Posts Tagged ‘Idina Menzel’

Random Friday Thoughts — August 5, 2016

I’m back from my five-night getaway to Las Vegas!

I’ve never been there in late July and I’ll likely not visit that time of the year again since it was 115° the day we arrived and the following day!  I’ve always said “it’s a dry heat”, but after experiencing it, hot is hot!

AP Ray Night View Vegas

We’re still highly considering making Las Vegas home in a few years.  But, for now, we’ll just make our annual pilgrimage there.

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts and, as always, feel free to share yours and if we disagree, do it diplomatically.

VEGAS & BUFFETS

We prepared for the incredible amount of food we would indulge in by eating very healthy and working out longer hours for three weeks before the trip.

I love buffets.  I only take very small portions, so I can sample more things.  Usually a bite or two will be enough, but I did have two helping of the amazing Lobster Eggs Benedict at Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace and the incredible chilled crab legs at Stratosphere.

We always visit the Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood to see our favorite server, Viena, and feast on the Mediterranean food, cupcakes, and cotton candy.

Last year, we discovered Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan and went back again this time.  It was incredible.  This year, my favorites were the Eggs Benedict, the Almond Joy gelato, and the creme brulee!

So, how much food is eaten in Las Vegas?

Vegas Buffets.jpg

Incredible!

I WAS ONE OF THE “WILD BOYS” WITH DURAN DURAN

It’s only taken me more than three decades, but I finally got to see one of my favorite 1980’s bands, Duran Duran, in concert for the first time and it was well worth the wait.

20160729_215141.jpg

Original band members Simon LeBon, John Taylor, and Roger Taylor were full of energy and had the crowd at Mandalay Bay singing and dancing right along with them. (Nick Rhodes is still on the “The Paper Gods Tour”, but he’s having to miss a few shows to attend to family matters back in the U.K.)

But, while many of my favorite songs were performed, my all-time favorite Duran Duran song wasn’t on the playlist. 😦

Here are my Top Ten favorite Duran Duran songs (this will open in a new window).

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/my-ten-favorite-duran-duran-songs/

What’s your favorite Duran Duran song?

NAUGHTY, BUT NICE!

We also saw the very naughty and sensual Cirque du Soleil show “Zumanity” at New York-New York.  I’d highly recommend it.

20160731_203118.jpg

This is my third Cirque show.

A couple of years ago, I saw “Michael Jackson ONE” and “The Beatles LOVE”.  Those shows are in a different category because not only do they feature amazing acrobatics, but the music is the soundtrack to many of our lives!

On my next visit to Las Vegas, I definitely want to see the aquatic show, “O”, at Bellagio.

“GLORY”, GLORY, HALLELUJAH

I’ve decided if I nap all the way to August 26th, then it’ll be like tomorrow and then I won’t have to wait three weeks for…

Glory BS

“Glory”, Britney Spears’ ninth studio album!!!

She’s calling it “the beginning of a new era”.  I can’t wait and I hope to see her again in early 2017 in Las Vegas.

Summerfest in Milwaukee, in 2011, seems so long ago!

Now that I’ve had my “come-to-Jesus” moment, I can focus on this week’s random Friday thoughts.

THIS WEEK JUST GOT SO MUCH BETTER & HOTTER!!!

After Britney announced “Glory” earlier this week, I didn’t think the week could get any better.  Wrong!

Friday afternoon, she dropped the video to “Make Me (Oooh)”!!! Early on, I thought the hottest video of the summer would be Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home”!

No way, it’s Britney, bitch!

This video is so hot that it makes the Las Vegas “heat wave” seem like a cool summer day!

You’ll actually need misters in your house to cool you off while watching this.  Beware:  it’ll also make your popsicles melt in the freezer!

BREAKING AND ENTERING TO MAKE ME (OOOH)!

While I don’t watch late night television with my work schedule, Jimmy Kimmel is definitely becoming one of my favorites!  (To the other Jimmy, I still like you, too.)

It’s stuff like this that makes me smile. 🙂  It helps that Britney and her hot dancers are involved in the funny act!

CAUGHT UP ON “THE WALKING DEAD”?

spoiler-alert

If you haven’t finished season six, don’t watch the trailer or read what I wrote down below. Same for season two of “Fear The Walking Dead” — spoilers ahead.

DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION

Hillary Clinton is the official Democratic nominee for president of the United States after last week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Hillary AP

Yes, I’m with her!

A FEW HIGHLIGHTS

Bernie Sanders:  “Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her tonight.”

DEM 2016 Debate

Bernie Sanders:  “Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States.”

First Lady Michelle Obama:  “Because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters…can take it for granted that a woman can be president.”

CHELSEA THOUGHTS

Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Hillary and former President Bill Clinton, sent out this fundraising email in July during the Republican National Circus  Convention:

“When Republicans repeatedly get on stage at their national convention and toss attack after attack at my mom, calling her things I’d never say in front of my children — let alone on live TV — they’re talking about a caricature they’ve imagined, not the woman that I love and respect.

My mom is compassionate, kind, and hardworking — when I was growing up, it seemed like she could do anything. She’d spend all day in court litigating on behalf of children and families, then come home and ask me over dinner what I learned in school, what my favorite part of my day was, and what I hoped would happen tomorrow. And then she would sit with me while I did my homework or practiced the piano or worked on my science project.”

chelsea hillary

I live in the real world and I know there are people that won’t support Hillary for whatever reasons they want, but what a lovely testament to a mother!

I’d be saying the same things if my mother were alive and running for president.

SUSAN SARANDON, WHY BOTHER TO ATTEND?

Don’t get me wrong, I love actress Susan Sarandon.

We just happened to be on the different side of the fence this political season (and she still is) — Team Hillary here and she’s Team Bernie.

And, clearly, she’s making no effort to unify.

ss.gif

I fully understand her frustration if it was still spring and we weren’t at the Convention.  I was feeling this way in early summer 2008, but I quickly got behind Senator Barack Obama and fully supported his successful bid for president.

Susan, move on or move out!

MY POST-REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CIRCUS CONVENTION THOUGHTS

I didn’t watch it and I only saw the soundbite versions.  That was enough for me.

So, Heather Mooney, please assist me.

How was the convention?

HeatherMooney

With that, I can’t wait to share “Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion” with my 15-year-old daughter now that she’s old enough to see it!

LET’S RETURN TO THE “BEACHES”

“Beaches”, with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey, is one of my all-time favorite movies and the soundtrack still holds a special place in my heart.  We had “Wind Beneath My Wings” played at my mother’s funeral in 1990.

Later this month, production gets underway on the “Lifetime” movie remake with Idina Menzel playing Midler’s movie role of C.C. Bloom.

The cool thing is that the movie and Menzel have Midler’s approval.

Midler Beaches

Menzel will be performing at least two Midler classics from the movie, “Wind Beneath My Wings” and “The Glory of Love”.

Of course, those songs are iconic.  But, “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today” is also one of absolute favorite tear jerkers.

The movie is set to air in 2017.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

NRA.jpg

“THE WALKING DEAD” SEASON 7 

I’m so ready for October 23rd to get here.  No, that’s not my birthday (that’s October 13th).

Season 7 of “The Walking Dead” returns on AMC.  We’ll finally find out which character dies a violent death at the hands of Negan and his barbed wired-covered baseball bat Lucille.

If you’re a die-hard fan, you’ve probably already seen this incredible three-minute trailer released at Comic-Con.

I love how the first 82 seconds teases you and the last 104 introduces you to new characters and the ones that were safe from Negan and Lucille!

We already know that a major character is savagely murdered.  My guess is Abraham, but an online poll has Glenn at 36% and Abraham at 32%.

Here’s a thought:  Why not shock everyone and just have Negan go completely batty and kill off TWO PEOPLE?  We wouldn’t expect that!

“HELLO MY NAME IS DORIS”

This little comedy stars Oscar and Emmy Award winner Sally Field and Max Greenfield of Fox’s “New Girl”.

Doris, a single woman in her 60s, is dealing with losing her mother and comes under pressure to sell all of the junk from her house where she and her mother lived.  Doris is a hoarder.

At work, after an elevator encounter, she become increasingly obsessed with a new co-worker that’s young enough to be her grandson.

There were a couple of moments in the movie when the cute little comedy teetered on the borderline of creepy.

Field is incredible, as always, and this movie proves how funny she is while still allowing her to have dramatic crying scenes, for which she is famous.  Think M’Lynn from “Steel Magnolias”.

GRADE:  B+

“THE FAMILY FANG”

This dysfunctional family dramedy stars Oscar winners Nicole Kidman and Christopher Walken and Golden Globes winner Jason Bateman.

Kidman is spectacular, as always.  But, that’s about it.  The trailer is better than the movie.  It’d save you a couple of bucks and a couple of hours.

This movie only made about $15-thousand in theaters.

GRADE:  C

“FEAR THE WALKING DEAD”

I’ve already talked about the return of “The Walking Dead” in October.

The second half of the much improved second season of “Fear The Walking Dead” also premiered a new trailer at Comic-Con.

“Fear The Walking Dead” returns to AMC on Sunday, August 21.

SONG OF THE SUMMER

In reality, it seems like Drake’s “One Dance” and Justin Timberlake’s infectious “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” are the top contenders for “Song of the Summer”.

However, the one that I can’t stop listening to when it comes on the radio is Meghan Trainor’s “Me Too”, my pick for song of the summer.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Advertisements

My 14 Favorite Albums of 2014

2015 is almost upon us and I’m so excited for the new Madonna album, “Rebel Heart”, which is expected March 10th, and Reba McEntire’s new album, her first since “All The Women I Am”, which came out in November 2010.

As this year winds down and I start counting my down my favorite albums I bought this year, here’s a track from my favorite album last year, “Push Rewind” by Chris Wallace.

Push Rewind

If you want to see the rest of last year’s Top Ten, here’s the link:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/my-top-ten-favorite-albums-of-2013/

2014

Now, my favorite fourteen albums of 2014.

#14 Movie

CALVIN HARRIS — “MOTION”

MOTION CALVIN HARRIS

13

LADY GAGA & TONY BENNETT — “CHEEK TO CHEEK”

Tony_Bennett_and_Lady_Gaga_-_Cheek_to_Cheek

12

DISCLOSURE — “SETTLE”

DISCLOSURE SETTLE

11

ARETHA FRANKLIN — “ARETHA FRANKLIN SINGS THE GREAT DIVA CLASSICS”

aretha franklin

#10 MOVIE

KYLIE MINOGUE — “KISS ME ONCE”

Kiss Me Once

#9

LEANN RIMES — “DANCE LIKE YOU DON’T GIVE A … GREATEST HITS REMIXES”

LEANN RIMES DANCE LIKE YOU DON'T

#8 MOVIE

SETH MacFARLANE — “HOLIDAY FOR SWING”

seth-macfarlane-holiday-for-swing

#7 CD

AMY GRANT — “IN MOTION:  THE REMIXES”

Amy Grant

#6 CD

IDINA MENZEL — “HOLIDAY WISHES”

Idina Holiday Wishes

#5 MOVIE

RENEE FLEMING — “CHRISTMAS IN NEW YORK”

renee-fleming

#4 MOVIE

TAYLOR SWIFT — “1989”

Taylor_Swift_-_1989

green 3

KIESZA — “SOUND OF A WOMAN”

Sound_of_a_Woman_cover

1-1-2

Folks, there is a statistical tie for my favorite album of the year.  These next two albums were flawless and pure pop perfection.

One of the acts has been charting across the world since the 1980s and the other since the 1990s.  And, what’s very interesting is that I saw them both in concert for the first time this past October in Chicago on the same weekend!

1

ERASURE — “THE VIOLET FLAME”

The Violet Flame

1

ENRIQUE IGLESIAS — “SEX AND LOVE”

Enrique SEX AND LOVE

X

I honestly could listen to both albums on repeat at any time.

So, those are my 14 favorites of this year.  What are your favorites?

Anthony

 

 

Random Friday Thoughts — October 24, 2014

The weekend is almost here and I hope you have fun plans.

The nice thing is that temperatures will be near 70° for Iowa and Illinois.  If you recall by this time last year, the Quad Cities had already had its first measurable snow of the season! (0.4″ fell on October 22, 2013, in Moline, Illinois.)

Snow

Yes, I have a few random thoughts to share and I hope you enjoy reading them.

EBOLA FEARS & BLAME

As of now, one person has died here in the United States from Ebola, a disease that has killed close to 5,000 people in Africa.  However, the World Health Organization says that the true number may be three times that official number.

Twice recently, while traveling, I had the unfortunate experience of watching Fox News in the hotel room and I was disgusted that the talking heads were blaming President Obama for not doing enough.

Maybe they need to step back for a moment and look at this fact!

EBOLA - AIDS

If you think that’s just some Democratic, liberal slant of the facts, read a full article that I blogged about that in July 2012.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/president-reagan-i-no-longer-hate-you/

REBA IS READY FOR A COMEBACK

It’s sad to say that when you have more Top Ten hits on the country chart than any other woman in history and you’re tied with Dolly Parton with the most #1 country songs by a woman that you’re staging a comeback, but that’s what Reba McEntire, my idol, is doing.

REBA_ATWIA_COVER_500

Reba’s last album, “All The Women I Am” was released almost four years ago and it featured her last #1 song, Turn On The Radio”, which topped the chart on New Year’s Day in 2011.

Here’s Reba performing that song in Moline in October 2011.

Since then, the next three singles faltered at country radio peaking at #22 (the remake of Beyonce’s “If I Were A Boy”), #40, and #44.  Thanks country radio!

Nevertheless, she’s back with a new label and she’s making new music.

Earlier this week, Reba announced that she signed with Nash ICON Music, a joint venture between Big Machine Label Group (Taylor Swift’s label) and Cumulus Media, the broadcasting giant that owns 460 AM and FM stations in the United States.

Reba

Reba is working with her longtime friend and producer Tony Brown, who’s behind her biggest hits albums from the early-to-mid-1990s including my favorites, “Rumor Has It” (1990) and “Read My Mind” (1994).  James Stroud is also co-producing the album.   Stroud has produced some of  Clay Walker and Tracy Lawrence’s biggest hits.

Reba has already cut 11 songs for the new album and six are finished.  She adds, “I’ve got three more to record that I have found.  I’m always trying to beat out what I have already, so we just keep looking.”

While there’s no date set for the new single and new album, Reba promises it will be “soon”!

“GONE GIRL”

The latest David Fincher masterpiece, “Gone Girl”, is amazing.

The movie is based on the New York Times best seller and critically acclaimed novel of the same name by former “Entertainment Weekly” writer Gillian Flynn.

In just three weeks, the movie starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, and Neil Patrick Harris has grossed more than $216 million worldwide with more than one-half of that domestically.

While I plan on reading the book in early December, the movie was incredible.  It really helped that Flynn also wrote the screenplay for the movie.

Here’s the trailer, which tells you what you really need to know about the movie.

Affleck was very solid just as he was in “Argo” and Pike definitely has a future in Hollywood.

Harris is so versatile as an actor and this is one of his most revealing and vulnerable, naked performances he’s given.

Let’s just say that he was definitely acting on Broadway in his critically acclaimed role in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, because there is much more there!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Okay, that’s my way of saying you see more of Harris in this movie than you’ve ever seen before! 🙂

GRADE:  A

WE’RE HEADING TO THE CHAPEL AND WE’RE GOING TO GET MARRIED…

Marriage equality is sweeping the nation as court challenges and the Supreme Court of the United States are giving more Americans the freedom to get married.

Marraige Equality

Yet, that idiot and Fox News mouthpiece Mike Huckabee, the failed Presidential candidate, will not let it drop.

Check out this tweet and a Twitter response to his assessment of what Jesus probably thought.

Huckabee

While that might have offended some, that wasn’t my intent.  However, it made me smile and I couldn’t have said it any better.

PARIS AND TEL AVIV HIGHLIGHTS

Last week, I turned the big 5-0 and we saved our pennies and dollars and celebrated the milestone birthday with a trip to Europe (Paris, France) and the Middle East (Tel Aviv, Israel).

Here are some of the interesting things we experienced on the trip.

My birthday present from Ray was dinner cruise on the Seine River, followed by a trip to the Eiffel Tower at night.  We paid the extra 12 Euros to go to top and it was amazing to see the sprawled out city of Paris twinkling in the distance.

And, the night didn’t end there.  It was then off to the historic Moulin Rouge for a show and champagne.  I actually turned 50 during the show.

AP R Moulin

Thanks Ray!!!!!!!  You’re incredible.

We also had duck and goose a couple of times and while I’ll not make it a regular part of my eating habits, it was rather tasty.

The oddest thing I saw in Paris was a Chinese buffet near our hotel that we kept eyeing on our walks.  We finally gave it a try and you actually had to microwave your food that was sitting out on the buffet!  I wasn’t a fan of that.  Osaka Buffet in Moline, you have nothing to worry about!

But, then again, who goes to Paris and has a Chinese buffet?

It’s a small world after all.  As we were waiting in the line to go through customs at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, all of a sudden I heard “Hey Moline” and it was a sweet little, older couple that was coming back from a European River Cruise.  You never know who or where you’ll see your peeps! 🙂

TLV Sunset

Then it was off to Tel Aviv for three days.

It’s absolutely gorgeous there and from our hotel room, we could see the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean Sea!

We were amazed at how beautiful, healthy, and in shape most Israeli men are.  Note to self:  eat better and work out more!

The morning Israeli breakfast our hotel, Prima City Hotel, was very tasty.  However, our favorite meal was at בני-הדייג, which translates to Benny The Fisherman, right on the Sea.

Starter

That was just the salads and “starters” that they brought out.  Yes, fifteen of them, including the bread basket!

Incredible!  I wanted to go back again, but we didn’t.

TEL AVIV SCARE

Sadly, we didn’t get our a stamp on our passport from Israel.

The customs agent was so flustered from ranting a woman in front of us for sticking her passport in her mouth that he forgot.  He refused to let her go through his line because he wasn’t going to touch her passport.  And, I really don’t blame him.  However, his approach was a little abrasive.

As for us, our only scare was when we happened upon the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv on the way to dinner.  It was dusk and we decided to take a picture of it for our photo album.

However, three guards came out (one with a large weapon) and told us not to take pictures and took my driver’s license and called it in since we weren’t carrying our passports.  After a very long five minutes or so, they let us go and told us not to take pictures.

It’s very interesting because last month in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, the guards there had no issue with photo-taking tourists.

And, on our return flight home, the snow-covered Alps were beautiful!

Alps

PICK HIT

While in Tel Aviv, Israel, I was delighted that VH-1 showed music videos all the time.  There was no filler programming or reality crap, just real videos like in the old days of MTV and VH-1.

I fell in love with the song, “Stolen Dance”  by the German pop/rock/folk duo, Milky Chance, made up of singer Clemens Rehbein and DJ Philipp Dausch.

What I was surprised to learn is that the song is #1 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart (six weeks) and #1 on the Rock Airplay chart (four weeks) in the United States.

And, it’s already topped the charts in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Ireland, and Switzerland, and it peaked at #2 or #3 in Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovakia, and Sweden.

So far, it isn’t a Top 40 hit on mainstream radio in the U.S., but it’s catching on.

THE CALENDAR SAYS HALLOWEEN, BUT…

I’m already in the Christmas spirit.

However, I plan on watching “Hellbent”, a gay horror movie, from the people who brought us “Halloween” and “The Nightmare on Elm Street”.  It’s a movie that I watch every October.

Now, back to Christmas.  There are many upcoming holiday releases coming out including LeAnn Rimes, Darius Rucker, and Earth, Wind, & Fire.

But, I’ve already bought two new CDs.

Idina Holiday Wishes

I just got Idina Menzel’s “Holiday Wishes” this week.

While I believe that “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is a tired Christmas song and it’s becoming one of my least favorites, Idina’s version with sexy crooner Michael Buble, is fun and enjoyable.

Other standouts on the disc are “Silent Night”, “Holly Jolly Christmas”, her remake of the Joni Mitchell classic, “River”, and the aforementioned duet with Buble.

I admit that it did take several listens to her version of the Mariah Carey classic, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, before I could like and appreciate it.   Carey’s version is perfect!

It wasn’t Menzel’s voice that threw me for a loop.  The arrangement is all over the place and the song is over five minutes long.  Once I “got it”, the song was more enjoyable.

GRADE:  B+

And, another one you definitely need to add to your Christmas music collection is actor, singer, producer, writer, and Oscar host Seth MacFarlane, “Holiday For Swing”.

seth-macfarlane-holiday-for-swing

He has an amazing voice and brings an old-time Rat Pack feel to Christmas on “Holiday For Swing”.  If you love jazz and Christmas music, you’ll love it.

Sadly, there are no snippets that I can find online to share with you.  What’s up with that, Seth?

I’ve listened to the album countless times and it could definitely become a standard!

GRADE:  A

THAT’S IT FOR NOW!

It was nice to share my random thoughts with you again.

As I promised when I stopped doing it weekly, I’d do one every once in a while.

I really miss writing, but I just can’t find the time to do with my crazy work schedule.  Work just seems to get in the way, but I do need that small paycheck.

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

It’s Not Too Early For Christmas Thoughts

So, Christmas is now less than three months away!

That should come as no surprise because I saw Christmas decorations in the “seasonal” aisle at Walgreen’s with the Halloween costumes and candy this past weekend!

notchristmasyet

The good news is that we’re going to be seeing very warm temperatures for this first weekend of autumn in the Quad Cities and across much of the country.

But, now that I’ve mentioned Christmas, I want to talk about my favorite holiday of the year!

Christmas Outside

The first thing I do is look ahead to see what new Christmas albums I want to buy for the season.

Erasure Snow Globe

Last year, my favorite Christmas album was “Snow Globe” by Erasure.

Erasure is my favorite band and this week, they just released a fantastic new dance album called “The Violet Flame” and I’m excited to see them in concert in Chicago next weekend, October 4th.

My other two favorite Christmas albums last year were “Wrapped In Red” by Kelly Clarkson and “Christmas, With Love” by Leona Lewis.

Idina Holiday Wishes

Idina Menzel, who had huge success last year with the motion picture and soundtrack, “Frozen”, and the hit “Let It Go”, is releasing her first Christmas album in mid-October.

It was produced by Grammy Award-winner Walter Afanasieff, who has worked with Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Mariah Carey, Josh Groban, and so many more.

The track list reportedly includes “Do You Hear What I Hear?”, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, “A Holly Jolly Christmas”, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and many more classics and non-traditional songs.

seth-macfarlane-holiday-for-swing

Seth MacFarlane is behind some of the biggest shows on television (“Family Guy” and “The Cleveland Show”), the blockbuster movie, “Ted”, and, in 2013, he hosted the Oscars.

He also sings!  In 2011, he released “Music Is Better Than Words”, an amazing jazz album and on September 30th, his first Christmas album, “Holiday For Swing” comes out.

It’ll feature holiday standards like “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, plus many other classics.

MacFarlane gets some assistance from Norah Jones and Sara Bareilles (“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”).

jim-brickman-on-a-winters-night

Jim Brickman is one of the best-selling pianist of all-time and he’s collected 27 hits on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts!

Not only is he his getting his latest collection of Christmas songs ready for release on October 7th, but he’ll be playing at the Adler Theatre in Davenport, Iowa, on December 28th!

“On A Winter’s Night” features appearances from John Oates and Kenny Rogers and holiday classics like “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, “Blue Christmas”, and “Away In The Manger”.

Also, the album will have many less familiar tunes.

ABBA Christmas Card 001

I also love writing out Christmas cards to my friends across the country and I always look forward to the new Christmas stamp selections.  This year, the United States Postal Service will celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” with a stamp.

hermey-rudolph01

But, the ones that I’m going to purchase are called “Winter Fun Contemporary Christmas”.  Those definitely look fun!

14-WinterFun-4designs

And, I’m still deciding on what flavor cheesecake to make this year.

A couple of years ago, I made a red velvet cheesecake for Christmas.  While it was beautiful and tasty, I want something new and exciting this year.

Red Velvet 2

Finally, my Christmas shopping list is smaller this year because Ray, Gretel, Tammy and I are getting away before the holidays for some fun in the sun and on the high seas.  That is our gift to each other this year.

So, in honor of that, here’s a little less wintry-sounding Christmas song.

Merry Christmas!  Oh wait, that’s still about three months away.

Anthony

“Frozen” Still Hot This Spring

“Frozen”, Disney’s latest animated blockbuster, is now the biggest animated film in history.  It’s crossed the one-billion dollar mark at $1.07 billion!

Frozen

When it was released a couple of weeks ago to the home market, it sold more than 3.2 million blue-rays and DVDs and in February, it became the biggest digital release ever!

I finally got around to seeing it.  Gretel, our 12-year-old daughter, has seen it several times already and loves it.  She says it’s one of her favorite Disney movies.

I guess my expectations were too just high with its box office success and the Oscar win for Best Animated Feature.  While I enjoyed the movie, it was no “Beauty and The Beast” and Belle will always be my favorite.

Beauty-And-The-Beast

GRADE:  B-

PICK HIT

The “Frozen” soundtrack is just as popular as the movie.  It’s the only album that has sold more than a million copies in 2014.  Since its November release, the soundtrack has sold 1.8 million copies and has spent eight weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 200 album chart.

Frozen Soundtrack

“Let It Go”, the first release from the album, picked up an Oscar for Best Original Song.  That song by Adele Dazeem has been downloaded around 1.8 million times!

What?  Damn you, John Travolta!  You’re right, it’s not Adele Dazeem, it’s “Wicked” star Idina Menzel!

John and Idina

“Frozen” is now ready to melt dance clubs across the country.  The song’s remix just debuted on the Billboard Dance Chart.  While Dave Aude’s remix is great, this is my favorite version by Papercha$er.

This will be Menzel’s fourth dance chart hit.  Her biggest hits on that chart were the #5 smash, “Defying Gravity”, from “Wicked” in 2007 and “Gorgeous” from her 2008 album, “I Stand”, peaked at #3.

Anthony

Taken from:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/random-friday-thoughts-april-4-2014/ 

Random Friday Thoughts — April 4, 2014

FINALLY, IT’S FRIDAY!

I don’t use the phrase “T.G.I.F” very often, but I’m really thankful to God that today is Friday and I have a weekend with nothing planned.

Several things are on the docket work wise and public relations-wise the next two weekends, so I’m going to chill out this weekend with Ray and my sister, Tammy.

I hope you have a great weekend and make the best of it.  Here are my random thoughts for this week!

GUILTY!

Last Friday, I shared the story of Jessica Dutro, an Oregon woman on trial for murder, murder by abuse, second-degree assault, and four other charges in the death of her 4-year-old son, Zachary, because she thought he was gay!

Her boyfriend had already pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter for his part in the child’s death.

dutro-boggess-canady

Wednesday evening, the jury deliberated a little more than hour before finding her guilty on all seven charges!

“The Oregonian” reports that Dutro showed “no reaction” when the verdict was read.

Her sentencing date is set for April 18th.

LATEST ON MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT 370

Weeks after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on a routine flight from Kuala Lumpar International Airport in Malaysia to Beijing, China, we still don’t know what happened and the families of those on-board are still being fed misinformation.

Malaysia-Bejing Flight Map

It’s now a criminal investigation and Khalid Abu Bakar, the inspector general of the Royal Malaysian Police Force, says “As we have said earlier, only the passengers has been cleared. The rest? No.”

This means the pilot and co-pilot are still being investigated.

Last Words MA 370

While it may not be a big deal to some people, it seems the authorities in Malaysia are again showing their incompetence under the scrutiny of the world.

Officials are now reporting that the last words from the cockpit were “Good night, Malaysian three-seven-zero” rather than “All right, good night”, which they reported two weeks ago.

For the sake of the families, I hope they find answers and get closure soon.

“12 YEARS A SLAVE”

One of the things I plan on this weekend is finally getting to see the Oscar-winning movie, “12 Years A Slave”, now that it’s out on DVD.

12 Years A Slave

Also, I plan on seeing the Oscar-nominated Martin Scorsese film, “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Yes, that’s all I need — a movie that glorifies the use of the f-word, as if it isn’t one of my favorite crutch words.

If you recall, from my January 17, 2014 “Random Friday Thoughts”, the f-bomb is used 506 times in this movie, which is second only to documentary called “F*ck”, which is about the f-word.  It’s used 857 times in that one!

SUNNY FORECAST FOR WILLARD SCOTT

Former “Today” show weatherman Willard Scott got married earlier this week on April Fool’s Day.

Willard Scott

The 80-year-old married his girlfriend of almost eleven years, Paris Keena, in Fort Myers, Florida.

The couple met back in the late-1970s and remained friends.  Scott was married to Mary Dwyer from 1959 until her death in 2002.

Congratulations Willard and Paris.  I forecast sunny and happy days for you!

BEST WISHES TO SARA & LINDA, TOO

Congratulations and well wishes also go out to “The Talk” co-host Sara Gilbert and record producer Linda Perry.

Sara and Linda

The couple was married this past Sunday in an ocean side Malibu wedding and are now away on their honeymoon.

Sara and Linda have been dating since 2011.

For the reception party, Linda surprised Sara, who loves ’80s female rockers, with a concert featuring Terri Nunn of Berlin (“The Metro” and “Take My Breath Away”), Dale Bozzio of Missing Persons (“Destination Unknown”), Annabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow (“I Want Candy”), and Martha Davis of the Motels (“Only The Lonely”)!

How incredible would that be!!!!!

You’re probably more familiar with Sara, who starred on “Roseanne”.  But, Linda has produced for Christina Aguilera (“Beautiful”), Pink!, and Britney Spears.

She was also the lead singer of 4 Non Blondes, a one-hit wonder, that reached #14 in 1993 with the smash, “What’s Up?”

While it was a modest hit in the U.S., it reached #1 in Austria, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, and several more European countries.

“FROZEN”

“Frozen”, Disney’s latest animated blockbuster, is now the biggest animated film in history.  It’s crossed the one-billion dollar mark at $1.07 billion!

Frozen

When it was released a couple of weeks ago to the home market, it sold more than 3.2 million blue-rays and DVDs and in February, it became the biggest digital release ever!

I finally got around to seeing it.  Gretel, our 12-year-old daughter, has seen it several times already and loves it.  She says it’s one of her favorite Disney movies.

I guess my expectations were too just high with its box office success and the Oscar win for Best Animated Feature.  While I enjoyed the movie, it was no “Beauty and The Beast” and Belle will always be my favorite.

Beauty-And-The-Beast

GRADE:  B-

PICK HIT

The “Frozen” soundtrack is just as popular as the movie.  It’s the only album that has sold more than a million copies in 2014.  Since its November release, the soundtrack has sold 1.8 million copies and has spent eight weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 200 album chart.

Frozen Soundtrack

“Let It Go”, the first release from the album, picked up an Oscar for Best Original Song.  That song by Adele Dazeem has been downloaded around 1.8 million times!

What?  Damn you, John Travolta!  You’re right, it’s not Adele Dazeem, it’s “Wicked” star Idina Menzel!  🙂

John and Idina

“Frozen” is now ready to melt dance clubs across the country.  The song’s remix just debuted on the Billboard Dance Chart.  While Dave Aude’s remix is great, this is my favorite version by Papercha$er.

This will be Menzel’s fourth dance chart hit.  Her biggest hits on that chart were the #5 smash, “Defying Gravity”, from “Wicked” in 2007 and “Gorgeous” from her 2008 album, “I Stand”, peaked at #3.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Jimmy Carter

Train WreckMoscato Strawberry Lemonade

READY FOR THE BACKYARD POOL

That Moscato Strawberry Lemonade has me thinking of hot summer days in our backyard pool.

While the chill has settled in again across the Quad Cities after Monday’s 69° high, I can’t wait to lounge and soak up the sun dreaming of my 50th birthday vacation celebration this October.  It’s only six months away!  Only?

One of these days soon, I’ll write a blog and announce where it is.  Now, I just have to pay for it!

Until then and until we can swim outside, here’s a flashback to the summer of 2010 with Miss ABBA and Gretel that still melts my heart!

Pool Summer 2010

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

This Sunday, country music legend Merle Haggard will celebrate his 77th birthday.

Merle Haggard

Along with Buck Owens, Haggard helped define the “Bakersfield Sound”.

Since his first hit in 1963 to his last Top 40 appearance on the Billboard Country chart in 2005 in a duet with Gretchen Wilson, Haggard charted 84 songs!

Of those, an astounding 74 of them reached the Top Ten!  And, 38 made it all the way to the top of the charts!

My favorite Merle song reached #1 in 1974 and was the lead single from his Christmas album, “A Christmas Present” in November 1973 and his next studio album in February 1974, “If We Make It Through December”.

That song also hit #28 on the Billboard Hot 100, which was his only crossover.

My other favorite was his 1968 hit “Mama Tried”, which topped the country charts for four weeks.

Merle Haggard  -- Young

Happy Birthday Merle!

THAT’S IT

Have a fantastic weekend!  I hope I wasn’t too controversial in my thoughts this week.  I’ll have more to share next week.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — March 7, 2014

Happy Friday to you.  It’s March now and I’m ready for spring’s longer, warmer days and “March Madness”.

I hope you have a great weekend.  I plan on getting a few outdoor walks in and to watch several movies.  Here are my random thoughts for this week.

WAS ELLEN TRANS-PHOBIC?

Comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres is getting rave reviews for hosting this year’s Oscars last Sunday night.  Her selfie with A-list stars crashed Twitter and became the most retweeted tweet in history and she made it a profitable night for a pizza delivery man.

Ellen

However, a joke she made to Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award winner Liza Minnelli is not setting well with some in the transgender community.

In her monologue looking at Liza, Ellen said, “the best Liza Minnelli impersonator I’ve ever seen.  Good job, sir!”

This is Liza’s reaction.  Her sister, Lorna Luft, definitely thought it was funny!

Liza Reaction

As a gay man knowing how many drag queens imitate and look at Liza as a gay icon, I thought it was hilarious and I don’t think Ellen meant it mean-spirited.

After the show, Liza told tmz.com, “I think she thought it would be funny, but she never stopped after she said it and said, ‘My friend Liza Minnelli’.  So I think it went a little astray on her.”

But, without hesitation, Liza added, “I don’t think she meant any harm at all. She’s a wonderful lady and I think she did great.”

However, some are not as forgiving.

Bruce LaBruce

Most of America are still not all that familiar with the transgender community.  I admit that, as a gay man, I’m still learning, too.  However, there is a difference between transphobia, negative feelings and attitudes and feelings towards transsexuals and transgender people, and making a joke about a drag queen or a transvestite.

Ellen needs to contact Liza, if she hasn’t done so already, and say, “I apologize that my joke was not funny to you.  You looked fantastic Sunday night.”  And, we all need to step back and breathe and maybe learn a little more about our transgendered brothers and sisters.

OSCARS

I think host Ellen did a fantastic job hosting the Oscars telecast that was watched by 43 million people, up 6% in viewers from last year.

As for my Oscar picks, if I had played it safely, I would have correctly chosen 21-of-24.

However, I took a chance to stand out from the crowd and went against “Gravity” in the “Sound Mixing” and “Score” category.  Thus, I missed those two and got 19-of-24 right.  That’s much better than last year.

I correctly picked the top eight big categories.

Benedict U2

That is my favorite picture from the Oscars — “Sherlock” actor Benedict Cumberbatch photobombing Oscar-nominated rock band, U2.

And, the presenter that’s gotten the most post-Oscars buzz, unintentionally, was John Travolta.

Travolta Oscars

While introducing Broadway (“Wicked”), movie “(“Frozen”), and television (“Glee”) star Idina Menzel to perform the Oscar-nominated (SPOILER ALERT) and winning song, “Let It Go”, Travolta massacred Idina’s name.

John and Idina

In his enthusiastic introduction, Travolta says, “please welcome the wickedly talented, one and only Adele Dazeem”!

On Tuesday, Travolta released this statement, “I’ve been beating myself up all day. Then I thought … what would Idina Menzel say, She’d say, Let it go, let it go! Idina is incredibly talented and I am so happy Frozen took home two Oscars Sunday night!”

Needless to say, parody Twitter and Wikipedia pages popped up for the new star, Adele Dazeem!

Adele Dazeem

Okay, John I’m letting it go!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

JustinMichael Myers Winter

Let Us In

IS WINTER OVER?

March is definitely off to a cold start, but it’s starting to warm up.  After just the first three days of the month, Quad City temperatures were running more than 25.5° below average.

With two snows in the past week, we’re now up to 62.2″ of snow this winter in the Quad Cities, making this the third snowiest winter on record.

Snowy Winter

And, another inch of snow is expected tonight and early Saturday!

TOO EARLY FOR GARDENING, BUT…

While the ground is frozen and covered with inches of snow, I’m going to be optimistic and start gardening inside.

Late last summer, I bought three packages of seeds on ebay from Arkansas and I’m ready to start them with my “Seed Starter” kit Santa brought me for Christmas.

Seed Starter

Ironically, I hope the seeds I bought are what they say they are and nothing illegal!

I ordered Jerusalem Cherry, Pink Pampas Grass, and Ice White Cherry Tomato.

SPEAKING OF TOMATOES

“Better Homes and Gardens” is thinking of spring, too.  In the new March issue, it states that 86% of American gardeners raise tomatoes.

The magazine’s experts predict that “a hybrid like Black Pearl or Tye Dye” will be the “season’s hot tomatoes”.

ABBAtomatoes

While I love tomatoes, I always had them in the garden for Miss ABBA.

Now that she’s no longer with us, I still grow them and in the past two summers, I’ve perfected a fresh homemade salsa!

PICK HIT

Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin are household names in the United States.

J. Lo has charted 17 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with ten of them reaching the Top Ten and four topping of the chart.  Meanwhile, Ricky has had five hits on the Hot 100 with “Livin La Vida Loca” topping that chart in 1999.

Before this week, Ricky racked up 37 hits on the Billboard Latin chart.  Of those, 21 made the Top Ten and, incredibly, 11 of them reached #1.

Ricky and J. Lo are on their way to getting their latest #1 Latin hit with the help with Wisin, one half of the Puerto Rican raggaeton duo, Wisin & Yandel.

Wisin JLo Ricky Martin

“Adrenalina” debuted this week all the way up at #12 on the Billboard Latin chart and the video is incredibly hot!!!!!!!!!

It’s the first single from Wisin’s second solo album, “El Regreso del Sobreviviente” that comes out March 18, 2014, the same day as Kylie Minogue’s “Kiss Me Once” album.

Kiss Me Once

There is no correlation between Wisin and Kylie’s albums.  It’s just a shameless plug for Kylie.  I can do that, you know. 🙂

“SIX FEET UNDER”

While the HBO series ended its five-year run in 2005, we just got around to watching  and finishing it.

six feet under

What an incredible show!  While I wasn’t exactly prepared for its slow pace and it did get frustrating at times, the acting and the over-the-top story lines were amazing.  And, the last few minutes of the series finale were too cool.

By regularly reading my blog, you know I love Michael C. Hall.

He played David Fisher, one of the owners of the funeral home on the show.

Michael C Hall as David Fisher and Dexter

It was exciting to see him as a young, uptight gay man who would go on to become our favorite serial killer on Showtime’s “Dexter” for eight seasons.

Watching “Six Feet Under”, I realize that I lead a rather docile life compared to the crazy Fisher and Chenowith clans!

Six Feet Under starring Rachel Griffiths, Peter Krause, Michael C.Hall, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Freddy Rodriguez, Mathew St. Patrick, Justina Machado, Jeremy Sisto and James Cromwell

“THE DAYS OF ANNA MADRIGAL”

I just finished the ninth and final book in Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series.  If you haven’t been following my blog over the past few weeks when I talked about each book that I read, take notice.

The books follow the lives of a group living at 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco in 1976 through current day.  The apartment complex is headed up by self-proclaimed matriarch Anna Madrigal and the final book is dedicated to Anna, who’s now 92-years-old.

The Days of Anna Madrigal

Needless to say when I started the book, I was bracing myself for the worse thinking this might be Mrs. Madrigal’s swan song.

I loved the flash backs in the book about Anna’s childhood at the Blue Moon Lodge, the Nevada whorehouse where she was raised by her mother, the madam, “Mother Mucca”.

While the book moves forward from Mrs. Madrigal’s childhood to the teenaged years and escaping Nevada, it was a pleasant ride.  It was also amazing to see her get to take one more trip back home to Winnamucca, even though most of what she remembered was already gone.

The book also updates us the lives of Michael Tolliver (“Mouse”), Mary Ann, and Brian, from the original “Tales” book.

Armistead

Although Maupin has been writing these stories for forty years, I just discovered them twenty years ago this spring when PBS aired the first “Tales of The City” miniseries.

It’s very strange to see Michael in his 60s and Anna in her 90s.  But, then again, I’m no longer watching the last months of my 20s escape me!  Before I know it, 50 will be here.

But, if my 50s and my golden years are half as much fun and exciting as the lives of the “Tales” gang and Armistead Maupin’s life, it’ll be “fantabulous”.

Armistead, thank you for giving this small-town Kentucky boy the motivation and the courage to move to Chicago just four months shy of my 30th birthday, just as you allowed Mary Ann Singleton to leave Cleveland, Ohio,  for San Francisco.

Tales-5

And, just like Mary Ann, I fulfilled my dream of becoming a television newscaster and meteorologist!

further+tales+of+the+city+sandra+oh+laura+linney

Thank you for the memories of 28 Barbary Lane and beyond.

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

Grammy Award winning country singer Lynn Anderson was raised in California, but she was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Born to country music songwriter parents, Lynn earned early notoriety in horse show arenas winning 700 trophies, including the title of “California Horse Show Queen” in 1966.

That same year she was signed to a recording music contract.  Her first hit reached #36 and was followed by “If I Kiss You (Would You Go Away)”, her first Top Ten hit in 1967, peaking at #5.

Lynn Anderson

From that first hit in 1966 to her last hit in 1988, Lynn Anderson scored 47 Top 40 Billboard Country Hits.  Of those, 18 reached the Top Ten, and five topped the chart, including her fall 1970 release, “Rose Garden”.

That song topped the Country charts for five weeks, reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was a chart topper in Australia, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland.

She was also named Billboard Magazine’s “Female Artist of the Decade” in the 1970s.

Her last studio recording was 2010’s “Cowgirl II”.

Lynn is still touring and entertaining her fans and she recently attended a party in Nashville for radio personality Bob Kingsley with some of country music’s other legends, including my idol, Reba.

Lynn and Reba

“I BEG YOUR PARDON”, HERE’S MORE “ROSE GARDEN”

While Lynn Anderson scored almost 50 country hits in the U.S., “Rose Garden” was her only crossover to the Billboard Hot 100, where the song reached #3 in 1971.

However, in 1988, the Canadian synthpop/techno band, Kon Kan, sampled the song and “I Beg Your Pardon”, featuring Lynn’s “Rose Garden” made it up to #15 on the Billboard Hot 100.  It also made it to the top five in the Netherlands and the U.K.

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

I appreciate you taking the time to check out my Random Friday Thoughts.  Have a great weekend and we’ll do it again next Friday.

Anthony