Posts Tagged ‘Helen Reddy’

Random Friday Thoughts — October 23, 2020

Can you believe that Halloween is right around the corner?

Much colder air is invading the Midwest, so maybe rain will force me inside some this weekend to watch a horror movie or two!

I usually make it an annual tradition to watch “Hellbent”!

Thank you for taking the time to check out my Random Friday Thoughts. If you disagree with me, no problem. Just do it diplomatically!

CHRISTMAS STUFF — WHO GIVES A F***?

As many of you know, I decorate for Christmas on November 1st and leave it up until the end of January.

I know which Scrooge I won’t be inviting to my decorating party — First Lady Melania Trump.

Guess what, I’m one of those that “gives a f*** about Christmas stuff and decoration”! 🙂

Who knows, this might be the last Christmas you’ll have to worry with it in your current capacity!

VOTING

This may not appeal to your side of the aisle or your way of thinking, but it did make me laugh. 🙂

Who comes up with these things?

Regardless of who you vote for…

THE WOMAN THAT INSPIRED ME TO GO INTO TV NEWS

I can’t believe it’s now been 37 years since the woman that inspired me to get into the television news “rat race” was tragically killed in a car accident and drowning.

Jessica Savitch got her start, in radio, as a teenager, in New Jersey in the late-1960s.

Her first two televisions jobs were in Houston, Texas, in 1971, (as a reporter and the South’s first anchorwoman), and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the fourth largest television market in the country, in 1972. She started as weekend anchor, but was promoted to the main co-anchor.

From there, NBC News came calling in 1977 and offered her a position as the Washington correspondent.  She eventually worked her way up to weekend anchor.

On October 23, 1983, Jessica, her Siberian Husky, Chewy, and her boyfriend, Martin Fischbein, were in New Hope, Pennsylvania, for dinner at Odette’s Restaurant.

When they left in heavy rain, she got in the backseat with Chewy. 

In the bad weather and low visibility, Fischbein missed the posted warning signs and the car dropped fifteen feet and sank in the mud to the bottom of the old Pennsylvania Canal’s Delaware Division.

All three were instantly killed!

On a happier note, Jessica inspired me to want to be a television weatherman.

This is me at Murray State University in 1985!!!

Here is the complete blog I wrote about Jessica on the anniversary of her death in 2012. (If you click on the link, it’ll open in a new window.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/remembering-the-woman-that-inspired-me-to-go-into-television/

MORE CHICAGO CURIOSITIES!

Here are few more interesting things I found reading the 1991 Chicago Sun-Times book by Don Hayner and Tom McNamee called “Metro Chicago Almanac”.

  • While Illinois had a public school enrollment of 66% white students and 34% minority students, in Chicago’s public schools, minority students made up 88% of the count!
  • O’Hare Airport’s code is ORD because it used to be farmland and the airport’s first name was Orchard Place.
  • The incredibly silly motto of Park City, Illinois, in Lake County, incorporated in 1958, is: “Thanks to God and Our American Constitution that Righteousness and Our American Law Made Park City Possible“! Um, okay!
  • Four-time Grammy Award winning gospel singer Mahalia Jackson moved to Chicago at the age of 20 and called it home.

While she played all over the world, she NEVER sang in a nightclub or establishment that sold liquor. And, she never would sing jazz or blues!

And, since Christmas is now two months away. 🙂

SINCE I OPENED THE CHRISTMAS PANDORA’S BOX…

Here are two latest holiday offerings from the USPS — well, one is holiday and one is winter.

These are much better than the past few year’s stamps!

I really like these winter ones.

But, I still may choose these that I used in 2018.

As I stated in previous blogs, “I’m very intrigued by Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights… It symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance”.  We could really use that in the world these days!!!!!!!!”

Diwali (also known as Dipavali) is celebrated in the fall in the northern hemisphere.  This year, it’ll be on Saturday, November 14th in the U.S.

“FRIED GREEN TOMATOES”

NBC is bringing the 1991 Oscar-nominated movie to television as a series with Reba McEntire!

Reba will play Idgie Threadgoode, who was played by Mary-Louise Parker in the movie. 

In this version, she returns to Whistle Stop after being away for a decade.

“Entertainment Weekly” reports “Upon her return, she must deal with a changed town, her estranged daughter, a faltering cafe, and a life-changing secret.”

NEW “FANCY” REMIX VIDEO

While I shared Dave Aude’s new “Fancy” remix by Reba McEntire a few weeks ago, there’s a new video out now!

It’s an incredible look at Reba as “Fancy” over the years!

HAPPY HEAVENLY BIRTHDAY HELEN REDDY

Iconic Grammy Award winning and legendary feminist Helen Reddy passed away in late September at the age of 78.

In her career, she charted 14 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 (three made it all the way to #1) and she was referred to as the “Queen of ’70s Pop”.

In honor of her birthday on October 25th, I’m counting down my 10 favorite Helen Reddy songs!

#10  “YOU AND ME AGAINST THE WORLD”

#9     “AIN’T NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY”

#8    “EMOTION”

#7   “PEACEFUL”

#6  “I DON’T KNOW HOW TO LOVE HIM”

#5 “LEAVE ME ALONE (RUBY RED DRESS)”

Interestingly enough, Helen condemned the song “Leave Me Alone” as repetitive and points out that you hear the title of the song 43 times in the single.  I bet you’ll go back and listen to it now and count along! 🙂  

When I saw her in concert in 2013, she didn’t perform it.

She once told an audience that it is “one song I will never ever sing again” and “that sort of songwriting doesn’t do much for me, but it was a hit. However, I don’t have to sing it anymore if I don’t want to, and I don’t want to.”

#4 “ANGIE BABY”

#3 “DELTA DAWN”

#2 “KEEP ON SINGING”

#1 “I AM WOMAN”

RIP Helen! I already miss you!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — October 2, 2020

The holiday seasons are fast approaching with Halloween up next!

I’m sure you’ll agree that it’ll be nice to put 2020 behind us and hope for a better 2021!

Just a clarification before you read it. I’m calling someone “scum of the earth” and I’m following my own advice of being “diplomatic”. The words I’d like to use would show far less diplomacy! 🙂

But, first…

HELEN REDDY, YOU’RE ALREADY MISSED!

International superstar, Grammy Award winner, Golden Globe Award nominee, and feminist Helen Reddy passed away earlier this week at the age of 78!

A movie honoring Helen and her iconic song, “I Am Woman” is out now and will be released on DVD on November 3, 2020.

I submitted an entry this summer on what Helen’s music and that song meant to me for an advertising campaign promoting the movie. I was chosen! 🙂

Here’s my original and unedited 1 minute, 10 second submission!

Here’s a little bit about my favorite Helen Reddy song!

While the song was included on her 1971 album, she re-recorded it and it was shipped to radio in May 1972. 

It stalled out at #97 and dropped off the chart! Months later, it was released again.

This time, it took off and by the end of 1972, “I Am Woman” topped the chart becoming the first #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 from an Australian-born artist and the first song written by an Australian to win a Grammy Award!

Helen, thank you for the music and you’ll be missed even though you’ll be in our hearts and souls! ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

SCUM OF THE EARTH

Read this clearly: Most of us already know which candidate we’re going to vote for on November 3, 2020, so this isn’t about Joe Biden or Donald Trump!

But, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is scum of the earth!

In no time following the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, McConnell was on the fast track to have her replacement named and confirmed before the 2020 Election — just a little over a month away!

Again, I don’t care if you’re supporting Biden or Trump (well, I really do, but that’s not the point of this post!), it’s the principle.

SCALIA’S DEATH

Because it was a presidential election year, when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, McConnell was such an obstructionist!

He and the Republican-controlled Senate declined to take any action on President Barack Obama’s nomination, Merrick Garland, one month later.

That nomination expired with the end of the 114th Congress in January 2017 and #45’s nomination later that month was confirmed in the spring.

The bottom line is that “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”!

While a nominee has already been announced, we SHOULD WAIT for the outcome of the 2020 presidential election to move this process forward. The winner should be nominating the next Supreme Court justice!!!

THE “MILLENNIUM” SERIES

Although this Swedish crime series came out more than a decade ago, the three books have been sitting on my bookshelf.

I finally read the Stieg Larsson’s series — “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl Who Played with Fire”, and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest” — and loved them!

The first book was my favorite and I felt the quality dropped off a little with the next two books.

I also watched the first two Swedish movies based on the books and Noomi Rapace was amazing as Lisbeth Salander.

I remember seeing David Fincher 2011’s English version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and it not making an impression on me. I’ll have to watch it again now that I’ve read the books!

“BETWEEN SUMMER’S LONGING AND WINTER’S END”

Leif G.W. Persson’s 2002 book was translated to English in 2010.

On the back cover, here how it’s described: “acclaimed as one of the greatest Swedish crime novels of all time” .

Well, based on the four that I’ve read, after the three “Millennium” books, I disagree! Halfway through the 638 page book, I was ready to discard it!

So, skip it!

There are definitely better Scandinavian crime novels out, like Norwegian Jo Nesbo’s “The Snowman” (2007, translated to English in 2010)!

And, totally irrelevant, 60-year-old Nesbo is so hot! 🙂

That’s just a bonus! 🙂

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

I normally read autobiographies, biographies, and books on real events, so my familiarity with fiction isn’t that great.

However, in the four Scandinavian crime novels that I read this year from Stieg Larsson and Leif G.W. Persson, one thing I appallingly noticed was the degradation and the violence directed toward women.

But, just the description of women in these books was gross and unjust.

Is it a crime novel thing? Heaven forbid, I can’t imagine that Scandinavian women would put up with this from men! Now, granted, these four books were written before the “Me Too” movement.

However, earlier this year, this was addressed by Nesbo in an interview with “The Guardian”.

He says, “Violence against women is a problem in society – it is something we should talk about. I would be more worried if there was an absence of violence against women in fiction, because it’s a problem in real life. Of course, it’s a question of how you do it, but in general I would be more worried if fiction pretended it wasn’t a problem.”

“MAGIC”

On a lighter note and one that excites me so much, Kylie Minogue treated us fans to the second single from her upcoming “Disco” album coming out November 6th!

“Magic” is the new single!

“MAGIC” BONUS TRACK!

I hope you took a few minutes and watched the amazing Kylie video.

So, now you know it’s not a remake of Olivia Newton-John’s four-week #1 smash from the “Xanadu” soundtrack from 1980!

MEGYN KELLY “SETTLE FOR MORE”

I enjoyed reading Megyn Kelly’s 2016 autobiography.

Along with stories about her childhood, her career as a successful lawyer, and how she gave it up to become a television reporter and anchor with no experience (really, I mean no real experience!), she spent a lot of time talking about her abuse from Donald Trump and his supporters in the 2016 presidential election!

She also talked about how great of a guy that toxic, creepy, nasty, dead pervert Roger Ailes was! He’s the one that sadly brought Fox News and Donald Trump into our lives!!!

By the way, “toxic, creepy, nasty, dead pervert” are my words, not Kelly’s!

It wasn’t until the end of the book that she addressed the sexual allegations that brought Ailes down. It felt more like, “Oh, I should mention that!”.

In fairness, Kelly shared a 2006 meeting with Ailes in his office when he once again came on to her. She said he tried “to grab me repeatedly and kiss me on the lips”.

Kelly got away from him and as she moved toward the door, Ailes allegedly (I’ll say that word for legalities even though the scumbag likely said it with venom) said, “When in your contract up?”

She also states that Ailes earlier said, “I don’t like to fight, but when I do, I fight to kill.”

MORE THINGS SHE SHARED IN “SETTLE FOR MORE”

When she moved to Chicago in 1995 to take a law firm job, she looked out her Navy Pier apartment window drinking white Franzia boxed wine and listened to Tina Turner’s “I Don’t Wanna Fight” CD. She said that her “real life” was starting! (I only shared this one because I loved Franzia boxed wine!)

She told Roger Ailes that while she was raised in a Democratic household, she was “apolitical”. She went on to share a passage from her 1988 journal, “Am I a Republican or a Democrat? I seriously don’t know.”

There were rumor of her having an affair with married Fox News anchor Brit Hume. He thought it was funny and said people wouldn’t believe it. She disagreed by saying, “people love to dismiss potentially threatening women as ‘nuts or sluts’. Evidently, I didn’t pass as a nut, so I was to branded a slut…”

“BOMBSHELL”

If you haven’t seen the 2019 movie, “Bombshell”, check it out.

Here’s what I said about it in January.

“Even after seeing ‘The Loudest Voice’ on Showtime last year, watching ‘Bombshell’ was a different viewing experience about the toxic environment at Fox News.  (Oh, and about the toxic, creepy, nasty Roger Ailes!)

While John Lithgow was incredible as Ailes, it was definitely the women who made the movie — Charlize Theron (as Megyn Kelly), Nicole Kidman (as Gretchen Carlson), Margot Robbie (as a composite character created from many of the women that Ailes victimized), and Kate McKinnon (a co-worker, Jess Carr).

I expected Oscar nominations for Theron the Best Actress category and for Robbie in Best Supporting Actress category and they got them!”

GRADE:  B

“Bombshell” was my #13 movie of 2019!

“CHOW DOWN”

Although this parody of Wilson Phillips’ #1 1990 debut hit, “Hold On”, came out in 2012, I can’t watch it enough — even today! 🙂

The drag queen trio of Willam Belli, Detox, and Vicky Vox take on the anti-gay agenda of the Georgia chicken restaurant chain, Chick-fil-A.

Disclaimer: Yes, it’s hilariously funny and R-rated.

***It includes adult language and adult situations***!

The bottom line and I couldn’t have said it better myself:  “we just want a little meat without your Bible!”.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AGAIN!

While I wished my idol, President Jimmy Carter a Happy 96th Birthday last week, I’ll do it again since his birthday was October 1st!

In 2016, I left this message for the Carters when I visited the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — September 18, 2020

This is my last post of the summer! Fall officially begins next week!

Thank you for taking the time to check out my “Random Friday Thoughts”!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TAMMY!

Next week, my baby sister will be celebrating her birthday and her first in Central Illinois.

I’m so happy we’re in the same city again and that we get to spend more time together. Here’s to the holiday celebrations!

Happy Birthday Tammy! I wish great things for you in the upcoming years!

“I AM WOMAN”

Iconic singer and women’s rights advocate Helen Reddy is finally being honored with a motion picture, “I Am Woman” — the title of her 1970s #1 anthem!

It’s now showing in select theaters and is available through video on demand.

Also, the movie arrives on DVD on November 3, 2020 and you can pre-order it on amazon.com!

The movie stars Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Danielle MacDonald (“Patti Cake$”), and Evan Peters (“American Horror Story”).

Helen’s fans were asked to submit a short video telling what the song and Helen Reddy meant to them. Those selected would be used in a promotional campaign for the movie.

I’m honored to say that a portion of my video was chosen!!! 🙂

Here it is! (Just click on the arrow.)

Here’s the movie trailer.

And, finally a month ahead of my birthday, I shared the 13 biggest events and my 101 favorite songs of my first 35 years (1964-1999).

Of course, Helen Reddy was high on the list — at #16 with “I Am Woman”!

If you want to see the rest of my countdown, here’s the blog with stories of my ups, my downs, my secrets, and my successes! So far, it’s been well received. (Click on this link and it’ll open in a different window!)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2020/09/11/my-life-the-first-35-years/

By the way, back to Danielle MacDonald, if you haven’t seen “Patti Cake$”, add it to your list of movies to see!

“Patti Cake$” was one of the best and most overlooked movies of 2017. It was my #10 favorite movie that year!

As you start to watch, be patient!

When I reviewed the movie late that year, I said, “As I started watching the first 10-15 minutes of the movie, I was unsure what I was going to think about it.  However, it clicked and I loved it.”

GRADE: A-

YES, PLEASE!

Here’s another reason for this dreadful year to end — look what’s coming in January 2021!

Nabisco is treating us to Chocolate Hazelnut-flavored Oreo cookies!

That same month, the company is releasing Java Chip Oreos — coffee-flavored crème with chocolate chips sandwiched between two classic Oreo cookies!

I still want to try the Caramel Coconut Oreos! Please share so I don’t have to buy a whole bag! 🙂

ALL READY FOR FALL!

Yes, I rushed summer out and decorated for fall on Labor Day weekend!

Why so quickly?

My Christmas decorations go up November 1st until the end of January! 🙂

“RUMOR HAS IT” TURNS 30!

While Reba McEntire became a powerhouse superstar in the mid-1980s, I was all about dance and pop music in my 20s during her rise to super stardom.

However, I discovered her at Sidetrack in Chicago on country night in 1990. That voice singing “Rumor Has It” blew me away and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

It’s hard to believe that the album turned 30 years old this month! And, it was re-issued and released on limited orange vinyl!

“Rumor Has It” was my first Reba album (I own them all now) and it’s still my favorite.

While “Fancy” was not the biggest hit from the album, it’s become one of Reba’s signature songs.

I love “Fancy”, but it’s not one of my 20 favorite Reba hits!

But, a new dance remix from hit master Dave Aude may change that. Check out this incredible version that I hope clubs across America start playing!

By the way, if this becomes a dance club hit, it won’t be Reba’s first.

In 1996, the dance remix of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” reached #2 on the Billboard Dance Club Play chart.

And, this isn’t the first time that Dave Aude has taken one of the biggest stars of country music on the ride up the dance charts.

He hit #1 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart in 2015 with “You Have To Believe” with Olivia Newton-John and her daughter, Chloe Lattanzi.

It ended up being my #16 song of the year with my favorite U.S. city, Las Vegas, as the backdrop!

“THE ALIENIST: ANGEL OF DARKNESS”

In the first season of this TNT series, the “Alienists” were on the hunt for a “boy-whore” serial killer in late-1890s New York City.

Years later, in the second season, “Angel of Darkness”, we’re chasing down a a psychotic, sexual deviant baby kidnapper/killer!

The stellar cast of Daniel Bruhl, Luke Evans, and Dakota Fanning return.

However, the standout in the second season is Rosy McEwen, who plays Libby Hatch.

In a very dramatic, Emmy nomination-worthy scene, McEwen’s character exclaims, “Stop looking at me, you stupid thing! <Nervous laugh> “Stupid, stupid, you stupid thing!”

Just reading that line, it may sound “stupid”, but seeing the chilling scene of a deranged character saying it to a nemesis bully that was just murdered was powerful!

TED LEVINE

When I watched the first season of “On Becoming a God in Central Florida”, I thought, “it’s nice seeing Ted Levine” again.

He’s now in seasons one and two of “The Alienist”.

However, I was shocked to learn that’s he’s worked constantly (before and) since his breakout role in the Oscar winning movie, “The Silence of the Lambs” as Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb!

“MY LIFE AMONG THE SERIAL KILLERS”

While reading serial killer profiler Helen Morrison’s 2004 book, “My Life Among The Serial Killers”, all I could think about was Sigourney Weaver in the 1995 movie, “Copycat”!

Although the real life Morrison profiled many serial killers, I didn’t buy a lot of her conclusions. And, neither did others in that profession. The book was panned!

And, Weaver, Holly Hunter, and Harry Connick Jr. were incredible in “Copycat”. Watch that instead of reading the book!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

My Life: The First 35 Years

While it’s not a milestone birthday, like my first, another one is approaching.

My life’s longevity has surpassed both of my parents (my mother died at 47 and my father at 55) and I’m grateful for that.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that as we get older, we pontificate about life more.

We think about the past — good and bad — and wonder what the future holds. And, Good Lord, with 2020 and Covid-19, I hope it’s an improvement!

With that in mind, I started thinking about the events and the songs that have influenced me most in life.

So, today, I’m sharing the 13 most memorable events of my first 35 years (1964-1999). Why 13? It’s my favorite number and I was born on the 13th!

EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#13 KENT STATE MASSACRE (MAY 4, 1970)

While I was only five years old when this happened and I didn’t understand the Vietnam War or the protests, I vividly remember the news that evening and this iconic photograph.

As you may recall, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed students killing four and wounding nine others.

On the 30th anniversary of the deadly shootings, I covered the story for a television station in Mansfield, Ohio.

#12 MADONNA MARRYING SEAN PENN (AUGUST 1985)

It’s no secret that I love Madonna. I’ve seen her in concert four times and I remember buying her first album at Terrapin Station in Murray, Kentucky, in 1983, before she was a household name.

But, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I shed tears the day she married Sean Penn in 1985!

Not because I was happy. I just knew it wouldn’t last and it was my “Madonna”! 🙂

#11 JEFFREY DAHMER & MY MILWAUKEE SUMMER (1990)

Back in 1990, I moved from Kentucky to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While I was only there for the summer into the early fall, I enjoyed my job as a bartender at “Partners”, one of the oldest LGBTQ bars in the city.

OMG, I was so young — in stone-washed jeans and a New Kids on the Block t-shirt! 🙂

On a slow Sunday night, a couple came in and ordered drinks.  Jerry was a good-looking man and his lady friend, who was older than him, was D’nell. 

While Jerry flirted with me, it was my bond with D’nell that would stand the test of time. She became my “Mom” and I called her that until her death in early 2009.

One night I went out drinking with my friends and co-workers in the seedier part of the gay district at C’est La Vie and Club 219.

Needless to say, I had way too much to drink and the scary alley, while unsavory, was a great place to puke before we moved on elsewhere!!!

I didn’t think too much about it at the time, but when serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested, I got chills. Club 219 was one of his favorite haunts and he picked up many of his victims there!

I used to keep journals and my night at Club 219 coincided with the stalking and murdering timeline. He very well could have been lurking in the corner that night I was totally wasted!

#10 VANESSA WILLIAMS TURNING OVER HER MISS AMERICA CROWN (JULY 1984)

It was a beautiful night in 1983 when Vanessa Williams became the first black Miss America.

It was a very sad day in the summer of 1984, when the 21-year-old turned over her crown after artistic (and unauthorized) nude pictures surfaced in Penthouse. (Even as a gay boy, I bought the magazine to see what the fuss was all about!)

Another admission: I was saddened and cried watching this press conference! I was hoping that she’d fight to keep her crown and tell the Miss America pageant to “f*ck off”, but that didn’t happen!

But, Vanessa has gone on to a very successful singing and acting career with numerous Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award nominations!

As a bonus, my favorite Vanessa Williams song!

Here’s my blog from earlier in 2020 dedicated just to Vanessa! (It’ll open in a new window.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2020/03/18/vanessa-williams-still-reigns/

Along with the events that impacted my first 35 years, I’m sharing my 35 favorites songs from those 35 years!*

Casey Kasem is my inspiration. I still recall all the weekends I spent listening to Casey count down the 40 biggest songs in America!

As I compiled my comprehensive list, it started out with 236 of my favorites!!!

As a teenager, I remember telling my grandmother Helen that a certain song was my “favorite” and she replied, “they’re all your favorites”!

But, when I was a youngster, there could only be one winner!

So here goes… enjoy the countdown and the videos!

#35 “GLORIA” (LAURA BRANIGAN) (1982)

#34 “SUGAR SUGAR” (THE ARCHIES) (1969)

#33 “LIZZIE AND THE RAINMAN” (TANYA TUCKER) (1975)

#32 “YOU ARE” (LIONEL RICHIE) (1983)

#31 “NEVER SURRENDER” (COREY HART) (1985)

MORE EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#9 “JOHN WAYNE GACY’S CHICAGO MURDER SPREE (1970s)

Just before Christmas 1978, John Wayne Gacy was arrested in Des Plaines, Illinois (near Chicago), for the murder of 15-year-old Robert Piest.

During his confession, police would learn there were many other bodies.

Gacy is known to have killed, at least 33 young men and boys. Of those, 26 were buried in the crawl space of his home!

When the news of this serial killer broke, I was a 14-year-old gay boy living in western Kentucky, just six hours away.

This had a very chilling effect on me since I was the same age as some of his victims. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that people could kill others just for the thrill of it!

#8 KAREN CARPENTER’S DEATH (1983)

Karen and Richard Carpenter were on “top of the world” in the 1970s topping the chart with their amazing melodies and her incredible voice.

After years of battling anorexia nervosa, the music world was shocked on February 4, 1983, when Karen died of a heart attack. The years of starvation had destroyed her body.

Karen’s battle with an eating disorder brought that subject to the forefront for America. I know the awareness has saved many lives.

#7 AIDS EPIDEMIC (FROM THE SUMMER OF 1981 TO NOW)

For almost 30 years from the 1980s through the early-2010s, I strongly despised, even hated, President Ronald Reagan.

In the summer of 1981, a new “gay cancer” (it would be called AIDS later) was attacking and quickly killing homosexuals in alarming numbers.

However, President Reagan didn’t mention the deadly disease publicly until a press conference in 1985. And, it’d be six years into the AIDS pandemic (1987) before he gave his first speech on AIDS — after more than 20,000 Americans had already died!

What a terrifying time for a 16-year-old boy that wasn’t even sexually active yet.

Four decades later, by the grace of God, I’m still HIV-negative, but I have friends that are positive and I’ve know people that have died of AIDS.

Thankfully, we now have drugs, when taken properly, make it impossible to spread the virus!

National Institute of Health: “U=U means that people living with HIV who achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load—the amount of HIV in the blood—by taking and adhering to antiretroviral therapy (ART) as prescribed cannot sexually transmit the virus to others.”

#6 “HALLOWEEN IN HOUSTON” & ELECTING BILL & HILLARY CLINTON (1992)

My first time on a plane was in October 1992 when I flew to Houston to celebrate Halloween with my friends Steve and Dennis.

There were so many amazing costumes in the big city including 1992 presidential candidate Ross Perot!!!

That pretty much summarizes the PG version of our nights on Montrose in the gay district.

There are many more scandalous pictures of that trip elsewhere in my blog’s history, including ones of yours truly!

Remember I was in my carefree 20s and it was before Facebook!!! 🙂

Clearly, there was boob admiration going on here between the two of us — he won!

Since my outfit was rather risque, I didn’t drink much that night and maybe that was a good thing! 🙂

However, after an intoxicating Sunday night with vodka cranberries, we flew back to Kentucky Monday and on Tuesday, I cast my first vote for the Clintons, which sent them to the White House for what would turn out to be eight years! 🙂

Now, back to the countdown!

#30 “MERRY CHRISTMAS DARLING” (THE CARPENTERS) (1970)

#29 “SOS” (ABBA) (1975)

#28 “DREAMS” (GABRIELLE) (1993)

#27 “YOU MAKE MY DREAMS” (DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES) (1981)

#26 “SO EMOTIONAL” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1987)

#25 “TARZAN BOY” (BALTIMORA) (1985)

#24 “EMOTIONS” (MARIAH CAREY) (1991)

#23 “BORDERLINE” (MADONNA) (1984)

#22 “ONLY IN MY DREAMS” (DEBBIE GIBSON) (1987)

#21 “I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY (WHO LOVES ME)” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1987)

EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#5 THE DEATH OF MY FIRST IDOL — MY GRANDFATHER (1978)

My first two idols in life were my my mother, Dessie, and my grandfather, John Henry Peoples.

Sadly, my life with my grandfather was cut short since I had just become a teenager when he died in early 1978.

I’ll never forget his last Christmas as he was dying from colon cancer, it was remarkable how he stayed in good spirits.

I’ll always cherish the weekends we spent together at Kentucky Lake camping out and fishing.  Also, all of the memories of just piddling around in the back yard and in his work garage remain vividly clear in my mind.  He made me feel loved and appreciated.

I never really liked the taste of beer.  But, as a kid, it was so cool that he would let me suck the suds off his beer cans when he’d open them. 

Maybe it’s because of the suds that I’ve now moved on to bubbly champagne as an adult (along with vodka and wine)!

When I finally get to heaven, I can’t wait to say “thank you” and let him know how much I idolized him.  I know, as a kid, I never told him.

There was also talk that I was almost named after my father.  I’m grateful that I wasn’t.  However, it would have been an honor to have been a “John Henry” Junior!

#4 JIMMY CARTER BECOMING PRESIDENT (1976)

In November 1976, as a 12-year-old boy in Kentucky, I cast my first presidential vote for the Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter, and four years later, at 16, I voted for him again. 

So, you might be thinking, that’s impossible.  Many things go on in Kentucky that aren’t talked about in other states, but kids still can’t vote. 

Well, since my Grandmother Helen was not very literate, I accompanied her into the voting booth and I got to vote for the candidates of my choice.  Even then, I knew what I was doing.  🙂

Now, you might be thinking, why Carter?  Maybe it was because he was a Southerner and he talked like me!  I’m kidding.  I just liked him.

At age 12, I didn’t know anything about “gay rights”, but then again, there was no such thing as “rights” for those kind of people in the mid-1970s!

While Carter was a deeply committed Christian that taught Sunday school and prayed several times a day, he was the first president to address gay rights and his administration was the first to meet with gay rights activists.  He was opposed to the Briggs Initiative in California that would have banned gays from teaching in public schools.

In the summer of 2017, while living in Panama City, Florida, I drove through the darkness of night and across the backwoods of the Southeast to hear President Carter give a sermon at his church in Plains, Georgia, and I got to meet my idols, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter!

#3 MY DECADE LONG STRUGGLE WITH BULIMIA (1986-1995)

Over the years, I’ve written many times about eating disorders from Karen Carpenter’s anorexia nervosa to my own battle with bulimia.

Just know that eating disorders affect men and women, girls and boys, the young and the elderly!

I wrote, “In early 1995, I was down to 116 pounds and I thought I was fat… I’m still obsessed with weight gains and losses, eating too much, and fighting the urge to binge and purge.”

Another time I shared, “… I fight the food demon of overeating every day.  A few pounds to the average person is a huge burden, a catalyst for insecurity, and a path for destruction to a food addict.”

While I was a practicing bulimic for nine years from 1986-1995, I got my act together for more than two decades.

Beyond the scope of this blog, I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times and then I just get up and start over again!

Like other addictions, it’s a daily struggle and not something that’ll just go away.

Let the countdown roll on….

#20 “AIN’T EVEN DONE WITH THE NIGHT” (JOHN COUGAR MELLENCAMP) (1981)

#19 “DIM ALL THE LIGHTS” (DONNA SUMMER) (1979)

#18 “ON MY OWN” (PATTI LaBELLE & MICHAEL McDONALD) (1986)

“ON MY OWN” (REBA McENTIRE, MARTINA McBRIDE, TRISHA YEARWOOD, & LINDA DAVIS) (1995)

#17 “NO FRILLS LOVE” (JENNIFER HOLLIDAY) (1985)

#16 “I AM WOMAN” (HELEN REDDY) (1972)

#15 “TWO OF HEARTS” (STACEY Q) (1986)

#14 “FASCINATED” (COMPANY B) (1987)

#13 “I LOVE MY RADIO” (TAFFY) (1986)

#12 “TOP OF THE WORLD” (THE CARPENTERS) (1973)

#11 “MISSING YOU” (JOHN WAITE) (1984)

“TAINTED LOVE” (SOFT CELL) (1982)

“WE DON’T HAVE TO TAKE OUR CLOTHES OFF” (JERMAINE STEWART) (1986)

“ONE PROMISE TOO LATE” (REBA McENTIRE) (1987)

“OH L’AMOUR” (ERASURE) (1986)

“DON’T YOU WANT ME” (THE HUMAN LEAGUE) (1981)

“HARPER VALLEY P.T.A.” (JEANNIE C. RILEY) (1968)

“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU” (MARIAH CAREY) (1994 ORIGINAL)

“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU” (MAKE MY WISH COME TRUE EDITION) (MARIAH CAREY) (2019)

EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#2 MOVING TO CHICAGO (1994) & KICKING OFF MY TV CAREER (1996)

In November 1993, my grandmother Helen (the last of my living parents and grandparents) died.

I was still in my hometown helping to take care of her and since Tammy was young and had her own family, I had no reason to stay in Kentucky any longer.

I often wondered “Is There Life Out There?” (the title of a huge Reba McEntire song in 1992), and I struggled through the 1993 holidays and the early winter months of 1994.

In the spring of 1994, my friend Steve shared with me the PBS series, “Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the Cities” and Mary Ann Singleton (Laura Linney) became my inspiration to make a change in my life!

Over Memorial Day 1994, Steve, Dennis, and I went to Chicago to party for the weekend and we had a blast.

At Gentry’s on Rush, the owner started sending over free cocktails and the boys (and the music) were so hot!

It was there that I fell in love with “Dreams” by Gabrielle (back at #28) and Sarah Brightman’s “Once in a Lifetime” from the “Dive” album!

It was also that weekend that I decided I was moving to Chicago!

Six weeks later, over the Fourth of July weekend, I moved to the big city and it was the best decision I ever made!

It was an interesting two years — bartending in a country gay bar, meeting a psycho on my 30th birthday that ended up trying to kill me several times, and then meeting someone that would become my longest relationship (9 years).

It was also during my first residency in Chicago that my television news career took off in the spring of 1996. My first network-affiliated television weather job was in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, that summer. And, from there, jobs in Texas, Ohio, Maryland, Illinois, Florida, and Minnesota followed!

#1 MY MOTHER’S DEATH (NOVEMBER 7, 1990)

My beautiful, wonderful mother, Dessie, died of a heart attack on the morning of November 7, 1990.

While I’ve lived more than half of my lifetime without her, I’m grateful for the 26 years we had together.

She was there to see me make my theatrical stage debut in “The Curious Savage” and saw me present weather at Murray State University’s television station that was only broadcast on cable systems in two cities.

My mother was there in the spring of 1989 when I became the first college graduate in our family.

One of the funniest stories I have of my mother happened in the spring of 1990. I took her to Sunday brunch at 101st Airborne in Nashville, Tennessee.  

She didn’t drink, but her champagne glass was empty every time the server came by and mine was always full since I kept switching glasses with her. I’m sure the waitress thought Dessie was such a lush and I was so innocent allowing my mother to drink so freely while I just sipped my champagne! 🙂

There have been so many times over the past 30 years that I’ve wanted to grab the phone to share something with her and then realize that I couldn’t do it!

As I reflect back on my life with my mother, I was so fortunate to be loved. She wasn’t just my mother — she was my biggest supporter, she was my rock, and she was my friend!

When I think of all of the things I wrote about today and not having a chance to talk to her about them, I can still smile and feel warm inside.

I know that my mother is with me — in my heart and in my memories!

P.S. The #38 song at the bottom of the blog was played at my mother’s funeral!

To quote Casey again, back to the countdown because “we don’t stop until we get to the top!”

“XANADU” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1980)

“IMAGINE” (JOHN LENNON) (1971)

“LET IT BE” (THE BEATLES) (1970)

Casey, take us home, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!”

I appreciate you taking time to check out my fun little walk down memory lane.

Anthony

*Okay, since I ❤️❤️❤️ LISTS & COUNTDOWNS, I’m really sharing my 101 favorites!

Why 101? There were “101 Dalmatians”! 🙂

#101 “SO MANY MEN, SO LITTLE TIME” (MIQUEL BROWN) (1983)

#100 “LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER” (THE CAPTAIN & TENNILLE) (1975)

#99 “DREAM WEAVER” (GARY WRIGHT) (1975)

#98 “KISS AN ANGEL GOOD MORNIN'” (CHARLEY PRIDE) (1971)

#97 “OBJECT OF MY DESIRE” (STARPOINT) (1985)

#96 “EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE” (THE POLICE) (1983)

#95 “ANOTHER SAD LOVE SONG” (TONI BRAXTON) (1993)

#94 “I’LL TUMBLE 4 YA” (CULTURE CLUB) (1983)

#93 “CHAINS” (PATTY LOVELESS) (1989)

#92 “FAITH” (GEORGE MICHAEL) (1987)

#91 “HIGHER LOVE” (STEVE WINWOOD & CHAKA KHAN) (1986)

#90 “CAN’T FIGHT FATE” (TAYLOR DAYNE) (1989)

#89 “SAD SONGS (SAY SO MUCH)” (ELTON JOHN) (1984)

#88 “EDGE OF SEVENTEEN” (STEVIE NICKS) (1982)

#87SAY YOU, SAY ME” (LIONEL RICHIE) (1985)

#86 “IT MATTERS TO ME” (FAITH HILL) (1995)

#85 “DO YOU REALLY WANT TO HURT ME?” (CULTURE CLUB) (1982)

#84 “I KNEW YOU WERE WAITING (FOR ME)” (ARETHA FRANKLIN & GEORGE MICHAEL) (1987)

#83 “JESSIE’S GIRL” (RICK SPRINGFIELD) (1981)

#82 “EXCEPT FOR MONDAY” (LORRIE MORGAN) (1991)

#81 “LOUISIANA WOMAN, MISSISSIPPI MAN” (CONWAY TWITTY & LORETTA LYNN) (1973)

#80 “I LOVE ROCK & ROLL” (JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS) (1982)

“I LOVE ROCK & ROLL” (BRITNEY SPEARS) (2002)

#79 “HEAVEN’S JUST A SIN AWAY” (THE KENDALLS) (1977)

#78 “OPEN YOUR HEART” (MADONNA) (1986)

#77 “WITH EVERY BEAT OF MY HEART” (TAYLOR DAYNE) (1989)

#76 “TAKE ME AS I AM” (FAITH HILL) (1994)

#75 “1999” (PRINCE) (1982)

#74 “MAMMA MIA” (ABBA) (1975)

#73 “I CAN DREAM ABOUT YOU” (DAN HARTMAN) (1984)

#72 “EMPTY GARDEN (HEY HEY JOHNNY)” (ELTON JOHN) (1982)

#71 “ONLY IN MY MIND” (REBA McENTIRE) (1985)

#70 “NO MORE WORDS” (BERLIN) (1984)

#69 “WEST END GIRLS” (THE PET SHOP BOYS) (1984)

#68 “MAGIC” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1980)

#67 “I GUESS THAT’S WHY THEY CALL IT THE BLUES” (ELTON JOHN) (1984)

#66 “I RAN (SO FAR AWAY) (A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS) (1982)

#65 “TRUE” (SPANDAU BALLET) (1983)

#64 “IS THERE SOMETHING I SHOULD KNOW?” (DURAN DURAN) (1983)

#63 “DREAMLOVER” (MARIAH CAREY) (1993)

#62 “THIS WOMAN AND THIS MAN” (CLAY WALKER) (1995)

#61 “COLD HEARTED” (PAULA ABDUL) (1989)

#60 “COME GO WITH ME” (EXPOSE) (1987)

#59 “IT’S NOT RIGHT BUT IT’S OKAY” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1999)

#58 “YOU GOT IT (THE RIGHT STUFF) (NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK) (1988)

#57 “FLASHDANCE (WHAT A FEELING)” (IRENE CARA) (1983)

#56 “FRIENDS & LOVERS” (GLORIA LORING & CARL ANDERSON) (1986)

#55 “SUNGLASSES AT NIGHT” (COREY HART) (1984)

#54 “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY” (JANET JACKSON) (1986)

#53 “LOOKING FOR A NEW LOVE” (JODY WATLEY) (1987)

#52 “DANCING ON THE CEILING” (LIONEL RICHIE) (1986)

#51 “LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE BOY” (DENIECE WILLIAMS) (1984)

#50 “IF YOU LOVE ME (LET ME KNOW)” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1974)

#49 “MAKING LOVE OUT OF NOTHING AT ALL” (AIR SUPPLY) (1983)

#48 “(THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU” (THE CARPENTERS) (1970)

#47 “LET ME BE THERE” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1973)

#46 “HOW WILL I KNOW” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1985)

#45 “WHAT MADE YOU SAY THAT” (SHANIA TWAIN) (1993)

#44 “KARMA CHAMELEON” (CULTURE CLUB) (1983)

#43 “BLAME IT ON YOUR HEART” (PATTY LOVELESS) (1993)

#42 “TOO SHY” (KAJAGOOGOO) (1983)

#41 “BELIEVE” (CHER) (1998)

#40 “THE REFLEX” (DURAN DURAN) (1984)

#39 “FOREVER YOUR GIRL” (PAULA ABDUL) (1989)

#38 “WIND BENEATH MY WINGS” (BETTE MIDLER) (1989)

#37 “I’LL BE YOUR SHELTER” (TAYLOR DAYNE) (1990)

#36 “KIDS IN AMERICA” (KIM WILDE) (1981)

ABBA: The Iconic Band, The Dog, & The Six Degrees of Separation

ABBA — those four letters are iconic!

Yet, for me, they have an added, special meaning.

If you follow me on social media or if you’ve regularly read my blog over the years, “ABBA” instantly makes you think of my beautiful late golden retriever.

If you’re seeing this from anywhere else across the world, the four letters, “ABBA”, instantly identifies one of biggest and the best musical acts ever!

My love of Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Benny, and Bjorn inspired me to name my dog ABBA and it’s the inspiration for today’s blog — a love letter to the foursome and a big “Thank You For The Music” and for the memories!

As I get into the meat and potatoes of today’s blog, I’ll be sharing a few personal stories that connect me to ABBA — the super group and the dog!

This was my dinner in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2017, which is where Bjorn was born and a city that played a big part in ABBA’s musical history. (Okay, that’s a slight deviation there, but I said this was going to be personal!) 🙂

ALMOST 50 YEARS ALREADY!

We’re not quite there yet, but it’s mind-boggling to think that we’re approaching the 50th anniversary of ABBA’s world domination!

They scored their first Swedish hit, “People Need Love”, in the summer of 1972 as “Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid”, then recorded “Ring Ring” for the 1973 Eurovision Song Contest.

But, it was winning Eurovision the next year, in 1974, with “Waterloo” that propelled ABBA to international fame!

I still listen to ABBA’s music regularly and it brings me just as much joy today as it has over my lifetime!

However, I was inspired to share my stories and my love of Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny, and Frida (Anni-Frid) after reading Carl Magnus Palm’s 2001 biography called, “Bright Lights, Dark Shadows: The Real Story of ABBA”, which sat on my bookshelf for almost two decades!

Crazy, right?

What a great read! Check it out!

Growing up in the southern United States (Kentucky) in the early-1970s, I was country when country wasn’t cool!

I was still infatuated with Tanya Tucker, while my teenage cousins (our summer baby sitters) were dancing around to the Carpenters, Olivia Newton-John, and ABBA. But, I was slowly coming around to pop music!

Somehow I acquired the 45 rpm single “SOS” and I was hooked on ABBA!

It was just two years earlier that I bought my first pop single, “Delta Dawn” by Helen Reddy, at the age of eight!

And, just as I was getting on the ABBA bandwagon as a fan, the international super group was coming undone and were calling it quits.

In the summer of 1980, they released the single, “The Winner Takes It All”.

It was the lead single from the upcoming November album, “Super Trouper”, with Agnetha singing lead.

While Bjorn says the song is about divorce and it’s fiction, he and Agnetha divorced early that year.

Yet, that wasn’t the end. The group would release what would become their last studio album, “The Visitors”, in November 1981.

The lead single in America was “When All Is Said And Done” with Frida singing lead.

Like “The history book on the shelf/Is always repeating itself”, Frida and Benny ended their relationship and divorced earlier in the year!

With both couples in ABBA divorced, new relationships pursued, and outside musical ventures already underway, there was no reason for the band to make new music together.

1990s ABBA-RENAISSANCE

While they hadn’t charted on the American singles charts since early 1983, the world would experience an ABBA-renaissance a decade later!

It started in the summer of 1992, when my favorite English pop group of the 1980s, Erasure, released “Abba-esque”.

That four-song EP featured remakes of the ABBA hits, “Lay All Your Love on Me”, “SOS”, “Take a Chance on Me”, and “Voulez-Vous”.

The duo scored an American Top 10 Dance Club Songs hit with “Take a Chance on Me”.

An ABBA revival was just getting underway and was ready to sweep the world!

After eight studio albums and countless compilation and greatest hits albums in the 1970s and 1980s, the real ABBA was ready to claim their rightful place again in music history.

“ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits”, featuring 19 of the group’s biggest hits, was released in September 1992.

It has gone on to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide making it the best-selling ABBA album ever!

In the spring of 1994, I was getting ready to make the biggest (and best) decision of my life.

I was moving from my small hometown of Mayfield, Kentucky (population around 10,000) to Chicago, the third largest city in the U.S. This move would lead to my career as a television meteorologist and it opened the world of international travel to me.

That spring, while packing to move, “ABBA Gold” was on repeat and the song I remember most vividly was “Knowing Me, Knowing You”.

THE BIG SCREEN LOVE AFFAIR WITH ABBA

After the international success of the Erasure album and “ABBA Gold”, the band’s profile would be raised even more in 1994 and 1995 with the release of two Australian dramedies — “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and “Muriel’s Wedding”.

In “Priscilla”, the movie centers around three drag queens on a cross country trip across the Australian Outback. One of the queens is obsessed with ABBA and two of them perform “Mamma Mia”.

In “Muriel’s Wedding”, socially awkward Muriel spends much of her time fantasizing about a glamorous wedding to get out of Porpoise Spit, Australia, by listening to ABBA (and 1970s music)!

Like in “Priscilla”, Muriel and her friend, Rhonda, perform an ABBA number. They choose “Waterloo”!

After seeing “Muriel’s Wedding” in 1995, I decided that my next dog would be named “ABBA”.

That became a reality in the summer of 2000, when I got my golden retriever. And, yes she was named ABBA!

October 2011

With their chart domination and stardom in the 1970s and with “ABBA Gold” and those two Australian movies in the 1990s, the world already had two chances to fall in love with iconic group.

However, the music of ABBA was getting ready to conquer another entertainment staple and a whole new audience!

ABBA 2.0 — “MAMMA MIA!”

The musical “MAMMA MIA!”, featuring a story line based around the music of ABBA, opened in London in April 1999. Almost a year later, it made its North American debut in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

My personal connection with the musical: Before it opened on Broadway in the fall of 2001, it played at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago that summer, where I first saw it.

Since we got to the venue early, we stopped in at Dunkin’ Donuts, right around the corner. And, you’ll never guess who was standing right in front of me?

It was Louise Pitre, who was playing Donna in Chicago and would originate the role on Broadway! I so wish I had said “hello”, but I let her be!

Pitre earned a Tony nomination in 2002 in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role category!

Worldwide, since 1999, based on limited available data, ‘MAMMA MIA!”, the musical, has grossed almost $2.1 billion (yes, that’s BILLIONS)!!!

BUT, WAIT!!!!

In the summer of 2008, the movie version of “Mamma Mia!” with Meryl Streep in the lead role became an international blockbuster bringing in $615.7 million at the box office.

It spawned a successful sequel in 2018, “Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again” ($395 million).

There’s even talk of a third movie that may feature new ABBA music!

And, before I share my ten favorite ABBA songs, I have the ultimate connection to the group as if naming your dog after them, isn’t enough. 🙂

It’s like “life imitates art” or “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”!

In late 2016, being the planner that I am, a trip to Scandinavia was booked for August 2017 to see much of Norway, some of Sweden, and Copenhagen, Denmark (loved it)!

However, in early 2017, my ex and I decided to end our eight-year relationship, but the big down payment on the Scandinavian trip was already paid!

So, in true ABBA fashion — the band with their last two albums and us with our trip — we honored our commitment to travel together even as divorced or separated couples!

That was us in Gothenburg, Sweden.

We parted amicably with fond and beautiful memories of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark!

A LITTLE CHART HISTORY FIRST

Okay, let’s kick off the countdown with a little ABBA chart trivia.

Ironically, Australia was one of the ABBA’s biggest success stories, while the U.S. was one of their biggest disappointments! It’s no secret that the band didn’t enjoy touring and that’s vital to success in America!

On the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States, ABBA scored 14 Top 40 hits.

Of those, four reached the Top Ten (“Waterloo” #6, 1974; “Dancing Queen” #1, 1977; “Take a Chance on Me” #3, 1978; and “The Winner Takes It All” #8, 1980).

Shockingly, in the U.S., “Dancing Queen” was the band’s only #1 song on the Hot 100. Yet, when you add in sales and other variables, “Take a Chance on Me” was their biggest hit in America!

MY TEN FAVORITE ABBA SONGS

I narrowed this list down to 23 songs and it was so hard cutting it down to just my ten favorites!

“DANCING QUEEN”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Original working title was “Boogaloo”!

“GIMME! GIMME! GIMME! (A MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT)”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: ABBA rarely allows artists to sample their music, but Madonna was permitted to use the instrumental introduction of this ABBA hit in her #1 2005 smash “Hung Up”!

“SUPER TROUPER”

“TAKE A CHANCE ON ME”

“WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE”

“FERNANDO”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Originally recorded for a Frida solo album!

INTERESTING TIDBIT #2: Spent a record setting 14 weeks at #1 in Australia!

“KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU”

“WATERLOO”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Original working title was “Tango”!

FROM “MURIEL’S WEDDING”

“MAMMA MIA”

FROM “THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT”

“SOS”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Considered as Agnetha’s first “heartbreak classic”!

INTERESTING TIDBIT #2: I still think Pierce Bronson should be sued for slaughtering (not slaying) the song in the “Mamma Mia!” movie! 😦 🙂

Now that you know my favorite ABBA songs and my history with the band, I have one more confession to make… as a teenager, I had the biggest crush on Benny!

Thank you for taking the time to ready my love letter to ABBA. What are you favorite ABBA songs or memories?

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Thank You for Making Me Feel Invincible!

UPDATE:  International superstar, Grammy Award winner, Golden Globe Award nominee and feminist Helen Reddy has passed away at the age of 78!

HelenReddy2

My admiration for Helen is apparent with the many blogs I’ve written about her over the years.  On this special day, I want to say “thank you” for the incredible music she’s given us and I want to share my favorite Helen Reddy songs.

The first record I ever bought, thanks to my great grandparents, John and Helen Peoples, was Helen’s “Delta Dawn”.  I was almost 9-years-old and the writing was already on the wall! 🙂

Delta Dawn Helen Reddy

Also, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I owned three 8-track tapes and one was “Helen Reddy’s Greatest Hits”.  The other two were were “Totally Hot” by Olivia Newton-John and “Glass Houses” by Billy Joel.

In the 1970s, I was too young to see her in concert.  It appeared she would be one of the singer I idolized, but would never get to see live because she gave a farewell concert performance in western Canada in 2002.  In 2008, she announced she was done with singing and entertaining.

Lucky for us, in 2012, she made an appearance at a jazz club in San Diego, California, and did a benefit for a school outside of Los Angeles and decided that she felt the joy of singing and performing again.

That’s how I got to see her in concert in early 2013 near Chicago and I almost got to meet her, but there was a mix-up at the theater.

Helen Reddy 1

Luckily, my friend Jim arranged for this gorgeous consolation gift!Helen Reddy Autograph

At the time, I was living in Moline, Illinois, which is about three hours west of Chicago.

Back in the 1970s and the 1980s, Helen performed in Illinois and Iowa, including Davenport, Iowa.

While she may not have done a concert in Moline, the second largest city in the Quad Cities, I’m sure she remembers it.

In late October 1973, around her 32nd birthday, she and her band were heading back to California after playing a show in Philadelphia on a leased private jet.  It encountered an intense thunderstorm in the Midwest and the plane started going down.

Helen says they were losing altitude so fast that it felt like they “hit a brick wall” and that “interior paneling started to snap out of its moorings” and cabin baggage was flying through the aircraft.

The pilots were able to get out of the storm’s downdraft and they regained control of the plane and they made an emergency landing at “a little airfield”, as Helen called it.

Moline from the air

That “little airfield” ended up being in Moline, Illinois!  🙂

If you ever get a chance, read Helen’s very entertaining 2006 autobiography, “The Woman I Am”.

The Woman I Am

While the book covers the highs and lows of her entertainment career, she also talks quite a bit about her love of genealogy and tracing her family’s history, her beliefs in reincarnation, and acquiring Addison’s Disease, which also affected President John F. Kennedy.

It traces Helen’s life from her Australian childhood growing up in a vaudeville entertainment household, having her kidney removed as a teenager, her first marriage (also as a teenager) to an older man (33), who turned out to be an alcoholic and an abusive husband.   But, something good came out of that failed marriage — her daughter, Traci.

In 1966, Helen appeared on the Australian show “Bandstand” and won a trip to New York City for a record audition.

Helen Reddy 1966.JPG

At the time, women were still referred to as “girl singers” and labels were afraid to promote the careers of too many women.  So, success in America, the creme de le creme of the world music market, would have to wait.

Helen sang wherever she could in the United States and Canada to make ends meet for her and her little girl, all alone and a world away from her family “down under””.

In the book, Helen cracked me up by only referring to her second husband and manager, Jeff Wald, as “Number Two”!  (After they divorced in the 1980s, Helen learned how vindictive he had been in closing doors on her musical career and the games he played with her involving their two children.  He also swindled her out of most of her earnings that took Helen much of the next two decades to recover from financially!)

In 1971, Helen recorded “I Believe In Music”, an Adult Contemporary hit for country singer and actor Mac Davis, but it was the flip side of the single, “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” from the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” that became her first American hit.  It peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Helen Reddy I Dont Know How To Love Him.JPG

She would go on to chart thirteen more Top 40 hits on the Hot 100.  Six of them reached the Top Ten and three went all the way to #1!

Her Top Ten hits were “I Am Woman” (#1, 1972), “Delta Dawn” (#1, 1973), “Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress)” (#3, 1973), “You and Me Against the World” (#9, 1974), “Angie Baby” (#1, 1974), and “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady” (#8, 1975).

Her last Hot 100 hit was 1977’s “You’re My World”, which peaked at #18.

In honor of her birthday, I’m counting down my 10 favorite Helen Reddy songs!

10

“YOU AND ME AGAINST THE WORLD”

#9

“AIN’T NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY”

8

“EMOTION”

#7 CD

“PEACEFUL”

6

“I DON’T KNOW HOW TO LOVE HIM”

5

LEAVE ME ALONE (RUBY RED DRESS)”

Interestingly enough, Helen now condemns this song as repetitive and points out that you hear the title of the song 43 times in the single.  I bet you’ll go back and listen to it now and count along. 🙂

She once told an audience that it is “one song I will never ever sing again” and “that sort of songwriting doesn’t do much for me, but it was a hit. However, I don’t have to sing it anymore if I don’t want to, and I don’t want to.”

When I saw her in concert in 2013, she didn’t perform it! 🙂

4

“ANGIE BABY”

#3 CD

“DELTA DAWN”

As I mentioned earlier, this was the first record I ever bought as an 8-year-old!

#2 MOVIE

KEEP ON SINGING”

Before I reveal my favorite Helen Reddy song, I want to share the powerful story behind it.

I also want to express how much the song means to me and how it helped shape me into becoming the man I am today!

Back in 1971, her own experiences in the entertainment business prompted her to write a song for her debut album that would become iconic more than a year later!  That song was “I Am Woman”!

Helen Reddy album.jpg

She says, “Women have always been objectified in showbiz. I’d be the opening act for a comic and as I was leaving the stage he’d say, ‘Yeah, take your clothes off and wait for me in the dressing room, I’ll be right there’. It was demeaning and humiliating for any woman to have that happen publicly.”

Helen knew things had to change and she believed with the right song, her voice could do that, “I remember lying in bed one night and the words, ‘I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman’, kept going over and over in my head.”

While the song was included on her 1971 album, Helen re-recorded “I Am Woman” in May 1972 and it was shipped to radio.  It stalled out at #97 and dropped off the chart!

Months later, it was released again!

This time, it took off and by the end of 1972, “I Am Woman” topped the chart becoming the first #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 from an Australian-born artist and the first song written by an Australian to win a Grammy Award!

However, it was SO much more than that!

Helen Reddy became an icon in the fight for women’s rights and the song became an anthem for millions as the “women’s movement” for equality gathered steam.

Womens Lib.JPG

More than forty years after “I Am Woman” moved mountains for women demanding equality to men, the words of that song could apply to the LGBTQ community with regards to demanding the acceptance of Americans and the world for the same civil rights.

There are still 29 states in the United States where LGBTQ+ people can still be discriminated against with regards to employment, housing and more!

Helen Reddy, thank you for standing up for women in the early 1970s and for letting the strength of your words make me stronger in my fight until I make my (straight) brothers understand.

While I’m not a woman, the conviction of that song from my childhood inspired me as an adult to push forward in the gay rights and marriage equality movements.

It made me stronger and gave me the strength to stand up to anyone who ever tried to belittle me for being gay.

#1

“I AM WOMAN”

Helen has always been an advocate for women and gay men and equal treatment for all.

Thank you for the memories and thank you for all that you’ve done for us!

Happy Birthday and here’s to many more!

Anthony

Thank You For The Beautiful Music and a Lifetime of Wonderful Memories!

Life is a funny thing.

Most of us try to do what’s right.  We strive to treat those we love and care for with affection.  But, with real life constantly getting in the way, do we really stop long enough to tell them how much we care for them and appreciate them?

That’s my purpose today.

When I’m done, I’ll call my sister and tell her I love her.  But, this is about Olivia Newton-John.  I want her to know how much she has touched my life!

Olivia 1

As you likely know, especially since I regularly write about her, Olivia is battling cancer again.

She was first diagnosed back in 1992 and beat it.  It returned in 2013, then again in May 2017 and just last month, I learned that she now has Stage IV cancer.

One thing I know from being a fan is that Olivia is a fighter and I know she’ll continue living life to its fullest.  That’s more than some, including myself, are doing even without cancer!

Olivia Don't Stop Believin

I just finished reading Olivia’s autobiography, “Don’t Stop Believin'”, and it was beautiful!

I enjoyed hearing about her childhood, her singing and acting career, and her dear friendships with two ladies I truly admire and love, Karen Carpenter and Helen Reddy.

Olivia Karen

helen olivia.JPG

It was Helen Reddy and her ex-husband that were instrumental in Olivia taking on the iconic role of Sandy in “Grease”!

I’ve been a huge Olivia fan since I heard her first Top Ten hit, “Let Me Be There”, in 1973, as an 9-year-old listening to country music on WNGO-AM 1320, back in Mayfield, Kentucky.

Olivia Newton-John - Let Me Be There

All these years later, I have a confession to make.  As an little kid, I thought the beautiful voice belonged to Olivia Newton and the booming, manly back-up singer was named John! 🙂

From her first hit, “If Not For You”, in 1971, to her last Top 40 Billboard Hot 100 smash, “Soul Kiss” (#20, 1985), the English-born, Australian-raised singer charted with 27 Top 40 hits. Of those, 15 reached the Top Ten!

Olivia had five of those Top Ten hits reach #1:  “I Honestly Love You” (1974), “Have You Never Been Mellow” (1975), “You’re The One That I Want” (1978, with John Travolta), “Magic” (1980), and “Physical” (1981), which spent ten weeks at the top of the chart!

Olivia 2

In early 2014, Olivia announced “Summer Nights”, a 45-show residency at the Donny and Marie Showroom at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino on the Strip between April and August.

I saw her amazing show on May 30th of that year.

Olivia

Since it’s my favorite number, I’m counting down my thirteen favorite Olivia Netwon-John songs that charted in America!  It was so hard narrowing down the list! 

(Chart positions are from the Billboard Hot 100 unless otherwise noted and the year listed is when the song peaked.)

Along the way, I’ll add three bonus songs and share some personal stories about a few of the hits!

Again, Olivia, thank you for the music!

13

“TWIST OF FATE” (#5, 1984)

12

“MAKE A MOVE ON ME” (#5, 1982)

#11 Movie

“I HONESTLY LOVE YOU” (2 WEEKS AT #1, 1974)

#10 MOVIE

“YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE” (with Chloe Lattanzi & Dave Aude)

(#1 Billboard Dance Club Songs, 2015)

In this re-imagining of Olivia’s #1 hit “Magic”, which you’ll see later in my countdown, DJ extraordinaire Dave Aude takes Olivia and her daughter Chloe Lattanzi to the top of the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart!

The fun video features an incredible looking Olivia and a graveyard of Las Vegas signage of the city’s casino history, show girls, Chippendales, and Britney, Tina Turner, Marilyn Monroe, and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.  Oh wait, those are illusionists! 🙂

“You Have To Believe” was my #16 song of 2015!

Bonus

Being a gay teenager in small town Kentucky in the early-1980s without knowing anyone else like myself was very isolating.

Back then, you didn’t think about falling in love since you didn’t hear about those things, but the release of “Physical” and its homoerotic video was definitely eye-opening and it gave this kid hope!

“PHYSICAL” (10 WEEKS AT #1, 1981-1982)

9 CD

“A LITTLE MORE LOVE” (#3, 1979)

#8 MOVIE

“HAVE YOU NEVER BEEN MELLOW” (1 WEEK AT #1, 1975)

In 1978, Olivia had the starring role as Sandy in “Grease”, a movie that racked up $396 million at the box office.

When I saw the movie, I was a shy, introverted 13-year-old boy still listening to country music.  Occasionally, I’d sneak a listen to ABBA, the Bay City Rollers, and the Bee Gees!

I connected with the innocent Sandy and was petrified when she came out dressed to the nines in leather and holding a cigarette!

I’m no longer naive! 😉

olivia-newton-john-grease-sandy

That was a turning point for me.  Somewhere after “Grease”, I started listening to more pop or Top 40 music and I came across an 8-track recording of Olivia’s sultry album “Totally Hot”.

Totally Hot

It was one of three 8-tracks that I owned.  The other two were “Helen Reddy’s Greatest Hits” and “Glass Houses” by Billy Joel.

#7 CD

“DEEPER THAN THE NIGHT” (#11, 1979)

#6 CD

“MAGIC” (4 WEEKS AT #1, 1980)

#5 MOVIE

“IF YOU LOVE ME (LET ME KNOW)” (#5, 1974)

Bonus

“I NEED LOVE” (1992)

In the summer of 1992, Olivia was ready for another comeback with the release of her third greatest hits album, “Back to Basics:  The Essential Collection 1971-1992”.  It included four new songs.

A world tour was also planned, but it was scrapped when Olivia was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The first single from the collection, “I Need Love” really touched me more than a quarter-century ago.  It’s even more powerful for me now as I approach the age of 55 and still single a couple of years after my divorce.

The song talks about wanting more than just a one-night stand or cheap sex.  These lyrics sum up exactly how I felt then in my 20s and how I feel now in my 50s!

“Another place, another time/I would take my chances/Oh I know I could take you home tonight/But I don’t want to wake up with you wishing I was alone”

“I’m not lookin’ for a Band-Aid on loneliness/I’m not lookin’ for a temporary get me through the night/I’m holding out for something more than physical/I need love to make the sex right”

Give the song a listen because unless you’re a die-hard Olivia fan, I know you probably never heard it on the radio!

4

“PLEASE MR. PLEASE” (#3, 1975)

green 3

“SUDDENLY” (with Cliff Richard) (#20, 1981)

#2 MOVIE

“LET ME BE THERE” (#6, 1974)

#1

We’re now up to my favorite Olivia Newton-John song!

I’ve watched the movie “Xanadu” several times and I can’t hear this song without smiling and feeling good.

The soundtrack was more popular than the movie and the title song reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980.

Back in 2014, when I turned 50, I compiled the soundtrack of my life — my all-time favorites songs — and “Xanadu” came in at #4!

Olivia, as your birthday nears, I wish you a “Happy Birthday”!

olivia-newton-john john-easterling.png

Stay strong and keep fighting!

Bonus

“YOUR GOOD GIRL’S GONNA GO BAD” (FROM “SORDID LIVES”)

Years after mainstream fame was behind her and Olivia was living life to the fullest, her friend Del Shores gave her an incredible role.

In 2000, when he made a movie of his play, “Sordid Lives”, he cast Olivia as Bitsy Mae Harling, a lesbian bar singer with a “reputation”!

She reprised the role in the 2008 Logo miniseries.

sl onj.JPG

If you’ve never seen this Texas “black comedy about white trash”, you have to find it and spend two hours laughing!

Here’s Olivia singing the theme song (contains adult language) and her and the cast in the end credits performing Tammy Wynette’s “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad”.

Anthony

2019: My Personal Expectations & What Excites Me

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

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

Duluth

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

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

I also want to expand my friend base.

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

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

gif-happy-new-year-2019.gif

CONCERTS

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

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

LAS VEGAS

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

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

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

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

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

Kylie 1

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

Kylie 5

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

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

MARCH TRIP

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

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

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

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

You have to keep a little mystery in life! 🙂

March 2019.JPG

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

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

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

Silkworms.JPG

Bon Appétit!

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN AUTOBIOGRAPHY

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

Olivia 2014

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

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

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

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

“Xanadu” is still my favorite Olivia song.

NEW MADONNA ALBUM

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

Madonna.JPG

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

Madonna is working on her 14th studio album.

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

Madonna Rebel Heart

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

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

Stonewall_riots

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

NEW REBA ALBUM

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

REBA Coming Soon

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

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

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

Reba Love Somebody

Thanks sexist, ageist country radio!

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

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

“TRICK 2” 

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

trick 2.jpg

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

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

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

“TALES OF THE CITY” SEQUEL

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

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

Mary Ann

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

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

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

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

Mary Ann

Molly Ringwald has also joined the cast.

’80s FLASHBACK

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

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

THAT’S IT

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

Happy New Year! 🎉🥂🍾

Anthony

Thank God For Women (and a Few Good Men)

With the exception of my grandfather, John Henry Peoples, and President Jimmy Carter,

Autograph Carters

women have always seemed to inspire me more.

inspiration

This started with my dear mother, Dessie and Jessica Savitch of NBC News in the 1970s and 1980s, to Hillary Clinton!  I’m still with her!

Hillary AP

In the 1980s, I was obsessed and inspired by Madonna, Janet Jackson, Taylor Dayne, and Whitney Houston.

Reba Anthony 2005

In the 1990s, for me, it was Reba McEntire, Patty Loveless, Mariah Carey, LeAnn Rimes, Toni Braxton, Julia Roberts, Jodie Foster, and Gillian Anderson.

The 21st century highlighted a 1980s favorite, Kylie Minogue, and Britney Spears (who debuted on the pop scene in late 1998).  Both overcame what could have been career-ending obstacles (cancer and a breakdown) to show their strength, thus inspiring millions!

But today,  my blog is really dedicated to the first four female singers who made a big impact on my formative years — the 1970s.

While they all dominated the music world that decade, one charted her biggest hit in the 1980s and one of the others had massive hits in her genre into the mid-1990s!

Ironically, it wasn’t until the past five years or so that I finally got to see three of them in concert.  While radio only plays their classics now, they sounded amazing live well past their radio dominance!

In honor, I’ll start with the one that’s no longer with us.

Karen

Karen Carpenter’s voice was so angelic and the music of the Carpenters was inescapable starting with “(They Long To Be) Close to You” in 1970, which was their first Top 40 hit and it went on to top the chart.

“Merry Christmas Darling” is my second favorite Carpenters song and this one is my favorite.

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN

In September, Olivia Newton-John celebrated her 70th birthday.

As a kid, I absolutely fell in love with her when “Let Me Be There” hit the Billboard Country Top Ten in 1973.

Olivia has charted 27 Top 40 hits (pop and country).  Of those, 15 reached the Top Ten.

Five of those smashes reached #1:  “I Honestly Love You” (1974), “Have You Never Been Mellow” (1975), “You’re The One That I Want” (1978, with John Travolta), “Magic” (1980), and “Physical” (1981), which spent ten weeks at the top of the chart becoming her biggest hit.

I saw her in concert in Las Vegas in May 2014.

Olivia 2014

“Xanadu” is my favorite Olivia Newton-John song!  It reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980.

If you’d like to read a full blog I dedicated to Olivia, here’s the link and it’ll open in a new window when you click on it.

I’m Still Hopelessly Devoted To Olivia

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/im-still-hopelessly-devoted-to-olivia/

TANYA TUCKER

I’ve been a huge Tanya Tucker fan since she exploded onto the country music scene in 1972 with “Delta Dawn”.

While Tanya is just six years older than me (she just celebrated her 60th birthday), it was fun seeing a teenager dominating country music.

delta_dawn-1973-tanya_tucker

I finally got to see Tanya in concert in December 2017 in Las Vegas.  She looked and sounded amazing.

Tanya.jpg

I’ve written two blog about her.

One was about her book “Nickel Dreams”, which covered her music career and her crazy personal life.

I’m Glad Tanya Tucker Shared Her Nickel Dreams

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/im-glad-tanya-tucker-shared-her-nickel-dreams/

The other was a countdown of my 20 favorite Tanya hits before I saw her in concert!

My 20 Favorite Tanya Tucker Songs

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2017/11/01/my-20-favorite-tanya-tucker-songs/

Spoiler alert!

spoiler-alert

If you don’t click on that to see what my 20 favorite Tanya songs are, here’s my favorite!

“Lizzie and the Rainman” hit #1 on the Billboard Country chart in 1975.

But the star of today’s blog is Helen Reddy, who’s celebrating her 77th birthday (October 25, 2018)!

HelenReddy2

Charting 14 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 (three made it all the way to #1), she was referred to as the “Queen of 70s Pop”.

I was fortunate enough to catch her in concert outside of Chicago in March 2013.

Helen Reddy Sign.jpg

Helen Reddy 1

I almost got to meet her, but there was a mix-up at the theater.  😦  However, my friend Jim, who works for Helen, arranged for this gorgeous consolation gift!Helen Reddy Autograph

In honor of her birthday, I’m counting down my 10 favorite Helen Reddy songs!

#10  “YOU AND ME AGAINST THE WORLD”

#9     “AIN’T NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY”

#8    “EMOTION

#7   “PEACEFUL”

#6  “I DON’T KNOW HOW TO LOVE HIM”

5

“LEAVE ME ALONE (RUBY RED DRESS)”

Interestingly enough, Helen now condemns the song “Leave Me Alone” as repetitive and points out that you hear the title of the song 43 times in the single.  I bet you’ll go back and listen to it now and count along.  🙂

When I saw her in concert in 2013, she didn’t perform it.

She once told an audience that it is “one song I will never ever sing again” and “that sort of songwriting doesn’t do much for me, but it was a hit. However, I don’t have to sing it anymore if I don’t want to, and I don’t want to.”

4

“ANGIE BABY”

#3 CD

“DELTA DAWN”

#2 CD

“KEEP ON SINGING”

This was featured in the medley for #5, but I’m posting the full version here.

Another number 1

“I AM WOMAN”

I’ve dedicated three blogs to Helen over the years and here are the links if you’d like to read them.  Again, each will open in a new window when you click on it!

Helen Reddy, Thank You For Making Me The Advocate I Am Now! (February 2012)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/helen-reddy-thank-you-for-making-me-the-advocate-i-am-now/

Helen, Here’s To Many More Happy Birthdays (October 2012)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/helen-heres-to-many-more-happy-birthdays/

Why Helen Reddy Will Always Remember Moline (September 2014)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/why-helen-reddy-will-always-remember-moline/

To each of these beautiful and wonderful ladies, thank you for music and the memories.  And, to all of the women (and Jimmy Carter and my grandfather), thank you for the inspiration!

Happy Birthday Helen and Happy Belated Birthday Olivia and Tanya!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — November 7, 2014

Happy Friday!  Can you believe that Halloween is behind us and we’re already into the first week of November?  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and 2015 will be here before you know it.

While I gave up writing a weekly “Random Friday Thoughts” this summer because of time constraints and I’m running out of free space to post images in the blog without paying, I enjoyed putting together the October 24th random thoughts, so I thought I’d do it again.

And, I’ll start this one with a big time, eat crow apology!

TAYLOR, I’M SORRY

Many times over the past couple of years, I’ve sort of bashed Taylor Swift.

Taylor Swift

While I saw her in concert in the Quad Cities opening for Keith Urban in the summer of 2009 and I bought her “Fearless” album, I quickly tired of the constant reports of “manizing” (my word for the opposite of womanizing) and her overexposure.

However, in her latest #1 hit, “Shake It Off”, the lead single from her new and hugely successful, record-setting album, “1989”, Taylor won me back with her “eff-off” to me and all of her haters!

“Shake It Off” is brilliant.  It shows that Taylor is in on the joke and not the joke.

Taylor, I promise that I’ll never pass judgement on you again.  And, if I do, I know you can come back with another “eff-you” song in the vain of “Shake It Off”.

“SHAKE IT OFF”

TAYLOR SWIFT RULES THE WORLD

With “1989”, Taylor Swift’s fifth studio album, selling an incredible 1.287 million copies in the United States alone, that makes Taylor the only singer in music history to have three (and three consecutive) million selling-plus first week albums.

This is also her best-selling first week ever!

Her 2010 album, “Speak Now” sold 1.047 million in its first week and the follow-up, 2012’s “Red” sold 1.208 million in its first week.

AND, THAT’S NOT ALL FOR “1989” AND TAYLOR

Those first week sales make “1989” the biggest selling first-week album since 2002 (Eminem), the biggest-selling album released in 2014 (Sam Smith’s “In The Lonely Hour” is second with 746,000 copies sold since May), and it’s the second biggest selling album of the year behind the “Frozen” soundtrack, which has sold 3.2 million copies in 2014.

SHOUT-OUT TO BRITNEY

While Taylor’s first week sales of 1.287 million copies were astounding, “1989” now ranks in second place behind “Oops!… I Did It Again” by Britney Spears for most albums sold in the first week by a woman.

In its first week, in 2000, that album had sales of 1.32 million.  To date, “Oops!…” has sold 10.4 million copies in the United States and 24 million worldwide.

I absolutely love Britney.  I plan on seeing her in concert again next year in Las Vegas with her “Britney:  Piece of Me” show at Planet Hollywood.

Britney

So, here’s a shout-out to “It’s Britney, bitch” as she holds on to her record.

The lead single and title track,”Oops!… I Did It Again”, hit #1 on the radio airplay charts in 2000.

HOZIER – RUSSIA AND HOMOPHOBIA

24-year-old Irish singer Andrew Hozier-Byrne, professionally known as just Hozier, is enjoying his third Top Three hit back in his native Ireland.

But, it’s his first hit there that is now getting a lot of airplay here in the United States.

“Take Me To Church” reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Billboard Rock Songs and Adult Alternative Songs charts.

While a powerful song, it’s the video, that calls attention to Russia’s homophobia and homophobic laws, that is so riveting and sad.

Hozier, thank you for getting the message out there.

“DEATH WITH DIGNITY”

29-year-old Brittany Maynard, a California woman, took her own life in Portland, Oregon, last weekend, assisted by a physician.

Back on New Year’s Day 2014, Brittany was diagnosed with brain cancer.  She had surgery, but the cancer came back in April and she was given six months to live.

She and her husband moved from California to Oregon so when the pain got to be too much, she could take own life with the help of a doctor because of Oregon’s “Death with Dignity” law that was passed by Oregon voters twenty years ago.

Oregon became the first state to allow this, but appeals kept Oregonians from using the law until 1997.

Brittany Maynard

I’m a firm believer that every human should die with dignity and I applaud Brittany’s decision.  I’m glad she and her family enjoyed a nice vacation to the Grand Canyon last month to cross it off her “bucket list”.

So far, about 750 people in Oregon have used the law since 1997.

REMEMBERING “DR. DEATH”

I’ve talked about “doctor-assisted suicide” before.  Here is a re-post of what I had to say May 31, 2013, about Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

“While more Americans find doctor-assisted suicides less acceptable today than a decade ago, according to that recent Gallup poll, I’m taking a moment to remember the man whose name is synonymous with that subject.  He died two years ago next week.

Kevorkian

Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a Michigan born pathologist, gained national attention in late 1998 when he allowed CBS News’ “60 Minutes” to air a videotape he made two months earlier of the voluntary euthanasia of 52-year-old Thomas Youk, who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease, a debilitating disease that causes progressive weakness, muscle atrophy, muscle spasms, difficulty speaking, swallowing, and breathing.

After a two-day trial, a Michigan jury found Kevorkian guilty of second-degree murder.  After serving time, he was paroled eight years later.

He may have been involved in more than 130 deaths and Kevorkian told “Time” magazine, “My specialty is death.”

So, what is your view on doctor-assisted suicides?  Feel free to tell me, even if we disagree.

I’m all for it.  I’ve seen people wither away to almost nothing in so much pain. I look at their lives and I see that some have no quality of life.  My mother died of a sudden heart attack at age 47.  While we were unable to say goodbye, I’m thankful that she never suffered for a long period like some people do.

If I’m ever in a terminal health situation where there is no chance of recovery (short of a miracle) and I’m in unimaginable pain, I’d welcome being euthanized.  Why is it that we’re in a position in this country where we have to watch our loved ones suffer until they die naturally, but we can do the “humane” thing to keep our beloved pets from immense suffering when they reach that point of no return by euthanizing them?

February 3 2012 Daddy A & ABBA

On February 3, 2012, Miss ABBA, our golden retriever that was just like a child to us, took that final R-I-D-E in the car.  I carried her to the car that morning and into the vet’s office.  I sat on the floor holding her when the doctor administered the two shots and she peacefully crossed over the “rainbow bridge”.

Many of you already know that Miss ABBA lived ten fantastic months after being diagnosed with terminal cancer when she was only given two to three months to live.  She never got sick or down until the day before she died.

I’m blessed for the almost 12 years Miss ABBA and I had together.  I’m so glad that she never had to suffer and that I had that option to ease her pain when her quality of life ended.  I would want the same for myself or for my human counterparts.”

SPEAKING OF MY MOTHER

My sister and I lost that beautiful woman 24 years ago today!

Dessie

Dessie, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of you and wish that we could talk.  But, I know that you’re looking over us now!

ELECTIONS ARE OVER, BUT WHAT ABOUT 2016?

I believe that former Secretary of State and former First Lady Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee and it won’t be a long vicious fight for that nomination like it was in 2008 against President Obama.

hillary2016

It’s going to be a much tougher fight for the Republican Party since there is no real front-runner.  And, because of that, I think it’s going to be nasty for quite some time once there are people vying for that nomination.

That’s why I predict that the candidates will start throwing their hat in the ring in early 2015 (or even by the end of this year).

For weeks now, I’ve said that the first person that will announce their candidacy will be former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

And, when all is said and done, here is my prediction of who we’ll be choosing from in the 2016 presidential election.

hillaryclinton_jebbush

Clinton and Bush!  Talk about dynasties in American politics!

“MAKE THE YULETIDE GAY 2”

There are many Christmas movies that I love, but one of my favorites came out in 2009.

It’s called “Make The Yuletide Gay”, a Rob Williams-directed movie about a college kid wanting to “come out” to his parents at Christmas, but he’s afraid to do it because of how he thinks they may react.  A visit from his college boyfriend pushes the “coming out” to the forefront.

While the boys are definitely charming, Wisconsin’s own Kelly Keaton, who plays Anya Gunnunderson, the mother of boy coming out, is so sweet and she makes you laugh.

There’s been talk about a sequel for years and now that is falling into place.  The director and producers have a script and just started a Kickstarter campaign through the end of December to raise the $175,000 needed to assist in the movie.

You can find out more about it here and make a small donation.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/robwilliams/make-the-yuletide-gay-2-a-sequel-to-the-hit-comedy

I love the original movie so much that if I had $2,500 lying around, I’d donate it so I could make my Hollywood debut in the movie!

Could you imagine me transitioning from a television meteorologist to actor?

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN

As you may recall, I saw Olivia Newton-John in concert this past May in Las Vegas and she was fantastic.  She sounded and looked great.

Olivia

I recently read a biography about her life by Tim Ewbank.

It was a thorough book that covered her pre-career life in Australia and England, her career, both in music and movies, her marriage and divorce, and her fight with cancer.

I was glad that the book talked about how some of the biggest country music stars in the 1970s (Conway Twitty, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Barbara Mandrell, Mel Tillis, Dolly Parton, and more) formed the Association of Country Entertainers as a protest to “outsiders” that were not country purists or “Nashville”.

Dolly quickly withdrew from that group and embraced Olivia.

Also, the book covered her friendship with another Australian that I love, Helen Reddy.  The book claims that it was Helen and he ex-husband that convinced Olivia to take the role of Sandy in “Grease”!

WATCHING MORE TELEVISION

When we had cable before, we never watched television.  Now that we have it, we’ve caught up on season five of  “The Walking Dead” and now we don’t have to avoid the spoilers until it arrives on DVD the following August!

We’re also watching “American Horror Story: Freak Show”.

Another show I really loved after seeing the first episode is “Stalker” on CBS.  It’s creepy, but I love it.

Maggie Q is my new “girl I would switch for”!  I’m kidding. 🙂

My favorite line in the pilot is when Dylan McDermott’s detective character, Jack Larsen, says “I get the feeling you don’t like me” and Maggie Q’s Lieutenant Beth Davis replies, “Don’t be silly, I’m sporadically rude.”

Murder

I’m still loving “How To Get Away With Murder.  It’s the best new show this fall and so scandalous and real that you’d never know that Disney is the parent company of ABC.

My two favorite characters are Annalise Keating, a criminal law professor, played by multiple Oscar nominee Viola Davis, and Connor Walsh, a gay law student, played by Jack Falahee.

It’s one thing for a television show to feature a gay character, but to allow him (or her) to be sexually active on-screen is groundbreaking.

Here’s a video tribute to Connor and it includes scenes from the October 16th episode that made me think I was watching a soft-core adult movie!

If you watched that to the end, you probably heard the most “did he just say that?” moment I’ve seen on television.  EVER.

Yes, this is ABC and not premium cable!

In the same episode, Viola Davis’ character is sitting at her bureau and removes her wig, all of her make-up, and her eye lashes in one of the most emotionally naked scenes written for television.

And, if that wasn’t riveting enough, the scene ends when she holds up a cell phone to her cheating husband and asks the most mind-blowing question that no spouse ever wants to ask their husband!

HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER:  A+

Way to go, Mouse House!

THAT’S IT

How do you top that?  I won’t even try.

I’ve enjoyed sharing my random thoughts this week from the serious to the silly to the entertaining.

I hope you enjoyed them.  Let me know what you think.

Until the next “Random Friday Thoughts”, happy holidays.

Peace!

Anthony