Posts Tagged ‘Duluth’

I Need to Write My “Next Chapter”!

It’s clear that I’m alive!  However, being alive and living are not the same.

That’s where I’m at in life:  Alive, but not living!

While I enjoyed my life from 2009-2016, the world was changing around me.  But, I didn’t see it — until it was too late!

There were a couple of profound things underway that would shatter my world.  One happened in the fall of 2016 and the other just three months later in February 2017.

Honestly, like millions of others, my life changed forever on November 8, 2016.

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While many moved on, the cracks in my armor surfaced and my seemingly happy life quickly disintegrated into chaos!

Without a second thought following an argument, my eight-year relationship (and five-year marriage) was over.  But that wouldn’t be the biggest mistake — the worst decision of my life was taking a job and relocating to Panama City, Florida!

Spending a year there was deplorable!  I maintained my sanity by meeting a very dear couple, Cathy and Gerard, and my neighbor, Diane!

This song summed up my life in 2017 and ended up being my favorite song of the year!

For those of you that don’t click on videos, here are the lyrics from “Silence” that touched me the most.

♪♪♪”I’m in need of a savior, but I’m not asking for favors
My whole life, I’ve felt like a burden
I think too much, and I hate it
I’m so used to being in the wrong, I’m tired of caring
Loving never gave me a home, so I’ll sit here in the silence”♪♪♪

That temporary savior came in March of 2018 when I landed a job in Duluth, Minnesota, and relocated there in June.

While much happier than in Florida, I’m still not where I need to be and I know something needs to change.  And, that something is me!

It’s time to start outlining and writing “The Next Chapter”!

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

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

I read this quote in a book the other day and it makes perfect sense, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

With that being said, I’m coming up on a milestone and I’ve been thinking way too much about mortality.

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My father lived 55 years, 3 months, and 23 days.  For me to match that, I only have to make it to February 5, 2020.

If I only live that long, then it’s too late to change much.

However, I could live as long as my idol, President Jimmy Carter.  He’s living it up and he’s 94.7 years old!

Autograph Carters

After he reached the highest level in an American political career, he left the White House on January 20, 1981, at the young age of 56 years, 111 days.

And, he’s accomplished so much in the almost four decades that followed when most people are just thinking of retirement.

Spontaneous

In life, I’ve only made two real spontaneous decisions.  As it turned out, both were the best decisions I’ve ever made!

The first was moving away from small town Kentucky where I grew up to Chicago in the summer of 1994.  This kick-started my television career two years later.

In 2002, I decided to leave television for two more years in Chicago.

That time around, I had fun bartending and living life.  After a break, I got back into television, went back to school for my meteorology certification and I earned the “Seal of Approval” from the National Weather Association.

I love traveling and I’ve been fortunate to be able to see the world (well, 16 countries)!  Most recently, I added Morocco…

1 Morocco

and Thailand to the list!

Temples

However, even when jetting off to some exotic location, “reality” is still waiting when those trips are over.

So, I’ll have to be spontaneous again and start living!

As this summer turns into a long Minnesota winter, I’ll enjoy every snowflake.  And, come spring 2020, I’ll proudly take to heart the words of my favorite Robert Frost poem, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”.

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I’ll take a gamble on life again!

Anthony

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Random Thoughts — May 10, 2019

Happy Mother’s Day weekend to all of the moms and future moms out there, whether it’s children, godchildren, pets or plants!

Here’s a flashback to spring 1990 with my mother, Dessie, and my sister, Tammy.  While we didn’t know it then, this would be her last spring and Mother’s Day with us! 😦

Dessie 1990

Thank you for taking the time to check out my random thoughts.  If you disagree, feel free to diplomatically share yours with me!

IT’S SPRING, BUT NOT SO MUCH IN DULUTH

Okay, we’re already past the first week of May and we just experienced record May snowfall in Duluth, Minnesota.

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10.6″ of snow fell Wednesday night and Thursday morning.  Of that, 8.3″ fell Wednesday night making it the snowiest May 8th on record and the snowiest single day in May.

An additional 2.3″ fell on Thursday making it the snowiest May 9th on record.

This is now the snowiest May on record with 10.9″ (so far).

For this snow season, we’re up to 104.4″ in Duluth, making this the 15th snowiest winter on record and these records go back to 1884!

REALLY CLASSY PANAMA CITY BEACH! 

As you know, I was miserable the year I spent in Panama City, Florida, before moving to Duluth.

While I made three amazing friends and I’m sure there were many other great people I didn’t meet, there were a lot of people there that believed every word that spews out of 45’s ugly mouth.

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He was in Panama City Beach this week and while talking about immigrants and how to handle the border, a woman in the audience shouted, “Shoot them”!

He smiled and commented, “That’s only in the Panhandle, you can get away with that statement. Only in the Panhandle!”

Sadly, it’s probably true!  Pathetic!

PINK SAID WHAT???? 

To “Entertainment Weekly” about the title track of her latest album, “Hurts 2B Human”, a duet with Khalid: “I feel like if you’re present in 2019 and not totally escaping your feelings and looking around at what’s going on in the world, especially this country, it hurts.  It fucking hurts your heart.  I think that’s a good thing, because that’s what creates change, and we’re starting to see change and people show up and fight back!” 

“FERRARO: MY STORY”

This 1985 autobiography is by Congresswoman Geraldine A. Ferraro.

In 1984, she became the first woman to make it on a major presidential ticket when Democratic nominee Walter Mondale chose her as his running mate.

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While she talked about her family, her mother raising her and her brother as a single parent after her father’s death and her early political career, the book focuses mostly on the weeks leading up to her nomination and the long and painful 1984 presidential run.

In the book, this story stood out to me and it’s very relevant today as we head into a bitter fight into the 2020 race to get Donald Trump out of office.

It was early 1983 and Ferraro was talking about which eventual Democratic candidate she’d support.  She wanted someone who shared her values to be the candidate, but she would campaign for any Democrat to defeat Ronald Reagan.

Ferraro wrote, “Even an imperfect candidate would be better than Reagan — that’s how strongly I felt.”

“THE BLOOD OF ABRAHAM”

This 1985 book by my idol and former President Jimmy Carter traces the history of the Israeli-Palestinian turmoil back to biblical times when the Arabs, the Jews and the Christians all came from Abraham.

The Blood Jimmy Carter.jpg

If you’re not a reader of the Bible, some of the history is overwhelming and, to me, unbelievable (Abraham fathered children when he around 100 years old and he lived to 175!).

But, this was only in the first few pages of the book.

The great, concise book (just over 200 pages) details the torturous history of Palestine that only became more daunting once Israel came into existence in 1948 and Arab Palestinians didn’t have a home or home state.

As you recall, President Carter worked night and day for almost two week at Camp David in the summer of 1978 with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachen Begin to broker a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Arabs.

Sadly, there will never be peace between the two peoples over this small piece of real estate because neither side wants to give up anything to make peace.

Carter sums up the book talking about Abraham’s blood flowing through the veins of the Arab, Jew and Christian people and the bloody history of the Middle East with this chilling line, “The spilled blood in the Holy Land cries out to God — an anguished cry for peace.” 

AMERICA’S CRY FOR PEACE

It’s easy for Westerners to shake their heads over the long-standing history of violence in the Middle East.  But, that’s very narrow-minded of us.

Without being too judgmental, it’s like that right now in the United States.  We have strong race divisions, religious divisions, human rights divisions, and many more.

Just look at the divide between Democrats and Republicans, Hillary Clinton supporters, Bernie Sanders fans, and the ones that think that Donald Trump can do no wrong!

We’ve crossed a line from which we can’t (or will never) rebound!

I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist!

“MADAME X TOUR”

Madonna announced her latest tour this week to support her 14th studio album, “Madame X” coming out June 14th.

And, not surprising, it’s something new for the ever-changing icon.

Instead of taking her very expensive and incredible tours to arenas and cities all over the world, she’s doing mini-residencies in smaller theaters in large cities in the U.S. and Europe.

Madonna Madame X Tour.jpg

So far, only New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago have been announced.  The tickets sold out so quickly that five more shows were added in New York City and four more in Los Angeles.

While only 25 show dates are known now, she’s set to announce additional dates for Boston, Las Vegas, Miami, and Philadelphia for 2019.

Since I didn’t get to Vegas last year, I’m planning on seeing Madonna for the fifth time when the show plays at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

And, while the dates aren’t public yet, I’d venture to say that it’ll be in December since no headliner has been announced there in that month! 🙂

“KILLING EVE” UPDATE

I couldn’t take the suspense any longer.  After finishing season one of the critically acclaimed BBC America series, I slowly started watching season two.

I’m four episodes in (five of the eight season two episodes have aired).

In the second episode, I almost peed myself with a line that likely went over the heads of most Americans!

Giving a power point presentation to her new team of detectives about Villanelle’s murders, Eve mentions that Bill was killed (oops, spoiler!) on a club’s dance floor and she quickly replies:

Eve Murder on the Dance Floor.gif

“MURDER ON THE DANCEFLOOR”

“Murder on the Dance Floor” by Sophie Ellis Bextor was a minor dance club hit here in the U.S. in the early 2000s, yet it hit the Top Ten in, at least, 18 countries worldwide.

I fell in love with this song at Roscoe’s when I moved back to Chicago in 2002.

It’s from her fantastic debut album, “Read My Lips”.

MARIAH CHRISTMAS EARLY!

While Christmas is still more than seven months away, Mariah Carey recently announced that she’ll be performing her holidays standards again in Las Vegas.

Her “All I Want For Christmas Is You” will be returning to the Colosseum at Caesars Palace for five shows November 22-30, 2019.

MC ALL I WANT VEGAS

Trust me, this is a phenomenal show!  I saw a version of it in December 2017 in Vegas.

This is what I wrote about it on my return, “She was absolutely gorgeous and flawless and her voice was crisp and angelic. The sets were magical and stunning and for just over 90 minutes, all my unhappiness was a distant memory!”

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

My One Night in Bangkok (Okay, Actually Five Nights!)

I’m done!!!

I don’t plan on making any more international trips with flights of more than ten hours!

My recent trip to Bangkok, Thailand involved three flights:  Duluth, Minnesota to Chicago (less than two hours), Chicago to Tokyo, Japan (over thirteen hours), and then Tokyo to Bangkok (over seven hours).

From my door to the hotel room, with early arrival at the airport and sit time between each flight, it was 33 hours!  Once you add in a 12-hour time change, it was 45 hours — early Tuesday morning Duluth time when I left and early Thursday morning Bangkok time when I arrived.

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As soon as I got the hotel room, I showered and relished in the fact that I’d get to stretch out in a comfortable bed and sleep. Minutes turned into hours…

Finally, five hours later, I couldn’t fall asleep and started thinking of all the world’s problems!  That, along with Facebook not working (which would be my only way to have instant communication with my sister), I had a minor melt down.

At that point, the sun was up and I decided to forego trying to fall sleep.  I showered, ate breakfast, and walked around Bangkok in the heat and humidity.

When I left Duluth, it was in the 20s with more than two feet of snow on the ground.  In Bangkok, highs were in the mid-90s with a heat index of 105°!

Once out of the hotel room, even without sleep, all was good in my world again and I was ready to see Bangkok!

In a city of 8.5 million, a New York in Thailand, there’s so much to see and with limited time, you have to pick and choose.

My first evening, I took a sightseeing dinner tour on the muddy Chao Phraya River.

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Bangkok was absolutely stunning all aglow in lights!

The top left photo above is “Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan” (try saying that!), also known as the “Temple of Dawn”, and in the bottom left is Iconsiam, a $1.5 billion mixed-use complex including a high end shopping mall, hotels and residences.

The food on the cruise was amazing and I think I held up rather well being awake for two days!

After the cruise, I was confident I’d fall asleep after the exhaustive trip and a full day of sightseeing!  No way!  I dozed off and thirty minutes later, wide awake again!

On my second full day in Bangkok, I visited three temples — Wat Traimit (“Golden Buddha”), Wat Pho (“Reclining Buddha”), and Wat Benchamabophit (“Marble Temple”).

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The “Golden Buddha” (top left) is a 10-foot tall, 12,000 pound statue.  In 1955, while being moved, it was chipped.  That’s when they discovered that it was made of solid gold and worth $250 million!!!

“Wat Pho” was my favorite temple that I saw.  It’s the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok and is probably the most famous in all of Thailand.  The “Reclining Buddha” is almost 151 feet long and stands 49 feet high!!!

As you know, I love koi and I miss my fish pond back in Illinois.  I hit the jackpot at Wat Pho and this is my favorite picture I took in Bangkok!

Koi Buddha.jpg

On my second night in town, I attended the Siam Niramit Show, a 90-minute production covering Thailand’s 700 years of captivating culture, customs and traditions.  The show features about 100 performers, lavish costumes and stunning set designs!

While the first act was historical, the second act was very dark!  It was more like a horror show acting out the punishments for drinking alcohol (!), committing adultery and talking back to your parents!

I’m not sure if it God or the devil working, but after that bleak act, there was a technical glitch and the show was delayed.  During the interruption, many left and those that stayed saw a cheery, happy final act.  Blah!

Overall, the highlight of the evening was the scary second act of the production, the great dinner buffet,

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and this beautiful sweetheart!

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That night, I got a little bit more sleep and walked around the next day.

While I saw expensive high rises and condos and the economic center of Bangkok (and Thailand), I also got to see how many people actually lived.

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Clearly, the building codes are more relaxed there!

Houses 1

Those don’t even look safe!  But, it’s home for many.

On my third night in town, I attended the Calypso Cabaret, Bangkok’s famous “lady boy” show.  (Yes, boys entertaining as ladies!)

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My favorite dishes in Bangkok were definitely the curry ones!

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Thailand and Bangkok have made tremendous strides in reducing poverty over the past few decades and it’s easy to see how hard people have to work to survive.

I know Thai people (well, in Bangkok, where I was) are used to the heat and humidity, but it really made me think when I saw elderly women manning shops and food carts all afternoon.  I really hope when I’m elderly, I’ll work by choice and not necessity.  And, maybe they are?

On the next to last day of my trip, I developed an intestinal virus.  While I still explored the city, it slowed me down and prevented me from trying deep-fried insects, which I was so looking forward to!

By the way, these are the deep-fried insects that I didn’t get to sample and not a look at the intestinal virus. 🙂

Silkworms

Maybe on another international excursion!!!

Also, that night, I was very close to trying the famous street food of Bangkok.  Some of it appeared sketchy, yet much of it looked incredible!

Alley 2

I walked through a popular, busy alley (many food vendors just sit up in alleys, sidewalks, and storefronts and you choose the ones that locals are eating at) and finally made the decision on where to have Pad Thai.

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As I was ready to hand the menu over and say “one” for a makeshift table, a friendly rat casually walked by my feet on its way past the food vendor!

I know that the food would have been great (and safe), but since I wasn’t feeling 100% anyways, I passed and ate the snacks I had in my room! 🙂

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While I don’t know what caused my intestinal virus, I’d venture to say that it was from the water.  While I drank bottled water, you have to consider that food is prepped and cooked with water that may be potable, then there’s shower water getting in your ears and brushing your teeth, etc.

In America, we’re pretty much guaranteed safe drinking water (sorry Flint that Michigan and the U.S. government failed you) and it’s very easy to take for granted.

However, outside of the U.S., Canada, Greenland, western Europe, and Australia, many countries and continents don’t have safe drinking water.

This includes all of Africa, much of Asia (including Thailand and China), eastern Europe, Russia, Mexico, and all of South America!

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Another Bangkok observation, I’ll never complain about Chicago (or for that matter, Los Angeles or New York City) traffic ever again!

Thai drivers have to the best drivers in the world!

BangkokTrafficJam

The traffic was insane, bumper to bumper, with countless motor scooters zipping in and out between cars with very little breathing room.  I’m so shocked I didn’t see any accidents!

Where most Americans drive, take public transportation, Lyft, Uber, or taxis, in Bangkok, people just jump of the back of motor scooters (with and without helmets).  I’d never do that, especially after I saw the traffic!

On my last day in Bangkok, I had to check out of the hotel at noon.  But, my flight wasn’t until eleven hours later.

So, I visited a “Snake Farm”, which was a 30-minute walk from the hotel.

Snake Farm.jpg

And, with that slithery visit, I very well could have been saving lives there and across Thailand!  The facility, operated by the Thai Red Cross, extracts venom from cobras and other poisonous snakes to make anti-venom serums!

In the presentation, I learned that poisonous snakes are found throughout all of Thailand (including in the city of Bangkok).  And, we got to be see just how large poisonous snakes are caught by hand!

Snake Charmer

FYI — snakes have poor eyesight and they don’t have ears, so they can’t hear you.  If you encounter one, let it crawl on by — or slowly move away and once you’re out of striking distance, run!  That’s not my advice.  That’s what we were told to do!

At the show’s conclusion, not only did we get to see an Albino Burmese Python, which is white with patterns in butterscotch yellow or burnt orange (most are dark colored), we also got to channel pop princess Britney Spears!

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Okay, Britney wore it better at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards!  And, no I didn’t start lip-syncing “I’m A Slave 4 U”! 🙂

On a humorous side note, we were told not to worry about the snake being hungry since “it had a small child yesterday”! 🙂

So, that’s my trip to Bangkok!  For those that read the blog and looked at all of the pictures, thank you for taking the trip with me!

And, yes, Murray Head, I may not be “a tourist whose every move’s among the purest”, but I did “get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine” on this trip — even though there were many Thai boys offering their services (I mean, company)!

Anthony

Random Thoughts — February 22, 2019

Will the snow ever end?  🙂

Two more snow events are on the way to the Northland of Minnesota, Wisconsin and upper Michigan this weekend.

With almost three feet of snow this month, by Friday night, this will be the snowiest February on record in Duluth, Minnesota, breaking the record set back in 1939!

I hope you have a great weekend whatever you do and thank you for checking out my random thoughts!

JUSSIE SMOLLETT DEVELOPMENTS

I’ll preface this by saying that I want “Empire” star Jussie Smollett to be innocent and that this media circus has been one big misunderstanding.

Okay, that was my feeble attempt at thinking the best.

You’ve heard a lot about the case this week, but I first blogged about it three weeks ago.

In late January, the 36-year-old actor reported to Chicago police that two men yelled at him, “Aren’t you that faggot ‘Empire’ n*****?” before beating him, pouring bleach on him and putting a rope around his neck!

jussie-smollett

The story has taken a strange turn and now it seems that Smollett MAY have orchestrated the whole ordeal for the publicity and to get more money from “Empire”!

He turned himself into police late this week for allegedly filing a false police report about the racist and homophobic attack!  A judge set his bond at $100,000 and Smollett had to turn over his passport.

IF HE’S GUILTY, I hope he goes to jail and that he NEVER works again!

IF HE’S GUILTY, in the mind of people that don’t like people of color and the LGBTQ community, this stunt will call into doubt every hate crime and every gay bashing reported to police in the future!

And, it’ll also make the LGBTQ community and people of color more reluctant to even report hate crimes!

Again, I hope that this turns out to be a huge misunderstanding.  Sadly, it’s not looking that way!

Here’s why I’m thinking that:  Our country has a nasty history of hate crimes against people based on race and sexual orientation.

Many times, when LGBTQ people and people of color are attacked, it’s not just a punch to the face and name calling!  These attacks are usually very violent and sometimes lead to death!

Two names quickly come to mind:  Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE…

Freaking Stupid

MY OSCAR PICKS

It’s Academy Awards weekend!  I’ve never been to an Oscars party, but I think it’s be fun.  Well, the food spread and drinking sounds fun!

Here are the movies and actors that I think will take Oscar home!

I predict “Roma” will win Best Picture, but I don’t think it should!

While I haven’t seen all of the nominees yet, I saw “Roma” and it didn’t even make my Top 20 list of favorite movies of 2018!

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While I pick Christian Bale to win, I really, really hope that Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) wins!

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“AT ETERNITY’S GATE”

This movie tells the story of the final years of artist Vincent van Gogh’s life.

Willem Dafoe earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination this year for his portrayal of the tormented, alcoholic van Gogh.

It’s a decent movie and Dafoe is great, but I’m not sure that he deserves an Academy Award nomination for this performance.

He was also was nominated for an Oscar last year for the fantastic “The Florida Project” (my #14 movie of 2018).

Last year, I even wrote that he didn’t deserve that nomination!  Clearly, the Academy and his peers love him.

Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s fantastic, and if I had to choose, his van Gogh was more Oscar worthy of the two roles.

Here are a couple of interesting facts about “At Eternity’s Gate” and the van Gogh brothers:

Defoe, who played Vincent, is 63 and van Gogh died at the age of 37!

Vincent van Gogh was four years older than his brother, Theo, but Rupert Friend (“Homeland”), who played Theo, is only 37 in real life! 🙂

And, finally, Theo van Gogh died at the age of 33 just six months after Vincent died!

GRADE:  B-

“THE FRONT RUNNER”

This movie is about Colorado U.S. Senator Gary Hart’s 1988 run for the Democratic nomination for president.

His campaigned ended after news broke of an extramarital affair.  His argument was that it was his private life and it shouldn’t affect his job as president.

Remember, this was a time before reporters ran with stories like this.  Back in the 1950s and 1960s, reporters knew about John F. Kennedy’s affairs, but didn’t make them public.

I love Hugh Jackman and Vera Farmiga, who play Hart and his long suffering wife, Lee.

They both had some powerful scenes, but it seemed like the movie dragged on longer than his 1984 and 1988 presidential runs!

GRADE:  C+

“ANTARCTICA”

As I mentioned last week, I’m going through my movie collection and watching old movies to either get rid of or save.

One gem that made the save list was “Angels of Sex” which I talked about in my last blog.  Another one that I enjoyed much more the second time around was the 2008 Israeli film, “Antarctica”.

Director Yair Hochner’s love story follows a group of very sexy men and women around Tel Aviv searching for that special one (or just a good time)!

It’s a very sensual movie with nudity and graphic sex scenes.  Israelis definitely know how to make a movie sexy and erotic without it automatically being seen as soft porn!

Yiftach Mizrahi (Danny) was stunning and he can act and dance beautifully!

P.S.  This trailer may be a little risque for some!

GRADE:  A-

“ROBERT KENNEDY”

I just finished reading Evan Thomas’ 2000 biography, “Robert Kennedy:  His Life”.

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It paints a very interesting look at RFK 32 years after he was gunned down in Los Angeles after winning the Democratic California Primary in his 1968 presidential run.

The book touches on RFK’s neglected childhood following in the shadows of his two older, golden brothers.

Thomas doesn’t shy away from showing the nasty, dark side of RFK and what he did to make his brother, John F. Kennedy, president and a very successful one.

It also shows how he became a fighter for the disenfranchised — blacks, poor and other minorities.

I’ve written before about how much I love Bobby Kennedy and how great it would have been if he had become our 37th president.

However, there’s still something about him (and the other Kennedys) that I still have a problem with today.

Recently, I wrote this while talking about Jackie Kennedy, “By no means do I think that President Kennedy, Senator Bobby Kennedy, and Jackie were angels, but, in retrospect, I’m a little disturbed about their alleged homophobia.”

I also said, “Of course, when you’re reading books about people, you don’t know how much is fact and how much is hearsay.”

Thomas also touches on RFK’s fear of gay people.  Like Jackie and John, I hope that Bobby would have “evolved”.  Remember, this was the 1950s and 1960s and there was no such thing as “gay rights” or openly and accepted people in the LGBTQ community.

Bobby Kennedy

So, I’ll still crush on the image of the youthful and charming Bobby Kennedy with reservations about the homophobia.

And, I learned from Thomas that RFK hated popping corks of champagne bottles!

Come on RFK, what’s up with that?  I love champagne and there’s only so much I can overlook! 🙂

While the book was interesting, I recommend this more…

“BOBBY KENNEDY FOR PRESIDENT”

While technically “Bobby Kennedy For President” wasn’t a movie, I ranked this excellent Netflix documentary as my #11 movie of 2018.

If you get a chance, check it out.

“THE DAY JOHN DIED”

Before reading the book on RFK, I read Ted Sorensen’s 800-plus page biography of John F. Kennedy and Christopher Andersen’s “Jackie After Jack” and Andersen’s “The Day John Died”.

JOHN DIED

While I did learn things about JFK, Jr., a lot of the book was a rehash of “Jackie After Jack”, especially when he talked of Jackie and how she dominated her son’s life and the Kennedy Camelot legacy.

Also, I didn’t care much for Andersen’s highly speculative dramatization of events in the minutes before John John’s plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, just 7.5 miles west of Martha’s Vineyard, in 1999.

That crashed not only killed JFK, Jr., but also his wife, Carolyn, and her sister, Lauren.

Skip it!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Thoughts — February 8, 2019

We’re snowed in again here in the Northland of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin with  almost a foot of new snow!

Here’s hoping that we all have a fantastic weekend and thank you for checking out my random thoughts.

I’M TAKING THE PLUNGE!!!!!!!

I’ve always wanted to do a Polar Plunge, but I’ve never had the opportunity.

Now, I get to do it for a great cause — Special Olympics Minnesota!

On February 16th in Duluth, Minnesota, a group of co-workers and I are raising money and are jumping into the frigid waters of Lake Superior.

Polar Plunge

Any donation, large or small, will add up!

Once you go to the page and if you want to make a smaller donation that what’s listed, just type it into the box!

Thank you in advance and here’s the link:

https://reg.plungemn.org/participant/anthonypeoples

OUT AND PROUD & CLOSETED AND OUTING

I’ve always been out.  For me, the closets are for clothes.  But, that’s not the case for many others.

In the mid-1980s, as Rock Hudson was dying of AIDS and his management team was giving lame excuses for his sickness, one of my favorite authors and a leading LGBTQ activist Armistead Maupin outed him as being gay.

While it was an “open secret”, Maupin confirmed to mainstream news agencies that Hudson was gay.

Doris Day Rock Hudson 1985

Maupin also came down hard on lesbian actress Lily Tomlin in the 1990s for waiting so long to come out.

Personally, I think the LGBTQ community needs visibility.  Kids need role models to look up to when they feel alone in some small town or in a family that doesn’t accept gay people.

While I’d love for rumored LGBTQ celebrities and politicians to come out and be proud, it’s their choice.  I would not out them.

However, for politicians that are anti-LGBTQ or support anti-LGBTQ legislation, I’m all for outing them without any remorse at the first hint of them being deceptive and closeted!

Even for those “straight” celebrities that support religions (or cults pretending to be religion, TC/JT, I’m looking at you) that are anti-LGBTQ, I’m all for someone outing them when there’s proof!

“Come out, come out, wherever you are!”  

Was Maupin right or wrong with outing Hudson as a gay man or saying Tomlin shouldn’t have waited so long to come out?

What do you think?

“THE UNTOLD TALES OF ARMISTEAD MAUPIN”

While I’ve read Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the Cities” novels many times (there are nine of them), the series was first written for a California newspaper.

The story begins in San Francisco in the 1970s and follows a core group of friends that become “family” over time.

If you’ve never heard of it, go to the library and get them or buy the first one on Amazon and you’ll be hooked!

“The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin”, a 2017 documentary, follows Maupin from his conservative upbringing in North Carolina (where he even worked for racist, homophobic Senator Jesse Helms) to becoming a writer in San Francisco and coming out.

It’s also an incredible love story!

GRADE:  A

So far, the “Tales of the City” novels have been made into three amazing miniseries with Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis.

A fourth arrives on Netflix this year!

“THE WIFE”

“And, the Best Actress Oscar goes to Glenn Close in ‘The Wife’!”

That’s what I predict we’ll be hearing Sunday, February 24th, at the 91st Academy Awards ceremony.

After six previous nominations and six losses, I think this is Close’s year.  Sorry, Lady Gaga, you may have more chances.

Close plays Joan, the wife of Jonathan Pryce’s Joseph Castleman, who’s awaiting a call from the Nobel Prize committee to see if he’ll earn one for his literary work.

Spoiler, not Spoiler: he does!

As the story unfolds, we see how Joseph and Joan meet and how their lives have played out over the decades — professionally and personally.

Close plays the perfect wife standing by her famous writer husband, but also feels the sting of disappointment over how her husband depends on her and takes her for granted — professionally and personally!

GRADE:  A

“BOY ERASED”

The main point I want to stress here is that “gay conversion therapy” is still going on across the U.S. and it’s sad, pathetic, and damaging!

This movie, with the always incredible Nicole Kidman and Lucas Hedges, is based on Garrard Conley’s 2016 “Boy Erased:  A Memoir” about his time in an Arkansas facility.

Pop singer Troye Sivan, director/actor Xavier Dolan, and Joe Alwyn (Taylor Swift’s boyfriend) also turn in amazing performances.

Since I hadn’t read Conley’s book when the movie was announced, I decided to wait to do so and now I’m ready to read it.

“Boy Erased” will be more powerful to people who are not all that familiar with gay conversion therapy.

While the movie was very touching, it was a bit sanitized.  For those of us that have heard the horror stories of conversion therapy, I felt it was too Hollywood-ized and needed a rougher edge!

It’s still a must see!

GRADE:  B

LAST TWO BOOKS READ IN 2018

It’s a tradition for me to read “Christmas in Plains” by my idol President Jimmy Carter every year at the holidays!

Christmas In Plains

“JACKIE AFTER JACK”

After finishing Ted Sorensen’s 800+ page biography of John F. Kennedy and “Christmas in Plains”, I jumped right into Christopher Andersen’s “Jackie After Jack”.

Anderson Jackie after Jack

Sorensen’s book on President Kennedy was more about Kennedy as “President” rather than Kennedy as a husband, father, brother, and friend.

I was shocked into reality with the abrasive tone difference at beginning of Andersen’s book, which pretty much talks about Kennedy’s assassination in graphic detail.

Of course, when you’re reading books about people, you don’t know how much is fact and how much is hearsay.

But, if only a fraction of the book is true, Jackie certainly loved her children and she was definitely what we’d call a “gold digger” today!

By no means do I think that President Kennedy, Senator Bobby Kennedy, and Jackie were angels, but, in retrospect, I’m a little disturbed about their alleged homophobia.

Andersen mentions several times about Jackie wanting to toughen her son, John John, up because she was didn’t want him to “grow up to be a fruit”.

I’m not giving a free pass on that, but I’m putting it in the context of the 1960s and 1970s and how most people have evolved when it comes to being gay.  I know the Kennedys would have been much more accepting in today’s world!

Thank God “homosexuality” (a truly clinical term that had implications of mental illness prior to 1973 in the United States) has now progressed to being “gay” and part of the acronym LGBTQ!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

 

Random Thoughts — January 30, 2019

With the brutal and dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills invading much of Canada and the middle part of the United States, I thought I’d share a few things with you.

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That’s how it looked on Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota Tuesday afternoon.  Temperatures were around -18° and wind chills were -45°!

Cold, but gorgeous!  Stay warm!

HERE’S TO A SPEEDY RECOVERY JUSSIE!

While it’s not new, I’m disgusted by the hatred in this country (and world).

“Empire” star Jussie Smollett was assaulted early Tuesday morning in Chicago by two white men.  Police are treating it as a possible hate crime.

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The men allegedly yelled at him, “Aren’t you that faggot ‘Empire’ n*****?” before beating him, pouring bleach on him and putting a rope around his neck!

chicago police

Jussie, I pray for a quick recovery from the physical injuries.  I know emotionally, it’ll take time to heal.  My thoughts are with you!

RACISM

There’s another very pathetic part of the story that I won’t mention because it hasn’t been confirmed by the Chicago Police Department.  But, if it’s true, it’s so very sad!

We all know that racism and hate has always been a part of our country’s fabric. Even after the progress in the 1960s, it was still there.

davidduke kkk

But, before 45, it was rightfully condemned to be publicly racist.

Sadly, people are “free” again to hate without regret! 😦

SUAVE, BUT CREEPY, (VIOLENT) MEN!

Dating at a more mature age sucks!  Well, it can suck at any age! 🙂

I finally got around to watching the Bravo series, “Dirty John”, which is based on a true story.  (I talk about it below.)

As I was watching the first episode, I couldn’t believe that the woman (Debra) didn’t pick up on the warning signs that the man she had just started dating was a loser and user.

But, by the second episode, it really clicked as to how this could happen.  It happened to me on my 30th birthday, in Chicago, in the fall of 1994!

I had just been living in the city for three months and went out to celebrate.  I met Richard, a very charming guy with a great smile.  He was 25.

We had a great time that night and the first few weeks were fun.  Before I knew it, he had “moved in” — actually, “would never leave” is more like it!

By Christmas, the relationship was strained by his jealousy, which led to domestic violence.

Yes, I became “that person” lying about the bruises and making excuses that it wouldn’t happened again.

Five months after we met, it culminated with a near death, stalking experience — an emergency room visit, an arrest, and a court appearance!

This was a few days after the attack.  You can still see the gash on the forehead from a brick and the bruises under the eye and on the lip.

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While the Chicago court system let him off with nothing more than a slap on the hand, karma and fate prevailed.

A few years ago, I heard that he died!

“DIRTY JOHN”

Sharing that personal story was clearly inspired by Bravo’s “Dirty John” with Connie Britton and Eric Bana.

It’s based on a podcast about a very successful businesswoman and mother of three, Debra Newell.  She’s been unlucky at love after four failed marriages when she finally meets John Meehan, a man just too good to be true.

Well, guess what?  He is too good to be true, thus the show’s name, “Dirty John”!

After the first episode, I thought, “Seriously, you’re that lonely not to see the red flags?”  But, more pieces of the story come together and you’re sucked into it!

Britton looks amazing and her clothes scream elegance!  Bana looks great even as the louse John!  And, it’s always a treat seeing Julia Garner (“Ozark” and “The Americans”).

But, I was really blown away by Juno Temple, who plays Veronica, Debra’s oldest daughter. She’s incredible!  I remember her from 2010’s “Kaboom”!

zegers

Okay, one more thing — I’m still crushing on Kevin Zegers!

If you missed it on Bravo, it hits Netflix on Valentine’s Day (how lovely and twisted!) and a second season is in the works.

GRADE:  A-

REMEMBERING JAMES INGRAM

Two-time Grammy Award winner (with 12 other Grammy nominations) and two-time Oscar nominee James Ingram’s death was announced Tuesday, just a few weeks shy of his birthday.

He was 66.

Ingram first hit the chart in 1981 with “Just Once” (with Quincy Jones), one my favorite songs of his.

He scored a total of eight Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 including two chart-toppers, 1982’s “Baby, Come To Me” with Patti Austin and 1990’s “I Don’t Have The Heart”.

SAG AWARDS — DIVERSITY HUMOR! 🙂

megan mullally

Host Megan Mullally : “Hollywood did manage to get a few things right: They cast black people in “Black Panther”, so that was good… Asian people in”Crazy Rich Asians”… And, a green book in “Green Book”.  You know there were some executives saying, ‘Um, could the book be white?”

OSCAR NOMINATION SNUBS

While I was hoping for nominations for Lucas Hedges and Nicole Kidman for “Boy Erased” and Julia Roberts for “Ben Is Back”, I didn’t expect them!

Oscar-Nominations-2014

I was surprised that Timothee Chalamet (“Beautiful Boy”), Emily Blunt (“A Quiet Place” and “Mary Poppins Returns”) and Bradley Cooper (Best Director – “A Star is Born”) were overlooked.

Furthermore, I was shocked that Marina De Tavira (“Roma”) picked up a nomination for Best Supporting Actress!  However, with all of the awards season love for the movie, it shouldn’t surprise me.

But, the biggest snub for me was in the Documentary category.  I still can’t believe “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, my #3 movie of 2018, wasn’t nominated!

#3 CD

“WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?”

As a kid, I never got to watch “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”.  But, on my return flight from Morocco last fall, I watched the documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”.

I absolutely fell in love with Fred Rogers and I’m glad I had the whole row of seats to myself because of the tears streaming down my face!

It brought in $22.6 million in domestic box office receipts making it the biggest documentary of 2018!

As you’ll see below the trailer, I gave it a grade I rarely give anything in entertainment!

GRADE:  A+

“BEAUTIFUL BOY”

As for acting, Timothee Chalamet and Steve Carrell were fantastic in this true story about a father’s efforts to save his teenager from drug abuse and death.

Chalamet was nominated for many major acting awards for this movie, but he didn’t get the Oscar nod.

Last year, he did get an Academy Award nomination for “Call Me By Your Name”, my favorite movie that I saw in 2018.

So, about “Beautiful Boy” — the acting was superb, but the movie was just a few steps up from a Lifetime movie.

You can catch it on Amazon Prime.

GRADE:  B

THAT’S IT

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

AP Bitmoji Random.jpg

Anthony

2019: My Personal Expectations & What Excites Me

While not as bad as 2017, a year I’d rather forget, (wait, what was I talking about? :)) I’m want to improve on 2018.

Relocating back to the Midwest to Duluth, Minnesota, was a great move for me.

Duluth

I really like Northland, the beauty of Lake Superior and most of the people I work with are a great group to spend time alongside during work hours.

I still loving forecasting weather, but I haven’t gotten used to the afternoon and evening hours after almost six years on a morning show.  It’s an adjustment that I hope works better for me in the new year.

I also want to expand my friend base.

Until then, I’ll enjoy the solitude of watching movies, binge watching television series (I’m watching and loving “The Americans” right now) and walking and reading (at the same time) to stay in shape and to exercise my brain!

Here’s to 2019! May it be a great one for us all!

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CONCERTS

It’s hard to believe that I didn’t see one concert in 2018!  I can’t remember the last year that I didn’t see a concert!

However, in December 2017, on three consecutive nights, I saw Mariah Carey, Lionel Richie, and Tanya Tucker in concert in Las Vegas.  I guess those three shows held me over for 2018!

LAS VEGAS

Also, with the move, I didn’t get to visit Las Vegas last year either!

I first visited Vegas in the early-1990s and I didn’t see my favorite American city again until 2012.  Since then, I’ve visited it, at least, once a year (twice in 2017).

In the back of my mind, I think I’d still like to move there!

As of now, I’m planning a trip there in the fall with my sister, Tammy, and I hope to be lucky and win big on the slots!

If I’m super lucky, I’ll win big and get to see the only concert I really want to see in 2019 — Kylie Minogue’s “Golden Tour”.

Kylie 1

It’s already played in Europe and will play Australia this March.  Her fall schedule is still open, so Kylie if you see this — Las Vegas, Nevada in the fall of 2019!  And, bring Jake Leigh with you! 🙂

Kylie 5

And, wouldn’t it just rock my world to have a seat to the show like this one!  This person had an incredible view for Kylie’s show in Birmingham, England.

This is the show’s opening number, “Golden”!

MARCH TRIP

Over the years, people have wondered (and asked) how I get to travel so much.  Well, I promise you it’s not from family wealth or my salary!

It’s called interest-free credit cards!  And, since my current card’s 0% APR ends in February, I used it to pay for my next trip.  I just made the final payment on New Year’s Day!

Of course, I won’t divulge the location until I get there! 🙂

If you recall, I didn’t announce my trip to Morocco last fall until three days before I departed.  Even then, I didn’t say specifically where I was heading.

You have to keep a little mystery in life! 🙂

March 2019.JPG

If you’re curious, it’s a capital city with a population of 8.3 million (about the same as New York City).

It’s very warm and humid. The average high temperature is above 90° every month of the year (expect December’s 89°), so I’ll take two pair of underwear for each day!  I hate “moist” underwear! 🙂  TMI!

And, I’m intentionally going to eat insects — specifically deep-fried grasshoppers, crickets and silkworms!  They sell them on the street!

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Bon Appétit!

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN AUTOBIOGRAPHY

I can’t believe it’s been almost five years since I saw Olivia Newton-John’s “Summer Nights” show at the Flamingo in Las Vegas in May 2014.

Olivia 2014

In March 2019, Olivia will release her memoirs, “Don’t Stop Believin'”.

As you know, Olivia was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 and was in remission until 2017.

She’s still fighting it and after weeks of headlines proclaiming her imminent death, Olivia stepped in front of the camera.

She laughed off the rumors and wished everyone a Happy New Year looking very alive and stunning!

“Xanadu” is still my favorite Olivia song.

NEW MADONNA ALBUM

Madonna kicked off 2019 with a surprise appearance at the Stonewall Inn in New York City with her 13-year-old son David, just ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

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Talking to the surprised crowd, peace was on her mind, “If we truly took the time to get to know one another we would find that we all bleed the same color and we all need to love and be loved. Let’s remember who and what we are fighting for — ourselves, for each other, but truly and most importantly, what are we fighting for? Let’s take a minute to reflect on how we can bring more love and peace into 2019, let’s look at how we can bring random acts of kindness. Maybe we can find an opening to bring the light in. Are you ready to do that?”

Madonna is working on her 14th studio album.

I can’t believe it’s been almost four years since “Rebel Heart” came out!

Madonna Rebel Heart

Sadly, you probably missed this song in 2015.  It was one of the best and most underrated songs in Madonna’s long career!

If you’re not familiar with the “Stonewall Riots” and the police brutality that led to LGBTQ people forming a community and Pride, click on the link below the picture and read my 2012 blog!

Stonewall_riots

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/push-comes-to-shove-43-years-ago-the-stonewall-riots/

NEW REBA ALBUM

In September 2018, Reba teased new music and it’s expected in 2019.

REBA Coming Soon

Weeks later, about the new music, Reba said, “It’s gonna be probably the most country album I’ve ever recorded.”

Reba’s last studio album, 2017’s “Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope” was gospel.

This will be her first country album since 2015’s underappreciated, “Love Somebody”.

Reba Love Somebody

Thanks sexist, ageist country radio!

So, here’s a flashback to a real country sounding Reba from 1980 with her first Top 10 country hit, “(You Lift Me) Up to Heaven”, which reached #8!

And, you’ll catch little sister, Susie Luchsinger, on backing vocals!

“TRICK 2” 

It’s taken 20 years, but a sequel to 1999’s “Trick” is on the way in 2019!

trick 2.jpg

The original, a New York City-based gay romantic comedy, with Tori Spelling, Christian Campbell (Neve’s brother), John Paul Pitoc, and Miss Coco Peru, is still one of my favorites.

I’ve read that the sequel will take place in Los Angeles a dozen years later.  Gabriel and Mark’s meet up again on an app.

Here’s the original trailer and Miss Coco Peru’s amazing rendition of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” sung in original “Trick” by Jessica Williams.

“TALES OF THE CITY” SEQUEL

I was introduced to Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” book series when the television miniseries hit the U.S. on PBS in early 1994.

I also fell in love with the amazing and incredible Laura Linney as Mary Ann Singleton.

Mary Ann

Since then, there’s been “More Tales of the City” (1998) and “Further Tales of the City” (2001).

In 2019, the latest installment will debut on Netflix with returning original stars Linney, Olympia Dukakis (Anna Madrigal), Barbara Garrick (DeDe Halcyon Day) and Paul Gross (Brian Hawkins).

Michael “Mouse” Tolliver will be played by the beautiful and sexy Murray Bartlett (“Looking”).

It’ll be based on the eighth book in the series (out of nine), “Mary Ann in Autumn”.

Mary Ann

Molly Ringwald has also joined the cast.

’80s FLASHBACK

I’ve talked about 2019 and the future, so why not enjoy a flashback to the decade of the best music ever!

This song hit #1 in more than ten countries around the world and reached #3 in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100 in the mid-1980s.

THAT’S IT

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

Happy New Year! 🎉🥂🍾

Anthony