Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Random Friday Thoughts — February 10, 2017

Happy Friday and Happy Weekend!  I hope you have a great one whatever you do.

The highlights for me will be watching the season four finale of “House of Cards”, this week’s “How To Get Away With Murder” and “Madam Secretary”, and the return of “The Walking Dead”!  And, I hope to work in seeing “La La Land”!

Thank you for checking out my thoughts.  As always, if you disagree with me, do it diplomatically and be concise. 🙂

LADY GAGA SUPER BOWL HALFTIME SHOW

Lady Gaga is an amazing performer.  I’ve seen her in concert three times and I’d go see her again another three times.

I guess I can count her “Super Bowl LI” halftime show as my fourth Gaga show.  Like tens of millions across the world, I was blown away!

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While Gaga is earning rave reviews for her energy, her vocals, her performance, and her costumes, you know there are going to be haters.

Some say she wasn’t “political” enough.  Yes, she could have been more blatant about it.  However, if you stop and think about it, she did two things that were political and brave.

She opened with “God Bless America” and then segued into “This Land Is Your Land”, which Woody Guthrie wrote in 1940 as a contradiction to Kate Smith’s late-1930s patriotic “America” song, which he thought was unrealistic.

Some versions of “This Land” also include Guthrie’s original lyrics:

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Gaga, in front of the football crowd and the millions watching — even in red states — brazenly sang of equality for all during “Born This Way”.

She didn’t hold back with the lyrics “don’t be a drag, just be a queen”, she sang about being “gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgender”, and that no matter what your race, you were born this way and born to be brave!

That’s a first for the Super Bowl halftime spectacle!  Take that!

It’s estimated that 113.7 million people watched “Super Bowl LI”, but the audience spiked during Lady Gaga’s halftime show, which generated a 50.0 rating, which means that one out of every two televisions on at the time were tuned into the game!

MORE ON GAGA

After the performance, some (the insecure) took to social media and started fat-shaming her.  Seriously?

This isn’t the first time people took aim at Gaga over her weight, which is even sadder considering she’s recovering from an eating disorder.

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That was about four years ago.  I wrote about it at the time and even talked about my own battle, Karen Carpenter’s, and others.

Here’s the link (it’ll open in a new window):

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/you-need-to-shut-your-fat-mouth/

“SNOWDEN”

Edward Snowden is a hero to some and a traitor to others.  After exposing the American government for spying on the lives of Americans (and people across the entire world), he’s now exiled in Russia.

Director Oliver Stone’s movie about Snowden, with the always charming Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the whistle blower, came and went in 2016.

Watching the trailer, it was Gordon-Levitt’s voice that was hard for me to grasp.  However, it was less distracting in the 2-hour-plus movie. But, once I heard the actor’s voice and the real Snowden’s voice, I’m more baffled than ever about the voice portrayal.

While Gordon-Levitt is compelling as Snowden, the real stars of the movie are Shailene Woodley as his girlfriend Lindsay Mills and the computer special effects and the music score.

It’s frightening to know just how much information governments collect on citizens every time we’re online or use our cell phone.

Even before Snowden, this movie, or Russian or Chinese computer hackers, it doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to know that the most private of our correspondences are not private at all.

Overall, the movie was too long and it seemed like a dramatization of a Wikipedia page on Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency.

But, if you really didn’t get bogged down in the real-life Snowden that played out in the news, it’s worth your time.

GRADE:  B-

SARAH PALIN

While we’re political opposites, I’d still love to have dinner with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd.  (Now, this dinner would have to take place at a restaurant — not Chick-fil-A or Cracker Barrel — because I wouldn’t want to feast on moose or reindeer, although Alaskan salmon would be great!)

Recently, I finally got around to reading her 2009 book, “Going Rogue” and watching the movie “Game Change” about the 2008 presidential election with Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Julianne Moore as Palin.

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I enjoyed learning more about Palin and the events that shaped her life and her views.  I admire her love and commitment to her family.

With that being said, at that dinner with Palin, I’d ask her about a reoccurring theme in the book for clarification.

Early on (page 45), Palin writes that she has “respect for equality” and later on (page 395), she says she’s “tired of divisions”.  She also says, “too many of us have felt ignored and become disillusioned.”

I find these comments ironic because she is/comes across as very divisive.  Also, when she talks about respecting equality, who is that for?  Clearly, it’s not for the LGBT community.

Trust me, when she talks about feeling ignored, I’d have to ask her again how can she say that without thinking about the LGBT community with discrimination laws and the fight for marriage equality.  Her version of equality and my version are different.  Mine includes ALL AMERICANS!

This brings me to another point that Palin makes.  She says it doesn’t matter where you grew up, who you are, your gender, race, or religion “if you love this country and will defend our Constitution, then you’re an American”.

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It’s clear from the book that she loved Ronald Reagan as much as I love Jimmy Carter, who she detests.

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My final dinner discussion point would be that Palin stressed that our 52 American diplomats and citizens held hostage for 444 days in Iran (November 1979-January 1981) were released minutes after President Reagan was inaugurated.

She writes, “The enemies of freedom took notice”.

Future enemies might have taken notice, but what Palin failed to clarify is that those 52 hostages were ALREADY on that plane to freedom while Jimmy Carter was still president.  The plane was held on the tarmac until Reagan was officially sworn in as one last swipe at Carter’s presidency.

Long before #45’s administration coined the phrase “alternative facts”, Palin is/was on board with them, too.

DINNER PARTY WITH….

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?

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Of course, I’d love to dine with Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton and President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter.

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But, after reading legendary gossip columnist Liz Smith’s 2005 book, “Dishing:  Great Dish – And Dishes – From America’s Most Beloved Gossip Columnist”, I now desperately want to attend a dinner party hosted by Barbara Walters at her Fifth Avenue apartment!

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Smith says, “Whether or not she has the position of society’s grand dame, Barbara certainly knows how to host New York’s most interesting dinner parties.”

Smith adds that Walters doesn’t hesitate to have her guest mingle outside of their “circles”, sing songs, make speeches, give a toast, or write poems.  It sounds incredible!

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Walters starts her lavish parties with “excellent caviar, toast, the works.”  She calls that the easy part.

This is followed by “The Children’s Menu” — “small delicious hamburgers, tiny baby hot dogs on delicate buns… a miniature ramekin of macaroni and cheese, french fried potatoes, incredible little dishes of coleslaw, and large servings after of ice cream and sauces.  All of this served with incredible wines followed by coffee and big glasses of what most host and hostess forget — ice water.”

The entertaining book also shares interesting recipes, including the fun Elvis-inspired “fluffernutter”.

Smith also tells funny stories about the secret food lives of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, “mountain oysters”,  and she shares this great quote from Larry Gelbart, the creator of “M*A*S*H”, “Champagne is only ginger ale that knows somebody!”

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“BACK TO GOD” CONTROVERSY

Country music icon and one of my idols, Reba McEntire, just released her first Christian/Gospel album, “Sing It Now:  Songs of Faith & Hope”.

It’s expected to debut at #1 on the Country and Christian album charts and in the Top Ten on the “Billboard 200”, which charts all genres of music.

Her new single, “Back To God”, has already topped the Christian sales chart, but the song is getting more press with some outlets claiming that it’s pro-Donald Trump.

If you know anything about Reba, regardless of her political affiliation, she does not preach about it.  Yes, she’s friends with former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara Bush and she’s donated money to both Democrats and Republicans.

But, “Back To God”, is not singing the praises of #45.  The song was originally on Randy Houser’s debut album in 2008, so it was released during George W. Bush’s presidency!

The bottom line is that the song talks about how society seems broken.  Regardless of your party affiliation, you have to admit that we, as Americans and the human race, are in a bad place now and the lack of respect for our fellow man only adds to the sad state of affairs.

So, sing it Reba and preach on!

I’ll have my review on the new Reba album soon.  Also, I highly recommend, “Remnants” by LeAnn Rimes. It’s spectacular and I’ll have my full thoughts on that one, too.

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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“Argo” — Early Oscar Contender???

When people see shows in Las Vegas, some of the ones that come to mind are legendary singers, female impersonators, hot “Magic Mike” dancers, skinny women with big boobs shaking their bon bons, magic shows, and comedy shows.

Sitting in a movie theater probably isn’t one of the shows that you thought about when I brought up the topic.  But, that is what Ray and I did Sunday.  Director/actor Ben Affleck’s latest thriller, “Argo” opened nationwide this past Friday.

I’ve been very excited about this movie since I first saw the trailer months ago.  While I was only 15-years-old back in November, 1979 when the American Embassy in Tehran, Iran, was overtaken and 52 Americans were taken hostage, I remember it very well.  I also know that the 444 day hostage situation, along with the faltering economy, doomed President Jimmy Carter’s re-election campaign.

That historical event plays into the storyline of “Argo”, however, the main emphasis of the movie focuses on the six Americans that escaped when the embassy was seized.  They hid out in the home of the Canadian ambassador.

It was up the United States government to figure out how to go into Iran and rescue the six Americans before they were discovered and killed.

So, CIA operative Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) came up with a bold plan.  He went to Tinseltown to recruit a make-up artist that has worked with the government in the past (John Goodman) and a successful director (Alan Arkin).  They would pretend to be producing a Hollywood science-fiction movie, “Argo” that would be taking place on another planet and they wanted to use Iran as the set for the movies.

But, would this bizarre operation work and if the Iranian government allowed the crew to film in the country, would it go off without anyone getting caught and killed?

The aforementioned actors, Goodman and Arkin are so convincing and funny as the Hollywood types.  It was probably so much fun to lampoon the industry and people that they have both seen throughout the years acting.

Affleck was convincing as brooding agent with a crumbling marriage and the lives of six Americans and his own at stake.  And, while it shouldn’t have anything to do with the movie’s success, he was so hot with that 1970s shaggy hair.

All of the sets and costumes were very vintage ’70s and I felt like I was living through the whole hostage turmoil again.  The movie was suspenseful enough and you were rooting for all of them to get home safely.  However, it was sad that President Carter did not get any credit for the safe return of the 52 hostages during his presidency.

While the movie states that this was a potentially deadly situation if the Iranians found out that six people escaped, I wish that “Argo” had showed us more of the violence and sentiment toward the West and Americans without glorifying it.  Otherwise, the movie was very successful at telling its story and was very enjoyable as a thriller.

Critics are already raving that “Argo” is an early favorite for the upcoming award season.  After seeing it, I think that Ben Affleck will earn a Best Director nomination that many felt he deserved for 2010’s “The Town.”

GRADE: A-

Sometimes “A Separation” Is A Good Thing

Separations and divorces are never easy.  It’s more difficult when it involves children.  And, here’s something that I could not even imagine.  What if that separation and divorce is brought on by the fact that you want to leave the country to make life better for your child and your spouse doesn’t want to go with you.

No, Ray and I are not divorcing because one of us wants to leave the country!   That is the premise of the 2011 Iranian movie, “A Separation”, that we recently watched.

Without giving away much of the plot, Nader and Simin have been married for 14 years and Simin wants to leave Iran so their 11-year-old daughter Termeh will not have to grow up with the conditions as they are in Tehran.  However, Nader doesn’t want to leave because his elderly father suffers from Alzheimer’s.

So, she asks for a divorce and the judge refuses to give the couple one because he feels the reason is weak.  Simim leaves her husband and daughter and moves in with her family.   However, she doesn’t use her granted visa to leave Iran because she doesn’t want to be that far away from her daughter, Termeh.

The separated couple hires a woman to take care of the elderly man when Nader is at work and Termeh is in school.  The very religious woman, Razieh, has secrets of her own and one thing leads to another and as everything snowballs out of control, an unfortunate accident leads to a death and possible criminal charges.

“A Separation” is one of the better movies I’ve seen this year.  It gave me a sense of what life is like in the Middle East with the many restrictions placed on people by the government and by religion that many here in America take for granted.

“A Separation” has grossed $22.7 million (one-third of that in the United States) with a budget of only $800-thousand.

(The cast and director at the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony)

The movie won many awards including the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars.  It was the first Iranian move to earn that award.

(Director/Writer/Producer Asghar Farhadi)

It was also nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, which is rare for a foreign language film.  However, it lost out to Woody Allen’s “Midnight In Paris”, which is also one of my favorite movies I’ve seen this year.

“A Separation” also won big at the Berlin International Film Festival where it picked up awards for Best Film, Best Actress, and Best Actor.

I highly recommend “A Separation”.  It’s out on DVD now.

GRADE:  A