Posts Tagged ‘Las Vegas’

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

Making Good on a Bad Decision

“I feel that I need to do something while I’m still healthy and still young enough to start over again because we never really know how much time we have left! 

I don’t want to be a really old man and be saddled with regrets that I could have done something about.”

Those were my thoughts in June 2019 in my “I Need to Write My ‘Next Chapter'” blog.

Capture

I really don’t have too many regrets in my life, but there’s one that’s been weighing heavily on me.

My life shattered in February 2017 when my ex and I decided to end our marriage and our eight-year relationship.

I made the irrational decision to move away from the Quad Cities rather than stay and start my life over again there.

So, after 11.5 years in Moline, Illinois, I took a job in Panama City, Florida, and moved there in May 2017.  I stayed for a year.

AP G C

I made three incredible friends, Gerard and Cathy, who started the Panama City PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chapter, and Diane, a neighbor in my apartment complex.

Also, while there, I drove through the backwoods of the South to Plains, Georgia, to meet my idol, former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

Autograph Carters

However, there was nothing else I liked about Panama City or the area.

So, in the summer of 2018, I took the Chief Meteorologist position at the Fox affiliate in Duluth, Minnesota.

It gave me a chance to work with some really great people, including zany Dan Hanger, our evening anchor, the most popular newscaster in Northland television!

After our appearance at the Superior, Wisconsin, Halloween parade, we decided to have an adult beverage and we sent our evening director Katie this little snippet of us lip syncing Taylor Swift’s “You Need To Calm Down”.

The joke is that Katie regularly has to tell Dan, “Not Today!” 🙂

And, speaking of Katie…

She and her mother, Mary Kaye, became two of my dearest friends, along with Kass, one of my neighbors.

For the past two Thanksgivings and Christmases, I feasted with Katie and Mary Kaye (and Duke, the golden retriever).  We also made it a point to have each other over for Saturday night dinners almost monthly.

Capture

As you can tell, they’re camera shy! 🙂

And, Kass regularly hosted cocktail hour at her place for the two of us to enjoy each other’s company and talk.

But, the dating scene in Duluth was dismal and my work schedule became very undesirable.  No one wants to basically work around the clock for days on end — at any age or at any point in their career!

Plus, I was still an eight-hour drive away from my sister, Tammy, in the Quad Cities.

Night Cruise

When I was in Bangkok, Thailand, in March 2019, I made the decision that when my contract was up in June 2020, I’d move to Las Vegas, give up television, and wait tables!

I wanted to start living again!

However, this winter, after a lot of thought and deliberation (with myself), I came to the conclusion that maybe it wasn’t the right time in my life.

And, then Coronavirus came along and I’m glad I didn’t pursue Vegas as “home”.

As that door closed, another one opened and a great opportunity presented itself to me out of the blue.

Now, the time has come to share some news with you — the “next chapter” is beginning soon amidst the Coronavirus pandemic! 😱

Kylie

Back in May 2017 as I was driving through Henry County, Illinois, on Interstate 74, tears streamed down my face as I left my sister, my friends, and my shattered life in the Quad Cities.

This past February, I made a covert trip back to the Quad Cities and Illinois. 🙂

And, this time, driving that same stretch of I-74 in Henry County at sunrise offered me hope and the chance to right the wrong — I was making good on a bad decision!

Henry County Illinois

“Climb That Mountain High” from Reba McEntire’s 1990 album, “Rumor Has It”, has always been a beacon of encouragement for me.

The song was an inspiration to me when I started my television news career and it’s given me hope every time I was ready to move on.

“Red sun a-rising, over the hill/I’ve had enough of this desert to last from now until… This could be the day I finally find my way out”

“How I arrived here, oh heaven only knows/Seems more like the kind of place the devil would have chose… I know somewhere down the road my dreams will come true”!

I’m heading back to the Land of Lincoln!

I accepted the morning meteorologist position at the NBC affiliate in Decatur, in central Illinois!  (It’s part of the Champaign-Decatur-Springfield television market.)

Decatur

Now, I’ll be able to see my sister in three hours, instead of setting aside a whole day to drive one way!

And, we’ll be able to spend holidays together again!

AP T

And, along with this “next chapter”, #Pug2020 is still in my plans unless the real life situation (Coronavirus, again!) delays it!

By the way, this “air freshener” was another “sign” from Bangkok last year.  It was in one of the cabs! 🙂

#Pug2020

Thailand Pug AP

MY NEXT APARTMENT

Let’s end on a lighthearted note!

When I left Kentucky, for good, in the summer of 1994 for Chicago, as my 20s were winding down, I envisioned my next apartment complex.

I had hoped it’d be like “Melrose Place” with Jake (Grant Show) as my neighbor. 🙂

Grant Amy

Okay, the “Melrose Place” before crazy Kimberly (Marcia Cross) moved in and blew the damn place up! 🙂

Melrose Place

Oops, spoiler alert!

Or, I was dreaming of 28 Barbary Lane (“Tales of the City”) with Anna Madrigal as my eccentric land lady…

28 Barbary Lane

and Mary Ann Singleton (Laura Linney) and Michael “Mouse” Tolliver as my friends!

Mary Ann

Neither has happened in all my moves, but there’s always Decatur!  LOL

Honestly, I think I’m too old for those silly dreams and dramas now!

My friends, here’s to new beginnings and a happy, healthy new future — not just for me, but for all of us!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — March 20, 2020

After a few weeks of making time to share some of my “Random Friday Thoughts”, this will be the last one for some time.

I have another blog coming soon to announce my “next chapter”.

Shhhhh

CORONAVIRUS & LAS VEGAS

When we rang in 2020, my plans were to move to Las Vegas on June 1st.  I was giving up television weather to wait tables and pursue a “life”!

2020

After much thought and deliberation (with myself), I decided that the timing wasn’t right.   And, much to my chagrin, I also don’t think a move to Vegas in this lifetime is now in the cards! 😦

Now, with the widespread impact of Coronavirus just beginning to be felt nationwide (and across the world), I know I made the right decision!

The service industry in Vegas (and many other cities) is going to decimated by this and who knows how long it’ll take to recover once Coronavirus is under control!

DOG REVENGE

This cartoon is too funny not to share — K9 revenge!!!

Dogs

By the way, the World Health Organization says, as of now, dogs can get Coronavirus, but there’s no evidence they can spread it!!!

PARENTS, TRUE OR NOT???? 🙂

Parenting

“ARMY OF THE DEAD”

Recently, I watched Zack Snyder’s “Dawn of the Dead” (2004) again.  It’s still a great addition to the zombie genre.

I was excited to learn that Netflix acquired the rights to the sequel with a $90 million budget.

“Army of the Dead” will center around a heist on a Las Vegas casino during a zombie outbreak!

Principle photography and filming is reportedly done, but a release day is not set.

Now I’m wondering if/how our real life Coronavirus outbreak will affect the release of a movie about a viral outbreak that causes the dead to become undead and walk the Earth!

If you haven’t seen Snyder’s movie, here’s the trailer.

By the way, I also watched George A. Romero’s 1968 “Night of the Living Dead” again recently and it was SO BAD!

LAST CORONAVIRUS THOUGHT

While I’m taking precautions to stay safe and healthy (and I hope you are, too), the fear of the unknown is overwhelming!

When I feature songs or music videos in my blog, you may just scroll right past them.

But, here are five that ALWAYS make me feel so happy and carefree. 🙂

If you’re not familiar with them, give them a listen!  It might help you to relax and forget about real life for a few minutes at a time! 🙂

“XANADU” — OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN  (#8, 1980)

“TARZAN BOY” — BALTIMORA (#13, 1985)

“TWO OF HEARTS” — STACEY Q (#3, 1986)

“ONLY IN MY DREAMS” — DEBBIE GIBSON (#4, 1987)

“I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY (WHO LOVES ME) — WHITNEY HOUSTON (#1, 1987)

AVOCADOS

I love avocados anyway you serve them!

I especially love making guacamole and when I add them to shrimp for a ceviche, I’m in heaven.  (Yes, I made this!)

Shrimp C

In a perfect world, I’d love to be rich and live on land where I had avocado, lemon, lime, and orange trees!  Wishful thinking!

Avocado

I was going through an old “Eating Well” magazine (March 2019) and came across these interesting tidbits.  I thought I’d share them.

  • 90% of U.S. avocados are grown in California.  There are over 5 million avocado trees in the state and and one tree can produce up to 200 avocados in one year!
  • It takes 12 to 18 months to grow a California avocado and the heaviest avocado on record weighed 5 pounds, 8 ounces!
  • Hass avocado trees bloom in the spring and a mature fruit can stay on the tree for up to a year!  They don’t ripen until they’re picked, but most are harvested from March through September.
  • Finally, the average American eats about 7.75 pounds of avocados a year.  In 1990, that number was only ONE POUND!

Happy Avocados

Way to go America!

“TRUE COMPASS”

I just read Edward Kennedy’s 2009 memoir that came out after he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in May 2008.

True Compass Ted Kennedy

Kennedy did a lot of great things in his almost 47 years as a U.S. Senator and I applaud him for that.

I enjoyed hearing his stories about his brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Senator Bobby Kennedy.

In the book, I felt he was upfront and honest about the tragic accident at Chappaquiddick that resulted in Mary Jo Kopechne’s death in the summer of 1969.

I admired his honesty about indulging too much in liquor, women, and food in his single years between marriages.

He also talked extensively about the fact that he made it a point never to address tabloid gossip, no matter how far-fetched.

Kennedy said once you do, you’ll spend more time trying to correct the misinformation.  If you start setting the record straight, then you’d look guilty in the future if you didn’t address a story, rumor, or gossip!

With that being said, I turned against Ted Kennedy in 1980 and I held a grudge against him for mounting his only presidential bid against my idol, sitting President Jimmy Carter.

CarterPres

It was bad enough that Iranian militants in Tehran were holding American hostages for over a year, but the economy was in the pits and we were dealing with an energy crisis.

Kennedy’s presidential run weakened Carter’s presidency even more since it forced the president to spend more time and effort to be the Democratic nominee for re-election.

It was time Carter could have used to fight Ronald Reagan and try to solve America’s problems and free the hostages.

Kennedy admits that he felt Carter held that against him from that point on and, personally, I don’t blame him!

“True Compass” was a fantastic read.  I’m glad I took time to learn more about the man.

Edward Kennedy died at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, on August 25, 2009.

ONE MORE EDWARD KENNEDY NOTE

I’m currently reading “The Senator: My Ten Years With Ted Kennedy” by Richard E. Burke, who became Kennedy’s Chief of Staff in the late-1970s, at the ripe age of 25!

The Senator Burke

As a freshman in college in 1971, Burke started working as a volunteer in Kennedy’s mail room.

While Burke idolized Kennedy, “The Senator” is a much more scandalous book talking about Ted Kennedy’s very active sex life (extramarital affairs), orgies, and drug use (cocaine and poppers).

I’m only halfway through the book, but I can’t imagine Senator Kennedy being too thrilled when the book came out in 1992!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Vanessa Williams Still Reigns

Today, the gorgeous and talented Vanessa Williams is celebrating a birthday!

Happy Birthday Vanessa, you are and will always be Miss America!!!

I’ve had her 2012 book with her mother, Helen Williams, for years and finally got around to reading it.  And, it was incredible!  I didn’t want it to end.

It’s called “You Have No Idea:  A Famous Daughter, Her No-Nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other)”.

You Have No Idea

One of my favorite quotes from Vanessa from the book: “When I venture out, it’s with my girlfriends or my gay friends or even my priest friend.  I tease Father Edwards, ‘when I asked God for the perfect man, I should have been more specific!'”

You definitely have to check it out!

Now, I’m sure most of you know that Williams became the first black Miss America in 1983.

Vanessa-Williams-Crowned-Miss-America

Then, in the summer of 1984, innocent, artistic nude photos she’d posed for years earlier surfaced.

Sadly, on July 23, 1984, Williams relinquished her crown.

Leading up to this, I was hoping she wouldn’t give in to make it easy on the Miss America pageant and organization.

In the 1980s, there were only two pop culture events that saddened me to shed a few tears and this was one of them.  (The other was Madonna’s marriage to Sean Penn!)

MY FAVORITE VANESSA WILLIAMS SONGS

I was a huge fan of Vanessa’s music from the very beginning (in 1988) with her first single and album, “The Right Stuff”.

Vanessa-Williams---The-Right-Stuff-single-cover

So, in honor of her birthday, I’m counting down my 13 favorite Vanessa Williams songs.

Why 13?  It’s my favorite number! 🙂

13

“BETCHA NEVER”

12

“DREAMIN'”

11

“WHO WERE YOU THINKIN’ BOUT?”

10

“I’LL BE GOOD TO YOU”

9

“WORK TO DO”

8

“THE COMFORT ZONE”

#7 CD

“HAPPINESS”

6

“RUNNING BACK TO YOU”

5

“LOVE IS”

4

“FREEDOM DANCE (GET FREE!)”

#3 CD

“THE SWEETEST DAYS”

#2 MOVIE

“SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST”

Before I reveal my favorite Vanessa Williams song, I want to include two bonus tracks.

She’s released two stellar Christmas albums, “Star Bright” (1996) and “Silver & Gold” (2004).

Vanessa Williams

I’ve never gotten to see Vanessa in concert, but I’d love to see a Las Vegas residency holiday show!

Holiday Bonus

And, now my favorite Vanessa Williams song!

#1

“THE RIGHT STUFF”

Happy Birthday again Vanessa!

Here’s to many more enjoyable celebrations!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — March 13, 2020

Two weeks in a row with a new “Random Friday Thoughts”!  I hope this finds you healthy and happy!

Feel free to comment on any of my thoughts, but, as always, do it diplomatically!

MY THOUGHTS ON CORONAVIRUS

Don’t zone out from fatigue over the Coronavirus.  I’ll keep this part short!

You’re hearing a lot on the news about the virus, which is now a pandemic.

Basically the difference between a pandemic and an epidemic is that an epidemic is an illness affecting a specific region and a pandemic has global impacts!

Here is the U.S., sports seasons and playoffs are basically done, concerts are being cancelled or postponed, schools are extending spring break and going to online classes when they return, restaurants are closing, and the list goes on.

And, on Wednesday, actor Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, in Australia, announced they they tested positive for Coronavirus.

Tom Hanks Rita Wilson

Yet, there are those that are blaming the media (of course) for hyping up something that’s no worse than the flu, which kills people each year.

However, Dr. Anthony Fucci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says the Coronavirus is ten times (that’s 10 times) deadlier than the seasonal flu!

Coronavirus

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I don’t trust the government!  (I’m not just talking about the Trump administration — yet that speaks for itself!)  I’m talking about trust on a daily basis and not specifically with Coronavirus.

This mistrust of the U.S. government is a product of past administrations (Republican and Democrats) of telling us just what we “need” to know, when it deems the time is right.

Well, here’s the thing.  I think Coronavirus is a real public threat and I think we’re going to see the number of cases (and deaths) in the U.S. and Canada shoot up drastically over the next month or so.

As for me, I pray that I don’t get sick.  However, I’m doing nothing more to prevent it than I normally do in a typical day. 

I always wash my hands.  I love using hand sanitizer (even before it was chic).  I cover my mouth when I cough and I move away from people hacking like they’re coughing up a lung.

And, no I didn’t raid the store for toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and bottled water!

Watermelon Mint Vodka

However, I did buy a bottle of Smirnoff Watermelon Mint Zero Sugar Infusions vodka.  It sounded fun!  And, I do have a decent supply of wine and liquor!

I CAN’T GO ON…

You know I love buffets, especially in Las Vegas.

Hello, Wicked Spoon!  These were my four plates and truly UNLIMITED champagne and mimosas this past December from there!

Wicked Spoon

Because of Coronavirus, my life as I know it is (temporarily?) disrupted — if I was in Vegas now.

MGM Resorts (which doesn’t own Wicked Spoon) issued this statement earlier in the week:

“MGM Resorts will temporarily close buffets at ARIA, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Luxor and Excalibur, effective Sunday March 15. These changes are temporary and will be evaluated on a weekly basis.”

11 YEARS ON FACEBOOK!

It what could be called “joy” and “madness”, I found out this week that I joined Facebook more than a decade ago.

So, if you don’t follow me there, here were my thoughts on my eleventh anniversary!

Facebook Anniversary

Facebook 11

VOTING

Primaries and caucuses are taking places across the nation ahead of the 2020 presidential election in November, which I think will be Joe Biden and 45.

I love looking at polls and I trust them — for the most part.

Vote

However, I also know that polls mean nothing if people don’t get out and vote!

And, come November 3, 2020, if you want to make “that man” a one-term president (or if you support him), you have to VOTE!

“OZARK” 

Season three of one of the best shows on television is coming back later this month.

“Ozark” returns March 27th on Netflix and from the new trailer, it looks like this could be Laura Linney’s year for an Emmy win!

She was incredible in season two and I was hoping that she and Julia Garner would take home trophies.  Garner won in the Emmy’s supporting actress category.

THANKS NETFLIX!

But, before I can check out the new season of “Ozark” with the incredible Linney, season three of “The Crown”, season two of “Sex Education”, season two of “Mindhunter”, and the first season of “The Politician”, I now have to buy a new television!

Thanks a lot Netflix!

Last month, I was going to start binge-watching “The West Wing” and this is what greeted me!

Bad Netflix

On December 1, 2019, Netflix deemed my Samsung television, which I got in 2014, obsolete for its streaming service!

What a rip off!

“GASLIGHTER”

Last week, I talked about the new Lady Gaga single, “Stupid Love” (it debuted at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100), from her upcoming April 10th album, “Chromatica”.

Now, I’m excited to know what my second album that I’ll buy in 2020 will be and when.

“Gaslighter” is the new single and the title track from the Dixie Chicks’ new album that’ll drop May 1, 2020!

“Gaslighter” is actually getting country music airplay!  It debuted on the Billboard Country chart at #31 and moved to #20 in its second week!

That’s their biggest hit at country radio since “Travelin’ Soldier” hit #1 in early 2003, about the time that Natalie Maines’ comments about President George W. Bush and the Iraqi War got the Chicks banned from country radio!

Their last album, “Taking The Long Way”, came out in May 2006, and it won the Grammy Award for “Album of the Year” and “Best Country Album”.

The Dixie Chicks’ last hit song was 2006’s “Not Ready To Make Nice”, which reached #4 on the Hot 100.

It went on to win three Grammy Awards — “Record of the Year”, “Song of the Year”, and “Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals”, in 2007!

“KNIVES OUT”

If you like whodunit movies, you’ll like this mystery comedy.

The all-star cast includes Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Daniel Craig, Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer, and Don Johnson.

The first half of the movie features some very humorous scenes as the story was set up.  Collette was especially funny.

I figured out early on who was likely the killer.  From that point on, the movie started to drag.  (Oh, I was correct!).

GRADE: B

PURGING MY CD & MOVIE COLLECTION

For months now, I’ve been purging my CD and movie collection.

I started listening to CDs that I liked at one time in my life, but I’d never say, “I want to listen to <insert album title here>.  I had about one thousand CDs and now it’s down to about 425 essentials that I don’t want to part with.

With my movies, I’m watching older ones, some of which didn’t become one of “my favorites”, and I’m getting rid of them.

Until recently, only three of them made the cut and I put them back on the shelf.

I kept the 2012 Spanish movie “Angels of Sex” (“El Sexo de los Ángeles”), the 2008 Israeli film “Antarctica”, and the 2010 American romantic comedy, “Is It Just Me?”.

“LEMON TREE”

This past week, I added three more “keepers”.

The first is the 2008 Israeli drama, “Lemon Tree”.

Hiam Abbass is heartbreaking and stunning!  She plays Salma, a widowed Palestinian woman fighting to keep the Israeli government from cutting down her lemon grove, which was planted by her late father decades ago.

It becomes a security risk when the Israeli Defense Minister and his wife, Mira, (a moving performance by Rona Lipaz-Michael) move next door.

“PATRIK 1.5”

Another was the very touching 2008 Swedish film, “Patrik 1.5”.

It stars one of the sexy Skarsgard brothers (no, not Alexander from “True Blood” and “Big Little Lies” and not creepy Bill (Pennywise in the new “It” movie series).

Gustaf Skarsgard is the lead in this comedy-drama.

His Göran Skoogh in “Patrik 1.5” would make the perfect husband! 🙂

“SOLO”

And, the final keeper, is “Solo”.

Even though this Argentinean movie came out in 2013, it speaks volumes about today’s dating and app hook-up scene!

You never really know who you’re meeting or hooking up with and what could happen!

Manuel (Patrico Ramos) and Julio (Mario Veron) finally decide to meet after chatting online for a while.

Once they meet, Julio tells Manuel, “There are really bad people round there. They say one thing and they mean another. You never know who you’re dealing with. You don’t even know who you’re bringing into your home.”

“TRANSAMERICA”

I also watched the incredible “Transamerica” with Oscar nominee Felicity Huffman and the adorably sexy Kevin Zegers.

While still a very fulfilling movie, so much has changed since it came out in 2005.

After the groundbreaking television series “Pose” and “Transparent”, I couldn’t imagine a movie made today about a trans woman that WOULD NOT be played by a real trans actress!

“GIRLS NIGHT OUT”

Debbie Gibson, one of my favorite artists of the 1980s, is back with a huge club hit!

“Girls Night Out” (Tracy Young Radio Remix) is currently at #4 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.

In 2019, Tracy Young scored back-to-back chart toppers on the the Dance Club Songs chart with Madonna’s “I Rise” and “Crave”.  (Young won a Grammy Award for the “I Rise” remix!)

From 1986 to early 1991, Gibson scored nine hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

Of those, five reached the Top Ten, including the #1 hits, “Foolish Beat” (1988) and “Lost in Your Eyes” (1989, three weeks at #1).

When “Foolish Beat” topped the chart in the summer of 1988, Debbie became youngest person to write, produce, and perform a number-one single entirely on her own, at age 17!!!

“Only In My Dreams”, Debbie’s first hit in 1987 that reached #4, is still one of my all-time favorites!

“ICE BOUND:  A DOCTOR’S INCREDIBLE BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL AT THE SOUTH POLE”

Ice Bound

This 2001 book is about Dr. Jerri Nielsen, an Ohio doctor that took a year off from medicine to find herself by “wintering” in Antarctica with 40 others.

Just a few months into her one-year stay, she found a lump in her breast.

This book is the story of how she and her new friends, “winterovers”, worked via satellite and computers in the harsh -100° weather and months of complete darkness to keep her alive.

This lasted for eight months before the weather finally broke and she could be rescued and brought back to the U.S. for surgery in the fall of 1998.

In 2000, while I was an anchor and reporter in Mansfield, Ohio, I interviewed Dr. Nielsen.  Twenty years later, I have no clue what about!  Maybe it was about her recovery?

Dr. Nielsen was a cancer survivor for over a decade before she died in the summer of 2009.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — March 6, 2020

Surprise!  I can’t believe it’s been almost two months since my last “Random Friday Thoughts”.

Thank you for taking the time to check it out.

CORONAVIRUS & VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE

As fears rise and the death toll climbs around the world, I’m even more alarmed (but, totally not shocked) that 45 appointed Vice President Mike Pence to lead his Coronavirus response team.

Coronavirus Pence Trump

I hope the U.S. response is swift and adequate and that it prevents a widespread outbreak here.

Pence IS NOT a medical expert and his previous judgement is poor!

In a December 1, 2016, blog on “World AIDS Day”, I wrote, “And, just last year, a county in southern Indiana had an outbreak of HIV cases that reached “epidemic” levels.  It was reported that there were about twenty new cases each week because of drug use and needle sharing.

Yes, Indiana — while Vice-President elect Mike Pence was governor and before he was picked to be second in command in the U.S.”

PETS, TOO!

Last week, a pet dog, a Pomeranian, of a Coronavirus patient, was placed in quarantine after testing “weak positive” for the virus in Hong Kong!

Hong Kong dog Coronavirus

This week, that was upgraded to a “low-level infection”.  It’s the first reported case of human-to-animal transmission.

By Friday, the number of those infected worldwide is approaching 104,000 with more than 3,500 deaths.  (Most are in China.) 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. reports 164 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in nineteen states.

The CDC is also confirming eleven deaths!

EDUCATE YOURSELF!

With that being said, educate yourself!

Corona

I saw a survey last week that showed because of the Coronavirus, 38% of Americans wouldn’t buy Corona beer “under any circumstances”!

Seriously, stop drinking altogether if you’re that brilliant!!!

IT WON’T HAPPEN BEFORE ELECTION DAY 2020, BUT…

JFK Meme Diversity Mortal June 10 1963.JPG

That is from President John F. Kennedy’s June 1963 commencement speech at American University.

“THE MAN”

In 2019, “Lover”, Taylor Swift’s seventh studio release, was my favorite album of the year!

Taylor Swift Lover

It’s already produced 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, and the title track, which reached #10 on the Hot 100.

Her latest single is “The Man”, one of my absolute favorites from “Lover”.  And, I can’t watch the new video enough!

Yes, that’s Taylor playing “The Man”, Tyler Swift!

My other favorites from the album are “I Forgot That You Existed”, “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” or “Cornelia Street”!

CHRISTMAS CARDS — BY THE NUMBERS

Okay, I know that Christmas was more than two months ago (or less than ten months from now), but I didn’t take my trees and decorations down until the last day of January.  Yes, I enjoy them for three months!

As I was putting away my Christmas cards, I analyzed them and here’s what I found out.

I heard back from 78% of the people I sent a card.

Do you think most people used Christmas stamps?  They did!

28% used Santa stamps and 20% used the new wreath stamps!

Wreaths

However, a high number (21%) used flag stamps.  Either they’re patriotic or just using up the stamps they had on hand?

By the way, this past Christmas when I was planning a summer 2020 move to Las Vegas (aborted mission), I actually used cactus stamps.

Cactus Christmas Stamps

I wonder how many of my friends noticed and wondered why I wasn’t using holiday stamps? 🙂

“STUPID LOVE”

Lady Gaga is back with new music!

“Stupid Love”, the first single, from her upcoming album, “Chromatica”, which will arrive April 10th, was released last week!!!

While I love the upbeat dance hit, it does borrow from “Born This Way”, probably unintentionally!

I’m very excited about the new music since I didn’t buy her last album, “Joanne”, which dropped in October 2016.

Do I lose gay points for that???

“JOJO RABBIT”

This Oscar nominated comedy-drama was hilarious and well acted.

While mostly a comedy,  when a kid has Adolf Hitler (director and screenwriter Taika Waititi) as an “imaginary friend”, it does feature a few dark scenes.

Roman Griffin Davis was fantastic as Jojo, Waititi was great, and Rebel Wilson cracked me up.

This is not a spoiler, but two of her best lines were “I’ve had 18 kids for Germany — such a great year to be a girl!”

And, in another scene, instead of saying “O-M-G”, she replies, “O-M-God”, which made me laugh so much!

GRADE:  A-

MADONNA CONTINUES TO MAKE MUSIC HERSTORY (HISTORY)!

“I Don’t Search I Find” recently became Madonna’s 50th #1 hit on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.

She extended her record of having the most #1 songs on any one Billboard chart!  Her closest competitor is George Strait, who has 44 number one songs on the Billboard Country charts.

“I Don’t Search I Find” is also the fourth chart topper from her 2019 album, “Madame X”!  (“Madame X” is also Madonna’s ninth #1 album!)

Madonna is also the only act to score a #1 hit on the Dance Club Songs chart in five decades!

She hit the top of that chart 9 times in the 1980s, 13 times in the 1990s, 18 times in the 2000s, 9 times in the 2010s, and, now, once (so far) in the 2020s!

It’s also Madonna’s 10th consecutive #1 on the Dance chart and every one of her singles since 2012 have topped the chart!

GIVE IT A LISTEN! 🎶

“JOKER”

I’m no longer a fan of super hero movies, but I still have an affinity to the Batman series after growing up with the cheesy television Batman series of the 1960s.

I still absolutely love 1992’s “Batman Returns” with Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Danny DeVito as the Penguin!

I waited for last fall’s “Joker” to arrive on DVD and it was great.

The movie grossed over a billion dollars worldwide and garnered eleven Academy Award nominations!

Joaquin Phoenix deservedly won the Best Actor Oscar for his manic performance as aspiring comedian and loser Arthur Fleck.

How he became the Joker is tragic, sadistic, and compelling!

GRADE:  B+

“PRISONER OF TEHRAN”

In “Prisoner of Tehran”, Marina Nemat, who now lives in Canada, writes of her early life in Iran during the “Islamic Revolution”.

It was the late-1970s and early-1980s when the Ayatollah Khomeini was taking control of the country from the Shah of Iran.

If you were even thought to be a Shah supporter or you weren’t all for Khomeini’s way of rule (less freedom for women, very anti-Western, and anti-American), you could be imprisoned, raped, and killed.

Nemat Prisoner of Tehran.JPG

By telling her story, it’s clear that Nemat escaped Iran.  However, her story before then is heartbreaking!

“CHILDREN OF JIHAD”

Subtitled “A Young American’s Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East”, this 2007 book from American Jewish writer Jared Cohen talks about his time spent in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Syria.

Cohen Children of Jihad

In his secret talks with Muslim youth, Cohen learned that they didn’t hate America or Jews, but despised the American and Israeli governments because they were anti-Islam.

Cohen went on to work for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice.

“THE KITE RUNNER”

While the book, “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini came out in 2003, it’s taken me this long to come across it and read it!

And, wow, what a powerful book!

I had to go back to check and make sure it was fiction and not a true story.  While it’s fiction, I know tragedies like this are also reality.

If you’re not familiar, it’s the story of two childhood friends raised together without mothers in Afghanistan, one’s rich and the other is poor.

Events unfold that separate them as teenagers and something brings their lives back into the same orbit again as adults.

The Kite Runner

Here is a powerful quote from the book!

The Kite Runner Quote

Now, I need to watch the movie!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

 

My Future in Other People’s Words

You know I love writing and sharing my thoughts with you.   I’ve been doing with my blog for eight years now.

Today, I’m sharing some thoughts about my future — more specifically, the spring of 2020 — and I’m doing this in other people’s words!

I hope you find this deviation interesting and enlightening!

CHRIS McCANDLESS

In 1990, after graduating from Emory College with degrees in history and anthropology, 22-year-old Chris McCandless gave away his $24,000 in savings to a charitable organization that fought against global poverty.

He then hit the road to live a vagabond life.

In late April 1992, he was last seen alive on the Stampede Trail around the northern boundary of Denali National Park in Alaska.

Chris McCandless.jpeg

After spending months in the frontier, with little food and equipment and inexperienced with the layout of the area, McCandless headed back to civilization.  But, he was trapped by melting snow and flooding!

His journal entries indicated 113 days in the wilderness, but his last real thoughts were noted on day 107.

McCandless died in August 1992 at the age of 24.

While Chris met an untimely and sad ending, I’m inspired by his young thinking mind!

McCANDLESS:  “So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.”

McCandless goes on to say, “The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”

Jon Krakauer’s 1996 book, “Into the Wild” about McCandless’ life and death was made into a movie the next year starring Emile Hirsch.

“RHINESTONE COWBOY” (GLEN CAMPBELL)

In my career life, the cities have always chosen me:  Rhinelander (WI), Lubbock (TX), Youngstown (OH), Mansfield (OH), Salisbury (MD), Moline (IL), Rock Island (IL), Panama City (FL), and Duluth (MN).

The only times I’ve chosen the city to call home that wasn’t career-related, it was Chicago.  And, both times, it was the best decision I’ve ever made!

I’ve been walkin’ these streets so long/Singin’ the same old song

I know every crack in these dirty sidewalks of Broadway

Where hustle the name of the name of the game

And nice guys get washed away like the snow and the rain

There’s been a load of compromising/On the road road to my horizon

But I’m gonna be where the lights are shining on me”

“BEAUTY AND THE BEAST”

Belle: “There must be more than this provincial life.”

Belle

“XANADU”

“A million lights are dancing and there you are, a shooting star/
An everlasting world and you’re here with me, eternally/
Xanadu, Xanadu”

Xanadu

“Xanadu, your neon lights will shine/for you, Xanadu”

REBA McENTIRE IS TALKING TO ME!

No matter what’s going on in my life, good or bad, happy or sad, when Reba McEntire releases a new album there’s a song that I feel is just for me.

On her spring 2019 release, “Stronger Than The Truth”, there were two songs!

Reba Truth

Neither are happy, but one offers some hope.

“THE CLOWN”

My life in 2017 was played out tragically in song with “The Clown”.

“After a couple of bottle of red wine, the truth finally came out/
The words ‘I don’t love you anymore’ spilled from his mouth”

But, in the restaurant, the piano kept playing, cell phones kept ringin’, glasses were clinkin’, and everyone was laughin’, dancin’, and singin’

“So I painted a smile on my face to cover the frown/
In that room full of jokers and jesters, I was the clown”

“THE BAR’S GETTING LOWER”

If you don’t have Reba’s “Stronger Than The Truth” album, it’s fantastic.

“The Bar’s Getting Lower” is the song that really sings to me.  It punches you in the gut, but it also offers hope!

Reba sings of a woman whose mother told her to hold out for a good man, which, many years ago, sounded like a good plan.  However, as we know, life doesn’t always go as planned!

“She was hoping for pink champagne/
But she’ll settle for well whiskey

She saw herself in a long white gown/
Not downtown gettin’ tipsy

And that one-night stand walking through the door/
Ain’t the marrying kind, yeah that’s for sure

But she’s gettin’ older/And the bar’s gettin’ lower”

So, does she go home with the one night stand or not?

“She could thank him for the drink and walk away/
Live to love another day

But she’s gettin’ older
And the night’s gettin’ colder
And the bar’s gettin’ lower”

Take a listen to the song here if you haven’t heard it.

And, I’ll end this look at my future in the words of others on a very happy and sexy note with Kylie Minogue.

In 2018, she turned 50 years old.  And, after beating cancer in 2005, she’s still as popular and busy as ever.

“Golden” was the title of her 2018 album and subsequent tour.

Kylie Golden Tour

The lyrics of the title track are so inspiring!!!

Tomorrow has all the answers/ Today says we’ve just begun”

“We’re not young, and we’re not old/
We’re the stories not yet told/
Won’t be bought and can’t be sold/
We are golden”

“Don’t you feel the sun on your face?/
Hopeful hearts of the human race/
Wrapped in the arms of love”

We’re golden/Burn like the stars
Stay golden/Straight from the heart
We’re the voice that’ll never give in/
Getting knocked down, back up again
We’re golden, golden
That’s who we are”

Here’s the very stunning Kylie Minogue with an array of beautiful men helping her out, including Jake Leigh and Anders Deeno Nielsen.

In my future, when the rain comes falling down, may it rain glitter!

Kylie

And, here’s a bonus just because it’s so damn hot and summer is coming!

Maybe I should re-consider Las Vegas? 🙂

Anthony

 

New Details On “The Next Chapter”

For eight months now, I’ve shared a few things here and there about changes that were being set into play.

A year ago, as I was preparing to head off to Bangkok, Thailand, I hoped the mysticism of the Far East would answer a few questions for me.

Temples

In my June 2019 blog, “I Need to Write My Next Chapter”, I concluded with this, “I’ll take a gamble on life again!”

Capture

At that time, I was very seriously thinking of giving up my career as a television meteorologist and moving to Las Vegas!

Later in June, I posted another subtle hint with this photo and the caption of “Future” — a new theme!!!

Future

Well, I guess that post wasn’t as subtle as I thought. 🙂  Some of my dear friends across the miles quickly caught on to the hint.

Kathy Linda

And, Connie sent me this private message!

Connie

Ha!  I even used cactus stamps for my cards this past Christmas! 🙂

Cactus Christmas Stamps

Well, I’m only telling you this now because I’ve changed course and moving to Las Vegas is no longer on the table — for now.

However, what I wrote in my November 2019 blog, “The ‘Next Chapter’ Is Still Being Written”, is still true and it’s getting closer:  “I can’t wait to find something fun to pay bills that’ll allow me more time to live, meet people (friends or that “someone special”), and be a great dad to #Pug2020!”

Here’s the link to that full blog:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2019/11/22/the-next-chapter-is-still-being-written/

And, the link for the first one from last June:

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

I hope you stick around for the details!

You know they’re coming soon because Spring 2020 is getting closer every day!

Anthony

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

Never Give Up.jpg

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:

Boyfriend List.jpg

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…

Reba Dolly Patty.JPG

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”!

HonkyTonkAngels.jpg

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!

wish.gif

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

Toni Braxton.gif

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

Vanessa Williams.gif

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!

gif-happy-new-year-2019

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!

Polar Plunge.JPG

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.

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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