Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

The Way to a Man’s Heart…

It’s no secret that I love food — whether it’s eating out or entertaining at home.

When it comes to entertaining, I think cheesecakes are my specialty!

Why cheesecakes specifically and not just cakes? Because just the thought of decorating a cake with frosting is a nightmare for me — I wouldn’t even attempt it for guests!

Here are some of my favorite cheesecakes I’ve made over the years!

Anthony's Cheesecakes

Once it’s safe again to eat out and socialize, I can’t wait to embark on a new beginning in a familiar state. 

Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite dining experiences (so far) and I’ll conclude with the most magical meal ever!!!

Since I’m now living in central Illinois, I’ll start off with a beautiful and tasty appetizer I had in May 2012 at Destihl in Champaign, Illinois, as I was passing through on my way to Indianapolis, Indiana.

At the time, I wrote, “Not only was it very tasty and refreshing… I was so mesmerized by the presentation.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was “Watermelon & Feta” (cubed watermelon, house olives, feta, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic glaze, and micro greens) and “Shrimp Ceviche” (shrimp, cilantro, lime, red onion, jalapeño, and avocado mousse).

The meal was so delightful that I dedicated a whole blog entry to it!

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/destihl-my-beating-heart/

But, back to the beginning! 

Growing up poor in western Kentucky, we really didn’t get to eat out much. Our Aunt Norma would occasionally treat us to burgers, chili pies, and cold mug root beer at K & N Drive-In in Mayfield.

On the rare occasions our father did take us out, there was a roadside joint just outside Mayfield called Jack’s Drive-In. Basically, it was a carry out place with some picnic tables.

While it had the best cheeseburgers, my favorite sandwich was the fried veal patty!  Who knows what it really was!!!  And, I wouldn’t eat either of them now since I don’t eat beef anymore! 

My first server job was at the Happy House Restaurant in Mayfield in the 1980s.  One of the specialties was the “House Tea”, which was very sweet tea with special touches — a combination of fruit juices!  Delicious!

They also had the best desserts (Kentucky Derby Pie was my favorite), prime rib at night on the weekends, and the Copenhagen.

It’s an open-face turkey sandwich with a spinach mayo dressing!

But, my favorite restaurant in western Kentucky is Patti’s 1880s in Grand Rivers, located in the Land Between The Lakes area.

It’s the only reason I go back to Kentucky!

They’re well-known for the amazing thick pork chops and appetizers like the beer-battered cheese sticks and the blooming onion!

Their homemade desserts are incredible — the meringue on the pies is whipped a mile high and the Sawdust Pie is just out of this world! 

Luckily, they’ve shared that recipe and I make it on special occasions!

My favorite meal ever, from a fresh, flavorful experience, was at בני-הדייג, which translates to Benny The Fisherman, right on the Mediterranean Sea, in Tel Aviv, Israel.

What you see here is the equivalent of their “starters” — fifteen of them, including the bread basket!

This was brought out as our “salad” before the entrees — and this was just for two people!

I shared my favorite restaurant (Patti’s 1880s) and my favorite meal (בני-הדייג — Benny the Fisherman).

Since I love lists, I’ll highlight a couple of other dining experiences and restaurants.

My favorite entree was in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2016, at Tavernpointe in Midtown.

It was a Sonoran Salmon (avocado soup, goat cheese-black bean cake, crema, and pico).

And, my favorite brunch or buffet is Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas!

Can you say, “Bottomless Mimosas”?

That was my brunch on my last visit in December 2019.

It was a 4.5-hour meal. I outlasted the lunch server and the evening server kept the mimosas flowing!

And, yes, I savored every bite of all four courses! I don’t waste food. 🙂

In addition to the great restaurants and meals I’ve highlighted, there was also a dinner cruise on the Seine River in Paris, France, that ended with a visit to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and a stage-side seat at the historic Moulin Rouge sipping champagne as I turned 50!

As I wrap this up, I now want to share details of the most magical dining experience in my life (so far)!!!

It was on my first solo international trip to Morocco for my birthday in 2018. Marrakesh was my favorite city I visited in this northwestern African country.

My own “Crazy” (rich?) “Asians” (Pom, Sheila, Po Po, and Izzy) made the evening and my time in Morocco so memorable and fun.  

I met these wonderful ladies at the beginning of the trip and I shared a lot of time with them — an incredible group of friends!

Our evening started off with with a horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets of Marrakesh at sunset and a jaunt through the crowded souk (an Arab marketplace or bazaar) in the Medina (the old quarter of town) on the way to dinner.

Once we were dropped off from the carriage ride, we made our way through a series of alleys that looked like a deserted, bombed out part of town!

But, at the end of the maze was the incredible and gorgeous Lotus Privilege Restaurant!

Once we stepped inside, per custom, we washed our hands with warm water from a elegant silver tea pot.  We were then handed a tasty drink and took in the spectacular scenery.

I’m not being vain here.  I just couldn’t choose which beautiful backdrop to share!

Our three-course meal started with a tasting menu of incredibly colorful and tasty Moroccan salads.

This was followed by entrees of either cockerel (chicken), veal, or fish Tagine (my pick), and three choices for dessert. 

I chose the pastilla with light cream and crushed almonds with fresh mint!

And, we were treated to live, energetic African music and an elegant, gorgeous belly dancer!

What a memorable evening!

And, while there are still many places I still want to visit (Greece, Cambodia, and Vietnam), I’d love to go back to Morocco!

As we head into the summer and life returns to the “new normal”, I can’t wait to find delicious food and fun experiences in central Illinois!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — October 18, 2019

While I’ll still post a few new blogs before the end of the year, this is the next to last the “Random Friday Thoughts” of 2019!

As always, if you disagree with me, do it diplomatically and have a great weekend!

HILLARY CLINTON’S NEXT ROLE

While I’d love for Hillary Clinton to make an “eleventh hour” entry into 2020 Democratic race for president, I don’t think that’ll happen.

STILL. HOPING.

Still

Before you even say it, Ronald Reagan ran for president three times before winning in 1980!

However, I think I’ve already figured out her next role in the history of U.S. politics.

In early 2021 when the Democratic 46th president * takes office, I think Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will step down from the bench and Hillary will become the new Supreme Court Justice!

* Oh, a technically — it might the 47th president of the U.S. if 45 is impeached or forced to resign and that despicable Mike Pence becomes #46 for a few months!

Or, maybe Hillary could be Vice President and then ascend to Commander in Chief!

“MADAM SECRETARY” “MADAM PRESIDENT”

Spoiler Alert:  As the sixth and final season of the CBS hit, “Madam Secretary” kicked off earlier this month, it’s now “Madam President (sort of)”!

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The show has never been subtle that Secretary of State (now president) Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni) is based heavily on real life Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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The final season premiere was a very powerful and pointed episode.  It made no effort to mask “real life” in America today with these lines about Elizabeth’s opponent:

“…his disgusting attacks on immigrants, the media.  He’s not fit to be president.”

“He won the nomination, but that doesn’t mean honorable people should get behind him and validate his worst impulses.”

“His politics WILL divide the country even further!”

ONE BIG DEVIATION FROM REAL LIFE

President McCord realizes near 100 days into her presidency that Iran COLLUDED to release information on her competitor, which may have led to her winning the election!

This would make her an “illegitimate president”!

WHERE DO THEY COME UP WITH THESE STORY IDEAS???? 

Trump Putin

However, unlike Donald Trump, President McCord tries to find out how this happened and not make a love nest with a Vladmir Putin!

FINAL THOUGHT ON “THAT MAN”

Here’s a tweet that I responded to when I read his tweet about his “great and unmatched wisdom”!

DT wisdom

CLUTCH YOUR PEARLS OVER ELLEN DeGENERES & PRESIDENT BUSH!

Weeks later, people are still talking about comedian/talk show host Ellen DeGeneres sitting with former President George W. Bush at a Dallas Cowboys football game.

Ellen Bush

Many in the LGBTQ community blasted her for being friends with such a devil.  A couple of days after the game, I tweeted Ellen:

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Elton John is now defending her.

While I agreed with a few things that George W. Bush did as Texas Governor when I lived in Lubbock in 1997, we were usually at odds in our thinking process, especially when he was Commander-in-Chief.

One of the things I’m most proud of came early in his presidency.

In his 2003 State of the Union message, President Bush committed $15 billion (that’s billions with a “B”) to fight AIDS in Africa in what would be knows as PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief).

It’s still one of the biggest programs ever to fight a single disease by any country.

Laura Bush

By the way, I love former First Lady Laura Bush and I’d enjoy meeting President and Mrs. Bush one day to chat!

“ON BECOMING A GOD IN CENTRAL FLORIDA”

This quirky ten-episode Showtime series wraps up its first season this weekend.

It stars Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Kirsten Dunst as Krystal Stubbs, a struggling minimum-wage-earning water park employee near Orlando, Florida.

She schemes her way up the ranks of Founders American Merchandise (FAM), a cultish, flag waving, multi-billion dollar organization that made her family lose all of its money.  It also indirectly caused her husband’s death (a very interesting one at that)!

22-year-old Canadian actor Theodore Pelleren co-stars as pyramid scheme victim Cody Bonar.  He’s incredible and I’m calling it now — he’ll get an Emmy nomination in 2020!

In late-September, “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” was renewed for a second season!

As much as I enjoyed season one, I don’t think I’ll return for season two!

GRADE:  B

“OUR BOYS”

I was really intrigued with the gut-wrenching HBO Israeli series, “Our Boys”, since I have an indirect connection to it.

The events it dramatizes were happening in the months leading up to my trip to Tel Aviv, Israel, in October 2014, to celebrate my 50th birthday.

Tel Aviv Mediterranean Sea

Tensions were still running rather high on my visit and we were advised not to visit Jerusalem for safety reasons.

This series focuses on the murder investigation of Arab teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir.

Abu Khdeir was kidnapped and burnt alive in retaliation for the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teenagers by the Palestinian militant group, Hamas.

While the entire series is compelling, “Chapter 7: Judging by its End” is so tense and heartbreaking.

The series features standout performances from Shlomi Elkabetz (Simon), Adam Gabay (Avishay), Jony Arbid (Hussein, Mohammed’s father) and Ruba Blal-Asfour (Suha, Mohammed’s mother).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a boycott of the series because it portrays Israelis in a bad light.   Um, okay!!!!!!

GRADE:  A-

“THE CROWN” SEASON 3

I can’t wait until November 17th for the return of the critically acclaimed Netflix series, “The Crown”!

Olivia Colman succeeds Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and Tobias Menzies will play Prince Philip, replacing Matt Smith.

The third season covers the years 1964-1976, including Harold Wilson’s terms as prime minister until 1976.

Sexy Josh O’Connor (“God’s Own Country”) will play Prince Charles.

This trailer is so clever in how it prepares us for the transition from a younger Queen Elizabeth in seasons one and two to a more mature Queen (Oscar winner Colman in seasons three and four)!

The fourth season will include Gillian Anderson (“The X-Files” and “Hannibal”) as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and it’ll introduce Lady Diana Spencer.

“GOD’S OWN COUNTRY”

If you want to get a taste of O’Connor before the new season of “The Crown” arrives, check out “God’s Own Country” on Netflix.  It was my 8th favorite movie of 2018.

Along with O’Connor, this stunning English drama stars Romanian actor Alec Secareanu.

O’Connor plays Johnny, a young man living with his father and grandmother on the family farm in northern England.  Johnny now has more responsibility after his father’s stroke.

He leads a lonely existence and drowns his sorrows in alcohol and cheap, meaningless sex.

The family hires Gheorghe, a Romanian migrant worker, for the upcoming lambing season and sparks begin to fly between the two young men.

But, can Johnny admit his feelings for Gheorghe and come out to his family that may or may not be accepting?

O’Connor won the British Independent Film Award for Best Actor beating out his co-star for the honor.

GRADE: B+

“PURE GOLDWATER”

This book by John Dean and Barry Goldwater, Jr. covers the Arizona Senator’s life and his 1964 Republican Presidential campaign.  He lost to President Lyndon Johnson.

Pure Goldwater

While Goldwater was very conservative, in the 1980s when he was in his 80s, he turned against the close-minded values of the Republican party and was supportive of his gay grandson, Ty Ross.

Ty Ross 1

Ross, a former Zoli model turned interior decorator, says this about his grandfather, he “knew I was gay since I was a teen. He was fine with it, and it was never an issue. He wasn’t terribly religious. It was all kind of a non-issue in the family.  In the early 1990s, I went to go protest in support of a local ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity into the city charter, and there was this raucous debate.  My grandfather happened to be at our house when I got back. ‘I heard you went downtown. Good job, standing up for what you believe in.'”

Ty Ross 2

Ross adds, “He was aware I was in POZ. I was never dealt any shame about it or met with adulation. It was neither, which was good for me because I didn’t have to feel any guilt. We never really talked about me being HIV positive. Without a doubt, he knew I was positive and was supportive of me more in that I was involving myself in standing up for gay rights.”

Additionally, in June 1993, after consulting with military experts, Goldwater realized that gays posed no security risk and declared that the military should lift its ban on gays.

He was quoted as saying, “you don’t need to be ‘straight’ to fight and die for your country; you just need to shoot straight.”

Two months later, he told the LGBTQ magazine, “The Advocate” that people being worked up over gays in the military was “pointless” and “stupid”.  He added that the GOP’s stance on gays was “dumb”.

“GOLDWATER GIRL”

As a 17-year-old in Chicago, you’ll never guess who was a “Goldwater Girl”, campaigning for the Republican in the 1964 presidential election!

Hillary Clinton Goldwater

Appearing on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in November 1993, Goldwater told the story of Hillary campaigning for him, “I remember her going around in a gingham dress trying to get people to vote for me.  Trouble is, she didn’t get around to enough of them.”

In October 1996, less than two years before Goldwater died, Hillary made a surprise visit to Goldwater at his Paradise Valley home!

Goldwater Hillary

And, if you didn’t know, Hillary was raised in a very conservative household in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge.

I’m just glad Hillary was much quicker to get away from the Republican party than Goldwater. 🙂

MY PICK HIT IS CATCHING ON!

Whitney Houston is back on Top 40 radio!

“Higher Love” with Kygo is at #27 on Mediabase today!

The reworked song is from the Japanese version of Houston’s third album, 1990’s “I’m Your Baby Tonight”.

The video is so sexy and cute and the song will sound familiar — it’s a remake of Steve Winwood and Chaka Khan’s 1986 #1 hit, which is one of my all-time favorite songs!

NEW CHRISTMAS STAMPS

The new holiday offering from the United States Postal Service this year is artsy, but I’ll be looking for an alternative for my Christmas cards this year.

Wreaths

I may go with the same ones I used last year!

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As I stated in my blog last November, “I’m very intrigued by Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights… It symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance”.  We could really use that in the world these days!!!!!!!!”

Diwali (also known as Dipavali) is celebrated in the fall in the northern hemisphere.  This year, it’ll be on Sunday, October 27th in the U.S.

“CHRISTMAS IN THE CITY”

Lea Michele (“Glee”) will be releasing her first holiday album, “Christmas in the City” on October 25th.

Lea Michele Christmas

It’ll feature duets with two very sexy men!

Jonathan Groff (“Glee” and “Mindhunter”) joins her on “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and Darren Criss (“Glee” and “American Crime Story:  The Assassination of Gianni Versace”) sings “White Christmas” with Lea.

Broadway star Cynthia Erivo, who was amazing in “Bad Times at the El Royale” and will star in the upcoming “Harriet”, joins Lea on “Angels We Have Heard on High”.

Other classics included on the album will be “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”, “O Holy Night”, “Silent Night”, “Silver Bells” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.

“Do You Want to Build a Snowman” from “Frozen” is also featured.  (By the way, Groff is also the voice of Kristoff in the “Frozen” movie franchise!)

“ALL TOO HUMAN”

I also read George Stephanopoulos’ 1999 book subtitled “A Political Education” this fall.

All Too Human George Stephanopoulous

It covered the years 1992, when he worked to get Bill Clinton elected president, through 1996, when he resigned from being Clinton’s Senior Advisor shortly after Clinton was re-elected in November 1996.

Stephanopoulos talked openly about his abrasive relationship with Hillary Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Thoughts — May 10, 2019

Happy Mother’s Day weekend to all of the moms and future moms out there, whether it’s children, godchildren, pets or plants!

Here’s a flashback to spring 1990 with my mother, Dessie, and my sister, Tammy.  While we didn’t know it then, this would be her last spring and Mother’s Day with us! 😦

Dessie 1990

Thank you for taking the time to check out my random thoughts.  If you disagree, feel free to diplomatically share yours with me!

IT’S SPRING, BUT NOT SO MUCH IN DULUTH

Okay, we’re already past the first week of May and we just experienced record May snowfall in Duluth, Minnesota.

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10.6″ of snow fell Wednesday night and Thursday morning.  Of that, 8.3″ fell Wednesday night making it the snowiest May 8th on record and the snowiest single day in May.

An additional 2.3″ fell on Thursday making it the snowiest May 9th on record.

This is now the snowiest May on record with 10.9″ (so far).

For this snow season, we’re up to 104.4″ in Duluth, making this the 15th snowiest winter on record and these records go back to 1884!

REALLY CLASSY PANAMA CITY BEACH! 

As you know, I was miserable the year I spent in Panama City, Florida, before moving to Duluth.

While I made three amazing friends and I’m sure there were many other great people I didn’t meet, there were a lot of people there that believed every word that spews out of 45’s ugly mouth.

Trump PC.JPG

He was in Panama City Beach this week and while talking about immigrants and how to handle the border, a woman in the audience shouted, “Shoot them”!

He smiled and commented, “That’s only in the Panhandle, you can get away with that statement. Only in the Panhandle!”

Sadly, it’s probably true!  Pathetic!

PINK SAID WHAT???? 

To “Entertainment Weekly” about the title track of her latest album, “Hurts 2B Human”, a duet with Khalid: “I feel like if you’re present in 2019 and not totally escaping your feelings and looking around at what’s going on in the world, especially this country, it hurts.  It fucking hurts your heart.  I think that’s a good thing, because that’s what creates change, and we’re starting to see change and people show up and fight back!” 

“FERRARO: MY STORY”

This 1985 autobiography is by Congresswoman Geraldine A. Ferraro.

In 1984, she became the first woman to make it on a major presidential ticket when Democratic nominee Walter Mondale chose her as his running mate.

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While she talked about her family, her mother raising her and her brother as a single parent after her father’s death and her early political career, the book focuses mostly on the weeks leading up to her nomination and the long and painful 1984 presidential run.

In the book, this story stood out to me and it’s very relevant today as we head into a bitter fight into the 2020 race to get Donald Trump out of office.

It was early 1983 and Ferraro was talking about which eventual Democratic candidate she’d support.  She wanted someone who shared her values to be the candidate, but she would campaign for any Democrat to defeat Ronald Reagan.

Ferraro wrote, “Even an imperfect candidate would be better than Reagan — that’s how strongly I felt.”

“THE BLOOD OF ABRAHAM”

This 1985 book by my idol and former President Jimmy Carter traces the history of the Israeli-Palestinian turmoil back to biblical times when the Arabs, the Jews and the Christians all came from Abraham.

The Blood Jimmy Carter.jpg

If you’re not a reader of the Bible, some of the history is overwhelming and, to me, unbelievable (Abraham fathered children when he around 100 years old and he lived to 175!).

But, this was only in the first few pages of the book.

The great, concise book (just over 200 pages) details the torturous history of Palestine that only became more daunting once Israel came into existence in 1948 and Arab Palestinians didn’t have a home or home state.

As you recall, President Carter worked night and day for almost two week at Camp David in the summer of 1978 with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachen Begin to broker a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Arabs.

Sadly, there will never be peace between the two peoples over this small piece of real estate because neither side wants to give up anything to make peace.

Carter sums up the book talking about Abraham’s blood flowing through the veins of the Arab, Jew and Christian people and the bloody history of the Middle East with this chilling line, “The spilled blood in the Holy Land cries out to God — an anguished cry for peace.” 

AMERICA’S CRY FOR PEACE

It’s easy for Westerners to shake their heads over the long-standing history of violence in the Middle East.  But, that’s very narrow-minded of us.

Without being too judgmental, it’s like that right now in the United States.  We have strong race divisions, religious divisions, human rights divisions, and many more.

Just look at the divide between Democrats and Republicans, Hillary Clinton supporters, Bernie Sanders fans, and the ones that think that Donald Trump can do no wrong!

We’ve crossed a line from which we can’t (or will never) rebound!

I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist!

“MADAME X TOUR”

Madonna announced her latest tour this week to support her 14th studio album, “Madame X” coming out June 14th.

And, not surprising, it’s something new for the ever-changing icon.

Instead of taking her very expensive and incredible tours to arenas and cities all over the world, she’s doing mini-residencies in smaller theaters in large cities in the U.S. and Europe.

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So far, only New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago have been announced.  The tickets sold out so quickly that five more shows were added in New York City and four more in Los Angeles.

While only 25 show dates are known now, she’s set to announce additional dates for Boston, Las Vegas, Miami, and Philadelphia for 2019.

Since I didn’t get to Vegas last year, I’m planning on seeing Madonna for the fifth time when the show plays at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

And, while the dates aren’t public yet, I’d venture to say that it’ll be in December since no headliner has been announced there in that month! 🙂

“KILLING EVE” UPDATE

I couldn’t take the suspense any longer.  After finishing season one of the critically acclaimed BBC America series, I slowly started watching season two.

I’m four episodes in (five of the eight season two episodes have aired).

In the second episode, I almost peed myself with a line that likely went over the heads of most Americans!

Giving a power point presentation to her new team of detectives about Villanelle’s murders, Eve mentions that Bill was killed (oops, spoiler!) on a club’s dance floor and she quickly replies:

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“MURDER ON THE DANCEFLOOR”

“Murder on the Dance Floor” by Sophie Ellis Bextor was a minor dance club hit here in the U.S. in the early 2000s, yet it hit the Top Ten in, at least, 18 countries worldwide.

I fell in love with this song at Roscoe’s when I moved back to Chicago in 2002.

It’s from her fantastic debut album, “Read My Lips”.

MARIAH CHRISTMAS EARLY!

While Christmas is still more than seven months away, Mariah Carey recently announced that she’ll be performing her holidays standards again in Las Vegas.

Her “All I Want For Christmas Is You” will be returning to the Colosseum at Caesars Palace for five shows November 22-30, 2019.

MC ALL I WANT VEGAS

Trust me, this is a phenomenal show!  I saw a version of it in December 2017 in Vegas.

This is what I wrote about it on my return, “She was absolutely gorgeous and flawless and her voice was crisp and angelic. The sets were magical and stunning and for just over 90 minutes, all my unhappiness was a distant memory!”

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Move Forward & Stop Looking Back

Birthdays are interesting annual events.  Some people count down to the big day and some would rather it pass unnoticed.

As life goes on, the way we celebrate the natal day changes.  As a kid, we’re excited for a cake, a party, and gifts.

That’s me celebrating my first birthday with a cake that ISN’T chocolate! 😦

October 13 1965

In retrospective, I’m grateful I got to celebrate that birthday.  When I arrived six weeks early, in the fall of 1964, I weighed about three pounds and I wasn’t expected to make it.  The survival rate for preemies back then was only 28%!

For many, becoming a teenager is exciting and to others, it’s a terrifying time. Then, there’s 16, 18, and 21.

After that the pressure settles in as 25 nears and you become frantic at 30 feeling as though your youth is gone.  It’s time to evaluate where you’re at in life and where you’re heading.

Anthony2

I survived college, partying, and finding myself in my teens and 20s, starting my career in my 30s, finding love in my 40s, and losing it in my 50s.

There are days of bitterness and anger, but many more are now filled with uncertainty — not only of what lies ahead down this road of life we travel, but mortality!   Dessie-Hollie-Anthony -- Fall 1964

While the average life expectancy in the U.S. is now 78.7 years, my beautiful mother, Dessie, didn’t get anywhere near that.

She died at 47 (in 1990).  My father died three years earlier at 55.

Time

I’m optimistic that I have many years left since I’m physically and mentally healthy.  I just have to work on becoming emotionally and mentally happy!

My next birthday is right around the corner (October 13).

If you send birthday wishes to me via Facebook, I’ll get around to responding to them when I can since I’ll be out of the country!

I’m marking another continent off my travel list!

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This will be the fourth continent I’ve visited — following North America, Europe, and Asia!

To help you narrow it down, I don’t think I need to visit Antarctica and going to South America isn’t high on my travel “bucket list”.

Final clues before you see the pictures on Facebook when I have internet:  It’s north of the Equator (never been south of it), 99% Muslim, and it’s ruled by a King.

Birthday Trip 2

And, in August, Madonna spent her 60th birthday there.  I’m sure that her arrangements were on a grander scale! 🙂

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P.S. I share my birthday with Sacha Baron Cohen (47), Nancy Kerrigan (49), Fox Mulder (57), and Marie Osmond (59).  Oh, I can’t forget my dear friend, Crystal Craddock-Posey!

With that being said, I want to share some of my favorites birthdays of the past with you.

BIRTHDAY 2016

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BIRTHDAY 2014

For my 50th birthday, I wanted to visit Tel Aviv, Israel.

When booking the trip, the connecting flight was through Paris, so it was decided to spend three nights in Paris and four in Tel Aviv.

For my birthday, I was treated to a Seine River dinner cruise, a view of Paris from atop the Eiffel Tower, and sitting stage side at the historic Moulin Rogue sipping champagne at midnight as I turned 50!

Anthony 50

Days later, in Tel Aviv, I had the best meal ever at Benny The Fisherman, right on the Mediterranean Sea!

Benny The Fisherman

BIRTHDAY 2012

The day started with an incredible brunch at the Stratosphere (back when it was good) in Las Vegas and ended with seeing Madonna and the incredible “MDNA Tour”.

Champagne

Madonna MDNA

BIRTHDAY 2011

This would be the last one with my best buddy in the world, my beautiful golden retriever, Miss ABBA.  It was a warm fall day in the Quad Cities and we spent it outside playing.

ABBAAnthonyBD2011

BIRTHDAY 2009

2009 Gifts

As I head into my 55th year and beyond, I’ll live by the words of Kylie Minogue and her life affirming hit “Golden” (which chronicles her turning 50 earlier this year)!

Kylie Golden 1

Kylie

Kylie Golden 2

My one goal for 2019 — seeing Kylie’s “Golden Tour” here in the U.S.!

Here’s to future!

Claire

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — June 24, 2016

Summer is officially here.  It’s been feeling like it for weeks now in the Quad Cities.

Last weekend, we were in Fort Dodge, Iowa, for Papa Ray’s (Ray’s dad) 80th birthday party and are ready to chill out at home this weekend.

Have a great one and I appreciate you checking out my “Random Friday Thoughts”.

STAY COOL THIS SUMMER

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ALLIGATOR ATTACK

It was a very sad week in Orlando, Florida, last week following the previous weekend’s shooting death of 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie of “The Voice” fame and the Pulse nightclub massacre that left 49 dead and 53 injured.

Then, last Tuesday night, a two-year-old boy visiting Walt Disney World from Nebraska, was wading in the water at a Grand Floridian Resort and Spa beach when he was dragged away by an alligator.

His body was found the next day and an autopsy showed he died from drowning and traumatic injuries.

Alligators 2010

My heart breaks for Luke and his family.  What was supposed to be a fun trip to Disney will now be a nightmare for the rest of their lives.

While there were “no swimming” signs posted at the beach, there were no warnings posted about alligators.

I’m sorry, but I don’t need a sign to warn me about alligators in waters in Florida and Louisiana (where I took picture above).  If you’re the least bit familiar with those states, you know there are alligators.

And, there’s no way I’d be wading in water when it’s dark and I can’t see what’s around me!

When it comes to blame, there’s enough to go around.  I just hope we don’t see another tragedy like this (or the other two I mentioned).

What are you thoughts?  How much of the blame is on Disney?

HE’S ALIVE AND STILL FULL OF VILE

Twisted “Christian” mouthpiece (note “quotation marks” and mockery) Pat Robertson of “The 700 Club” shares these words of advice to haters

“Christians need to just let Muslims and homosexuals kill each other off.”

Pat Robertson

I guess now Florida will probably see a hurricane this summer to punish them for their sins.

HurricaneGloria09241985

That’s not my forecast.  That just how Robertson thinks.

If you think I’m kidding, check out this blog I wrote about him and his forecasting skills about four years ago.  (This will open in a new window for you.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/and-now-your-weather-forecast-with-reverend-pat-robertson/

I hope you smiled through the insanity.

ISRAELI SHOOTINGS & DAILY CHICAGO GUN VIOLENCE

In last week’s “Random Friday Thoughts”, I was going to talk about the gunmen that fired upon a Tel Aviv, Israel open-air market in early June killing four people.

However, the mind-boggling massacre at the gay nightclub Pulse, in Orlando, Florida, stunned the nation where more than one hundred people were shot — 49 of them died.

Now, I want to revisit that.

Tel Aviv Mediterranean Sea

I visited Tel Aviv in the fall of 2014 for my 50th birthday and it was the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.  I’d go back there in a heartbeat!

Before we went, there was heightened tensions around Jerusalem, so we didn’t visit the holy city.  People kept asking, “aren’t you scared to go the Middle East”?  Of course, you think about it, but I wasn’t afraid.

In early June, four Israelis were killed and five others were injured in a shooting by two attackers, identified as Palestinians, at a popular food and shopping market.

I want to comment about the Israeli and Palestinian conflict and how many Americans fear visiting Israel because of the the violence and put it into perspective.  (And, this was before the massacre at the gay nightclub in Orlando.)

Chicago Police murder investigation

Over the past few years, shooting deaths and injuries have gotten out of hand in Chicago.

So far this year, 1,819 people have been shot in Chicago (through June 23rd).  Of those, more than 200 have died!  (Last year, there were 2,988 shooting victims in the “Windy City”.)

Last weekend alone, the “Chicago Tribune” reported 59 people shot and 13 of those people died.  That was in a 60-hour period from Friday afternoon through early Monday morning over Father’s Day weekend.

I lived in Chicago for four years (1994-1996 and 2002-2004) and I never felt unsafe.  I can’t say that now when I do make it back to the city.

As a matter of fact, I would feel much safer in Tel Aviv, Israel!

TRAGIC ENDING FOR PROMISING ACTOR

Anton Yelchin was a charismatic, attractive young actor that I thoroughly enjoyed watching on screen and listening to talk (yes, he has a very sexy voice).

The 27-year-old died tragically last weekend in a freak accident when his Jeep pinned him against a brick mailbox pillar attached to a security fence outside his home.

TMZ.com reports that his death certificate shows he died from “blunt traumatic asphyxia” and he didn’t suffer — he was dead within a minute of impact.

It’ll be interesting to see how, if any, a spring recall on his Jeep’s year and model will play into the death investigation and if the accident could have been avoided.

Anton

I loved Yelchin in “Alpha Dogs”, “Odd Thomas”, and his two “Star Trek” movie in 2009 and 2013.  The latest, “Star Trek Beyond” arrives in theaters July 22, 2016.

Also, I’m really looking forward to seeing Anton and co-star Patrick Stewart’s critically acclaimed movie, “Green Room”.  It comes out on DVD on July 12th.

This is “red band” trailer (adult language and situations).

R.I.P. Anton

IT’S SUMMER — TOO SOON TO THINK CHRISTMAS?

Summer officially began here in the Midwest this past Monday evening.  While we have three months of hot weather to look forward to, is it too soon to think winter?

colored-trees

Maybe not since Christmas is only six months from this weekend!

“ALMOST CHRISTMAS”

I’ve already found my first holiday movie that I want to see.

It’s directed by David E. Talbert, who was behind “Baggage Claim”, one of my twenty favorite movies of 2014.

“Almost Christmas” features an all-star cast including Oscar winner Mo’Nique, in a much different role than her Academy Award turn in “Precious”.

It arrives in theaters on November 11th.

PICK HIT

This week’s pick hit, “This Is What You Came For” by Calvin Harris and Rihanna, is already a Top Ten hit in America at pop radio and in dance clubs and it’s an international smash.  I’m featuring it because the video is new.

Calvin Harris is one of the world’s highest paid club DJs.  He’s also placed 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with four of them reaching the Top Ten.

Meanwhile, Rihanna has charted an amazing 48 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 since her debut in 2005.  Of those, 29 have made the Top Ten and 14 have hit number one!

Will lightning strike twice for Harris and Rihanna?  Their last collaboration, “We Found Love”, spent ten weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2011.

Okay, I know they’re just friends, but I have to throw this out there.

Rihanna is so beautiful and stunning and Calvin is so gorgeous and hot, I just want to ship them like my teenager daughter does with “Star Wars”.  Could you imagine how beautiful their children would be?

In case you’re less familiar with Calvin and didn’t see what I’m talking about in his fifteen second cameo in the video…

Calvin Underwear

MORE FIRST LADIES

Last week, I started sharing a few tidbits about president’s wives after reading “First Ladies” by Betty Boyd Caroli.  I covered Martha Washington to Letitia Tyler.

And, now on with a few more.  We all need a little bit of useless (or useful) trivia. 🙂

First Ladies

Julia Tyler:  She married President John Tyler 18 months after his first wife Letitia became the first First Lady to die in the White House.  She’s remembered for starting the “Hail To The Chief” tradition and she hired a press agent to promote herself.

Sarah Polk:  She became the most outspoken and politically involved First Lady since Abigail Adams.

Margaret Taylor:  Delegated First Lady duties to her daughter.  She was so obscure that no authentic likeness of her exists.  In her obituary, “The New York Times” just referred to her as “Mrs. General Taylor”.

Abigail Fillmore:  She established the White House library and she died about a month after President Millard Fillmore died.  She caught a cold during the inauguration of her husband’s replacement, President Franklin Pierce.

Jane Pierce:  She wasn’t very happy being in Washington and was regularly depressed after the death of her son, Bennie. (Their other two sons died in childhood, too.).   From the public’s perspective, it was acceptable for her to grieve, but not her husband for they saw it as a weakness for the president.

Mary Todd Lincoln:  She was known for freely spending money and received plenty of criticism.  She was also institutionalized by her son to a private mental hospital near Chicago.  Ms. Lincoln was thought to be insane because of her erratic behavior.

Eliza Johnson:  She mostly remained out of sight as First Lady unlike her predecessor.

YOU MIGHT AS WELL SWEAT — IT’S SUMMER!

I don’t know what floats your boat, but the video to “Work From Home”, the recent #1 song from Fifth Harmony, is too freaking hot!

It’s an equal opportunity crowd pleaser.

I can’t believe I’ve listened to the song thousands of times, but never watched the video.  Big Mistake! Big!  Huge!

Fifth Harmony’s second album, “7/27”, came out in late May and debuted at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart.

EVEN MORE FIRST LADIES

Julia Grant:  She was the first First Lady to write her autobiography once out of the White House.  It wasn’t published until 1975, almost one hundred years later.

Lucy Hayes:  Unlike fun-loving Julia Grant, Ms. Hayes was known as a “tight-lipped moralizer” because of attending daily prayer meetings each morning and singing hymns Sunday evening.  Also, for refusing to serve alcohol in the White House.

Lucretia Garfield:  She continued her teaching job in New York during her first years in the White House.  After her husband’s assassination, she became the first presidential widow to participate in her husband’s public memorial service.

Ellen Arthur:  She died before her husband became the 21st president.

Rose Cleveland:  She was the sister of bachelor President Grover Cleveland.  As a hostess, she was often bored and was happy when he married and his young wife became First Lady.

Frances Cleveland:  She was 21-years-old when she married the president, who was 28 years older than her!  Frances was the daughter of a former law partner to President Cleveland and he had known her since she was born.  He also bought her her first baby carriage!

220px-Home_alone

Okay, that’s just downright creepy and a perfect place to end this week’s blog.

THAT’S IT

Thank you for checking it out and feel free to share your thoughts on any of my random thoughts.

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

 

Fortunate In 2014 & Looking Forward To 2015

Happy Holidays, my friends, it’s my favorite time of the year.  I love the sights and sounds, the music, and the fact that I get to catch up with my dear friends.

Christmas 2014

I hope 2014 was a great year for you, but more importantly, I hope 2015 is even better.  May you be blessed with good health, good fortunes, love, and happiness!

It was a fun year for us.  I’ll get to that, but first let me update you on our lives.

I’m nearing the end of my two-year contract as the morning meteorologist for the CBS affiliate here in the Quad Cities.  While I love what I do, I’m not sure how much longer I want to get up at 1 a.m. for work five days a week.

Ray is still the Planning and Economic Development Director for the city of Moline.  He’s been there nine years and loves what he does.  But, were both eyeing his semi-retirement and Gretel’s high school graduation in five years to move to a warmer climate.

Yes, Gretel is now an eighth grader and a teenager!  She wants to be a movie director when she grows up.

Anthony Gretel Ray

My sister, Tammy, is still living in the Quad Cities.  She’s been here for three years and while she’s happy, I can definitely see her return to Tennessee to be closer to her two granddaughters one day.

Tammy

It’s been almost three years since we lost Miss ABBA and we still don’t have a dog.  However, I hope that changes in the next year or two — if we travel less.  We did quite a bit of traveling this year.

ABBAFashionShowJan2012

We got away to Las Vegas for a few days this summer and saw Olivia Newton-John and Shania Twain in concert.

OliviaShania

While there, we also saw two Cirque du Soleil shows, “The Beatles LOVE” and “Michael Jackson ONE”.  Both were simply amazing with the theatrics, the acrobatics, and, of course, the fantastic music.  I’d highly recommend seeing one of these shows when you’re in Vegas.

Other concerts we enjoyed this year were Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan in Clinton, Iowa

Anthony, Pam, & Lorrie

Cher and Cyndi Lauper in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Cher 2014 311

Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull in Chicago, Illinois

Enrique

We also saw my favorite ’80s band, Erasure, in Chicago, the next night!

Erasure

We spent a few days in Branson, Missouri, on a summer vacation trip for Gretel and her friends, Zoe, in June, and I accompanied Ray on a conference to beautiful Ottawa, Ontario, the capital of Canada, in September.  I got to sight see while he worked.

Ottawa

And, then in October, we went on the big vacation to celebrate my 50th birthday!

Yes, the big 5-0!  I’ve always wanted to go to Tel Aviv, Israel, and when we were booking the trip, it took us through Paris to sit at the airport for a few hours.  We thought, “why not stay a few days since we’re already going to be there?”  So, we cut Tel Aviv to four nights and stayed in Paris three nights.

Paris Birthday

For my birthday, Ray bought a package deal that included a Seine River dinner cruise, a visit to the Eiffel Tower (the view from the top at night was incredible), and a cabaret show at the world-renowned “Moulin Rouge”.  Since we were on Paris time, I actally turned 50 sipping champagne as the show girls (and boys) performed at the “Moulin Rouge”!

Paris was incredible, but Tel Aviv, on the Mediterranean Sea, was so beautiful and the religious history surrounding the city was mind-blowing.

Ray Anthony Old Jaffa

Old Jaffa, just miles away, is more than 4,000 years old.

And, we had a yard sale this summer and started saving change and a few dollars to go on a holiday cruise to the eastern Caribbean in early December with Tammy and Gretel.

Eastern Caribbean

Needless to say, we didn’t buy many presents for each other this Christmas.  The trip was the present.

It been an enjoyable year and we’re definitely looking forward to see what 2015 brings!

As you start to take down the holiday decorations and winter sets in, I hope that you’re looking to the new year for bright new adventures, good health, and much happiness.

“May hope and faith conquer fear and hate” in 2015.

Anthony

 

 

 

 

50th Birthday Plans Revealed!

A milestone birthday is coming up for me in less than two months.  I’ve been living my life planning on this for almost 50 years now.

Dessie-Hollie-Anthony -- Fall 1964

My mother didn’t get that opportunity and my father barely made it.  She died at 47 (in 1990) and he passed away at 55 (in 1987).

So, what’s a few wrinkles and a head full of gray hair?  I never had a six-pack stomach, so as I get old/older, I don’t have to worry about losing that.  And, I can’t be all that disappointed that I have to work a little harder to keep the slowing metabolism in check.

AP 1st Birthday

While I definitely love cake, even that boring white cake for my first birthday in 1965 (Happy Birthday Crystal!), there’s a chance that I won’t have a cake this year — unless I have it early or late.

Since you only turn 50 once, Ray and I decided to make both of  our “nifty fifty” birthdays memorable.  Last year, he celebrated with a Danube River cruise that allowed us to spend a day in Zurich, Switzerland, and to visit Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, and Germany.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Since then, we’ve been saving our pennies (okay, mostly dollars) to make another international trip to celebrate my 50th.

However, the second part of that trip may now be in jeopardy due to missiles, bombs, bullets and bloodshed.  While we’re not changing the itinerary just yet, a back-up plan is being considered.   More on that shortly.

When we started planning the trip, it was going to be an overnight flight from the United States to the Mediterranean destination of my dreams with a plane transfer and four hours of sit-time in Paris, France.

Dreams of wine, cheese, and pastries began filling my head.

Pastries

At that point, we decided instead of spending seven nights on the Mediterranean Sea, we could spend three nights in Paris and hit two continents!

Picnic

So, now I plan on spending my birthday sitting in a park having a picnic of wine, cheese, fruit, bread, and pastries in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower — rain or shine!

eiffel-tower-at-night-with-moon

While Ray and I each paid for the trip, I already know what my birthday present is from him — a Sunday evening that includes a three-course dinner cruise on the Seine River, a one-hour visit to second floor of the Eiffel Tower to look out over Paris, and an evening at the world-renowned Moulin Rouge!!!

Now, about my original 50th birthday destination spot before Paris crashed the party!  I’ve always wanted to visit Tel Aviv, Israel, the fifth most visited city in the Middle East on the beautiful Mediterranean Sea.

Tel Aviv Mediterranean Sea

Tel Aviv is known for its dynamic atmosphere and famous 24-hour culture earning it the nickname, “party capital”.

It’s also known as “The City That Never Sleeps”, “The Bubble”, and “The White City” (for the more than 4,000 buildings built-in a unique style from 1930s German-Jewish architects and, yes, the buildings are white!).

Tel Aviv

Since Tel Aviv is Israel’s financial capital and is compared to New York City, it’s also nicknamed “The Big Orange”, because of the famous Jaffe (now a part of Tel Aviv) orange — a very sweet, almost seedless fruit similar to the Valencia orange.

We booked this trip back in January, but once the Israel-Gaza conflict started back in early July, which has led to bombings and missile strikes that have claimed more than 2,000 lives, mostly in Gaza, we thought about choosing another destination.

However, Tel Aviv is still the safest city in Israel and we’re still going.

So, that is how I plan on spending the last days of my 40s and the first few days of my 50s.

In the words of French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement, Victor Hugo, “forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age”.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — July 25, 2014

Happy Friday!   The weekend is here and I hope you have a great one.

While this is a condensed “Random Friday Thoughts”, it’s still something unexpected and fun to post since I’ve missed my blog.

MIDDLE EAST FIGHTING

As the fighting in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine escalates, the death toll continues to rise.  So far, roughly 760 people have died in Gaza and the Israeli death toll is around 35.

Earlier this week, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines both halted flights from the U.S. to Israel, while airlines in Germany, Italy, and France joined in prompting the European Aviation Safety Agency to issue an advisory.

“PRAY FOR PEACE”

Meanwhile, country music and entertainment superstar Reba McEntire released her first new song since 2012 asking the world to “Pray For Peace”.

Reba

Reba stated on her Facebook page, “The idea to write the song “Pray For Peace” came to me last year as I was walking on our place in Gallatin, Tn. For days I’d sing, “Pray for Peace”, over and over. It wasn’t until several months later did the other parts start to fall in place. Some, not until we got into the studio to record it.”

She adds, “It’s an act of perseverance, prayer, hope, fellowship and mostly love.”

You can see the finished video (with music) here:  http://reba.com/

MADONNA CATCHES HEAT

Also, international music icon Madonna is earning praise and a lot of flak for posting this picture on social media.

Madonna Flowers

The caption was “These flowers are like the innocent children of GAZA! Who has a right to destroy them? No One!!!! CEASE FIRE! #peaceinthemiddleeast” -Madonna.”

Responses on her Facebook page have been rather passionate.

Positive:   “She Can Support whoever she wants to… so whats the Problem? Im a Madonna’s Fan, Im Not Supporting Israel, Im not supporting Gaza, Im Just Supporting The Peace, The Children’s Life are Important, Doesn’t matter the side of they come from.

And, ” Thank you Madonna for shedding light on human rights abuses in the Middle East. Every life is precious and no child should die.

Negative: “you Madonna have no rights to say this kind of things about the children in Gaza !  These children are taught from childhood to hate us and want to kill us and destroy the people of Israel ! …  “SHAME ON YOU MADONNA !  I’m not a fan anymore!”

And, “Madonna talking about politics is a bit like George w Bush trying to point Iraq on a map before attacking it.”

Madonna Defend Human Rights

This prompted Madonna to post this follow-up an hour or so later.

Madonna Hamas

EMMY NOMINATIONS — A HIT AND TWO MISSES

Kudos to the Emmy Awards for nominating transgender actress Laverne Cox is the proper category “Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series” for her work in “Orange Is The New Black”!

Hannibal-NBC-Poster-2012

Sadly, no nominations were given to the NBC series, “Hannibal” or for any of the actors.  This is by far, the best and most intelligent show on television!  Maybe next year?

And, Emmy also snubbed “The Walking Dead” for acting awards AGAIN!  There was a lot of buzz and hope that Melissa McBride would get a nomination for her heartbreaking performance this season.

the-walking-dead-season-4-emmy-ad

McBride did win the “Saturn Award” this year and is nominated for the “Gold Derby TV Award” for Best Supporting Actress.

ERASURE IS BACK!

My favorite English band, Erasure, is gearing up for the release of their latest album, “The Violet Flame” in September.

The first single, “Elevation”, just came out and it’s incredible.  Andy Bell sounds amazing and it’s a fresh new sound for the every changing electronic duo.

I can’t wait to see them in concert in Chicago on October 4th.

If you’re not all that familiar with Erasure or you want to know just how much I love their music, check out this blog from June.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/my-fall-just-got-more-exciting-with-erasure/

GOP HAS A NEW FRONT RUNNER?

The “crazy train” may have derailed in 2012, but it may be back on the tracks for the 2016 presidential race.

Bachmann

Michele Bachmann tells RealClearPolitics, “there’s a chance I could run.”

REMEMBERING TAMMY FAYE

It was seven years ago last weekend that televangelist Tammy Faye (Bakker) Messner died after an 11-year battle with cancer.

tammy-faye book

I just finished her book and it made me look at her in a new light.

If you missed my blog about her, the book, her life, and her thoughts, here’s the link:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/remembering-tammy-faye/

CANCER SURVIVOR INSPIRES ME

Cancer is scary and we all know or love someone that has been touched by it.

I have and I’ve already had three cancer scares.  I just read the most incredible and the best book ever about a Chicago chef that faced his biggest fear, tongue cancer — something that could have either killed him or ended his career.

Life+On+the+Line

Check out Grant Achatz’s amazing story in this blog.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/chicago-chefs-courageous-fight-makes-me-fear-cancer-less/

STILL LOVE THIS CRAZY SONG

The Chainsmokers are an American DJ duo that have remixed songs for The Killers, Icona Pop, and Ellie Goulding.

Their first radio hit in America, #SELFIE, reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Top Ten on the Billboard Dance chart.

It also reached #1 in Finland, #2 in Sweden, and #3 in Australia and Norway.

VIDEO MAY BE APPROPRIATE FOR EVERYONE!

The video has been viewed more than 181 million times on YouTube.  Now, go take a selfie!

THAT’S IT

So there’s your surprise “Random Friday Thoughts”.  Have a great weekend!

Anthony

 

Israelis Take A Stand Against Russia

As you know from reading my blog, I’ve been very outspoken against Russia’s homophobic laws and the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

There’s now a new Israeli campaign speaking out about the bloodshed and violence against the LGBT community in Russia.

Red Flag

“Red Flag”, similar to the American NOH8 campaign, was started by David and Jonathan, the publisher of the international lifestyle magazine, “F.O.D.”, for the Tel-Aviv gay man community.

Actors, singers, activists, drag queens, and the LGBT community were encouraged to take part in the photo shoot wearing Russian army uniforms with blood coming out of their mouths to bring attention to the violence brought against Russian and Ukrainian LGBT people.

Red Flag2

Organizers say, “Russia 2013 is a death trap for the LGBT community. This discriminating law is backed up with aggressive enforcement by the army and the police. Arresting activists in the LGBT community or any person suspected of being involved in “propaganda” has become a normal routine. This law refers to tourists from out-of-state and even athletes participating in the winter Olympics.”

Anthony

Re-posted from  “Random Friday Thoughts — December 6, 2013

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/random-friday-thoughts-december-6/

Random Friday Thoughts — December 6, 2013

Happy Friday everyone.  I hope you’re having a great week and that you’re looking forward to the weekend.  Here are my random Friday thoughts.

GREETINGS FROM “MUSIC CITY USA”!

When we left the Quad Cities Wednesday, it was 47° and we drove seven hours to Grand Rivers, Kentucky, to check out the Christmas lights and have dinner at my favorite restaurant, Patti’s 1880’s and the temperature there was 72°.

Lights at Patti'sAnthony's Dinner

That’s my dinner.  It’s called “Ella Mae’s Chicken”:  freshly grilled asparagus over grilled chicken breast topped with black forest ham and sautéed mushrooms covered in homemade cheese sauce.  This was after appetizers of homemade cheese sticks and a blossoming onion and before we ate dessert!

On Thursday, we drove the final two hours to Nashville, Tennessee, dropping my sister off in Clarksville, about an hour northwest of Nashville, so she could spend the weekend with her kids and two granddaughters.

REBA EXHIBIT

Our first stop in Nashville before checking into the Opryland Hotel was a visit to the Reba McEntire exhibit, “All The Women I Am”, at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Anthony Reba

These are various “Fancy” performance dresses.

Reba Fancy Dresses

IT LOOKS LIKE CHRISTMAS AT OUR HOTEL

Opryland Hotel

THE ROCKETTES’

Last night, we saw the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes”.  The sets were incredible and the dancing was festive and fun.  Sadly, no pictures were allowed!

REST OF THE WEEKEND PLANS

Tonight, in a major ice storm, we’ll see “Lorrie Morgan’s Enchanted Christmas & Dinner Show”.  Tomorrow, it’s a lunch cruise on the Cumberland River on the General Jackson and tomorrow night, Opry at the Ryman, with Vince Gill, Kathy Mattea, Chris Carmack (who plays Will Lexington on ABC’s “Nashville”) and many others.

Chris Carmack

SINGER BECOMES BIG TIME SONG WRITER

Shane McAnally

25-year-old Texan Shane McAnally was signed to Curb Records and released his first single, “Say Anything” in 1999, which peaked at #41.  The follow-up single, “Are Your Eyes Still Blue” was his only Top 40 country hit, peaking at #31.

I loved both of those songs and I was probably one of the few people who took a chance on the newcomer and bought his debut and only album. After that, Shane dropped off the radar and moved to West Hollywood, California, and started bartending and performing as “Shane Mack”.

Shane Mack

In California, Shane was able to be openly gay.  Since he started living his life openly, he married his partner of six years, Michael Baum, in September 2012, and the couple welcomed a daughter and a son in December of last year.

I was pleasantly surprised this fall to see “Entertainment Weekly” give Shane the much overdue recognition that he deserves.

Shane returned to Nashville in a big way in 2008 as a co-writer of LeAnn Womack’s Top 15 hit, “Last Call”.  Since then, he has written #1 songs for Kenny Chesney, Jake Owens, The Band Perry, Lady Antebellum, and Miranda Lambert.  He also penned three songs for Reba McEntire’s 2010 album, “All The Women I Am” album.

Music Review Kacey Musgraves

And, this year, he co-produced my favorite country album 0f 2013, the #1 “Same Trailer Different Park” by Kacey Musgraves.

Shane, I wish you, Michael, and your children much happiness in 2014 and here’s to continued success in country music.  I hope to hear more of your singing in the future, too.

MEANWHILE, NOT SO GOOD TENNESSEE NEWS

While we’re having a good time in Nashville, a recent report from “24/7 Wall Street” doesn’t paint a rosy picture of Tennessee, ranking it as “the most dangerous state” in the United States.

It’s followed by Nevada, Alaska, New Mexico, South Carolina, Delaware, Louisiana, Florida, Maryland, and Oklahoma!

Tennessee Violent Crimes

The site ranks Tennessee #1 for aggravated assaults and in the top ten for murders and robbery.  In 2012, there were 388 murders, which is up for the second straight year.

Across the nation, Memphis ranks fifth and Nashville is at #18 for violent crimes.

Take this ranking and the information from “24/7 Wall Street” with a grain of salt, since the “Crime in Chicago” website reported 537 murders in the “Windy City” in 2012.  (As of December 1st, the site reports there have been 422 murders in Chicago in 2013.)

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Ice Hole Deer  squirrelSnow's a comin'

ICE STORM SOUTH, SNOW IN THE QUAD CITIES

Two rounds of ice will be heavily glazing the Nashville, Tennessee, area tonight and, again, Saturday night.  It’s going to get scary down here.  Meanwhile, on Sunday, several inches of snow are expected in the Quad Cities.  It looks like, at least, two inches are likely.

I’ll have more on this tomorrow to keep you ahead of the snow in Illinois and Iowa.

FRESH VENDING MACHINE SALAD

I know it’s easy to grab fast food or something out a vending machine when you’re working and eat it at your desk.  However, if you had the option, would you choose a fresh salad from a vending machine for a healthy alternative?

That is the option for people living or working near the Loop in Chicago near Clark and Lake.

Farmers Fridge Chicago

Farmer’s Fridge has installed its first vending machine salad, fruits, and vegetables prepared fresh daily and packaged in recyclable plastic jar.

The $8 salads are available at 10 a.m. and come in seven varieties including North Napa, Mediterranean, Crunchy Thai, The Cheater, and three other flavors.  The dressings include lemon tahini, spicy soy peanut, red wine vinaigrette, and four other flavors.

ISRAELIS TAKE A STAND AGAINST RUSSIA

As you know from reading my blog, I’ve been very outspoken against Russia’s homophobic laws and the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which are two months away.  There’s now a new Israeli campaign speaking out about the bloodshed and violence against the LGBT community in Russia.

Red Flag

“Red Flag”, similar to the American NOH8 campaign, was started by David and Jonathan, the publisher of the international lifestyle magazine, “F.O.D.”, for the Tel-Aviv gay man community.

Actors, singers, activists, drag queens, and the LGBT community were encouraged to take part in the photo shoot wearing Russian army uniforms with blood coming out of their mouths to bring attention to the violence brought against Russian and Ukrainian LGBT people.

Red Flag2

Organizers say, “Russia 2013 is a death trap for the LGBT community. This discriminating law is backed up with aggressive enforcement by the army and the police. Arresting activists in the LGBT community or any person suspected of being involved in “propaganda” has become a normal routine. This law refers to tourists from out-of-state and even athletes participating in the winter Olympics.”

PICK HIT

Earlier in the blog, I profiled Shane McAnally and mentioned that he co-produced Kacey Musgraves’ debut album.

He also co-wrote nine of the album’s twelve songs, including the first three singles:  “Merry Go Round” (#14), “Blowin’ Smoke” (#31 peak), and her current single, “Follow Your Arrow”,which is at #28.

“Follow Your Arrow” is witty and poignant.  Here’s a sample of the lyrics:  “You’re damned if you do/and you’re damned if you don’t/so you might as well do whatever you want, so make lots of noise/kiss lots of boys/kiss lots of girls/if that’s something you’re into”

Cheers, Kacey & Shane!

DALLAS BUYER’S CLUB

“And, the Academy Award for Best Actor Matthew McConaughey for “Dallas Buyers Club”.

Dallas Buyers Club

The movie is based on a true story.  Ron Woodruff was a homophobic, hard-living, good ol’ Texas boy who loved his liquor, drugs, and women.  In 1986, he was diagnosed with AIDS and told that he had 30 days to live.

He tried to get on the AZT trials that were being rushed onto the market to fight the AIDS pandemic.  Since he was denied that opportunity, Woodruff started buying it on the black market.  When he almost died, he came up with a plan to smuggle medications out of Mexico to try to stay alive.  Since Ron couldn’t sell the drugs, he started a membership only “buyers club” to distribute the Food & Drug Administration-unapproved medication.

DALLAS-BUYERS-CLUB

McConaughey, who plays Woodruff, lost about 50 pounds for the role and his co-star, Jared Leto, who plays transgender AIDS patient, Rayon, who befriends Woodruff, lost about 40 pounds for the role.

Both actors were electrifying and sold the story.  After initially gasping at McConaughey’s first appearance in the movie, I was sold for the next two hours that both actors were HIV-positive people fighting for their lives, while the government dragged its feet.

If you lived through the 1980s and saw friends getting sick and dying, you saw those friends in Ron and Rayon.  If you know people who have become HIV-positive in the past decade, where with medication, healthier living, diet, and exercise, it’s become a manageable disease, there’s a sense of relief that AIDS is no longer a certain death sentence.

GRADE:  A

CHRISTMAS PICK HIT

I just added “A Mary Christmas” by Mary J. Blige and “Christmas, With Love” by British singer Leona Lewis to my holiday collection this week.

Leona Lewis  Christmas With Love

Leona’s fourth album and her first Christmas colelction featured seven classics and three new songs, including the first single, “One More Sleep”.

Many of you probably remember Leona from her debut #1 single in 2008, “Bleeding Love” and its followup, “Better In Time”.

“SHELTER”

While I love “Dexter”, “The Walking Dead” and “American Horror Story”, love stories are at the top of my list, too.  “Pretty Woman” (1990), “Latter Days” (2003), “Shelter” (2007), “Weekend” (2011), and “Out in the Dark” (2012) are the ones that I can watch over and over and over.

Shane Mack (Shane McAnally) performed five songs on the “Shelter” soundtrack and since I’m in Nashville and I’m a strong advocate for being out and proud, here’s another one from Shane.

ENJOY YOUR WEEKEND

Have a fantastic weekend and I appreciate you checking out my random thoughts this week.  Let me know what you think.

Bundle up if you live across the eastern part of the country.  It’s going to be cold.

Anthony