Posts Tagged ‘Disco’

Dying To Live: Death Sentence 1981 ≠ Undetectable 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOPE — THE FIRST ROUND OF MEDS

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

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

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

HIV & AIDS — 40 YEARS LATER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FINAL THOUGHTS ON MY IMPRESSIONABLE YEARS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“AND THE BAND PLAYED ON”

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

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

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

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

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

“THE GREAT BELIEVERS”

This 2018 book by Rebecca Makkai is amazing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

“LONGTIME COMPANION”

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

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

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

Be safe and play safe!

Peace!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — 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 — 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

Random Friday Thoughts — February 5, 2021

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

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

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

SUPER BOWL WEEKEND

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

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

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

This year, it’s The Weeknd!

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

GUACAMOLE

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

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

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

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

A few fun other things from that book…

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

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

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

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

“MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM”

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

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

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

You can see it on Netflix.

GRADE: A-

“PIECES OF A WOMAN”

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

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

It’s on Netflix.

GRADE: B+

KYLIE & DUA LIPA

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

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

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

And, the Studio 2054 remix is incredible!

WALKING AND READING

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

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

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

“LaROSE”

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

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

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

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

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

“THE IMMORTALISTS”

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

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

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

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

“THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR”

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

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

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

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

Of these three, it was the best.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

My 2020 Christmas Thoughts

It’s my favorite time of the year! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — November 20, 2020

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving and Season’s Greetings!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

THANKSGIVING FORECAST

COVID DINING FOR ONE

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

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

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

“THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7”

“The Whole World Is Watching!”

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

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

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

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

The Whole World Is STILL Watching!

GRADE: A

“DISCO” UPDATE

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

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

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

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

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

“I AM WOMAN”

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

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

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

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

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

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

But, that’s just nitpicking!

GRADE: B+

MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS GIFTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JAPANESE CHRISTMAS DRINK

Here are a couple of fun looking Japanese holiday drinks.

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

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

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

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

AND, THANKS ALDI!

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

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

“THIS IS HOW WE JEW IT”

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

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

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

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

“FULL SERVICE”

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROYAL NAUGHTINESS

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

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

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

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

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

AND, SPEAKING OF THE ROYALS…

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

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

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

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

It was my #8 movie of 2018.

LEE HARVEY OSWALD IS HOT!

Okay, let me quickly clarify.

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

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

If he does, it’ll change the future.

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

GRADE: B+

TAKING A BREAK

Happy Holidays, my friends!

AND… LAST CALL… ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD!

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

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — November 13, 2020

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

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

DECORATED FOR THE HOLIDAYS

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

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

This is my main tree in the living room.

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

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

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

Happy Holidays!

MY ONLY POLITICAL POST THIS WEEK!

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

“DISCO” WEEK!

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

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

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

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

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

GRADE: A

“SPOILER ALERT: THE HERO DIES”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“RATCHED”

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

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

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

And I love Finn Wittrock for many reasons!

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

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

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

Another season is coming.

GRADE: B+

“THE ANGEL OF DARKNESS”

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

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

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

DRINK UP!

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

Yo Baby Yoda!

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

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

THE MILLENNIUM SERIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — October 16, 2020

Here’s wishing you a great weekend and thank you for checking out what’s on my mind this week.

I’ll go ahead and get the heavy stuff out the way and move on to happier thoughts!

“SEXUAL PREFERENCE” & “CHOICE”

Those two terms, when talking about people in the LGBTQ community, are outdated and if you use them, it shows you’re misinformed and out of touch!

It’s especially alarming when an unqualified candidate to become a Supreme Court justice uses them!

I never made a “choice” and “preferred” to be discriminated against as a gay man and to be a “second class citizen”!

When did you choose to be straight?  You don’t remember? 

Of course not, it wasn’t a choice!  You were “born this way”, just as I was “born this way”!

WHY ARE PEOPLE SO DISGUSTING?

What kind of world do we live in?

It saddens and angers me when some in the “basket of deplorables” (yes, I said and I own it!) plotted to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer!

Just look at this disgusting group!

I agree with Governor Whitmer that “words matter” and they are domestic terrorists!

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was also targeted.

Ironically (???), both are Democratic governors!

I know there have been assassination attempts and plots in my lifetime against American presidents and politicians.

However, this insanity has to stop. I hope the first step is taken November 3, 2020!

“THE BOYS IN THE BAND”

The latest Ryan Murphy television event debuted a couple of weeks ago on Netflix and it’s fantastic, caustic, and catty!

It’s a remake of the 1968 Off-Broadway play by Mart Crowley, which was made into a 1970 movie directed by William Friedkin (“The Exorcist”).

Before adapting this into a movie, Murphy brought a revival of the play to Broadway in 2018 with the same cast members — Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, Robin De Jesus, Michael Benjamin Washington, Charlie Carver, Tuc Watkins, and Brian Hutchinson.

Jim Parsons deserves an Emmy nomination in 2021 and my favorite character in the movie was the flamboyant and effeminate Emory, played by Robin De Jesus.

My best friend asked me which characters were us in our younger days. For me, I’d say a combination of Bomer’s (chill, but not depressed) and Carver’s (naive, but not an escort) characters.

However, in my 20s, I didn’t have the sexiness of either! 🙂

GRADE: A

RAINBOW OREOS

There’s a new Oreo cookie, but you won’t be able to buy it in stores!

OREO and PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) are releasing the limited edition rainbow cookie in celebration of LGBTQ+ History Month.

The cookies will be given away to fans as a “reward acts of allyship for the LGBTQ+ community”.

The cookies are part of the new Proud Parent platform, “a long-term campaign shining light on the importance of a supportive family in fostering greater LGBTQ+ acceptance.”

“LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE”

This eight-episode Hulu original series is based on Celeste Ng’s 2017 critically acclaimed novel. It’s great!

While Reese Witherspoon (Mia Warren) and Kerry Washington (Elena Richardson) are amazing in this series, it’s the young stars that carry much of the weight in this drama that takes place outside Cleveland, Ohio.

Lexi Underwood, Mia’s teenager daughter Pearl, Gavin Lewis (Moody), and Megan Stott (Izzy), two of Elena’s kids, are incredible young actors.

You’re captivated by them in every one of their scenes.

And, your heart breaks whenever Huang Lu, who plays Bebe Chow, a co-worker of Mia’s in Shaker Heights, is on screen.

Not to be outdone by the female leads and the younger cast, Joshua Jackson’s tighty whities got a lot of press from that one scene! 🙂

Jackson handled the attention like a star, “Who knew that all these years what was missing from my career was parading around in my tighty-whities… I’m in my 40s now. I enjoy getting objectified!”

Now, I’m going to read the critically acclaimed book.

GRADE: A-

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month!

UNTIL #PUG2021, THIS WILL DO!

With Covid-19 and things, I’ve pushed back getting my pug until the spring or summer of 2021.

So, #Pug2020 is now #Pug2021. Until then, this will have to do! 🙂

CHICAGO CURIOSITIES

I recently read the 1991 Chicago Sun-Times book by Don Hayner and Tom McNamee called “Metro Chicago Almanac”.

It was autographed by McNamee to Ann and Bill and a gift from Doug! I guess they didn’t want it anymore! 🙂 I picked it up at a yard sale.

Anyway, here are some of the more interesting factoids I learned. *Keep in mind that this is a 29-year-old book and the stats may be outdated. I didn’t check for their current validity — that’s another benefit of Google if you choose to check!* 🙂

  • The suburbs once had a Romeo and Juliet in the pioneer days! In 1845, “Juliet” became Joliet and “Romeo” was renamed Romeoville in 1895.
  • One of the nicknames of Mayor Jane Byrne, the first woman elected to the office, was “the Snow Queen”.
  • After the “Chicago Blizzard of 1979”, Byrne used the ineffectiveness of Mayor Michael Bilandic to clear away the snow and it helped her beat Mayor Daley’s “Democratic Machine”!
  • In that 1979 election, Byrne received more than 700,000 votes (82% of the votes cast). No other mayoral candidates have gotten that many votes in an election since!
  • While it was costlier, “The Great Chicago Fire” (1871) was not the deadliest fire in the city. On December 30, 1903, 602 people were killed in the Iroquois Theater Fire.
  • In its 105 years of operation, more than a billion (that’s with a “B”) creatures were slaughtered at The Union Stockyards. Its busiest year was 1924 — it received 18.65 million head of livestock! This help earn Chicago the nickname, “Hog Butcher for the World”! (Now, I’m going to read Upton Sinclair’s 1906 book, “The Jungle”.)
  • The Hostess Twinkie was invented in Schiller Park in 1930 by James Dewar. Dewar ate two Twinkies each day and lived to be 88!
  • Other foods that got their start in Chicago: Cracker Jack (19 tons a day made at the plant in Northbrook), Tootsie Roll and Tootsie Roll Pops (20 to 30 million pieces made daily at the Cicero plant), and Vienna hot dogs (104 million made in 1991 on Damen)!

MY FAVORITE BIRTHDAYS

While I had a birthday earlier this week, it was just another day of work, walking, and reading. My sister is making a birthday dinner for me this weekend! 🙂

As I reflect back, my four most recent favorites were in 2011 — my last with my golden retriever, Miss ABBA.

In 2012, I enjoyed an endless mimosa brunch topped off with carrot cake at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas.

That night, I partied with Madonna! Actually, she was on stage and I was hanging out with 13,000 of her friends!

My most memorable birthday ever (and I doubt this will ever be topped) was in 2014, when I turned 50.

At midnight, I was sipping champagne sitting at a stage table at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, France after a dinner cruise on the Seine River and looking out at a foggy city from atop the Eiffel Tower!

The next day, it was off to my dream birthday destination, Tel Aviv, Israel!

And, in 2018, while in Morocco, my tour guide and my group surprised me with a birthday cake!

While this birthday was uneventful, here’s to many more healthy and more exciting ones in the future — like, seeing Kylie Minogue in concert in some fun foreign city in 2021 for the “Disco Tour”!

If you haven’t seen the two new Kylie videos from the upcoming “Disco” album (November 6, 2020), here they are!

If you love disco or dance music, these will make you happy! 🙂

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — October 2, 2020

The holiday seasons are fast approaching with Halloween up next!

I’m sure you’ll agree that it’ll be nice to put 2020 behind us and hope for a better 2021!

Just a clarification before you read it. I’m calling someone “scum of the earth” and I’m following my own advice of being “diplomatic”. The words I’d like to use would show far less diplomacy! 🙂

But, first…

HELEN REDDY, YOU’RE ALREADY MISSED!

International superstar, Grammy Award winner, Golden Globe Award nominee, and feminist Helen Reddy passed away earlier this week at the age of 78!

A movie honoring Helen and her iconic song, “I Am Woman” is out now and will be released on DVD on November 3, 2020.

I submitted an entry this summer on what Helen’s music and that song meant to me for an advertising campaign promoting the movie. I was chosen! 🙂

Here’s my original and unedited 1 minute, 10 second submission!

Here’s a little bit about my favorite Helen Reddy song!

While the song was included on her 1971 album, she re-recorded it and it was shipped to radio in May 1972. 

It stalled out at #97 and dropped off the chart! Months later, it was released again.

This time, it took off and by the end of 1972, “I Am Woman” topped the chart becoming the first #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 from an Australian-born artist and the first song written by an Australian to win a Grammy Award!

Helen, thank you for the music and you’ll be missed even though you’ll be in our hearts and souls! ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

SCUM OF THE EARTH

Read this clearly: Most of us already know which candidate we’re going to vote for on November 3, 2020, so this isn’t about Joe Biden or Donald Trump!

But, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is scum of the earth!

In no time following the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, McConnell was on the fast track to have her replacement named and confirmed before the 2020 Election — just a little over a month away!

Again, I don’t care if you’re supporting Biden or Trump (well, I really do, but that’s not the point of this post!), it’s the principle.

SCALIA’S DEATH

Because it was a presidential election year, when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, McConnell was such an obstructionist!

He and the Republican-controlled Senate declined to take any action on President Barack Obama’s nomination, Merrick Garland, one month later.

That nomination expired with the end of the 114th Congress in January 2017 and #45’s nomination later that month was confirmed in the spring.

The bottom line is that “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”!

While a nominee has already been announced, we SHOULD WAIT for the outcome of the 2020 presidential election to move this process forward. The winner should be nominating the next Supreme Court justice!!!

THE “MILLENNIUM” SERIES

Although this Swedish crime series came out more than a decade ago, the three books have been sitting on my bookshelf.

I finally read the Stieg Larsson’s series — “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl Who Played with Fire”, and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest” — and loved them!

The first book was my favorite and I felt the quality dropped off a little with the next two books.

I also watched the first two Swedish movies based on the books and Noomi Rapace was amazing as Lisbeth Salander.

I remember seeing David Fincher 2011’s English version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and it not making an impression on me. I’ll have to watch it again now that I’ve read the books!

“BETWEEN SUMMER’S LONGING AND WINTER’S END”

Leif G.W. Persson’s 2002 book was translated to English in 2010.

On the back cover, here how it’s described: “acclaimed as one of the greatest Swedish crime novels of all time” .

Well, based on the four that I’ve read, after the three “Millennium” books, I disagree! Halfway through the 638 page book, I was ready to discard it!

So, skip it!

There are definitely better Scandinavian crime novels out, like Norwegian Jo Nesbo’s “The Snowman” (2007, translated to English in 2010)!

And, totally irrelevant, 60-year-old Nesbo is so hot! 🙂

That’s just a bonus! 🙂

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

I normally read autobiographies, biographies, and books on real events, so my familiarity with fiction isn’t that great.

However, in the four Scandinavian crime novels that I read this year from Stieg Larsson and Leif G.W. Persson, one thing I appallingly noticed was the degradation and the violence directed toward women.

But, just the description of women in these books was gross and unjust.

Is it a crime novel thing? Heaven forbid, I can’t imagine that Scandinavian women would put up with this from men! Now, granted, these four books were written before the “Me Too” movement.

However, earlier this year, this was addressed by Nesbo in an interview with “The Guardian”.

He says, “Violence against women is a problem in society – it is something we should talk about. I would be more worried if there was an absence of violence against women in fiction, because it’s a problem in real life. Of course, it’s a question of how you do it, but in general I would be more worried if fiction pretended it wasn’t a problem.”

“MAGIC”

On a lighter note and one that excites me so much, Kylie Minogue treated us fans to the second single from her upcoming “Disco” album coming out November 6th!

“Magic” is the new single!

“MAGIC” BONUS TRACK!

I hope you took a few minutes and watched the amazing Kylie video.

So, now you know it’s not a remake of Olivia Newton-John’s four-week #1 smash from the “Xanadu” soundtrack from 1980!

MEGYN KELLY “SETTLE FOR MORE”

I enjoyed reading Megyn Kelly’s 2016 autobiography.

Along with stories about her childhood, her career as a successful lawyer, and how she gave it up to become a television reporter and anchor with no experience (really, I mean no real experience!), she spent a lot of time talking about her abuse from Donald Trump and his supporters in the 2016 presidential election!

She also talked about how great of a guy that toxic, creepy, nasty, dead pervert Roger Ailes was! He’s the one that sadly brought Fox News and Donald Trump into our lives!!!

By the way, “toxic, creepy, nasty, dead pervert” are my words, not Kelly’s!

It wasn’t until the end of the book that she addressed the sexual allegations that brought Ailes down. It felt more like, “Oh, I should mention that!”.

In fairness, Kelly shared a 2006 meeting with Ailes in his office when he once again came on to her. She said he tried “to grab me repeatedly and kiss me on the lips”.

Kelly got away from him and as she moved toward the door, Ailes allegedly (I’ll say that word for legalities even though the scumbag likely said it with venom) said, “When in your contract up?”

She also states that Ailes earlier said, “I don’t like to fight, but when I do, I fight to kill.”

MORE THINGS SHE SHARED IN “SETTLE FOR MORE”

When she moved to Chicago in 1995 to take a law firm job, she looked out her Navy Pier apartment window drinking white Franzia boxed wine and listened to Tina Turner’s “I Don’t Wanna Fight” CD. She said that her “real life” was starting! (I only shared this one because I loved Franzia boxed wine!)

She told Roger Ailes that while she was raised in a Democratic household, she was “apolitical”. She went on to share a passage from her 1988 journal, “Am I a Republican or a Democrat? I seriously don’t know.”

There were rumor of her having an affair with married Fox News anchor Brit Hume. He thought it was funny and said people wouldn’t believe it. She disagreed by saying, “people love to dismiss potentially threatening women as ‘nuts or sluts’. Evidently, I didn’t pass as a nut, so I was to branded a slut…”

“BOMBSHELL”

If you haven’t seen the 2019 movie, “Bombshell”, check it out.

Here’s what I said about it in January.

“Even after seeing ‘The Loudest Voice’ on Showtime last year, watching ‘Bombshell’ was a different viewing experience about the toxic environment at Fox News.  (Oh, and about the toxic, creepy, nasty Roger Ailes!)

While John Lithgow was incredible as Ailes, it was definitely the women who made the movie — Charlize Theron (as Megyn Kelly), Nicole Kidman (as Gretchen Carlson), Margot Robbie (as a composite character created from many of the women that Ailes victimized), and Kate McKinnon (a co-worker, Jess Carr).

I expected Oscar nominations for Theron the Best Actress category and for Robbie in Best Supporting Actress category and they got them!”

GRADE:  B

“Bombshell” was my #13 movie of 2019!

“CHOW DOWN”

Although this parody of Wilson Phillips’ #1 1990 debut hit, “Hold On”, came out in 2012, I can’t watch it enough — even today! 🙂

The drag queen trio of Willam Belli, Detox, and Vicky Vox take on the anti-gay agenda of the Georgia chicken restaurant chain, Chick-fil-A.

Disclaimer: Yes, it’s hilariously funny and R-rated.

***It includes adult language and adult situations***!

The bottom line and I couldn’t have said it better myself:  “we just want a little meat without your Bible!”.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AGAIN!

While I wished my idol, President Jimmy Carter a Happy 96th Birthday last week, I’ll do it again since his birthday was October 1st!

In 2016, I left this message for the Carters when I visited the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — September 4, 2020

It’s already September!

That means this horrible year is almost over and the dreadful 2020 presidential election will (hopefully) be behind us soon!

Thank you for taking the time to check out my “Random Friday Thoughts”!

SEASONS IN THE SUN

🎶Summer loving, had me a blast🎶… blah blah blah… bring on the holidays 🍂🎃🦃🎄🎅🤶!

It’s now officially “meteorological fall”, the three months (September, October, and November) between the hottest and coldest months of the year.

Big changes will be coming in the weather across Central Illinois. Check out the temperature drop over the next three months with average highs — from 85° to 45°!!!

And, on Monday, Labor Day marks the “unofficial end of the summer”!

Here’s the countdown to fall and the holidays (as of today, 9/4/20).

KYLIE MINOGUE ❤️ ME!

I’ve been a Kylie Minogue fan since the 1980s and a super fan since 2001’s “Fever” album.

“All The Lovers” is one of the most amazing songs and videos of the past 20 years and the “Golden” album is phenoemenal.

The video to her latest hit, “Say Something”, from the upcoming “Disco” album (November 6, 2020), is mind-blowing and I just can’t stop watching it. It just makes me smile!

I finally got a reply back from Kylie, so now I can just retire from Twitter! 🙂

If you’re not one of the 4.7 million views of “Say Something”, take three minutes and make yourself happier in time for the weekend!

Here’s the video!

“PARASITE”

I finally got around to seeing the “Best Picture” winner at this year’s Oscars and it definitely deserves the top prize.

Worldwide, it has brought in $257.5 million on an $11 million dollar budget!

While Bong Joo-ho’s “Snowpiercer” was my #14 movie I saw in 2014, it’s not even in the same league as this incredible film!!!

And, what’s shocking is that the two young leads in the movie are almost 30 years old and could easily pass as teenagers! WOW!

GRADE: A

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

CONGRATULATIONS & WELCOME TO THE FAMILY

I can’t wait to see the fourth and final season of “Claws” and see what fantabulously gorgeous Desna Simms and her insane posse!

But, that can wait. I’m blown away by not on the fact that the amazing Niecy Nash just came out, but she also introduced the world to her new wife, singer Jessica Betts.

And, you know how much I love desserts, look at this amazing cake!

Congratulations and best wishes Niecy and Jessica! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

OVERSHARING?

And, since we’re talking weddings and wedding cakes, I was married in a former life.

This was my fall wedding cake.

While not as dreamy as Niecy and Jessica’s, it was beautiful!

BRING IT ON MARIAH CAREY!

2020 is turning out to be the year of Mariah Carey.

At the end of the month (September 29), she’ll be releasing her new autobiography, “The Meaning of Mariah Carey”.

Days later, on October 2nd, a new double album called “The Rarities” arrives!

And, this holiday season, Apple+ will be airing “Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special”.

Billboard magazine says this about the exclusive holiday event, “It is being described as an “innovative special” that will mix music, dancing and animation “driven by a universally heartwarming story that brings the world together.”

So, basically, it sounds like a great substitute to her annual “All I Want For Christmas is You” show.

I saw it in Las Vegas in December 2017 and it was the most magical 90-minutes of my life!

SPEAKING OF (SCARY) CHRISTMAS

I finished watching the creepy second season of “NOS4A2”, which was cancelled by AMC this week.

While I enjoyed the series and I’m now going to read Joe Hill’s book that the series is based on, I had already made up my mind that if it had been renewed for a third season, I was already done with it!

So long, Christmasland and Charlie Manx!

“A WOMAN IN CHARGE”

I read Carl Bernstein’s 2007 mammoth 916 page tome (large print) this summer.

Things I learned from the book:

One of Hillary’s mother, Dorothy Rodman’s (in her 70s at the time) favorite movies was 1994’s “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” — one of my all-time favorite movies about three drag queens on a cross country trip of Australia.

During the 1992 presidential run, in a Chicago coffee shop, NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell asked Hillary a question about her working at a law firm that had clients that did business with the state (where Bill was governor) and her answer became the soundbite of the day, “I suppose I could have stayed home, baked cookies, and had teas…”

It came across as condescending to housewives and stay at home moms.

What didn’t get press was the complete quote, “I suppose I could have stayed home, baked cookies, and had teas. The work that I’ve done as a professional, as a public advocate, has been aimed in part to assure that women can make the choices that they should make — whether it’s a full-time career, full-time motherhood, some combination, depending on what stage of life they are at — and I think that is still difficult for people to understand right now, that it is a generational change.”

“Later, Jackie [Kennedy] told friends that of all of her successors as first lady, she was most fond of Hillary.”

About Whitewater, Bernstein says the New York Times and others reporting on the matter “were often contextually misleading, exaggerated in significance, and sometimes factually off-base.”

At another point in the book, Bernstein writes that the “Whitewater story” was “overblown” from the start and that the New York Times stories and editorials during the 1992 campaign were “increasingly long on innuendo, short on context, and in some important ways unfair to the Clintons.”

But, he adds, “The Clintons’ response was not straight-forward, and served only to create more suspicion.”

And, about Hillary’s 2000 successful run for U.S. Senate: “No woman had ever won office in New York in a statewide race.”

“LITTLE”

I finally watched the 2019 comedy “Little”.

It’s about Jordan (Regina Hall), a bully of a boss at her own tech company (she was bullied a kid in school) and her put upon assistant, April (Issa Rae).

Jordan is rude to a little girl who practices magic and is put under a spell.

She wakes up her as a youngster again to go through her childhood years in today’s time period with her current adult mindset.

Rae is so funny that now I’m going to check out her critically acclaimed HBO series, “Insecure”. (She’s also nominated for an Emmy this year in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series category.)

GRADE: B-

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony