Posts Tagged ‘It’s Christmas Eve’

5 Outstanding, Underrated 2018 Albums

Some people like lists and can’t wait until the end of the year to see the best and worst in the world of entertainment.

More and more, people are downloading songs instead of buying albums.  I only bought six this year, but there’s already two on my list for 2019 — new music from Madonna and Reba McEntire!

Before I reveal my five favorite and most underrated albums of 2018, my favorite album last year was “Remnants” by LeAnn Rimes.

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Here are my five favorite albums of 2018!

#5 MOVIE

“JAKE SHEARS” — JAKE SHEARS

Jake

Bonus

Flashback to 2005 and a younger (and oh so sexy) Jake with the Scissor Sisters!

4

“DANCING QUEEN” — CHER

Cher

green 3

“IT’S CHRISTMAS, EVE” (SOUNDTRACK) — LEANN RIMES

LeAnn

#2 MOVIE

I’m so grateful for the new music from the Queen and I’m still re-living that amazing night last December in Las Vegas!

MC ALL I WANT VEGAS

“CAUTION” — MARIAH CAREY

MC

1

“GOLDEN” — KYLIE MINOGUE

Kylie-Minogue-Golden

I’m still holding out that Kylie brings the “Golden Tour” to the United States in the fall of 2019.

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It’s already toured Europe and will play Australia in March 2019.

And, Kylie, please bring Jake Leigh with you!!!

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Holiday Bonus

Anthony

P.S.  So, take my advice and get these albums now with your Christmas gift cards. 🙂

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Randomness — Holidays, Movies & More

Since I’m taking a break from my “Random Friday Thoughts”, I still wanted to share some recommendations on things I watched and enjoyed lately.

If you saw these, too, let me know what you thoughts.  If you didn’t, you have some things to check out!

A QUEEN BRINGS LIFE TO THE NEWBORN KING!

Leave it to a queen, BeBe Zahara Benet, to bring life to the newborn king holiday ballad, “The Little Drummer Boy” !

This is an incredible, fun version of the song and I love the video. 🙂

BABY, BRING THE BUBBLY INSIDE!

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CHRISTMAS SONG THOUGHTS

I’m not even going to get into the whole “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” debate.  It was already one of my least favorite holiday songs even before this year!

But, here are a few things to think about when listening to Christmas music this year!

In “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, it lists the other reindeer and then asks a very silly question, “but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all”!

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Seriously, if he’s the most famous reindeer of all, of course we remember him!

From “Do You Hear What I Hear”, “a child, a child, shivers in the cold, let us bring him silver and gold”.

While silver and gold would be nice to have, why not a damn blanket since the baby is cold!!!

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And, I love the Carpenters!  But, in “Home For The Holidays”, I shake my head when Karen sings of going home and “Geez, the traffic is terrific!”

Traffic is terrific????  SAID.NO.ONE.EVER.

It’s more like…

gtfo

… of my way!

“IT’S CHRISTMAS, EVE”

I finally got around to watching “It’s Christmas, Eve” with LeAnn Rimes, which made debuted on the Hallmark Channel in November.

Rimes stars as Eve Morgan, who goes back home as Interim school superintendent to get the district out of financial trouble.  The easiest way to do it is to cut the arts program.

And, who does she meet living across the street from her mother and stepfather?  You probably guessed it — a very handsome music teacher, Liam (Tyler Hynes), at one of the schools on the chopping block!

While predictable, it’s still a cute movie.

The only thing I cringed about was the use of my least favorite (and widely overused) term these days:  “meet cute”.   It wasn’t used once or twice, but three times, if I’m not mistaken! 🙂

GRADE:  B

Before the show premiered, I wrote, “the soundtrack is incredible!  Okay, incredible is an understatement.  It’s the best Christmas album in the past few years!!!!” and I gave it an “A” grade!

REMEMBERING DREW & JUAN

After the summer 2016 Pulse Nightclub massacre, I vowed that as long as I blog, I’ll remember the victims — especially 32-year-old Christopher “Drew” Leinonen and his 22-year-old boyfriend Juan Guerrero.

Christmas Was Perfect

While that Christmas was perfect for the young men and their families, I know the following ones have been difficult for the grieving families.

To their families. Christopher and Juan are still not forgotten this Christmas!

“JONESTOWN:  TERROR IN THE JUNGLE”

This past November marked the 40th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre.  Some called it “mass murder” and others, a “mass suicide”.

I’m in the “mass murder” camp, since the Reverend Jim Jones was deranged and pretty much forced those people to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid at gunpoint!

More than 900 people died.

This SundanceTV documentary following Jones’ life from Indiana to the jungles of Guyana was incredible.

GRADE:  A

“PADDINGTON 2”

2014’s “Paddington” was fun.  The little bear is adorable and especially so, voiced by my big-time crush, Ben Whishaw!

Ben Whishaw

Plus, Nicole Kidman as a villain was icing on the cake.

This year’s $40 million sequel was box office gold.  It made $226.9 million.

Paddington is living in London and wants to buy his aunt a picture book.  But, this movie’s villain (played by Hugh Grant) wants the book because it holds clues to a treasure that no one knows about, except him.

The movie is very cute and heartwarming.  With just minutes before the end credits, Iit brought tears to my eyes!  🙂

Also, at one point near the end of the movie, a scene with two-time Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins made me feel like I was watching “The Shape of Water 2”! 🙂

GRADE: A-

“SEARCHING”

This incredible movie was made for just a million dollars and brought in an astounding $70.6 million in theaters.

It was shot mostly on smartphones and computer screens and is eerie and creepy.

John Cho stars as a dad that learns he knows very little about his 15-year-old daughter when she goes missing.

Debra Messing (“Will & Grace”) is a detective that’s helping solve the case.

Cho is nominated for the “Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead”.

GRADE: A-

“THE GOOD DOCTOR” WINTER FINALE

While I still like “The Good Doctor” on ABC, I recently wrote that I’ve cooled on the show.  Well, that all changed with the winter finale, “Quarantine”!

If you’ve never watched the show or you don’t watch it religiously, watch this episode “On Demand”!!!

And, if you’ve never watched it, all you need to know is that Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) is autistic and is considered a savant!

It was intense and scary to think that this could really happen!  And, which major characters will die?

“The Good Doctor” returns on ABC Monday, January 14, 2019.

“JANE FONDA IN FIVE ACTS”

Two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda, who turns 81 next week, is still turning out award nominated work both on the big screen and on television (“Grace and Frankie”).

There are still people in the U.S. that dislike (okay, hate) Fonda for a mistake she made back in the Vietnam conflict.

But, this HBO documentary is amazing.

It shows Fonda in five acts:  from Henry Fonda’s daughter and her first years as an actress through the men that try to define her (three ex-husbands) to her current work.

GRADE: A-

“BLACKkKLANSMAN”

This Spike Lee picture was made for $15 million and made $88.2 million in theaters.

It’s based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first African-American to join the Colorado Springs Police Department in Colorado in the early-1970s.

John David Washington (Denzel’s son) plays Stallworth, who contacts the Ku Klux Klan and then has to coach a white officer (Adam Driver) to pose as Stallworth to meet the hooded haters!

While this story took place in the ’70s, there were subtle and not so subtle references to “that man”, 45!

The nominations are coming in for BLACKkKLANSMAN”!  It’s up for five Critics Choice Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor (Driver).

It’s also nominated for four Golden Globes including Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Actor – Drama (Washington) and Best Supporting Actor (Driver).

While this movie was very enjoyable and entertaining, my favorite Spike Lee movie is still 1999’s underappreciated “Summer of Sam”.

GRADE: B+

“SORRY TO BOTHER YOU”

Lakeith Stanfield will be a name you’ll hear more of in the future.

He leads this movie about a telemarketer who learns that using a “white voice” helps his sales and will move him up the corporate ladder at WorryFree faster.

But, it comes with a price.

This comedy is crazy and definitely goes off the rails with well-endowed horse people (you’ll have to watch the movie)! 🙂

Sexy Armie Hammer (“Call Me By Your Name”) stars as the CEO of the company.

It made $17.6 million in theaters and is nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards.

GRADE: B

“HEREDITARY”

I like horror movies and I love Toni Collette (“Muriel’s Wedding”), but I wasn’t drawn to the theaters to see “Hereditary”.

I finally saw it on DVD and I made the right decision to avoid it.

Supernatural movies have less appeal to me than horror movies with deranged serial killers!  Hello Michael Myers!

Halloween

“Hereditary” does have a very surprising and shocking death scene that I didn’t see coming.

While Collette and Alex Wolff, who plays her 16-year-old son, are great, the movie was too long and convoluted.

Yet, it was a box office hit earning $79.3 million.

GRADE:  B-

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

 

Random Friday Thoughts — November 23, 2018

I hope you’re having a great and happy Thanksgiving holiday and the kick-off to the Christmas season!

Thank you checking out my Random Friday Thoughts!

THANKSGIVING

turkey_thanksgiving

Before work, I enjoyed the Thanksgiving feast with my friend, Katie, and her family and friends.

I still have vivid memories (and pictures) of Thanksgiving pasts!

Our Turkey 2012

ABBATG2007

PLAY THAT CHRISTMAS SONG NOW!

A few weeks ago, I highlighted the soundtrack to “It’s Christmas, Eve” on the Hallmark Channel by LeAnn Rimes.

LeAnn

I wrote, “It’s the best Christmas album in the past few years!!!!” and I gave the album an “A”!

Not only am I telling you again to get the album, but I’m thrilled that LeAnn saw my review and called me “sweet” on Twitter. 🙂

LeAnn.JPG

By the way, LeAnn and I crossed paths back in Salisbury, Maryland, in 2005.  She was just as sweet and fantastic then as she is now!

AnthonyLeAnn

Check out this mix from the soundtrack!  Incredible!

LeAnn and family, Merry Christmas and Happy 2019!

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

While “Bohemian Rhapsody” went through cast changes (Sacha Baron Cohen was originally cast as Freddie Mercury) and a rocky road from development to screen, the movie was amazing!

In just three weeks, the $52 million production has already made $404.1 million (one-third of that in the U.S.)

Emmy winner Rami Malik (“Mr. Robot”) was incredible as Queen lead singer Mercury and will very likely be nominated for a Best Actor Oscar!

GRADE:  A- 

QUEEN — BY THE NUMBERS

In the U.S., the band scored eleven Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

Its first “Killer Queen” reached #12 in 1975.

Queen hit the Top Ten five times (two of those were with “Bohemian Rhapsody” — #9 in 1975, #2 in 1991).  “Rhapsody” also reached #33 on the Hot 100 this year, too, when the movie soundtrack came out.

They topped the chart twice:  “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (1980, 4 weeks) and “Another One Bites The Dust” (1980, 3 weeks).

As risque as Mercury could be, in 1984, the band’s relatively tame video “I Want To Break Free” was banned on MTV because the band was wearing women’s clothes!

Because of that ban in Reagan’s uptight America, the song only reached #45 here.

However, it hit #1 in three countries and the Top Ten in eight others around the world!

“MAMMA MIA!  HERE WE GO AGAIN”

In 2008, “Mamma Mia! was one of my favorites of the year and it grossed $615.7 million worldwide.

I was excited when the sequel was announced to hit theaters in the summer of 2018.

Mamma Mia Here We Go Again.jpg

Well, that was until I heard that a major character (my favorite) was dead in the sequel, but would appear briefly.

So, I refused to go see it in theaters.  But, it made $393.4 million worldwide.

Now that it’s on DVD and Redbox sent me a free movie for my birthday, I saw it.

Pros:  Jeremy Irvine, Lily James, Meryl Streep (in the closing credits production number), the closing production number, Cher, and Jeremy Irvine. 🙂

Cons:  incoherent mess (at times), the “I Kissed The Teacher” production number and several others, and Cher.

Instead of sharing the trailer for the movie, here’s the amazing closing credits production number!

GRADE:  B- 

JEREMY IRVINE

I put Jeremy Irvine in my “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” review because I’ve loved him since his 2011 movie debut in “War Horse”.

Jeremy_Irvine

I even enjoyed him in 2015’s reviled “Stonewall”!  About that movie, I know it was “white-washed”, but it still told a very important story in LGBTQ history!

“BOY ERASED” & “BEN IS BACK”

There are a few more movies I want to see this year.

“Boy Erased” (with the always incredible Nicole Kidman and the incredible Lucas Hedges) about gay conversion therapy ( P.S.  IT’S WRONG AND IT DOESN’T WORK!),

“Green Book”, “Mary Poppins Returns”, and “Ben Is Back”.  (I may have to wait until 2019 for some of them since they’re only playing in bigger cities for now!)

I absolutely love Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges (him again) blows me away.  When I heard they were doing a movie together, I was excited.

All I knew about it was that Ben is a drug user and he shows up on Christmas Eve.  So, I figured it was going to be a drama-filled holiday.

However, when the full trailer debuted, I was floored.  It’s so much more intense and powerful than I expected.

I’ll definitely be there when it opens in Duluth, Minnesota!  WOW!

Final note from the trailer:  When Ben says, “I’m not going to die.”

Really?  If this is like horror movie foreshadowing when they say “I’ll be right back”, you’re know they’re doomed and they won’t be back!!!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — August 24, 2018

Kids are heading back to school soon and summer is winding down.

Thank you for taking the time to check out my random thoughts.

THANK YOU KELLY CLARKSON!

Grammy winner Kelly Clarkson has always been an ally to the LGBTQ community and earlier this week, she took on a homophobic fan on Twitter.

Back in December 2016, Clarkson invited fan Kiana Clark on stage to propose to her girlfriend, Amanda.

The couple married recently and Kelly congratulated them and then came the rude tweet.

But, Kelly handled it like a sweetheart!

KC.JPG

Oh, Terri, if you’re going to be condescending and rude, I want to let you know that “dikes” are built to hold back water.

The offensive slang you were trying to use is spelled with a “y”!

“MARILYN MONROE:  THE BIOGRAPHY”

I finished reading my 21st book of the year.

This 1993 biography by Donald Spoto is just one of many books written about Marilyn Monroe after her death in 1962.

MARILYN

There’s no denying that in movies and magazines, Monroe was magic.

MM2

But, boy was she one tormented soul!

She was pawned off from person to person as a kid and then spent time in an orphanage before she was married at 16-years-old to avoid another children’s home!

As she was trying to launch her career, she was even a “boulevard hooker”!

While there were many flaws in Monroe’s work ethic (tardiness and absenteeism), it’s easy to see from the book that she was a very generous and loving woman (to a fault).

It was heartbreaking reading about how Hollywood manipulated her financially as just another dumb blonde, when she worked so hard to be a great actress in both comedy and drama.

Also, her drug dependency (from 1954 to her death in August 1962) was sad.

marilyn

The book convinced me that her affair with President Kennedy was a one-night stand and that she and Bobby Kennedy never had an affair and that the Kennedys did NOT have her killed.

While there are many conspiracy theories out there, including the one I just mentioned, I believe that her psychiatrist/”doctor” ordered a drugged enema that negatively reacted with sleeping pills that Monroe had taken and that’s what killed her.

marilynmonroe

Her death was ruled a “probable suicide”.

I had two faults with the book.  It could have had a better editor and the 611 pages of Monroe’s story could have easily been cut down to 500 pages!

Also, the author was very protective of his subject and lacked objectivity at times.  There was, at least, one instance in the book that he justified Monroe’s drug dependency, just like all the “yes” people and “doctors” she surrounded herself with.

CATERING DRUGS TO CELEBRITIES 

With the loss of such a legend as Monroe more than fifty years ago, it’s nice to know that “doctors” are much more careful about prescribing medication to celebrities.

Oh wait, that’s not true.  There’s Michael Jackson (2009), Whitney Houston (2012), and Prince (2016), for starters!

Just to drive home how crazy things are getting in the U.S. — two million Americans are addicted to opioid painkillers and nearly 50,000 died from opioids over a recent 12-month period!

“GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES”

Contracts are usually nasty pieces of paper.  They benefit the company more than the people signing them.

That was definitely the case for Marilyn Monroe when she did 1953’s iconic “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”.

For the movie, Marilyn was only paid $15,000, while her co-star Jane Russell was paid $150,000!

By the way, Russell was born in Bemidji, Minnesota, which is about 150 miles northwest of Duluth! 🙂

“CRAZY RICH ASIANS”

“Crazy Rich Asians” was the box office champion last weekend bringing in $26.5 million ($48.2 million over its first eight days)!  It’s expected to be #1 again this weekend.

Jon M. Chu has directed a classic romantic comedy — a masterpiece of not only love, but culture.

“Crazy Rich Asians” is a must-see!

poster

As Nick Young (Henry Golding) and his girlfriend, Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), enjoy dessert in New York City, he asks her to join him on a trip back home in Singapore where he’s going to be the “best man” in his best friend’s wedding.  It’ll also give Rachel a chance to meet his family.

The movie is gorgeously shot and the cast is phenomenal.

It has romance, drama (not only with Nick’s mother), and humor, mostly supplied by actress/rapper Awkwafina.

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There’s one character not billed in the credits that’s vital to success of the movie — decadence!

It’s important to the movie’s charm and escapism — that mansion, the food, the parties, the wedding, and Singapore!

Nighttime

“Crazy Rich Asians” shows that it’s time for executives to realize that movies don’t need white faces to make money.  But, then again, it’s hard for that to sink in when most of ones controlling the industry and making the decisions are older, white men!

GRADE:  A

MY COMPLETE REVIEW HERE

That was a condensed version of what I thought of the movie.  Here’s the complete and more exciting review (sexier and steamier)! 🙂

Click here and it’ll open in a new window.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2018/08/20/crazy-rich-asians-sparkles-fascinating-irresistible/

HELLO, SELENA TAN!

Selena Tan, who plays ‘Alix’, Nick’s aunt in “Crazy Rich Asians”, is hilarious at the beginning of the movie at the Bible study.  I wish she had had a bigger role in the movie.

I’m honored that she got to see my blog review of the movie and that she took the time to reply and follow me on Twitter!

Greetings across the miles!

Selena Tan

“ALEX STRANGELOVE” OR “LOVE, SIMON”

Decisions, decisions, decisions!  Which coming-of-age LGBTQ movie do you choose to watch if you haven’t already seen them?

Why do you have to choose? Watch them both!

“Alex Strangelove” is a touching Netflix comedy and it’s more realistic in tone and language than “Love, Simon” since it was made for a streaming service.

The sex talk about losing one’s virginity and about being gay is spot on.

And, the scene when Alex is practicing his come-on lines with his stuffed monkey is hilarious!

Daniel Doheny is very funny and adorkable as Alex.  At times, he looks like a young Andrew Garfield.

GRADE: B

“Love, Simon” was a box office success bringing in $66.2 million total ($40.8 million of that was in the U.S.).  Since it was a mainstream movie with a PG-13 rating, it wasn’t as wild and mature as “Alex Strangelove”.

Here’s what I wrote about “Love, Simon” after I saw it in March 2018:

Nick Robinson is adorable as closeted high school student Simon Spier living in an Atlanta suburb.  He has a great family and a group of close friends at school, but he a “huge ass secret” — he’s gay.

Once another student comes out as gay anonymously on an online message board, Simon, as “Jacques”, starts a private correspondence with the student, “Blue”.

The two form a connection in the private messages, but they still don’t know who the other is in real life.  Simon wants to meet, but “Blue” isn’t ready.

However, something happens and that’s where the drama comes in!

I think the most hilarious scene in the movie is when Simon’s sexy dad (Josh Duhamel) is bonding with his son and he suggests they both sign up for Grindr.

By the way, Dad, Grindr it’s not Facebook for gays! 🙂

I loved the movie and the message it presents to youngsters and young adults (and their families).

However, as a realist and an older gay man, the movie was wrapped up a little too perfect even with the drama Simon experienced.

But, regardless of age, we all want a happy ending!

GRADE: B+

NEW CHRISTMAS ALBUMS THIS FALL

While Christmas is still four months away, holiday albums usually come out in the fall.

I’m very excited about John Legend’s first Christmas album.  As of now, no title, track list or release date is known.

Maybe this 2010 track, “When Christmas Comes”, with Mariah Carey, will hold us over until we know more about Legend’s album.

Michael McDonald (The Doobie Brothers) is releasing “Season of Peace” on October 12th.  It’s a compilation from his first three Christmas albums, plus a new song.

Also, Eric Clapton’s first holiday disc, “Happy Xmas” also arrives on October 12th.

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It’ll feature classics like “White Christmas”, “Away in the Manger”, “Silent Night”, “Mary Christmas Baby”, and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, along with seven lesser known titles, and an original “For Love on Christmas Day”.

It’ll also feature “Jingle Bells”, in memory of EDM superstar DJ Avicii, who died from suicide last spring in Oman.

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Martina McBride’s new collection “It’s The Holiday Season” comes out October 19th and will feature nine songs.

Now, I say “new” because her first holiday collection, “White Christmas”, came out in 1998 and there were “re-releases” in 1999, 2007, and a re-packaging and renaming of the album as “The Classic Christmas Album” in 2013!

Also, Brett Eldredge is working on a re-vamped version of his 2016 Christmas collection, “Glow”.

glow

This one is likely going to be called “Glow 2.0”.

And, finally, The Mavericks’ “Hey, Merry Christmas!” arrives November 2nd.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony