Las Vegas residency. And, can you believe, nine years later, I still haven’t watched it? But, I will soon!

LAST CHANCE TO SEE ELTON

In January 2018, Elton announced his final “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour that would play more than 300 dates worldwide.

The North American leg kicked off that September and ran through March 2019 and then moved to Europe for the summer and then back to North America though November.

The show moved “down under” to Australia and New Zealand in late 2019 to March 2020 when COVID-19 shut down the tour and the world!

Dates are now rescheduled and the tour is expected to resume in Europe on September 1, 2021, and return to the U.S. and Canada in January 2022 for 43 shows through April!

Maybe I should see Elton one more time and buy tickets to his St. Louis, Missouri, show on March 30, 2022!!!

ELTON JOHN’S AMERICAN CHART SUCCESS

Do you know how difficult it is to narrow down decades of Elton John hits to pick your twenty favorite? Think about it for a moment.

On the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., Elton has scored 58 Top 40 hits. Of those, 27 reached the Top 10 with 19 making it to the Top Five. Nine reached #1!

And, he’s had even more hits on the American Adult Contemporary charts. He’s scored 74 Top 40 hits with 40 of them making the Top 10 and 33 of those reaching the Top Five!

Eighteen topped the charts (and seven more of those Top Five hits stalled at #2. I’d be firing some people in the office for not getting them to #1! Just Kidding!!!)

MY FAVORITE ELTON JOHN SONGS

So with all those hits and all that pressure, here are my 20 favorite Elton John songs!

Once you listen and look at my list, tell me your favorites!

“ISLAND GIRL”

“MAMA CAN’T BUY YOU LOVE”

“CROCODILE ROCK”

“SORRY SEEMS TO BE THE HARDEST WORD”

“DON’T GO BREAKING MY HEART” (WITH RUPAUL)

“STEP INTO CHRISTMAS”

“SACRIFICE”

“ROCKET MAN”

“LITTLE JEANNIE”

“DON’T LET THE SUN GO DOWN ON ME” (WITH GEORGE MICHAEL)

“KISS THE BRIDE”

“PHILADELPHIA FREEDOM”

“DANIEL”

“BLUE EYES”

“THE ONE”

“I’M STILL STANDING”

“THE LAST SONG”

“SAD SONGS (SAY SO MUCH)”

“EMPTY GARDEN (HEY HEY JOHNNY)”

“I GUESS THAT’S WHY THEY CALL IT THE BLUES”

Thank you Elton John for the decades of music and memories and for the beautiful story of your life in “Me”!

Enjoy the rest of the farewell tour and maybe I’ll see you in St. Louis!

Afterwards, enjoy your family, your retirement, and keep making music for fun!

Love and Peace!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — April 16, 2021

The weekend is upon us and I hope you have fantastic plans.

I’m working part of it, but will make the most of it!

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

AGATHA CHRISTIE

Okay, I’ll kick off with an astounding statistic that might blow your mind! (There’s a theme here for me to kick off with a writer that’s been dead for 45 years, the same year her last novel, “Sleeping Murder”, came out.)

English writer Agatha Christie, who’s mostly known for her 66 detective novels, has had more than 2 billion (that’s with a “B”) copies of her work published!!!

In 2019 alone, she moved 2 million copies!!!

She’s only been outsold by the Bible and the works of William Shakespeare!

Jokingly, some could say that “fiction sells”! 🙂

ARMIE HAMMER

34-year-old Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award nominee Armie Hammer is still under investigation for sexual assault by the Los Angeles Police Department.

This comes after multiple women came forward earlier this year about abuse they had allegedly experienced during relationships with Hammer.

His wife of ten years, Elizabeth Chambers, announced their separation in the summer of 2020 — before the allegations surfaced.

He’s now been dropped by his talent agency and his publicist is no longer with him. He’s also been fired/dropped out of several new movies, including one with Jennifer Lopez.

If that sexual assault allegations weren’t bad enough, texts with “disturbing sexual fantasies” involving cannibalism surfaced!

DEATH ON THE NILE”

So, what does this mean for the blockbuster release of the Kenneth Branagh-directed movie, “Death on the Nile”, which Hammer co-stars alongside Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman”), Annette Benning (“The Kids Are All Right”), and Branagh?

The movie opening has already been delayed, at least, six times.

It was originally scheduled for December 20, 2019, and was pushed back to October 9, 2020. Then with COVID-19, it was pushed back to September 17, 2021.

Last month, it was rescheduled once again to February 11, 2022! And, I’d bet money this was due to the Hammer scandal!

COSTLY SCANDAL SOLUTION

What I think will happen is that unless Hammer’s role is a major one, his scenes will be re-shot this summer with a new actor.

This happened with Kevin Spacey in “All The Money in the World”.

After his sex/rape scandal, his scenes were re-shot with the late Christopher Plummer. Plummer earned an Oscar nomination for his performance.

If you don’t remember the story, gay actor Anthony Rapp, a star of Broadway’s “Rent” and the CBS All Access’ series, “Star Trek Discovery”, alleges that back in 1986, then 26-year-old Spacey invited him to a party at his Manhattan apartment, when Rapp was only 14!

Rapp told “Buzzfeed” Spacey tried to seduce him and that “I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually”.

It was then that Rapp says that Spacey “sort of stood in the doorway, kind of swaying. My impression when he came in the room was that he was drunk … He picked me up like a groom picks up the bride over the threshold. But I don’t, like, squirm away initially, because I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ And then he lays down on top of me.”

Spacey’s career disintegrated and he was written out of the final season of “House of Cards”. I absolutely loved that show and would still watch it again with Spacey, but it would a little cringy.

However, my main draw to the show was always Robin Wright as Claire Underwood.

“CALL ME BY YOUR NAME”

Now, with Hammer, I’m torn because the LGBTQ+ classic “Call Me By Your Name” with Hammer and Timothee Chalamet was my favorite movie of 2018!

I know I’ll still watch it, but just like listening to the music of Michael Jackson, I still do it. It just adds creepiness to it!

MOVING ON!

THEY SAID WHAT???

GEORGE H.W. BUSH (then Republican National Committee Chairman, in his August 6, 1974, diary entry three days before President Nixon resigned, on President Ford and President Nixon): “this era of tawdry, shabby, lack of morality has got to end… I will take Ford’s decency over Nixon’s toughness because what we need at this juncture in our history is a certain sense of morality and a certain sense of decency.”

LEGENDARY DIRECTOR MARTIN SCORSESE (about Glenn Close, who was recommended to play Tony Montana’s (Al Pacino) mistress in “Scarface” by Oliver Stone in his book, “Chasing The Light”: “She’s got a face like a horse!”

Um, WTF? Glenn Close is beautiful! Well, definitely not in “Hillbilly Elegy”! 🙂

Darren Franich (in The Bullseye “Entertainment Weekly” March 2021): “‘Clarice’ is a ‘Silence of the Lambs’ spin-off about… who cares, ‘Hannibal’ is on Netflix.”

“JUSTIFIED”

I just finished binge watching the 2010-2015 FX series, “Justified”, with Timothy Olyphant, and absolutely loved it!

It’s tells the story of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Olyphant) having to go back to his home state of Kentucky in the Appalachian Mountains as punishment for shooting a Miami thug in a questionable manner. (Givens has his own set of justice that doesn’t set well with his bosses!)

I’ve had the biggest crush on Olyphant since I saw him in Greg Berlanti’s 2000 LGBTQ movie, “The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy”.

His character, Dennis, did have major flaws though — he wasn’t into commitment, he definitely got around, AND, worst of all, he hated the Carpenters! 🙂

Fast forward ten years or so –this is how you rock your 40s (from “Justified”)!

And, there’s been industry buzz that the team behind the series may be bringing it back in some form with the Emmy-nominated Olyphant rumored to be coming back!

Final note: if you want to see a more comical side of Olyphant, he was amazing in the three seasons of the Netflix’s comedy “Santa Clarita Diet” with Drew Barrymore.

BEWARE OF HARLAN COUNTY

Since much of “Justified” took place around Harlan County, Kentucky, “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” was featured prominently in five of the six season finales. (Only season three didn’t use it.)

It’s an amazing and haunting song. Brad Paisley’s version from his 2001 album, “Part II” is amazing and was used in the season one and season two finales.

However, my favorite version of the song is by Patty Loveless from her 2001 album, “Mountain Soul”.

“HIS VERY BEST, JIMMY CARTER, A LIFE”

Final comments from Jonathan Adler’s must read 2020 biography…

Nine months before Islamic Revolution “students” seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, on November 4, 1979, and kept 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, they briefly took over the embassy nine months earlier on Valentine’s Day, but released them!

President Carter sensed allowing the exiled Shah of Iran to stay in the U.S. could cause Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini and his radicals to take over the embassy again. In March 1979, President Carter asked his Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, “What are you guys going to advice me to do if they overrun our embassy and take our people hostage?”

After the Soviets invaded Afghanistan over Christmas 1979, it led a longshoreman group’s members to refuse to load ships with grain headed to the Soviet Union. While high ranking officials in Carter’s administration was behind a grain embargo, Rosalynn (Jimmy’s wife and one his closest advisors) and Vice President Walter Mondale was opposed.

President Carter went along with it and that decision was later compared to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. When Johnson signed that into law, it turned the Democratic South “red” (Republican) just as the embargo did for the farm belt states!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — April 9, 2021

Easter is now behind us, so there’s no doubt that spring is here! However, it’s still snowing across parts of country.

So, here’s my last thought on winter 2020-2021!

Don’t get me wrong. Summer is my least favorite season. I just thought it was funny.

With warmer weather settling in across the country, more and more activities will take us outdoors, so I appreciate you taking the time to check out my random thoughts!

BEING A LITTLE PERSONAL

My friends, thank you for the wonderful feedback and messages last week!

Instead of “Random Friday Thoughts”, I shared a rather personal blog about my life, some challenges and disappointments, and a look toward the future.

For those that took time to read it and share in my life, I appreciate it.

If you didn’t get a chance, here it is. (If you click on the link, it SHOULD open in a new window, so you won’t lose your place in this week’s blog!)

If it doesn’t, you can always hit the back arrow once you read it and you’re back to today’s blog. (Word Press changed that. It used to be simpler!)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2021/04/02/feelings-as-i-look-to-the-future/

SPIKE IN COVID-19 CASES

While better than it was earlier this year, we’re now seeing a spike in Covid-19 cases.

I guess that doesn’t really come as a surprise following spring break. But, I don’t think that is the only reason.

I know people are getting a little too comfortable or lazy!

Last week, I stopped at a convenient store in my hometown of Mayfield, Kentucky, and the store was very busy.

One employee was wearing a mask, but the others were not. The only three customers that were wearing masks were me, my sister, and her boyfriend!!!

You can’t tell me that everyone in there was fully vaccinated!

Come on people, let’s get most of the country (and the world) vaccinated before we become complacent and comfortable!

MY OSCAR PICK FOR “BEST ACTRESS”

The Academy Awards show is now just weeks away and the only category that I’ve seen all of the nominees is “Best Actress”. (Does that shock you with my affinity to women in entertainment?) 🙂

We’ve all heard the old saying about saving the best for last and in this case, it’s true.

I absolutely love Viola Davis (“How To Get Away With Murder”) and I’d watch her read a phone book and Vanessa Kirby (“The Crown”) deserved the nomination based on the first 24 minutes of her movie. These were the first two of the nominees I saw and I was leaning toward Davis.

Then, I saw Frances McDormand, who is just too amazing in everything she does, and Andra Day as Billie Holiday the same weekend. Day was my pick and it was a contest between her and Davis for my vote, until….

I saw Carey Mulligan in “Promising Young Woman”. I was mesmerized by her performance and I loved the downer of a movie. I can’t wait to see it again!

So my pick for Best Actress is Carey Mulligan!

“Promising Young Woman” is up for four other Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

In a recent blog, I gave the movie an “A”!

“LIFE ITSELF: A MEMOIR”

I really enjoyed reading film critic Roger Ebert’s 2011 autobiography, “Life Itself: A Memoir”.

Some of things I learned is that he’s from Central Illinois (Urbana) and went to college at the University of Illinois (Champaign) before moving away to work at the “Chicago Sun-Times”.

While they often disagreed and would get into very heated debates, he was very close to his longtime work partner Gene Siskel. He says that Siskel was very private with his health condition when he became ill and then died.

After discovering cancer from the 1980s had come back in 2006, Ebert believed he had himself to blame for his three failed surgeries that disfigured his face causing him never to eat, drink, or talk again.

(I won’t say why in case you want to read the book. All I’ll say is that he didn’t take the medical advice he likely should have!)

Ebert died in April 2013.

I definitely want to see the 2014 documentary about Ebert’s life.

FRIDAY FLASHBACK

For some reason, “Forget Me Nots” popped into my head earlier this week.

It was Patrice Rushen’s only Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. It reached #23 in the summer of 1982 and was nominated for a Grammy Award.

The song fared much better on the R&B (#5) and Dance charts (#2).

In her career, she accumulated eight hits on the dance charts and seven on the R&B charts.

“HIS VERY BEST, JIMMY CARTER, A LIFE”

More from the amazing 2020 biography by Jonathan Adler…

President Carter changed the role of Vice President. Before Carter, it was basically a useless role — other than becoming the leader of the free world in the case of the president died or became incapacitated.

But, President Carter made Vice President Walter Mondale’s role real. He invited him into meetings, gave him real responsibilities, and valued his opinions.

At a farewell dinner before President Carter left office in 1981, Mondale said, “Never once did you put me down. Never once did you fail to treat me with dignity.” He made a toast and added, “We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace.”

And, once Carter visited Camp David in Maryland, just outside of Washington D.C., he spent almost one-quarter of his presidency there — basically every other weekend and prolonged holidays. (However, this was a working “White House”, unlike Mar-a-Lago!)

“TYRANT”

If you’re missing “Homeland” and want a new Middle Eastern drama, I enjoyed this three-season series.

I saw season one a few years ago and then real life got in the way. Recently, I found it on Hulu, so I decided to check watch it in its entirety.

It tells the story of Barry, who lives in the U.S. with his wife and two teenagers, as they return to his Middle East country for a wedding. This is his first time back since leaving as a teenager.

Adam Rayner (Bassam “Barry” Al-Fayeed) and Moran Atias (Leila Al-Fayeed) are my favorite characters in the series and they’re both DDG (drop dead gorgeous)!

I loved the addition of Melia Kreiling (Daliyah Al-Yazbek) in seasons two and three.

Warning: I got the feeling that the season 3 finale was shot as a season finale and not a series finale since it was not renewed for a fourth season.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony