Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

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.

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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!

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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 — March 2, 2018

I know February is a short month, but it’s hard to believe that the first two months of 2018 are already behind us.

I hope you have a great weekend and thank you for taking the time to check out my random thoughts!

VACATIONS

It’s no secret that I love taking vacations.  I’ve often joked that I work for two reasons — to pay the bills and to travel.  Actually, it’s no joke!

Last year, my big trip was to Scandinavia — Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.

AP Scand

However, some Americans are afraid to take their earned time off.

One poll shows that 22% skip vacations because they don’t want to be seen as replaceable and 28% want to show dedication to work by not taking vacations.

F(orget) that!!!!!!!!!!  If I don’t prove myself when I’m on the clock, I’m not going to worry about it when it comes to taking time off!

Finally, here are a couple of interesting facts:  In 2013, the average number of unused vacation days was 4.9.

Also, in the early-1980s, the average number of paid vacation days was around 21.  By, 2014, that number had dropped to 16 days!

RONALD REAGAN & THE QUAD CITIES  

In his book, “An American Life”, President Ronald Reagan talked about landing his first radio job at WOC in Davenport, Iowa.

After an interview in Chicago, with no radio experience, he was told to try a smaller market.

An American Life

Reagan wrote, “the suggestion from the woman at NBC that I try for a job in the sticks”.

He went on to write, “Radio was so new that many Midwestern towns still didn’t have a commercial station, but I only knew of two or three in the tri-cities area of Davenport, Moline, and Rock Island along the Illinois-Iowa border.”

Sorry, Bettendorf!  You’ll have to let it slide this time since it was the early-1930s.

But, it still cracks me up to think of the Quad Cities as “the sticks” back in the day!

QUICK OSCAR NOTES

The Oscars are Sunday night on ABC.

Oscar-Nominations-2014

Here are the nominees for Best Actor and I’ve seen four of the performances.

Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

I think that Gary Oldman will win the Oscar for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour”.  He was great and so was the make-up.

CMBYN 2

However, I think that Timothee Chalamet acted more and with more heart and truly deserves to win “Best Actor”.

I even enjoyed Denzel Washington’s performance more than Oldman’s!

I haven’t seen Daniel Day-Lewis in “Phantom Thread”.

Final Oscar tidbits:  I’ve seen four of the nine “Best Picture” nominees and it’s the first four in alphabetical order. 🙂

Best Picture:

“Call Me by Your Name”
“Darkest Hour”
“Dunkirk”
“Get Out”
“Lady Bird”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Post”
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

And, strangely enough, I haven’t seen any of the five Best Actress performances, yet I’m picking Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) to win.

I’m also picking that movie to win “Best Picture”.

“A REPORTER’S LIFE”

The fourth book I read in 2018 was Walter Cronkite’s “A Reporter’s Life.

Walter Cronkite

Although the book did drag a bit after he talked about his childhood and before he talked more about being on the cutting edge of television news, it was a decent book.

He was definitely a liberal and that’s a good thing. 🙂

“NIGHTLINE”

I also just finished my fifth book — “Nightline” by Ted Koppel and Kyle Anderson.

Excellent read!

Nightline Ted K

It’s about the ABC late night news show that’s still on the air.  Koppel anchored it from 1980 until he retired in 2005.

The book provided incredible insight on some of the biggest stories of the past three decades without a lot of rambling.

Koppel and Anderson touch on AIDS, Russia, South African Apartheid, and the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, China, along with the television news business.

Interesting tidbit:  The show started as a continuation of “America Held Hostage” — about the American hostages held in Iran for 444 days from late 1979 until January 1981.

MORE ON TIANANMEN SQUARE

Tiananmen Square was one of the stops on my visit to China in the spring of 2016.

What was very interesting is that our tour guide referred to the Tiananmen Square massacre that killed hundreds to thousands (China disputes that number) as an “incident”.

He was also very uncomfortable even talking about it (and I don’t blame him — China eavesdrops!).

Tiananmen

While there, I noticed fire extinguishers located around the square.  We were told that people occasionally bring gasoline to the Square and set themselves on fire in protest!

GUESS WHO???  

“This woman is a political force of enormous ambitions.  I believe she is a menace, unscrupulous as to the truth, vain, and cynical — all with a pretense of exaggerated kindness and human feeling which deceives millions of gullible persons.” 

Answer at the bottom!

“WONDER”

It’s always great to see Julia Roberts in a movie.

And, in “Wonder”, Jacob Tremblay (“Room”) is great as Auggie, a fifth grader with a rare medical facial deformity.

Tremblay definitely has a great future in Hollywood.  He was fantastic in 2015’s “Room”, that earned Brie Larson a Best Actress Oscar.

GRADE:  A-

“ROMAN J. ISREAL, ESQ.”

This crime thriller is a very slow burn for the first hour, but the second hour redeems the slow start.

Washington earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

GRADE: B

“HAPPY DEATH DAY”

“The Snowman” is no longer my least favorite movie I’ve seen in 2018.

This horror movie is atrocious!  It’s definitely geared to a younger demographic.

Sadly, for me, this horror movie made a lot of money and there’s talk of a sequel!

GRADE: D

STRONG WOMEN SCARE PEOPLE

“This woman is a political force of enormous ambitions.  I believe she is a menace, unscrupulous as to the truth, vain, and cynical — all with a pretense of exaggerated kindness and human feeling which deceives millions of gullible persons.” 

This was written by columnist Westbrook Pegler in the 1950s about Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt!

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Sounds like something some have been said over recent years about another incredibly strong former First Lady!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — February 23, 2018

The shortest month of the year is coming to a close and spring arrives next month.

Here in the Florida Panhandle, summer has already arrived with more than a week of highs in the 70s and 80s!

I’m ready to return to the Midwest with four distinct seasons — and snow. 🙂

Have a great weekend and thank you for checking out my thoughts.

SADLY, JUST THE ONE BEFORE THE NEXT ONE

Last week, a lone gunman opened fire in a Parkland, Florida high school killing 17 people and injuring 15 others.

It was the deadliest school shootings since Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012, where 27 died at the school (the shooter’s mother was killed at home, making it 28 dead).

This was also the deadliest mass shooting since another man killed 59 people (including himself) in Las Vegas, last October.

LV

The most recent shooting at the Florida high school was done with a legally obtained AR-15 style rifle.

AR 15

Just in those shootings above, 209 people died and about 611 others were hurt by gunfire (hundreds more were injured during and after the gunfire)!

SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS 

I’m all for the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution for “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”.

However, these AR-15-style weapons were designed for the military, not the public!

So, prayers alone are not the answer to all of these shootings.  God doesn’t have the money or the power over politicians like the National Rifle Association does!

STUPID KIDS

Sadly, four Florida Panhandle students are in trouble for making threats to shoot up their schools in just one day this week!

A couple of those students said it was “a joke”.

I’m sorry, but in today’s climate, what kind of stupid kid would think it’s “a joke”?

Throw the book at them!

“AN AMERICAN LIFE”

I just finished Ronald Reagan’s 1990 autobiography, “An American Life”, which wasn’t a short read at 723 pages!

An American Life

I wasn’t a fan and I voted against him twice even though I wasn’t old enough to vote (I accompanied my grandmother inside the voting booth and I chose Jimmy Carter each time).  However, I like to give people a chance and expand my mind.

It seems he was a likable guy and I hope one day to find a romance like the one he and Nancy shared.

ronald-reagan-nancy-reagan-presidential-marriage-r

I’m happy that Reagan gave President Carter the due credit Carter deserved for getting the American hostages released from Iran after more than a year of captivity.  (Ironically, the Iranians boarded the hostages on a plane and held them on the tarmac until Reagan was officially sworn in as President.  Carter heard that they were out of Iran on his flight home to Plains, Georgia!)

CarterPresIt was interesting to read how hard and how long Reagan worked with the Russians to reduce the threat of nuclear war.

However, he did a poor job of convincing me (as he did the public) on his role (or lack thereof) in the Iran-Contra affair controversy.

Reagan only wrote two lines about his nine-year marriage to actress Jane Wyman.

Sadly, that was two lines more than he dedicated to his failures as president of getting out ahead of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

AIDS (“gay cancer”) first appeared in the summer of 1981, but it wasn’t until early 1987 that Reagan mentioned the disease publicly for the first time!

reagan aids

I hated him for this for decades and “hate” is not a word I use too often…

RONALD REAGAN, I NO LONGER HATE YOU

which leads me to this — my original Ronald Reagan blog from the summer of 2012.  Click on the link below and it’ll open in a new window.

Ronald Reagan murderer

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

THEY SAID WHAT???

SHONDA RHIMES (ABC “TGIT” MEGA-PRODUCER)

“Getting on a plane and discovering that your seat belt won’t fit around you was a moment of extreme horror.  It was hard to ignore.”

shonda-rhimes

MORE SHONDA RHIMES

“Accepting that losing weight was always going to suck:  I was always going to be hungry.  I was always going to want to eat fried chicken.  We work so hard in all areas of life to succeed, I don’t understand why we think this should be easy.”

SCANDALOUS “SCANDAL” QUOTES

While the men are sexy,

SF

the women of “Scandal” are strong.

I love Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), Sally Langston (Kate Burton), Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young), and Abby “Red” Whelen (Darby Stanchfield).

Here are some of my favorite quotes through the first episode of season five.

First up… right-wing religious fanatic Republican Vice President Sally Langston

Sally 1.gif

Sally 2

Sally 3

First Lady Mellie Grant to Olivia Pope, who is the president’s mistress!

Mellie

Mellie 1

Also, there’s Olivia and Queen Isabel of Caledonia…

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Olivia 1

And, we can’t forget Gladiator Abby, who’s now the President’s Press Secretary.

Abby 1Abby 2.gif

Remember, I’m just starting season five, so I know some of the descriptions of the characters change in upcoming seasons. 🙂

“A BAD MOM’S CHRISTMAS”

So, it’s ten months before Christmas or two months past last Christmas and I just watched this holiday movie since it’s new to DVD.

It was a smash bringing in $130.6 million on a $28 million budget.

Christine Baranski was my favorite of the three older moms (the mothers of the moms from the original 2016 “Bad Moms” movie).

I love her character’s idea of the perfect Christmas party (with the exception of Kenny G)!

Susan Sarandon and Cheryl Hines play the other two moms.

Kathyrn Hahn (“Transparent”) was my favorite of the three younger moms and I loved her foul mouth and thought process. 🙂

GRADE:  B

“MARSHALL”

This movie is the story of Thurgood Marshall, the country’s first African-American Supreme Court Justice years before he was appointed to that position.

At that time, Marshall was going around the country fighting for people of color in court cases they would have lost otherwise because of the racist views stacked against them.

Great acting, but it felt like a made-for-television movie rather than a big screen motion picture.

GRADE: B

REAGAN & GORBACHEV’S EFFECT ON ’80S POP

The threat of nuclear war made its way into the music world in the early-1980s.

“Two Tribes” was the follow-up to the international smash “Relax” by the English group Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

While the song hit #1 in seven countries and the Top Ten in many more, it only reached #43 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.

Maybe radio was afraid to play it since America was having a love fest with Ronald Reagan in 1984!

This song (and the English version, “99 Red Balloons”) by the German band Nena hit #1 in more than a dozen countries in 1983 and 1984.

In the U.S., it hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

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!

Gaga SB.jpg

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:

This Land.jpg

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.

GagaLatest

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”.

sarah palin

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

CarterPres

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?

Hillary AP

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

President-Jimmy-and-Rosalynn-Carter1

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!”

champagne

“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

“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