Posts Tagged ‘Culture Club’

Random Friday Thoughts — July 3, 2020

Since it’s been a rather bizarre year so far, it probably comes as no surprise that summer is here and 2020 is already half over!

Have a safe and enjoyable Independence Day and thank you for checking out my random thoughts!

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

It’s going to be “hotter than a firecracker” * out there this holiday weekend as temperatures top out around 90° across Illinois (heat indices will be near 100°)! 

* Technically, firecrackers and sparklers can burn to more than 1800° to 3000°+, so it’s just hot!

PUT A LITTLE SPARKLE IN YOUR FOURTH!

I have another thought or two to share about the flamboyant showman.

On my first visit to Las Vegas in 1993, I didn’t get to visit the “official” Liberace Museum (thanks Dennis for your hangover! LOL).

However, I did get to see an exhibition of some of his possessions on my July 2016 trip. It was called the “Liberace Garage”!

By the way, I know I could rock those boots! 🙂

MY FAVORITE FOURTH OF JULY

My favorite Independence Day is, without a doubt, probably one of your favorites, too.

Back in 1976, the United States was celebrating its 200th birthday, its bicentennial.

As a kid, I was mesmerized with the sight of more than a dozen tall ships and tens of thousands of boats filling New York Harbor.

On my transistor radio, “Fernando” by ABBA was playing.  It’s hard to believe that just one month later, the band would release the iconic “Dancing Queen”!

No other Fourth of July comes close for me as positively memorable!

MY LEAST FAVORITE FOURTH OF JULY

On the other hand, for the worst, none compares to the 4th of July in 2007!

I was working the morning show and on my drive in, it started pouring rain. In the three minute drive to the station, it was coming down in buckets.

As I was running toward the door, my keys flew out of my hands and went underwater in a puddle.  I got to the door and banged and banged, but no one heard it! It was 1:45 a.m.

So, I dug through my bag and found my spare car keys.  I drove to the other side of the building and, this time, one of the producers heard me knocking and opened the door.

Since I was soaked, I decided to go back home and change into a dry suit.

As torrential rains continued falling, a wall of water came crashing into the intersection. Without warning, in just seconds (real-time seconds), my car stalled and died as the water quickly came up to the door.  At the same time, three other cars met the same fate as mine.

I quickly thought about the power doors and windows! If there was a shortage, I would be locked inside!

Yes, I had a Jessica Savitch flashback moment!

For those of you that don’t know her or remember her, Savitch is/was one of my idols.  She was the weekend news anchor, the “Golden Girl” of NBC News, back in the late 1970s. 

Savitch drowned in an overturned car in a flooded ravine back in 1983!

Three intoxicated teenagers came running through the water and helped me push my car into an alley.

Soaking wet, I walked fifteen blocks to my house bare-footed in a ruined suit.

I ended up with three large blisters on the soles of my feet. Luckily, I didn’t step on anything sharp, which would have allowed bacteria in the nasty floodwaters to make me sick!

By the way, I made it back in time to get my weather graphics done and was on the air at 5 a.m.!

As a meteorologist, I’ve never encountered the force of raging water and now I know first hand just where “flash flooding” gets its name. 

It just two or three seconds, the water came out of nowhere and submerged the cars!

Remember, it only takes about six inches of flowing water to sweep a person off their feet, a foot of moving water to make a car buoyant, and only two feet of raging water to sweep a car away!

“OZARK”

“Ozark”, one of my favorite shows, will be returning for a fourth and FINAL season. 🙂 😦

Netflix announced earlier this week that final season will feature fourteen episodes instead of the usual ten.

It’ll also be divided in two parts, seven episodes each (like the final season of “Breaking Bad”).

The return date is unknown.

ANOTHER “OZARK” THOUGHT

When the 72nd Emmy Awards nominations are announced on July 28th, I have a request (or three)!

In May, I wrote that season 3 “was incredible! WOW!”, so “just go ahead and give Laura Linney, Janet McTeer, and Tom Pelphrey their Emmy Awards now!”

And, in June, I added that “I’ve loved Linney since I saw her as Mary Ann Singleton in ‘Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the Cities’ in 1994 and I feel this is her year to collect another Emmy!”

AUDITION”

Barbara Walters’ 2008 autobiography, “Audition” is incredible!

After reading it, I’m sorry for two things: that it took me this long to read it and that even at 576 pages, I wished it was longer!

In television news, Barbara is an icon and a trailblazer for women.

We all know of her famous specials and interviews, her time spent on “Today”, “20/20”, and “The View”, along with her million dollar-plus salary (back when it was unheard of for most network anchors — especially women).

However, her home life was very interesting.

Her famous father would earn several fortunes and lose them all, she had a mentally challenged older sister, and she was very open about her successes and failures in love and in her career.

I wish she had talked more about the lavish parties she hosted at her New York City penthouse. I’ve read that they are to die for!

“Audition” is a fantastic read!

“MY THOUGHTS BE BLOODY”

Another interesting book I read this spring was “My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry That Led To The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln” by Nora Titone.

The book doesn’t dwell much on the night of Lincoln’s shooting death.

It focuses on the lives of Edwin Booth (a rich, world-renowned famous actor) and his less successful younger brother, John Wilkes Booth, a failed actor and oil businessman.

It wasn’t just the inferiority complex that John Wilkes felt when it came to acting and financial stability that led to his decision to kill Lincoln.

Politics and slavery deepened the familial divide that led to John Wilkes Booth outshining both his brother and famous Shakespearean actor father’s achievements through infamy!

DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES

Daryl Hall & John Oates are still one of the few acts that I’ve never gotten to see in concert! (The other four are Kylie Minogue, Culture Club, Toni Braxton, and Vanessa Williams).

In the summer of 1980, the duo’s “Voices” was the first album I bought with my own money. Actually, it was a cassette.

In Rob Sheffield’s book “Talking to Girls About Duran Duran” (2010), he had a chapter on Daryl Hall & John Oates.

He calls the “H20” cover art, “Hall & Oates’ second-gayest album cover”.

Now, while Sheffield doesn’t mention which Daryl Hall & John Oates album had the gayest cover, I’d venture to guess it was their fourth album — the self-titled effort that included their hit “Sara Smile” (#4, 1976). 🙂

And, Sheffield shares part of an interview to “Rolling Stone” in January 1985 from Daryl Hall saying he wasn’t into John Oates in that way, “he’s not my type — too short and dark” and then he (Hall) adds, “The idea of sex with a man doesn’t turn me off…”

Wait? What?

You mean as a 15-year-old, in the summer of 1980, when they became my favorite act, I had already missed my window of opportunity with an older, experienced man? (Hall was 33-years-old!)

No, I didn’t have “daddy issues” at the time! (I still don’t!) 🙂

Here’s the entire quote: “The idea of sex with a man doesn’t turn me off, but I don’t express it. I satisfied my curiosity about that years ago. I had lots of sex between the ages of three or four and the time I was fourteen or fifteen. Strange experiences with older boys. But men don’t particularly turn me on. And, no, John and I have never been lovers. He’s not my type. Too short and dark.”

To pay tribute to this dynamic duo and their influence on my life, here are my ten favorite Daryl Hall & John Oates hits.

It’s so hard narrowing it down to ten since they charted 29 hits in the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Of those, sixteen reached the Top Ten and six topped the charts!

My ten favorites are:

#10 “Did It In a Minute” (1982) — #9 “Adult Education” (1984) — #8 “One On One” (1983) — #7 “Maneater” (1982) — #6 “Say It Isn’t So” (1983).

“OUT OF TOUCH” (#1, 1984, two weeks)

“KISS ON MY LIST” (#1, three weeks, 1981)

“I CAN’T GO FOR THAT (NO CAN DO)” (#1, one week, 1982)

“PRIVATE EYES” (#1, two weeks, 1981)

YOU MAKE MY DREAMS” (#5, 1981)

Here’s a little bit more Daryl Hall & John Oates trivia for you. BMI reports that the duo had fourteen songs to be played more than a million times on the radio!

P.S. Notice I didn’t refer to them as “Hall & Oates”? They don’t like that.

John Oates told “Esquire, “There isn’t one album that says Hall and Oates. It’s always Daryl Hall and John Oates, from the very beginning. People never note that. The idea of ‘Hall and Oates,’ this two-headed monster, this thing, is not anything we’ve ever wanted or liked.”

So there! 🙂

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — July 6, 2018

I hope you had a great Fourth of July and you’re ready for the weekend.

In retrospective, my “Random Friday Thoughts” last week were a little bleak.  This week, it’s happier.  Well, once you get past the second one!

Thank you for checking out my thoughts and feel free to share yours.

HAPPY 72ND ANNIVERSARY

My favorite president and his wonderful wife are celebrating their 72nd wedding anniversary this weekend.

Autograph Carters

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter were married on July 7, 1946, at the Plains Methodist Church.

He was 21 and just out of the Navy and she was 18.

Interesting tidbit:  Just months earlier, she said “no” when he first asked her to marry him. 🙂

THE “TRANSGENDER” STATE

In America, it’s pretty much a given that straight, white men run the country and most businesses.  That’s slowly changing.

Even in the LGBTQ community, it’s usually white, gay men at the forefront when it comes to being more privileged and in positions of power.  That’s slowly changing, too.

Sadly, it’s the “T” part of LGBTQ, our transgender brothers and sisters, that feel the brunt of hysteria and discrimination from not only straight America, but even from within our own community!  It’s shameful!

It’s bad enough that the government is trying to keep the trans community out of the military, but they also have to fight just for the right to use bathrooms without people thinking there are ulterior motives like child molestation.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg.  As of 2009 worldwide, at least one transgender person is murdered every three days on average!

Here in America, there’s been an increase in the number of transgender men and women killed and a large number of those are transgender women of color!

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In 2017, there were at least 28 trans people murdered!

So far this year in the U.S., there have been thirteen trans people killed, including three in Jacksonville, Florida, prompting some there to think a serial killer is targeting the trans community!

I have several transgender friends and one is a very dear friend.  She’s bright and she’s very vocal in pointing out all of the atrocities that she and the community go through in daily life.

I hope she remains safe and always WOKE!

“POSE”

Our trans friends are just like everyone else and they want the same things everyone else wants!  Some lead quiet lives and some want the glamour and fame!

That’s the focus of uber-producer and Hollywood heavyweight Ryan Murphy’s latest FX series, “Pose”.

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It’s set in New York City in the late-1980s and focuses on the underground world of “ball culture”.  (Oh, there’s also corporate greed and “white privilege” — compliments of those in Trump Tower!)

Most people are unfamiliar with “ball culture”.  It’s basically drag contests in the underground world where contestants compete for trophies to see which “house”, usually a group of outcasts seeking security from a family and a “mother”, the queen of that house.

“Ball culture” is the topic of Jenny Livingston’s landmark documentary, “Paris is Burning” and the inspiration for Madonna’s 1990 career-defining worldwide hit, “Vogue”, that made “posing” and “voguing” mainstream!

In “Pose”, we have the prominent “House of Abundance” led by Elektra (the amazing Dominique Jackson), which takes most of the trophies at the balls.  Elektra is like the Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan of “Dynasty”.

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Yes, “Dynasty” is brought up — it’s the late-1980s.

The drama escalates when one of her “children”, Blanca (Mj Rodriguez), leaves and starts the “House of Evangelista”.  She becomes the Krystal Carrington,  if you will.

While I love Dominique Jackson’s evil (and she truly is) portrayal of Elektra, Mj Rodriguez’s Blanca is my favorite.  She’s loving, caring, hard-headed, and heartbreaking.

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Billy Porter (“Kinky Boots”) is fabulous as the emcee of the balls and Blanca’s friend.

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“Pose” features the largest transgender cast ever assembled on television.

What I love about “Pose” is the real story lines.  You’d think you were living right there with them — from the transphobia directed at them not only from straight America, but also the yuppie, white gay boys.

One of the characters is diagnosed with HIV early on and “Pose” does not hold back on showing how many in the medical field dealt with those dying of AIDS.

Ronald Reagan doesn’t get a “free pass” for his ignorance, denial, and handling of the AIDS plague either.

And, the music is fantabulous!

I hope “Pose” is renewed for a second season.  However, ratings for the series are really low. 😦

“DON’T JUST STAND THERE — STRIKE A POSE!”

In 1990, Madonna’s “Vogue” topped the charts in more than 30 counties and became the biggest selling single in the world that year with more than six million copies sold!

MINNESOTA STATE FAIR FOOD

Once I landed the job in Duluth, Minnesota, in early April, I stayed in Panama City, Florida, to fulfill my apartment lease and to get my old station through the May ratings period.

Now I wish I had moved here earlier to take time off to go to the Minnesota State Fair for the “Life Tour” —  Boy George and Culture Club, The B-52s, and Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey — all on the same bill on Labor Day!

And, I’d love to sample some of the new food this year — Za-Waffle Sticks (waffles blended with pepperoni and mozzarella, topped with a parmesan herb blend and served with pepperoni-infused maple syrup or marinara sauce) and Sweet Greek Cheese Puffs (flaky phyllo dough filled with feta and ricotta cheese, deep-fried, drizzled with honey and topped with powdered sugar.).

But, my favorite new offering there is one I think I can make at home with a little experimenting — Firecracker Shrimp Stuffed Avocado!

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It’s Gulf white shrimp tossed with lime, onion, black beans, tomato and fire-roasted corn in a garlic aioli (mayonnaise seasoned with garlic), drizzled with cilantro-infused olive oil, stuffed in avocado halves and served open-face with flatbread!

That’s similar to one of my favorite appetizers to make — Shrimp Ceviche , which is pictured here!  (Yes, I made these!)Shrimp C

WHITNEY: CAN I BE ME

This Showtime documentary was incredible!

It didn’t shy away from Whitney’s drug use as a teenager, her fear of disappointing God, the rumors about whether she was a lesbian or bisexual, and her spiral out of control that ultimately cost her her life in early 2012.

It was mind-boggling hearing that people were more comfortable ignoring her abuses of drugs and alcohol than it was to accept that she might be a lesbian black woman!

A new “Whitney” documentary hits theaters this weekend.

If you’re a Whitney Houston fan, what are your favorite songs?

Here are my ten favorites.  Of course, it was hard making this list because she had so many amazing songs.

By clicking on this link, it’ll open in a new window!

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2017/02/11/remembering-whitney-houston/

90s NOSTALGIA

Since moving to Duluth a month ago, I’ve been a little nostalgic about my previous times living in the Midwest and Great Lakes back in the 1990s.

When I visited Chicago over Memorial Day weekend 1994, I made my decision to move there and six weeks later I was living in the “Windy City”.

While there for Memorial Day, we partied at the Gentry on Rush and I heard “Dreams” by English singer Gabrielle and I fell in love with the song and, ultimately, the album.

While the song hit the Top Ten in more than a dozen countries in 1993 and 1994, it only reached #26 on the Billboard Hot 100.

However, it did top the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart here in the U.S.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

It All Starts With Me

“I’m going to exercise more and I’m going to watch what I eat”.

“I’m going to blah blah blah”.

It sounds like late December and we’re all optimistic as we don our gay apparel.  The old year is winding down and we’re bubbly with anticipation for what lies ahead for the new year.

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Well, it’s April and either I’m late with my new found determination or I’m early for 2018.  Regardless, I’m ready for change and it all starts with me.  I have to make it happen!

As a teenager, and even into my early-and-mid-20s, I was never really comfortable enough to speak out and express my views.   After all, it was the conservative Reagan years and I lived in small town Kentucky.

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Luckily, for me, I found my voice after moving to Chicago in 1994 and I feel that I’ve used that voice to raise awareness for issues that are near and dear to me (the LGBT movement, marriage equality, women’s rights, and more.)

On the downside of that, I realize that the same voice that can prompt a healthy dialogue and change can also be short and abrasive.

That’s something I’m finding myself guilty of more and more lately.  I’ve always considered myself a “realist”.  While I always look for the “silver lining” in life, I find that I don’t sugarcoat things like I used to do.

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This comes across as harsh and I’ve been told that my “tone” is hurtful.  It’s gotten me to think, “that’s not me and is this what I’ve become?”

It takes a good friend to stand beside you during these times, but if that person is a true friend, they’ll hold up a mirror so you can see the reflection of yourself.  And, that reflection isn’t always pretty — unlike this beautiful photo of Miss ABBA in 2007.

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I’ll be the first to admit my temperament changed for the worst after November 8, 2016, when the unthinkable happened.

Hillary AP

I lost faith in myself and in my fellow man and now, it’s up to me to find it again.

That search may be near or it may be far.  It’s not going to happen today or tomorrow, because it really didn’t start overnight.

Reba Anthony 2005

If you know anything about me, you know that I idolize Reba McEntire and like millions of others, her music touches hearts.

While I knew who Reba was in the mid-1980s, I was in college and listened to Top 40 music (Madonna, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Culture Club, Duran Duran) and dance club music (Erasure, Dead or Alive, Depeche Mode).

While visiting a gay Chicago nightclub on “country night” in the summer of 1990, I heard a song and I was captivated by the voice.  It was Reba and I was hooked.

But, it’s more than the voice.  It’s the heartfelt emotions and the messages she expresses that touches me.

I was optimistic with life in 1990 as “Climb That Mountain High” kicked off the first Reba CD I bought, “Rumor Has It”.

Dessie 1990

After my mother’s sudden death in November 1990, I felt Reba was talking directly to me with her fall 1991 release, the heartbreaking album “For My Broken Heart”.  It featured two tearjerkers — the title track and “If I Had Only Known”.

Earlier this year, Reba treated fans with her first gospel album, “Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope”.

reba-faith

I’ve expressed this before and I’ll say it again.  I pray every night and I’ve done so since I was kid.  However, I don’t believe in “organized religion” (if you do, that’s your prerogative and your right and I’m good with it).

I’ll speak in broad strokes here.  For me and for America, we’re at a very trying, unsure time in our lives.  I don’t care if you live in a blue state or a red state or if your candidate won or lost in the last presidential election, you really have to sense that the world is dealing with a lot of issues with few plausible answers.

I know that sounds preachy and it is.  With that being said, it’s only fitting for me that the first song from Reba’s new album really hits home — now more than ever after what I’ve told you today.

Don’t worry, I’m not a “Jesus freak” (Okay, breathe!  I love that term and I only use it for those right wing, conservative people that use God to justify “hate”).

I didn’t like my mother’s church because it focused so heavily on the fire and brimstone message of Revelations.  Yes, that helped taint my view of “organized religion”.

lake_of_fire

But, there are so many songs on Reba’s new album that I loved as a kid in church: “Amazing Grace”, “How Great Thou Art”, “I’ll Fly Away”, and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, plus other new religious-themed-country tunes that only Reba can deliver.

These songs won’t take me back to church, but could give me a feeling of peace and tranquility.

If you’re still reading, I hope this touched you as much as it helped me to open up and express myself.  Admitting you need to make a change is the first step in bringing on that change.

Here’s to the rest of my life and a new me and I’m ending this with a happy, upbeat message.

Make sure you watch the video and I hope it brightens your day, too.

Happy New Year (in April)!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — October 28, 2016

We’re up to the last weekend of October.  It might be hard to believe, for some, that in the next couple of weeks, some radio stations will be switching over to continuous Christmas music. Bring it on!

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts and have a great Halloween weekend.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

It’s been a few years now since I last dressed up for Halloween.  In 2010, we had a big Halloween party and I dressed as Lady Gaga at the 2009 MTV VMA show.

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I even tortured my golden retriever, ABBA, by putting the wig and outfit on her, too!

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This Halloween, for our morning show, a local haunted house, Skellington Manor in Rock Island, Illinois, took me and my co-anchors, Emily and James, behind the scenes.

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To make the deal even sweeter, they made us up as a pumpkin, a broken doll, and a skeleton.

Thank you Jenn, our amazing make-up artist, and Penni, the owner of Skellington Manor and our hostess!

2016 ELECTION — HALLOWEEN STYLE

While some people just put out pumpkins or jack-o-lanterns at Halloween or for fall, some like to go all out with decorations.

And, some get creative.  Check out this cool display in my neighborhood in Moline, Illinois.  Incorporating this scary election season into Halloween makes it even better.

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R.I.P. PETE BURNS

The world lost a creative force and an early LGBT ally this past weekend.

Dead or Alive lead singer and fashionista Pete Burns died of massive cardiac arrest.

Pete Burns

For 1980s music fans, he was cutting edge, not only in dance clubs, but on the international pop scene.

While he and his band may not have achieved the chart success of other English acts at the time like Culture Club and Duran Duran, Pete endured and stayed in the spotlight long after radio hits became obsolete.

Mainstream America knows Dead or Alive from their two Top 40 pop hits, “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)”, which reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985 and the #15 smash “Brand New Lover” in 1986.

Both of those songs reached the Top Five on the Dance Club Play charts in America — “Brand New Lover” hit #1 for two weeks.  They scored five other Top Ten dance hits.

Two years ago, I read Pete’s autobiography, “Freak Unique” and wrote this blog, which I’m happy to say, prompted a Twitter correspondence between the two of us.

Here’s that blog and it’ll open in a new window, so you won’t lose your place in today’s blog!

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/pete-burns-is-a-freak-unique/

Pete was 57.

“THE WALKING DEAD” BASHES COMPETITION

The season seven premiere slaughtered not only its competition Sunday night with 17 million viewers, but in the key demograpics (ages 18-49), it had a 8.4 rating!  That’s higher than “Sunday Night Football”, “Empire” and “The Big Bang Theory”.

Ratings were also up 22% over the season six finale.  I guess everyone had to tune in to see what main character was bashed to death by Negan and his trusted barbed-wire baseball bat, Lucille.

Well, thank God, Rick survived, but he’s definitely a broken man!

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Oops, I should have said, “spoiler alert”!

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I’m kidding.  I’m not going to mention who died at the hands of Negan.  However, if you’ve been online since Sunday night, there’s no way you could avoid knowing who died!

But, the brutal outcome didn’t really come as a shock to me.  Here’s what I wrote in my “Random Friday Thoughts — August 5, 2016” blog about the show and the cliff hanger:

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

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

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Surprise, two people died!!!!!!!!!!

The season seven premiere was the second most watched “The Walking Dead” episode ever.  The most watched was the season five premiere with 17.3 million viewers and 18-49-year-olds demo of 8.8.

THE “WEEKEND UPDATE” VIEW OF RIGGED ELECTION

We’ve all heard Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s claims that this year’s election is rigged — because he’s losing in polls.

On “Saturday Night Live”, “Weekend Update” host Michael Che has an opinion.

He says it’s “weird” that Trump is just now pointing out that the system is rigged.  Che says, There were 43 white-male presidents in a row, then one black guy and maybe a woman and now you’re sensing a pattern of unfairness?

Che goes on to add, “An old white billionaire is on TV arguing that the system is rigged, and my black ass is arguing that it’s not.  This just feels wrong.”

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His “Update” co-anchor Colin Jost adds his thoughts about how silly it is for Trump to accuse the media of rigging the election against him because he’s the greatest thing to come along for them.

Jost asked, who the networks would rather cover, “a grandma who loves secrets or a human air horn who screams every thought in his head and can’t swing his arms without grabbing a lady’s ass?”

“FREE STATE OF JONES”

War is brutal and this Civil War drama, based on a true story starring Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, is no exception.

The opening scenes are ultra violent.  However, it’s the racism of the 1860s that’s heartbreaking.

McConaughey plays Newton Knight, a Mississippi farmer that worked as a medic in the Confederate’s fight against the Union.  He was opposed to slavery and became a deserter after the death of his soldier nephew.

The movie follows the plight to freedom before and after President Lincoln freed slaves.

As I said many times, the whole premise of the Ku Klux Klan, is so sad and disgusting and is such a disgrace to mankind.

GRADE:  B

RACISM –THEN AND NOW

While the KKK plays a prominent role in “Free State of Jones” and in American history, it’s even sadder that a century after the Civil War, we saw how prevelant the KKK was in the South.

Hell, even now 150 years after the Civil War, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is still waging a race war.  However, he’s not just directing it toward the African American population, there’s Muslims, and the list goes on and on.

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Remember to vote November 8th for the future of America and tolerance.  Send Trump and his group of deplorables* away.

*For the record, not all Trump supporters are deplorable.  Many are just disillusioned with the political scene and mistakenly think that the change they want can only be brought about by this blowhard!

VOTE NOVEMBER 8TH!

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This endorsement approved by me!

KELLY CLARKSON WAS A SNEAKY YOUNGSTER

Pop star Kelly Clarkson is working on new material and she says it’s some of her favorite.

She recently told “Entertainment Weekly” that she had to sneak and listen to anything risque growing up.

Kelly says, “I was only allowed to listen to Christian music and, funny enough. Reba McEntire, [whose songs are] all about adultery.  I was definitely not supposed to listen to TLC or Madonna … and I definitely did.”

So, in honor of that, here are two of her “bad” influences, including her mother-in-law!

“REBEL HEART TOUR” COMING SOON

Last October, I was fortunate to see Madonna’s “Rebel Heart Tour” in Saint Paul, Minnesota and it was phenomenal.

It was my fourth Madonna concert (I saw the “Confessions Tour” in 2006 and the “Sticky & Sweet Tour” in 2008 in Chicago and “The MDNA Tour” in Las Vegas on my birthday in 2012.)

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In December, the “Rebel Heart Tour” is coming to Showtime!

I can’t wait for the DVD release.

The 82 shows made $169.8 million with over one million attending the concerts across North America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania.

TOP SELLING SONGS OF 2016

It might be hard to believe that there are only nine weeks left in 2016.  Maybe not since we’re already into the holiday(s) season with Halloween on Monday.

With that being said, here are the top five selling songs of the year, so far.

At #5 is Justin Bieber “Love Yourself” (1.76 million downloads), Drake is at #4 with “One Dance” (1.9 million downloads), Lukas Graham’s “7 Years” is at #3 (2.03 million downloads), Flo Rida’s “My House” is at #2 (2.14 million downloads), and the most downloaded song in 2016 at 2.16 million is Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop This Feeling!”.

Timberlake’s song is from the “Trolls” movie that hits theaters next Friday, November 4th.

CHRISTMAS INSANITY WITH MISS PATTI LABELLE!

While it’s not even Halloween, it’s the holiday(s) season.

With several major country Christmas releases coming out today, it’s time to move begrudgingly into the merry holiday.

We all know that Miss Patti LaBelle can command a stage, but here’s a flashback performance for the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony for President Clinton (Bill) in 1996 where the diva almost had a meltdown! 🙂

Ironically, “This Christmas” was the title track of her 1990 holiday album.  You’d think she’d be a little more familiar with the song or, at least, rehearsed it some before hand?

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Great Music Defies Age Barriers

Sometimes when driving in to work, I listen to CDs and sometimes I just flip through the programmed channels on the radio.

Today, I heard the two latest hits from Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber and that was just in a 15-minute drive.  That prompted me to write today’s blog.

Taylor- Justin

On today’s drive, I didn’t know that legendary music icon David Bowie had died peacefully in his sleep after a long battle with cancer just two days after his 69th birthday.

I learned that when I logged on to my computer at work.  And, I thought back to last week when I heard “Let’s Dance” on my drive to work after a local station abandoned the Christmas music format.

I was a fan of Bowie’s 1980s music and “Modern Love” was one of my favorites.

In his passing, I was reminded of the strong conviction of his standing up for his beliefs and questioning the system when it wasn’t welcoming to all.  Here’s a short read on Bowie questioning a MTV VJ about why the network didn’t feature black artists.  Michael Jackson would one of the first that benefited from the inclusion.

David Bowie

R.I.P. David Bowie!

David Bowie  Again

Originally, I was talking about hearing Taylor Swift’s “Out of the Woods”, the amazing sixth single from “1989” and “Love Yourself”, my favorite song from Justin Bieber’s “Purpose” album.  (I also heard Taylor’s “Wildest Dreams” and Justin’s “Sorry”.)

At 51, I’m not ashamed to say that I love Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, who are 26 and almost 22 years old, respectively.

In the early 1980s, I’m sure there were 51-year-olds, that screamed for Elvis, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and David Bowie in their youth, loving the same music as me.

When I was in my teens and early 20s, I idolized Madonna, Erasure (Andy Bell and Vince Clarke), Boy George and Culture Club, Duran Duran, Pete Burns of Dead or Alive, and the Pet Shop Boys.  They were either the same age as me or maybe a few years older.

The point is, while I was in heaven with the fantastic dance music coming out of the 1980s, people decades older than me were enjoying the same sounds and probably weren’t ashamed to admit it.

That’s why many of those artists are still making some of the best music of their careers. Top 40 radio just doesn’t know it!

So, if you’re checking this blog out and you’re about Taylor and Justin’s age, take a moment to enjoy my generation’s superstars.  You’ll likely enjoy it and know that age doesn’t matter.

Enjoy life and music, regardless of your age or the age of the singers you’re listening to!

Anthony

Mom — 27 Years & Half of My Lifetime Without You

If you’re married and you make it to your silver anniversary or if you work at your job for twenty-five years, you know that you’ll go through a lot of changes — some good and some bad.  But, you achieved that milestone.

Today, my sister, Tammy, and I are marking a more solemn, 25-year anniversary — the death of our wonderful mother, Dessie.  She died of a heart attack on the morning of November 7, 1990.

This picture was taken on Mother’s Day that year.

Dessie 1990

In the past 25 years, there have been so many changes in the world — we now have the internet, cell phones, and in the United States, marriage equality (actually, more general equality than ever before), our first African-American president, and next November, we could very well elect the first woman president.

I know there are people who lose their mother in childhood or during childbirth and grow up not knowing what it’s like to have a mother.  Because of that, I’ll always be grateful that I got to share 26 years in this world with Dessie.

Dessie

She was there to see me make my theatrical stage debut in “The Curious Savage” and saw me present weather at Murray State University’s television station that was only broadcast on cable systems in just two cities.

MSUspring1985

My mother was there in the spring of 1989 when I became the first college graduate in our family.

Dessie Christmas 1989 Anthony Graduation Picture

I’ll never forget taking my mother to Sunday brunch at 101st Airborne in Nashville, Tennessee, in the spring of 1990.  She didn’t drink, but her champagne glass was empty every time the server came by and mine was always full since I kept switching glasses with her.  I’m sure the waitress thought Dessie was a lush and I was so innocent allowing my mother to drink so freely while I just sipped my champagne.

While there, I bought my mother the cassette single to Patty Loveless’ #1 hit, “Chains”.  At the time, I didn’t listen to country music.  But, when I started listening to the genre, Patty became one of my favorite singers and I can thank my mother for that.

As grateful as I am for the time we had together, I can’t help but think of the all of the things over the past 25 years that I never got to share with my mother.  There have been so many times in my life that I wanted to grab the phone and share something with her and then realize that I couldn’t do it.

My mother wasn’t here when I made the big decision, in the summer of 1994, to leave my small town Kentucky life and move to Chicago, the third largest city in America.

Chicago

She wasn’t here to see me start my paid, network-affiliated television weather career in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and then move on to other jobs in Texas, Ohio, Maryland, and Illinois.  She didn’t witness me achieving my childhood dream of becoming a meteorologist and earning my “Seal of Approval” from the National Weather Association.

APWQAD8

My mother didn’t get to meet my best friend and the pride and joy of my life, Miss ABBA.

ABBA's First Christmas 2000

My mother was only 20-years-old when her mother, Reba, died of a heart attack.  Less than a year later, she was married and expecting her first child that came prematurely in October 1964.  (Yes, that would be me!)

Dessie-Hollie-Anthony -- Fall 1964

By 1966, she had two children and a stepdaughter and was in an unhappy (and seemingly loveless) marriage with an alcoholic womanizer.

She probably felt she had limited options because people stayed married.  Her paycheck from her minimum wage job provided me and my sister no frills, just the necessities — food and clothing.  But, she never complained about what she didn’t or would never have in life, including medication that may have kept her alive longer.

Dessie

While we didn’t sit around and talk about it, my mother always knew I was gay.  After all, she did buy me the “Colour By Numbers” album by Culture Club for my 19th birthday! 🙂

CultureClubColourByNumbersAlbumcover

Dessie was raised in a backwards, small town, Southern mentality and she was married to a sexist, racist, homophobic alcoholic.  When you add the conservatism of the Reagan era to her fire-and-brimstone-preaching church and the AIDS epidemic that exploded in the 1980s, you can fully understand why we never talked about my sexuality.

In the mid-1980s, when the story of actor Rock Hudson dying of AIDS broke and the disease continued to ravage the gay communtiy, she and most Americans probably thought that every gay person would contract HIV and AIDS and die.  Back then, it was pretty much a death sentence.

HIV AIDS

I became sexually active during that dark time and to this day, I’m still grateful to God that I remained HIV-negative when I knew many people that contracted HIV and AIDS — some are still living and some didn’t make it.

Dessie probably thought that the prospects of her openly gay, first-born son were bleak.  I wonder what she’d think today seeing me relatively successful and healthy at 51-years-old — something that wouldn’t have seemed very likely.

So much has changed on that front, too.  Today, with medication and a healthy lifestyle, people that are HIV-positive can live a normal life expectancy.

And, back then, a majority of people thought that gay people would have to live very secret and lonely lives without ever having the chance to find love and get married!

While it failed (in 2017), I got that chance and it was beautiful.  Thank you Iowa!

OurWeddingWedding Park Fountain

I did get married.  Thank you Iowa!

And, while this date is tough for me, it’s even rougher for my sister, Tammy.

TammyDessie

When my mother died, Tammy’s first son was just a toddler and her second son had just been born a couple of weeks earlier.  They never got to know what a great woman their grandmother was and would have been to them.

Dessie Birthday 1989

As I reflect back on my life with my mother, I was so fortunate to be loved.  She wasn’t just my mother.  She was my biggest supporter, she was my rock, and she was my friend.

When I think of all of the things I talked about today and not having a chance to talk to Dessie about them, I can still smile and feel warm inside.

I know that my mother was really with me all the time — in my heart and in my memories.

Anthony

Michael Ray Could Bring Me Back To Country Music

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

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

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

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

That turned me on to Clay Walker’s music.

Clay Walker

From his debut hit, “What’s It To You” in 1993 that topped the chart to his last Top 40 country hit, “Where Do I Go From You” in 2010, he’s scored 29 Top 40 hits.

Of those, 17 made the Top Ten and six topped the country charts.  As a matter of fact, five of his first six were #1 hits.

“This Woman and This Man” is still my all-time favorite Clay Walker song.

It topped the chart for two weeks in early 1995.

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

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

keith_urban

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

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

MICHAEL RAY — ALBUM PICK HIT 

I also came across Michael Ray’s “Kiss You in the Morning” video.

Being honest, his striking good looks and tattoos caught my eye.  So, I took a listen and the song was upbeat and fun.  It’s also the most played country song in the U.S.

“Kiss” was a strong enough song to make me take a listen to more of his music and I ended up buying his self-titled debut album that came out last week and I’m so glad I did.

michael-ray

This is definitely one of the most solid debut albums I can recall.

Michael has been working on his craft professionally since appearing on The CW’s reality series/singing competition show, “The Next:  Fame Is at Your Doorstep” in 2012.

The Florida native won that completion performing songs by Luke Bryan, Eric Church, and Jake Owen and now he’s competing against those same men for radio airplay and I know he’ll do just fine.

Now that “Kiss You in the Morning” has topped the country airplay charts, Michael already has his second single, “Real Men Love Jesus”, ready to go out to radio in mid-September.

It’s a mid-tempo song that touches on some of the core elements of country music: fishing, fast cars, football, sexy women, Mama, and Jesus.

One thing that Michael excels at is slower and mid-tempo songs.

My choice for the third single is “Run Away With You”, one of my favorite songs on the album.

Other slower choice cuts are “Everything In Between”, “Wish I Was Here”, and “Think A Little Less”.

And, when he’s ready to rock, he brings life to the party.

If I worked for his label, I’ve already got the fourth single picked out.  “Livin’ It Up” is a fun upbeat song that will be on “repeat” once you get the album.

I mentioned a third and fourth single, but I’m being modest.

This album is solid enough that it could go five or six singles deep for country radio.

If you’re a country music fan, you’re going to love this album.  If, like me, you’ve been away from the genre for some time, this is a breath of fresh air.

michael-ray

“Michael Ray” is a fun album that isn’t too heavy on the current country rage, “bro-country”.

GRADE:

A

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — August 14, 2015

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

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

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

FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER HAS CANCER

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

Jimmy Carter

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

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

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

President-Jimmy-and-Rosalynn-Carter1

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

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

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

REPUBLICAN RACE SHOWDOWN

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

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

Rosie O'Donnell

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

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

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

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

santorum

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

THEY SAID WHAT???

REPUBLICAN FRONT RUNNER FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

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

MORE TRUMP

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

Kelly Trump

FOX COMMENTATOR MEGYN KELLY

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

POP ICON & ACTRESS CHER

Cher Dressed to Kill Tour

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

MARVIN GAYE’S SUE HAPPY FAMILY

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

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

Empire

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

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

MORE “MARVIN GAYE”

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

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

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

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

REBA — YOU TAKE THE GOOD, YOU TAKE THE BAD

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

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

Reba Until They Don't Love You

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

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

“YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE”

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

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

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

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

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

“HANNIBAL”

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

Hannibal-NBC-Poster-2012

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

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

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

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

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

“MR. ROBOT”

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

MR. ROBOT

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

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

Christian Slater stars as Mr. Robot.

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

FALLING IN AND OUT OF LOVE WITH COUNTRY MUSIC 

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

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

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

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

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

That turned me on to Clay Walker’s music.

Clay Walker

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

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

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

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

keith_urban

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

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

MICHAEL RAY — ALBUM PICK HIT 

michael-ray

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

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

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

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

Michael Ray Tweets

“THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“UNDER THE DOME” — THE END?

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

under-the-dome

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

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

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

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

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

600full-mike-vogelCOW UNDER THE DOME

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

FALL IS GETTING CLOSER

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

Pecan Pie M&M

Yum!  I can’t wait to try them!

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

Fall

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

“THE WALKING DEAD”

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

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

THAT’S IT FOR NOW

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

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

Anthony

Years & Years’ “Communion” Is Definitely King!

I’ve become much more selective when buying new music.  Back in the 1990s when I was disc jockey, I’d buy new CDs just for a song and hope to find other gems.

Thus far in 2015, I’ve only bought eight new albums.  Of those, four are from American artists and four are European — Zedd (Germany), Giorgio Moroder (Italy), and from the United Kingdom, Clean Bandit and Years & Years.

It really doesn’t surprise me that I still love European music since it dominated what I listened to in the 1980s, outside of Madonna and Janet Jackson, during the second “British Invasion”.

My latest find that I highly recommend is “Communion” by the English trio, Years & Years.

Communion

Years & Years is lead singer and keyboardist Olly Alexander, bassist Mikey Goldsworthy, and synth player Emre Turkmen.

I’m not sure where I heard “King”, the song that made me aware of Years & Years.

While it did get some Top 40 radio airplay in the United States and a decent amount of dance club play, the song topped the charts earlier this year in the U.K., Bulgaria, Croatia, and Scotland.

After getting “Communion” and listening to it on repeat, I’m amazed at the booming voice that comes from Olly and his waifish-body (and I mean that in a good way because I would love to be that thin again).  Youth!

Years & Years

It’s such a bluesy sound that, at times, reminds me of amazing English singers Alison Moyet, Gabrielle, and Helen Terry.

Yes, here’s a slight detour in talking about the amazing debut from Years & Years.

If you’re reading my blog from the United States you might be on Google typing in each of those female vocalists I just mentioned.

In America, Alison had one Top 40 hit, “Invisible” (#31, 1985), even though she had nine hits in the U.K. (six reaching the Top Ten).  Gabrielle had 16 Top 40 U.K. hits (ten reached the Top Ten), but only “Dreams” was a hit in the U.S. (#26, 1993, on the Hot 100, but #1 on the Dance chart).  And, Helen Terry, scored just one modest hit in the U.K., but she’s famously known as the back-up singer on many of Culture Club’s biggest hits.

“Shine”

As much as I love “King” and so glad that it grabbed me and turned me on to Years & Years, my favorite song from “Communion” is “Shine”.  It’s the latest release from the album and has already topped the charts in Scotland and reached #2 in the U.K.

Here are my other four favorite songs from the album that I recommend that you download now and put it on heavy rotation on your summer playlist.

And, a final note as you watch the videos, when you get to “Real”, it’s not only Olly’s voice that is mesmerizing.  The captivating Ben Whishaw (from the incredible, touching, and sadly underappreciated movie, “Lilting”) really gets into the groove and is so alluring!

More Years & Years

It just so happens that I arrive in San Francisco in late September, the same night that Olly, Emre, and Mikey will be playing live at The Fillmore and I plan on being there!

“Desire”

“Real”

“Eyes Shut”

“Worship”

I’ve highlighted my favorites from the album that are mainly upbeat, but “Without” is a killer ballad.

While I’ve talked about Olly’s vocals throughout the blog, the sound of the trio is incredible.

“Communion” is very 2015, but it also takes me back to the very experimental and fun sounds of the early-1980s.  You can’t listen to “Ties” without thinking of Jimmy Somerville and Bronski Beat.

When talking about Bronksi Beat, Alison Moyet, Gabrielle, Ben Whishaw and “Lilting”, I wish Years & Years great success because I don’t want to listen to “Communion” and think that they are “underappreciated” here in America, but loved throughout the world.

With Years & Years, I’ve found my fix to hold me over until Erasure (Andy Bell & Vince Clarke) release the follow-up to my favorite album of 2014, “The Violet Flame”.

Communion

GRADE:

A

“Communion” get an “A” and I can’t wait to get to San Francisco on September 28th to see the guys perform live.

Anthony

If you’re still reading, you know I love Years & Years and their debut album.  However, I’m featuring an amazing track from Alison, Gabrielle, and Bronski Beat.

Also, a poignant scene from “Lilting”.  Discover now what you likely missed then!

Gabrielle — “Dreams”

Alison Moyet — “Whispering Your Name”

Bronski Beat — “Tell Me Why”

“Lilting”

My Fall Just Got More Exciting With Erasure

I’ve seen some fun and amazing concerts this year (Cher, Shania Twain, and Olivia Newton-John), but I’m really psyched to see my favorite band of all-time this fall for the first time — a week before my monumental 50th birthday!

It’s not ABBA, Culture Club, The Human League, Duran Duran, The Carpenters, New Kids on the Block, Pet Shop Boys, Dead or Alive, or Depeche Mode, although I do want to see Pet Shop Boys and Culture Club in 2015 and I’d love to see The Human League again.

Andy Bell and Vince Clarke, better known as Erasure, will be hitting the road this fall to support their 16th studio album, “The Violet Flame”, that comes out this September.  The first single arrives in July.

The Violet Flame Erasure

I have pretty decent seats to see them in Chicago in early October.  Unfortunately, since I was buying my tickets from an airport rushing between flights, I didn’t score “pit” tickets and I wasn’t fast enough to get VIP tickets!  Nevertheless, I can’t wait to see the show.

Until now, it’s never worked out for me to see them live in concert.

However, I did have the pleasure to say “hello” to Andy and Vince from across the “Fox News Chicago” newsroom where I was working as a news writer back in 2002.  They dropped in to make an appearance on our morning show when Erasure was playing in Chicago.

April 2013 001

Andy and Vince were kind of enough to sign my VHS copy of  “Wild!  Live”, their 1989 concert at the London Arena.

If you’ve only listened to mainstream Top 40 radio since the 1980s, you’re probably not too familiar with Erasure.  Sadly, radio missed the boat on the group.

They’ve hit the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 three times.  “Chains of Love” peaked at #12 in 1988.

That was followed by “A Little Respect”, which made it to #14 that same year, and “Always” reached the Top 20 in 1994.

However, my love for Erasure goes back a few years before they had their first hit on American radio.  In 1985, they released their first record, “Who Needs Love Like That”/”Heavenly Action”, which was a Top Ten U.S. dance club hit.

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I had just turned 21 and I no longer had to sneak into the my local gay bar, Rumors, in Paducah, Kentucky.  When I started spinning record there in 1986, I couldn’t get enough of  “Oh L’amour”, the third single from their debut album, “Wonderland”.

That song reached #3 on the U.S. Dance charts and #2 on the charts in South Africa and #3 in Singapore.

“Oh L’amour” is still my favorite Erasure song to this day.

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Luckily, for Americans Erasure fans, the duo made it big in the clubs scoring 22 Top 40 dance hits with 16 hitting the Top Ten, and two topping the charts: “Victim of Love” (1987) and “Breathe” (2005).

In their native U.K., they’ve had 32 Top 40 hits with 15 reaching the Top Ten.  Interestingly enough, their biggest hit in England was “Sometimes” in 1987.  It’s another one of my all-time favorites, but it missed the top.  It stalled out at #2.

While I’ve always been “out”, being born and raised in small town Kentucky, I admired Andy Bell from the beginning for being himself — out, proud and fabulous.  He didn’t change himself or conform his look or stage presence to be “safe” for American audiences.

Now, I did wear some interesting clothes in my 20s that provoked second looks and “under the breath” comments, but compared to Andy’s style, it was very subtle!

If you have any doubt about Andy’s eye-catching style, check out this performance, “Star”, from “Wild!  Live”!

And, if I didn’t totally love Andy and Vince before 1992, I was in gay heaven that year when they released “Abba-esque”, a four-song EP of ABBA tunes.  It hit the top of the charts in Austria, Finland, Ireland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Before Erasure broke onto the music scene, ABBA was my favorite band.  I loved the Swedish band so much that, in 2000, I named my golden retriever after them!  🙂  Shortly after she went to “puppy heaven” in early 2012, I got a tattoo of Miss ABBA!

Anthony ABBA Tattoo

“The Violet Flame Tour”, which kicks off in September in Miami, Florida, then heads across the U.S. (and Toronto, Ontario) through early November before heading to Europe and then back to New York City for two shows to ring in the New Year!

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This is Erasure’s first tour since 2011’s international “The Tomorrow’s World Tour”.

While Andy may not wear as many sequins and the costumes may not be as revealing as back in 1989, from this video from Offenbach, Germany, in November 2011, Andy and Vince’s performances are still energizing and incredible.

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I’m already looking forward to July to hear the first single from “The Violet Flame” and for the album’s release in September.

But, most of all, I’m counting down the days until October 4th, when I get to see Erasure at the Chicago Theatre for the first time.

Andy and Vince, I’ll be screaming and singing along from the Main Floor B section.  I’ll pretend that you’re singing to me when I hear the first notes of “Oh L’amour”!

♫♪ Oh l’amour/Broke my heart and now I’m aching for you/Mon amour/What’s a boy in love supposed to do?

♫♪

Anthony