Posts Tagged ‘Glee’

Random Friday Thoughts — February 2, 2018

In life, we’re lucky if we’re blessed with good health, prosperity, happiness, and love.

As we go through “real life”, some or all of those things are taken away.

In my random thoughts today, I honor my one true unconditional love — the one that brought me so much joy and happiness.

STILL MISS MY SWEET GIRL

This week marks six years now that my golden retriever, Miss ABBA, crossed over the rainbow bridge.  She was a few months shy of turning 12.

We traveled down many roads together.  From the llama farm in Ohio where she was born to swimming in Lake Michigan when we lived in Chicago to the salty waters of the Atlantic Ocean on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and then back to the cold, snowy Midwestern winters in the Quad Cities, Miss ABBA loved it all and she loved life!

This is her contribution to storm clean up after a derecho (a fast-moving, widespread, intense line of wind) moved through Iowa and Illinois in 2008.  In Moline, Illinois, 94 mph winds brought destruction and power outages for days.

ABBADerecho1

This is Miss ABBA enjoying her last snow just days before that fateful day in 2012.

This was part of a calendar in her memory — “Miss ABBA’s 12 Christmases”.

ABBA Christmas Card 001

As I was lying on the bed comforting ABBA on those final two days, these words just came to me and I put them on paper.

While I’m not a poet, I still love this — my goodbye to Miss ABBA!

ABBA letter 001

 

The fog hangs in the air shrouding the light, not only in the sky, but in your eyes

You look lost and just want to sleep with me close by your side

 

I listen to you breathe and each breath sounds deeper

Is it the end or just a peaceful sleep

 

As I caress your neck and shoulder blades,

You snore even louder as I try harder to hold back the tears

 

I don’t want you to hear me cry,

I want you to let go and not fight for me

 

You’ve been there for me all your life

And I want to be there for you now, my love.

 

My best friend — ABBA (May 22, 2000-February 3, 2012)

This is one of my favorite pictures taken of Miss ABBA in her last month with us…

ABBAFashionShowJan2012

… and this one was one of the funniest back in the day! 🙂

ABBAJuly2010

Reading that poem brought tears to my eyes again, but seeing this goofy picture is making me smile. 🙂

Miss ABBA, thank you for the memories!

ALSO, MR. PANDA

Mr. Panda, our blind shar-pei buddy that we housed for periods of times over the past years, crossed the “Rainbow Bridge” one year ago this week, too.

ABBAPanda

The beautiful and strong little guy was almost 14!

As you may recall, he lived in Chicago, was a rescue, and lost his eyesight many years ago to glaucoma. Even though he spent the last half of his life sightless, he was still a happy, loving, crazy little critter!

WINTER OLYMPICS — GO GUS!!!!!!

Okay, if that last picture of Miss ABBA didn’t make you smile, this might.

This month, when our athletes go to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, we should all support them.

I’m totally “behind” 26-year-old British born-American silver medalist (2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi) freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy! 🙂

snowy gus

Now, who’s complaining about winter and snow??? 🙂

I hope he wins more medals this year.  Even if he doesn’t, he flies the rainbow flag proudly for the LGBT community!

Okay, can you tell I’m crushing on him? It’s all innocent because he has a boyfriend — actor Matt Wilkas (“Gayby”) !

Gus Matt

THIS MAKES ME SMILE, TOO!

The new country-tinged dance hit, “Dancing”, from Kylie Minogue came out Wednesday and I can’t stop watching it!

She looks so glamorous in her sequins!

The new album, “Golden” arrives April 6, 2018!

REMEMBERING KAREN CARPENTER

It was 35 years ago this weekend that superstar Karen Carpenter died of heart failure brought on from years of battling the eating disorder, anorexia nervosa.

It was a sad day and it still is because I idolized The Carpenters as a kid and I still love their music.

karen carpenterpeople

While eating disorders mainly affect girls and women, I’ve been very open and vocal about my battle with bulimia.

With all the images we see in the entertainment world of size zero women and men with their washboard abs, we need to be honest that those are unrealistic goals for most people.

Karen

On the Billboard Hot 100, The Carpenters scored 20 hits with 11 of them reaching the Top 5, including three #1s:  “(They Long To Be) Close To You” (1970, four weeks), “Top of the World” (1973, two weeks), and “Please Mr. Postman” (1975).

However, Karen and Richard were even bigger on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts.  They scored 32 hits.  Of those, 15 topped the charts and three more reached #2!

In honor of The Carpenters, I’m sharing my five favorite songs.

#5 “RAINY DAYS & MONDAYS”

#4 “WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN”

#3 CD

#2 “MERRY CHRISTMAS, DARLING”

#1 CD

top of the world

“THE ALIENIST”

You know I love “The X-Files”.  However, “The Alienist” is not about those “aliens”.

An “alienist” is someone who works with those with mental illness, those that have been “alienated” from society.

Caleb Carr’s book, “The Alienist”, came out in 1994 and I’ve owned the book for many years, yet I haven’t read it.

Now it’s an 10-episode TNT series that debuted last week and the production values are first rate.  TNT is spent a reported $5 million on each episode — that’s as much as some movies.  And, trust me, each episode looks like a mini-movie.

After seeing the first two episodes, let me say that it’s an incredibly acted series, but definitely not for the faint-hearted.

“The Alienist” is a psychological thriller.  It’s 1896 in New York City and a serial killer is on the loose.  The victims are boy prostitutes, some dressed as girls.

Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Bruhl), a criminal psychologist, John Moore (Luke Evans), a newspaper artist, and Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning), a secretary at the police headquarters under newly appointed police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt, are investigating the gruesome murders since “criminal psychology” isn’t a thing yet.

GRADE:  A

OTHER PHENOMENAL RECOMMENDATIONS FROM “THE ALIENIST” DIRECTOR

“The Alienist” is directed by sexy Belgian Jakob Verbruggen.

Jakob

He’s also directed three of my favorite shows:  “The Fall” (with Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan),  “House of Cards”, and “London Spy” (with Ben Whishaw).

If you’ve never seen the fantastic and creepy “The Fall” (three seasons — 17 episodes)…

or the incredible and heartbreaking “London Spy” (5 episodes), do so now!

“THE ASSASSINATION OF GIANNI VERSACE:  AMERICAN CRIME STORY”

If you’re not watching this, start!

I’m beginning my thoughts with Wednesday night’s stunning third episode and working backwards.

The most recent episode was about Chicago real estate developer Lee Miglin’s murder, Andrew Cunanan’s third victim.

Judith Light plays Miglin’s wife, Marilyn, the owner of a cosmetics and perfume company and a star on the Home Shopping Network.

Miglin

When Emmy nominations are announced later this year, I can see Light getting a nomination along with Darren Criss (more on him later).

Lee Miglin was played by Mike Farrell of television’s “M*A*S*H” fame!

After I watched this episode, I didn’t even delete it because it was so powerful that I might watch it again!!!

EPISODE THREE GRADE:  A+

The latest FX series from Ryan Murphy, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” is now three episodes into its nine-episode run.

It focuses on the murder of fashion designer Versace, how his family reacted to the senseless killing, and the manhunt for the shooter.

However, it drives home how homophobia in the police investigation let Andrew Cunanan’s killing spree go on long enough for Versace to become the most famous victim. After all, it was mostly just “gay people” being killed!

sarcasm

“Glee” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” star Darren Criss is incredible as Cunanan.  This role is giving him a great opportunity to go the dark side!

GRADE:  B+

INTERESTING TIDBITS

The Versace family is calling the series “a work of fiction”.

Yet, Ryan Murphy and FX are standing behind its accuracy and the validity of Maureen Orth’s 1999 book, “Vulgar Favors:  Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History”, which it’s based.  The Versace family was against the book, too, when it came out.

In Italy, where the Versace family lives, the series is so popular, its ratings are higher than “Game of Thrones”!

RYAN MURPHY ON THE SHOW’S TIMING

Fox's 62nd Annual Emmy Award Nominees Celebration

Ryan Murphy tells “Entertainment Weekly” that after the 2016 presidential election, there couldn’t be a better time for this series to air.

Murphy:  “I think it’s the perfect timing based on this president we have.  I felt there was so much progress in terms of gay rights and rights for any marginalized groups of people [under Obama] .  Suddenly it felt like Trump is inaugurated and the door closed and there’s fear again and they’re trying to take away everything we fought for.  This a bracing cold slap against the policies that the current government has.”

#Resistance

ANTHONY AS CUNANAN — BY ACCIDENT

I had my own small brush with Cunanan notoriety working as the weekend news anchor in Lubbock, Texas, in 1997.

The search for Cunanan was one of the biggest stories that summer.

Without thinking about it, the newscast was produced with me reading the story of Miami’s search for the suspected spree killer since I had a phone interview with a friend that lived in the city.

Cunanan

We used an “OTS” (over the shoulder) of Cunanan and then we started getting phone calls about the eerie similarities.  See for yourself! 🙂

“IT”

While I never saw the original television version of “It” with Tim Curry, I finally got around to seeing 2017’s movie version that’s made $700 million worldwide!

It was enjoyable and creepy.

While I expected the paper sailboat scene to end badly, how it went down surprised me and set the mood for the movie.

On a lighter note, the cussing teenagers and all the New Kids on the Block references cracked me up!

GRADE: B+

A sequel “It: Chapter Two” is scheduled to hit theaters in September 2019!

ALTERNATIVE “IT”

And, for a scarier (humorous) look at “It” and “Kellywise”.

snl kellyanne

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

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Random Friday Thoughts — January 19, 2018

I hope you’ve had a good week.

I appreciate those of you that have taken the time to read my three blogs I’ve shared in 2018.  I’ve expressed many times that I love writing and it’s like therapy for me — it gives me an avenue vent about things and share thoughts.

So, as long as a certain number of people click on and read my blogs (yes, I get the stats and I have a threshold I want to reach), I’ll keep sharing.

Have a great weekend and read on…

 

2018 RFT

F.B.I. THOUGHTS

Thanks to James Comey and many failures on behalf of the F.B.I. (Federal Bureau of Investigations), these days I’m only liking fictional FBI agents like Fox Mulder and Dana Scully…

Gillian David The X-Files

Clarice Starling…

Capture2

and Holden Ford on Netflix’s “Mindhunter”, played the adorable and sexy Jonathan Groff!

Capture2.PNG

GOVERNMENT, OBSTRUCTIONISTS, AND CULTS

I believe that the U.S. government, for all the good it does for the American people, is corrupt and harbors many secrets — secrets that started way before Roswell and Area 51.

It also scares me when groups of people, in the name of God and religion, put their faith in people claiming to be prophets that speak for the Lord.

Yes, those two meet in this thought today.

Recently, I watched the excellent recent ABC special, “Truth and Lies: Waco” about the early 1993, 51-day standoff between Branch Davidians cult leader David Koresh and the FBI and the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives).

Koresh

It all started on February 28, 1993, when the U.S. government stormed the compound.  On that day, 4 government agents and 6 Branch Davidians died.

Talks between Koresh (who told negotiators that his last name meant “death”) and hostage negotiators went on for weeks.

And, then after 51 days, on April 19, 1993, the government told Koresh that they were not going to fire weapons on the compound, but they were going to flood the buildings with tear gas.

On that windy day, a fire almost certainly started by Koresh (which is disputed), quickly spread killing a total of 76 Branch Davidians, including the cult leader.

Waco fire

The bottom line is that the Waco siege was a complete failure by the U.S. Government, under the watch of Attorney General Janet Reno and President Bill Clinton.

But, when you have a doomsday cult preparing for the end of the world with a stockpile of weapons and a leader with a propensity for child molestation and many wives, you have to draw the line somewhere.

One person who saw the government as the evil villain at Waco was Timothy McVeigh.

1995-oklahoma-city-bombing-timothy-mcveigh

Two years to the day of the Branch Davidian fire, he blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City killing 168 people and hurting more than 600 others.

He’s definitely not alone.  I spent almost a year in Lubbock, Texas, in the late-1990s, and I remember covering a meeting at a local restaurant. It was an anti-government group that wanted Texas to secede from the United States. The story never made air.

RELIOUS CULTS

While I pray every night and I have since I was a child, I don’t believe in organized religion.

With that being said, I sure as hell cannot wrap my head around people giving up their lives and their freedom to follow cult leader like Koresh and Jim Jones.

In November 1978, Jones convinced over 900 followers in his Peoples Temple (many were American and 304 were children) to kill themselves in a mass murder-suicide by drinking poisoned Grape Kool-Aid in Jonestown, Guyana.

Jonestown-kool-aid

Ironically, early on in my time in Lubbock, I also covered the local angle of the “Heaven’s Gate” cult.

On March 26, 1997, police in California found the bodies of 39 cult members that had killed themselves thinking they were going to reach an extraterrestrial spaceship following Comet Hale-Bop!

FAKE NEWS?  IT’S FROM THE AP!

ap exam

OPRAH FOR PRESIDENT

As much as I like Oprah Winfrey and as much as I dislike “that man”, a 2020 presidential run for the former media mogul and news anchor is not something I’m behind.

oprah

(*Oh Lord, did I have to say the word “behind”, it made me think of the picture posted above!*)

Could she do the job much better than the <insert your own term here> in the White House now?  Without a doubt and with much more integrity and with much less effort.

However, politics is such a farce now that I wouldn’t want her to get into that fray!

“9-1-1”

The dynamic producing-directing-writing team of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk is back with a new hit, “9-1-1”, and it’s incredible.

As you likely know, they’re behind the critical hits, “Nip/Tuck”, “Glee”, “American Horror Story”, and “American Crime Story”, and the one miss, “Scream Queens”.

When I first saw the trailers for “9-1-1”, now on its third episode on Fox, it looked promising.

However, I thought it’d be very easy for all the calls that Los Angeles first responders (9-1-1 operators, cops, firefighters, and paramedics) navigate to become tiresome very quickly.

The reason that didn’t happen is that while the show does show how each situation is handled, the calls (and tragedies) are not drawn out for the entire hour!

The show focuses on the personal lives of those putting their lives on the line (mentally and physically).

Connie Britton is Abby, the 9-1-1 operator, Peter Krause is a fire department Captain, and Angela Bassett is a tough as nails patrol Sargent.

Earlier this week, Fox renewed “9-1-1” for a second season — after just airing two episodes!

And, while I think Krause is SAF, the entire cast is hot!

911-cast-portrait

NBC’s “The Brave”, you have sexy competition!

For God &amp; Country - Season Pilot

“BATTLE OF THE SEXES”

When watching movies like Kathryn Bigelow’s “Detroit”, my #4 movie of 2017, about police brutality by white cops toward the black community and “Battle of the Sexes”, about sexism and unequal pay between men and women in the same profession, I’m glad those things from the 1960s and 1970s don’t exist today!

sarcasm

Oscar winner Emma Stone and Academy Award nominee Steve Carrell star as tennis legends Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in this drama about the 1973 televised tennis match between the sexes.

Tennis is played in the movie and, of course, we see that infamous match play out on ABC.  However, the movie is more about King and her relationship with her husband and her hairdresser and Riggs and his family and his gambling problem.

It also handles sexism and pay inequality well, along with Australian champion Margaret Court’s blatant homophobic attitude toward King in the 1970s.  Well, as an old coot down under today, that hate is still very much alive since she says “tennis is full of lesbians”!

GRADE:  A-

EMMA STONE AND BILLIE JEAN KINGbillie

In “Out” magazine in August 2017, Stone talked about where King and women were in the 1970s and where we are today “with a narcissistic, self-focused, constantly-stirring-the-pot kind of guy — again this incredible, qualified woman, and at the same time be playing Billie Jean King…”

Stone adds, “Obviously the way this has all panned out has been fascinating and horrifying, and it still feels like we’re in a bad dream, but those parallels make sense to me — the equal-pay issue makes a lot of sense to me.  At our best right now we’re making 80 cents to the dollar.”

“PHILADELPHIA FREEDOM”

“Philadelphia Freedom” became Elton John’s  11th Top Ten hit and fourth #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975.

While it’s not a “tennis” song, its title honors Elton’s friend Billie Jean King and her tennis team, the “Philadelphia Freedoms”.

PICK HIT

My future ex-boyfriend (I hope Anna doesn’t mind), Enrique Iglesias is back with new music.

I like the song and he still looks amazing.

I can’t wait for the follow-up to “Sex+Love”, my #1 album of 2014.

By the way, I saw Enrique in concert and he was incredible.

2020 DEMOCRATIC TICKET

Since a potential Oprah run for the White House is making its round in the 24-hour news cycle, I’m throwing this out.

While it won’t happen, they have a year to make nice and find common ground.

Here is the ticket I’d like to see to take on the 2020 Republican nominee for president.

DEM 2016 Debate

I don’t care which one leads the ticket!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Good News About AIDS Deaths & “The Normal Heart”

In New York City, for the first time since 1983, AIDS is no longer on the list of the Top Ten causes of death.

STOP AIDS

In 2012, there were 609 deaths from AIDS.  That is still 609 too many!

One year earlier, there were 766 deaths, which ranked AIDS as the 9th leading cause of deaths in New York City.

Health Commissioner Mary Bassett says that better treatment is allowing people to live longer.

Also, here’s some other great news out of the “Big Apple”.  The number of new HIV cases has dropped there unlike other parts of the United States where the number of cases of men who have sex with men is still rising.

While that’s very encouraging, people must also remember that people are still getting infected with HIV and AIDS is still killing people.  It hasn’t gone away.

“THE NORMAL HEART”

78-year-old activist and author Larry Kramer was one of the most vocal advocates in the 1980s to make government officials aware of the HIV/AIDS pandemic that was killing so many gay men and he forced them to take it seriously.

Larry Kramer

Kramer was the founder of the political action protest group, ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, in 1987.

A few years before he wrote “The Normal Heart” and it played Off Broadway in 1985.  It’s now an upcoming HBO movie by “American Horror Story” and “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy.

The Normal Heart HBO

In the movie, Mark Ruffalo plays Ned Weeks, a writer and HIV/AIDS activist that chose loud public confrontations to quiet private meetings, just like the real-life Kramer.

“The Normal Heart” also stars Matt Bomer, Julia Roberts, Alec Baldwin, Jim Parsons, Jonathan Groff, and Taylor Kitsch.

It premiers on HBO on May 25, 2014.

Anthony

Re-posted from March 21, 2014:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/random-friday-thoughts-march-21-2014/

More “Looking” Coming Our Way

Great news!  “Looking” has been renewed for a second season.

Ratings have improved from 338,000 viewers for the premiere to 519,000, according to Winq Magazine.

Here’s what I had to say about it in my random blog last Friday.

“LOOKING”

The eight episode, HBO series, “Looking”, is about three gay friends in San Francisco looking to find themselves and love.

Looking

It stars Jonathan Groff, who is best known for his Tony Award-nominated and Grammy Award winning role on Broadway in “Spring Awakening” and on “Glee” as Jesse St. James.

He also voices the character of Kristoff in the worldwide Disney smash, “Frozen”.

Frozen

“Looking” has been criticized as “boring” and lacking diversity, even with one of the leads and a major recurring character being Hispanic.

I love the show.  It’s funny and it’s sexy.  My only gripe is that there’s only eight episodes and they’re only 30 minutes long!

Here’s the trailer and remember that it’s HBO, so there are so are some adult themes.

I have to admit that I have a crush on Patrick, Groff’s character.  Or, maybe I just have a crush on Groff?

Looking

“Looking” season one is airing now.  Season two will begin shooting this fall.

Anthony

Re-posted from  “Random Friday Thoughts — February 21, 2014

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/random-friday-thoughts-february-21-2014/

Random Friday Thoughts — December 27, 2013

I hope you had a very Merry Christmas and that Santa was good to you.  This is my last “Random Friday Thoughts” blog of 2013, so “Happy New Year” early!

“LIFESTYLE” OR “CHOICE”

Last week, a can of worms about the First Amendment was opened when “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson made anti-gay comments to “GQ” magazine.  It caused A&E to indefinitely suspend Robertson.

phil-robertson-p11

My comments today are not about that ordeal, but I’ll re-post the link if you want to read what I wrote about “Duck Dynasty”, being gay, and God last Friday.  It was one of my most viewed blogs of the year!

In the dialogue following my blog and the fallout about the suspension, one woman started badgering me about the “gay lifestyle”.

I responded that being gay is not a “choice” or a “lifestyle”.  As for “choice”, LGBT people don’t normally go around asking straight people when they “chose” to be straight.

And, being gay is just one facet of who I am.  It’s my life and not a “lifestyle”, but she wouldn’t drop it and even posted a dictionary definition of “lifestyle” for me!

So, if you insist that being gay is a lifestyle, this pretty much sums it up.

gay-lifestyle

Sound familiar?

Last Friday’s blog about the “Duck Dynasty” uproar:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/eventually-all-dynasties-fall/

BRISTOL PALIN ON ROBERTSON & THE LGBT COMMUNITY

Since I’ve blogged about Bristol Palin and her views before, here’s what she’s saying about “Duck Dynasty” and the LGBT community in her blog post, “Leave Phil Robertson Alone”.

Bristol Palin Crying

“I think it’s so hypocritical how the LGBT community expects every single flippen person to agree with their life style. This flies in the face of what makes America great – people can have their own beliefs and own opinions and their own ways of life. Everyone needs to treat others like God would, with love. It goes both ways. I hate how the LGBT community says it’s all about ‘love’ and ‘equality.’ However, if you don’t agree with their lifestyle, they spread the most hate. It is so hypocritical it makes my stomach turn.”

ONE MORE PALIN RESPONSE

Another Robertson defender was Bristol’s mother, failed Alaska Governor and Vice President wannabe Sarah Palin.

sarah palin

Last week, Palin was defending Robertson on her Facebook page, “Free speech is an endangered species. Those ‘intolerants’ hatin and taking on the ‘Duck Dynasty’ patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.”  However, now she admits that she didn’t even read his comments to “GQ” magazine to even know what he said!

On Fox News Channel’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren”, when pressed about the graphic nature of Robertson’s comments, Palin admits, “I haven’t read the article … I don’t know exactly how he said it.”

I have one thing to say:  read first before you spout off in his (or anyone’s) defense!  But, then again, consider the source….

SURPRISE “GLEE”FUL WEDDING

A couple of months ago, I blogged that 49-year-old actress Dot-Marie Jones, who plays Coach Shannon Beiste on “Glee”, proposed to her girlfriend of three years, Bridgett Casteen.

Bridgett and Dot-Marie

The couple invited family and friends to their Los Angeles home last Saturday for a holiday party.  When the guests arrived, they were then told it was a secret wedding ceremony!

Congratulations Dot-Marie and Bridgett!

IPOD BOY

While it’s a few years old, Preston Leatherman still makes me smile and hit “replay” with his dancing with an ipod in public version of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”.  Watch and tell me you’re not smiling!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT  — WINTER VERSION

Snowman Eats KidSnow Cone Stand  Snowman Life in Prison

BEYONCE

Beyonce has been struggling to find that next big hit on pop radio following many misfires.  That may have changed with her new single, “XO”, which is already racing up the Top 40 radio airplay charts.

Bey did something unheard of recently when she released her new self-titled album, “Beyonce”.  There was advance notice, no hype, and she released it exclusively to iTunes.

Beyonce-Album-Cover-750x400

It paid off in a big way.  In just the first three days, the album was downloaded 617,000 times and it debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart.  (Worldwide, it sold more than 800,000 copies in those first three days.)

In its second week with a full week of sales, it sold an additional 374,000 copies in the U.S.  That’s a total of almost a million copies in just ten days!

However, the exclusivity to iTunes in those first few days ticked off other music retailers.  Target and amazon.com are refusing to carry the album, but something tells me that Beyonce isn’t losing any sleep over it.

THE BIBLE

I recently saw the movie, “C.O.G.”, which stands for “Children of God”, starring Jonathan Groff, who will be appearing in the new HBO series, “Looking” next month.

C.O.G.

It’s based on the life of writer David Sedaris.  While there were many funny lines in the drama, here is the scene that made me fall over with laughter.

“The Bible says”… “I know what the Bible says”… “Then what’s your problem with it?”… “It’s poorly written!”

SINCE WE’RE TALKING RELIGION AND HUMOR

Christian

PICK HIT

17-year-old Dutch DJ/producer Martin Garrix is on the verge of scoring his first Top 40 hit in the United States on the Billboard Hot 100 (#51).

Martin Garrix

His hit, “Animals, has already reached #1 in Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, Scotland, the U.K., and on the Billboard Dance chart here in the States.  The song is already a Top Ten hit in, at least, ten other countries.

FOUR BOOKS THIS YEAR

I am proud to say that as 2013 winds down, I just finished reading my fourth book.  In 2014, I plan on making a dent in the more than 160 books I own now that I’m caught up on my magazines.

Christmas In Plains

Just in time for the holidays, I read “Christmas in Plains” by Jimmy Carter, our nation’s 39th president and my favorite President.

Jimmy Carter

In the 155-page, easy-to-read book, he shares stories of  his Christmases growing up, serving in the Navy, as Governor of Georgia, as President of the United States, and after leaving office.

President Carter talks about growing up in Georgia during the Great Depression and his close-knit friendships with the black kids that lived on his father’s land in a time when there was much more racial divide in the South than there is today.

The book reminded me of growing up poor in Kentucky in the 1970s and Christmases being skimpy and how Santa brought some kids much more than others.

I enjoyed the stories about the traditions that he and his family started and how they progressed in life.  However, my favorite story that he told was from one of the darkest times in American history.

Iranian Hostage

On November 4, 1979, a group of Iranian students/terrorists took over the U.S. Embassy in Teheran with 66 original hostages.  Thirteen of those were released two weeks later and another man, who was becoming seriously ill, was released in July 1980.

The other 52 Americans hostages were held for 444 days.

During the lighting of the National Christmas Tree at the White House in December 1979, President Carter and his daughter, Amy, surprised America when she flipped the switch for the tree.

President Carter National Christmas Tree 1979

President Carter writes, ” Amy and I planned a big surprised for the ceremony.  When the television cameras focused on her at the crucial moment, she threw the switch but no lights lit up on the tree except the single Star of Hope on top — a symbolic acknowledgement that we were not celebrating while our hostages were being held, but were confident that all of them would return safely and to freedom.”

In Christmas 1980, the lights on the tree were turned on for 417 seconds, one second for each day that the hostages were being held.  After that, only the Star of Light was lit up that holiday season.

In the final hours of his presidency on January 20, 1981, President Carter secured the hostages’ release.  Right as President Ronald Reagan completed his inaugural address after being sworn in, the 52 hostages were released into U.S. custody after 444 days.

Hostages Freed

And, one more funny story from the book became answers to Trivia Pursuit questions.

While President Carter was happy that he was the answer to the first American president born in a hospital, he was less thrilled with the answer about a quote from his mother, Lillian.  She said, “Sometimes when I look at my children, I wish I had remained a virgin.”

President Carter and Lillian Carter

BEST & WORST OF CHRISTMAS SONGS

Now that Christmas is over and radio is returning to playing the same tired twenty pop songs over and over, I have to say that I now have two Christmas songs that I despise.

“Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” has always been on that list.  However, I just realized this season how much I dislike “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”!

On the other hand, I could listen to my two favorite Christmas songs year around.  My second favorite is “Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Band Aid.

And, my favorite Christmas song of all time is “Merry Christmas Darling” by the Carpenters!  Karen’s sweet, angelic voice still melts me to this day!

FINAL CHRISTMAS 2013 WISH

I know the holidays can be stressful and crazy, so to honor of the best season of “American Horror Story” so far, “Asylum”, since I haven’t seen “Coven” yet…

American-Horror-Story-Asylum-Happy-Holidays-1024x892

Happy New Year early!

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

They Said What??? Alec Baldwin, Ann Coulter, Anjelica Huston, & Faith Hill

TALK SHOW HOST ANDERSON COOPER

(about Alec Baldwin after the actor called a photographer a c**k su**ing f*g”.  Baldwin claims he didn’t use the “f-word” and that he didn’t know the “c-word” could been seen as homophobic):  “For him to say, I was informed of this afterward, I mean come on!  If Alec Baldwin had yelled the n-word to that photographer, or yelled some anti-Jewish slur, it would be over!”

RIGHT WING EXTREMIST ANN COULTER

(defending Baldwin, who was suspended by MSNBC):  “They shouldn’t have suspended him. In defense of Alec Baldwin, the photographer, he’s not actually gay.  This was just a curse word. It was like using the f-word and, frankly, a lot of these paparazzi photographers deserve it. It’s not something Alec Baldwin said in a calm moment on television. He has been harassed horribly by photographers and now this stalker, and he’s trying to protect his family and he curses. That is what happened.”

SINGER LILY ALLEN

(commenting on her song, “Hard Out Here”):  “It’s hard out here for a bitch.  Dolly Parton is a bitch.  Adele’s a bitch. Angela Merkel is a bitch … Rihanna’s an inspiring bitch, my mum, Miley’s a bitch, rising. She’s my hero. Kate Middleton is not a bitch.”

COUNTRY SINGER FAITH HILL

(denying rumors that she country singer Tim McGraw are heading toward divorce):  “[Rumors] seem to be running like crazy right now for some reason. It’s perplexing.  I don’t know why ‘happy’ can’t be a story.”

POP ICON LADY GAGA

(after debuting at #1 on the Billboard album chart with “ARTPOP”):  “I put so much love into my music, into my shows, I make it all for you. I’ll never understand the overflow of hate sent my way.  Or maybe thats what entertainment is now. It’s more fun to point & laugh than appreciate the artist. I’ll keep rehearsing my steps.”

COUNTRY SINGER BLAKE SHELTON

(on “The Voice” responding to his co-judge Adam Levine being picked as “People” Magaine’s “Sexiest Man Alive”):  “This is why I drink so much.  He stole my thunder.”

SINGER KANYE WEST

(saying he was “used” by President Barack Obama):  “I just think that we’re pop icons, and the president likes to use that type of thing just to be down and stuff. People was fine with me being everyone’s punching bag for about five years — ‘Man, this is the person we love to hate, so if you want to distract people from everything that’s going on…, just say you hate Kanye and there’s going be 30 other people who say they hate Kanye. … That was kind of my position in culture so he also used that too — ‘Oh, he’s a jackass’ — because that’s how the world felt.”

OUT “GLEE” STAR ALEX NEWELL

(who plays transgender student “Unique”):   “When people don’t understand something their first reaction is to hate it,” he said of his groundbreaking role. “But [the LGBT community] isn’t going away. We’re a part of everyday life and people need to be educated.”

BRYAN FISCHER, OF THE “AMERICAN FAMILY ASSOCIATION”

(responding about the public debate between former Vice President Dick Cheney’s two daughters who have different views on marriage equality):  “Who’s the one who’s been intolerant here? Who’s the one who’s being a bigot?  It’s not the Christian, it’s not the heterosexual … it is the intolerant lesbian bigot that’s doing that … It is Liz Cheney’s sister who is, in fact, the intolerant bigot.”

ROBERT RITCHIE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE RIGHT-WING GROUP, AMERICA NEEDS FATIMA

“The massive tornadoes that hit Illinois after the passing of the same sex “marriage” bill, has stimulated many people to reflection.  In it, some see God’s chastisement; others see it as yet one more merciful warning from Providence; others yet deny both options and give various reasons.”

ACTRESS ANJELICA HUSTON

(in her new book, “A Story Lately Told”, about her director father, John, who used to hang out naked in front of the children):  “He was extremely well endowed.”

Anthony