Posts Tagged ‘Dixie Chicks’

Random Friday Thoughts — March 13, 2020

Two weeks in a row with a new “Random Friday Thoughts”!  I hope this finds you healthy and happy!

Feel free to comment on any of my thoughts, but, as always, do it diplomatically!

MY THOUGHTS ON CORONAVIRUS

Don’t zone out from fatigue over the Coronavirus.  I’ll keep this part short!

You’re hearing a lot on the news about the virus, which is now a pandemic.

Basically the difference between a pandemic and an epidemic is that an epidemic is an illness affecting a specific region and a pandemic has global impacts!

Here is the U.S., sports seasons and playoffs are basically done, concerts are being cancelled or postponed, schools are extending spring break and going to online classes when they return, restaurants are closing, and the list goes on.

And, on Wednesday, actor Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, in Australia, announced they they tested positive for Coronavirus.

Tom Hanks Rita Wilson

Yet, there are those that are blaming the media (of course) for hyping up something that’s no worse than the flu, which kills people each year.

However, Dr. Anthony Fucci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says the Coronavirus is ten times (that’s 10 times) deadlier than the seasonal flu!

Coronavirus

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I don’t trust the government!  (I’m not just talking about the Trump administration — yet that speaks for itself!)  I’m talking about trust on a daily basis and not specifically with Coronavirus.

This mistrust of the U.S. government is a product of past administrations (Republican and Democrats) of telling us just what we “need” to know, when it deems the time is right.

Well, here’s the thing.  I think Coronavirus is a real public threat and I think we’re going to see the number of cases (and deaths) in the U.S. and Canada shoot up drastically over the next month or so.

As for me, I pray that I don’t get sick.  However, I’m doing nothing more to prevent it than I normally do in a typical day. 

I always wash my hands.  I love using hand sanitizer (even before it was chic).  I cover my mouth when I cough and I move away from people hacking like they’re coughing up a lung.

And, no I didn’t raid the store for toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and bottled water!

Watermelon Mint Vodka

However, I did buy a bottle of Smirnoff Watermelon Mint Zero Sugar Infusions vodka.  It sounded fun!  And, I do have a decent supply of wine and liquor!

I CAN’T GO ON…

You know I love buffets, especially in Las Vegas.

Hello, Wicked Spoon!  These were my four plates and truly UNLIMITED champagne and mimosas this past December from there!

Wicked Spoon

Because of Coronavirus, my life as I know it is (temporarily?) disrupted — if I was in Vegas now.

MGM Resorts (which doesn’t own Wicked Spoon) issued this statement earlier in the week:

“MGM Resorts will temporarily close buffets at ARIA, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Luxor and Excalibur, effective Sunday March 15. These changes are temporary and will be evaluated on a weekly basis.”

11 YEARS ON FACEBOOK!

It what could be called “joy” and “madness”, I found out this week that I joined Facebook more than a decade ago.

So, if you don’t follow me there, here were my thoughts on my eleventh anniversary!

Facebook Anniversary

Facebook 11

VOTING

Primaries and caucuses are taking places across the nation ahead of the 2020 presidential election in November, which I think will be Joe Biden and 45.

I love looking at polls and I trust them — for the most part.

Vote

However, I also know that polls mean nothing if people don’t get out and vote!

And, come November 3, 2020, if you want to make “that man” a one-term president (or if you support him), you have to VOTE!

“OZARK” 

Season three of one of the best shows on television is coming back later this month.

“Ozark” returns March 27th on Netflix and from the new trailer, it looks like this could be Laura Linney’s year for an Emmy win!

She was incredible in season two and I was hoping that she and Julia Garner would take home trophies.  Garner won in the Emmy’s supporting actress category.

THANKS NETFLIX!

But, before I can check out the new season of “Ozark” with the incredible Linney, season three of “The Crown”, season two of “Sex Education”, season two of “Mindhunter”, and the first season of “The Politician”, I now have to buy a new television!

Thanks a lot Netflix!

Last month, I was going to start binge-watching “The West Wing” and this is what greeted me!

Bad Netflix

On December 1, 2019, Netflix deemed my Samsung television, which I got in 2014, obsolete for its streaming service!

What a rip off!

“GASLIGHTER”

Last week, I talked about the new Lady Gaga single, “Stupid Love” (it debuted at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100), from her upcoming April 10th album, “Chromatica”.

Now, I’m excited to know what my second album that I’ll buy in 2020 will be and when.

“Gaslighter” is the new single and the title track from the Dixie Chicks’ new album that’ll drop May 1, 2020!

“Gaslighter” is actually getting country music airplay!  It debuted on the Billboard Country chart at #31 and moved to #20 in its second week!

That’s their biggest hit at country radio since “Travelin’ Soldier” hit #1 in early 2003, about the time that Natalie Maines’ comments about President George W. Bush and the Iraqi War got the Chicks banned from country radio!

Their last album, “Taking The Long Way”, came out in May 2006, and it won the Grammy Award for “Album of the Year” and “Best Country Album”.

The Dixie Chicks’ last hit song was 2006’s “Not Ready To Make Nice”, which reached #4 on the Hot 100.

It went on to win three Grammy Awards — “Record of the Year”, “Song of the Year”, and “Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals”, in 2007!

“KNIVES OUT”

If you like whodunit movies, you’ll like this mystery comedy.

The all-star cast includes Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Daniel Craig, Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer, and Don Johnson.

The first half of the movie features some very humorous scenes as the story was set up.  Collette was especially funny.

I figured out early on who was likely the killer.  From that point on, the movie started to drag.  (Oh, I was correct!).

GRADE: B

PURGING MY CD & MOVIE COLLECTION

For months now, I’ve been purging my CD and movie collection.

I started listening to CDs that I liked at one time in my life, but I’d never say, “I want to listen to <insert album title here>.  I had about one thousand CDs and now it’s down to about 425 essentials that I don’t want to part with.

With my movies, I’m watching older ones, some of which didn’t become one of “my favorites”, and I’m getting rid of them.

Until recently, only three of them made the cut and I put them back on the shelf.

I kept the 2012 Spanish movie “Angels of Sex” (“El Sexo de los Ángeles”), the 2008 Israeli film “Antarctica”, and the 2010 American romantic comedy, “Is It Just Me?”.

“LEMON TREE”

This past week, I added three more “keepers”.

The first is the 2008 Israeli drama, “Lemon Tree”.

Hiam Abbass is heartbreaking and stunning!  She plays Salma, a widowed Palestinian woman fighting to keep the Israeli government from cutting down her lemon grove, which was planted by her late father decades ago.

It becomes a security risk when the Israeli Defense Minister and his wife, Mira, (a moving performance by Rona Lipaz-Michael) move next door.

“PATRIK 1.5”

Another was the very touching 2008 Swedish film, “Patrik 1.5”.

It stars one of the sexy Skarsgard brothers (no, not Alexander from “True Blood” and “Big Little Lies” and not creepy Bill (Pennywise in the new “It” movie series).

Gustaf Skarsgard is the lead in this comedy-drama.

His Göran Skoogh in “Patrik 1.5” would make the perfect husband! 🙂

“SOLO”

And, the final keeper, is “Solo”.

Even though this Argentinean movie came out in 2013, it speaks volumes about today’s dating and app hook-up scene!

You never really know who you’re meeting or hooking up with and what could happen!

Manuel (Patrico Ramos) and Julio (Mario Veron) finally decide to meet after chatting online for a while.

Once they meet, Julio tells Manuel, “There are really bad people round there. They say one thing and they mean another. You never know who you’re dealing with. You don’t even know who you’re bringing into your home.”

“TRANSAMERICA”

I also watched the incredible “Transamerica” with Oscar nominee Felicity Huffman and the adorably sexy Kevin Zegers.

While still a very fulfilling movie, so much has changed since it came out in 2005.

After the groundbreaking television series “Pose” and “Transparent”, I couldn’t imagine a movie made today about a trans woman that WOULD NOT be played by a real trans actress!

“GIRLS NIGHT OUT”

Debbie Gibson, one of my favorite artists of the 1980s, is back with a huge club hit!

“Girls Night Out” (Tracy Young Radio Remix) is currently at #4 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.

In 2019, Tracy Young scored back-to-back chart toppers on the the Dance Club Songs chart with Madonna’s “I Rise” and “Crave”.  (Young won a Grammy Award for the “I Rise” remix!)

From 1986 to early 1991, Gibson scored nine hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

Of those, five reached the Top Ten, including the #1 hits, “Foolish Beat” (1988) and “Lost in Your Eyes” (1989, three weeks at #1).

When “Foolish Beat” topped the chart in the summer of 1988, Debbie became youngest person to write, produce, and perform a number-one single entirely on her own, at age 17!!!

“Only In My Dreams”, Debbie’s first hit in 1987 that reached #4, is still one of my all-time favorites!

“ICE BOUND:  A DOCTOR’S INCREDIBLE BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL AT THE SOUTH POLE”

Ice Bound

This 2001 book is about Dr. Jerri Nielsen, an Ohio doctor that took a year off from medicine to find herself by “wintering” in Antarctica with 40 others.

Just a few months into her one-year stay, she found a lump in her breast.

This book is the story of how she and her new friends, “winterovers”, worked via satellite and computers in the harsh -100° weather and months of complete darkness to keep her alive.

This lasted for eight months before the weather finally broke and she could be rescued and brought back to the U.S. for surgery in the fall of 1998.

In 2000, while I was an anchor and reporter in Mansfield, Ohio, I interviewed Dr. Nielsen.  Twenty years later, I have no clue what about!  Maybe it was about her recovery?

Dr. Nielsen was a cancer survivor for over a decade before she died in the summer of 2009.

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 27, 2018

July is basically over and we’ll be heading into the last unofficial month of summer soon.  Have a great weekend and thank you for checking out my random thoughts.

CELEBRITY AND ACTIVISM

Being in the public eye can be a “Catch 22”.

There are people that think you should stick to whatever it is you’re known for (singing, acting, giving the weather, etc.) and you should keep your personal views and thoughts to yourself.

While I’m not a celebrity, I’ve been a very vocal advocate for LGBT rights and marriage equality.  I was also a Hillary Clinton supporter and I didn’t hide it.

Hillary AP

I know I’ve helped some families deal with relatives coming out as LGBTQ.

But, I’ve also had a few people tell me to stick to television weather and keep my views to myself.  My response to that is that if you don’t like my “views”, then you shouldn’t have friended me on Facebook or read my blogs. (I don’t share my personal views on my professional social media page.)

A former co-worker once expressed his strong dislike for Meryl Streep because she uses her public platform to express her views or her politics.

To that I replied, “I’m a Meryl Streep-loving, tree hugging liberal and I’m proud of it!”

I’m a strong believer that if you have a platform and people’s attention, you should use it to try and educate them on matters they may not be that familiar with!

IMAGINE DRAGONS (AND UNICORNS)

The Grammy Award winning, Las Vegas-based group Imagine Dragons have sold more than 12 million albums and 35 million singles.

They’ve had massive radio hits like 2012’s “Radioactive” and last year’s “Believer”, “Thunder”, and “Whatever It Takes”.

While they’re one of the hottest rock bands on the planet, the group started getting more attention — namely from Mormons and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — when lead singer Dan Reynolds reached out to and began defending the LGBTQ community.

Why?  In Utah, suicide is the leading cause of death for teenagers!!!

Trevor

SuicideHotline

WAKE THE F*CK UP UTAH!  (That’s me speaking and not Dan in those exact words!)

A new HBO documentary, “Believer”, came out in June.

It talks about the struggles of LGBTQ communities across Utah, the suicide rate, and what Reynolds and Neon Trees lead singer Tyler Glenn and others are doing to fight this tragedy.  It also takes on the double cross-talking Mormon church!

Now, I wonder what my former colleague that was always singing “Thunder” would think about Reynolds speaking out against the church’s views on being LGBTQ?  Is Reynolds now in the Streep camp of just “shut up and sing”?

LOVELOUD

The second annual LOVELOUD concert with proceeds supporting national and local LGBTQ+ charities will be held Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Salt Lake City with Imagine Dragons, Tyler Glenn, Zedd, and more.

“SHUT UP & SING”

As the 2003 Iraq War was about to get underway, Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, told a London, England audience, at the kickoff of the “Top of the World Tour”, “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States (George W. Bush) is from Texas.”

Once those comments made it to the U.S. and onto every right-wing, conservative radio and television show (and into newspapers), their country music career was over and they became pariahs in that genre.

Their hit, “Travelin’ Soldier”, was #1 on the country chart when the comments were made.  After Cumulus Media dropped the Dixie Chicks from their 42 country stations, the song dropped to #3 the next week and off the entire chart one week later!

They got death threats, which was the premise of the excellent documentary, “Shut Up & Sing”.

Kudos to Natalie, Emily Robinson, and Martie Maguire for putting on a strong face in the face of the turmoil and being called every name in the book!

Dc.jpg

The controversy played heavily into their Grammy Award-winning comeback, sans country radio, with “Take The Long Way” and “Not Ready To Make Nice” in 2006.

It was during this time that I first saw them in concert in Chicago in 2006 on the “Accidents & Accusations Tour”.

By the way, Bush responded, “The Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind. They can say what they want to say … they shouldn’t have their feelings hurt just because some people don’t want to buy their records when they speak out … Freedom is a two-way street … I don’t really care what the Dixie Chicks said. I want to do what I think is right for the American people, and if some singers or Hollywood stars feel like speaking out, that’s fine. That’s the great thing about America.”

“LATTER DAYS”

This movie, written by former Mormon C. Jay Cox (“Sweet Home Alabama”) is still one of my favorite movies after a decade.

It’s the story of a group of Mormons on their two-year mission to Los Angeles and one of them has a big secret.

It’s funny, loving, sad, and heartbreaking with amazing performances from leads Steve Sandvoss and Wes Ramsey and guest stars Jacqueline Bisset, Mary Kay Place, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

A must-see!

NOAH’S ARK

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“A QUIET PLACE”

I’m probably one of the last people to finally see this incredible movie.

This $19 million dollar picture, which marked Krasinski’s directing debut, has already brought in $332.4 million dollars!

I love Emily Blunt and she’s incredible (when isn’t she?) and absolutely crush on John Krasinski!  This movie definitely marks his place in Hollywood as a promising director!

I’m claustrophobic and this movie took my breath away with the silence!  Silence that when broken is deadly!

Millicent Simmonds, who played Blunt and Krasinski’s daughter, is magnificent, too.

The movie ended perfectly for a sequel and one is on the way.

Does it need one?  No.  It’s a perfect stand alone movie.   However, it gives us a chance to see more of Blunt and Simmonds.

I hope that the sequel works as both a sequel AND a prequel — without a “spoiler alert”, that’s all I’ll say. 🙂

GRADE:  A

“STREISAND:  HER LIFE”

In my eight weeks since moving to Duluth, I haven’t read a book.  The last book I finished was my 20th of the year, “Streisand:  Her Life” by James Spada.

spada.jpg

It’s amazing how talented Streisand is — from music to television to Broadway to movies.

Based entirely on her looks as a child and a young woman, no one believed she had what it took to make it!  And, now she’s an Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy award winner!

But, the book doesn’t hold back on how self-centered she is or comes across.

Her friend, composer James Newton Howard (“Pretty Woman”):  “Barbra is a sweetheart, but she can be quite blunt.  If you’re not thick-skinned, then she’s not easy to think.  I happen to think she’s a genius.  The process of working with her is a difficult one because her perfectionism is unequaled.  She’s incredibly demanding, but I can truthfully say that working with her has elevated my own work.”

While demanding, she also uses her name and talent to promote causes she believes in — being a staunch liberal! 🙂

Speaking to students at Harvard in 1995, Barbra said, “I’m also very proud to be a liberal.  Why is that so terrible these days?  [The audience cheered].

She continued, “The liberals were liberating.  They fought slavery, fought for women to have the right to vote… fought to end segregation, fought to end apartheid.  Thanks to liberals, we have Social Security, public education, consumer and environmental protection, Medicare, Medicaid, the minimum-wage law, unemployment compensation.  Liberals put an end to child labor.  They even gave us the five-day work week.  What’s to be ashamed of?…”

Still speaking,  “I have opinions, nobody has to agree — I just like being involved, and after many years of self-scrutiny, I’ve realized that the most satisfying feelings come from things outside myself.”

Finally, she concluded, “So until women are treated equally with men, until gays and minorities are not discriminated against, until children have their full rights, artists must continue to speak out, and I will be one of them.  Sorry, Rush, Newt, Jesse — the artist as citizen is here to stay.”
Barbra’s been working on her autobiography for years and it was to be released in 2018.  However, that’s not looking likely.  She told “Entertainment Weekly” that the part about “A Star Is Born” is already 50 pages long!
BARBRA’S MUSIC

In her 50-plus-year career, Barbra scored 22 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with 13 of them reaching the Top Ten.

She’s had five chart toppers:  “The Way We Were”, “Evergreen”, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” (with Neil Diamond), “No More Tears” (with Donna Summer), and “Woman in Love”.

One of my favorites, “Left in the Dark”, the lead single from her 1984 album, “Emotion”, only reached #50 on the Billboard Hot 100.  But, it reached #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

A “POSE” CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY

Christmas is now just five months away.

As you already know, I love FX’s “Pose” and it was renewed for a second season.

The first season has wrapped up, but just three episodes in, I got the thing I love most about any series — a Christmas episode!

Work it Blanca in a Pray Tell creation!

blanca

Angel also looked lovely in the heartwarming episode!

angel pose.gif

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Sugar Coating Life

UPDATED POST (text in color): July 12, 2020

ORIGINAL POST: July 12, 2017

I use my blog as therapy.

I express my thoughts and feelings through written words.  Sometimes, it’s fun stuff (food, movies, songs, and books I like, love, or didn’t care for) and, at other times, I speak out on injustices that need to be part of our dialogue.

I’ve ticked people off and I’ve been degraded for it.

But, since I started my television career decades ago, I’ve developed a tough skin.  Things that might have upset me all those years ago just tick me off now.  The use of the f-word helps, too. 🙂

taylor-swift-selena-gomez-shut-the-fuck-up-vmas-2013

By the way, T-Swizzle, please drop the follow-up to “1989” this fall! (She did with the incredible “Reputation” in November 2017!)

I feel a sense of pride when my written words and thoughts enlighten others on a topic they normally wouldn’t have pursued to learn more.

With that being said, I want you to know that there’ll always be a certain amount of sugar coating served with my thoughts and blogs.

Sugar

Being a “public figure”, I can’t truly say what I’m really thinking.  I can hint at it, but it has be to watered down.

Two words:  Dixie Chicks!

dc

I’m not #45 with free reign (of terror) to offend without any retribution!  I’m no longer in the progressive “blue state” of Illinois. (Update: Three years later, I am, yet in a more “conservative” part of the state.)

I now live in the “red state” of Florida and in a county where about two-thirds of the people don’t think like me, so pass the sugar! (Out of there and good riddance!)

I’ll always cherish my 15.5 years in the Midwest (four in Chicago and more than a decade in the Quad Cities). (I’m adding to my Illinois years now in Decatur!) It was far more progressive than I could ever have imagined.

Former Iowa Justices

Think about it, three Iowa judges lost their seats in the 2010 November elections, but they brought “marriage equality” to the “Hawkeye State” in 2009, six years before the Supreme Court of the United States made it the law of the land in the summer of 2015!

But, what’s the point of today’s blog about sugar coating things?

Mary Ann

I’m going through another “Mary Ann Singleton” phase again in my life!

For the uninitiated, she’s a naive character in Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” book series, who visited San Francisco from Cleveland, Ohio, in 1976 and decided to stay.

My best friend, Steve, introduced me to the PBS mini-series based on the book in the spring of 1994 before I made my big move from small town Mayfield, Kentucky, in July of that year.

I felt like Mary Ann experiencing a whole new world.  San Francisco wasn’t Cleveland for her and Chicago wasn’t Mayfield for me.  I turned 30 a few months after moving there and it was fantastic.  But, I’m now two decades older as I begin my new life in Panama City, Florida. (I’m no longer in Florida, but I’m still trying to begin my new life…)

While I might be older, the climate (and I’m not talking weather) of the country and my living here alone, a thousand miles from those I love, makes me feel like the “fish out of water” — like Mary Ann all over again.

I’ve been in Panama City for two months now and while still adorable, I’ve tired of my only friendships being with the two web-footed fowl! (Plenty of them here on Lake Decatur, too!)

I’m not depressed or despondent, but I’m sad and lonely.  I miss human correspondence and friendship.

However, in life, we never know what’s right around the corner. Tomorrow, I could meet my new best friend — someone to make me change the way I feel about life, love, and the future.

“Everybody Knows” by the Dixie Chicks perfectly sums up the way I’m feeling now.

I’m not writing this for sympathy.  I’m just processing my life at this time.

As Belle exclaims in “Beauty and the Beast”:

“Little town/It’s a quiet village/Every day/Like the one before/Little town/Full of little people”… “Every morning just the same/Since the morning that we came/To this poor provincial town”… “There must be more than this provincial life!”

One more note about the Maupin series.

I smiled the other day when I saw “Mary Ann in Autumn”, the eighth book in the nine-book “Tales” series on a shelf here in heavily Republican Panama City!

If only they knew it’s part of a series about 1970s and 1980s San Francisco complete with casual sex (L,G,B, and T), bathhouses, drugs, AIDS, transgender characters, and so much more. 🙂

In that book, (spoiler alert), Mary Ann did become a famous newscaster, but decided that New York City wasn’t for her anymore and she moved back to San Francisco.

No, this doesn’t mean that I’ll be moving back to the Quad Cities, but Las Vegas and a new start might be on the table! (Earlier this year, I scrapped Las Vegas, too, and in light of Coronavirus, I’m glad I did!)

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — September 16, 2016

It’s Friday and another weekend is almost here.  This one is the last weekend of summer 2016 as fall officially begins on September 22nd!

After enjoying my getaway to South Carolina and Georgia, it was back to work this week and it wasn’t bad.

Thank you for checking out my “Random Friday Thoughts” and, as always, if you disagree with me, do it diplomatically.

COUGHING, “OVERHEATED”, AND PNEUMONIA

Last Sunday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton left an event commemorating the fifteen-year anniversary of “9/11” because she felt “overheated”.  She went to her daughter’s apartment in New York City and came out a short time later looking much better and waving to the crowd.

chelsea hillary

That evening, her doctor released a statement saying that Clinton had been diagnosed with pneumonia two days earlier and was finally going to take doctor’s order and rest a few days before carrying on with the presidential campaign.

Dr. Statement.jpg

All of this comes at a critical time in the race when some started questioning whether she’s healthy enough to run the country.

My final thoughts:  I wish Clinton’s camp had just come out last Friday and said she had pneumonia instead of adding fire to the conspiracy theories.

However, pneumonia is very common with more than three million Americans getting it each year.  As Clinton said, she tried to work through it and it got the best of her and that’s why she didn’t reveal it.  I see the point.  Would you want to know if she had a yeast infection or if Donald Trump had a urinary track infection?

HEAT EXHAUSTION

While summer is winding down, we may still have some very warm days with humidity.  So, I’ll talk about getting “overheated”, particularly since Clinton’s health scare was front and center last week.

Here are the facts and these aren’t political party facts, it’s science.

While temperatures in Central Park were around 80° at the time Clinton felt “overheated” last Sunday, New York City and Central Park had been dealing with stifling heat and humidity.  Here are the actual high temperatures leading into last Sunday.

CP Temps.jpg

 

Once you factor in the humidity, those highs around 90° felt more like 95°-102° to the human body.

If you’re even somewhat familiar with heat, humidity, and the human body (and you don’t have to be a doctor or meteorologist), you know that heat exhaustion cases really rise after days of excessive heat and humidity, which was encountered in New York City — not just on the first hot day.

It’s less relevant that it was only 80° at the time.

FAVORITE.AMERICAN.ENTREE.EVER.

As you know, I love food and writing about it.

My favorite restaurant is Patti’s 1880s Settlement in Grand Rivers, Kentucky.

Their Flowering Colossal Onion and Dark Beer-Battered Cheese Sticks appetizers are so tasty.

OnionStix2011

Their two-inch specialty pork chops are amazing and their desserts, especially the Sawdust Pie, make the seven-hour drive from the Quad Cities worth every bite.

SawdustPie

My favorite meal ever was in Tel Aviv, Israel, right on the Mediterranean Sea, two years ago during my 50th birthday week at Benny the Fisherman.

This was just the “salad” part of the experience!

Benny The Fisherman

Now, I have a favorite entree to add to the list.

Last week, we walked an hour from our downtown hotel to the Atlanta Botanical Garden to see the “Chihuly in the Garden” exhibit, which was phenomenal.

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I bought a Groupon for a four-course meal at Tavernpointe.  It was roughly another hour’s walk from the Botanical Garden through the Ansley Park neighborhood to the Sherwood Forest restaurant and it was worth every step!

From the incredible service from Joey, the bartender who doubled as our waiter, to each of the four courses and the beer and wine pairing for each course, it was the most perfect evening.

My sensational entree was Sonoran Salmon (avocado soup, goat cheese-black bean cake, crema, pico).

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Thank you, Tavernpointe (and Groupon — otherwise, we would have missed out on this culinary experience)!

WHY EAT AT PAULA DEEN’S?

I know that food mogul Paula Deen would love to put the talk about using the “n-word” and the accusations of racism behind her.

Paula Deen Happy

Two blogs ago, I wrote about Paula and shared my 2014 thoughts when her empire came crashing down.

Last week, I stated that I ate at her Savannah, Georgia, restaurant “The Lady and Sons” and it was amazing for good southern cooking.

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Someone asked me on Facebook after reading the blog, “Can I ask why you went to Paula Deen’s restaurant after all the publicity about her racism and discrimination? Asked respectfully.”

Here’s my reply:  “Because I wanted to. I know about her use of the n-word and the circumstances around her usage of it. However, “racism” is a whole new can of worms.”

But, when I thought about it a little more, I realized that I had more to say about the lawsuit, race, and the use of that ugly “n-word”.

I am appalled by that word and I don’t care what race is using it. As I’ve written before, if the woman [Deen] was a “racist” (and I don’t know her to know, but I suspect she is NOT), you can’t tell me that people would not have already come out of the wood works to back up Lisa Jackson’s claims.”

I concluded with this, “I was even thinking of this the day I was eating there. There were many African-Americans working that day, including our server. I cannot imagine that any one of them would value that job so much if they really thought that she felt that way about them. There are other restaurants in Savannah and I honestly don’t think they’d be there.

JIMMY CARTER

Ever since I was an 11-year-old boy that got to pull the lever for Jimmy Carter in the 1976 presidential election (with my grandmother), I’ve idolized the former president and his wife, Rosalynn Carter.

While in Atlanta last week, I just missed seeing the Carters by mere days, but I did check out the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum.

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The tour at the museum started with a movie of his life from his childhood in Plains, Georgia, to joining the U.S. Navy, heading back to Plains, and then entering the political arena (from Georgia State Senator to Georgia’s Governor to becoming the 39th President of the United States).

The amount of memorabilia displayed in the museum is incredible.  It’s definitely a labor of love — not only to President Carter, but to his fans and the United States as a country.

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It’s also nice to see all the displays of what the Carters have accomplished in life after they left the White House in 1981.

What an amazing couple!

CALLING OUT THE “MAINSTREAM MEDIA”

I’ve known of Canadian comedian Samantha Bee for some time.

She was on Comedy Central’s  “The Daily Show” before leaving to host her own satirical news show on TBS, “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”.

I finally caught her act criticizing the mainstream media for not calling out Donald Trump on his blatant lies.  Kudos to you, Samantha.

If you’ve never watched Bee, check this out and, by the way, shame on you Matt Lauer!

Warning: language!

I’ll definitely feature more of Bee in the future because she’s on to something.

Gallap reports thats only one in three Americans trust the media “to report the news fully, accurately and fairly”.  This is the lowest level since tracking started in 1972.

DIXIE CHICKS

The Dixie Chicks put on an amazing show last night at the iWireless Center in Moline, Illinois.

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This was the second time I’ve seen them perform.  The first was back in 2006, in Chicago, on the “Accidents and Accusations Tour”.

It was so great partying with Natalie, Martie, and Emily again!

“SULLY”

On the afternoon of January 15, 2009, if you had your television on, you were likely watching the incredible, real life events unfolding on a bitterly cold afternoon in New York City.

US Airways Flight 1549 was ditched into the Hudson River after taking from LaGuardia Airport.

Flight 1549

Shortly after take-off, the plane encountered a flock of Canadian geese causing engine failure.

57-year-old Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger and 49-year-old First Officer Jeff Skiles skillfully saved all 155 passengers on board in this amazing, unpowered emergency water landing.

It’s now a #1 box office movie directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks as “Sully” and Aaron Eckhart as Skiles.

As always, Hanks is incredible and while the movie covers the landing on the cold, icy waters, it focuses more on the investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and whether Sully made the right decision on the water landing instead of trying to make it back to the airport.

In the conversation after the model, we debated and decided that while it was a strong and compelling role for Hanks, it probably won’t garner an Oscar nomination for Hanks.  However, the Academy does like actors playing real-life heroes.

GRADE: B+

PICK HIT

This summer, late-80s English pop star Rick Astley released his eighth studio album (his seventh was never released) conveniently called “50” since he turned 50 earlier this year.

It debuted at #1 in the U.K. and will be released here in the U.S. on October 7th.

Three singles have already been released in European markets and I’m featuring “Dance” as my pick hit today.

FLASHBACK!

I have to admit that I crushed on Rick when I was in my early-20s and I have to say that he’s aging rather well at almost 51. (I’m slightly older — I turn 52 in October.)

Rick topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart here in the U.S. with his first two songs, “Never Gonna Give You Up” (March 1988) and “Together Forever” (June 1988).

He went on to score three more Top Ten hits, “It Would Take a Strong Strong Man” (#10, 1988), “She Wants To Dance With Me” (#6, 1988), and “Cry For Help” (#7, 1991).

Here’s a little music trivia for you.  He also sang backing vocals on Elton John’s 1994 Oscars, Golden Globes, and Grammy winning song, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from “The Lion King”!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

My 20 Favorite Dixie Chicks Songs

I’ve never met Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, yet I have a connection (okay, two or three).

natalie

When I took my second television job in Lubbock, Texas, (Natalie’s hometown),  in 1997, as a reporter and Saturday anchor at the CBS affiliate, her sister, Kim, was the 10 p.m. weekday producer.  What a sweetheart!

1997 was also the year that Natalie and sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison exploded onto the country music scene with “I Can Love You Better”, which went on to reach #7 on the Billboard Country chart.

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Their debut album, “Wide Open Spaces”, has now sold over twelve million copies in the U.S. alone and generated four more Top Ten hits (three of them topped the country charts).

If you’re a fan of the Dixie Chicks, you know they paid the price for being openly honest about then President George W. Bush in 2003 as America moved closer to war with Iraq.

Today’s blog isn’t about that, but I’ll share the blog I wrote about it here:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/a-nation-at-war-abroad-on-country-radio-as-a-statue-topples/

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As the Dixie Chicks get ready to play the Quad Cities Thursday night in Moline at the iWireless Center, I’m counting down my twenty favorite Dixie Chicks songs.  Let me tell you, narrowing it down to twenty was hard!

By the way, here’s another connection I have to Natalie. 🙂  We feel the same way about Donald Trump (GRRRRRR)!

Natalie

Now, my Top 20 Dixie Chicks songs.

#20

“THE LONG WAY AROUND”

#19

“WHITE TRASH WEDDING”

#18

“BITTER END”

17

“A HOME”

16

“TRUTH NO. 2”

15

“COWBOY TAKE ME AWAY”

#14 Movie

“WITHOUT YOU”

#13

“TOP OF THE WORLD”

12

“I CAN LOVE YOU BETTER”

#11 Movie

“READY TO RUN”

#10 MOVIE

“SIN WAGON”

9 CD

“THERE’S YOUR TROUBLE”

#8 CD

“LONG TIME GONE”

#7 CD

“TRAVELIN’ SOLDIER”

6

“I HOPE”

5

“EASY SILENCE”

4

“TONIGHT THE HEARTACHE’S ONE ME”

#3 CD

“IF I FALL YOU’RE GOING DOWN WITH ME”

#2 CD

“SOME DAYS YOU GOTTA DANCE”

#1

“NOT READY TO MAKE NICE”

So, there you have my twenty favorites.

As I wrap up here, I do think too much.

Natalie and I have yet another connection, we’re both Libras — born almost on the same day many years apart (me on October 13 and Natalie on October 14th ten years later!)

By the way, Martie was also almost born on my birthday, too, five years later on October 12th!

So, happy belated birthday Emily and happy birthday early Martie and Natalie!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — August 26, 2016

It’s now the last weekend of August.  Where did summer go?

While we still have about four weeks of summer left, Labor Day is fast approaching and, for some, that’s the unofficial end of the summer season.

If you’re ready for fall (and winter), then the first story in my “Random Friday Thoughts” is just for you.

Even if it’s not for you, if you live in the Quad Cities or nearby, please read it and take it to heart.

THE BOY THAT CRIED WOLF

It’s still summer, but we all know that fall is getting closer since our low dropped to 53° this past Monday in the Quad Cities.

While there’s plenty of warm weather left and time for several tropical systems to develop in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, colder weather is spilling in well to our northwest and some long-term computer models even paint a little snow over western Canada by September 1st. 🙂

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This is a perfect time to clarify a couple of things and I’m sure you’ll hear me reiterate this again during the winter months!

We know there are some local forecasters across Iowa and Illinois that cry wolf and dramatize every potential snowflake to get Facebook likes, shares, and blog hits!

Snowflake

That’s not me!  While I love for people to read what I write and comment on it, I’m not going to sensationalize a forecast to get you to watch me or brag about the number of people that click on my page.

With that being said, when you see astronomical snow forecasts a week or so ahead of a potential snow event (which is stupid from a forecasting standpoint), just ignore them!

However, if you insist on looking, don’t make the mistake of asking me about it!  If I think there’s a chance of seeing a decent snow, I’ll definitely be telling you.  But, I will not justify another forecaster’s sensationalism!

Again, I know I’ll have to mention this again this winter.

2016 SUMMER OLYMPICS

I’m so proud of all of the athletes on Team USA that won gold, silver, and bronze medals at the 2016 Summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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I’m just as happy for those that made the team that didn’t win medals, too.

I didn’t watch the games, but I did follow the medal count as Team USA won more gold and more medals overall than any other team in the world.

All of those performances shined brighter than the adolescent ignorance and shame brought on by gold medalist swimmer Ryan Lochte and his three friends who claimed they were robbed at gunpoint.  Lochte now says his story was “over-exaggerated”.

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SPEEDO FALLOUT

No, there’s no photo of a “wardrobe malfunction” with Lochte and his Speedo.  However, there is fallout from his lies.

Speedo USA ended its sponsorship of him earlier this week.  The company will still donate a portion of his fee ($50,000) to the global charity “Save The Children” in Brazil.

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RALPH LAUREN FOLLOWS SPEEDO

The hits against Lochte didn’t stop with Speedo.  Ralph Lauren and two other companies cut ties, too.

The fashion company says, “Ralph  Lauren continues to proudly sponsor the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Team and the values that its athletes embody.”

It added, “Ralph Lauren’s endorsement agreement with Ryan Lochte was specifically in support of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the company will not be renewing his contract.”

Lochte, stuff that in your Speedos!

STILL NOT READY!

The Dixie Chicks debuted on the Billboard County charts in 1997 with “I Can Love You Better”.  From 1997-2003, the Texas trio charted 16 Top 40 hits with 14 of them reaching the Top Ten, and six topping the charts.

Then, in 2003, lead singer Natalie Maines told a foreign crowd that she was ashamed that then President George W. Bush was from Texas.  The fallout at country radio was swift, but not like Taylor!

“Travelin’ Soldier” was at the top of the country charts when Natalie’s words made is back to America.  Cumulus radio stations banned the Chicks and the song dropped off the charts in two weeks — from #1!

The Dixie Chicks returned with a new album, “Taking The Long Way”, in 2006.  It topped Billboard’s Top 200 and Country album charts, sold over two million copies, and won a total of five Grammy Awards.

They’re back on tour now, their first since 2006, and Natalie still has more to say!

Natalie

I’ll be seeing Natalie, Martie, and Emily for the second time in less than three weeks when they play the iWireless Center in Moline, Illinois, on September 15th, on the “DCX MMXVI World Tour”.

I’m currently listening to all my Dixie Chicks CDs again to rank my 20 favorite songs before the concert!

If you want to see the April 2012 blog I wrote about them and the war with country radio, here it is.  (It’ll open in a new window.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/a-nation-at-war-abroad-on-country-radio-as-a-statue-topples/

DO YOU LOVE COTTON CANDY?

I love cotton candy and I eat it every time I go to Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.  cotton candy

However, I thought of it in a different way recently reading an interview with Jennifer Lawrence talking about her upcoming movie, “Passengers”, with Chris Pratt.

Lawrence says (referring to Pratt), “He’s a bag of Gummi Bears.  He’s human cotton candy.”

Three things crossed my mind:  (1) “human cotton candy” sounds like something Hannibal Lecter would make if he was slumming for a dinner party dessert, (2) I do like cotton candy, and (3), I’d like it even more if it comes in the shape of the new and improved Chris Pratt body!

Chris Pratt.jpg

“BREAKING BAD”

I have another thought about winter today.

I know the most critically acclaimed show of all time (Guinness World Records, 2013), “Breaking Bad” concluded its five year run in the fall of 2013.

Ray and I were finally going to binge watch it when we got snowed in this winter, but we started it this week and after just three episodes, all I can say is “it’s incredible” — even if we saw Walter White (Bryan Cranston) too many times in his tighty whities. 🙂

Now, if we start seeing Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) in his, that’ll be different!

While we’ll still be watching “Breaking Bad” this winter, we also have “House of Cards”, “Justified”, and “Tyrant” to binge watch on when the days get short, the air gets colder, and the snow piles up.

Snow Saturday Morning

A BIRTHDAY PRESENT FOR ME???

At my age, I don’t really make a big deal out of my birthdays since I’ve already passed many of the milestones (13, 16, 18, 21, 30, 40, and 50).  Okay, I still have many years to go before retirement and social security.

For my 50th birthday, Ray treated me to a dinner cruise on the Seine River, a trip to top of the Eiffel Tower, and a show at the world famous Moulin Rouge, where I was sipping champagne and watching very risque and sexy performers at the stroke of midnight!

AP R Moulin

But, this year there’ll be a fun birthday present that I might just have to buy for myself.

One of my favorite bands of all-time, Erasure, is releasing a mammoth boxed set called “From Moscow to Mars”.  If you’re a die-hard Erasure fan or a fan of 1980s music, you’ll know where that title came from.  I know, you’re racking your brain now!

Check out this incredible video teaser!

Who knows how much that 13 disc set with over 200 tracks will cost, but I think I’m worth it!

AND THERE’S MORE….

If that wasn’t enough, Michael Buble is back, too, with a new album, “Nobody But Me” on October 21st.

Michael Buble To Be Loved

His last album, “To Be Loved” came out more than three years ago and his last tour ended in March 2015.

Michael has been spending more time with his wife, Luisana, and their two sons, three-year-old Noah and seven-month-old Elias.

The first single and the title track came out last week.

ANOTHER CHRISTMAS OFFERING

Christmas is still four months away, but it’s that time of the year when details of upcoming holiday albums emerge.

Already, I’ve talked about a duets Christmas album from Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood and a new holiday album from Kacey Musgraves.

Illinois native and country hit maker Brett Eldredge will also be releasing his first Christmas collection this fall.

The album will feature classics and a new song called “Glow”.  It’ll also have a “big band and swing sound”.

Until we get the track listing and that first video, here’s Brett from the 2014 CMA Country Christmas special.

And, if it’s too early for you to listen to a Christmas song, here’s Brett with one of my favorite songs of last year, his #1 country smash, “Lose My Mind”.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Maddie & Tae’s Country Debut is a Classic

There are many subgenres in country music:  outlaw, traditional, neotraditional, bluegrass, and the latest hot trend, bro-country.

I know that singing about women, partying, alcohol, and pick-up trucks are a staple of good ol’ boy country, but that doesn’t appeal to everyone.  I’m raising my hand!

The Southern Plains duo Maddie & Tae (Madison Marlow and Taylor Dye) are the antithesis of “bro-country” and it’s refreshing.

Although their full length debut album, “Start Here”, came out late last summer and reached #2 on the Billboard Country Album chart, it’s still churning out hits and catching on.

Start Here

I’m glad I took a chance on it this week.  It’s a great effort for the 20-year-old singers and songwriters that penned all eleven songs on the album.

When their first single, “Girl In A Country Song”, came out in the summer of 2014 and became the most played song on country radio five months later, I took notice and featured it as one of my favorite songs of 2014.

Not only was the song fun and catchy, the video took on the country bros and empowered women to turn the tables and objectify men!

In just three-and-a-half minutes, country music took notice of these two young women and realized that they were smart and not just pretty faces!

By topping the Country Airplay chart, Maddie & Tae became only the second female duo to reach #1 with their first effort in the history of country music.

The follow-up, “Fly” reached #9 last year.

Their current single, “Shut Up and Fish”, is currently gaining traction at country radio and is one of my favorite songs on “Start Here”.

The video also features Taylor’s older brother, Mason Dye, from the 2014 movie, “Flowers in the Attic”.

“Start Here” is full of several great mid-tempo and upbeat songs like “Smoke”, “Right Here, Right Now”, and “Downside of Growing Up” and the ballad, “After The Storm Blows Through”, is incredible.

If you like traditional country, the peppy “No Place Like You” reminds me of 1990s Pam Tillis.

While the third single is just now moving up the country charts, if Maddie & Tae are thinking of releasing a fourth single from the album, my choice is “Your Side of Town”.  It would be a perfect, fun summer song.

The opening musical notes had me thinking “Sin Wagon” by the Dixie Chicks, and with the positive, strong female message that emanates throughout this debut album, that’s a good thing.

I’ve mentioned how much I love “Shut Up and Fish” and “Your Side of Town”, but I think my favorite song on “Start Here” is “Sierra”.  Being the dad of a 14-year-old daughter, a high school freshman, I hear a lot about “girl drama” and I know it’s only going to get worse.

“Sierra” is a fun and cheeky song, but it does send out a very strong message to women.  They should be there to back each other up and not tear each other down — they have men to do that!  Karma comes around and you may need that girlfriend one day.

“Start Here” would be a great album from any country artist, whether it’s a veteran or a superstar, but since it’s from two up-and-comers, that means we’ll be hearing a lot more from Maddie & Tae in the future.

It may have taken me months to buy this album, but it can be the album of 2016 that all new ones will have to measure up to!

GRADE:

A

Maddie & Tae may be taking on bro-country one song and one concert at a time, but more importantly, “Start Here” is empowering to any teenager, woman, or open-minded man that listens to it.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — December 13, 2013

Happy Friday!  I’m a little scared today.  It’s not about the snow coming in tonight and Saturday, but about Jason Voorhees.  Yes, it’s “Friday the 13th”, so I hope you have a great weekend.

Here are my random Friday thoughts.

JasonVoorhees

BY THE WAY, SNOW IS ON THE WAY!

Snow is coming in tonight and early Saturday for the Mississippi and Illinois Valleys.  Here’s how much you can expect!

Snow Tonight & Saturday

JASON & SNOW DON’T SCARE ME, BUT ICE + IDIOT DRIVERS DO

Ice Ray

Meteorological winter is already here even if the calendar says we have to wait until next weekend for the winter solstice.  Last weekend, while in Nashville, icy road conditions and speed were responsible for a deadly accident in the metro area.

Driving home was very scary.  Once we got past the fresh coating of ice in northwestern Tennessee, we encountered leftover heavy snow in southern Illinois, and falling freezing rain in central Illinois.  While it was a slow drive for hours at 40-50 miles-per-hour, the interstate was littered with cars and semis in the ditch — some overturned.

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And, yet with all of the accidents and emergency crews working on the side of the interstate to rescue people, there were still idiots speeding past us and the slowing traffic.

People, ice and snow means conditions are not ideal, so slow down!

MISSING NASHVILLE

One week ago, I was looking forward to seeing Lorrie Morgan’s Christmas show, the ICE exhibit featuring “Frosty the Snowman”, a lunch cruise on the General Jackson showboat on the Cumberland River, and the Grand Ole Opry.  Now that we’re back and I put in my five days at work, the mini-vacation seems like it was so long ago!

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I would definitely consider Nashville as a place to retire.

OPRY VALUES AND THE CHRISTIAN FAITH

I thoroughly enjoyed my mini-vacation and it was cool to visit the Opry at the Ryman.  This is the music that I grew up on in Kentucky.  Most of the show that we saw was entertaining, yet some of it was painful.  But, that’s not the focus of my random thought.

Country music legend Connie Smith was the host of the first 30 minutes of the two-hour Opry show.  Smith, from 1964-1978, scored 40 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Country charts with 20 of them reaching the Top Ten!  She was very entertaining.

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However, my mind started wandering about the Opry and country music’s close ties to Christianity.

While I know there are many open-minded and loving “Christians” out there, the advertisements from sponsor, Cracker Barrel, and Smith’s introduction to a close family friend and medical doctor of Reverend Billy Graham, made me think more and more about homophobia.

chely_wright_fhm3_hClnTlY.sized

Country singer Chely Wright, who has scored nine hits on the Billboard Country chart with “Single White Female” reaching #1 in 1999 and was a regular performer at the Opry, has not been invited back since she came out publicly as a lesbian in 2010.

Chely Wright

Chely married her partner, Lauren Blitzer, in August 2011, and this past May, Chely gave birth to identical twins.

Last year, Chely told “Nashville Scene”, “I do think that there are homophobic people in the industry — some of them in power.  I feel that the greatest setback that plagues the country music industry is their collective fear of the consumer’s expected homophobia. I call this fearphobia. The industry is afraid of the record buying public’s fear of gays and lesbians. They’re afraid of fear. And that fear is enough to cause silence. And it’s deafening, if you ask me.”

I love Chely and she is a very courageous woman.  I just wish that the country music genre that I grew up listening to would be more welcoming to my LGBT brothers and sisters.

Opry, it’s time for you to do the right thing and welcome Chely back with open arms.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

LollipopCookie Swap

Eggs Milk Bread

REMEMBERING JOHN LENNON

While dignitaries around the world are paying respect and mourning the loss of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died last week, this past Sunday marked the 33rd anniversary of the shooting death of another man who was a voice for peace and love, John Lennon.

John Lennon

John, what you believed in, and Yoko, what you still fight for, is still achievable.  We may not see world peace, but I know that some are living more peaceful lives because of your efforts then and our efforts now.  No one has said it better that you — we just have to “Imagine”!

Happy Christmas everyone!  While this video contains disturbing images, we need to step outside our comfort zone to see how much work there is left to do in our lifetime.

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

Elton John and John Lennon were great friends.

Elton John and John Lennon

After the Beatles broke up and Elton John was dominating the pop charts in the early-1970s, John Lennon was working on his solo music career.  He reached #3 with “Instant Karma” in 1970 and #3 with “Imagine” the following year.

But, it would be his seventh solo hit that would become his only #1 hit in his lifetime after the Beatles.  “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night” featured his friend, Elton, on harmony vocals and piano.  And, John surprised Elton by appearing on stage during Elton’s Thanksgiving concert in 1974 at Madison Square Garden in Lennon’s last major concert appearance.

In 1982, Elton dedicated “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)” to his friend, John Lennon and the song reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100.

ELTON PREACHES TO RUSSIA

And, while I’m talking about Elton, he’s making news after his recent concerts in Russia.

Calling it “inhumane” and “isolating”, Elton took time out of his Moscow, Russia, concert last Friday night to talk about the anti-gay laws that were implemented in Russia this summer.

Elton John Performs at Madison Square Garden

Elton told the crowd, “I have always loved coming here, coming to this country, ever since I first played here in 1979. I love Russia – I love its art and its culture. But most of all, I love you, the people. You took me to your hearts all those years ago, and you have always welcomed me with warmth and open arms every time I have visited. You have always embraced me, and you have never judged me.  So I am deeply saddened and shocked over the current legislation that is now in place against the LGBT community here in Russia. In my opinion, it is inhumane and it is isolating.”

Vladislav Tornovoi

And, before he closed his condemnation of Russia’s homophobia, he asked for harmony to build “a future of equality, love and compassion” and he dedicated the show in memory of 23-year-old Vladislav Tornovoi, whose naked body had been dumped in a Volgograd courtyard this past May.  His skull was smashed and he had been raped with beer bottles.

Take three minutes to watch this compelling and heartbreaking story here from Sky News about Tornovio and the blatant homophobia that exists in Russia.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Joan Rivers cracks me up!

Joan Rivers Joan Rivers - Lindsay Lohan

CHRISTMAS PICK HIT

“Silent Night” from Kelly Clarkson’s Christmas special, “Kelly Clarkson’s (Cautionary) Christmas Tale” earlier this week on NBC.  It features Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood and is on Kelly’s “Wrapped In Red” holiday album.

TAKE DOWN THOSE DAMN CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!

Christmas lights brighten the holidays in multi-colors, solid colors, and clear bulbs.  However, if those lights are rainbow, it can cause some to freak out, especially in Rome, Italy.

RomeRainbow

This almost mile-long stretch of rainbow-flag lights decorate the Via del Corso, Rome’s main shopping street, to take a stand against homophobia following the recent suicide of a gay teenager.

The right-wing party, Fratelli d’Italia, calls the logic behind the decorations “provocative and ideological” and asked that they be replaced by the colors of Italy’s flag.

That was rejected and the lights will stay up as a dedication to the late South African President Nelson Mandela.

WE NEED MORE MAYORS LIKE ROME’S LEADER
While we’re on the subject of Rome, the city’s mayor, Ignazio Marino, says the “Eternal City” needs to stop living in the past when it comes to marriage equality.
Rome Mayor
Marino told HuffPost Live, “I believe that if a couple loves each other, they should get married.  I don’t see where the problem is. I guess it’s a problem with people thinking in the past — people belonging to the previous century. The last century is gone. It’s surprising for me that this is open for discussion.”
Thank you, Mayor Marino!

PICK HIT

“Work Bitch” is a fun song and Britney Spears looks amazing in the video.  However, it didn’t blow Top 40 radio away.

However, the follow-up, “Perfume”, is already one of the hottest songs in the country and is still racing up the chart.  The video debuted this week and Britney is incredible playing up vulnerability and insecurity.  And, I don’t know who is hotter — her or hot “boyfriend”.

“Britney Jean”, Britney’s eighth solo album debuted at #4 on the Billboard album chart this week with sales of 107,000 copies.

Britney Jean

While that’s a soft opening for Britney, she didn’t do any live performances to promote the album while she’s still rehearsing for her two-year Las Vegas residency that begins later this month at Planet Hollywood.

Britney’s last album, “Femme Fatale” sold 276,000 copies in its first week in 2011, but it had a huge smash at radio at the time, the #1 hit, “Hold It Against Me”.

A FINAL NASHVILLE THOUGHT

While I thoroughly enjoyed the “Reba: All The Women I Am” exhibit and the rest of the displays at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville last week, there was something that had me scratching my head.

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Whose idea was it to put the Dixie Chicks and Toby Keith memorabilia in the came display case?  Really?

Some days you just gotta dance if you’re not ready to make nice. 🙂

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

PSY In Damage Control For Wanting Americans Dead

PSY is apologizing for “inflammatory and inappropriate language” that called for the murder of American soldiers and their families in 2004.  Should we accept his apology and move on or make him a footnote in the history of music just hours before he’s expected to perform a holiday concert for the President?

“Gangnam Style” by PSY is now the most watched video ever on YouTube, surpassing Justin Bieber’s “Baby Baby”.

I never jumped on the band wagon and I never did that excruciatingly painful dance routine, even though the video is fun the first few times you watch it.

PSY GS

However, the soon-to-be 35-year-old South Korean, born Park Jae-sang, is in hot water now and is in full damage control for controversial anti-war comments he made eight years ago protesting American involvement in the Iraqi war.  He’s also protested against the American military presence in Korea two years before that.

TNTs-Annual-Christmas-in-Washington

He’s scheduled to perform tonight for President Barack Obama and his family for the annual “Christmas in Washington” concert and there’s a part of me that wants his invitation revoked.

I think the Christmas special would be just as festive with performances by Diana Ross, Demi Lovato, Megan Hilty, Scott McCreery, and Chris Mann.  The timing just isn’t right for PSY to perform in light of the recent revelations about his 2004 protest performance.  I think he should take the high road and drop out.

Before I go on, I believe in full disclosure.  In 2003, I was fully opposed to President George W. Bush’s decision to declare war on Iraq and Saddam Hussein.

Now, back to PSY.

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Back in 2004, he performed a song called “Dear American” with the lyrics,

“Kill those f—ing Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives/Kill those f—ing Yankees who ordered them to torture/Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers/Kill them all slowly and painfully.”

Billboard magazine is reporting this back story to the song, it’s “in response to the murder of a South Korean missionary in Iraq. The context is important: An Islamist group videotaped the beheading of missionary Kim Sun-il after the South Korean government refused to cancel plans to send 3,000 troops to aid the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.”

On Friday, he made this statement to MTV News:

“As a proud South Korean who was educated in the United States and lived there for a very significant part of my life, I understand the sacrifices American servicemen and women have made to protect freedom and democracy in my country and around the world. The song I was featured in — from eight years ago — was part of a deeply emotional reaction to the war in Iraq and the killing of two innocent Korean civilians that was part of the overall antiwar sentiment shared by others around the world at that time,” the statement read. “While I’m grateful for the freedom to express one’s self I’ve learned there are limits to what language is appropriate and I’m deeply sorry for how these lyrics could be interpreted. I will forever be sorry for any pain I have caused anyone by those words.”

I have been honored to perform in front of American soldiers in recent months – including an appearance on the Jay Leno show specifically for them – and I hope they and all Americans can accept my apology. While it’s important we express our opinions, I deeply regret the inflammatory and inappropriate language I used to do so. In my music I try to give people a release, a reason to smile. I have learned that though music, our universal language we can all come together as a culture of humanity and I hope that you will accept my apology.”

PSY

I know he’s apologized for comments he made eight years ago.  So, do we say, “we accept your apology” and move on or do we call radio stations and demand they stop playing “Gangnam Style”, which has already gone #1 in countless countries across the world and has been downloaded more than four million times.

The bottom line is that we live in a country that isn’t too forgiving.

Remember, in March 2003, ten days before the start of the Iraqi War, Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines told a London audience, “Just so you know, we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”  That commented basically ended the Dixie Chicks’ country music career.  To me, what Natalie said in 2003 and what PSY said in 2004 are not even in the same league!

If you want to read my April 12th blog about the Dixie Chicks, here’s the link:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/a-nation-at-war-abroad-on-country-radio-as-a-statue-topples/

What are you thoughts?

Anthony