Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Random Friday Thoughts — November 30, 2018

Can you believe that 2018 is already winding down?  I admit that the second half of the year was better for me than the first and I’m excited about 2019!

While I have a couple of more blogs coming this year, this will likely be the last “Random Friday Thoughts” of 2018.

Thanks for checking it out!

Happy Holidays!

White Red Christmas

“WORLD AIDS DAY”

December 1st marks the 30th anniversary of “World AIDS Day” — it originated in 1988 to raise awareness to the spread of HIV and the AIDS pandemic.

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We now live in an age where, with proper medication and taking it as prescribed, HIV is a treatable disease and those that are HIV-positive can live with “undetectable” viral loads, which mean they cannot spread the virus.

Yet, in 2017, 38,739 people in the U.S. and six dependent areas (American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the Republic of Palau, and the US Virgin Islands) became HIV-positive.

STOP AIDS

People, have sex, but use condoms!

This isn’t just to keep from contracting or spreading HIV, STIs are on the rise!

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the highest number of STIs ever in the U.S.!

I read an interesting “Out” magazine article in May 2018 quoting veteran AIDS activist Peter Staley.

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Staley says that an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease (which killed a reported 34 people in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1976) prompted the “New York Times” to write 62 stories on the outbreak — 11 of them appeared on the front page.

He added that before AIDS ever got a front page story in “The New York Times”, more than 6,000 people were already dead.

Staley:  “Imagine if the Times put AIDS on the front page 11 times in 1981.  How would that have changed the course of the epidemic?”

FINAL THOUGHTS ON HIV

If you don’t know your status, get tested.  It’s painless and knowing one way or the other is the first step to healthy or healthier living!!!

“CAUTION”

The incredible, the incomparable Mariah Carey is back with “Caution”!

It debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 becoming her 18th Top Ten album and it topped the R& B album chart!

MC

The album contains ten fantastic songs.  Seven of them are flawless and classic Mimi!

In addition to the two songs I’m featuring below, the other five standouts are the title track, “A No No”, “The Distance”, “Giving Me Life” and “8th Grade”.

Even the three other songs on “Caution” are great!

In September, Mariah’s teased the album with “GTFO” and I think it’s one of the most awesome songs on the album!

Yes, GTFO stands for what you think it does!!!!!!!!! 🙂

“With You”, the first official single is already in the Top Ten in Hungary and here in the U.S., it’s just outside the Top Ten on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary, Adult R&B Songs, and Hot R&B Songs charts!!!!!!

The album is beyond amazing, so GTFO and get it now. 🙂

GRADE:  B+

MARIAH CHRISTMAS!

Not only is Mariah’s new album in the Top 5 on the big chart, she’s also in the Top 5 on the Billboard Holiday Album chart with 1994’s “Merry Christmas”!

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And, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” made its debut this season on the Hot 100 at #29!

“SONS OF ANARCHY”

I just finished the FX series “Sons of Anarchy”.  It really was a binge-watching event!

This includes psuedo-spoilers!

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I was on the third (of seven) seasons when I found out that it was leaving Netflix on December 1st!

That meant I had to watch the last 56 episodes in three weeks or less.  I did it!

If you’re not familiar, the 2008-2014 series is about a northern California “motorcycle club” that dealt heavily in guns, drugs, prostitution, and porn, along with violence and a lot of sex!

It starred the amazing Charlie Hunnam (Jax) and Katey Sagal (Gemma).

Charlie Katey

I really enjoyed the first two seasons.

SEASONS 1 & 2 GRADE:  A

While still good, the series began to drag a bit when it became repetitious with the same story lines, the same violence and who would be the bad guys this season (the Irish, blacks, Mexicans, white supremacists, etc.)

SEASONS 3, 4, 5 GRADE:  B

While Gemma and Jax were my early on favorites, as the series went on I fell in love with Dr. Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff) and Sheriff Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie), two characters that were the closest thing to a “moral compass” for the show. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As season six progressed, the show was down to its last two seasons and an end game was in sight!

Two major characters were killed off!  Well, that sounds too innocent.

Season six ended with the most horrific and brutal scene involving two main characters on the series!!!

I knew it wasn’t going to end well for the one character, but I didn’t expect the brutality and the viciousness of the murder!  WOW, but incredible!

SEASON 6 GRADE:  A

Skip the horrible last season!

Except for two scenes in two different episodes and the highlight of the season, the “Red Rose” episode, it was unbearably stupid!

Watch the series through the sixth season, watch the “Red Rose” episode in season seven, and the last ten minutes of the series finale!

SEASON 7 GRADE:  D

OVERALL GRADE: B

“SONS OF ANARCHY” FUNNY

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SANTA CHARLIE!

Thanks to my sister for sending me this.

And, we don’t have to sexist!  Ladies aren’t the only ones that might be interested in a new Santa Baby! 🙂

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LAST RANDOM THOUGHTS IN 2018

Next year, I don’t want to be thinking of “last Christmas”.

I want to be celebrating with fun, sexy friends.  Okay, they really don’t have to be “sexy”, just lively and fun!

And, this very chic or elegant (whichever word you prefer) video is my inspiration! 🙂

“AMERICAN HORROR STORY”

The latest installment of FX’s “American Horror Story”, “Apocalypse”, wrapped up a very uneven season.

It was incredible seeing Joan Collins and Jessica Lange again!

And, I love this t-shirt modeled by star Evan Peters!

Evan Peters

So, what are your favorite and least favorite seasons?  Here’s my rankings:

#8 “Freak Show” (season four, 2014) — The highlight!

american-horror-story-freak-show

#7 “Hotel” (season five, 2015)

#6 “Roanoke” (season six, 2016)

#5 “Apocalypse” (season eight, 2018)

#4 ” Coven” (season three, 2013)

#3 “Murder House” (season one, 2011)

#2 “Cult” (season seven, 2017)

Nasty Woman

#1 “Asylum (season two, 2012)

American Horror Story Asylum

And, we’re still living the continuing episode of the real “American Horror Story”.

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PICK HIT

Kylie Minogue is the last of my divas that I still haven’t seen in concert.  Hopefully, in the fall of 2019!

“Golden” is my favorite album of 2018 and here’s the latest video.

Isn’t Jack Savoretti just so adorable????  Okay, that question can be rhetorical! 🙂

“DO THEY KNOW IT’S CHRISTMAS”

THEY SAID WHAT???

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Cody Fern on his first day on the “House of Cards” set for the final season:  “I was so intimidated because I’ve been watching HoC longer than I’ve been acting.  The first day, I walk down the hallway and Robin [Wright] says, ‘Cody’ because we met at the reading.  And I said, ‘Claire’.  On my God!  I could have vomited.”

Director John Waters on what worse than Taffy (“Female Trouble”) joining the Hare Krishna, “Worse than a Hare Krishna?  I suppose a Trump supporter!”

“12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS”

And, my blog about the holidays wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include this twisted version of the holiday classic! 🙂

AND, THIS MORE RECENT FUN ONE!  

“You ruined my Christmas, you made it a drag!” — classic Boy George!

He co-wrote the song and directed the video!

Thank you. 🙂

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

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Random Friday Thoughts — November 9, 2018

We’re only a couple of weeks away from Thanksgiving and the holiday shopping rush!

I hope you survived the midterm elections without losing too many “friends” on Facebook!

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

HAPPY SEASON!

Normally, I start my blog with heavier and more hard-hitting thoughts, but it’s that time of the year again! 🙂

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LEANN RIMES CHRISTMAS

“It’s Christmas, Eve” with LeAnn Rimes makes its Hallmark Channel debut this weekend and the soundtrack is incredible!

Okay, incredible is an understatement.  It’s the best Christmas album in the past few years!!!!

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There are three original songs on the soundtrack — two ballads and the upbeat “You and Me and Christmas”.

LeAnn doesn’t just sing the classics.  The arrangements of “Carol of the Bells” (Ring Out Remix) and “White Christmas” are stunning.

The North Pole Remix of “I Still Believe in Santa Claus” gives the song new life and there are two medleys that make the album an instant classic.

The Jolly Remix of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”/”Hark the Herald Angels Sing”/”Angels We Have Heard on High” has a dance club sound to it.

And, “Christmas Jam on Snow” is funky, upbeat fun with “Jingle Bell Rock”/”Here Comes Santa Claus”/”I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”/”Last Christmas”.

Radio programmers gearing up for holiday music through Christmas need to add each of these songs to their playlists, especially “White Christmas” and the medleys!

LeAnn is becoming the new voice and face of Christmas!

GRADE:  A

WHY WE SHOULD ALWAYS VOTE!

As you likely know, I’m reading Ted Sorensen’s biography of President John F. Kennedy.  Sorensen was Kennedy’s adviser and speechwriter.

I came across an amazing quote from President Kennedy that he gave in a June 1963 speech on civil rights.

It still rings clear today and I shared it before the midterm elections and I think we should remember it daily until the 2020 presidential election.

JFK JUNE 1963

2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Now that the midterm elections are over, the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election is unofficially underway.

Ironically, John F. Kennedy didn’t announce his presidential run until January 2, 1960!  Wouldn’t it be nice again if the political season was only 10 months long!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyways, in late October, Hillary Clinton was asked by journalist Kara Swisher, with Recode, a technology news web site, if she wanted to run again?

Clinton replied “no” twice, but Swisher pressed her about it and the Former Secretary of State said, “Well, I’d like to be president!”

HIllary Flag

There you have it folks.  The first woman to ever gain a major party’s nomination and the woman who won the popular vote in 2016 is unofficially in the race!

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I know it’s early, but I was having this conversation the other day and I still believe she is the only person that can beat 45!

“HOUSE OF CARDS” FINAL SEASON

This comes as no shock, but Robin Wright was phenomenal as President Claire Underwood, oops President Claire Hale in the final season of “House of Cards”.  It dropped on Netflix last week.

While I enjoyed the final eight episodes, the first and the last ones were my favorites.

I loved the way the series wrote out Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood and was appalled at how vicious people were with the threats against Claire as president.

But, Claire’s iciness at the threats and comments directed toward her made it more human and made her more powerful as Commander-in-Chief.

When told there were “Lots of threats involving the c-word, ma’am. Lots and lots of the c-word, unfortunately especially with the ‘c-word’.”

She responds, “You mean ‘Claire’!” 🙂

I loved the final scene even though many on the internet and in blogs didn’t care for it.

SEASON GRADE:  B

SERIES FINALE GRADE: A

SERIES GRADE: B+

“HALLOWEEN”

“Halloween (2018)” was the #1 movie in America for two straight weekends and was the top movie for 14 consecutive days!

It’s already made $156.8 million in the U.S. and another $88.7 million in foreign markets for a total of $245.5 million!  That’s incredible for a movie with a budget around $15 million!

I avoided all spoilers and saw it in its second weekend in theaters.

It was very entertaining and I loved the winks back to all of the other movies in the franchise that this one pretended didn’t exist.

I loved that the movie was very violent (Micheal Myers as a practicing dentist!).  It could be because he’s psychotic and has been locked up and drugged for 40 years!

However, there were a couple of murders that made you go, “um, okay”!

While the movie was great, it didn’t scare me since nothing can compare to the 1978 original!

GRADE:  B

FINAL “HALLOWEEN” THOUGHT

Halloween

Although it didn’t scare me, it scared someone that saw the movie in the theater where I saw it.

I put my jacket in the next seat next to me and when I went to leave, it reeked of urine!!! 😠

“GAME CHANGERS”

If you love game shows or you grew up on them, you have to check out this 2018 documentary hosted by Alex Trebek, which I caught on my return flight from Morocco.

It traces the history of games shows and catches up with some of the trailblazers in the genre.

GRADE:  B

“THE FIRST PURGE”

I really enjoy “The Purge” movies and I even watched the television series.

However, I didn’t see the latest movie, “The First Purge”, in theaters, but I just caught it on DVD.

I fully understand what the movie was going for —  low-income people’s lives don’t matter, so they’re expendable, thus perfect subjects for the first purge.

However, it was so jokey and silly that I was mostly bored.  Pretty sad because I really liked the first three movies in the series.

Skip this movie if you haven’t already seen it and if you need a “purge” fix, check out the 10-episode USA Network event.  It wrapped up this week and it was better than this movie!

GRADE:  D

THAT’S IT

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

My 12 Favorite Mariah Carey Holiday Songs

Santa (and his jovial face) is synonymous with Christmas for kids from one to ninety-two.  But, he’s gotten some beautiful competition that builds each passing year.

When I think of Christmas, two modern singers come to mind:  Mariah Carey and Michael Buble.

While Buble gave us the 2011 perennial favorite “Christmas” (and the 2003 EP, “Let It Snow”), it’s Mariah that dominates Christmas!

It all started with her now classic hit, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” from the 1994 “Merry Christmas” album.

That album has sold more than 15 million copies worldwide and the song alone has sold another 14 million around the world.

81st Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Pre-TapeMariah released a second Christmas set in 2010, “Merry Christmas II You”.

There are other singers that have released more Christmas albums (Reba McEntire, Celine Dion, Glen Campbell, and Johnny Mathis to name a few), but Mariah has made herself as much a part of Christmas as egg nog, sleigh rides, and rockin’ around the Christmas tree.

In 2014, she began an annual Christmas concert at the Beacon Theater in New York City.

This year, while she’ll still do six shows at the Beacon, there are seven other North American dates, plus a five-night residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

I was lucky enough to see the Christmas show in Las Vegas in December 2017 and Mariah looked and sounded flawless and the sets were incredible!!!!!!!

It was the most magical 90 minutes I’ve enjoyed in the past couple of years!

MC ALL I WANT VEGAS

And, if that wasn’t enough, the Christmas show is going international with three dates in England and France!

MC ChristmasIn addition to the Christmas concerts, she has a direct-to-video animated feature called “Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You”, (November 14th), for which she recorded a new song called “Lil Snowman” for the soundtrack.

Mariah also has the title song from the upcoming holiday release “The Star” (November 17th), which also features new holiday music from Fifth Harmony and Kelsea Ballerini, which is available now!

MC Christmas Factory

And, if that’s not enough, there’s also the “Mariah Carey Christmas Factory”, a deal with the “Sugar Factory”, that’ll feature more than 100 Christmas-themed retail and candy items created by Mariah!

A Christmas Melody

Plus, you can also look for 2015’s holiday feature, “A Christmas Melody”, on The Hallmark Channel, in which Mariah starred and made her directorial debut.

CONCLUSION:  MARIAH CAREY = CHRISTMAS!

MC SantaI just booked a trip to Vegas to see Mariah’s December 14th show!  That means, I now have to quickly buy a ticket.

So, while I do that, let me be your jukebox as I share my “12 Days of Mariah Carey”, oops, I mean my Lucky 13 favorite Mariah Carey Christmas songs!!

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“CHRISTMAS TIME IS IN THE AIR AGAIN”

12

“WHEN CHRISTMAS COMES”

11

“SILENT NIGHT”

10

“CHRISTMAS (BABY PLEASE COME HOME)”

9

“JESUS WHAT A WONDERFUL CHILD”

8

“THE STAR”

7

“MISS YOU MOST (AT CHRISTMAS TIME)”

6

“JOY TO THE WORLD”

5

“O HOLY NIGHT”

4

“HERE COMES SANTA CLAUS (RIGHT DOWN SANTA CLAUS LANE)”

3

“AULD LANG SYNE (THE NEW YEAR’S ANTHEM)”

2

“OH SANTA!”

1

“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU”

Holiday Bonus

“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU” 

 

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“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU”

 

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“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU”

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — October 6, 2017

It’s been a heartbreaking week with the mass shooting in Las Vegas (more on that below).  While sad and tragic, there are some happy things going on in the world and I hope some of that is happening in your life.

Thank you for taking the time to check out my random thoughts.

WHAT AN HONOR!

If you’ve followed me on Facebook since 2009 or read my blog since 2012, you know that I’m a strong believer in equality — LGBT, marriage, women’s rights, for people of color, and more.

While some of you may disagree with my views, that’s fine.  I do have to walk a fine line when I state my opinions and in my responses to people who don’t think like me (especially now, considering where I live and the climate we live in)!

With that being said, I got a big surprise when I started reading the October/November 2017 issue of “The Advocate”.

Advocate WG

The magazine had a feature on the “50 Most Influential LGBT People In Media” and I absolutely love lists and countdowns.  I had a thought on who might be number one, so I was curious.

Since I always read magazines from the front to back and I don’t skip ahead, I got to page seven and Editorial Director Diane Anderson-Minshall’s “Editor’s Letter”.

Below that was this segment.  As I was reading it and walking, I was shocked and surprised!!!!!!!!!!!

LGBT Media Arrow

A shout-out in the nation’s biggest and longest-running LGBT magazine in the country, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year!

What an honor!  Diane, I’ll keep up the fight for equality and visibility in these very trying, dark post-November 8, 2016 days!!!

Stay woke!  Resist!

AND, IF THAT WASN’T ENOUGH…

A dear friend from back in the Quad Cities, Clayton, posted a message on my blog a couple of weeks ago that touched my heart just as much as the name check in “The Advocate”.

Clayton said, “I hope that you realize the lasting effects you have had on the many people who feared going public”.

MY IDOL CELEBRATES 93rd BIRTHDAY

On October 1st, President Jimmy Carter turned 93 years old.

It’s no secret that I love President Carter and his wonderful wife, Rosalynn, and I had the pleasure to meet them in July at their Plains, Georgia church.

While there, I had my picture taken with them.  I sent them a copy inside an anniversary card celebrating their 71 years of marriage on July 7th.

I just hoped that with all of the fan mail they still get that they would see the card.

Weeks passed and I opened the mail recently to find an envelope from the “Office of Jimmy Carter”!  I gingerly opened it.

Not only did the Carters see my anniversary card and the picture, but they took the time to autograph it and send it back to me!

Autograph Carters

What a thoughtful, loving couple!

I’ve now met three of my four living idols.  I wrote about them this summer and if you missed that blog, here it is.  It’ll open in a new window.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2017/07/18/meeting-my-biggest-inspiration-in-life/

Jimmy Carter

“I REALLY LIKE YOU” (PRESIDENT CARTER & MS. ROSALYNN)

What a perfect time to share one of my favorite Carly Rae Jepsen songs.

This is from her show at Terminal 5 in New York City in March 2016.  It was one of the best concerts I’ve seen in years.

It’s also from one of the most underrated pop albums ever, “Emotion”.

It was my third favorite album of 2015 and I still listen to it today and marvel at its excellence.

LAS VEGAS DEADLY SHOOTING

Sadly, the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, in the summer of 2016, is no longer the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history!

That heartbreaking title is now bestowed on Las Vegas, Nevada, after a man opened fire on a country music festival near Mandalay Bay on the Strip Sunday night.

58 people were killed and around 500 were hurt.

The senseless violence in the United States and the world saddens me.  While we still don’t know the motive of the shooting, the man is purely evil or suffered from a mental illness.  I’m only speculating, but I think he was just evil and filled with hate!

Mental illness is something that we, as Americans, are still uncomfortable discussing.  It comes up after each mass shooting, but then we’re on to the next “breaking news” and nothing is accomplished.

Enough!

Las Vegas is one of my favorite places and I’m still considering moving there.

My thoughts and prayers are sincerely with you!

MEANWHILE IN PUERTO RICO

On the morning of this senseless tragedy, Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of Puerto Rico, tweeted this to the people of Las Vegas!

Her compassion is incredible!

To take the time to think of Las Vegas even as her people try to put their lives back together after the devastation of Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma!

SHANIA TWAIN “NOW”

Pop and country superstar Shania Twain released “Now”, her first album of new music in fifteen years, last week!

Now

It’s hard to believe that “Up” came out in 2002!

When you have three consecutive albums to sell more than 20 million copies each worldwide (“Come On Over” sold more than 40 million) and it’s been a decade-and-a-half since you last released an album, expectations are high!

The album starts out strong with the perfect “Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed” and “Home Now”, which begins with a very Asian/Americana sounding combo.

“Light of My Life” is one of the three strongest songs (perfect songs) on the album.  The other is the first single, “Life’s About to Get Good”.

“Who’s Gonna” is the song that sounds like pure Shania from her late 1990s-early 2000s years of chart domination.  “Poor Me” is another great song.

Some of the other six songs would have been fantastic Shania songs if there hadn’t been 15 years since the last album.  Here, they’re just really good songs.

This is also the first album (other than her debut) that wasn’t produced by her ex-husband Mutt Lange.  That difference is noted here.  But, then again, it could be the absence of a new Shania Twain album, too.

The song, “I’m Alright” addresses that relationship ending and her moving on with her life.

It’s great to have Shania back and “Now” is an very enjoyable album.

Early on, only Adult Contemporary radio is showing any interest in the new music.  “Life” is currently at #11 on the AC playlist.

GRADE:  B+

“THE BIG SICK”

This romantic comedy (dramedy) is loosely based on the lives of lead actor Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon.  Both Nanjiani and Gordon were co-writers of the script.

Without giving away the “big sick” part, it’s the story of a Pakistani comedian (Nanjiani) in Chicago.  One night at a show, he’s heckled by a cute, young woman (Zoe Kazan).

A romance ensues, but things get complicated by the fact that Emily is white.

Holly Hunter, who plays Emily’s mother, is incredible in the movie.  It’s so great to see the Oscar winner back in a powerful role.  I seriously think that she could get another Academy Award nomination for this movie.  If so, that’d be her fifth Oscar nomination!

“The Big Sick” is a must see!

GRADE:  A

“WONDER WOMAN”

Except for “Batman Returns” and the Christian Bale-Christopher Nolan “Batman” trilogy, superhero movies bore me.

They’re so unrealistic.  I know, I know, they’re “superheroes” with super strength and powers, blah blah blah!

I was huge fan of the “Wonder Woman” television series in the 1970s with Lynda Carter, so I wanted to see this movie.

Israeli actress Gal Gadot is stunning as Diana, the daughter of Queen Hippolyta on the hidden island of Themyscira, a land of Amazonian warriors.

She rescues an American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and is intrigued by his worldliness and the fact that he’s a man! 🙂  Okay, as beautiful as Gadot is, it’s Chris Pine! I’m intrigued, too.

Diana heads off with him to stop World War II and Ares’.

The fight scenes were typical superhero-fakery, but when the movie dives into storytelling and drama, it does it well.

Plus, the always incredible Robin Wright (Claire Underwood on “House of Cards”) plays Diana’s aunt, General Antiope, who trains her to fight.

GRADE:  B

PICK HIT

Canadian country music hottie Brett Kissel, with just two hit albums under his cowboy belt buckle, has already scored nine Top Ten hits on the Canadian country charts.

Sadly, American radio hasn’t taken a chance on him yet.  As Julia Roberts’ Vivard Ward says to the snooty women on Rodeo Drive, “big mistake, big, huge!”

Brett is back with a brand new single that’s burning up the country charts in his native country.

“We Were That Song” is already at #22!

Back in February 2016, I wrote about Brett and his fantastic album, “Pick Me Up”, which was my #7 album of that year!

Here’s that blog again so you learn more about Brett.  And, by the way, he’s fantastic with being personable with his fans on social media!

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

Brett, I can’t wait for the new album!  You have a lot of American fans, too!

R.I.P. TOM PETTY

For rock & rollers, this is a heartbreaker!

The Gainesville, Florida rocker died Monday night after being found unresponsive and in full cardiac arrest at his Malibu, California home the night before.

Petty would have been 67 on October 20th.

On the Billboard Hot 100, Petty scored 16 Top 40 hits.

Three of them reached the Top Ten:  “Don’t Do Me Like That” (#10, 1980), “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” (#3, 1981, from Stevie Nicks’ “Bella Donna” album), and “Free Fallin'” (#7, 1990).

While it wasn’t one of his Top Ten Hot 100 hits, “The Waiting” (#19, 1981) was one of my favorite Petty songs. (It did spend six consecutive weeks at the top of Billboard’s Rock Tracks chart!)

THE HOLIDAY SEASON IS HERE!

Now that October is here, so is the holiday SEASON! 🙂

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THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Three Movies — Two Oscar Hopefuls

As we head into the second weekend of 2016, I hope your year is off to a great start.

We took advantage of the after-the-holidays down time and got caught up on shows on our DVR:  “Madam Secretary”, “American Horror Story:  Hotel”, “Empire”, and “Zoo”.

We are still five episodes of “Quantico” behind and we started watching “The Man in the High Castle”.  Up next for the rest of the snowy winter:  “Breaking Bad”.

We also watched three movies last weekend and two of them are garnering some Oscar buzz.

“MR. HOLMES”

We’ve all heard the story of super sleuth Sherlock Holmes.  We can even catch modern versions on CBS with super hottie Jonny Lee Miller (he’ll always be Eli Stone to me) and sexy Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC and PBS series “Sherlock”.

But, an interesting twist on the Sherlock Holmes story is told perfectly in director Bill Condon’s “Mr. Holmes”.   Condon directed the Oscar-winning “Dreamgirls” in 2006 and wrote the Academy Award-winning hit, “Chicago” in 2002.

“Mr. Holmes” stars Sir Ian McKellen as the 93-year-old long retired Holmes living in Sussex and attended to by Mrs. Munro played by the always amazing Laura Linney.

Holmes is desperate to recall the details of his last case before his mind fails him.

While Oscar nominees McKellen and Linney are always stellar, a future star in the making in this movie is 13-year-old actor Milo Parker, who plays Roger, Mrs. Munro’s son.

GRADE:  A

“MAD MAX: FURY ROAD”

If you’ve never seen any of the “Mad Max” movies (there are four) like me, you’ll be in for a surprise if you choose this as your first.

I love Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron and that’s why I wanted to see “Mad Max:  Fury Road”.

Let me just say this bluntly.  If you make it past the first thirty WTF minutes, you’ll be hooked into this dystopian look at a wasteland following a nuclear holocaust.

There’s even Oscar buzz building for the movie and director George Miller.

And, thankfully, there’s no Mel Gibson.

GRADE:  B

“NO ESCAPE”

This premise of this movie is promising and the acting is decent, but it does have some big flaws.

As the movie opens, we see the prime minister of Cambodia assassinated by a group of rebels.

It flashes back 17 hours with a man, Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson), on a plane with his wife and two daughters.  They’re from the United States and are relocating to southeast Asia for his new job.

Maybe it’s an omen, but nothing works in their hotel room and when Jack tells the hotel desk clerk the problems, he’s told it’s happening all over town.

The next morning Jack goes out to get a paper.  On his way back to the hotel, he’s caught in a riot between police and armed demonstrators.  Shots are fired and deadly violence breaks out.

Just that scene alone is frightening and so realistic.  It’s easy to image being in a foreign country and not knowing your way around and the native language in a life and death situation.

People are being killed all over town and Jack realizes that Americans are being targeted.  More specifically, he learned they’re out to kill him because of the company he moved there for with the job.

If it hadn’t been for the totally bogus escape scene from the hotel with his family, this movie would have scored a higher grade.  But, that scene alone destroyed the realism of what is, otherwise, a great movie.

Okay, that and the fact that the director allowed Pierce Brosnan to sing — even if it’s karaoke and that’s usually bad.  But, after “Mamma Mia”, Brosnan should never be allowed to sing in movies again. 🙂

GRADE:  C

If you’ve seen these movies, let me know what you thought of them.  If you haven’t, I know you’ll love “Mr. Holmes” and enjoy the other two.

Anthony

 

 

Traveling Got Me Thinking

Social media is a great thing.  We can reach out to people across town or across the world.  It’s an interesting avenue for information and the catalysts for much misinformation.

It’s true, Ray and I are fortunate enough to travel — some for his work and some just for fun.  And, it seems that much of our yearly travel is done toward the last part of the year and people think we travel all the time.  How do I know that?  I read it on Facebook. 🙂

RAT PVR

The first week of December, we took Tammy, my sister to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and it was fantastic.  If you ever get a chance to go, you have to do it.  We has mostly sunny skies all week with highs in the 80s.

This trip came just two months after I spent almost two weeks combined in San Francisco, California, and Anchorage, Alaska, tagging along with Ray on conferences he was attending.

I know some of my friends may never get to go on exotic vacations or even fun getaways and that’s a bummer.  Life is too short not to get to do exciting things.

My sister, who’s a server at a local restaurant, stuck to a budget to afford the trip.  And, contrary to misconceptions, I don’t get rich from my job as a morning meteorologist!

The secret to our traveling is an interest-free credit card for a year, so we’d buy our trips and pay on them for a year!

But, that’s not the point of this blog.  That was to clarify that while we travel a lot, we also live on budget like the next man and woman.

Last December, Tammy and Gretel went on an eastern Caribbean cruise with us.

It was amazing.  Both trips, the cruise and trip to Puerto Vallarta, were all inclusive (alcohol with the Mexican trip).  We ate and drank all that we wanted and definitely more than we should.

And, we took along $200 for additional tipping.  While it’s not required, what’s a few dollars for your server that keeps your table clean, the bartender filling your drinks, and the maid that makes your room spotless every day?

Here’s what I learned on those trips.  On the cruises, these hard-working people sign on to work these ships every day of the ten-month contract — every day!  (Now, I’m just speaking of this one cruise line that we were on and the employees we talked to.)

Ten months of being away from their families to earn whatever pay they make and to watch us — appearing like we have no worries in the world — eat and drink (and waste) like gluttonous fools.

PVR

While in Mexico, we learned that the servers and bartenders work six twelve-hour days each week.  They come into work in the morning and take a break in the afternoon and then come back to work in the evening for a few more hours.

Honestly, I cannot image that.  I go into work and when my one shift is over, I’m ready to go home to relax and spend the rest of the day with my family.  During severe weather, I obviously have to work extra and go back in on my own time.

Again, I have friends that work multiple jobs and still can’t make ends meet and they can feel the pain I’m describing with the men and women who work on the cruise ships and resorts we visit.

In a perfect world, I wish we could all go on vacations and never have to struggle financially.

While that is a fantasy, I’ll strive to feel less guilty when I get to do these things and make sure that I tip generously when I’m at an all-inclusive resort or on a cruise ship to say an extra “thank you”.

And, when at home, I’ll continue making donations to local charities and do fundraisers to help others.

Reaching out to other and never taking anything for granted isn’t just for the holidays.  It’s my year-long goal.

Anthony

Charity Begins With You & Me

It’s easy to get distracted this time of the year with everything that we have to get done between work, our families, and the holidays.  It’s easy to forget those in our communities, our country, and around the world that can’t forget that they’re cold and hungry and they won’t have a bright and cheery holiday season.

ChristmasTree

The holidays are upon us.  There is no way to escape it.  It begins with eating ourselves into a stupor this week.  We then focus our attention on fulfilling everyone’s Christmas dreams by shopping until we drop.  And, then there’s New Year’s Eve where many party and drink like fish to ring in 2013.

Candy

In the next six weeks, most Americans will devour so many extra calories and spend so much money for a few moments of bliss, whether it’s eating homemade candy, cookies, or treats, or buying some present that may be re-gifted, taken back to be exchanged, or never used.

I consider myself a very charitable person.  I donate money and my time to emcee and organize fundraisers that help everything from animal shelters to domestic violence centers to fight hunger and to raise awareness in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  I’ve also donated money to fight cancer, to help fund school programs, and just last week, I donated money for Habitat for Humanity, a charity that I donate to on a regular basis.  Those are just a few things that I do.

Habitat

I’ve even had to wrestle with my conscience when I bought popcorn from the Boy Scouts outside stores when those little faces ask you to help them out.  I struggle with it every time that I drop a dollar into the red kettles for the Salvation Army.  I know both of those organizations do good things for the community and for our kids, but why do they have to be so homophobic and judgmental?  I really struggle with that and I always have hope that both organizations will evolve and love all one day.

But, this is not about me.  It’s about making a difference.

I know many of you struggle to pay your rent and your utility bills, to keep your families fed, and to pay for medication.  I know you may not have extra dollars in your wallet or purse to make sizable donations to charities.  But, it’s true that every dollar and every coin makes a difference.

When it comes to me, I know that if I have the money to buy a compact disc (even if it’s on sale for $9.99), buy a DVD, go to the movies, or plan a vacation, I have the money to make small donations to charities that can help others.

HappyTG

A couple of my friends are asking for volunteers and donations to help their church in Moline, Illinois, present their first ever Thanksgiving lunch Thursday.  I’m sure they could still use some donated food or money to buy what they need.  I bet they could even use volunteers.  Give them a call to find out.  (309) 764-6721.

Thursday afternoon, Ray and I, and our friend, Vickie, are volunteering for Mr. Thanksgiving, a 40-year event that feeds about 2,500 people.  It’s for those that may not have money for food for a feast or for people who may not have family and just want to be around others at the holidays.  It takes place at SouthPark Mall in Moline from 4-6:30 p.m.  You can donate money at many local grocery stores to help offset the cost for the public event or you can drop by Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. to volunteer.

Sandy

This Thanksgiving and Christmas will be a tough one for Americans living along the mid-Atlantic coast and in New England.  In late October, Hurricane Sandy brought wind, flooding rains, and heavy snow, that caused more than $52.4 billion  (that’s with a “B”) in damages and displaced so many people.

new-york-flooding

There have been many functions and telethons in the past few weeks that raised tens of millions of dollars to help the American Red Cross in the relief efforts.  Celebrities are donating huge sums of money, too.  Leonardo DiCaprio has pledged $500,000 from his Foundation, and “Mother Monster” Lady Gaga has put up ONE MILLION DOLLARS!

Gaga

It’ll make me feel good to know that when I see Gaga in January 2013 in Las Vegas that part of my ticket price went to helping others.

donate-hurricane-sandy

Here is an update posted on the American Red Cross website Monday:  “Some people are still unable to return to their homes. About 750 people spent Sunday night in ten shelters.”

“The Red Cross is looking ahead to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and will be working with various organizations and community groups to get Thanksgiving meals to people in the areas affected by Sandy. This will include distributing food before the holiday, supporting faith-based and community Thanksgiving meal programs, and serving Thanksgiving meals from Red Cross kitchens on Thanksgiving.”

With that being said, I just made a donation to the American Red Cross to help out in New England and I’ll make it easy for you to do the same by providing the link.  If you donate, I appreciate it and I know those people who we’ll probably never meet will be thankful that you did, too.

http://www.redcross.org/charitable-donations

GivingThanks-floral

My friends, I wish you the very best this holiday season.  Regardless of what is going on in our lives, good or bad, I know that for most of us, there’s another day that will follow.  We can only hope that it’s a good one.

Here’s my last thought to pontificate about before you donate.

We’ve all heard about the good that charities do and we’ve also heard about the few cases of funds being misused.  I still donate and I always will.  When I offer my time or money, I rely on hope and faith that the money is being used to make life better for many.

Happy Thanksgiving early and be thankful for your blessings.

Anthony

Here’s a bonus — a powerful message behind a powerful and beautiful voice.  In 1997, my idol, Reba McEntire recorded a charity single for the Salvation Army and I’ll share “What If” with you now.