Posts Tagged ‘Elton John’

Random Friday Thoughts — June 3, 2016

IS IT SUMMER YET?

Depending on who you listen to, it might already be summer.  Some say Memorial Day is the “unofficial” start to the summer season and meteorologists call the three hottest months of the year (June, July, and August) “meteorological summer”.

However, if you go by the calendar, the summer solstice begins Monday, June 20th at 5:34 p.m. CDT.

Whatever you call it, I hope your spring or summer is off to a great start.  Since I had so much fun bringing back “Random Friday Thoughts” last week, here’s another one!

IT ALREADY FEELS LIKE SUMMER

After a pretty chilly start to the month of May in the Quad Cities, it sure got hot over the last week or so.  Check out these recent unseasonably warm temperatures in Moline, Illinois, right on the Mississippi River.

May Temps.png

After a cooler weekend, warmer weather is forecast to return through, at least, the middle of June.

HOW DID PRINCE DIE?

A medical examiner and the toxicology report confirm that musical icon Prince died of an accidental opioid fentanyl overdose.  Even before that news broke, there was widespread speculation that an overdose was the cause of death.

Opioid fentanyl is a very potent pain reliever — 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.

Prince.jpg

Even before the news broke Thursday, I was already writing about Prince in today’s “Random Friday Thoughts”.  Here’s what I had already written:

“It’s now been six weeks (!) since music icon Prince died at Paisley Park, his Minneapolis-area home, but we still don’t know how he died.

I know medical examiners want to be thorough when determining the cause of death, but six weeks?  Typically, toxicology results are released a couple or a few weeks after someone dies.”

While Prince is gone, his music will live on.  Following his death, in the first full week of sales, he had 19 albums on the Billboard Top 200 chart.  That broke the Beatles’ record of 14.

To honor the musical legend, here’s my favorite Prince song — it’s so hard to narrow it down to one!

ARE SOME PEOPLE “FOR REAL”?

Social media is great to reconnect to people you’ve lost contact with over the years and to communicate and share ideas with others.

However, the anonymity it provides allows people to say things they normally wouldn’t say to someone in person.

Some people can handle it and blow it off, but some can’t.  For me, I have a tougher skin from working in a public forum all these years.  While crazy or mean comments on social media still tick me off, it has to be really bad to even remotely hurt my feelings.

For example, look at this inspirational picture I posted again earlier this week.

Fish Be You

It got a lot of love on Facebook.  However, I have to share this Twitter correspondence with some anonymous person.

Unique.jpg

 

I’m the kind of person that tries to respond to all comments (good or bad), but I’ll not carry on a lengthy debate and waste my time with someone who’s main objective is just to argue just for the sake of it.

Trust me, most of the posts on this person’s Twitter page proves he/she just trolls the internet and social media to make negative comments.

Move on and troll elsewhere!

BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTERS, PLEASE READ (AND COMMENT)

Voters in California and New Jersey, two very delegate-rich states, head to the polls Tuesday, June 7th.

From a mathematical standpoint, Hillary Clinton will almost certainly become the presumptive nominee for the Democratic party.

Hillary AP

In full disclosure, if you’re reading my blog for the first time, I’m a Hillary Clinton supporter.  However, I’m not writing today to boast or gloat.

I’m trying to understand things from the perspective of a Bernie Sanders supporter and I want your diplomatic feedback.  But, first, here’s a little set-up to my questions.

Much to my chagrin back in 2008, after a long fight, Hillary dropped out of the race and fully supported Senator Barack Obama in his successful bid for president that November.

In a perfect world, we’d have more than two parties choosing candidates with a real chance of being elected president.  If we had three or four strong, viable parties fighting for the job, the House and Senate would work for the people and with the president to get things done.  Now, it’s just say the opposite of what the other side is saying!

If this was the case, Sanders could run as an independent and he’d likely be on the ballot in November in a race on equal footing with the other candidates.

This election season (especially lately), there’s been a lot of talk about the “superdelegates” having the power to choose the nominee.  That’s a realistic part of the process now, as it was in 2008 and many elections before that. Should that part of the election process change?  Probably.

Also, I wish that every state and territory had primaries and we’d totally do away with caucuses.  We should be able to go into the booth and choose the candidate we want.  We shouldn’t have to argue and debate it in a room full of people.  Let the candidates debate and just let us vote.

DEM 2016 Debate

Thus far in the race for the Democratic nomination, I’ve been mature and I’ve taken the high road not to personally bash Senator Sanders.  However, since we’re being honest, it’s getting harder and harder and I’m very frustrated with his mean-spirited rhetoric lately.  I know he wants to win and I know you want him to win and aren’t happy with the way it’s turning out.

Now, Bernie supporters, here’s what I want to know — at what point do you think that he should move toward backing Hillary since he’s running on the Democratic ticket?  After California and New Jersey?  Before the Democratic National Convention?  At the convention?

I’ve also heard, “I’d rather not vote than to vote for her”.  How many of you would actually want Donald Trump to be president if it isn’t Sanders?  Doesn’t that fly in the face of everything that Bernie stands for?

I want to hear what you have to say — as long as you’re diplomatic!

MURDERED ZOO GORILLA

Unless you’ve been on vacation or living under a rock, I know you’ve heard of the incident at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden last weekend.

A 3-year-old child crawled through the barrier and then fell twelve feet into the gorilla enclosure.

Zoo officials, fearing for the life of the child, shot and killed Harambe, the 17-year-old silverback gorilla.

The way the incident was handled has sparked outrage online.  Hundreds of thousands of people have signed a petition wanting the boy’s parents to be held criminally responsible.

A witness, Kimberley Ann Perkins O’Connor, told CNN that she overheard the boy joking to his mother about going into the water and the next thing you know, he was inside the exhibit with the gorilla.

But, Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard stands by the decision to kill the gorilla, “That child’s life was in danger. People who question that don’t understand you can’t take a risk with a silverback gorilla — this is a dangerous animal.  He adds, “Looking back, we’d make the same decision. The child is safe.”

Famed zookeeper Jack Hanna agrees “1,000 percent” with the zoo’s decision.

Watching the (frightening, at times) video, I fully believe the gorilla felt it was protecting the child.  However, I don’t know the nature of gorillas and it could have ended up hurting or killing the child with all of the commotion going on.

I know that “kids are kids” and that they can be elusive, but you can’t tell me that the mother was fully in control of that child.  Should she go to jail?  No.  Should there be some penalty?  Yes!  How about community service at the zoo?

What do you think?  Was the right decision made to shoot and kill the gorilla with a rifle instead of tranquilizing him?  Should the parents face any criminal charges — neglect or child endangerment?

AIN’T YOUR MAMA

I’m ready for my next trip to Las Vegas in late July.  I can’t believe it’s been over a year since we were there.  During that trip, we ate plenty of great food and enjoyed many mimosas.

Since 2012, we’ve seen Elton John, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Olivia Newton-John, Shania Twain, and, last year, Bette Midler in Vegas.

Bette

This time, I’m working to get my hands on tickets to see one of the sexiest women ever (okay, maybe not “one of the sexiest”, but “the sexiest”), Jennifer Lopez.

JLo All I Have Vegas

J. Lo danced her way onto the entertainment scene as a “Fly Girl” on Fox’s “In Living Color” in the early-1990s, endeared herself to movie and Tejano music fans playing slain international singer Selena in the 1997 hit movie, “Selena”, and then blasted to the top of the music charts in 1999 with her first international hit, “If You Had My Love”.

She’s back with a fun dance song with a strong feminist point of view.

“Ain’t Your Mama” even features a very powerful message from former Secretary of State (and possibly the next president of the United States) Hillary Clinton, “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s right are human rights once and for all.”

“Ain’t Your Mama” is already a Top Ten hit in Finland, Hungary, Lebanon, and Spain.  Here is the U.S., it’s finally cracking the airplay charts at Top 40 radio.

I can’t wait to go back and listen to all of J. Lo’s music (and not just the songs she performs in the “All I Have” Las Vegas show at The Axis Planet Hollywood) and rank my favorites.  I’ll post that in July before I see the incredible show!

PICK HIT

As we near the halfway point of 2016, “Matter”, the latest album from the New York City-based synth-pop band St. Lucia, is one of my favorites of the year.

st-lucia-matter-new-albumThe band makes dance music that sounds new and refreshingly 1980s at the same time.

I reviewed the album back in February giving it an “A”.

Here’s what I said then, “Most of the eleven songs on his second album are very upbeat and very synth-heavily.

My favorites are “Dancing on Glass” (which I’m sharing with you),”Home”, “Rescue Me”, and “Physical”, which is very energetic, but ends very chill.  “The Winds of Change” is very similar in composition — higher beats-per-minute, but ends chill.

“Help Me Run Away” is so retro in feeling that it makes me giddy every time I hear it.”

And, I’m even more giddy now because St. Lucia just released “Help Me Run Away”, which was co-written by Jack Antonoff of fun. and Bleachers, as the next single and video.

If you haven’t heard of them and you need a fantastic album to get you through summer, grab “Matter” now.

The band is getting ready to embark on a nationwide tour that kicks off next week and runs through late October.

In October, they’ll be playing in Des Moines, Iowa, which is just three hours from the Quad Cities.  I just might have to drive in, see the show, and drive back home just in time to go into work for the graveyard shift! 🙂

PICK HIT BONUS — COUNTRY STYLE

Canadian country music star Brett Kissel now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and has opened for some of the biggest names in the business like Garth Brooks.  However, here in the U.S., he’s probably unknown outside of the Nashville music circles.  I hope that changes soon.

Since his 2013 debut album, “Started with a Song”, generated five Top Ten Canadian Country songs, he’s moved into superstar status there with his second album, “Pick Me Up”, which arrived last fall.

Brett Kissel

It produced his first #1 song, “Airwaves” and the Top Ten follow-up, the title track.

His new single, “Cool With That”, is out now and it’s racing toward the Top Ten in Canada.  I’m featuring it as my pick hit today and I hope this is the one that introduces him to American country radio.

If you’d like to know more about Brett and his music, here’s a blog from February.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/american-country-radio-needs-brett-kissel/

MORE ST. LUCIA

How about a bonus track from “Matter” and St. Lucia?

THAT’S IT

As always, I appreciate you taking time out of your day to check out my random thoughts and I value your opinions, too.  We can disagree, as long as it’s diplomatic.

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

 

 

 

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Random Friday Thoughts — March 4, 2016

I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to imagine that it’s already March.

Spring will be here in a couple of weeks and after the warmth last weekend and the snow earlier this week in the Midwest, I’m ready for it.

As always, I appreciate you checking out my random thoughts.  Feel free to share your thoughts and if we disagree, do it diplomatically.

SAD PARENTING!

I know this happens much more than people know — a kid tells their parents they’re gay or the parents find out and either kicks them out onto the streets or severs ties with them.

Promoting his autobiography, “Master of Ceremonies”, 83-year-old Oscar winning actor Joel Grey (“Cabaret”) tells “Entertainment Weekly” about telling his parents when he was a teenager that he’d had an affair with a man.

Grey says, “When I told my mother, I remember reaching out to her, and she said, ‘Don’t ever touch me again, you disgust me.’  It was one of the worst moments of my life.  Secrets became necessary.”

I know people have hang ups with LGBT people, but I’ll never understand, as a gay man and as a parent, how a mother or father (or grandparent) could say that to their child.  If you could or have done that and have no regrets, please “unfriend” me now!

“AMY” WINS AN OSCAR, BUT NOT EVERYONE IS HAPPY

The documentary, “Amy”, by director Asif Kapadia walked away with an Academy Award Sunday night for “Best Documentary Feature”.

I saw it and it’s an insightful piece on the rise, fall, and death of five-time Grammy Award winning singer Amy Winehouse, who died in 2011 at the age of 27 from alcohol poisoning.

At one point, the director had the support of the Winehouse family, but then they had a change of heart and spoke out publicly about how the documentary portrayed Amy and the family.

Amy’s father, Mitch, said this after the Sunday night win, “I am not changing my stance just because film won Oscar.  It’s a negative, spiteful, and misleading portrayal of Amy.  We will fix this.”

It’s been almost five years and it’s time for the Winehouse family to move on it.  The documentary is much nicer about Amy’s life and death than some of the things I’ve heard in the past few years.

SUPER TUESDAY AFTERMATH

If you follow politics, you already know that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were the big winners from “Super Tuesday”, even as Bernie Sanders won four states, Ted Cruz three, and Marco Rubio eked out a win in Minnesota.

Here’s how Nate Silver, the editor-in-chief of the website FiveThirtyEight and considered the ultimate expert in politics and presidential election predictions, summed up the night.

Nate.jpg

After last Tuesday and the debate Thursday night, I don’t know what Trump could possible say to offend anyone he hasn’t already and not secure the Republican nomination.

APTOPIX DEM 2016 Debate

As for Democratic race, Clinton is winning big states and in big numbers and is on track to secure her party’s nomination.

Harry Enten, a senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight, sums up that race like this:

“Sanders, perhaps not surprisingly, has indicated that he’ll continue to fight for votes across the country. But for every win he may get in mostly white states, Clinton will be marching toward the nomination with likely victories in states such as Michigan and Florida. The math indicates that Clinton eventually will win the nomination with relative ease.”

SCRUFF APP USERS MAKE THEIR PICK

If you follow politics, you see all of the polling from different organizations on Real Clear Politics (RCP).  I can say I haven’t seen any results from Scruff, the gay app hook-up site listed on RCP.

But, a poll was conducted and 72% of guys who responded classified themselves as Democrats.  Only 9% claimed to be Republicans with 16% listed as Independents.

president-hillary

Of the more than 10-thousand Democratic respondents, 63% supported Hillary Clinton compared to 31% for Bernie Sanders.  6% were still undecided.

Trump

Of the smaller Republican group, 38% picked Donald Trump, 19% Marco Rubio, 9% John Kasich 6% Ted Cruz, and only 2% for Ben Carson, in last place.

And, just think, this poll came out before Trump made sure we know that his endowment is not small, in reference to Rubio making a small hands reference last week.  Ewwwww!

What

Another prime example to prove he’s not presidential material.

ELTON’S ON A RAMPAGE (AGAIN)

One of the greatest entertainers in music is back with a new album.  Okay, I should say “The Bitch Is Back”.

Elton John just released his 32nd studio album, “Wonderful Crazy Night”.  It debuted at #8 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart and dropped precipitously the following week.

That happens with highly anticipated album.  It doesn’t reflect on how good or bad an album is, it’s more of an indication that Top 40 radio doesn’t play songs from the album.

So, with new music to promote, it’s time for Elton to ruffle some feathers.

Elton

It seems like a lifetime ago when he ripped on Madonna accusing her of lip-syncing in her concerts in 2004 and, in 2012, his husband, David Furnish, blasted Madonna after Elton lost to her at the Golden Globes.

Elton says now, “I probably went too far with Madonna and I got very personal and I wrote her – she was very gracious”.

MadonnaGoldenGlobe

Now, his venon is directed to “No, my first name ain’t baby.  It’s Janet, Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty.”

JanetJackson_Standard-2

Elton tells “Rolling Stone”, “You know, f*cking music magazines writing a review of Janet Jackson saying, ‘This is the greatest show – four and a half stars.’  It’s f*cking lip-synced.  Hello!  That’s not a show!  I’d rather go and see a drag queen.  F*ck off!”

Elton LasVegas

Madonna

As for the feuds and the talent, Elton, I saw you in concert in Las Vegas in 2012 the night before I saw Madonna and both of you were incredible.

Chill out!

JANET JACKSON — MY DEFENSE

This past fall, I saw Janet on her “Unbreakable World Tour” in Omaha, Nebraska, and the show dazzled me.

You’d think if it was “lip-synced”, you wouldn’t have heard her cough at the end of one song!

JanetJackson

The European leg of that tour picks up again in late March and she returns to the United States this May for the North American leg.

She’ll be playing right here in the Quad Cities, in Moline, Illinois, at the iWireless Center, and I’d highly recommend you see the show.

Here’s a video from the Omaha show.

And, here’s what I have to say about the concert:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/janet-jacksons-unbreakable-world-tour-dazzles/

“BATES MOTEL” RETURNS & SO DOES “DAMIEN”

The fourth season of the incredible “Bates Motel” returns Monday night, March 7th, on A&E.

We’ll see Norman (Freddie Highmore) descend deeper into madness to take on the persona of his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga), who’s also losing it.

After that, stick around for the premiere of “Damien”, the return of the evil child from the 1976 motion picture, “The Omen”.

Hot English actor Bradley James, plays Damien, now a 30-year-old photographer who has forgotten his Satanic past.

It’s from the creator of “The Walking Dead” and also stars Scott Wilson, who played Hershel Greene on “Dead”.

ADELE SAYS NO TO MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS

Adele is one of the biggest stars on the planet.

She’s won more Grammys than she can carry and she’ll likely cash in again early in 2017 when “25” sweeps the awards just as her as her last album, “21”, did.

adele

She’s already had two smash hits from her new album, “Hello” and “When We Were Young” and the third single will likely be announced soon.

But, thankfully, “she graciously passed” when Macklemore and Ryan Lewis asked her to lend vocals on “Growing Up” from their new album.

That song made my list of “worst songs” of 2015.  Sadly, Ed Sheeran stepped in for Adele.

PICK HIT

In May, we’ll be seeing Ellie Goulding and Years & Years in concert in Rosemont, Illinois, on the “Delirium World Tour” to support Ellie’s latest album.

I’ve been a fan of hers since long before “Lights” became a huge hit in America in 2011.

Last year, the English trio, Years & Years released “Communion”, which was my second favorite album of 2015.

Ellie’s latest hit, “Something in the Way You Move” is one of my favorite songs out right now and is already one of the 20 most played songs on Top 40 radio.

And, if you’re not familiar with Years & Years, here’s more on “Communion”.  Check out the blog I featured last summer which features more songs from the album.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/years-years-communion-is-definitely-king/

THAT’S IT

Have a great first weekend of March.

I’m going to enjoy the nice weather, have some great food and drinks, watch some movies, catch up on my television shows, and check out this weekend’s caucuses and primaries.

Feel free to comment on any of my topics today.

Anthony

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.

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

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

MISSING NASHVILLE

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

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