Posts Tagged ‘Decatur Illinois’

Random Friday Thoughts — November 13, 2020

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

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

DECORATED FOR THE HOLIDAYS

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

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

This is my main tree in the living room.

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

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

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

Happy Holidays!

MY ONLY POLITICAL POST THIS WEEK!

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

“DISCO” WEEK!

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

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

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

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

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

GRADE: A

“SPOILER ALERT: THE HERO DIES”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“RATCHED”

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

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

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

And I love Finn Wittrock for many reasons!

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

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

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

Another season is coming.

GRADE: B+

“THE ANGEL OF DARKNESS”

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

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

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

DRINK UP!

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

Yo Baby Yoda!

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

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

THE MILLENNIUM SERIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

My (Interesting) First Month in Decatur

Boy, time sure does fly by as you get older!

With the Coronavirus and COVID-19, I know many of you, are under “stay at home” protocols with state governments, working from home, or unemployed because of restaurants being closed to diners, like my sister and her family!

As for me, I’ve been working since the media is considered “essential” in this crazy time across the United States and the world.

Snowy Duluth UHaul

It seems just like yesterday that I left snow-covered Duluth, Minnesota, and moved into my new apartment in Decatur, in central Illinois.

What a whirlwind month it’s been!  I moved into my apartment on Wednesday, April 1st, and started work the next day.    I’ve already been on the air at WAND-17, the NBC-affiliate, four weeks!

Except for hanging two pieces of wall art that’s rather heavy and needs to be done by someone that know what’s they’re doing, my apartment is set up and livable.

It’ll “do” for a year and I’ll find another place here that I’ll make my forever home.  I’m tired of moving, but this apartment is not that place!

Bedroom View

However, I do love the view out my bedroom window, which gave me a front row seat of deer frolicking and playing in the shallow end of this part of Lake Decatur one afternoon.

I’ll share more pictures when I’m totally done decorating.  But, with “social distancing”, I’m not sure when that’ll be!

Interesting

PASSING THE TIME

It’s bizarre and interesting to have lived here a month and not be able to experience life in Decatur, to invite my morning co-anchors over for dinner, or to meet new people for drinks.

I know that one day I’ll get to eat out and see what central Illinois has to offer.

Until then, to pass the time, I take regular four-mile walks from my complex and through the marina around one part of Lake Decatur.

Lake Decatur

Since I walk and read at the same time, I’ve already finished four books, all by my idol, former President Jimmy Carter.

I’m currently reading “Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History” by Maureen Orth.

The book is the basis for the Emmy-winning FX series, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” with ALL of Emmy winner Darren Criss!

Criss

Criss 1

Oops, sorry for not warning you! 🙂

My connection to Cunanan and this story goes back to 1997 when it was happening and I was the weekend anchor in Lubbock, Texas.

Yes, this made it “on air” and we did get calls because of the eerie similarities! 🙂

Cunanan

Since I didn’t watch a lot of television in Duluth, I dropped cable this past January.

My new apartment complex offers “free” cable (I still pay for DVR service and internet), so I’ve been catching up on the shows I used to watch.

In April, I binge-watched 60-plus hours of television!

I watched the last season of “Homeland” (except for the series finale because Showtime and xfinity suck and aren’t making it “free” like it did for the first eleven episodes of the last season.

I’ve also watched the 2020 episodes of “How To Get Away With Murder” and “9-1-1” (the final two episodes of both series air in May — for “Murder”, it’s the series finale), along with “Prodigal Son”, “9-1-1 Lone Star”, “The Good Doctor”, and the third season of “The Sinner”!

Bad Netflix

In Duluth, for some reason, I got this message on my television while trying to watch Netflix.

What’s bizarre is that Netflix works on my television in Decatur!

Since discovering this, I’ve already binged the third season of “Ozark” and I’m almost done with the third season of “The Crown”.

Up next, seasons two of “Sex Education”, “Mindhunter”, and “You”, the first season of “The Politician”, and the fourth season of “Eastsiders”.

And, to make my bestie, Katie, happy, I can now binge-watch all 154 episodes of “The West Wing”!

Speaking of “Ozark”, season three is the best, so far!

Ozark Emmys

While nominations don’t come out until this summer, just go ahead and give Laura Linney, Janet McTeer, and Tom Pelphrey their Emmy awards now!

BACK ON THE WAGON

The last four months in Duluth were very stressful for me.

While I’ve talked about the crazy stretches of work (days and nights for several days with just a couple of hours of sleep in between),  I never mentioned and I won’t elaborate here on a police-involved harassment ordeal that forced me to “fall off the wagon”.

Over the years I’ve been very open about being a recovering food addict.

Since 1995, I’ve pretty much successfully fought the daily battle by eating healthier with a great dose of exercise.

There were a few stumbles (most recently in early 2017 when I was going through a divorce).  But, with the stress of work, being stalked and harassed, job hunting, and relocating, I took a big step backwards and my weight dropped has dropped from 163 to 138 pounds.

My new schedule not only allows me more free time each afternoon, but it gives me the opportunity to cook more and eat at a reasonable hour!

April 7 Dinner

I’m back on track, “on the wagon”, and I have one month under my belt now!!!

I don’t know what I weigh now and I don’t need to know.  All I know is that I should gain a few more pounds to be healthier again.

I owe much of that success to Kroger!  Yes, the grocery chain.  There’s one located right by work and another one a couple of miles from my apartment.

On my first visit to each, I noticed they marked down all kinds of fun produce as it approaches the “sell by” or “best by” dates.

So, now instead of binging and purging on high caloric junk to satisfy an addiction, I’m now a little O-C-D about making very regular trips to the Kroger stores in Decatur and stocking up on greens and veggies!

April 17 Dinner

(For the record, I went to three Kroger stores a total of 17 times in April!) 🙂

I’ve also treated myself to fried chicken three times and three rotisserie chickens, along with the chicken that I cook at home.

Did I mention several bottles of wine, too?

FOND MEMORIES AND MAKING NEW ONES

I’ll fondly remember my two years in Duluth.

Lake Superior was beautiful and the almost 107″ of snow my first winter there was mind-blowing.

When I left Duluth at the end of March, we had already picked up almost 90″ this past winter!

I had the pleasure to work with some fun and entertaining people at Fox 21 in Duluth (and one that I hope I never, oh, never mind)!

Fun People

And, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for my dear friends, Katie (who was my evening director at work), her mother Mary Kaye, and my neighbor, Kass.

Over the past two years, I shared many delicious meals (including Thanksgivings and Christmases) with these special ladies.

And, Kass and I regularly had “cocktail hour” at her place.  (Kass, I don’t have a drinking buddy here yet, but I did see your spiced rum at a liquor store and I smiled!) 🙂

Love Duluth Friends

While I miss my Northland Peeps, I know that when America is healthier again and it’s safe to socialize, I’ll find some dear friends and colleagues in central Illinois.

To all my friends reading this, stay safe and healthy!

And, while it’s not a “Random Friday Thoughts”, I’ll end it with my signature sign-off.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

 

 

Making Good on a Bad Decision

“I feel that I need to do something while I’m still healthy and still young enough to start over again because we never really know how much time we have left! 

I don’t want to be a really old man and be saddled with regrets that I could have done something about.”

Those were my thoughts in June 2019 in my “I Need to Write My ‘Next Chapter'” blog.

Capture

I really don’t have too many regrets in my life, but there’s one that’s been weighing heavily on me.

My life shattered in February 2017 when my ex and I decided to end our marriage and our eight-year relationship.

I made the irrational decision to move away from the Quad Cities rather than stay and start my life over again there.

So, after 11.5 years in Moline, Illinois, I took a job in Panama City, Florida, and moved there in May 2017.  I stayed for a year.

AP G C

I made three incredible friends, Gerard and Cathy, who started the Panama City PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chapter, and Diane, a neighbor in my apartment complex.

Also, while there, I drove through the backwoods of the South to Plains, Georgia, to meet my idol, former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

Autograph Carters

However, there was nothing else I liked about Panama City or the area.

So, in the summer of 2018, I took the Chief Meteorologist position at the Fox affiliate in Duluth, Minnesota.

It gave me a chance to work with some really great people, including zany Dan Hanger, our evening anchor, the most popular newscaster in Northland television!

After our appearance at the Superior, Wisconsin, Halloween parade, we decided to have an adult beverage and we sent our evening director Katie this little snippet of us lip syncing Taylor Swift’s “You Need To Calm Down”.

The joke is that Katie regularly has to tell Dan, “Not Today!” 🙂

And, speaking of Katie…

She and her mother, Mary Kaye, became two of my dearest friends, along with Kass, one of my neighbors.

For the past two Thanksgivings and Christmases, I feasted with Katie and Mary Kaye (and Duke, the golden retriever).  We also made it a point to have each other over for Saturday night dinners almost monthly.

Capture

As you can tell, they’re camera shy! 🙂

And, Kass regularly hosted cocktail hour at her place for the two of us to enjoy each other’s company and talk.

But, the dating scene in Duluth was dismal and my work schedule became very undesirable.  No one wants to basically work around the clock for days on end — at any age or at any point in their career!

Plus, I was still an eight-hour drive away from my sister, Tammy, in the Quad Cities.

Night Cruise

When I was in Bangkok, Thailand, in March 2019, I made the decision that when my contract was up in June 2020, I’d move to Las Vegas, give up television, and wait tables!

I wanted to start living again!

However, this winter, after a lot of thought and deliberation (with myself), I came to the conclusion that maybe it wasn’t the right time in my life.

And, then Coronavirus came along and I’m glad I didn’t pursue Vegas as “home”.

As that door closed, another one opened and a great opportunity presented itself to me out of the blue.

Now, the time has come to share some news with you — the “next chapter” is beginning soon amidst the Coronavirus pandemic! 😱

Kylie

Back in May 2017 as I was driving through Henry County, Illinois, on Interstate 74, tears streamed down my face as I left my sister, my friends, and my shattered life in the Quad Cities.

This past February, I made a covert trip back to the Quad Cities and Illinois. 🙂

And, this time, driving that same stretch of I-74 in Henry County at sunrise offered me hope and the chance to right the wrong — I was making good on a bad decision!

Henry County Illinois

“Climb That Mountain High” from Reba McEntire’s 1990 album, “Rumor Has It”, has always been a beacon of encouragement for me.

The song was an inspiration to me when I started my television news career and it’s given me hope every time I was ready to move on.

“Red sun a-rising, over the hill/I’ve had enough of this desert to last from now until… This could be the day I finally find my way out”

“How I arrived here, oh heaven only knows/Seems more like the kind of place the devil would have chose… I know somewhere down the road my dreams will come true”!

I’m heading back to the Land of Lincoln!

I accepted the morning meteorologist position at the NBC affiliate in Decatur, in central Illinois!  (It’s part of the Champaign-Decatur-Springfield television market.)

Decatur

Now, I’ll be able to see my sister in three hours, instead of setting aside a whole day to drive one way!

And, we’ll be able to spend holidays together again!

AP T

And, along with this “next chapter”, #Pug2020 is still in my plans unless the real life situation (Coronavirus, again!) delays it!

By the way, this “air freshener” was another “sign” from Bangkok last year.  It was in one of the cabs! 🙂

#Pug2020

Thailand Pug AP

MY NEXT APARTMENT

Let’s end on a lighthearted note!

When I left Kentucky, for good, in the summer of 1994 for Chicago, as my 20s were winding down, I envisioned my next apartment complex.

I had hoped it’d be like “Melrose Place” with Jake (Grant Show) as my neighbor. 🙂

Grant Amy

Okay, the “Melrose Place” before crazy Kimberly (Marcia Cross) moved in and blew the damn place up! 🙂

Melrose Place

Oops, spoiler alert!

Or, I was dreaming of 28 Barbary Lane (“Tales of the City”) with Anna Madrigal as my eccentric land lady…

28 Barbary Lane

and Mary Ann Singleton (Laura Linney) and Michael “Mouse” Tolliver as my friends!

Mary Ann

Neither has happened in all my moves, but there’s always Decatur!  LOL

Honestly, I think I’m too old for those silly dreams and dramas now!

My friends, here’s to new beginnings and a happy, healthy new future — not just for me, but for all of us!

Anthony