Posts Tagged ‘homophobia’

Random Friday Thoughts — March 30, 2018

The first big holiday of spring is upon us.  I know it’ll be a busy one for many of you, so thank you for taking the time to check out my random thoughts.

HAPPY EASTER!

A flashback to Easter 2001 and Miss ABBA visiting the Easter Bunny!

ABBAEaster2001

KRISPY KREME CELEBRATES EASTER 

For just a limited time in the United States and Canada, Krispy Kreme is featuring a Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg donut.

The chocolate-iced, nut-covered sweet treat is filled with a Reese’s peanut butter version of Krispy Kreme’s signature Kreme filling.

Capture1

If that isn’t your thing, the company will start selling a Lemon Glaze Doughnut, which was voted on by fans, on April 23, 2018.

SIX MONTHS NOW

Six months ago this weekend, on October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a country music concert on the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada.

LV

Before killing himself, he gunned down 58 others and injured more than 700.

Country star Jason Aldean was on stage when the massacre occurred.  While he has commented on the rampage before, he’s ready to try to move on.

Aldean tells “Entertainment Weekly”, “I’m not a politician.  I’m not trying to push my own agenda.  If I say that I believe this, I’m gonna piss off half of the people, and if I say I believe that, I’m gonna piss off the other half.  I have my opinions, but what the hell do I know?  I think everybody needs to sit down, stop pushing their own agendas, and figure out what will make it safer.  When people can’t go to a damn movie or a concert and not worry about somebody shooting the place up, there’s a flaw in the system.”

Amen!

“AMARILLO SKY”

Aldean has scored 34 Billboard Country hits since his career kicked off in 2005.  Of those, 29 have hit the Top Ten.  Ten topped the chart.

“Amarillo Sky” (#4, 2006) is one of my favorites.

REMEMBRANCE GARDEN 

In December 2017, while in Las Vegas, I visited the memorial for the victims — the Remembrance Garden and Wall!

Remembrance Garden

HOMOPHOBIA — THEN AND NOW

In 1997, homophobia allowed spree killer Andrew Cunanan to murder four people before he gunned down fashion icon Gianni Versace outside his Miami Beach mansion.

In Minneapolis, Cunanan killed his friend, Jeffrey Trail, and his ex-boyfriend David Madson before he murdered real estate developer Lee Miglin in Chicago — Cunanan planted gay erotica material at that crime scene.

Even after three murders, police weren’t looking too hard for the killer because only gays were being executed.

Cunanan ditched Miglin’s stolen car when he realized the car’s cell phone was being tracked by the FBI.  He killed a straight cemetery worker in New Jersey for his truck.

His final victim (besides himself) was Versace.

While police were looking for Cunanan in Miami’s gay community, they were convinced he might be masquerading in drag to hide out!

“THE ASSASSINATION OF GIANNI VERSACE: AMERICAN CRIME STORY”

Sadly, this excellent series is over.

I think when Emmy nominations are announced in July that Darren Criss and Judith Light will get acting nods for their roles of Andrew Cunanan and Marilyn Miglin.

Miglin

“THE SHAPE OF WATER”

If this movie needed an alternate title, how about “The Shape of Excellence”!

Nominated for 13 Oscars, the movie won four including Best Picture and Best Director for Guillermo del Toro.

An excellent Sally Hawkins was nominated for Best Actress and Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer were both nominated in the Best Supporting categories.

Eliza (Hawkins) is a mute woman working as a cleaning lady in a secret government lab in Baltimore during America’s “Cold War” with the Soviets.

She becomes infatuated with the creature that’s being experimented on in the lab.

Eliza’s neighbor, Giles, like her, is lonely and looking for love.  He’s older and gay and realizes if he’d been born at an earlier or later time, he might have had a fulfilling life as a gay man, complete with love.

Spencer is incredible as Eliza’s friend and after seeing this movie, I think Michael Shannon, the bad guy, should have gotten an Oscar nomination in the Best Supporting category instead of Willem Dafoe (“The Florida Project”).

“The Shape of Water” is a very adult “Beauty and the Beast” story.

GRADE:  A+

“WATCHDOGS OF DEMOCRACY?”

This is the second book this year I’ve read from the late UPI reporter Helen Thomas.  The first was “Front Row at the White House”, which was a great read.

watchdogs

This book examines how reporters were the “watchdogs” for the public in the early days of newspaper and even radio and television.

However, as presidents (especially Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush) began to limit the amount of information the public would know about military conflicts and wars (Vietnam, Grenada, and Iraq), reporters failed by not being more assertive in their questioning the information press secretaries were feeding them.

Thomas was especially harsh toward the presidency of George W. Bush, which she mostly referred to as “Bush-2”.

I was thrilled that she also gave President Jimmy Carter the due respect he deserved for bringing the hostages home alive from Iran.

President Carter National Christmas Tree 1979

Thomas writes, “But television commentators and anchormen [Ted Koppel’s “Nightline” was born out of the hostage crisis] were relentless in citing how many days it had been that the hostages were being held, fueling the perception that Carter was a weak president.  In truth, he brought the hostages back alive.  But President Reagan got the credit, because the Iranians waited until the day Reagan was sworn in to release them.”

“Watchdogs” is the ninth book I’ve read, so far, in 2018.

WHAT NOW?

Now that “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”, “The X-Files”, “9-1-1”, and “The Alienist” (although I still have the series finale to watch) are finished, I’m now going to check out “The Terror” on AMC and “Trust: The Getty Family Saga” on FX.

DONNA SHERIDAN:  DEAD OR ALIVE?

2008’s “Mamma Mia!” is still one of my favorite movies and I’ve watched it countless times.  It’s the 134th biggest movie of all-time worldwide bringing in $615.7 million.

In May 2017, it was announced that a sequel, “Mamma Mia!  Here We Go Again” would hit theaters in July 2018.  I was thrilled!

Capture1

But, that excitement turned to despair when the first trailers arrived.  Fans were quick to note that there was very little of Donna Sheridan (Meryl Streep), the star of the first movie.

Does that mean that Donna is dead since it focused on a young Donna (Lily James)?

After seeing the trailer in theater last week during “Love, Simon”, Donna was still referred to in the past tense.

I know there are many great people in “Mamma Mia!” and with the addition of Cher in the sequel, it’ll be great.

But, a dead Donna Sheridan means no “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” for me this summer!

THE END OF “THE X-FILES”

When this series “ended” in 2002 on Fox after the ninth season, I was not pleased with the “series finale”.

It was brought back for a six-episode tenth season in 2016 and then back for ten mostly painful episodes this winter.

Gillian Anderson, who plays FBI agent Dana Scully, announced that she would not return to the series if it comes back for another season.

And, after seeing this final finale, I can see why!

No more “The X-Files” please — unless it’s on the big screen as a movie!

“MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS”

This Agatha Christie thriller directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars as famous Detective Hercule Poirot, was a hit last year.

After solving a case in Jerusalem, Poirot is ready for a vacation, but stumbles across a “Murder on the Orient Express”!

The all-star cast is great and includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz and many more.

The cinematography is incredible!

On a $55 million budget, the movie made $350.5 million worldwide.

Fox announced earlier this year that “Death on the Nile”, another Christie novel, will be the sequel.

It’ll hit theaters in November 2019 with Branagh returning as director and star.

GRADE:  B

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 — February 2, 2018

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

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

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

STILL MISS MY SWEET GIRL

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

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

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

ABBADerecho1

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

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

ABBA Christmas Card 001

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

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

ABBA letter 001

 

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

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

 

I listen to you breathe and each breath sounds deeper

Is it the end or just a peaceful sleep

 

As I caress your neck and shoulder blades,

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

 

I don’t want you to hear me cry,

I want you to let go and not fight for me

 

You’ve been there for me all your life

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

 

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

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

ABBAFashionShowJan2012

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

ABBAJuly2010

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

Miss ABBA, thank you for the memories!

ALSO, MR. PANDA

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

ABBAPanda

The beautiful and strong little guy was almost 14!

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

WINTER OLYMPICS — GO GUS!!!!!!

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

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

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

snowy gus

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

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

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

Gus Matt

THIS MAKES ME SMILE, TOO!

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

She looks so glamorous in her sequins!

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

REMEMBERING KAREN CARPENTER

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

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

karen carpenterpeople

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

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

Karen

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

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

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

#5 “RAINY DAYS & MONDAYS”

#4 “WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN”

#3 CD

#2 “MERRY CHRISTMAS, DARLING”

#1 CD

top of the world

“THE ALIENIST”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GRADE:  A

OTHER PHENOMENAL RECOMMENDATIONS FROM “THE ALIENIST” DIRECTOR

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

Jakob

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

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

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

“THE ASSASSINATION OF GIANNI VERSACE:  AMERICAN CRIME STORY”

If you’re not watching this, start!

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

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

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

Miglin

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

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

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

EPISODE THREE GRADE:  A+

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

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

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

sarcasm

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

GRADE:  B+

INTERESTING TIDBITS

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

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

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

RYAN MURPHY ON THE SHOW’S TIMING

Fox's 62nd Annual Emmy Award Nominees Celebration

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

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

#Resistance

ANTHONY AS CUNANAN — BY ACCIDENT

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

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

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

Cunanan

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

“IT”

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

It was enjoyable and creepy.

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

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

GRADE: B+

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

ALTERNATIVE “IT”

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

snl kellyanne

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — July 28, 2017

Where does the time go?  It’s hard to believe that it’s already the end of July and that seven months of this year have already passed.

I hope you have a great weekend and I appreciate you checking out my “Random Friday Thoughts”.  After you read mine, feel free to share yours.

#45, YOU DON’T SURPRISE ME AT ALL

Last summer, when #45 posted this on Twitter, I made sure to save it.

donald-lgbt

On January 27, 2017, I wrote, “At the time of this tweet, I laughed to myself as a man, an American, and one of those people he thanked!  I think now just as I thought then, it’s just another joke and a bad one played on me and my fellow Americans.”

This past Wednesday, #45 tweeted that transgender people will not serve in the military in an capacity.

Here’s my reply.

AP to DT

This ban is a perfect example of “smoke and mirrors” to hide his job and policy failures.

Friends, just remember:  “Stay Woke” and “Resistance”!

Yes You Are

KILLING GAYS IN CHECHNYA

Outside of conservative America, there’s an all out war against the LGBT community in Chechnya (a republic of Russia). When I say war, I mean savage murdering.

The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazetta reports that as many as 26 men have been killed, so far, in 2017, in Chechnya.

Ramzan Kadyrov

However, Chechnya’s president, Ramzan Kadyrov,  claims there are no gay people there.  In an interview with “Real Sports”, he said “To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them to Canada”.

Earlier this spring, he publicly stated that he wanted all LGBT people in his country eliminated by May 26, the start of Muslim holiday, Ramadan.

While sad and devastating, one has to think how this might be handled if the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election was different — if we had Hillary Clinton as president and a different Secretary of State.

Hillary

BUT, WE HAVE OUR OWN HATRED

While Chechnya and Russia’s hatred of LGBT people needs to be addressed on the international stage, we need to do something at home, too.

Already in 2017, there have been, at least, 11 trans people, many of them people of color, murdered in the United States.

But, this is nothing new, it’s just getting worse.

Brandy

Over the years, Brandy Martell (above) is just one of many high-profile transgender women, again, mostly people of color, that have been brutally murdered.

37-year-old Martell was shot in the genitals in Oakland, California, and Diamond Williams’ body was hacked into pieces and scattered about in an overgrown lot in Philadelphia.

And, just last week, a former Navy sailor, 21-year-old Dwanya Hickerson, of Mississippi, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for murdering a registered nurse, Dee Wigham, in 2016.

Hickerson stabbed Wigham 119 times after learning that she was transgender.

“LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE”

Maybe everyone needs to take four minutes and open their ears and mind and listen to LeAnn Rimes!

She’s one of my favorite singers and a sweetheart (I met her in Salisbury, Maryland, in 2005).

AnthonyLeAnn

This week she tops the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart with her latest, “Love is Love is Love”.

Earlier this year, “Long Live Love” also topped the chart marking her third #1 on the Dance Club Songs chart.

If you haven’t bought her latest album, “Remnants”, do so now.  It’s phenomenal!

“OZARK”

“Ozark” is the latest Neflix series and it debuted last week.

Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) is a financial adviser from Chicago who’s laundering money for a Mexican drug lord.  When a scam deal goes bad, he relocates to the Ozarks of Missouri to continue his illegal work.

Laura Linney, one of my favorite actresses, plays his wife.  You’ve heard me talk about her many times as Mary Ann Singleton in “Tales of the City”.  Plus, she’s a three-time Oscar nominee and she’s won four Emmy Awards and two Golden Globes!

This is an excellent series and both lead actors play their broken characters very well.

The Emmys will come calling for Bateman, Linney, and the series next summer and I hope it’s renewed for season two.

GRADE:  A

“TO THE BONE”

Earlier this week, I talked about the Netflix movie “To The Bone”.

It’s the story of a 20-year-old woman’s struggle with anorexia that was not only threatening to kill her, but it was also tearing her family apart.

While the movie was realistic and I commend it for showing that men suffer from eating disorders, too, I was a little offset by the amount of humor surrounding the dire subject.

Humor is needed in the darkest of times, but there has to be a line and I think this movie crossed that line, at times.

Overall, a great movie to highlight a devastating illness.

GRADE:  B

RECOVERY IS A LIFELONG STRUGGLE

I know first hand about eating disorders.  While “To The Bone” focused mostly on anorexia nervosa, my illness is the opposite, bumilia (binging and purging).

In 1995, I weighed 116 pounds (down from a weight of 169 in 1986).  I was on the wagon for 21 years, but I relapsed this past winter.

I’m eating healthy again and exercising. I’m at almost three months and counting toward my next 21-year run!

Bad Meal

You can read that blog by clicking here and it’ll open in a new window:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/daily-struggle-through-thick-and-thin/

If you or someone you know is fighting anorexia and/or bulimia, please contact the National Eating Disorders Association at 1-800-931-2237 or check out their website, http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

MELISSA McCARTHY KNOWS SHE’S NOT THIN

The hilarious comedian earned an Oscar nomination for “Bridesmaids” and scored one of my favorite movies of 2015 with “Spy”.

She’s talked candidly with “Rolling Stone” about her weight and said she often wished she was taller, prettier, and thinner.

Melissa

One night she was looking at the IMDB message board and saw an anonymous message from Ohio at 3:43 a.m. calling her a “fat pig” and hoping “she drops dead of a heart attack in front of her children.”

McCarthy told the magazine, “all the air left my lungs.  Like, wait a minute.  My kids?  Like who –?  What kind of ass?  I kind of wanted to go to Ohio and just be like, ‘Hey, I have two girls, I do by best, and you hope I die in front of them?  Like, what the f*ck?  I mean, you can hate my movies, find me boring or over-the-top, whatever it is.  But when you move into that realm of the world…”

What is wrong with people?

MARTHA WASH & BLACKBOX

Just one more thought on this weighty subject matter.

I’m sure many of you remember or have heard the classic,”It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls.

The group, made up of Martha Wash and Izora Armstead, also worked as back-up singers for Sylvester.  They were then known as Two Tons O’ Fun.

Since then, Wash has worked with many acts because she’s an incredible vocalist.  Back around 1990, she sang on albums by C+C Music Factory and Black Box.

“Everybody Everybody” and “Strike It Up” became Top Ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and both topped the Dance Club Songs chart.

However, if you watch the “Strike It Up” video, you don’t see Wash.  You see a very petite Katrin Quinol lip-synching the lyrics!

Wash also sang the vocals on C+C Music Factory’s #1 hit, “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”.  Yet, another petite woman, Zelma Davis, appears in the video moving her mouth to Wash’s voice.

It’s a perfect example of pandering to the mentality that it’s easier to sell a product with a pretty, young, and thin woman as opposed to a pretty, older, and larger lady.

I wish we lived in a society that accepted people for who or what they are, but we don’t. 😦

As for Martha Wash, in 1993, her self-titled album produced three Top Ten Dance Club Songs hits with two hitting #1 (“Carry On” and “Give It To Me”).  I also got to see her perform at the Vortex in Chicago around that time!

Here’s that full-figured dynamo with some very hot, hot dancers!

In 1994, Wash and C+C Music Factory’s Clivilles and Cole reached two out-of-court settlements giving Martha credit for singing on their hits.

TROPICKLES

You may have heard Walmart is carrying Tropical-flavored pickle spears!

Some of you are already snarling your nose up and some are thinking that it sounds interesting.

Pickles

Kyle, our morning photographer, brought some in and I tried one.

If you like “bread and butter” pickles and you like fruit punch, you’ll love them.  It’s a very pleasant combination and I’d definitely buy them for a picnic.

PICK HIT & PANAMA CITY BEACH

Most of you may not know Jason Dottley.

He starred in the LogoTV series, “Sordid Lives: Television Series”.  (If you’ve never seen the original “Sordid Lives” with Olivia Newton-John, Leslie Jordan, Beth Grant, Delta Burke, and others, you’ve got to find it.  Hilarious!)

Jason is also a singer that’s scored three hits on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart over the years.

His latest, “Summertime” is convenient for the season.

The video was filmed in Panama City Beach, Florida.  While there, over the Fourth of July, Jason says a young woman called him a “f**got”.

I know Jason is man enough to handle her ignorance.

But, I just want you all to know we have some great people here — like those that risked their own lives recently to make a human chain to save a family caught in dangerous rip currents.  But, we also have other people like that young woman!  It takes all kinds!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — August 12, 2016

The weekend is here!  While I love what I do, I love my weekends even more.  Okay, I love vacations, desserts, and buffets even more than just weekends. 🙂

Whatever you have planned this weekend, enjoy it.

Thank you for checking out my “Random Friday Thoughts”.  As always, we don’t have to agree on everything, we just have to disagree diplomatically.

2016 SUMMER OLYMPICS WOES

When it was announced that Rio de Janeiro won the bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, I thought it was a bad idea.  My first thought was crime.

But, now that the games are underway, many stories coming out of Brazil are about the dirty, unhealthy waters polluted with trash, dead animals, and God only knows what else!

Rio Water.jpg

This is Guanabara Bay on the coastal Atlantic.  It’s also where the Olympic sailing events take place.  It’s not only polluted with trash, but also with raw sewage.

Eeew, no thanks!

SOME OLYMPICS FANS CAN BE DISGUSTING, TOO!

While I wish the American athletes the very best in bringing home plenty of gold, silver, and bronze, I’m dismayed and disgusted with the abuse being directed toward LGBT athletes.

Megan Rapinoe, the midfielder for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team, is one of 44 openly LGBT athletes at the games.

Megan

Last week, many people heard the word “bicha” (roughly translates to the derogatory f-word used to describe a gay man) chanted at both the U.S vs. New Zealand and the Australia vs. Canada  women’s soccer games.

Rapinoe says it was “personally hurtful”.  She adds, “They need to understand if all of you are willing to do that, what does that say to a gay player? Especially in the men’s game. What does that say to players who are struggling to come out?”

She goes on to say, “I don’t think that all Brazilians fans or everyone that was there last night is homophobic.  But I think that they are complicit in it as long as they’re doing it.”

AND, LET’S NOT FORGET NBC SPORTS!

When Brazilian beach volleyball player Larissa Franca and her sports partner beat Team USA in a match, Larissa went into the crowd and hugged her wife.

NBC Sports

However, NBC Sports commentator Chris Marlowe stated, “That is her husband.  She married Lili in 2013.”

“Husband?”  How offensive!

When two women are married, the other partner is referred to as a “wife”.  When you talk of Ray, you would refer to him as my “husband”.  Is that so difficult?

Marlowe did issue a half-assed apology, “I’m sorry for the mistake today.  Clearly, Liliane is Larissa’s wife.”

RACISM AND LACK OF HARMONY

After comedian and “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones suspended her Twitter account last month because of ignorant, racist comments and rants, Normani Kordei of the all-female group Fifth Harmony is following suit.

Normani

This past weekend, she posted on her account, “Over the course of this last week and especially over the last 48 hours I’ve not just been cyber bullied, I’ve been racially cyber bullied with tweets and pictures so horrific and racially charged that I can’t subject myself any longer to hate.”

She went on to say, “I’m not the first black female celebrity to deal with this and I’m sure I won’t be the last.”

Haters, wake the hell up!  This is not the 1800s or, even, the 1960s.  People need to expand their minds and not just open their mouths!

Normani, I’m with you and all of your sisters in harmony!  I can’t wait for your return.

Meanwhile, I’m loving “7/27”, the latest Fifth Harmony album and their current Top Ten hit, “All In My Head (Flex)”.

LESS POLITICAL — FOR NOW

Now that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the two major party candidates for this year’s presidential election, I’m going to TRY to refrain from political talk — for now.

Anthony NOH8

The reason is that I don’t have one good thing to say about Trump and his vile attitude toward <insert group here>.

I know it’s going to be really hard especially when crazy stuff just comes out of Trump’s mouth daily — the second amendment/assassination off-the-cuff comment earlier this week comes to mind!

I live in the real world and I know there are many that don’t like Hillary.

HIllary Flag

With that being said, elections shouldn’t be about the lesser of two evils.  However, we don’t have a political system where there are three or four parties that have a real chance of winning.

Yes, I know that Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are running, but they really only serve as vote stealers from Clinton and Trump.

“FIGHT SONG 2.0”

So, with those comments, I’m sharing this video.  Originally, it was just an inspiring song by Rachel Platten that hit the Top Ten at radio last summer.

Now, in the hands of Platten and Hillary supporter and “Pitch Perfect” director/actress Elizabeth Banks, it has a much different sound and meaning.

Even if you’re not a Hillary supporter, it’s still a very cool Hollywood production if you like a cappella.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Psycho

READY FOR FALL?

While I’ve enjoyed the pool time and having a nice tan, I’m ready for fall and winter.  I’m so ready to catch up on movies and to binge watch several television series.

Also, speaking of fall, are you ready for this year’s seasonal M&M’s?

Boo Scotch

 

“White BOO-terscotch” will be a combination of “the scary good flavors of butterscotch and white chocolate for the perfect seasonal treat”.  It’ll be found exclusively at Target.

Pecan Pie M&amp;M

Pecan Pie and Candy Corn flavors will also return along with a harvest blend version of Crispy S’mores!

AND, HERE’S SOMETHING A LITTLE FISHY!

The new Oreo flavor this fall at Kroger:  Swedish Fish!

SF Oreos

I’ve never been a big fan of the candies, but Ray loves them.  So, if we buy them, he can have the whole bag, minus one or two, of course.  I’ll have to try them!

PICK HIT

It’s hard to believe that Usher exploded onto the music scene almost twenty years ago with his #1 hit, “You Make Me Wanna…” in 1997.

He’s now topped the charts 22 times!

I love Usher’s “Yeah”, “Love in This Club”,  “OMG”, “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love”, and “Without You”, but I didn’t like “I Don’t Mind”, his song with Juicy J in 2014, at all.

His latest, “Crash”, is already one of my favorite songs of 2016.

This is the second release from his upcoming album, “Flawed”, which has no solid release date yet.

REBA FLASHBACK #1

Reba is currently performing with Brooks & Dunn is Las Vegas in a very successful residency at Caesars Palace.

20160731_145128.jpg

That’s where you’ll have to catch her since country radio pretty much ignored her last studio album, 2015’s “Love Somebody”.

Reba Love Somebody

Twelve years ago this week, Reba scored her 23rd #1 song on the Billboard Country charts with “Somebody”, one of my favorite Reba videos.  I’m such a romantic!

Since then, she’s topped the Country charts two more times:  “Consider Me Gone” (four weeks, 2010) and “Turn on the Radio” (one week, 2011).

REBA FLASHBACK #2

And, it was 29 years ago this week that Reba topped the country chart with my absolute favorite of all of her hits,  “One Promise Too Late”.

Country radio, play the new country that Reba releases and I’ll gladly start listening to the genre again!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — June 17, 2016

I want to wish all the dads out there a “Happy Father’s Day”.  We’re spending it with Ray’s dad, Papa Ray, who’s also turning 80 years old.

There are so many thoughts going through my head almost a week after last Sunday’s horrific massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  I’ll get the heartbreaking ones and the ones that anger me out of the way first.

ORLANDO NIGHTCLUB MASSACRE

It’s been a sad week for the LGBT community.

The nightmare is still settling in for the families of the 49 victims, the 53 people who were hurt, and the rest of the people inside the popular gay nightclub last Sunday morning when a 29-year-old terrorist opened fire with a semi-automatic assault weapon and a gun (a third gun was found in his car) after taking hostages.  He was killed by police.

Pulse

I’ve gone back and changed this part of the blog several times as more details are released.

First, I wrote that the killer’s father said it happened because his son didn’t like gay people.  But, it seems the more his father talks, the more he sounds like a lunatic himself!

Now there are reports that the shooter may actually have been gay, or at least, a regular at Pulse and on gay hook-up sites and apps.

If that’s true, it’s very sad that he was such a self-loathing, closeted gay man.  He wouldn’t be the first person forced into a sad life of hiding the fact that he was gay.  Most of the time, that fear is perpetuated by the views of family, religion, or society in general. This has to change!  However, people in those situations normally don’t resort to such a heinous crime of murder!

CALL IT WHAT IT IS — A HATE CRIME

The shooting in Orlando is now the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.  This surpasses the Virginia Tech (April 2007) and Sandy Hook shootings (December 2012).

After I started processing the shock and sadness I felt, I was angered by Republican politicians addressing the shooting while ignoring the fact that nightclub and the victims were targeted for being (or suspected of being) LGBT.

hate

Failed Republican presidential wannabees Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee shared these tweets:

Rubio: “Our prayers are with those injured and killed early this morning in horrifying act of terror in Orlando.”

Huckabee: “Please join Janet and me in praying for the victims of the Orlando attack and their families.”

Notice that there’s no mention of where this senseless tragedy took place or why they were slaughtered.  It was because of who they were!

Rubio and Huckabee are just two of the politicians who demonize the LGBT community on a regular basis — except when it gives them face time in front of cameras with empty sympathetic apologies.  The LGBT community needs love and support every day, not when it’s convenient.

Disgusting!

“THESE PEOPLE”

When I shared my blog about the shootings and who the LGBT community is on Facebook last weekend, someone commented, “these people are in our country to harm us and are just sitting back waiting for that call.”

In this case, I know “these people” was referring to Muslims or Middle Easterners.  The shooter’s parents are from Afghanistan.

Still, I was taken aback by the comment and replied, “There are “these people” in every walk of life — they may have different color skin, religions, upbringings, ideologies, etc. The white kid who (allegedly) murdered the innocent black church goers in South Carolina last year is one of “these people”.

Church Fire

In the weeks following the Charleston, South Carolina shootings one year ago today, there were suspicious fires at seven black, or predominantly black, churches in South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida.

Trust me people, hate is very much alive in this country.  We have a major problem and we’ve got to work together to find a solution.  This means all of us.

GUN CONTROL

There’s a lot of debate about guns and gun control.  Some think that when you ask for tougher regulations, you want to take their guns away.

Gun Control

I want people to be checked thoroughly before they legally own a gun.  I want to know if these people have criminal records, if they’re on the “no fly list”, have mental issues, etc.

I don’t care if people own guns for protection or hunting.  But, there is NO reason for the general public to own an assault-style weapon like the AR-15!  None!!!

But, legally, it’s considered the same as other rifles and there are anywhere between 2.5 million and 3.7 million guns in the AR-15 family in civilian use today in the United States.

AR-15

Now, for the first time ever, the family of the gun’s inventor is speaking out.

They told NBC News, “Our father, Eugene Stoner, designed the AR-15 and subsequent M-16 as a military weapon to give our soldiers an advantage over the AK-47.  He died long before any mass shootings occurred. But, we do think he would have been horrified and sickened as anyone, if not more by these events.”

My final thought on the matter is that when the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted in 1791 allowing us to “keep and bear arms”, I know that our founding fathers never imagined a weapon of that caliber — a weapon that would be responsible for cutting so many lives short here in America!

The Second Amendment would be worded much differently today and bearing arms would mean something else.

LET ME TELL ABOUT THE LGBT COMMUNITY

In case you didn’t get to read my blog last Sunday that expressed how devastating this massacre is to the LGBT community and who were are, here it is again.  (This will open in a new window.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/deadly-gay-nightclub-attack-were-all-one/

A SAD ENDING TO THIS LOVE STORY 

There have been many stories coming out from family members grieving over the loss of their loved ones.  This one really breaks my heart.

32-year-old Christopher “Drew” Leinonen and his 22-year-old boyfriend Juan Guerrero were two of the victims inside the Pulse nightclub.

Juan’s sister, Aryam, says, “They were honestly so in love. They were soul mates. You can tell by how they looked at each other.  It’s a little comforting that they died together.”

Christmas Was Perfect

Look at the caption taken from this Instagram photo of the men with their families, “Christmas was perfect”.  This Christmas won’t be perfect for the grieving families.

As much as I love the holidays, I’m going to make sure that Christopher and Juan are not forgotten this Christmas.

The two men had planned on getting married and their families have decided that they’ll be buried together.

LOVE IS LOVE

Before I married almost five years ago, I found this video and it still makes me smile.  I even borrowed the “sparkler toast” for our reception.

Today, I dedicate it to the memory of Christopher and Juan, the love they shared, and the wedding they never experienced.

Make sure the person you love knows it everyday!  Life is too short.

Ray, I love you!

GAGA HONORS THOSE MURDERED

Lady Gaga addressed thousands earlier this week at Los Angeles’s City Hall at a vigil to remember those killed at the Pulse nightclub.  Gaga read off the names of the 49 people murdered.

The pop star told the tearful crowd, “I can’t help but feel that this level of hatred, like all prejudicial crimes, this is an attack on humanity itself.”

She added, “This is an attack on everyone.”

ON A LIGHTER NOTE….

Offending People

JUST ONE DONALD TRUMP COMMENT (BUT, I HAVE SEVERAL)

If anyone ever says he doesn’t have a sense of humor, I’ll always have this tweet of his to remember.  I’m still laughing out loud over his ignorance.

We might have been born at night, but not last night!

Donald LGBT.jpg

Please let him become a footnote in American history November 8, 2016.

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE FISH

As you know from reading my blog and following me on social media that we love our expanded koi and goldfish pond.

Fish Pond

Now, I have scientific proof that the fish know me, they really know me!

Culum Brown, an Australian biologist studies fish intelligence and he says, “Most fish species are social and have the capacity for individual recognition.”

He adds, “We have known that for more than 20 years. We also know that fish can use facial features to categorize predator and non predators. Fish are much smarter than people think.”

Snowflake Pumpkie Pie

Now I know that Pumpkin Pie, the orange koi with the black spots featured above and at the beginning and end of this feeding frenzy video, recognizes me for more than just being the “food man”!

So, she’s not just a Pavlov fish! 🙂

By the way, she’s the one that I rescued from the mouth of a mink late last summer.  You can read about that harrowing experience here.  (Again, the link below will open in a new window.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/my-first-hand-encounter-with-a-predator/

NEW LADY GAGA MUSIC

People waiting for Gaga’s first new album of pop material since 2013’s “Artpop” (not counting 2014’s “Cheek to Cheek” with Tony Bennett) may have to wait until later this year or early 2017!

Sir Elton John reveals that he’s heard two or three of the new songs and they are “absolutely brilliant”.

Until the new music arrives, this is still one of my favorite Lady Gaga songs.

FIRST LADIES

As you know and you can’t escape, it’s an election year.  I’ve been reading mostly autobiographies, biographies, and books about political figures.

I just finished “First Ladies” by Betty Boyd Caroli.  It was an easy read because it spent just a few pages or so on each of our president’s wives.

Here are a few tidbits I learned that you may already know. If not, they may come in handy while watching “Jeopardy” one day.

First Ladies.jpg

Martha Washington:  A multi-millionaire (adjusted to today’s dollar) left to her after her first husband’s death.

Abigail Adams:  Very hands-on in helping to shape her husband’s, John Adams, policies.

Martha Jefferson: Died almost two decades before Thomas Jefferson became president, so she was never First Lady, but future First Lady Dolley Madison stood in to entertain at the White House for President Jefferson.

Dolley Madison:  Before being forced to evacuate the White House in August 1814 before British soldiers burned it down, she saved the painting of General Washington.

Elizabeth Monroe:  Ordered her dresses from France at reportedly $1,500 each and wasn’t regarded as too social in her role as First Lady.

Louisa Adams:  Only First Lady born outside of the United States (London, England) and she was the daughter-in-law to second president, John Adams.

Rachel Jackson:  She died days after her husband, Andrew, was elected president, so she was never officially First Lady.

Hannah Van Buren:  She also died before her husband, Martin, became president.

Anna Harrison:  She was the wife of the ninth U.S. President and grandmother of the 23rd president, Benjamin Harrison.  While she was First Lady, she never actually lived in the White House because her husband, William Henry Harrison, died on his 32nd day as president, and she hadn’t moved in yet.

Letitia Tyler:  She was the first First Lady to die while living in the White House (stroke).

I hope you learned something there and I’ll share more First Lady tidbits in the next “Random Friday Thoughts”.

ONE MORE “PULSE” TRIBUTE

Back in 2013, I shared an interview and blog about Eli Lieb, an Iowa singer and songwriter working to make it to the big time.

Eli Lieb Facebook

Since he grew up not far from the Quad Cities, I’ll post the blog again after the video.

His self-titled album was one of my twenty favorites of 2013.

He and Brandon Skeie, both out and proud singers and songwriters released “Pulse” earlier this week to honor the gay nightclub victims.

Here’s that blog about Eli from 2013.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/finding-young-love-a-world-away-from-iowa/

THAT’S IT

Typically, I have less serious material in my “Random Friday Thoughts”, but there is so much to process this week.

Take care of yourself and those around you.

Thank you for checking out my thoughts this week and, as always, feel free to share your thoughts with me.  If we disagree, do it diplomatically.  More gets resolved that way.

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — February 12, 2016

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be sharing my “Random Friday Thoughts” with you again on a regular basis and the feedback has been great.  Thank you for not only reading to see what I’m thinking about, but also commenting.

As always, you don’t have to agree with me, but be diplomatic about it if you disagree.

WARNING — THIS IS NOT DIPLOMATIC!!!

This is the response I got earlier this week to last week’s blog explaining why I support Hillary Clinton for president, which featured a photo of my beautiful family.

Rude Blog Comment.jpg

Pathetic!  But, we know there are many people out there like this!  Putting ignorance aside, let’s move on…

Here is the blog that brought out the hate:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/02/03/my-teenaged-daughter-a-damn-good-reason-i-support-hillary-clinton/

WHAT I REALLY WANT FOR VALENTINE’S DAY…

Candy is always nice and flowers are beautiful, but here’s how I plan on spending Valentine’s Day — a little snow storm, a few glasses of wine by the fireplace with Ray, and the return of the sixth season of “The Walking Dead” Sunday night!

Walking Dead VD

SNOWY VALENTINE’S DAY

If you live in the Midwest, especially across eastern Iowa and northern Illinois, snow is in the forecast late Saturday night and Sunday.

In the Quad Cities, I’m still expecting 3″ or so of snow that’ll fall mostly on Valentine’s Day.

Snow Potential

The snow diminishes to flurries Sunday night and Monday.

CHARLIE SHEEN’S SCARY DR. SAM

There are medications now to make living with HIV more manageable and it’s no longer a death sentence.   However, unless someone is hiding information from me and the 37 million people living with HIV and AIDS across the world, there is no (realistic) cure.

In my opinion, actor Charlie Sheen is a poor spokesperson for those living with HIV, even though the high visibility is a good thing.  Sheen’s antics since going public with his HIV-positive status has made me shake my head in surprise or shock more than once.

Now, the story is even more insane and bizarre when you find out that he’s associated with an Australian doctor who claims he injected himself with Sheen’s tainted blood and cured the infection with goat milk!  Goat milk???

This is how Dr. Sam Chachoua describes himself on Twitter!

Dr Sam

I’m not buying into any “effective way to treat” cancer or AIDS.  If it was that easy, he’d be winning every award there is for humanity and wouldn’t have to make his claim to fame through the troubled Sheen!

Sad!

ABC NEWS — BLATANTLY SEXIST MOVE

ABC News made a big blunder last Saturday night when hosting a New Hampshire presidential debate by not allowing candidate Carly Fiorina to participate.

While I’m not a fan of Fiorina and I can’t say she wasn’t invited because she is a woman, she had every right to be there.

In the Iowa Caucus last week, she beat Chris Christie in both votes and delegates and got just as many votes and delegates as John Kasich and had the same number of delegates as Jeb Bush.

So, it makes no sense that she wasn’t invited.  Jim Gilmore wasn’t invited either, but rightfully so.  He picked up only 12 votes in the Iowa Caucus last week and is polling at 0%!

After the New Hampshire Primary Tuesday, both Christie and Fiorina dropped out of the presidential race.  Dr. Ben Carson, we’re waiting on you (and Gilmore) next.

TRAIN WRECK INTRODUCTION OF CANDIDATES

Maybe it’s a good thing that Fiorina wasn’t there.  The introduction to the ABC News debate looked more like a skit from NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”.

This is hilarious — just as funny as seeing Marco Rubio falling on his face and getting agitated by Christie!

GLENDA JACKSON

Two-time Best Actress Oscar winner Glenda Jackson, now 79, was last seen in a Hollywood movie 24 years ago, but she’s been very busy.  She was a member of Parliament from 1992 through March 2015.

She’s gained a new fan in me with her openness.  Here are some of the things she recently told “Entertainment Weekly”.

glenda-jackson

On “12 Years a Slave” winning the Best Picture Oscar and social change:  “But how can you say that 12 Years a Slave or Selma has caused a fundamental cultural shift? And then you have these black guys being shot by policemen. Would that the Oscars could change the world but, I’m sorry, it just ain’t true.”

On the media making Donald Trump a viable Republican presidential candidate:  “It’s going to come down to what people are prepared to back with their votes, in terms of the status quo, and whether they’ll still go with that nutcase with the worst hair in the world. All that money and you think he could buy himself a decent wig.”

On her Oscar-nominated role in the bisexual love story, “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, in which she played a businesswoman in love with an artist (Murray Head), who loves a doctor (Peter Finch). “Best film script I’d ever read.”

“It was about relationships between people who wanted more than they could furnish. And, of course, United Artists was scared to death of it and didn’t know how to sell it. Apologies to Uncle Sam, but in America, they think homosexual affairs are about sex. But they are about love.”

“AMERICAN CRIME”

The first season of ABC’s Emmy-winning series “American Crime” was great and featured a college actor friend of mine, W. Earl Brown, in a major recurring role.

The second season of the drama, airing now, is phenomenal.

Felicity Huffman and Lili Taylor are both superb in their roles as the principal of an elite private school that’s facing a student sex scandal and as the mother of the young man that’s the victim in that scandal, respectively.

However, the standout this season is 21-year-old Canadian actor Connor Jessup.  Every moment he’s on camera trying to hold it together and make it through the day, your heart breaks for Taylor.

We’re a little past midway through the ten episode season, so it’s not too late to get caught up.  And, since season two is not a continuation of season one, you don’t have to know anything about the first season.

“BURNT”

Bradley Cooper stars in this movie as an acclaimed chef that lost everything because of a drug addiction.

He tries to make a comeback in London, but the road to redemption is not a smooth one.

The foodie in me loved the food porn.

But, while watching the movie, I was also hoping that my chef friend, Monika Sudakov, and the chef I most admire, Grant Achatz, are not like Cooper’s character, Adam Jones, when they’re in a high pressure kitchen making their culinary creations!

GRADE:  B

BRETT KISSEL

When you think of Canadian county music stars, I’m sure Shania Twain, Terri Clark, and Anne Murray come to mind.  However, the only Canadian male country singer I can think of off the top of my head is Paul Brandt.  I love his voice and have some of his earlier American releases.

Recently, I saw the nominations for the Juno Awards and Brett Kissel caught my eye –he’s up against Brandt this year.

So, I went to YouTube and started watching his videos and before I knew it, I bought his fall 2015 release, “Pick Me Up”.

Brett Kissel.jpg

It’s crazy how he’s already had seven Top Ten country hits on the Canadian chart, but is still an unknown here in America.  He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, so I hope his American radio debut is coming soon.

“Pick Me Up” is a great country album with a slightly different feel than today’s American hit makers.  It’s a real feel that I think is missing from the current bro-country sounds you hear overplayed on U.S. country stations.

The album features the two Canadian hits, “Airwaves” (#1) and the title track (#6), which are both great country songs.  My other upbeat favorites are “I Hope It’s Me”, “Cool With That”, and “I Can Play Guitar” (with Hunter Hayes).

If you love ballads, “Why Won’t You” is amazing and “Feet Back on the Ground” is a beautiful tribute to those of us that love our mamas, even if they’re no longer with us!

After buying and loving “Pick Me Up”, I’ll now have to get Kissel’s 2013 album, “Started With a Song”.

Here’s hoping American audiences will get to hear Brett on the radio in 2016!

GRADE:  A-

“THE RIVER LIVE TOUR”

In his long career, Bruce Springsteen has done it all and he’s still doing it.  There’s a reason he’s called “The Boss”!

His current 42-show concert tour will play America through April and then Europe and Israel this May, June, and July.

It’s called “The River Live Tour” and it’s exactly that — his entire 1980 20-song double album, “The River”, played in sequential order!  In addition to that, he also does other songs — about 30 in all in a concert that runs about 3 1/2 hours!  The man must be a machine!

Here I’m featuring the first release from “The River” and my favorite Springsteen song, “Hungry Heart”.  It was his third Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and his first Top Ten.  It peaked at #5.

So, think about it.  If any of your favorite artists would perform a full-length album in addition to other hits, who would it be and what album?

Mine would be “Rumor Has It” (1990), “For My Broken Heart” (1991), and “Starting Over” (1995) by Reba McEntire, Madonna and her 1983 self-titled debut, and Toni Braxton’s 1993 self-titled debut.

MORE GLENDA JACKSON IN “ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY”

Margaret Thatcher

On her disdain of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher when South African President Nelson Mandela visited Parliament in 1996:  “I stood to watch Mandela and there was bloody Margaret Thatcher, the woman who had called him a terrorist, sitting in the front row in this big f*cking hat, obstructing the view. Acting like she was doing everybody a f*cking favor by coming there.”

hillary2016

On Hillary Clinton and her presidential run:  “I would like to see her become the first female president…  the Republicans don’t have anybody who can take her on politically. So it’ll be very ugly.”

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

I hope you enjoyed the read.  Please share your thoughts with me and have a great weekend.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Anthony

 

Mom — 27 Years & Half of My Lifetime Without You

If you’re married and you make it to your silver anniversary or if you work at your job for twenty-five years, you know that you’ll go through a lot of changes — some good and some bad.  But, you achieved that milestone.

Today, my sister, Tammy, and I are marking a more solemn, 25-year anniversary — the death of our wonderful mother, Dessie.  She died of a heart attack on the morning of November 7, 1990.

This picture was taken on Mother’s Day that year.

Dessie 1990

In the past 25 years, there have been so many changes in the world — we now have the internet, cell phones, and in the United States, marriage equality (actually, more general equality than ever before), our first African-American president, and next November, we could very well elect the first woman president.

I know there are people who lose their mother in childhood or during childbirth and grow up not knowing what it’s like to have a mother.  Because of that, I’ll always be grateful that I got to share 26 years in this world with Dessie.

Dessie

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

MSUspring1985

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

Dessie Christmas 1989 Anthony Graduation Picture

I’ll never forget taking my mother to Sunday brunch at 101st Airborne in Nashville, Tennessee, in the spring of 1990.  She didn’t drink, but her champagne glass was empty every time the server came by and mine was always full since I kept switching glasses with her.  I’m sure the waitress thought Dessie was a lush and I was so innocent allowing my mother to drink so freely while I just sipped my champagne.

While there, I bought my mother the cassette single to Patty Loveless’ #1 hit, “Chains”.  At the time, I didn’t listen to country music.  But, when I started listening to the genre, Patty became one of my favorite singers and I can thank my mother for that.

As grateful as I am for the time we had together, I can’t help but think of the all of the things over the past 25 years that I never got to share with my mother.  There have been so many times in my life that I wanted to grab the phone and share something with her and then realize that I couldn’t do it.

My mother wasn’t here when I made the big decision, in the summer of 1994, to leave my small town Kentucky life and move to Chicago, the third largest city in America.

Chicago

She wasn’t here to see me start my paid, network-affiliated television weather career in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and then move on to other jobs in Texas, Ohio, Maryland, and Illinois.  She didn’t witness me achieving my childhood dream of becoming a meteorologist and earning my “Seal of Approval” from the National Weather Association.

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My mother didn’t get to meet my best friend and the pride and joy of my life, Miss ABBA.

ABBA's First Christmas 2000

My mother was only 20-years-old when her mother, Reba, died of a heart attack.  Less than a year later, she was married and expecting her first child that came prematurely in October 1964.  (Yes, that would be me!)

Dessie-Hollie-Anthony -- Fall 1964

By 1966, she had two children and a stepdaughter and was in an unhappy (and seemingly loveless) marriage with an alcoholic womanizer.

She probably felt she had limited options because people stayed married.  Her paycheck from her minimum wage job provided me and my sister no frills, just the necessities — food and clothing.  But, she never complained about what she didn’t or would never have in life, including medication that may have kept her alive longer.

Dessie

While we didn’t sit around and talk about it, my mother always knew I was gay.  After all, she did buy me the “Colour By Numbers” album by Culture Club for my 19th birthday! 🙂

CultureClubColourByNumbersAlbumcover

Dessie was raised in a backwards, small town, Southern mentality and she was married to a sexist, racist, homophobic alcoholic.  When you add the conservatism of the Reagan era to her fire-and-brimstone-preaching church and the AIDS epidemic that exploded in the 1980s, you can fully understand why we never talked about my sexuality.

In the mid-1980s, when the story of actor Rock Hudson dying of AIDS broke and the disease continued to ravage the gay communtiy, she and most Americans probably thought that every gay person would contract HIV and AIDS and die.  Back then, it was pretty much a death sentence.

HIV AIDS

I became sexually active during that dark time and to this day, I’m still grateful to God that I remained HIV-negative when I knew many people that contracted HIV and AIDS — some are still living and some didn’t make it.

Dessie probably thought that the prospects of her openly gay, first-born son were bleak.  I wonder what she’d think today seeing me relatively successful and healthy at 51-years-old — something that wouldn’t have seemed very likely.

So much has changed on that front, too.  Today, with medication and a healthy lifestyle, people that are HIV-positive can live a normal life expectancy.

And, back then, a majority of people thought that gay people would have to live very secret and lonely lives without ever having the chance to find love and get married!

While it failed (in 2017), I got that chance and it was beautiful.  Thank you Iowa!

OurWeddingWedding Park Fountain

I did get married.  Thank you Iowa!

And, while this date is tough for me, it’s even rougher for my sister, Tammy.

TammyDessie

When my mother died, Tammy’s first son was just a toddler and her second son had just been born a couple of weeks earlier.  They never got to know what a great woman their grandmother was and would have been to them.

Dessie Birthday 1989

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

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

I know that my mother was really with me all the time — in my heart and in my memories.

Anthony