Posts Tagged ‘Las Vegas’

Goodbye 2019 & Hello 2020

The December holidays are underway (Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa) and that means that 2020 is quickly approaching, too!

This isn’t exactly a “Random Friday Thoughts”, but we can pretend that it is since there hasn’t been one in almost two months!

Enjoy your weekend and thank you for checking out my thoughts!

CHRISTMAS MAY BE OVER, BUT…

By this time, I know some of you have already taken down your Christmas tree 🎅🎄 and decorations!

To each his and her own, but that truly baffles me — just like watching people buy a tree 🎄 to decorate on the weekend before Christmas!  🎅

There is just something for me about the beauty and serenity of enjoying a lighted tree for months!

Christmas Tree 2019

 

Mine went up the first weekend of November and will stay up until the last day of January!

ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS COMMERCIAL!

Mariah Carey’s commercial for Walkers Crisps is so awesome!

“HUSTLERS” & AN OSCAR NOMINATION FOR JENNIFER LOPEZ?

“Hustlers” was an incredible movie and is based on a true story.

While Constance Wu was amazing and earned top billing in the movie, Jennifer Lopez is definitely the star attraction.

I predict that she’ll definitely hear her name called in the “Best Supporting Actress” category when the Oscar nominations come out.

Cardi B was fun and sassy in her minor role and you definitely see more of Lizzo than I was expecting — both were very sexy!

And, I was surprised that male genitalia made an appearance or two! 🙂

GRADE: A

“GOOD BOYS”

This was the worst movie I saw in 2019!

I knew it was going to be raunchy and expected it to be juvenile.  But, seriously, sixth grade boys in today’s internet world are not that clueless when it comes to sex!

Watch the trailer and save 90 minutes of your life and the money for the rental!

GRADE:  D

NEW YEAR OPTIMISM

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MY FIRST REQUEST FOR (LATE) 2020

While I’m already asking for a lot in planning the #NextChapter and #Pug 2020, if the big man upstairs is listening and taking requests, I have one more — a boyfriend!

Other than a pulse, here are a few requirements:

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TWO MUSICAL WISHES FOR 2020

Since the state of country radio is pathetically sad (sexist and ageist, for starters) and will not play new music from Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, and Patty Loveless…

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I’d love for Reba, Dolly, and Patty to release an album together just like Loretta Lynn, Dolly and Tammy Wynette did in 1993 with “Honky Tonk Angels”!

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By the way, Dolly ended 2019 dancing up the Billboard charts with Galantis and Mr. Probz.

“Faith” was #1 at Dance radio stations!

My other musical wish in 2020 is to see Kylie Minogue in concert!

I was really wanting to see the “Golden Tour”, but it didn’t come to America.  However, in early December, Kylie released it on DVD!

And, it’s amazing!

Kylie Golden Tour.JPG

I bought the “Golden” album when it came out in April 2018 and this new combo not only comes with concert DVD, but two CDs of live music from the show!

Since I’m making a wish list, I might as well add another one or two!

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In addition to wanting to see Kylie in concert in 2020, I’d also love to see Toni Braxton…

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and Vanessa Williams doing a Christmas show — all as Las Vegas residencies!!!!!

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Those are the last three of my musical divas I’ve always wanted to see in concert, but haven’t!

Other than the Kylie “Golden Tour” CD/DVD combo, I bought five other albums in 2019.

“MERRY CHRISTMAS DELUXE ANNIVERSARY EDITION”

25 years after the classic “Merry Christmas” was released on November 1, 1994, Mariah Carey re-released the original with one new song on that disc and added a full new disc of previously unreleased material!

The “Deluxe Anniversary Edition” of “Merry Christmas” came out November 1, 2019.

MC Deluxe

It’s divine!  Just look at the track list on the second disc!

Track List CD2

And, for the first time ever, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Only one other Christmas song has topped that chart.  Back in 1958, Dave Seville and the Chipmunks reached the top for four weeks with “The Chipmunk Song”!

This year, Mariah also released a gorgeous new video directed by Joseph Kahn!  It’s phenomenal!

So, “Mariah Christmas” everyone!

“LOVER”

Taylor Swift’s seventh studio album “Lover” came out in August.  It’s almost perfect and is my favorite album of new material in 2019.

Taylor Swift Lover

Along with the hit title track, it features the #2 smashes, “Me” with Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco and “You Need To Calm Down”, Taylor’s love letter to her LGBTQ fans.

My favorite songs from the album are “I Forgot That You Existed”, “The Man”, “I Think He Knows”, “Cornelia Street”, “False God”, “You Need To Calm Down”, and “Afterglow”.

I hope the next single will be “I Forgot That You Existed”!

GRADE:  A

“MADAME X”

In June, Madonna released her first new album in four years with “Madame X”.

Madonna Madame X

While Top 40 radio ignored the album, Madonna found continued success in the dance clubs.

“Medellín” (with Colombian hottie Maluma), “I Rise, and “Crave” (with Swae Lee) became her 47th, 48th, and her record-extending 49th number one songs on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.

“Crave” also got some play on Adult Contemporary radio and reached #11.

My favorite songs are “Medellín”, “God Control”, “Crave”, “Crazy”, and “I Don’t Search I Find”!

“God Control” is a very powerful and brutal video.

While some were disgusted that the video was so graphic, I’m with Madonna in the “sorry, not sorry” camp!

GRADE:  B

“STRONGER THAN THE TRUTH”

Reba McEntire’s latest album, “Stronger Than The Truth, is up for the “Best Country Album” Grammy Award and is one of the most underrated country albums ever!

The spring 2019 release was her first country album in four years.

Reba Truth

It debuted at #4 on the Billboard Country Albums chart, which is a great accomplishment since country music radio programmers are pretty much sexist, ageist, and racist in what they play!

Ouch!  But, it’s the truth!  Look at how many women, women of a certain age, and people of color that are on country radio these days.  It wouldn’t take long to count!

Forgive me for deviating from Reba’s new album — her divorce album.

Unlike “MDNA”, Madonna’s 2012 very angry and violent divorce album to her ex, Reba’s album deals with loss and heartbreak, but it does offer some hope and optimism.

On the album, Reba goes back to her 1980s country roots and it kicks off with the fun, upbeat “Swing All Night With You” and then Reba does what she does best.

She rips your heart out on a modern day “Rumor Has It”, the first song that we heard from the new album, the title track.

Heartbreak is what Reba is known for and she does it so well on this album with my two favorite ballads, “Tammy Wynette Kind of Pain” and “The Bar’s Getting Lower”.

Upbeat songs are also a Reba specialty and my absolute favorite song on the album is one of the two tracks on the Target exclusive.  Sadly, people that bought the album from amazon or iTunes will miss out on “While You Were Sleeping”.

It starts out sounding like a gentle love song, but quickly turns into a fun kiss off!!!!

My other favorite upbeat songs are “No U In Oklahoma” and “Storm in a Shot Glass”.

I’ve been a die-hard Reba fan since 1990’s “Rumor Has It” album.  And, it seems that regardless of what’s going on in my life when a new Reba album comes out, good or bad, there’s a song (or two) on the album that I feel that Reba is singing just to me.

Sadly, it’s a reality check ballad called “The Bar’s Getting Lower”.

Disclaimer:  I fully stand behind everything I said about country radio, but, in all fairness, part of the blame for the album’s commercial failure falls back on Reba and the record company.

There was no official video for the single “Freedom” or the title track when it was advanced!

GRADE:  B+

“LOVE”

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Michael Buble in concert twice and he’s an amazing performer and vocalist.

If Mariah Carey is the “Queen of Christmas”, I think that Buble should be the “King of Christmas”.

MichaelBubleChristmas

His 2011 album “Christmas”, has already sold 4.3 million copies in the U.S. and was ranked at #24 on the biggest albums of the past decade chart — the highest ranked holiday album!!!

But, his late 2018 release, “Love” (stylized as ❤️ , the red heart emoji), is beautiful.

I’m including it here because I got it in 2019!

Michael Buble Love

You might not recognize Loren Allred, but it was her beautiful voice in “Never Enough” from “The Greatest Showman” for the Jenny Lind character!

GRADE:  B

“LAST CHRISTMAS”

If you’re a fan of Christmas movies, I recommend “Last Christmas”.

Last Christmas

It isn’t a perfect movie, by far, but Emilia Clarke is absolutely stunning (funny and heartbreaking) and Henry Golding is still so dreamy. (I’m still swooning after multiple views of “Crazy Rich Asians”!)

There are holes in some story lines and some could have been shortened.

But, you can’t go wrong with a movie that features a George Michael soundtrack, Christmas, love, and the gorgeous Michelle Yeoh!

In a trying, complicated, divisive world, you gotta have faith at Christmas!

GRADE: B

“LAST CHRISTMAS”

George Michael and Wham’s original version of “Last Christmas” is perfect, but here are two of my other favorite versions.

I love the Cascada’s dance version of the song and the gorgeous Christmas setting and the beautiful friends make the video!

And, I absolutely love Darren Hayes’ version!

NOW, ON TO 2020!

As we put the highs and lows of 2019 and the 2010s behind us and look forward to new adventures (and a new president-elect) in 2020,  I wish you and yours a very Happy News Year!

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THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

My 2019 Holiday Greetings to You

My favorite months of the year are upon us!

While most were carving jack-o-lanterns 🎃 and wanting to feast on turkey, I was impatiently waiting for the first weekend of November to arrive to put up my Christmas tree 🎄!

Christmas Tree 2019.jpg

I hope 2019 is a year that you’ll remember fondly.  If not, there’s hope for us in 2020! 🙂

I’ve now been in Duluth, Minnesota, for a year-and-a-half and I’m still the Chief Meteorologist at Fox 21 News.

My first winter in the Northland lasted from October 2018 through May 2019 and brought over 106” of snow – the most I’ve seen in my lifetime!!!

Snow Car 1

Ironically, that didn’t even rank as one of the ten snowiest winters on record!

The bitter cold was relentless, too, with a few consecutive nights with -30° low temperatures!  Wind chills were even lower at -50°!

Oh, in February, I did a “Polar Plunge” into the icy waters of Lake Superior to raise money for Special Olympics Minnesota!

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In March 2019, I escaped the “winter wonderland” for a week in Bangkok, Thailand, and it was very hot & humid.

Night Cruise

The temples were beautiful,

Koi Buddha

the food was amazing and I got to hold a large, gorgeous yellow and white albino Burmese python – my Britney Spears flashback moment!

AP Britney Snake

I saw my sister, Tammy, a few times this year.  She visited me in April and I saw her in the Quad Cities (an eight hour drive) in June, August, and October.

That August visit was for a trip to Las Vegas.

Anthony Tammy Las Vegas

It was her first time there and she wasn’t impressed! 🙂

It was my first time back to Vegas since December 2017 when I saw Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” show.

MC ALL I WANT VEGAS

I also saw Tanya Tucker and Lionel Richie in concert and I got to meet him before the show!

Tanya

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As strange as it may sound, I’m looking forward to another long winter in the Northland.

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Yes, I love snow.  But, I’m more excited for the “next chapter” in my life in 2020.  I know I said that last year, but there’s actually a plan in place this time! 🙂

As Belle sings in “Beauty and the Beast”, ♪ “I want much more than this provincial life… I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can tell!” ♪

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Maybe it’ll be “Xanadu” – ♪ “a place where nobody dared to go” where “a million lights are dancing and there you are – a shooting star”!

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Here’s wishing you a bright and beautiful holiday season and an incredible year ahead!

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“May hope and faith conquer fear and hate this Christmas!”

Anthony

30 Years Later, You’re Forever Our Girl!

It’s only taken three decades, but I’m finally getting to see one of my favorite entertainers in concert this week in Las Vegas!

She’ll join the list of those I’ve seen in concert (some many times) that are known worldwide by just one name!

Madonna. Reba. Britney. Taylor. Janet. Cher. Olivia. Gaga. Bette. Elton.

I’m still hoping to add Kylie (Minogue) to the that list, but Thursday night, it’s Paula (Abdul)!

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I’ve been such a huge fan of hers even before I bought the 12″ dance single for “Knocked Out” in the summer of 1988.

Yes, before she even released her first record!

My best friend and I spent all of 1986 reciting the monologue at the beginning of Janet Jackson’s first Top 40 pop hit, the #4 smash, “What Have You Done For Me Lately”!

This will ring a bell if you were part of the 1980s MTV generation! 🙂

“What’s up girl?”  

“He stood me up again!”  

“Again?”

“Mmmhmm”  

“Well, what’s up with this guy?  Do you really like him that much?”  

“Yes, honey, I love him.  He is fine, he does a lot of nice things for me.” 

Paula Janet

“I know he used to do nice stuff for you, but what has he done for you lately?”

Paula has released three studio album and several remix and greatest hits albums.  Worldwide, her record sales are over 53 million!

In anticipation of finally getting to see Paula in concert, I listened to every song she’s recorded and today I’m sharing my 20 favorites and a bonus!

20

“SEXY THOUGHTS”

19

“I’M JUST HERE FOR THE MUSIC”

18

“OPPOSITES ATTRACT”

17

“DANCE LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW”

16

“ALRIGHT TONIGHT”

15

“BEND TIME BACK ROUND”

#14 Movie

“ROCK HOUSE”

#13

“STATE OF ATTRACTION”

12

“AIN’T NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP”

#11 Movie

“U”

#10 MOVIE

“BLOWING KISSES IN THE WIND”

9 CD

“VIBEOLOGY”

#8 MOVIE

“(IT’S JUST) THE WAY THAT YOU LOVE ME”

#7 CD

“THE PROMISE OF A NEW DAY”

#6 CD

“MY LOVE IS FOR REAL”

#5 CD

“KNOCKED OUT”

4

“RUSH RUSH”

#3 CD

“STRAIGHT UP”

#2 MOVIE

“FOREVER YOUR GIRL”

Holiday Bonus

“PAULA ABDUL MEDLEY MIX 1990”

#1

“COLD HEARTED”

Here’s to dancing the night away at the Flamingo Las Vegas with Paula!

Anthony

Thank You For The Beautiful Music and a Lifetime of Wonderful Memories!

Life is a funny thing.

Most of us try to do what’s right.  We strive to treat those we love and care for with affection.  But, with real life constantly getting in the way, do we really stop long enough to tell them how much we care for them and appreciate them?

That’s my purpose today.

When I’m done, I’ll call my sister and tell her I love her.  But, this is about Olivia Newton-John.  I want her to know how much she has touched my life!

Olivia 1

As you likely know, especially since I regularly write about her, Olivia is battling cancer again.

She was first diagnosed back in 1992 and beat it.  It returned in 2013, then again in May 2017 and just last month, I learned that she now has Stage IV cancer.

One thing I know from being a fan is that Olivia is a fighter and I know she’ll continue living life to its fullest.  That’s more than some, including myself, are doing even without cancer!

Olivia Don't Stop Believin

I just finished reading Olivia’s autobiography, “Don’t Stop Believin'”, and it was beautiful!

I enjoyed hearing about her childhood, her singing and acting career, and her dear friendships with two ladies I truly admire and love, Karen Carpenter and Helen Reddy.

Olivia Karen

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It was Helen Reddy and her ex-husband that were instrumental in Olivia taking on the iconic role of Sandy in “Grease”!

I’ve been a huge Olivia fan since I heard her first Top Ten hit, “Let Me Be There”, in 1973, as an 9-year-old listening to country music on WNGO-AM 1320, back in Mayfield, Kentucky.

Olivia Newton-John - Let Me Be There

All these years later, I have a confession to make.  As an little kid, I thought the beautiful voice belonged to Olivia Newton and the booming, manly back-up singer was named John! 🙂

From her first hit, “If Not For You”, in 1971, to her last Top 40 Billboard Hot 100 smash, “Soul Kiss” (#20, 1985), the English-born, Australian-raised singer charted with 27 Top 40 hits. Of those, 15 reached the Top Ten!

Olivia had five of those Top Ten hits reach #1:  “I Honestly Love You” (1974), “Have You Never Been Mellow” (1975), “You’re The One That I Want” (1978, with John Travolta), “Magic” (1980), and “Physical” (1981), which spent ten weeks at the top of the chart!

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In early 2014, Olivia announced “Summer Nights”, a 45-show residency at the Donny and Marie Showroom at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino on the Strip between April and August.

I saw her amazing show on May 30th of that year.

Olivia

Since it’s my favorite number, I’m counting down my thirteen favorite Olivia Netwon-John songs that charted in America!  It was so hard narrowing down the list! 

(Chart positions are from the Billboard Hot 100 unless otherwise noted and the year listed is when the song peaked.)

Along the way, I’ll add three bonus songs and share some personal stories about a few of the hits!

Again, Olivia, thank you for the music!

13

“TWIST OF FATE” (#5, 1984)

12

“MAKE A MOVE ON ME” (#5, 1982)

#11 Movie

“I HONESTLY LOVE YOU” (2 WEEKS AT #1, 1974)

#10 MOVIE

“YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE” (with Chloe Lattanzi & Dave Aude)

(#1 Billboard Dance Club Songs, 2015)

In this re-imagining of Olivia’s #1 hit “Magic”, which you’ll see later in my countdown, DJ extraordinaire Dave Aude takes Olivia and her daughter Chloe Lattanzi to the top of the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart!

The fun video features an incredible looking Olivia and a graveyard of Las Vegas signage of the city’s casino history, show girls, Chippendales, and Britney, Tina Turner, Marilyn Monroe, and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.  Oh wait, those are illusionists! 🙂

“You Have To Believe” was my #16 song of 2015!

Bonus

Being a gay teenager in small town Kentucky in the early-1980s without knowing anyone else like myself was very isolating.

Back then, you didn’t think about falling in love since you didn’t hear about those things, but the release of “Physical” and its homoerotic video was definitely eye-opening and it gave this kid hope!

“PHYSICAL” (10 WEEKS AT #1, 1981-1982)

9 CD

“A LITTLE MORE LOVE” (#3, 1979)

#8 MOVIE

“HAVE YOU NEVER BEEN MELLOW” (1 WEEK AT #1, 1975)

In 1978, Olivia had the starring role as Sandy in “Grease”, a movie that racked up $396 million at the box office.

When I saw the movie, I was a shy, introverted 13-year-old boy still listening to country music.  Occasionally, I’d sneak a listen to ABBA, the Bay City Rollers, and the Bee Gees!

I connected with the innocent Sandy and was petrified when she came out dressed to the nines in leather and holding a cigarette!

I’m no longer naive! 😉

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That was a turning point for me.  Somewhere after “Grease”, I started listening to more pop or Top 40 music and I came across an 8-track recording of Olivia’s sultry album “Totally Hot”.

Totally Hot

It was one of three 8-tracks that I owned.  The other two were “Helen Reddy’s Greatest Hits” and “Glass Houses” by Billy Joel.

#7 CD

“DEEPER THAN THE NIGHT” (#11, 1979)

#6 CD

“MAGIC” (4 WEEKS AT #1, 1980)

#5 MOVIE

“IF YOU LOVE ME (LET ME KNOW)” (#5, 1974)

Bonus

“I NEED LOVE” (1992)

In the summer of 1992, Olivia was ready for another comeback with the release of her third greatest hits album, “Back to Basics:  The Essential Collection 1971-1992”.  It included four new songs.

A world tour was also planned, but it was scrapped when Olivia was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The first single from the collection, “I Need Love” really touched me more than a quarter-century ago.  It’s even more powerful for me now as I approach the age of 55 and still single a couple of years after my divorce.

The song talks about wanting more than just a one-night stand or cheap sex.  These lyrics sum up exactly how I felt then in my 20s and how I feel now in my 50s!

“Another place, another time/I would take my chances/Oh I know I could take you home tonight/But I don’t want to wake up with you wishing I was alone”

“I’m not lookin’ for a Band-Aid on loneliness/I’m not lookin’ for a temporary get me through the night/I’m holding out for something more than physical/I need love to make the sex right”

Give the song a listen because unless you’re a die-hard Olivia fan, I know you probably never heard it on the radio!

4

“PLEASE MR. PLEASE” (#3, 1975)

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“SUDDENLY” (with Cliff Richard) (#20, 1981)

#2 MOVIE

“LET ME BE THERE” (#6, 1974)

#1

We’re now up to my favorite Olivia Newton-John song!

I’ve watched the movie “Xanadu” several times and I can’t hear this song without smiling and feeling good.

The soundtrack was more popular than the movie and the title song reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980.

Back in 2014, when I turned 50, I compiled the soundtrack of my life — my all-time favorites songs — and “Xanadu” came in at #4!

Olivia, as your birthday nears, I wish you a “Happy Birthday”!

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Stay strong and keep fighting!

Bonus

“YOUR GOOD GIRL’S GONNA GO BAD” (FROM “SORDID LIVES”)

Years after mainstream fame was behind her and Olivia was living life to the fullest, her friend Del Shores gave her an incredible role.

In 2000, when he made a movie of his play, “Sordid Lives”, he cast Olivia as Bitsy Mae Harling, a lesbian bar singer with a “reputation”!

She reprised the role in the 2008 Logo miniseries.

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If you’ve never seen this Texas “black comedy about white trash”, you have to find it and spend two hours laughing!

Here’s Olivia singing the theme song (contains adult language) and her and the cast in the end credits performing Tammy Wynette’s “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad”.

Anthony

My Struggle Before Winter Is Real!

Aging comes with different obstacles and changes in our body.

Since I’m not an expert with the female body (yes, I’m laughing inside now that might just become an “LOL”), I’ll talk from a male perspective — mine!

I know metabolism slows down and aging skin lacks the elasticity a younger body provides.

It’s easy noticing graying hair, more wrinkles and your clothes fitting tighter, but that evil Facebook really drove home the changes for me!  And, I’m not even talking about Anthony in his 20s or 30s!

Since “Memories” are a sidebar option, I take advantage of it sometimes to see what I was doing over the past ten years on a particular day.

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That picture was around Labor Day 2010 after being caught in a Chicago thunderstorm following a Scissor Sisters concert and I was 46!

And then, just two years later, there’s this one.

July 6 2012

I still look at those pictures and think that I looked pretty sexy even as I was closing in on 50!

Yet, at the same time, I can still hear Harvey Fierstein getting into drag as Arnold Becker in “Torch Song Trilogy”:  “I think my biggest problem is being young and beautiful. It’s my biggest problem because I’ve never been young and beautiful. Oh, I’ve been beautiful. And God knows I’ve been young, but never the twain have met.”

Life changes can also make a big difference in one’s appearance!

I feel the changes in my physical appearance accelerated following my separation, divorce and moving away from the Quad Cities!

I really noticed it after my first Duluth, Minnesota winter that lasted nine months!

Snow

That, along with a major schedule change of moving to evenings after years of working mornings (in bed by 7 p.m. to be up at 2 a.m).

With my new hours, I don’t cook as often and I’m now eating late at night.  That combination is a big mistake!

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Since moving to Duluth, I’ve gained ten pounds!

Now that I’ve returned from my endless enjoyable buffets and cocktail-filled Las Vegas trip, I’m getting on the scale and slimming down before winter settles in again!

I’m going to cook more, eat less and have meals at more sensible hours!

I’ll start by taking my dinner to work and eating hours before bedtime!  This will cut back on my late night wine, cheese and crackers and late night dinners.

Now I’ll still treat myself to a drink or two when I get home — without the meal!

eating-disorder

As a recovering food addict, I struggle daily with weight gain of even a pound or two and the ever present fear of falling off the wagon!

It’s pretty sad when you have to fight the logic of knowing that bingeing and purging would be the easier route to take — eat all you want and purge = instant weight loss!

However, I know how detrimental that is to one’s body!

So, I’ll do it the healthy way, even if it’s a tough fight!

By the way, I’ve been talking a lot this summer about writing my next chapter.  If you didn’t get a chance to read that, here it is again for you!  (It’ll open in a new window!)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2019/06/07/i-need-to-write-my-next-chapter/

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — August 16, 2019

I appreciate you checking out my random thoughts over the past few weeks.  This is it for a while again.

As always, feel free to share your thoughts diplomatically if we disagree.

Have a great weekend!

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN LATEST

I’ll start off with some sad news, but I know she’s a fighter!

Pop music icon Olivia Newton-John tells “60 Minutes Australia” she’s not giving up the fight as she battles stage four cancer.

Olivia was first diagnosed with cancer back in 1992.

She overcame the disease, but it returned in 2013.  Olivia won that battle, too, and it was never made public.

However, the cancer returned in May 2017 and metastasized into her lower back.

This month, we learned that the cancer has advanced to Stage IV, which means it has spread to other organs and the mortality rate is higher.

If you click on this, you can hear just how courageous she is!

I’ve loved Olivia since the early-1970s as a little kid when she dominated country radio before crossing over to pop music.

I was so lucky to catch her during her “Summer Nights” residency at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas in 2014.

Olivia 2014

Olivia, you beautiful woman, stay strong and keep fighting!

Here’s Olivia and her daughter Chloe Lattanzi on their #1 Billboard Dance Club Songs hit, “You Have To Believe”, from 2015, with Dave Aude!

MY TWO CONNECTIONS TO PRINCESS DIANA

We’re coming up on the 22nd anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Lady Diana

Of course, I remember the fairy tale wedding back in 1981 and the tragic news of her death in Paris, France, in 1997.

I was working at the CBS affiliate in Lubbock, Texas, as the weekend news anchor.  We led our 10 p.m Saturday newscast with the news of the car crash.  At that point, she was still alive or it hadn’t cross the wires that she had died.

However, just minutes after we said goodnight, the Associated Press reported that the Princess was dead!  We waited for CBS to break into programming.  They didn’t!

Finally, my co-anchor, Ny Lynn Nichols, and I went back on the air with the sad news.  We reported all that we knew at the time, which wasn’t much.  We re-ran the story from the newscast about the crash and gave updates for a few minutes as information came into our newsroom.

That was my first connection to Princess Diana.  So, if anyone was watching CBS in Lubbock, Texas, after the 10 p.m. newscast on Saturday, August 30, 1997, they saw Ny Lynn and I relaying the tragic news.

SARAH, THE DUCHESS OF YORK

My second connection to Princess Diana came many years later.

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In March 2010, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York (and Princess Diana’s former sister-in-law), came to the Quad Cities for a benefit for Gilda’s Club, a community organization for people fighting cancer.

The Duchess spoke to a crowd of more than 600 at the Waterfront Convention Center in Bettendorf, Iowa.

They had a drawing to win an autographed copy of her book, “Little Red to the Rescue”, and I won.

Sarah Duchess of York

Needless to say, it was so pretty cool to get not only an autographed book from the Duchess, but also a package addressed from Windsor Castle!

“A ROYAL DUTY”

As the anniversary of Princess Diana’s death approached, I decided to read the two books on my bookshelf about her life (and death).

The first was “A Royal Duty” by Paul Burrell.

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This 2003 best seller chronicles Burrell’s life of working his way up through the ranks in British Royal Household to become Queen Elizabeth II’s footman.

Burrell then worked for Charles and Diana, the Prince and Princess of Wales, before working for Diana exclusively after the Royal separation and divorce up until her untimely death.

While I believe Burrell’s stories about his commitment to Princess Diana, I do think he was overly dramatic at times!

GRADE:  B 

“THE DIANA CHRONICLES”

Tina Brown, who worked for Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, released “The Diana Chronicles” in the summer of 2007, a few months shy of the 10th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death.

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While I believe Burrell’s stories in his book, I think that he hid away the naughty and nasty side of Princess Diana.  We all have one!

Brown’s book is very comprehensive and easy to read.  It’s much more journalistic, thorough and fair (i.e. honest).  However, she could be catty!  Meow!

Although the front and back cover featured the same collage of photos of Princess Diana’s life, I really wish the book featured photos inside!

One thing that Brown talked about that intrigued me was Diana and Charles’s divorce settlement: a lump sum of £17 million (roughly $20.5 million) and £400,000 annually for Diana’s office (nearly one-half million dollars).

Also, Diana would lose the HRH (Her Royal Highness) title, but retain the Diana, Princess of Wales title.

GRADE:  A

“THE CROWN” SEASON 3

If you follow the Royal Family and checked out the first two seasons of “The Crown” on Netflix with the amazing Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II, the next season is getting closer.

Season 3 with Oscar winner Olivia Colman as a more mature Queen Elizabeth II premieres on November 17, 2019!

“IS IT JUST ME?”

As I mentioned back in February, I’m going through my movie collection and I’m watching older ones to either get rid of or save.

So far, I’ve only kept two:  the 2012 Spanish movie “Angels of Sex” (“El Sexo de los Ángeles”) and the 2008 Israeli film “Antarctica”.

Now, a third one is saved — the 2010 romantic comedy, “Is It Just Me?” with the sexy Nicholas Downs (Blaine) and David Loren (Xander).

Blaine is looking for a nice guy, but doesn’t think that they exist until he meets Xander online.

After chatting, they talk for hours on the phone.

The problem is that Blaine realizes his roommate, Cameron, an actor and go-go dancer, was logged into his computer and it was his profile they were chatting under.

So, while Xander is talking to Blaine, he thinks Blaine looks like Cameron!

This scene between Blaine and his friend Michelle is one that made me laugh (and I watched it over and over!) The other is the last scene in the movie trailer below. 🙂

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GRADE:  B

LET’S GO TO VEGAS

I’m finally heading back to Vegas this weekend.  I’m taking my sister and her boyfriend since they’ve never been.

As you may know, Vegas experienced a grasshopper invasion earlier this summer.

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There were so many grasshoppers in the air that it was detected on Doppler radar!

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This was the most creative response to the creepy infestation! 😉

Grasshopper

It’d be pretty neat to experience them if they’re still around when we get there! 🙂

VEGAS, IT’S BEEN SO LONG

Since 2012, I’ve tried to get to Vegas every year, but I failed last year since I was moving to Duluth, Minnesota.

However, I had a great time there on my last visit in December 2017 when I saw Mariah Carey’s magical “All I Want For Christmas” show…

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met Lionel Richie…

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and saw one of my childhood favorites, Tanya Tucker!

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“NEW” WHITNEY HOUSTON ON THE RADIO

It’s been more than seven-and-a-half years since Whitney Houston was found dead in a Beverly Hills, California hotel.

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Now, Whitney and Norwegian record producer Kygo are poised to have a big hit at Top 40 radio with a rework of Steve Winwood and Chaka Khan’s 1986 #1 hit, “Higher Love”, one of my all-time favorites.

Whitney originally recorded the song for the Japanese version of her third album, 1990’s “I’m Your Baby Tonight”.

The new version is incredible!

“Higher Love” is already at #3 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart and at #43 on the Mediabase Top 40 radio airplay chart!

Whitney’s last Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 was in the fall of 2001, right after the 9/11 attacks when “The Star Spangled Banner”, her 1991 recording, was re-released.  This time around, it reached #6.

Before that, her last original song to hit the Top 40 was in 2000 when “I Learned from the Best”, the fifth and final release from the “My Love is Your Love” album, hit #27.

Kygo’s 2016 album, “Cloud Nine”, is fantastic.  Check it out!

“THE LOUDEST VOICE”

This Showtime series about the rise and fall of Roger Ailes, who sadly brought Fox News and Donald Trump into our lives, was great.

Okay, the acting was great.  Watching Ailes’ creepiness of preying on women and forcing sex on them was disgusting.

In the series, Ailes blamed the left for all of America’s problems and gloated, “I’ve given the Silent Majority a voice” and that “we worship a Christian God”.

Yes, womanizer and rapist, worship that Christian God!

But, I have to hand it to Ailes for seeing a wide opening in television “news” that wasn’t catering to Republicans and the “religious right” and seizing the opportunity.

Give Russell Crowe his 2020 Emmy now and Roger Ailes, may you rot in hell!

GRADE:  B+

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

A Little “Name Dropping” Just For Fun

In life, there are times when we luck out and run into a “celebrity”.  It might be on vacation, at a county or state fair, or just a random encounter.

As a television meteorologist, my job is a public and high profile position (if you’re lucky and people watch the news and your channel!).

That wasn’t the case for me in Salisbury, Maryland.  No one watched my channel and I was never recognized in public in the year-and-a-half there!  However, I was much more well-known in the Quad Cities after 11.5 years and people did recognize me in Panama City, Florida.

I don’t buy into that whole “you’re a celebrity” thing, yet my career has given me better access to some big names in the world of entertainment and politics.

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It’s also presented some not so fun moments.

In Lubbock, Texas, I was thrown against a car by an irate man and another time, I was likely urinated on in a crowd of Marilyn Manson fans after his concert while doing my live report (I felt a warm wetness on my leg while talking)!

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And, in the Youngstown, Ohio, market, I was first on the scene of a shooting inside a car outside a school and had to look at the body until police covered it.  (At that point, we didn’t know if it was a murder or suicide.)

But, back to the positives.  For today’s blog, I’m “name dropping”!  Some of these people I met through work and some through sheer luck!

I’m going to start off with the three that mean the most to me, so these are not in chronological order of when I met them.

On a cold January morning in 2016 in Davenport, Iowa, I made my way through the crowd and got to say hello to former Secretary of State and former First Lady Hillary Clinton.

Hillary AP

Some people even thought this was photo-shopped and then I point out that her hand is on my shoulder! 🙂

The highlight of my move to Panama City, Florida, was meeting my childhood idol, President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

In July 2017, I got up in the middle of the night and drove almost four hours through the backwoods of Florida, Alabama and Georgia to Plains, Georgia, to hear President Carter give a sermon at his church.

Autograph Carters

After getting back home, I sent the Carters a “70th Anniversary” card with our photo.  I was totally shocked when they sent it back to me — autographed!

I’ve told this story many times, but I’ll tell it again.  As an 12-year-old in Mayfield, Kentucky, in 1976, I got to go into the voting booth with my grandmother and pull the lever for Jimmy Carter.  I did it again in 1980!

In April 2005, I was living in Salisbury, Maryland and working for the ABC affiliate.  We also broadcast the CW network that aired the “Reba” comedy series.

Reba Anthony 2005

To kick off her tour that spring in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we took a bus with twenty viewers to see that cold, windy outdoor show.  Two of those lucky people (and me) got to go backstage and meet Reba.

She was just as you’d imagine her to be — sweet and delightful.  Here are the framed memories of that night.

Reba Art

And, in 2014, I took my first awkward selfie with Shania Twain in Las Vegas, when she walked out into the crowd!

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As I name drop the people I’ve been fortunate to meet, I so wished that we had had smartphones earlier than we did.  I could have had photos of the others that I’ve met. 🙂

THE SOS BAND — 1984

In 1984, while a student at Murray State University in western Kentucky, I was doing the nightly weather on the campus television station and I started a music countdown show called “Music Visions”.

The first “celebrity” that I got to meet for the show and in my life was the group, The SOS Band, which was in concert at Murray State.

You might remember them from their #3 Billboard Hot 100 hit, “Take Your Time (Do It Right)”.

LIONEL RICHIE — LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — DECEMBER 2017

I met Lionel before his concert and when I said “Hello” (get it?) and extended my hand, he grabs me and says, “I’m a hugger!”

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MADELEINE ALBRIGHT — First Female U. S. Secretary of State (in President Bill Clinton’s administration)

In 1999, while working as a reporter and weathercaster in Youngstown, Ohio, I interviewed Secretary of State Albright.   She was so gracious and kind and, at the time, she was the highest ranking political figure I’d ever met.

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I interviewed her about several things, but we focused on Serbian President Slobodan Milošević.

Once I got back to the station, I practiced saying his name over and over so that it’d roll off my tongue easily when I did my live report.

It did. But, then I flubbed an English word that followed next! 🙂

MARTHA LAYNE COLLINS —  MAYFIELD, KENTUCKY — 1983

I met Collins while she was campaigning for her successful bid to become the first (and only) female Kentucky Governor.

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LEANN RIMES — SALISBURY, MARYLAND — NOVEMBER 2005

LeAnn is so sweet and adorable!

AnthonyLeAnn

RANDY TRAVIS — RHINELANDER, WISCONSIN — JULY 1996

This was an interesting meeting during Rhinelander’s “Hodag Music Festival” at my first real television job.

It was a little awkward because Randy was so kind and talkative and the whole time, his ex-wife/manager watched us like a hawk!

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RHETT AKINS — LUBBOCK, TEXAS — 1997

Rhett and I share the same birthday, even though I’m older.  I interviewed him a school where he was reading to students.

By the way, he’s the father of current country music superstar Thomas Rhett!

Akins scored his first Top 5 hit in 1995 with “That Ain’t My Truck”!

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LEE ANN WOMACK — LUBBOCK, TEXAS — 1997

I met Lee Ann as her first two singles were moving up the country charts.  While I love her music and I saw her in concert years later opening for Reba, her demeanor was very short and curt that day.

I was hoping that she was just having a bad day.  However, throughout the years, while talking with others in the business, she must have had many bad days when it came to reporters and interviews!

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GARY ALLAN — LUBBOCK, TEXAS — 1997

Not only was Gary dreamy and so kind in the interview early in the day, I saw him at his show that night.

After the show, he told me that got a laugh out of the fact that people stopped him in K-Mart before the show after seeing our interview on the news! 🙂

LONESTAR — LUBBOCK, TEXAS — 1997

Luckily, I interviewed Richie McDonald and Dean Sams and I didn’t have to even see close-minded homophobe John Rich!

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BRAD PAISLEY — CANFIELD, OHIO — 2001

Interviewing Brad Paisley 2001

THE BAND PERRY — DAVENPORT, IOWA — AUGUST 2012

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FAITH HILL — RHINELANDER, WISCONSIN — JULY 1996

Anthony & Faith Hill

TIM McGRAW — RHINELANDER, WISCONSIN — JULY 1996

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PAM TILLIS — BETTENDORF, IOWA — NOVEMBER 2012

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PAM TILLIS & LORRIE MORGAN — CLINTON, IOWA — JUNE 2014

Anthony, Pam, & Lorrie

TRACY LAWRENCE — LUBBOCK, TEXAS (1997) & DAVENPORT, IOWA (2011)

I first interviewed Tracy when I was working in Lubbock, Texas.  We crossed paths again when I got to introduce him at a concert at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, Iowa.

Both times, he was warm and down-to-earth!

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NEAL McCOY  — RHINELANDER, WISCONSIN — JULY 1996

EMILIO — RHINELANDER, WISCONSIN — JULY 1996

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TY ENGLAND — RHINELANDER, WISCONSIN — 1996

Ty England

STEPHANIE BENTLEY — RHINELANDER, WISCONSIN — 1996

Stephanie Bentley

DAVID KERSH — LUBBOCK, TEXAS — 1997

David was such a sweet person (and no I didn’t say “Goodnight Sweetheart” to him) and was very grateful for the television exposure.

Sadly, after a string of hits from 1996-1998, he had to take time off in 1999 for vocal strain and left the music business in 2005.

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TARA DAWN HOLLAND — Miss America 1997 — LUBBOCK, TEXAS

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CAROL CHANNING — LUBBOCK, TEXAS — 1997

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DEE DEE MYERS  — Bill Clinton’s press secretary in 1993 & 1994 

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C. EVERETT KOOP, Surgeon General, 1992-1999

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KAY BAILEY HUTCHINSON, Republican Texas U.S. Senator & PHIL GRAMM, Republican Texas U.S. Senator

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ED RENDELL, former Pennsylvania Governor

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DENISE BROWN, sister of Nicole Simpson, O.J. Simpson’s murdered wife

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JIM TRESSEL, former Ohio State University and Youngstown State University football coach

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MOLLY SIMS — And, before any of these celebrities I’ve met through my career, I worked at a college textbook company in Murray, Kentucky, for the Sims family.  Their adolescent daughter was always around in the warehouse.

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Molly Sims would go on to become a model and staple on MTV.

WISHFUL THINKING!

Outside of music, I still want to meet Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”)

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Gillian Anderson (“The X-Files” and “Hannibal”)

Gillian Anderson

and Laura Linney (“Ozark” and “Tales of the City” series)!

Mary Ann

Now, there are four other singers that I’ve seen in concert a total of ten times, but I’ve never gotten to meet them.

It’ll have to be luck if I ever do!

Madonna MDNA

I’ve seen Madonna four times…

Madonna

Lady Gaga three times…

Gaga Las Vegas

Britney Spears twice…

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and Mariah Carey once!

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So, tell me who you’ve met!

Anthony