Posts Tagged ‘HIV’

Random Friday Thoughts — December 2, 2016

The weekend is almost here and can you believe in just three weekends, it’s Christmas already.  I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.

Since I took a break last week on my “Random Friday Thoughts” since people were shopping and eating leftovers, here’s a short version for this week.

HELLO DECEMBER AND WINTER!

UPDATED POST:  early Saturday, December 3, 2016

If you follow my forecast on “Local 4 News This Morning” or my blogs for winter weather updates, you know I always tell you to keep up on the changing forecast when snow is coming.  There’s a good reason.  Small changes in the forecast can have big implications.

Here’s an update on the three weather systems that I first told you about Friday morning in my blog and on-air:

Saturday Night:  Rain and snow will develop late and change over to snow.

Sunday:  Moderate snow in the morning changing to rain in the afternoon.

Since the ground is still relatively warm and part of the precipitation will come down as a mix or rain, accumulations will mainly be on grassy and elevated surfaces.

We could anywhere for 1-3″ of slushy snow.  It’ll start to melt away during the afternoon.

Monday Night & Tuesday:  Wintry mix still possible.  It’s not looking too impressive this morning.

Wednesday and Wednesday Night bigger snow:  This may very well not happen!  Stay tuned.  The cold air will definitely be coming in late week!

However, since we may not get a blanket of snow Wednesday night and Thursday, lows later in the week may only drop into the teens and not the single digits.

If we get a blanket of snow Wednesday and Wednesday night, then lows in the single digits are still possible.

Stay up on the latest forecast.  This is a developing and changing weather pattern.

March Snow

ORIGINAL POST:  early Friday, December 2, 2016

After the third warmest November on record in the Quad Cities, winter will be making its return to Iowa and Illinois to welcome December.

Over the next week, we have three chances of seeing some snow accumulation.

Late Saturday night and early Sunday, snow may accumulate on grassy and elevated surfaces.  Early indications show an inch or two possible.  That will melt away Sunday.

winter

Another system could bring some grassy accumulation Monday night and early Tuesday.

However, we could be seeing a winter storm Wednesday and Wednesday night.  As of this writing, there is low confidence in the details and the models are not very consistent.

This will have to monitored closely because depending on how this develops, we could be talking little or no snow or a lot of snow.

One thing is certain.  Late next week, we’ll see the coldest blast of air this season with highs only in the lower half of 20s and lows could drop to the single digits!

Brrrrr!!!!!!

“LOVE IS THE CURE”

If you grew up in the 1970s and 1980s (and through “The Lion King” and “Candle in the Wind”, the 1990s), you have been touched by the genius of Elton John’s music.

During that same time period, you also heard a lot about Elton’s personal life since he was a pop music superstar.  That’s an understatement — he’s an icon.

He’s also a great humanitarian.  His 2012 book, “Love Is The Cure:  On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS”, he shares the struggles he went through to give more of himself to fight HIV and AIDS.

Love is the Cure.jpg

If you missed my thoughts on Elton, the book, and “World AIDS Day”, here’s the link.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/love-is-the-cure-to-end-aids/

After you read the touching stories in that blog, check out the book.  It’s an incredible read.

A MONSTER BEHIND THAT PRETTY SMILE

Since we’re talking about AIDS, Donald Trump’s Deputy National Security Adviser pick, Kathleen Troia “KT” McFarland is a monster behind that pretty smile.

kt

In 2006, when the New York Times Magazine was writing an article on McFarland, they found a 1992 letter she wrote to her parents shortly after finding out her brother, Michael Troia, had AIDS.

She reportedly wrote, “Have you ever wondered why I have never had anything to do with Mike and have never let my daughters see him although we live only fifteen minutes away from each other?”  She added, “He has been a lifelong homosexual, most of his relationships brief, fleeting one-night stands.

Michael died of AIDS in 1995.

McFarland goes on to elaborate and say that her father was an abusive parent, who beat them with belts and waved guns in their faces.

Responding to the allegations, her father denied them and offered to take a lie detector test.  Her other brother, Tom, living in Janesville, Wisconsin, at the time of the magazine article replied, “If I had one word to describe my sister, it would be ‘evil.’ ”

Not surprising, the people Trump has chosen for his cabinet are all anti-LGBT.

It’s going to be a fun four years!  (Note: sarcasm.)

THE WEEK OF TRUMP

Since I opened Pandora’s box by mentioning his name…

Pre-election, Donald Trump talked about a “rigged” election.  When he won the electoral vote, there was no big proclamations from Trump about the rigged elections.

Now that there’s talk of recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Trump has plenty to say, especially in incoherent tweets and rants.

He’s even saying that millions of California votes are illegal.

Even in victory, he’s such a “sore loser”.  It might have something to do with the fact that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by more than two million votes and that number is still climbing as votes are still being counted.  Little man!

Hey, Donald, why don’t we just have a total recount or better yet, why don’t we have another election before the holidays and monitor the voting process even closer.

DT Masks

One final note and I actually agree with Trump on this one:  Burning an American flag is just wrong (but allowed by the freedom of free speech).

flag

However, here’s where I disagree with him.

Being threatened with losing citizenship or being imprisoned for burning the American flag sounds a lot like Russia — but, then again, Donald and Russia are friends, so I hear!

ARETHA’S NATIONAL ANTHEM

“The Queen of Soul” is earning mixed reviews for her Thanksgiving Day performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Vikings-Lions football game.

The gospel-tinged song clocked in at 4 minutes and 35 seconds.

Comments on the performance have ranged from “stirring” and “memorable” to “punishingly long”.

YouTube “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” are two to one positive.

What do you think?

LOSING FAITH IN “THE WALKING DEAD”

Season 7 of “The Walking Dead” started off strong with the second highest ratings in the series history with 17 million viewers.

Last weekend’s episode dropped to the lowest ratings (10.4 million viewers) since season three when the ratings were still rising.

The fifth and sixth episodes this season were two of my least favorites.  Maybe I should look at it as a baseball game.  Those two episodes were strikes, so either this weekend, I need a base hit or I’m out.  I’m not interested in a foul or a ball.

Andrew Lincoln

Bring Rick (Andrew Lincoln) back and you’ll, at least, have my attention!

I’m not saying I want the show to be cancelled, but if it doesn’t come to life soon, maybe an end date should be set!

“CAPTAIN FANTASTIC”

As the days get shorter and winter settles in, we find ourselves watching more television and movies.

I highly recommend “Captain Fantastic”, which just hit DVD.

This little-seen movie in theaters is about a family living in the forests of the Pacific Northwest away from the trappings of modern life.

Viggo Mortensen plays Ben Cash, the father of six children, who has to decide how to keep his family together after the death of his wife.

It’s a shame that this movie only made $9 million in theaters.  It’s incredible and now you have a chance to see it at home.

Spoiler Alert:  Seeing Mortensen’s penis should NOT be reason enough for a warning at the beginning of the movie with “Brief Graphic Nudity”.  As his character says, “it’s just a penis!”

Wouldn’t “Brief Nudity” suffice?

By the way, on Thursday, Mortensen was nominated for a “Critics’ Choice Award” for “Best Actor in a Comedy”.  While I’m happy for the nomination, I have to ask, “comedy”???  There are funny scenes in the movie, but this leans more toward a drama to me.

Another great performance in the movie was from George McKay, who played Mortensen’s son, Bodevan.

GRADE:  A

“HELL OR HIGH WATER”

Since I just mentioned the “Critics’ Choice Award” nominations, “Hell Or High Water” was nominated for six — “Best Picture”, “Best Director”, “Best Original Screenplay”, Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster for “Best Supporting Actor”, and “Best Acting Ensemble”.

Chris Pine, Bridges, and Foster are incredible in this crime caper about a couple of brothers (Pine and Foster) on a bank robbing spree across west Texas.

Bridges plays a Texas Rangers nearing retirement when he gets the assignment of catching these small town crooks.

What makes this story compelling is learning the motivation of why the brothers need the money.

What’s also thrilling is that you know things will probably turn out badly for some or all of the characters.  It’s a crime drama, so don’t expect a truly happy ending.

GRADE:  B

BASHING “CHRISTIANS”

I love Christmas and I always smile when I hear people get bent out of shape about those who write “Merry Xmas”.  That takes “Christ” out of “Christmas”.

christ-in-chrismas

But, what about the “Christians”, who conveniently leave “Christ” our of their life.  Those are the ones I have issues with in this blog I shared last week.

Many have checked it out and here’s that link if you didn’t get a chance to read it.  (It’ll open in a new window, so you can continue reading today’s blog.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/11/23/merry-xmas-christmas-to-all/

Happy  whatever you celebrate this holiday season!

ANOTHER CHANCE “THIS CHRISTMAS” FOR OLIVIA & JOHN

Each Christmas, I buy some of the new holiday offerings.  This year, I got “Glow” by Brett Eldredge and “A Very Kacey Christmas” by Kacey Musgraves and would recommend both of them.

I also bought the latest Straight No Chaser album, “I’ll Have Another…Christmas Album” and I really wish I had said, “No thanks.”

Don’t waste your time or money on it. Instead, pick up their other two Christmas albums, 2008’s “Holiday Spirits” or “Under The Influence:  Holiday Edition”.

Earlier this week, I also decided to give “This Christmas” by John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John from 2012 another listen.

I’ve avoided this album for four years now!

John Olivia Christmas

This is what I wrote about it at the time:  “I’ll get the bad news out of the way first and then focus on the good.  The opening song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, is probably the worst version I’ve ever heard.  As much as I love Olivia, she couldn’t get “Physical” enough to save this disaster!  Three songs later, “This Christmas” would have been better without John’s vocals.”

On the listen four years later, their version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is still painful and the worst version I’ve ever heard.

However, while Travolta is definitely the weak link and Olivia soars as usual, I enjoyed it a lot more this time and Travolta actually does a decent job on “Silent Night” and a few others.

What I wrote four years ago about “I Think You Might Like It” still holds true today, “It’s a very fun song and if I close my eyes while listening to it, I see Danny & Sandy in “Grease” dancing to it around the Christmas tree.

2012  GRADE:  C+

2016 GRADE:  B

ANOTHER TAKE ON OLIVIA’S “PHYSICAL”

I’ve never watched “The Real O’Neals” on ABC Tuesday nights, but this scene looks pretty funny and that so would have been me as a teenager if I had gone to a gym.

16-year-old Kenny (Noah Galvin) wants to check out the fitness center after seeing a sexy guy on the cover of a brochure.

This seems like the perfect time for the original again.

Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” was the biggest song of the 1980s.  It spent ten weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 from November 1981 to January 1982!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

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“Love Is the Cure” To End AIDS

We all know that Elton John is an incredible musician and, since the 1970s, he’s been part of the soundtrack of our lives.

I was fortunate to see him in concert in Las Vegas in October 2012 for my birthday.

Elton LasVegas

Elton John is a survivor (drugs, alcohol, and an eating disorder).

He’s also a great humanitarian.

That’s what I want to talk about today on “World AIDS Day”, a day started on December 1, 1988, to remember those fallen by AIDS, to encourage those living with HIV and AIDS to fight, and to raise awareness, educate the public, and prevent future infections.

world aids day

We don’t hear stories about AIDS today as much as we did in the 1980s and 1990s, but “World AIDS Day” is still very important to remember.

Today, 36.7 million people worldwide are living with HIV and AIDS and of that number, 1.8 million are children.

elton-john-costume

In the 1970s and 1980s, Elton admitted to having unprotected sex and says he was very lucky he didn’t contract HIV, the infection that causes AIDS.

From the summer of 1981 through December 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that close to 775-thousand people were infected with AIDS in the United States alone and, of that number, about 448-thousand died.

elton_John_ryan_white

While Elton spiraled out of control through the 1980s, it wasn’t until he met Indiana teenager Ryan White, who contracted HIV and AIDS through blood transfusions, in the mid-1980s that he realized he had to turn his life around to stay alive.  He checked into rehab in the early-1990s and has been sober and clean ever since then.

While he recorded “That’s What Friends Are For” in 1986 with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder to raise awareness and money for AIDS research, Elton knew that song and the AIDS benefits he performed weren’t enough.

He formed the “Elton John AIDS Foundation” in 1992 in the United States (1993 in the United Kingdom) and has raised more than $200 million dollars to fund innovative HIV prevention and education programs and for direct care and support for those living with HIV and AIDS.

love-is-the-cure

“Love Is The Cure:  On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS”, Elton’s 2012 book, is an excellent read.

While it does give some eye-opening stats on HIV and AIDS, the book has a heart and it tugs at yours.

Throughout the book’s lean 219 pages, he talks of the friends he’s lost (Freddie Mercury of Queen) and two heroes that defied convention to raise awareness of AIDS — Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Diana.

elton-hillary

He shares stories of politicians who have been instrumental in the fight against HIV and AIDS — Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, and George W. Bush!  Yes, despite his short-comings in the LGBT community, Bush made a huge contribution in the fight against AIDS during his presidency.

In “Love is the Cure”, Elton also tells stories of lesser known heroes in the fight against AIDS and ignorance and raising awareness — Elizabeth Glaser and Fumana (a South African rape victim, now HIV-positive, who uses her status and survival as a talking tool to educate others in that country to fight against the stigma of HIV).

HIV AIDS

Poor Sub-Saharan countries in Africa and the gay community aren’t the only groups that HIV and AIDS are ravaging today.

We have those places right here in the United States — the South is being hit hard and some parts of our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., are devastated with HIV and AIDS.

And, just last year, a county in southern Indiana had an outbreak of HIV cases that reached “epidemic” levels.  It was reported that there were about twenty new cases each week because of drug use and needle sharing.

Yes, Indiana — while Vice-President elect Mike Pence was governor and before he was picked to be second in command in the U.S.

Also, while the HIV rates are still climbing in the younger LGBT community here in America, the heteorosexual black community is seeing the rates of infection skyrocketing.

STOP AIDS

Last year alone, 2.1 million people became HIV-positive and, sadly, only 60% of people know they are HIV-positive.  That means that 40% of the people that are HIV-positive don’t even know their status and could be spreading HIV without even being aware of it!

GET TESTED!  It’s painless and simpleand it could save your life!

love-is-the-cure

Elton John says that the fight against AIDS can only be won when there’s no stigma associated with the disease.

Every person that is HIV-positive, regardless of where they live, how much money they have, their color, their age, their profession, or their religion, needs to be treated for the infection and the disease.

He says how that person contracted HIV and AIDS should not be a factor in getting treatment.  A sex worker should be given the same compassion as someone who became HIV-positive through a blood transfusion.

Elton says eliminating that stigma with HIV and AIDS starts with love — “Love is the Cure”.

This is a book that every person needs to read — NOW!

In honor of Elton’s contributions in the fight against AIDS, for love and compassion, and for eliminating the stigma that HIV-positive people encounter, I’m sharing these two powerful songs.

Love!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — August 29, 2014

Happy Friday and surprise as I’ve put together some random thoughts to kick off the weekend!  I hope it’s a good one.

BIRTHDAY TRIP IS STILL ON

My 50th birthday vacation and celebration is now just six weeks away and it’s still on.

In case you didn’t read my blog from last Friday, the conflict between Israel and Palestine has us, at least, reconsidering that leg of the trip.

Tel Aviv Mediterranean Sea

Here’s that blog that talks about both continents that we plan on visiting.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/50th-birthday-plans-revealed/

THE LATE GREAT, GRACEFUL ARTHUR ASHE

Since I’ve been walking on the treadmill so much this year to prepare me for my fall trips, I’ve read many books.

I just finished “Days of Grace” by tennis great Arthur Ashe, who won three Grand Slam tournaments:  the U.S. Open in 1968, the Australian Open in 1970, and Wimbledon in 1975 against Jimmy Connors.

Arthur Ashe - Days of Grace

In this book, Ashe not only talked about his tennis achievements and disappointments, but also about growing up in a very segregated Richmond, Virginia, in the 1950s.

Even as he became a tennis professional playing in tournaments around the world, Ashe still faced obstacles.  If not facing blatant racism, there were those including his friend, fellow tennis legend Billie Jean King, that expected him to react differently to certain situations and she teased him.

She once said, “I’m blacker than Arthur“.  Ashe responded to that in the book with “I suppose she meant that I was not impulsive or explosive enough.  Maybe I should have called her a name, or slapped her around a little, and thus demonstrated my ‘blackness.’  Unfortunately, I don’t call people names, and I have never slapped anybody in my life.  Besides, she might slap me back.”

In the book that was co-written by Arnold Rampersad, Ashe talked at length about the heart attack in July 1979 and the quadruple bypass five months later that ended his tennis playing career.  Another heart surgery in 1983 to correct the first bypass would change his life forever.

Ashe needed a blood transfusion after that surgery that infected him with HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS.  However, it wasn’t until he had paralysis in his hand in late 1988 that doctors discovered that not only had he been infected with HIV, but that he had developed AIDS.

HIV AIDS

He talked a lot in the book about the the moral and religious aspects of sexuality.

“I want them to be familiar with the teachings of the Bible and with other religious doctrines.  Because of AIDS, however, I am equally committed to the policy of giving condoms, as well as the bare, unvarnished factors about sex and AIDS, to students.  I want adolescents caught up for the first time in the sizzling heat of sex to know scientifically about the penis, the vagina, and the rectum; about blood, sperm, and mucous membranes; about pregnancy, viruses, and the fatality of HIV.  In the midst of an epidemic that will only grow worse, I have no time for evasions and euphemisms or other timidly genteel deceptions in teaching young people who are either sexually active or on the brink of becoming so.”

Ashe died on February 6, 1993, at the age of 49, just a week after he finished writing his part of “Days of Grace”.

THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY

I’ve only been to the movies twice this year.

Back in January, I saw “August: Osage County” and I loved it.  Since then, there have been a couple of movies that grabbed my attention (“Godzilla” is one of them), but it didn’t make me go.

Once I saw the trailer to “The  Hundred-Foot Journey”, I knew I would be there on opening day.  If you love food porn, this is the movie for you.

Oscar winner Helen Mirren stars as Madam Mallory, the owner of a Michelin-star restaurant in the South of France.  Her life is turned upside down when an Indian family moves in across the street from her and opens a restaurant serving authentic Indian food.

Madam Mallory does whatever she can to make sure the new venture fails.  Even so, she’s captivated by the charm and the cooking expertise of young Hassan, played by the charismatic and beautiful Manish Dayal.

You figure out early on how the movie will play out, but it’s still a great journey.

The movie, brought to us by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, has grossed $33.7 million.

GRADE:  A-

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RAY!

Ray turned 49 again (51 in reality) this week.

Ray BD

He chose Mexican for his birthday dinner at Los Agaves, a newer restaurant, on Avenue of the Cities in Moline.

While the food and the service were less than stellar compared to the chain’s other restaurant on John Deere Road, he enjoyed it.

Here’s to 50 more birthdays Ray!

DIVERGENT

After seeing the first two “The Hunger Games” movies, I’m no longer interested in seeing the final two movies in the franchise.  The reason, “Divergent”!

This futuristic dystopian science fiction film takes place in Chicago where people are divided into distinct factions based on human virtues:  Abnegation the selfless, Amity the peaceful, Candor the honest, Dauntless the brave, and Erudite the intelligent.

Each person takes a serum-based aptitude test to best place them into one of the factions.  Those that exhibit several factions are called “divergent” and are seen as a threat to social order.

Shailene Woodley plays Beatrice, a young woman who chooses Dauntless, much to the chagrin of her parents (played by Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn), even though she’s really “divergent”.

She is trained by the very sexy, smoldering, and tattooed Four, played by Theo James.

She must keep the fact that she’s “divergent” from the icy Jeanine, the leader of Erudite, played with perfection by Oscar-winner Kate Winslet.

The movie made $275 million dollars in theaters and the sequel “Insurgent” arrives in March 2015.  That will be followed by two more sequels in 2016 and 2017.

AMY GRANT REMIXED!

Amy Grant is sitting at #4 on the Billboard Dance chart this week with a song she first charted back in 1991.

Since her first Christian hit in 1977, Amy Grant has hit the top of that chart 16 times and she’s also crossed over to the pop chart.

Amy has a total of ten Top 40 hits of the Billboard Hot 100, including five from her 1991 album, “Heart in Motion”, that sold more than five million copies in the U.S.

Of those pop hits, two have topped the Hot 100, “The Next Time I Fall”, a duet with Peter Cetera in 1986, and a solo hit, “Baby Baby”, for two weeks in the spring of 1991.

Amy Grant

Her new album is called “In Motion: The Remixes” and it features remixes of some of her biggest hits by some of today’s hottest DJs, including Chris Cox, Tony Moran, Moto Blanco, Ralph Rosario, and Hex Hector.

“Baby Baby”, remixed by Dave Aude, moves up to #4 on the Billboard Dance chart.

REMEMBERING LAURA BRANIGAN

This week marks the tenth anniversary of Laura Branigan’s death.

Laura Branigan was from New York and in the early-1970s, she was in a band called Meadow, but they never charted.

As a solo artist, Laura’s first four releases didn’t make an impact at radio or on the charts.  The biggest of those, “All Night With Me”, which was the first release from her debut album, “Branigan”, peaked at #69 in 1982.

However, everything changed with the second single from that album!

Laura-Branigan-Gloria

Not only did “Gloria” reach #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, it earned Laura a Grammy Award nomination for “Best Pop Vocal Performance – Female”.  However, she lost to Melissa Manchester’s “You Should Hear How She Talks About You.”

The follow-up album, “Branigan 2″, came out in the spring of 1983.  The first single, “Solitaire” hit #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it was followed by “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” (#12).

In the spring of 1984, Laura released her third album and the title track, “Self Control”, is still my favorite Laura Branigan song to this date.  It made it all the way up to #4.

In 1995, Laura released the last music video of her career for the album, “The Best of Branigan”.  It was for the remake of the Donna Summer classic, “Dim All The Lights”, in which she was partying it up with a group of drag queens. It reached #36 on the Billboard Dance chart.

She withdrew from the music business in 1994 to care for her husband, Larry, who had colon cancer.  He would succumb to the disease in the summer of 1996.

Eight years later, Laura died in her sleep on August 26, 2004, of an undiagnosed cerebral aneurysm and her ashes were scattered over Long Island Sound.

Laura, your music will always live on!

A PEPPY ANSWER TO SEXISM IN COUNTRY MUSIC

To the good ol’ boys in country music, move over for the Texas and Oklahoma duo of Maddie & Tae.

They’re currently at #17 on  the Billboard Country chart with their first hit single, “Girl In A Country Song”.

THAT’S IT

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts and have a fantastic weekend!

Anthony

 

 

Good News About AIDS Deaths & “The Normal Heart”

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

STOP AIDS

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

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

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

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

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

“THE NORMAL HEART”

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

Larry Kramer

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

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

The Normal Heart HBO

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

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

It premiers on HBO on May 25, 2014.

Anthony

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

Random Friday Thoughts — January 31, 2014

Another weekend is here.  Do you have big plans?  I’m emceeing a fashion show tonight and tomorrow is my company’s Christmas party.  ‘Tis the season.

As always, on Friday, I share some of my random thoughts and I welcome your feedback.

SNOW AND MORE SNOW

This January, the Quad Cities is already the record book as one of the ten snowiest Januarys on record at #7.  So far, 17.7″ of snow has accumulated this month and more could be added before midnight.  However, the heavier snow will come late Friday night and Saturday.

A “Winter Weather Advisory” and a “Winter Storm Warning” covers the area and goes into effect Friday evening into Saturday evening.

Warnings Advisories

(Editor’s note:  Only the “Advisories” map was updated.  The snow projections are still looking good.)

Here is how much snow I’m forecasting today, tonight, and Saturday.

Snow Today & Tomorrow

KEEP UP ON THE LATEST FORECAST BECAUSE THIS COULD CHANGE!

The bottom line is that I don’t mind the snow.  I just wish we could keep the bitter cold away!

GRAMMY LOVE & HATE

This is not about Taylor Swift going home empty-handed after she thought she won “Album of the Year”.

Taylor Didn't Win

At the 56th annual Grammy Awards last Sunday night, the big winners were the French electronic duo Daft Punk taking home five trophies and Paul McCartney and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis each winning four awards.

Grammy’s Best New Artist, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis performed their same-sex marriage anthem “Same Love” with Mary Lambert and Madonna.   Toward the end of the song, rapper and talk show host, Queen Latifah married 33 straight and gay couples.  Latifah was sworn in as a commissioner by the state of California to perform the ceremony and her powers ended that night at midnight.

Macklemore, Mary Lambert, Madonna, Ryan Lewis, Queen Latifah

It was a happy time for those on stage and for many celebrities.

Happy about Same Love

Meanwhile, others were not happy and definitely didn’t share any love on Twitter.

Anti Same Love 1 Anti Same Love 2

What do you think?

GRIMM NEEDS TO RESIGN!

New York Republican Rep. Michael Grimm, who’s been under a two-year investigation about his 2010 campaign fundraising, needs to resign after threatening  a reporter Tuesday night.

Grimm

After the interview that Grimm walked away on, Capitol Hill reporter Michael Scotto closed by saying, “Congressman Michael Grimm does not want to talk about some of the allegations concerning his campaign finances … but as you saw he refused to talk about that”.  At that point, Grimm comes back and allegedly tells the reporter, “Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this f—–g balcony.”

Grimm issued this statement after the altercation, “I doubt that I am the first member of Congress to tell off a reporter, and I am sure I won’t be the last.”

I’m sorry Congressman Grimm, but telling a reporter off and threatening to break him in half and throwing him off a balcony is not just telling someone off!

As a reporter that was thrown against a car in Lubbock, Texas, by someone who didn’t want a story done about them, I find your comments belligerent and unprofessional.  Go away!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Spring Already

Snowman HostageHuman Interaction

SOCHI IS A HARD SALE

One week from today, the 2014 Winter Olympics kick off in Sochi, Russia.

Whether it’s the economy, the terrorist threats, or the fact that the games are being held in Russia, which has displayed so much encompassing love to all people in the past year (sarcasm), tickets are not selling like in past games.

SOC_Olympic logoRGB

Around the middle of January, Sochi organizers say that 70% of tickets have been sold for the games.  These tickets went on sale in February 2013 and ranged in price from 500 rubles ($15) to 40,000 rubles ($1,200).

Four years ago, 97% of the 1.54 million tickets available for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada were sold.  And, 97% of the 8.5 million tickets for the 2012 Summer Games in London were snatched up.

SOCHI HAS NONE OF THEM!

Anatoly Pakhomov, the mayor of Sochi, Russia, is certain that his city has no gay people!  He told the BBC, “We do not have them in our city.”

Anatoly Pakhomov

When the journalist told him that he was in the city’s gay bar the night before, the mayor added, “I am not sure, but I don’t bloody know them.”

So, if you’re keeping count, there are no gays in Sochi or Iran!

AND, RUSSIA IS CONCERNED WITH GAYS?

In the February/March 2014 issue of “The Advocate”, it’s reported that the HIV infection rate in Russia is twice as high as the United States.  In the numbers that were released last month, 58% of cases result from intravenous drug use, 40% from heterosexual sex, and 2% from “other”, which includes gay sex.

HIV AIDS

Russia should not be focused on gay people as the root of all evil.  If the HIV/AIDS rates were not bad enough, the country has the world’s highest abortion rate.  One reason, the magazine reports, is there is such a stigma when it comes to buying condoms that abortion is most prevalent form of contraception.  Insane!

I really do feel for the people of Russia, even though as I blogged last fall, a Pew Research Center survey shows that 74% of Russians think that gay people should not be accepted by society!

Anti-Gay Russia

ON A LIGHTER NOTE…

“I’ve got chills and they’re multiplying” and it has nothing to do with a young John Travolta or Olivia Newton-John.

If you love “Grease”, check out these Swedish Marines in Afghanistan and their rendition of “Greased Lightning.”

UNDERSTANDING SHAKESPEARE

Does William Shakespeare’s style of writing confuse you when you read it?

If you’re never read Shakespeare or it’s been a long time, have no fear.  I have a short “Hamlet” monologue by Tom Sandoval from the Bravo show, “Vanderpump Rules” for you to enjoy.

Don’t worry because there won’t be a quiz afterwards.  You’ll likely be distracted and not comprehend a thing!

“BLUE JASMINE”

The latest Woody Allen movie, “Blue Jasmine” is up for two Oscar acting awards:  Cate Blanchett for Best Actress and Sally Hawkins for Best Supporting Actress.

blue_jasmine

Blanchett is Jasmine, a New York City socialite who loses everything because of her husband’s shady business dealing.  Broke, she heads to San Fransisco to live with her sister, Ginger, and her two children in a poorer part of town in a small, confining apartment.

This is Blanchett’s sixth Oscar nomination.  She won for Best Supporting Actress in 2004 for “The Aviator”.  In “Blue Jasmine”, she’s incredible as the pill-popping and boozing woman who has to start over and even learn how to hold down a job.

It’s heartbreaking when you learn that pills, alcohol, and having no money may not be the worst of Jasmine’s problems.

It’s going to be a close Oscar race between Blanchett and Meryl Streep in “August: Osage County”.

GRADE:  B+

PICK HIT

International superstar and one of my favorite entertainers, Kylie Minogue is back with a new song, “Into The Blue”, the first single from her latest album, “Kiss Me Once” that comes out March 18, 2014.

Kiss Me Once

Kylie has sold about 70 million records worldwide.  In the U.S., she’s had 5 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with two reaching the Top Ten.  However, in the U.K, Kylie has scored 49 Top 40 hits with 35 of them reaching the Top Ten, and 8 topped the charts!

I really hope that she tours in 2014 and that I get to see her!

“MORE TALES OF THE CITY”

I’m on a roll with my reading.  It really helps that I’ve been spending a lot of time on the treadmill.  Since January 2nd, I’ve lost 6.6 pounds.  I’ve hit brick wall now and the weight loss from here on out is going to more difficult and slower.

I just finished my fourth book this year, which matches what I read in all of last year!

More Tales of The City

“More Tales of the City” is the 1980 follow-up to Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City”.  “More Tales” is the second in the nine-book series.  I reviewed the first book last week and talked about it and the PBS television miniseries based on it that debuted in the U.S. twenty years ago this month.

In this book, we still follow all of the comings and goings of Anna Madrigal and her “children” at 28 Barbary Lane on Russian Hill in San Francisco.  It’s still the 1970s.

Mary Ann and Michael go on a cruise and both meet the men of their dreams, but Mary Ann’s is a man of mystery.  He just can’t remember it.  Mona escapes to a Nevada brothel (even though the book uses the w-house word) and learns a big secret.  Also, a major character dies, one has a health issue, and another is almost attacked!

After reading the first book, I started watching the first miniseries again.  Now that I’m two books in, I’ll continue on to the second installment miniseries that aired on Showtime in 1998.  Here’s that trailer and it does contain adult language and images.  (The first miniseries’ trailer is in last week’s random blog.)

Now, it’s on to book three in the series.

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

Missouri-born country singer Sara Evans will release her seventh studio album, “Slow Me Down” in March.  The title track is her new single and it became her 19th Top 40 hit on the Billboard Country chart.

Sara Evans

Her first four singles generated buzz for Sara, but they failed to reach the Top 40.  The second single from her second album was the one to do it.  “No Place That Far” not only became her first Top 40 hit, it was also her first #1 song in 1999.

Of her 19 Top 40 country hits, nine have hit the Top Ten, and five, including, “No Place That Far” have topped the chart:  “Born To Fly” (2001), “Suds In The Bucket” (2004), “A Real Fine Place To Start” (2005), and “A Little Bit Stronger” (2011).

I saw Sara in concert in August 2001 in Buffalo, New York, as part of Reba McEntire’s “Girls Night Out” tour that also featured Martina McBride, Jamie O’Neal, and Carolyn Dawn Johnson.

THAT’S IT FOR NOW

Be safe out there and enjoy your weekend.  I know some of you read my random thoughts each Friday and some may have seen them for the first time today because of the snow forecast included in today’s blog.  I appreciate it.  Feel free to check back and see what I have to say.

Anthony

World AIDS Day

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

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

world aids day

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

us-statistics-1

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

THE BLACK AIDS INSTITUTE ANNOUNCE NEW TV CAMPAIGN

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

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

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

NYT

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

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

Princess Diana

Ryan White Pic

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

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

Ryan White

Ryan died in April 1990 at the age of 18.

Jerry Falwell

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

Falwell

Sept 1986, Ken Died 3 Days Later

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

Ronald Reagan and Jerry Falwell

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

corbis_rm_photo_of_ACT_UP_protest_banner

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

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

Doris Day Rock Hudson

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

Rock Hudson 1951

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

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

Rock Hudson Dynasty

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

Doris Day Rock Hudson 1985

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

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

People Headline

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

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

HIV HIV Prevention

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

Rock Hudson 1950s

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

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

HOLLYWOOD EDUCATING AMERICA THROUGH MOVIES

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

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

An Early Frost

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

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

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

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

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

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

Longtime Companion

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

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

And-the-Band-Played-On

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

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

Philadelphia

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

The Cure

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

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

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

Jeffrey

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

Angels in America

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

TheNormalHeart

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

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

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

dallas_buyers_club

Matthew McConaughey for “Dallas Buyers Club”!

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

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

DALLAS-BUYERS-CLUB

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

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

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

GRADE:  A

MUSICIAN LEND A VOICE, TOO

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

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

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

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

Reba She Thinks His Name Was John

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

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

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

Annie Lennox

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

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

Annie Lennox

Red Ribbon

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

hiv_013

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

AmFAR Stats

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

STOP AIDS

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

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

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — June 28, 2013

I don’t think that I’ve looked so forward to the weekend as I am to this weekend.  With the deadly tornadoes and severe thunderstorms Monday that caused tens of thousands of Quad Citians to lose power (ours was out 44 hours Monday through Wednesday), I’m ready to just chill some.

We’re going out to dinner with four of our friends Friday night in Port Byron, Illinois, and then Saturday, there’s a work picnic.  On Sunday, we’re planning on a movie double feature.  And, I still didn’t get my pancakes last weekend, so that may be this weekend!

“UNDER THE DOME” WINS MONDAY NIGHT, BUT…

Under The Dome

While “Under The Dome” was the most watched show Monday night (13.1 million viewers), I didn’t get a chance to watch it with the power outage.  However, you can find the full episode on cbs.com or on television.  CBS will re-air Monday night’s premiere episode this Sunday night (June 30) at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. Central.   I wish that I was watching the season eight premiere of “Dexter” Sunday night, but we don’t have Showtime.  So, I’ll avoid the spoilers and wait for the DVD. 😦

Now, here are my random thoughts this Friday.

GOOD RIDDANCE DOMA

The Supreme Court of the United States made a landmark ruling Wednesday calling DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, unconstitutional.  For those of you that may not be very familiar with it, DOMA is a 1996 federal law that would only recognize marriage between a man and a woman.

That may sound simple to some, but it also denied federal benefits, including insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors’ benefits, immigration, and the filing of joint tax returns for married same-sex couples.  So, while a gay couple could be married in one of twelve states or the District of Columbia, it would not be recognized by the federal government.

Thank you Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elana Kagan for your votes to strike down DOMA, 5-4.

DOMA Justices

And, Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence “Anita Hill” Thomas, and Samuel Alito, I hope you evolve.  President Obama did it and America is doing it.  I think it’s time that you do, too!

In the majority opinion, Justice Kennedy wrote, “Under DOMA, same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways.  DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal.”

SIMPLY PUT, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR RELIGION?

Nothing!  You can still pray to God each night and attend church when it’s open.  While you may get married in a church, the official document is issued by the government, not the church.  It’s that document from the government that makes marriages legal and it’s also that government that’s based on the notion that “all men are created equal”.  After Wednesday, I feel more equal and less like a second-rate citizen.

Love Knows No Limits

What does this mean to your marriage if you’re in an opposite-sex “traditional” marriage?  Nothing at all — because you should be spending your time making each other happy and worrying less if  two men or two women can now share the same government benefits as you and love each other in a committed marriage bond, too.

Let God judge.  Amen!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Ding Dong Dead DOMA   Live Your Life WBCFood Is A DrugLaughing Inside

PAULA, STOP TALKING AND BE WITH YOUR FAMILY!

Food Network star Paula Deen is all over the television these days.  She’s the talk of radio, her face is all over the magazines, and blogger are feasting on a buffet talking about her.  There are many things being said about her — some say give her a break because she hasn’t said anything you probably haven’t said and some say she’s a racist.

Paula Deen Happy

Paula’s whirlwind downfall started recently after she was called to testify last month in a 2012 $1.2 million sexual and racial workplace discrimination lawsuit brought against her and her brother Earl “Bubba” Hiers by former restaurant manager Lisa Jackson.

Jackson, who is white, claims that Deen said this when asked about a theme for a wedding, “Well what I would really like is a bunch of little n—–s to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around.  Jackson says that Deen laughed and said, “Now that would be a true southern wedding, wouldn’t it?  But we can’t do that because the media would be on me about that.”

In that deposition last month, Deen admitted to using the “n-word” in the past.  However, she maintains that she hasn’t used it in years and when she did, it was because a black man held a gun to her head at her former place of employment.   Earlier this week on “Today”, Matt Lauer asked Deen , “Are you a racist?” and the 66-year-old grandmother responded, “No, I am not.” and “The day I used that word it was a world ago.  It was 30 years ago.”

This week, Deen was fired from the Food Network and she lost sponsorships with Wal-Mart, Smithfield Foods, Home Depot, and Target.  QVC is still deciding on Deen’s fate.

Domestic Diva Martha Stewart says, “”I feel sorry for Paula Deen.  She’s a public figure and I know you have to be extremely careful being a public figure.”  And, civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton adds, “A lot of us have in the past said things we have regretted saying years ago” and “You cannot deal with what is fair or not fair until we see an outcome of the present circumstances she is accused of, not something that happened 20 years ago.”

So, with that being said, I want to know what you think.  Here’s what I think.

IF (and notice that’s a big IF) Paula made that joke about the wedding idea in any era, then or now, it’s not funny.  It’s stupid.  If Paula responded with the n-word after a man held a gun to her head as she stated, while not still acceptable, it’s more likely a case of forgiveness given the circumstances.

I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s South and that awful word was a commonly used word.  Sadly, my late father, was one of the most racist, homophobic, sexist, and the list goes on, man I think I’ve ever met.  And, even my late grandmother, who was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, uttered that word in my childhood, but she wasn’t using it to be ugly.  As I grew from a child to a teenager, I educated her that although people use that word, it’s not right.

And, as Paula stated in the interview with Lauer, that word is used too freely in today’s society in movies and music.  I agree and that has to stop, too.  I don’t care if you are an African-American or you identify as a black man or woman, that word has to stop in all circles.  While I’m a gay man, I don’t refer to myself as the derogatory “f-word” and I’d be truly offended if someone else did.

In this country, you’re supposed to be “innocent until proven guilty”.  How do we know that Lisa Jackson is telling the truth?  I’d really be saddened to know that Paula Deen was not a racist and these allegations ruined her life and career.

Paula Deen Crying

My only advice to Paula is stay off television, avoid interviews, and stop posting internet apologies.  I know you’re hurt and scared, but the tears and the pleas make you seem too apologetic.  As you’ve stated, people who know you know the truth — whatever that truth is.

The bottom line is that if Paula Deen is a racist and she freely used the n-word as Jackson claims, more people would be coming out of the woodwork to make other allegations.  They haven’t!

And, I have to say that I commend Paula for the heartfelt and seemingly genuine comments in the interview, “I believe every creature on this Earth … was created equal, no matter who you choose to go to bed at night with [and] no matter what church you go to pray.”  And, “There’s a couple of kinds of people that I don’t like that I am prejudiced against, Matt, and that’s thieves and liars.”

Lisa Jackson, if you’re a liar, I hope you get yours.

THE SAD LIFE OF A PIG (AND OTHER FARM ANIMALS)

Oh, how I wish that every pig was like Hollywood’s “Babe”.

This past Tuesday, I took part in the “Celebrity Showmanship” contest at the Rock Island County Fair.  In less than an hour, I had to learn as much as I could about pigs and about showing one from my 4-H member, Grace.  I aced my quiz from the judges and answered all of my questions correctly.

However, when it came time to show my pig, I learned that “my” pig has been competing all day in the summer heat and it was exhausted.  The judge told me “if he lays down, just let him”.  Well, the poor creature did and I think it cost me a ranking in the Top Seven!  I did get a special “honorable mention” for my knowledge of pig farming, so I’m telling myself that I came in 8th place out of 15 people.  I also won $50 for my charity, the Quad City Animal Welfare Center in Milan, Illinois.

As you look at this picture, you’ll see that the pig was exhausted.  But, once he was sprayed with water and cooled off, after the competition, he walked away happily to his barn to sleep.

Pig Showing Contest

(Photo courtesy:  Thomas Geyer of the Quad City Times.)

The whole learning process made me think even more about the lives of pigs and cows.  While I don’t condemn people for eating steak or hamburger, I haven’t eaten either in a very long time and I will not.  As for pork, I’ve been on the fence the past few months.  After Tuesday and learning that the pigs “go to market” in about five to six months, I decided that pork is another meat that I’ll have to decline eating in the future.  What a short little life for the creatures!

Again, I don’t condemn others for eating beef or pork, but I’ll have to stick to chicken, turkey, and seafood for now.  I don’t have the same guilt toward them –yet.

BIG SCREEN SPECTACLE

I love “The Walking Dead” and I love George Romero’s “Night of The Living Dead” and all of its sequels and remakes.

When Brad Pitt announced that he would be starring in “World War Z”, a zombie epic, I got excited.  Then when I saw the trailer for the first time, it looks intriguing, but I got a little concerned about the trailer not showing much of the zombies.  And, then the stories about the problematic shoot started surfacing:  it was going way over budget and the entire third act went through a reshoot.

WWZ

The movie opened last weekend to $66.4 million in U.S. ticket sales alone, which is the biggest open for a Brad Pitt movie.

“World War Z” wasted no time getting right into the action.  Pitt plays Gerry Lane, who used to work for the United Nations.  He gave it up to be a stay at home dad to two girls.  As the family is heading out-of-town (Philadelphia), they encounter an unprecedented traffic jam that turns into chaos with planes flying overhead and then it happens — the undead come alive and start attacking the living.  City after city across the world fall to the zombies.

After spending the night holed up hiding out with a family, they make it out just in time to be taken to a fleet of ships out in the ocean off New York City safely away from living hell on land.  There’s only one catch.  They want Lane to go back to work for the U.N. to try to find what started this epidemic that has killed millions and if he agrees, his wife and two children can stay on the vessel.

Lane agrees and heads off to South Korea where he’s told by a hot-shot young doctor from Harvard that “Mother Nature is a serial killer” and that she leaves little clues to get caught.  While there, Lane and most of his crew barely escape, but he learns that the zombies are attracted by noise.

From there, he’s off to Jerusalem, where he finds out how the Israelis learned about the zombies and how they’ve managed to keep the zombies and the plague from wiping them out.

WWZ Israel

The scene turns deadly as the zombies attack and Lane once again barely escapes to Wales on the most exciting and slightly unrealistic airplane ride ever!

WWZ Airplane Scene

As the massive real-world destruction continues, Lane figures out a couple of more things that might stop the deadly zombie apocalypse.  Let me just say that I’m glad that the trailer did not feature the zombies prominently.  They were amazing, but not your typical zombies.

If you want a thrilling psychological drama, a “Contagion” with action, this is the movie.  It accomplishes the excitement and fear without the blood and gore of “The Walking Dead”.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the gory AMC series, but it was fun to see this thriller dominated by the shock of fear and not guts!

GRADE:  A+ (And, I rarely give a movie an A+!)

WEEKEND DOUBLE FEATURE

In last week’s “Random Friday Thoughts”, I mentioned that we might go see a double feature at the movie.  We only got in “World War Z”.  So, this weekend, it’s going to be “This Is The End” (you can see the trailer in last week’s blog), and the new Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx action thriller, “White House Down”.

For all you women and men (openly gay, closeted, or just secretly jealous), I think we need to get crazy like Precious and Miley Cyrus and check out and sing along to the humorous “(I Wanna) Channing All Over Your Tatum”.  Thanks, Jimmy Kimmel.

TOO EARLY TO THINK ABOUT MY BIRTHDAY?

While my birthday is still more than three months away, I don’t think it’s too early to think about it.  I mean, last year, we bought tickets to see Madonna in Las Vegas in February for my birthday, October 13th, which was still eight months away.

This year, I think I’ll hint to Ray that I want to see the Pet Shop Boys in Chicago in late September.  While the 1980s new wave duo of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe may be absent from American radio, they’ve been recording new music for the past thirty years and their new album, “Electric” comes out in mid-July and the single, “Axis” is fantastic!!!!!  Check it out

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

It’s very interesting how the music scene works on each side of the Atlantic.  Since exploding on to the music scene in the mid-1980 with their #1 international hit, “West End Girls”, the Pet Shop Boys have only scored five more hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States.

Four of the other five hits made the top ten:  “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money) (#10, 1986), “It’s A Sin” (#9, 1987), “What Have I Done To Deserve This” with Dusty Springfield (#2, 1987), and “Always on My Mind” (#4, 1987).  They also reached #18 with “Domino Dancing”.  Since then, the duo has scored many Billboard Dance hit.

However, in England, the Pet Shop Boys have scored 42 Top 40 hits with 22 of those reaching the Top Ten and 4 reached #1.

Here’s the song that kicked it all off around the world, “West End Girls”.

CELEBRITY REACTION TO THE DEATH OF “DOMA”

DOMA Lady Gaga

Dan Savage DOMA DOMA Ben Affleck DOMA Piers Morgan  DOMA Neil Patrick HarrisDOMA Jack

BY THE WAY, WHO IS JACK MACKENROTH?

His tweet about DOMA was funny, so who is he?  Well, he’s a 44-year-old American swimmer (winning medals in the Gay Games), model, and was a contestant on the fourth season of the reality show, “Project Runway”.

Jack Mackenroth

Mackenroth is also a HIV/AIDS activist.  He was diagnosed as HIV-positive in August 1990 and has lived openly about his status to combat the stigma of  having HIV.

He says, “I am most proud of the fact that I was open about my positive HIV status on the show and exemplified that a person can manage HIV and live a successful life.  Every time a person with HIV is open about his or her status it helps everyone who is living with the disease…. I am a living testament to what you can accomplish by letting go of shame and being your own advocate.”

AND, WE OWE IT ALL TO EDIE

And, as I conclude my blog this week, I dedicate it to Edie and to the memory of Thea.

Thea and Edie

Thea Clara Spyer and Edith “Edie” Windsor were together for 40 years when they got married in Canada in 2007.  It was two years later that New York state began recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states..  And, it was also the year that Thea Spyer died.

After Thea’s death, Edie, now 84, was required to pay more than $363,000 in federal estate taxes on her inheritance of her wife’s estate.   However, if Thea had been a man and the two were married, or if DOMA was not a federal law, Windsor would have qualified for an unlimited spousal deduction, and paid no federal estate taxes.

Edie got the ball rolling toward the Supreme Court in the summer of 2012 and now the rest is history.

Edie Celebrating Decision

After the ruling, Edie replied, “One of the things I felt did not have to do with the money but had to do with…with my country is not giving dignity to this beautiful person I lived with.  And today, my country gave dignity and appreciated who she was.”

Edie, I’m so proud of you and the fight you fought for your wife and your rights.  Thank you for all you’ve done for every one us that will now benefit from your determination.

Now, we have 38 more states to win over for every American to have the same rights.  The fight is far from over.

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts.  Let me know what you think about any or all of it and have a great weekend!

Anthony