Posts Tagged ‘Elton John’

My Fantasies Don’t Involve Football Leagues

I’m not really going to talk about the kind of fantasies that might involve Christian Grey (“Fifty Shades of Grey”) or since I mentioned football, Tom Brady.  Not that those would be bad, but…

Tom-Brady

Okay, minds out of the gutters.

Recently, I was talking about all of the “residencies” in Las Vegas, the ones coming up, and the “rumored” ones in the works.

Back in October 2012, I was fortunate to see the one of the best entertainers in music, Sir Elton John in “The Million Dollar Piano” at Caesars Palace.

Elton LasVegas

And, then last May, I saw Shania Twain at Caesars Palace.

Shania

And the night before I saw Shania, I saw Olivia Newton-John at the Flamingo.

Olivia

In addition to those “residencies”, I saw Madonna on my birthday in October 2012 at the MGM Grand.

Madonna

And, we saw Lady Gaga there on her “Born This Way Ball” Tour in January 2013 just three weeks before an injury, that required surgery, forced the cancellation of the rest of the tour.

Gaga Las Vegas

That was then and this is now.

Britney Spears is now playing a residency at Planet Hollywood and coming this summer at Caesars Palace, Mariah Carey will begin a residency in May and Reba and Brooks & Dunn will start in June.

Reba 2011

I absolutely adore Reba and I’ve seen her in concert twelve (yes, that’s 12) times and I met her ten years ago this April.

While I get lost in her beautiful voice, I would love to see Reba’s concerts in Vegas go back to the glitzy productions of costume changes, dancers, and various sets like when I first saw her in Chicago in 1995 and Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1996.

Every time since those first two shows, it was Reba in a no (or very few) frills concert — just her and her beautiful voice.

Reba’s new show with Brooks & Dunn is already selling out months in advance.

And, recently, it was announced that “The Boss” Diana Ross would be performing a nine-show engagement this spring at The Venetian.

The hotel is trying to become a competitive concert venue for residencies after a successful show with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

Also, hushed rumors on “The Strip” say that talks are in the works for residencies for Ricky Martin, Lionel Richie, and the subject of today’s fantasy (see, I’m back to that again).

NO, MY FIRST NAME AIN’T BABY, IT’S JANET, MISS JACKSON, IF YOU’RE NASTY

Just the other day, I was saying that I’d love to see Janet Jackson in a residency in Vegas and then I see an article that she might be close to signing a deal with either The Venetian or Planet Hollywood when Britney’s “Piece of Me” show is on hiatus.

It’s also rumored that Miss Jackson will be dropping a new album in 2015.

I have two of Janet’s concert VHS tapes (no typo there, VHS — not DVD): “The Velvet Rope Tour” and “Live in Hawaii”.

Now, here’s where my ultimate fantasy comes in, as if seeing Janet for the first time in concert wouldn’t be enough.

Janet-Jackson-And-Paula-Abdul

Before Miss Jackson takes the stage, special guest Paula Abdul, Janet’s former choreographer, would come out and do a 20-minute set of her high-energy dance and pop radio hits from the late-1980s and early-1990s.  And, it would have to include “Rush Rush”!

At this point, my imagination runs away from me.  As Paula wraps up her set, either in a special effects hologram or on the concert monitors, Paula and Janet are in a diner in the current day and you hear:

“What’s up girl?
He stood me up again
Again?
Mmhmm
Well what’s up with this guy?
Do you really like him that much?
Yes honey, I love him, he is fine,
he does a lot of nice things for me I know he used to do nice stuff for you,
but what has he done for you lately?

And, then the arena explodes with a fabulous light show and Janet kicking off a magical show with “What Have You Done For Me Lately”!

I can’t remember how many times my friend, Steve, and I did this video routine over the years getting ready to go out for a night of clubbing!

And, one final note about Vegas, concerts, and holograms.

I recently read that a new concert with a “hologram” Liberace is coming to town.

If that’s successful, I have one suggestion Vegas  — get Richard Carpenter on the line and bring the angelic-voiced Karen Carpenter back to life and back to the stage soon!

As you can tell, I’m obsessed with shows in Vegas.  There it isn’t just a concert, it is magic!

Don’t tell Ray, but I’ll be working on convincing him to retire to Las Vegas in a few years.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — May 23, 2014

It’s Memorial Day weekend and that’s the “unofficial” kick-off to the summer season.

This is a three-day weekend for some of you, but, if you’re like me, Monday is a “typical” work day.

Graves_at_Arlington_on_Memorial_Day

Whichever it is, we need to remember the great men and women, regardless of sexuality or race, that made the ultimate sacrifice of giving their life serving in the United States armed services.   We should be doing this every day, but especially Monday!

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts.  As always, let me know what you agree or disagree with and why.

(Warning:  I have a story about “Hannibal” and if you’re a queasy person or have a phobia of gore, skip past that story.)

ONE FORMER WEATHERMAN HAS LOST IT!

Back in late April, I blogged about “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak and his tweet about “coming out” as a heterosexual.

PatSajak

In my “Random Friday Thoughts — April 25, 2014”, I wrote, “At first glance, I thought it was interesting.  Then, I thought about it a little more and starting thinking that either he had had a few drinks or that he was being funny.”

However, now I think he’s lost it.

As some of you may know, Sajak was a fill-in weather man in Nashville, Tennessee, in the mid-1970s and then was the main weatherman for the NBC affiliate in Los Angeles before “Wheel of Fortune”.  He was basically a weather “personality” and as far as I know, he is not a “meteorologist”, with formal training.

Pat Sajak Nashville Weather

I say that because of this shocking tweet he sent out earlier this week.

Pat Sajak Global Warming

What the f, oops, hell is he talking about?  “Alarmists” and “unpatriotic racists”?  I’ve been called many things in my personal and professional life, but never those terms.

Recently, in two different public speaking engagements on weather, I was asked if I believe in “global warming”.  At both events, I said, “yes” and I gave the analogy that the atmosphere is just like the human body.  You can’t abuse it for decades and not expect it to fail on you.

I also added that while I believe that “global warming” is real, we still don’t know precisely how it will affect future generations.  Any theories about what could happen are basically educated forecasts.

But, Sajak is just way off base here and needs to entertain puzzle solvers!

QUINCY JONES DOESN’T MINCE WORDS

Multi-Grammy Award-winning producer Quincy Jones doesn’t beat around the bush when he speaks of Michael Jackson’s new album , “Xscape”, that debuted this week at #2 on the Billboard album chart in the U.S. and at #1 in the U.K.

Michael Jackson Xscape

In a CBC Radio interview, the legendary producer says he’s not a fan of the “new” music.  He also added this, “They’re trying to make money. And I understand it. Everybody’s after money, the estate, the lawyers. It’s about money.”

michael-jackson-quincy-jones

Jones produced or co-produced three of Michael’s biggest albums, 1979’s “Off The Wall” (worldwide sales of 20+ million), 1982’s “Thriller” (worldwide sales of 110+ million), and 1987’s “Bad” (worldwide sales of 45+ million).

“THE KING OF POP” IS REWRITING MUSIC HISTORY

With the first single from the album, “Love Never Felt So Good”, a “duet” with Justin Timberlake, jumping from #22 to #9 this week on the Billboard Hot 100, Michael sets two new records on that 55-year-old chart.

Billboard Hot 100

He becomes the first artists to have Top Ten hits in each of five decades.  He first reached the Top Ten in 1971 when “Got To Be There” reached #4.  He’s now had top ten hits in the ’70s (four), ’80s (seventeen), ’90s (six), ’00s (one), and ’10s (one).  By the way, those Top Ten hit numbers (in parenthesis) do not include hits with the Jackson 5 or The Jacksons.

If you do the math, that’s 29 Top Ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100.  That places him in third place with most Top Ten hits behind Madonna in first place with 38 and the Beatles in second with 34.  Behind Michael are Stevie Wonder in fourth place with 28 and Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, and Elton John are tied for fifth place with 27 Top Ten Hot 100 hits each.

http://www.michael-jackson-photos.com/

One other record that Michael extends with “Love Never Felt So Good” making the Top Ten is the longest span of Top Ten hits.

Since his first appearance in the Top Ten when “Got To Be There” moved from #13 to #9 on November 20, 1971 to this week, that time span is now 42 years, five months and one week.

This puts him ahead of Santana (33 years and eight months) and Cher (33 years and one month).

Cher Cyndi Lauper

Since I’ll being seeing Cher in two weeks in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, why not feature that historic, career song, “Believe”?  It spent four weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1999, making her the oldest woman to ever top that chart.  She was 52 at the time.  So young!

“HANNIBAL” SEASON FINALE!

As I gleefully blogged last week, NBC’s ratings-challenged, “Hannibal”, was renewed for a third season.

The second season finale is tonight and I can’t wait to see it.

Hannibal S2

“Entertainment Weekly” writes of the finale, “TV’s most deliciously twisted romance — the freaky foodie’s psychic bromance with profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) — reaches a shocking consummation.  Be prepared to say, What just happened?! a lot.  Bring a bib.  Fannibals:  The eating is tasty, and bloody messy to boot.”

“EW” gives the finale a grade of “A-“.

We know from the first episode of this season that there is a showdown between Hannibal and FBI agent Jack Crawford.  We were teased with a two-minute fight, with blood and injuries, before the episode flashed back twelve weeks to show us how we got to that point.

Hannibal Jack Showdown

If you’re familiar with the Thomas Harris books or the “Hannibal” movie, you know the story of Mason Verger, his man-eating pigs, and his drug-fueled self-mutilation.

I commend NBC and its Standards & Practices (the department responsible for the moral, ethical, and legal implications of the program that network airs) for totally going all out with Mason’s facial destruction and how calm Will and Hannibal were while the act was taking place!

Mason Face Off

If that scene is any indication, the finale is going to rock and creep out fans.

While there are some characters that I want to be Hannibal’s next meal, I don’t want Will or Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) to die.

hannibal gillian

NBC, I have two suggestions to make this incredibly written, acted, and produced show a ratings success.

Move it to Sunday night and open up your checkbook and pay whatever it takes to bring Jodie Foster on as Clarice Starling, an agent that has worked her way up the ranks and is now the Agent-in-Charge of the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI!

Jodie Elysium

“HANNIBAL” FUNNY

Hannibal Funny

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

MilkCloud Joke  Jesus Godzilla

BOTH ARE BOX OFFICE HITS

So, some people see Jesus, God, and Godzilla in cloud formations.  And, they’re also packing into movie theaters to see them, too!

Last weekend, “Godzilla (2014)” ripped up $100.9 million in box office receipts in the U.S. in just the first four days.  When you add in the foreign box office, the legendary monster has scared up a $204.3 in ticket sales.

godzilla_2014_poster

Meanwhile, “Heaven is For Real” is now up to $85.5 million at the box office and it’s been in the American Top Ten for its five weeks of release.

Heaven Is For Real

Other “God” related movies that are seeing some heavenly returns are “God’s Not Dead” ($59 million), “Son Of God” ($67.8 million), and “Noah” ($343.3 million).

WHY I KNOW HEAVEN IS FOR REAL

While I might want to see “God’s Not Dead”, I have no desire to see “Heaven Is For Real”.

However, I do feel that heaven is real.  I’ve prayed to God every night since I was kid and while none of us have proof that he exists, most of us believe in heaven and hell.

The reason I know heaven is for real is because my mother, Dessie, my grandparents, John and Helen Peoples, and Miss ABBA are waiting for me there.

ABBA July 2000

Yes, that’s a baby picture of Miss ABBA from early July 2000 when we brought her home from a Tuscarawas County, Ohio, llama farm, when she was about six weeks old.

That little bundle of golden retreiver was born fourteen years ago this week on May 22nd.

ABBA11thBIRTHDAY

And, this is the Golden Honey Locust tree we planted two years ago in memory of Miss ABBA.  It’s getting bigger and sure is beautiful this spring.

ABBA Tree 2014

MARK HARMON, WHAT HAPPENED?

NCIS star Mark Harmon turns 63-year-old this fall and we’re all getting older.  Trust me, I know first hand.

However, I just saw video of him at a CBS party to promote the new fall line-up and I was baffled by his hair style (or lack thereof)!

CBS Party Mark Harmon

It has nothing to do with age because he’s still a good-looking man, but seriously check a mirror first before you go in front of a camera.

Yes, I’ve been a fan of his since the early days (even when he played Ted Bundy for the television movie, “The Deliberate Stranger” in 1986 that earned him a Golden Globes nomination).

Here are a couple of flashback pictures!

mark-harmon1981 Eddie Awards

I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY

While the book came out in 2010, I just finished reading Chely Wright’s “Like Me:  Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer”.

Chely Wright Like Me

It was an incredible read with Chely opening up about her love of God, living a lie of keeping her sexuality a secret to become a country music star, and her coming out.

From 1997-2005, Chely charted nine Top 40 country hits including her 1999 chart topper, “Single White Female”.

CMT Flameworthy Video Music Awards

If you didn’t get a chance to read my blog about Chely and her struggles with coming out that almost cost her her life, here’s the link:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/chely-wright-knows-that-god-loves-her/

THAT’S IT

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts this week.

Whatever you do this weekend, enjoy it and be safe.

We’re going to grill turkey burgers tonight, plant tomatoes and peppers in the garden and put up the swimming pool Saturday, and check out “Godzilla”.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — April 11, 2014

The weekend is upon us!  While I have a couple of work-related events to take part in this weekend, one Saturday and one Sunday, I plan on taking full advantage of my down time.

Have a great weekend and thank you for checking out my random thoughts this week.

GIVE YOUR LOVED ONES AN EXTRA HUG

We all get overwhelmed and sometimes we forget to do simple things like show others how much we care.

alexhribelshackles

You just never know what will happen that day.

Who would have thought this innocent-looking 16-year-old boy is now suspected of stabbing 21 students and a security guard earlier this week in a Pennsylvania school?

To my friends, I appreciate you.  To my loved one, I’m thankful you’re in my life!

RE-WRITING THE BIBLE

Failed presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee wants you to know he is not homophobic.

Huckabee

That’s what he told a crowd earlier this week at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Spring fundraiser.

Huckabee says, “I’m not against anybody. I’m really not. I’m not a hater. I’m not homophobic. I honestly don’t care what people do personally in their individual lives…but… when people say, ‘Why don’t you just kind of get on the right side of history?’ I said, ‘You’ve got to understand, this for me is not about the right side or the wrong side of history, this is the right side of the Bible, and unless God rewrites it, edits it, sends it down with his signature on it, it’s not my book to change.’ Folks, that’s why I stand where I stand.”

I admit that Huckabee knows more about the Bible than I do, but I really don’t think that God put his signature on the first one, much less rewriting it, signing it, and sending it down now!

HIT THE ROAD, JACK

After thirty years of marriage, it’s over for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife, Lyudmila.

Putin

Unless she’s like him, I wonder why it took thirty years?  Who knows (or cares)?  Maybe his hateful, ignorant attitude is something relatively new.

They have two daughters.

COUNTRY MUSIC SHINES ON CBS

Last Sunday night’s Academy of Country Music Awards show on CBS brought in some big numbers with 14.2 million people watching.

While I had no desire to watch it, I did flip over from “Crisis” on NBC during a couple of commercial breaks and I have three observations to make.

49th Annual Academy Of Country Music Awards - Show

In her performance with husband Tim McGraw, Faith Hill looked amazing.  I didn’t really care for the song they performed and I really wish that she’d release an incredible album that country radio would have to embrace.

Meanwhile, show co-host Luke Bryan (left, below) looked incredibly hot.  Whatever he’s doing, it’s working.  As for Blake Shelton, not so much.

Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton

I didn’t watch the opening monologue and I know that the point is to poke fun at pop culture.

I thought Blake’s comment about marriage equality was funny, “A year ago, same-sex marriage just meant once you got married, you had the same sex over and over and over again.”  From what I’ve read, his wife, Miranda Lambert, in the audience, mouthed, “Thank you” to him!  It might have been a cold night in Las Vegas in their suite that night!

But, I didn’t care for one of his other “jokes” that I’m sure others thought was funny.

When the hosts were talking about the upcoming live performances on the show, Shelton added, “And if you don’t like live music, you have to go down the block and see Britney Spears”.

Britney Las Vegas

Stop!  I’m laughing out loud.  Not really.

I know it was a joke and they have writers, so I’m saying this in fun.  Blake, when you get own residency in Vegas and can ask for $800 a ticket and $2,500 for a VIP/Meet & Greet ticket, give me a call!

HERE’S THE KICKER TO BLAKE’S JOKE

Rascal Flatts, performing their new single, “Rewind”, on the ACMs now admit to lip-syncing (badly)!

Rascal Flatts

The band says, “After having performed several shows earlier in the week, Gary lost his voice.  So instead of canceling our commitment to do the show, we made a last-minute decision to lip-synch. We’ve never done it before, and we’re obviously not very good at it. We look forward to singing live again in the very near future!”

“WTH” FASHION STATEMENT

And, my last ACM Awards comment is about Miranda Lambert.  She is a beautiful woman and she looks amazing in the right and left pictures from Sunday night.

Miranda Lambert

However, in the middle picture, from the braided hair to the demin shirt and the belt, the whole ensemble had me censoring myself and just saying, “WTH”.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

 

Freaking StupidDog Social MediaPeas and Hominy

WAY TO GO, NOTRE DAME

In life, there are good and bad Democrats and Republicans.  There are good and bad straight people and LGBT people.  There are good and bad <insert group here>.

The University of Notre Dame, a Catholic college, in South Bend, Indiana, is making strides to be on the right side of history.

Matt Dooley

Watch this amazing video the University released after tennis play Matt Dooley came out as gay.  It’s incredible and touching.

REMEMBERING RYAN WHITE

It was 24 years ago this week that 18-year-old Ryan White died of complications of AIDS.

Ryan White

It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long.  We have come so far in the fight against AIDS and today, with proper medication, it’s no longer a death sentence and people can now live a full and long life.

That wasn’t the case back in the 1980s.  Ryan, a hemophiliac, was infected with HIV from contaminated blood in December 1984 and was given only six months to live.  He surprised doctors and the world by living for another five years.

While he posed no threat to other students, he was expelled from middle school because of his diagnosis.  Many parents and teachers in Kokomo, Indiana, fought against him returning to school and the family left Kokomo after bullets were fired into their house.

elton_John_ryan_white MIchael Jackson Ryan White

In life, Ryan became good friends with Elton John and Michael Jackson, along with John Cougar Mellencamp, and former President and First Lady Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

Before he died, Ryan became a national spokesperson for bringing AIDS discrimination to the forefront in America.  Sadly, he died a month before graduating from high school.

Ryan, your memory is still alive.  And, to all of the Ryan Whites in the world today, live life to the fullest.

Here’s Elton John performing “Skyline Pigeon” at Ryan’s funeral.

DID YOU KNOW?

On a lighter note, now that it’s warming up, ice cream sounds like a great treat to enjoy outdoors.

In the July 2013 issue, “Better Homes and Gardens” reported that the average American eats 24 pounds of ice cream a year!

rocky road ice cream

While I love many flavors of ice cream, if I had to choose only one, it’d be Rocky Road.  And, if I could add one ingredient, it’d be coconut.

Now, there are many ranking of favorite flavors.  My favorite, Rocky Road, barely makes the Top 15.

Most rankings have Strawberry at #4, Butter Pecan at #3, and Chocolate comes in second place.

What’s shocking to me is that Vanilla is the favorite by a three-to-one margin!  Maybe because of its versatility?

PICK HIT

Pharrell Williams is hot right now.

As a solo artist, he’s at #1 with his song, “Happy”, and last year, he was featured in two of the biggest songs of the year, “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk and “Blurred Line” with Robin Thicke.

I don’t really care for “Happy”, but I love him accompanying other artists.  I first became aware of him when appeared on Madonna’s album “Hard Candy” and on her 2008’s #1 dance smash, “Give It 2 Me”.

Pharrell is featured on one of my favorite songs from Kylie Minogue’s latest album, “Kiss Me Once”.

kylie_pharrell

“I Was Gonna Cancel” is the album’s second single and the follow-up to the #1 Billboard Dance hit, “Into The Blue”.

Radio programmers, add this to your playlist now!

“THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY”

While it’s a Christmas-themed movie, I recently watched “The Best Man Holiday”, the sequel to Malcolm D. Lee’s 1999 hit, “The Best Man”, and I loved it.

The-Best-Man-Holiday-Poster

The $17 million movie brought in an incredible $71.6 million in theaters.  While I didn’t see the original and know the history of the characters, I could still follow the storyline.

In the movie, Mia and Lance invite their group of friends —  boyfriends/girlfriends, spouses, and a couple of single friends to their ritzy, gorgeously Christmas-decorated mansion to share a secret with them.

However, Mia and Lance’s secrets aren’t the only ones revealed.

“The Best Man Holiday” is funny, cute, and sentimental!

GRADE:  A-

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

Earlier I talked about Luke Bryan, so I’ll feature him in my segment of some of my favorite country songs.

In just seven short years, the 37-year-old Georgia native and married father of two boys has racked up an incredible 15 Top Ten hits on the Billboard Country chart.  Of those, 11 of  have reached the Top Three with seven making it to the #1 spot!

His latest, “Play It Again”, is at #3 this week and it could top the chart, too.  However, he’d have to knock himself out of the top spot since he’s featured on Florida Georgia Line ‘s “This Is How We Roll”, at #1.

luke-bryan-nbc-today-show-650-430

I really like many of his hits like “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” and “Rain Is A Good Thing”, but his first hit, “All My Friends Say”, which reached #5 in 2007, is my still my favorite.

THAT’S IT

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts this week.  As always, feel free to let me know what you think, whether you agree or disagree with any of them.

Have a great weekend.

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.

IMG_4699

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!

IMG_4524

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.

IMG_4590

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.

IMG_4445

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

World AIDS Day

Sadly, there are more than 1.1 million people in the United States that are HIV-positive and what’s scary is that 18% don’t even know that they are infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus infection), which can lead to AIDS.  That’s almost one-in-five people who don’t know they are HIV-positive!

Today, December 1, 2013, marks the 25th anniversary of “World AIDS Day”, which was started in 1988 to raise awareness to the spread of HIV and the AIDS pandemic.

world aids day

Here’s some sobering numbers for you:  AIDS is still a problem, even if it’s now treatable.  There were still 15,529 deaths in the U.S. from AIDS in the U.S. in 2010.

us-statistics-1

White gay and bisexual men are the groups with the highest new infection rates and black gay and bisexual men follow right behind.

THE BLACK AIDS INSTITUTE ANNOUNCE NEW TV CAMPAIGN

However, here’s something that needs to be addressed and people need to wake up.  While African-Americans make up 12% of the U.S. population, they account for 44% of new HIV cases in 2010/living with HIV.  And, Hispanics account for 16% of the U.S. population, but make up 21% of the new HIV cases/people living with HIV.

We’ve come a long way in the past 32 years, but we have a long way to go.

Flashback to the spring and early summer of 1981.  Doctors in New York and California started noticing that some of their young, gay patients were coming in with weakened immune systems and were developing pneumonia and cancer.

NYT

“The New York Times” published one of the first articles on this new disease that didn’t even have a name and was incorrectly labeled “GRID” (gay-related immune deficiency) in 1982.  It was changed to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) once doctors realized that it didn’t only affect gay men.

The early 1980s was a scary time because there was so much that doctors didn’t know about this “gay cancer”, as it was also called.  This led to fear and many misconceptions about who or how people could catch it.

Princess Diana

Ryan White Pic

Ryan White, an Indiana hemophiliac, contracted AIDS from a contaminated blood transfusion and he was diagnosed with the disease shortly after his 13th birthday during a partial-lung removal procedure.

His school refused to let him come back and the family was subjected to threats and a bullet was even fired into their living room forcing the family to leave Kokomo, Indiana.

Ryan White

Ryan died in April 1990 at the age of 18.

Jerry Falwell

Before Ryan White was diagnosed with AIDS in late 1984, Reverend Jerry Falwell in the summer of 1983 called AIDS, the “gay plague”.  He also made other ignorant and hateful comments about AIDS and gay people.

Falwell

Sept 1986, Ken Died 3 Days Later

In the early-and-mid-1980s, a diagnosis of AIDS was an almost certain death sentence.  Outside of large metropolitan cities, many in America still thought it was a strictly a disease that affected gay men.

Ronald Reagan and Jerry Falwell

In retrospective, that doesn’t seem illogical because President Ronald Reagan didn’t even mention AIDS publicly until 1987, six years after he began his presidency and AIDS went public!

corbis_rm_photo_of_ACT_UP_protest_banner

While the President chose to or just remained silent on the topic, the nation’s started talking in the summer of 1985 when one of America’s biggest movie stars of the 1950s and 1960s startled the world when he admitted that he had AIDS.

Roy Scherer, Jr., who was born outside of Chicago, moved to Los Angeles in 1946 to become an actor after serving in the U.S. Navy in Philippines during World War II.  His name was changed to Rock Hudson and he became a matinée idol and made several romantic-comedies, including a few with his dear friend, actress Doris Day.

Doris Day Rock Hudson

Hudson was a heartthrob — a tall drink of water at 6’5″ — and the magazines loved him.

Rock Hudson 1951

However, rumors that he was gay dogged him.  When “Confidential” magazine threatened to out him in 1955, he got married that same year and then divorced in 1958.

In 1956, Hudson was nominated for an Oscar for his role in “Giant” that also starred Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean.  He worked steadily in movies and television through 1985 and his last role was on “Dynasty” as Daniel Reece, the love interest of Linda Evan’s character, Krystle Carrington.

Rock Hudson Dynasty

While Hudson’s character was killed off in the spring of 1985, the gasp that could be heard around the world came months later, in July.  Hudson appeared in a promo to promote his friend, Doris Day’s new television show.

Doris Day Rock Hudson 1985

The actor appeared thin and unhealthy.  He spoke incoherently during the press event.  This led to widespread speculation about his health.  Days later he collapsed at a hotel in Paris, France, and his publicist, Dale Olson, denied that Hudson had AIDS and that he was suffering from inoperable liver cancer.

Four days later, on July 25, 1985, Olson admitted that Hudson had AIDS and that he had been diagnosed one year earlier and had been flying to Paris for treatments.

People Headline

Hollywood freaked out over this revelation, including some on the set of “Dynasty”.  However, it’s been reported that Linda Evans was not one of those people even though they shared intimate love scenes together.

At the time, some erroneously thought that you could contract AIDS through kissing.  YOU CANNOT GET AIDS FROM KISSING!  This is a perfect time for the facts about HIV and AIDS.

HIV HIV Prevention

On October 2, 1985, Rock Hudson died at home in his sleep in Beverly Hills, California.  He was 59.

Rock Hudson 1950s

Shortly before he died, Hudson sent a telegram to Commitment to Life, a Hollywood AIDS benefit, saying “I am not happy that I am sick. I am not happy that I have AIDS. But if that is helping others, I can at least know that my own misfortune has had some positive worth.”

Comedian Joan Rivers added, “Two years ago, when I hosted a benefit for AIDS, I couldn’t get one major star to turn out. … Rock’s admission is a horrendous way to bring AIDS to the attention of the American public, but by doing so, Rock, in his life, has helped millions in the process. What Rock has done takes true courage.”  And, actress Morgan Fairchild said that “Rock Hudson’s death gave AIDS a face.”

HOLLYWOOD EDUCATING AMERICA THROUGH MOVIES

While health officials worked tirelessly in the 1980s and 1990s to educate the public about HIV/AIDS, activists staged protests at government offices to work harder to fund research and to find a cure.

Slowly, Hollywood came around and “An Early Frost” on NBC in November 1985 was the first movie to address AIDS.

An Early Frost

34 million people tuned to see Aidan Quinn as a Chicago lawyer, who not only became ill with AIDS, but he also had to tell his parents (Ben Gazzara and Gena Rowlands) that he was gay.  The movie earned 14 Emmy nominations, winning three.

While it was the most watched show of the night beating out football and “Cagney & Lacey”, NBC lost $500,000 in commercial revenue because some clients were scared away by the subject matter.

Here are some other incredible Hollywood movies and television movies or series that excel at telling the HIV/AIDS story.

“Longtime Companion” (1989) is one of my all-time favorite movies.

While it was the first wide-release theatrical movie to address AIDS,  it only earned $4.6 million at the box office.  It stars Campbell Scott, Mary-Louise Parker, and Bruce Davison, who earned a Best Supporting Oscar nomination.

It follows a group of New York City friends from the 1981 beginning of the AIDS pandemic and shows how they learned to live, fight, and die from the disease.

Longtime Companion

“And The Band Played On”, a 1993 HBO movie, is probably the best historical movie for you to learn about the history of AIDS without it sounding like a boring history lesson.  The Emmy Award winning movie (it won three out of its 14 nominations) stars Matthew Modine, Alan Alda, Lily Tomlin, Richard Gere, and Phil Collins.

And, the book was written by Randy Shilts, who was born in Davenport, Iowa.

And-the-Band-Played-On

In 1993, “Philadelphia” became the most profitable AIDS movie in Hollywood history earning $206.7 million (almost $77 million of that was from the U.S.).

Tom Hanks won an Oscar playing a closeted lawyer at a big law firm, who is given the company’s biggest case only to have them fire him when a partner sees a lesion on his forehead and he is hospitalized.  He hires a homophobic, personal injury lawyer played by Denzel Washington.

Philadelphia

Another touching small theatrical movie, “The Cure”, tells the story of Dexter, a Midwestern boy who befriends his latch-key neighbor, Erik, who’s a little older.  Initially, Erik is afraid of Dexter and his disease.  But, the boys form a close friendship when they decide to travel down the Mississippi River to New Orleans to find a rumored cure for AIDS.

The Cure

Not all AIDS-related movie are dramas.  “Jeffrey”, a 1995 film by funny man Paul Rudnick, made about $3.5 million at the box office and stars Steven Weber and Michael T. Weiss.

Weber is Jeffrey, a New York City man who is scared of catching AIDS, so he gives up sex and then he meets Steve, the man of his dreams only to find out that Steve is HIV-positive.

The movie features an all-star cast including Patrick Stewart, Olympia Dukakis, Sigourney Weaver, Nathan Lane, Christine Baranski, and Kathy Najimy.

Jeffrey

The play, “Angels in America” blasted onto HBO in 2003 with a cast that included Al Pacino, Meryl Streep (playing four characters), Emma Thompson, Jeffrey Wright (also playing four characters), Mary-Louise Parker and Patrick Wilson.  The almost six-hour series earned 21 Emmy nominations and 11 wins, including acting awards for Pacino, Streep, Parker, and Wright.

Angels in America

And, in 2014, Ryan Murphy, the man behind the award-winning series, “American Horror Story” and “Glee”, will be directing the Larry Kramer-penned, Tony Award-winning play, “The Normal Heart”.

TheNormalHeart

The HBO movie stars Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo, Jim Parsons. Matt Bomer, and Taylor Kitsch, and focuses on the AIDS crisis in New York City in the early-1980s.

For those of you that don’t know him, Larry Kramer is and was one of the biggest health advocates in the history of HIV/AIDS and helped start the protest organization, ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), in early 1987.

“AND, THE ACADEMY AWARD FOR BEST ACTOR SHOULD GO TO…”

dallas_buyers_club

Matthew McConaughey for “Dallas Buyers Club”!

The movie is based on a true story.  Ron Woodruff was a homophobic, hard-living, good ol’ Texas boy who loved his liquor, drugs, and women.  In 1986, he was diagnosed with AIDS and told that he had 30 days to live.

He tried to get on the AZT trials that were being rushed onto the market to fight the AIDS pandemic.  Since he was denied that opportunity, Woodruff started buying it on the black market.  When he almost died, he came up with a plan to smuggle medications out of Mexico to try to stay alive.  Since Ron couldn’t sell the drugs, he started a membership only “buyers club” to distribute the Food & Drug Administration-unapproved medication.

DALLAS-BUYERS-CLUB

McConaughey, who plays Woodruff, lost about 50 pounds for the role and his co-star, Jared Leto, who plays transgender AIDS patient, Rayon, who befriends Woodruff, lost about 40 pounds for the role.

Both actors were electrifying and sold the story.  After initially gasping at McConaughey’s first appearance in the movie, I was sold for the next two hours that both actors were HIV-positive people fighting for their lives, while the government dragged its feet.

If you lived through the 1980s and saw friends getting sick and dying, you saw those friends in Ron and Rayon.  If you know people who have become HIV-positive in the past decade, where with medication, healthier living, diet, and exercise, it’s become a manageable disease, there’s a sense of relief that AIDS is no longer a certain death sentence.

GRADE:  A

MUSICIAN LEND A VOICE, TOO

Madonna, George Michael, Cyndi Lauper, the Pet Shop Boys, and many other musicians have recorded songs about HIV and AIDS and losing friends or lovers to the disease.

In 1986, Elton John was joined by Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder on “That’s What Friends Are For”.  That Grammy Award-winning song reached #1 and raised over $3 million dollars for the American Foundation for AIDS Research, a nonprofit organization founded by some leading AIDS specialist and actress Elizabeth Taylor.

Six years later, Elton John founded the nonprofit organization, the Elton John AIDS Foundation.  His 1992 hit, “The Last Song”, about a father and son reuniting before the son died of AIDS, was the first of Elton’s American singles to benefit his AIDS foundation.

While pop music embraced the fight against HIV/AIDS and lent a voice, it took the biggest name in country music almost twenty years ago to release a song that was controversial in that musical genre to put a heterosexual face to AIDS.

Reba She Thinks His Name Was John

Typically, summer radio is filled with bubbly, fun songs.  However, in 1994, Reba McEntire serviced “She Thinks His Name Was John” to country radio as the second single from “Read My Mind”.   The song tells the story of a woman, who is dying alone of AIDS after an alcohol-fueled one night stand a few years earlier.

The song only reached #14 on the Billboard County charts.  But, it opened eyes in a genre that was used to drinking songs, but not one with the horrors of a disease that affected a large number of gay men.

While things are changing, there’s still a long way to go in the fight against HIV and AIDS.  And, we still need to educate people.

Annie Lennox

Back in 2010, Annie Lennon of the Eurythimics wore a “HIV Positive” shirt on “Idol Gives Back”.  This prompted many to think that she was ill.

She replied, “I can tell you the good news is actually I am not. However, many people are. In fact, 22 million in sub-Saharan Africa are currently HIV positive.  And I am wearing this in solidarity with them because it’s very hard when you are HIV positive to be open about your status and to be able to tell your family and your friends.”

Annie Lennox

Red Ribbon

You may not see many people these days wearing red ribbons to raise awareness, but more people than ever are getting infected with HIV.  Last year, around the world, 2.3 million people were newly affected!

hiv_013

Since 1981, more than 636,000 people have died from AIDS in the United States.  If those numbers don’t wake you up, try these:

AmFAR Stats

On this “World AIDS Day”, remember those who have lost the battle with AIDS.  Whether you know it or not, I can almost guarantee that you know someone who is HIV-positive or that you will in the future.

STOP AIDS

Abstaining from sex is what some tell you to do.  That works.  However, if you’re going to be sexually active, protect yourself.  Use condoms!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that “Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.”

HIV and AIDS are preventable.  Be safe.  It’s not just a slogan!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — October 18, 2013

It’s been a hectic week since I celebrated my birthday last weekend and this weekend is going to be another crazy one.

After work this morning, we’re off to Chicago for my annual physical and then this evening, we take off for Zurich, Switzerland.

We’ll be there for about 24 hours and then fly to Budapest, Hungary.  Originally, that’s where we were going to board our “Sound of Music” Danube River cruise of Europe to celebrate Ray’s 50th birthday.  But, there is a mechanical problem at a dam and the cruise ship cannot get to Budapest.  We now have to take a two-hour bus ride and embark on the cruise in Bratislava, Slovakia!

Sound of Music Cruise

If you missed the details of the trip, here’s the blog I wrote about it back in August:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/plans-for-a-milestone-birthday/

Here are my random thoughts for the week!  Enjoy your weekend!

HOBBY LOBBY ISN’T VERY HOLLY JOLLY!

It’s not even Halloween yet, so many of you might not be thinking of decorating for Christmas.  But, if you are, you can find anything you want for the holidays at Hobby Lobby!

Hobby Lobby

That is, unless you celebrate Hanukkah!

The chain of more than 550 stores nationwide is owned by conservative billionaire Steve Green and it seems that Hobby Lobby refused to carry Hanukkah items like paper dreidels, menorah-making kits, or greeting cards because of Green’s “Christian values”.

hobby-lobby-jewish-hanukkah-goods

New Jersey blogger Ken Berwitz made this public in late September.  He even quoted a Hobby Lobby employee telling a woman asking about bar mitzvah cards, “We don’t cater to you people”.

The company then responded to Religion News Service, “Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. is currently working with our buyers over our merchandise selection. Our customers have brought this to our attention and we are currently evaluating our Holiday items and what we will carry in the future.”

Steve Green

After the uproar, it now appears that things will change at some Hobby Lobby stores.  Green issued this statement, “We do not have any problems selling items that celebrate Jewish holidays.  We have in the past and have decided we would try it again in some of the markets where we have Jewish population.”

A group that fights anti-Semitism, the Anti-Defamation League, accepts Green’s apology.  The group says, “We are satisfied with the apology of Hobby Lobby and appreciate the company’s efforts to investigate the incident and to ensure that it does not happen again.”

TORN ABOUT ELTON JOHN’S DECISION

Weeks ago, Cher declined an invitation to play at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, because of the country’s anti-gay laws it implemented this past summer.

Boycott Sochi 2014

However, Elton John refused to cancel his early December shows in Kazan and Moscow stating, “I’m aware of the situation and I will be diplomatic. I’m not going to go into Russia and tell [Vladimir Putin] to go to hell and things like that. That’s not the way things are done. You chip away at something, and you hope there will be dialogue and that the situation can get better. You don’t just go in there with guns blazing and say, ‘Well, to hell with you.’ Because they’re going to say, ‘To hell with you, and get out of the country.’ That’s not going to solve anything.”

las-vegas-shows-elton-john

I understand that Elton playing those two shows will raise awareness of the deplorable laws that are in place to target Russia’s LGBT community.  But, it’s an uphill battle since those laws and documented cases of violence toward gays are supported not only by Russian officials, but a large portion of the Russian population.

This Pew Research survey came out two months ago.

Anti-Gay Russia

When Madonna and Lady Gaga played shows in Russia, they spoke out against the country’s barbaric attitudes to Russia’s LGBT community and faced fines and jail time.

There’s a part of me that wants Elton to go there and speak up and say “screw you”!  However, I’ll be appalled if he performs and takes the money without making a stand for equality and progress.

…BUT SOME AREN’T TORN ABOUT ELTON PLAYING THERE

Seidzhagfar Lutfullin, a conservative imam from Russia’s predominantly Muslim Tartarstan region, wants the concerts cancelled.

He thinks by allowing Elton to play that God could rain destruction on Russia as act of revenge because “sodomy…is what the world famous homosexual Elton John, (sic) who recently wed a man in public, is promoting.”

Other conservative groups want Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the concerts.

Vladimir Putin, Patriarch Kirill

And, a coordinator for the Christian group Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods says, “The statement by this gay guy – Elton John – about his support for gays and other perverts during the upcoming concert in Moscow is an insult to all Russian citizens.”

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Right

Confusing Wine SelectionHappy Hour

SERIOUSLY, LIGHTEN UP!

I admit that I’m a very strong supporter for equality and I’ll be the first to stand up to someone being anti-gay or derogatory.

However, I think that people can be a little oversensitive and try to find things to be upset about.

I love Britney Spears!  I did fifteen years ago when “…Baby One More Time” came out and topped the charts.  I was concerned when she had her breakdown and I thought her career was over, but she sure showed me and the rest of the world with “Femme Fatale” and that tour solidified “It’s Britney, Bitch”.

Britney July 2011

Some people think that her use of the word “bitch” is part of her catering to the “gay” audience.  Seriously?  People can’t just enjoy the music and not think that it’s “too gay”.  Do you think that Madonna, Lady Gaga, or Cher sits around and wonders if they cater to a certain demographic?  They know who still lines their pockets with gold!

Recently, Britney told a DJ, “A lot of my hair stylists and my beauty team that I work with are gay so I hang out with gays a lot and I just think they’re adorable and hilarious.”  And, then some gay bloggers took issue with her choice of words.

Let me say that if anyone ever want to call me “adorable and hilarious”, I’m okay with it!

Get a life, Mary!  Wait, maybe I shouldn’t refer to a man as “Mary”!  Well, here’s a little Britney with a “rock & roll” edge.  It doesn’t sound that “gay”, does it? 🙂

“THE MEANING OF MATTHEW”

It was 15 years ago last week that 21-year-old Matt Shepard died from injuries after being relentlessly beaten and tied to a wooden fence in Laramie, Wyoming.

After starting the Matthew Shepard Foundation with her husband, Dennis, and their son, Logan, Judy Shepard released her book, “The Meaning of Matthew:  My Son’s Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed”, in 2009.  I just got around to reading it and it’s fantastic.

The Meaning of Matthew

While we’ve read the tragic headlines and seen the pictures of Matthew and his killers splashed across the news, this book lets us know who Matt was from the people who knew him.

Judy said it best in the Author’s Note at the beginning of the book, “You know him as Matthew.  To us he was Matt.  I have tried to reconcile the two within these pages.  It would be unfair to Matt if only Matthew’s story was told.  Matt was so much more than “Matthew Shepard, the gay twenty-one-year-old University of Wyoming college student.”  He had a family and countless friends.  He had a life before the night he was tied to that fence.”

I only have one small complaint about the book —  no pictures of the Matt that the Shepard family remembers.  Judy talks about Matt dressing as Dolly Parton twice as a child and I would have loved to see that photo.

But, that’s minor!  Check out this book because it’s phenomenal.

“BATES MOTEL”

While we await the arrival of the final season of “Dexter” on DVD (November 12th), Ray and I checked out the first season of A&E’s “Bates Motel”.

The 10-episode thriller focuses on the lives of a young Normal Bates (“Psycho”) and his very alive mother as they start a new life in a small Oregon town and manage their new business, the infamous Bates Motel.

Bates-Motel-Title

Freddie Highmore (“Toast”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, and “Five Children and It”) is creepy and enchanting as 17-year-old Norman Bates.

Max Thieriot and Mike Vogel (“Under The Dome” and “Cloverfield”) smolder on the screen as Norma Bates’ son, Dylan, and her lover, Deputy Shelby, respectively.

Max Thieriotbates-motel-trust-me-vera-farmiga

But, let’s talk about the real star of “Bates Motel”, Vera Farmiga, who was nominated for an Emmy for her performance of Norma Bates.  (She was also nominated for an Oscar for 2009’s “Up In The Air”.)

Farmiga is electrifying from the first moment we see her and she is totally captivating in every scene.  Regardless of the scene she’s in, whether it’s violent, sad, or happy, you can’t take your eyes away from her!

)Norma Norman

I want a one-way ticket to this crazy-town.

And, a final note.  The first episode of the series features W. Earl Brown, as Keith Summers, the former owner of the Bates Motel, known then as the Seafairer Motel.

W Earl Brown Keith Summers

Earl is from western Kentucky and we were in the Radio-Television department together at Murray State University and I was one of two actors in a one-act play he directed back in the early-1980s!

He’s also starred in “There’s Something About Mary”, “Scream”, and HBO’s “Deadwood”.

Way to go, Earl!

NOTHING FUNNY ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

Except this….

PICK HIT OF THE WEEK

The world first became aware of Ke$ha when she sang back-up on Flo Rida’s #1 hit “Right Round” in 2009.  Later that year, she scored her first solo #1 on her first try with “Tik Tok”.

Kesha

Since then she’s tallied up a total of 13 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.  Ten of those reached the Top Ten, including another #1 hit, “We R Who We R”.

Pitbull

Pitbull has charted with 18 Top 40 hits on the Hot 100.  Of those, nine have reached the Top Ten.  He topped the chart with “Give Me Everything” with Ne-Yo, Afrojack, and Nayer in 2011.

pitbull-kesha

This summer, we drove to Tinley Park, just outside of Chicago, to see Ke$ha and Pitbull in concert.  While they didn’t perform a number together, they must have been working on something behind the scene!

“Timber”, which features Ke$ha, is the first single from Pitbull’s upcoming album.

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

Earlier I featured Britney Spears’ version of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”.

While Britney’s version hit the Top Ten in Germany and Ireland, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts spent seven weeks at the top of the chart with the song in 1982 here in the U.S.

Jett scored eight other hits on the Billboard Hot 100 Top 40, but only two of them reached the Top Ten — “Crimson and Clover” (#7, 1982) and “I Hate Myself For Loving You” (#8, 1988).

That’s it for today.  Have a great weekend!

Anthony

They Said What??? Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, Miley Cyrus & Elton John

BARILLA PASTA CHAIRMAN GUIDO BARILLA

“I would never do [a commercial] with a homosexual couple, not for lack of respect but because we don’t agree with them.  Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role… If [gays] don’t like it, they can go eat another brand.”

MORE BARILLA

“I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose.  Everyone has a the right to do what they want without disturbing those around them.”

“THE WASHINGTON TIMES” WRITER WESLEY PRUDEN

(speculating on Hillary Clinton’s possible run for president in 2016):  “Hillary would be 69 on Inauguration Day 2017, not particularly old for a man not out of sight of his prime, but a woman in public life is getting past her sell-by date at 69.”

POSSIBLE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE HILLARY CLINTON

(in an interview with my friend, Chicago journalist David Viggiano.  David told her a Chicago bar wanted to create a “Hillary” cocktail):  “I have been asked nearly everything but I have to tell you, David, nobody ever asked me that and I’m at a loss for words, which you know is not a common trait for me.”

2008 VICE PRESIDENT WANNABE SARAH PALIN

“Open your eyes, America.  When the full reality of Obamacare strikes home, we’ll thank God that principled leaders like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee took a stand to stop it in its tracks. But the permanent political class is handwringing and howling that if there’s a government shutdown the media will blame Republicans for it. Here’s a little newsflash, GOP establishment: Whenever anything bad happens, the media blames Republicans for it. That’s not an excuse to roll over and play dead.”

POP ICON ELTON JOHN

(on his decision to perform in Moscow, Russia, this December despite the country’s anti-gay laws):  “I’m aware of the situation and I will be diplomatic. I’m not going to go into Russia and tell [Vladimir Putin] to go to hell and things like that. That’s not the way things are done. You chip away at something, and you hope there will be dialogue and that the situation can get better. You don’t just go in there with guns blazing and say, ‘Well, to hell with you.’ Because they’re going to say, ‘To hell with you, and get out of the country.’ That’s not going to solve anything.”

“GLEE” STAR JANE LYNCH

(about her 1970s crush on “Grease” star Olivia Newton-John):  “She was it for me.  I just loved her — I named my dog after her. My dog’s name is Olivia. I had a big lesbo crush on her, and I named my dog after her.”

SINGER MILEY CYRUS

(about allegations that her controversial VMA performance with Robin Thicke was “racist” because of her black back-up dancers):  “I don’t keep my producers or dancers around ’cause it makes me look cool.  Those aren’t my ‘accessories.’ They’re my homies.”

MORE CYRUS

“I’m from one of the wealthiest counties in America.  I know what I am. But I also know what I like to listen to. Look at any 20-year-old white girl right now — that’s what they’re listening to at the club. It’s 2013. The gays are getting married, we’re all collaborating. I would never think about the color of my dancers, like, ‘Ooh, that might be controversial.’ ”

EVEN MORE CYRUS

“America is just so weird in what they think is right and wrong.  Like, I was watching Breaking Bad the other day, and they were cooking meth. I could literally cook meth because of that show. It’s a how-to. And then they bleeped out the word ‘f—.’ And I’m like, really? They killed a guy, and disintegrated his body in acid, but you’re not allowed to say ‘f—‘? It’s like when they bleeped ‘molly’ at the VMAs. Look what I’m doing up here right now, and you’re going to bleep out ‘molly’? Whatever.”

Anthony

They Said What??? James Franco, Britney Spears, & Elton John

ACTRESS ROSIE O’DONNELL

(talking about Fox News’ coverage of last week’s Navy Yard shooting in Washington D.C.):  “They were talking about mental illness. It’s funny how all of these conservative Republicans are suddenly so concerned about the mentally ill. Not that they’re doing anything legislatively in order to help the mentally ill. Not that they’re going to fund programs or, you know, get different housing — nobody wants to help, they just want to blame on someone else. There have been 19 shootings since Obama took office — 19. That’s shocking and it’s embarrassing. As a nation and a culture we need to do something.”

POP ICON ELTON JOHN

(about Lady Gaga):  “I’d like to be able to talk to her right now, but I can’t get through to her.  And there are times when you have to listen. When your persona begins to take over your music and becomes more important, you enter a dangerous place. Once you have people around you who don’t question you, you’re in a dangerous place.”

POP STAR BRITNEY SPEARS

(on Miley’s VMA performance):  “I think any time you do a performance that is memorable, you’re going to have criticism.  I think she’s doing her thing, being herself.  So I give props to her.”

“BLURRED LINES” SINGER ROBIN THICKE

(about his controversial VMA performance with Miley Cyrus):  “We knew what we were getting ourselves into. We’re entertainers, and the VMAs is the perfect place for a little shock and awe.  Yeah, we kind of knew when we were in rehearsal. … We were like, ‘OK, if you touch me with your foam finger all over my crotch, obviously a few people are going to have something to say about this.’ But that was the whole point. I mean, the whole point was to excite and provoke and entertain.”

MORE THICKE

“I thought it was silly and funny. She was being humorous and naughty. But it wasn’t sexually charged at all,” he said. “That’s who she is and that’s how she likes to dance. And she was just being herself and I was just being myself.”

“ROYALS” SINGER LORDE

“I’m not a social outcast or anything. I’ve got friends. But I feel like I’m definitely an observer in social situations — I like to listen, and figure out what’s being said and what’s happening. I can’t just go to a party and not be thinking, ‘I’m at a party, I’m doing this, what does this mean,’ you know? I’m always breaking it down. It annoys my friends too — they’re like, ‘Just chill out! Have some fun.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, God… okay.”

OSCAR NOMINEE ACTOR JAMES FRANCO

“I don’t even care if people think I’m gay, so it was like, ‘Awesome!’ I mean, I wish I was. … I wish I was gay.”

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — September 20, 2013

The weekend is almost here.  I hope you have a great one since the weather in the Quad Cities is going to be ideal — plenty of sunshine and highs in the 70s!

Here are my random thoughts for this week.

ONE ICON SAYS “NO”, ONE SAYS “YES” TO RUSSIA

As you’ve probably heard in the news and from reading my blogs, there is increasing pressure for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, because of the country’s homophobia and recent anti-gay laws.

Cher Closer To The Truth

Pop and gay icon, Cher recently declined an invitation to open the Olympics show.

Cher, whose new album, “Closer To The Truth” comes out next week says, “I can’t name names but my friend called who is a big oligarch over there, and asked me if I’d like to be an ambassador for the Olympics and open the show.  I immediately said no. I want to know why all of this gay hate just exploded over there.  He said the Russian people don’t feel the way the government does.”

EltonJohn2

Meanwhile, Elton John says he has to think of the LGBT people living in Russia and that his December concert in Moscow must go on.

Elton says, “I’ve got to go.  And I’ve got to think about what I’m going to say very carefully. There’s two avenues of thought:  Do you stop everyone going, ban all the artists coming in from Russia? But then you’re really leaving the men and women who are gay and suffering under the anti-gay laws in an isolated situation.  As a gay man, I can’t leave those people on their own without going over there and supporting them. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’ve got to go.”

MARRIAGE EQUALITY, THE BIBLE, & RELIGION

Kevin Rudd, the Former Prime Minister of Australia, had an interesting debate with a pastor during his re-election campaign.  While Rudd lost the election, he would definitely have gotten my vote.  This is priceless!

SAYING GOODBYE IS NEVER EASY

This weekend, millions will say goodbye to one of America’s favorite vigilante serial killers!  For me, that goodbye will come in early November when the eighth and final season of “Dexter” arrives on DVD.

Dexter

As the series wraps up, star Michael C. Hall gives this hint as to what to expect, “Dexter, at different points over the life of the show, found himself entertaining the idea that he could be rehabilitated, that he could live a life that isn’t primarily in service of his Dark Passenger. … But things have happened that have taught him at least temporarily, and maybe more permanently, that that’s not a possibility.”

So, my friends, please don’t share with me any details of the finale.  I still have to wait another month or so!

And, sadly, I’ll have to say goodbye to one of my biggest television crushes — Dexter and Michael C. Hall!

Dexter-michael-c-hall

On a brighter note, I’ll always have Paris, I mean, all eight seasons of “Dexter” on DVD! 🙂

“UNDER THE DOME” SEASON FINALE — UNDERWHELMED ME

After an incredible season, the summer’s most watched new series, “Under The Dome” limped through the final minutes of the first season’s finale.

While a few answers were provided, there was no “OMG” gasp to keep me hanging on until next summer.  What happened!!!!!!!

under-the-dome

“The pink stars are falling; the pink stars are falling in line” until next summer!

A QUIET FALL

The new fall season is rolling out on network television.  While I’ll have to wait until next year to see the new seasons of “The Walking Dead” and “American Horror Story:  Coven” on DVD, I won’t be investing too much time on new shows.

Last fall, I didn’t watch too many debut shows.  I started “Nashville” and “Elementary”, but I missed a few episodes here and there.  I plan on going back and catching up on those two.

I also watched “Malibu Country” with Reba on ABC, but it was cancelled after the first season.  As much as I love Reba, it was not as funny as her WB/CW series, “Reba” from 2001-2007, outside of Reba and Lily Tomlin, who played her mother.

malibu-country

While it wasn’t the fall season, I loved “The Following” and “Hannibal” earlier this year.

This season, there are only three shows that I’m trying out.

Tuesday night, I watched “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (ABC) with Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher and it was enjoyable and kept me entertained.   I’ll definitely be watching the second episode.

kinopoisk.ru

However, watching the last few minutes of its lead-in, “Dads”, the new Seth MacFarlane show, was painful.  I don’t want to call it a comedy because it wasn’t funny!

On Thursday, September 26th, I plan on checking out “The Crazy Ones” (CBS).  This will mark Robin Williams’ first series-regular role on television since 1982!  It also stars Sarah Michelle Gellar.  Even if turns out to be a painful 30 minutes, James Wolk will be good eye candy!

The Crazy Ones

But, the show that excites me the most is “Hostages” (CBS).

It stars Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actress Toni Collette, who’ll always be Muriel Heslop (“You’re terrible Muriel”) from “Muriel’s Wedding” to me.  Golden Globe winner Dylan McDermott also stars.

Hostages

McDermott plays Duncan Carlisle, a rogue FBI agent that takes Ellen Sanders, a doctor who will be performing surgery on the President of the United States, and her family hostage.  She’s told that she has to assassinate the President or her family dies!

“Hostages” debuts on CBS Monday night, September 23rd.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Egg ChickenOffendedExpert

SPRING BREAK 2014

While I still have Ray’s big 50th birthday European cruise on the Danube River coming up in October and maybe a trip back home in early December to eat at my favorite restaurant, Patti’s 1880s, it’s not too early to be thinking of 2014.

Gretel want to go to Las Vegas and after an announcement this past Tuesday, I’m all for it.

Britney Spears just announced a two-year, $30 million deal to play 50 shows a year at Planet Hollywood!

Britney Piece of Me

So far, only the first 16 dates have been announced and it doesn’t cover Gretel’s spring break yet.

The 90-minute show makes its debut on December 27th and Britney says it’ll be a combination of club meeting theater.  I saw Britney in concert in the summer of 2011 on the “Femme Fatale” tour in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and she was fantastic.

Britney Las Vegas

PICK HIT OF THE WEEK

Okay, this is a no-brainer.  “Work Bitch” is the first single from the upcoming unnamed Britney Spears album coming December 3rd.

The song was released earlier this week.

Britney Tweet

“You wanna live fancy?  Live in a big mansion?  Party in France?  You better work, bitch.”

DARREN CRISS IS NOT ONLY CUTE, BUT WISE!

So, does my love of Britney mean that Darren Criss (Blaine Anderson on “Glee”) is a wise man?

Darren Criss

Recently, in “Out” magazine, he commented about his fan base, “The funny thing is that—I’d say that older gay men are basically the same as 16-year-old girls. It all gets lost in the wash. Neither one is any crazier than the other.”

Have I reminded you lately that Darren touched my hand at the “Glee” concert a couple of years ago in Rosemont, Illinois?  He’s so adorable, but remember I’m crazy and crazy about Britney.  “Work Bitch”!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TAMMY

Next week, my sister, Tammy, celebrates her birthday on September 24th.

She moved here two years ago and we got to celebrate her birthday together for the first time in about twenty years.

Tammy 45

She’s already picked Olive Garden for her birthday meal this year!

Happy Birthday, little sister!

BETTY IS VISITING

Betty, otherwise known as “Mom” arrived yesterday from Ohio to visit us until Monday.

Betty Last September

However, it wasn’t as simple as driving to the airport in Cleveland (90 minutes for Betty), flying to Chicago, and then to Moline.

Chicago Storms -- Flight Disaster

Because of early morning storms in Chicago, flights heading to O’Hare were grounded until early afternoon.  She sat at the airport in Cleveland from 6 a.m. until noon and they finally took off and arrived at 1 p.m.  Since she was flying no-revenue, standby, it was a long shot that there would be an open seat for her to Moline.

It’s a good thing that I drove the three hours to Chicago to pick her up Thursday afternoon, because all afternoon flights to the Quad Cities from Chicago were cancelled.  While she made here safely at 7 p.m. Thursday, her luggage is still M.I.A.

We’ll likely get it today when flights resume.  On a happier note, since she celebrated her 70th birthday late last month, we’ll be taking her to Osaka Buffet for lunch this weekend, since it’s one of her favorite places in the Quad Cities.  For the record, it’s one of my favorites and Gretel.

We’ll also hit the casinos for her to win a fortune and I hope the machines are loose for me, too.  I plan on giving up on the casinos after this weekend!

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

Since I talked about Cher earlier in the blog, why not flashback to the 1980s with her.

Cher had 11 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 from 1964-1972 as part of the duo, Sonny & Cher, with her ex-husband, Sonny including the 1965 #1 smash, “I Got You Babe”.

However, she had more success as a solo artist.  From her first Top 40 hit in 1965 to her last Top 40 entry on the Hot 100 in 1999 with “Believe”, Cher scored 22 solo Top 40 hits with 12 of them reaching the Top Ten, and four making it all the way to the top of the charts:  “Gypsys, Tramps, & Thieves”, “Half-Breed”, and “Dark Lady” all in the early-1970s and then “Believe” in 1999.

Today, I’m featuring one of my favorite Cher songs (there’s so many to choose from!).  “We All Sleep Alone” reached #14 on the Hot 100 in 1988.

It’s a “Woman’s World” according to Cher’s recent #1 Billboard Dance chart hit and I’m happy to be a part of it.

SUPERMODEL (YOU BETTER WORK)

Since I featured Britney’s new song, “Work Bitch” earlier in my blog, I’ll close out my blog on a happy, fun note from 1993 with a song that may have inspired Brit Brit.

RuPaul Andre Charles was a struggling musician and filmmaker in Atlanta in the 1980s, but gained national attention as a dancer in the B-52’s “Love Shack” video.  You couldn’t miss him unless you were looking for a very tall bald black man.

Love Shack RuPaul

RuPaul stormed onto the pop culture scene in the summer of 1993 when “Supermodel (You Better Work) reached #2 on the Billboard Dance chart and #45 on the Billboard Hot 100.

While it wasn’t a huge radio hit, the song was played prominently in MTV’s video rotation back when they played videos!  And, it was one of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain’s favorite songs that year and the two of them (with his family) hung out together at the MTV Video Music Awards!

RuPaul Kurt Cobain

Sashay!  Shantay!  Shantay!  Shantay!  You better work and have a great weekend.

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts this week.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — July 12

How’s your week going?  This week, I’ve been nursing a sunburn to just my face and stomach from spending too many hours in the pool last Sunday with Ray.  It’s been several years since I had a sunburn and that was from a tanning bed!

Otherwise, the John Deere Classic is going on the Quad Cities.  While I’m not a golf fan, it was nice getting four invitations to parties (three at the Classic) focusing around the tournament.  It’s fun to eat and drink and socialize even if you’re not watching the play!  I hope you have a great weekend and thank you for checking out my random thoughts today.

BREAKING NEWS

“Rah rah ah ah ah”.  While I had already planned a controversial Lady Gaga mention in today’s blog (you’ll see it below), Mother Monster made a very big (HUGE!) announcement in the very early hours Friday morning while you were sleeping!

ARTPOP

“ARTPOP”, her third full length studio album and the follow-up to the multi-platinum, “Born This Way” disc, will be released on November 11, 2013, and the new Lady Gaga single comes out August 19th.  I’m so excited.  I now return you to my regularly scheduled “Random Friday Thoughts”.

I’D LIKE TO VOMIT, TOO, BUT I’M ON THE WAGON!

As I’ve blogged and shared before, I’m a recovering food addict.  I was bulimic from 1986-1995 and I’ve been on the wagon ever since.  Yes, I think of how much easier it would be if I was still a practicing bulimic rather than having to eat healthy and exercise, but that would be very unhealthy!  But, this blog has nothing to do with that.  It’s just a metaphor.

However, Pat Robertson, the religious zealot and host of “The 700 Club” basically says that I make him want to vomit and I guess in all fairness, that’s okay because he makes me want to vomit, too!

Pat, here’s something for you.

Vomit

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Profile PicLoved and lost

IS THAT WHY I LOVE DOUGHNUTS?

In the past I’ve talked about how much I love doughnuts and donut-flavored vodka.  (I’ll spell it both ways to cover all bases).  Now, I find that there might be a reason! 🙂

Donuts

Years ago, I subscribed to the website realage.com to do some survey on life expectancy.  Occasionally, the site will send me an email for new quizzes.  Interestingly enough, a couple of weeks ago, I got an email with the subject line, “Tasty tips for your love life”.  Of course, it got my attention and I clicked on it instead of just deleting it.

And, this is what I found:  “Aphrodisiac Foods  — We’ve got a food list that’ll spice up your sex life. These natural aphrodisiacs will get both of you in the mood for love.”  So, I kept reading and if it’s true, a trip to grocery store might be all you need, my friends!

The article claims, “Men, a sniff of lemons, doughnuts, or licorice can increase blood flow to your genitals. For women, licorice and cucumbers often do it.”  WTH???

twizzlers

Now that I have your curiosity aroused, forget the B-52s and the “Love Shack”, here are the “love snacks” that Real Age recommends!

Love Snacks

Bon appetit, you sexy devil!

COUNTRY WITH A HINT OF PINK

Quickly, name an African-American pop star.  Of course you’re thinking Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Prince, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, and the list goes on and on.

Now, name a black country music star.  If you’re on top of your game, Darius Rucker and Charley Pride come to mind.  After those two, you’d have to think very hard and you’d likely come up empty-handed.  Big & Rich fans might say Cowboy Troy. While he hit #2 on the country album chart in 2005, he never scored a Top 40 country solo hit.  I also remember Rissi Palmer and while she released three singles in 2007-2008, none of them cracked the Top 40 at country radio either.

Let’s try another.  Name a gay pop singer.  This is another easy one:  Elton John, George Michael, Tegan & Sara, Ricky Martin, Boy George, Melissa Etheridge, and many more.

Now, name an out country music singer.  You might say k.d. lang.  She did have two hit country albums that reached #9 and #12 on the chart in the late-1980s and two modest hit songs at country radio during the late-1980s, reaching #21 and #22.  However, that was before she came out as a lesbian in 1992.

There’s also Chely Wright.  She scored nine Top 40 country hits between 1997 and 2005.  One of them, “Single White Female” made it to the Top Ten peaking at #1 in 1999.

However, she didn’t come out as a lesbian until 2007.

Now, there’s a Chicago singer that’s gaining national attention. Could 22-year-old Steve Grand be the first openly gay country singer?  The video to “All-American Boy” has now been viewed more than  462-thousand times.

Steve-Grand-All-American-Boy

Earlier this month, Steve said, “I fought with who I was for most of my life. In every way a young person can fight with himself.  But starting today, I’m laying it out there. I’m done playing it safe.”  He added, “I feel like most music industry people wouldn’t like the idea of me “pigeonholing” myself by telling this story as I have. But I don’t believe the world sees change until it sees honesty.”

Steve, good luck!

SWEDISH FEAR OF WOLVES

I just read an article about the late author Stieg Larsson, who wrote the “Millennium” series (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl Who Played With Fire”, and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest”) and I found out something very interesting about Swedish culture.

When he grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, there was an old Swedish law, written about 100 years ago, that was still on the books that prohibited children from attending school until they were seven.

Swedish Wolves

It was to protect little kids from being devoured by wolves as they were coming and going to school when walking through the woods and forests.

GET WELL SOON, ELTON

Sir Elton John has been forced to “postpone all forthcoming shows from his current European tour.”

The 66-year-old rocket fell ill while on tour and his medical team ordered a number of exploratory scans and blood tests.  He was diagnosed with appendicitis and is currently taking intensive antibiotics to reduce toxins within the inflamed appendicitis site and he’ll undergo surgery in the next few weeks.

Summer tour dates in London, Italy, Germany, Russia, France, Spain, and Monaco were cancelled.  While Elton will not return to touring until he’s fully recovered, he hopes to play his September and October dates, which include 14 shows at The Colosseum At Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Elton LasVegas

We saw him there last October for my birthday weekend (Elton on Friday night and Madonna on Saturday night).  He was flawless and fantastic.  Elton, I wish you a speedy recovery.

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

For today’s ’80s flashback, who better to feature than Elton John.

From his first hit, “Your Song” (#8, 1970) to his last radio hit, “Written In the Stars” (#29, 1999) with LeAnn Rimes, Elton made 60 Top 40 appearances on the Billboard Hot 100.  Of those 60 songs, 29 reached the Top Ten, 20 of them climbed into the Top 5, and nine made it all the way to number one!

There are so many of his hits that I absolutely love, but today I’ll share a song that only reached #13 in 1989, but with his upcoming surgery, you couldn’t find a more convenient hit song than “Healing Hands”.

FACEBOOK FLASHBACK PICTURES

As you probably know, I love taking pictures and sharing them on Facebook.  However, unless I’m on vacation or on a getaway, I don’t take as many pictures now that Miss ABBA is in “puppy heaven”.  Looking back this week in 2010, we were at Ray’s parent’s old house on Spirit Lake, Iowa.  Yes, it was a challenge keeping both of our girls out of the water!

ABBA Fish 07172010  Gretel ABBA 07172010Anthony Ray 07182010

And, two years ago, as Gretel celebrated her birthday with a little cookout with cake and ice cream with her neighborhood friends, I drove to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to spend the evening with Britney.  Yes, Britney “It’s Britney, Bitch” Spears.

Anthony Britney 07092011 Britney 07092011

ANTICIPATION IS BUILDING AND I’M NOT ALONE!

billboard.com recently held its Mid-Year Music Awards and while I didn’t take part in the voting, I definitely agree with the top two choices of what online readers were excited about in the music industry this fall.

Most Anticipated Event of 2013’s Second Half: 


1. New Music From Britney Spears (23%)
2. New Music From Lady Gaga (19%)
3. Beyonce’s ‘Mrs. Carter’ Tour… And Album? (17%)

In all fairness, I’m curious to hear Beyonce’s new music and I’d definitely see her in concert.  But, my loyalty lies with Britney and Gaga.

While Britney is currently in the studio working with will.i.am on her eighth studio album due this fall, her new song, “Ooh La La”, from the soundtrack to this summer’s “The Smurfs 2” is currently at #23 on Mediabase’s radio airplay chart.

Britney claims that she “always loved the Smurfs as a kid and now my boys are the biggest Smurfs fans EVER. I wanted to surprise them with a song in the movie. I know they’ll think it’s Smurftastic!”.

The video to “Ooh La La” was just released yesterday and features not only Britney, but her sons, Sean Preston and Jayden James.

britney-spears-ooh-la-la-video-still

About the new album, expected this fall, Britney says, “I want to definitely take this album and have a new approach with it and make it a little different than anything I’ve ever done.  Will has a lot of really interesting different tracks that I’ve listened to that are really cool that I haven’t actually written on yet, but there’s a lot of guitar and I think people will be surprised with this album. It’s gong to be really different.”

Earlier this year, will.i.am & Britney scored a Top Five hit (and #1 on the Billboard Dance chart) with “Scream & Shout”.

Britney is also “really, really excited” to be working with William Orbit on the new album.  He’s co-produced Madonna’s Grammy-winning 1998 “Ray of Light” album.  Orbit is also excited about the venture.  He posted this on his Facebook page, “Going to cut vocals in LA with Britney in a few weeks.  We’ve songs to die for.”

PUT YOUR PAWS UP!

After being forced to cancel the rest of her highly successful and profitable, “Born This Wall Ball” Tour earlier this year because of a labral tear of the right hip that required surgery, Lady Gaga has been rather quiet.  She even shut down her Twitter account recently.  Obviously, it was for some big news (“ARTPOP” comes out in November and her new single arrives in August!)

Many were already speculating that there was going to be a big announcement since billboard.com posted this story recently, “On two recent Interscope Records industry email blasts (its “Top 40 Fact Sheet”), a simple closing line has shown at the end, after the label has filled in radio/records/trades on other current releases. Four words:  “COMING SOON: LADY GAGA!”

I’m so excited that we’re on “The Edge of Glory” to hear new music from Mother Monster!  Her last hit at Top 40 radio was “Marry The Night” and that was released in November 2011!

Gaga Las Vegas

I was so lucky to see Gaga in Las Vegas, Nevada, in late January, just nine shows before she had to cancel the rest of the tour!

A few weeks ago, Gaga came out for one of her first live performances since February, when she sang “The Star Spangled Banner” at New York City’s Gay Pride parade.

And, of course, that performance has become controversial because she changed the last line from “home of the brave” to “home for the gays”.

Allen West Tweet

Allen West - Lady Gaga

Former U.S. Congressman, Tea Party advocate, and current Fox News contributor (enough said, but I’ll carry on) Allen West posted this on his Facebook page, “I find Lady Gaga’s defiling of our National Anthem reprehensible… This young lady should be taken to Ft. McHenry and given a history lesson as to why Francis Scott Key wrote those words incredible words… She and all those who cheered her abomination should be ashamed and apologize to every serving and retired member of our Armed Services. But perhaps I ask too much…”

But, Gaga isn’t his only target lately.

More West RantsEven More West Rants

I’m glad we live in the land of the free where West has a right to say whatever he wants, even if I think he’s a blowhard.  Some may think the same of me!

And, one last Anthem comment, conservatives also criticized Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, and Steven Tyler for changing the words to the National Anthem.

So, what are your thoughts?  Was Gaga wrong to change the words to the National Anthem?

SEARING A THOUGHT INTO YOUR BRAIN

“Under the Dome”, the new hit CBS drama based on a Stephen King novel, is one my favorite shows on television. It’s debut episode was the highest drama summer premiere on any network since 1992 with 16.7 million viewers.

If you haven’t seen the three episodes that have aired, you have to catch up!  A mysterious dome appears over Chester’s Mill, Maine, cutting part of the town off from the world around it.  No one knows how or why it appeared or how to make it go away.  People have died and I’m sure more will before the 13-episode first season ends September 16, 2013.

I warned you earlier that you might want to skip this part, but the most incredible special effect in the premiere was when the dome came down on a cow pasture and one unfortunate bovine was cut in half.  This is the aftermath, but the effects were incredible watching it happen.  Way to go to the producers and CBS for being clever (and gross)!

COW UNDER THE DOME

Okay, I can’t leave you on that note.  My apologies.  “Under The Dome” is not all gore and sadness.

Under The Dome Shirtless

Peace!  Have a great weekend and thank you for checking out my random thoughts this week.

Anthony

You can watch all of the episode for free here:  http://www.cbs.com/shows/under-the-dome/