Posts Tagged ‘Madonna’

Random Friday Thoughts — June 12, 2020

It was so nice sharing some of my “Random Friday Thoughts” last week. It was even better that it was read and well received. For those of you that took the time to check it out, thank you!

As I always say, if you disagree with me, that’s fine. Do it diplomatically!

With that being said, my first thought today may not sit well with some. Don’t take it out of context, so read it all before you comment! 🙂 And, don’t take it personally!

Have a fantastic weekend!

STIMULUS CHECKS & UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

While I’m expressing my displeasure of how misaligned the pandemic unemployment compensation program is, I’ll cut it short in light of what’s going on now in America.

There have been a couple of times in my life that I collected unemployment and let me tell you, the checks are NOT enough!

Since unemployment benefits are only a fraction of what you’d make by working, people living on unemployment alone find it hard to make ends meet.

But, now, with the pandemic unemployment compensation program, it’s become a joke and I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t tick me off!

With an additional $600 a week on top of the unemployment checks, there are people not working that are making more money than essential workers working through this pandemic!

I know people that are benefiting from this financial windfall, so please use the money wisely!

I’ve worked through this entire pandemic and it’s a little upsetting that I’m clearing less on payday than some of those out of work!

People should NOT be making more money by staying at home than they would be making if this had never happened and they were working!

If this ever happens again, the pandemic unemployment compensation program needs to regulated better! On the positive side, I’m happy taxpaying Americans got a stimulus check!

Okay, I’m off my soapbox!

“HANNIBAL” IS NOW ON NETFLIX!

There are several topics that I’ve written about extensively over the past eight years: Hillary Clinton, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Christmas, food, travel, and “Hannibal”.

What? Yes, I mean Hannibal Lecter and the NBC television series that ran for three season!

Well, after all this time, it’s now on Netflix! So, please, binge watch and see what you (and America) missed during its original run.

So, why should you watch it? Here’s what I’ve said about the show in the past:

April 3, 2013: “From the trailers, I feel that NBC is definitely pushing the envelope with the network’s standards and practices department with the gore and violence.  But, then again, this is a story about serial killers and a cannibal.  This isn’t Disney!”

April 5, 2013: (after seeing the premiere episode): ” it was incredible, gory, suspenseful, and psychologically stimulating.”

February 28, 2014: “If you didn’t catch this incredibly creepy, gory, and complex series, you’re missing out on great drama and television.” 

I’m not alone! This is what “Entertainment Weekly” wrote about the season 2 premiere. (By the way, it gave the season two finale an “A-” also!)

May 16, 2014: NBC’s ‘Hannibal’ is without a doubt one of the best shows on television. I’m so thrilled that the network has enough faith in the critically acclaimed, but severely ratings-challenged drama to renew it for a third season.”

August 14, 2015: “This was definitely one of the most intelligent, thrilling, artistically creative, and well acted shows on television. Maybe it was too intelligent!”

“THE POLITICIAN”

I loved season one of Ryan Murphy’s “The Politician” and I can’t wait to see season two, which premieres June 19, 2020, on Netflix.

Jessica Lange is mesmerizing as white trash conniver Dusty Jackson!

(Here’s the trailer to season one, so I don’t spoil anything for season two!)

And, I’ve said it before that in “another place and time”, I could see being married to star Ben Platt! 🙂

Here’s a Ben Platt extra — “The Rain” — check out that voice and those moves! 🙂

“HOLLYWOOD”

After watching season one of “The Politician”, I thoroughly enjoyed the seven episode series, “Hollywood” (also from Ryan Murphy).

It’s based on Scotty Bowers’ book, “My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars” and the documentary “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood”.

It’s a very honest and risque look into Tinseltown. It’s amazing that it was so open about “homophobia” and “racism” in Hollywood back in the heyday! (Oh hell, who am I kidding? It’s still rampant today!)

Another bold move for the series was having the mesmerizing Patti LuPone, at 71-years-old, in a lead role.

She plays the wife of a studio head that ignores her at home — in every way — so she hires a young, hot escort!

Their small talk on their first tryst definitely gets “three snaps in a z-formation”! (Quickly scroll past the LuPone GIF if you’re easily offended!)

JACK (David Corenswet): “You want an honest answer?”
AVIS (LuPone):

Now, I’m finally watching all 154 episodes of “The West Wing”!

STILL WATCHING…

I had free HULU for a week this spring, so I watched 20 of the 36 episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

Elizabeth Moss and Ann Dowd are amazing and even though he’s not a nice guy, Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) is so hot!

And, Max Minghella (Nick) is so beautiful in the f***ed up dystopian world of “Handmaid’s”!

“CHROMATICA”

If you’re ready for some fun dance (and disco) music to brighten your days with all of the unrest across the U.S. and the Covid-19 pandemic, Lady Gaga’s new “Chromatica” fits the bill!

My favorite songs on the album are “Free Woman”, “Fun Tonight”, and “911” (makes me think of Murray Head’s “One Night in Bangkok”)!

My other favorites are “Alice”, “Sour Candy” (with the South Korean group Blackpink) and “1000 Doves” — in addition to the first two hits, “Stupid Love” (#5) and “Rain On Me” (#1) with Ariana Grande.

And, I hate to admit that the duet with Elton John doesn’t do much for me, which is shocking since I love both artists! (It was a good song until the last 15 seconds — epic fail to an otherwise decent song!)

Please tell me that when “Enigma” comes on that it sounds like she’s saying “I’ll be your enema” instead of “enigma” if you’re not really paying attention! Maybe it’s just me. 🙂

GRADE: B

However, if the album only consisted of the first ten songs, I’d give it an “A”. But. the last part of the CD brings the grade down!

LADY GAGA JOINS AN ELITE GROUP OF WOMEN

With “Chromatica” debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, it becomes her sixth chart topper!

This places her in a five-way tie for fourth place among women with Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, and Taylor Swift.

Janet Jackson is in third place with seven #1 albums, Madonna is second with nine, and the leader is Barbra Streisand with eleven!!!

Jay-Z leads men with 14 chart toppers and the Beatles lead all artists with 19 #1 albums.

HAPPY 10TH BIRTHDAY “LOVERS”

One of my favorite Kylie Minogue songs turns 10 years old this week. It’s definitely one of the sexiest, button-pushing videos ever!

Due to its erotic nature, the video was banned or censored in many Asian countries including Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia!

Kylie says, “I think, yes, it’s sexy but I also think it’s very touching and sensual and the message is love.”

While the song reached the Top 5 in many countries, it only hit #1 on one chart — the American Dance Club Songs chart! Go U.S.A. deviates! 🙂

The video has been viewed more than 24 million times! 🙂

ALSO READ…

Three books I’ve read this spring on my walks around Lake Decatur are 2004’s “Chasing The Devil: My Twenty-Year Quest to Capture the Green River Killer” by David Reichert.

It covers the notorious serial killer that targeted young prostitutes in the Pacific Northwest.

Also, there was 2009’s “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” by Seth Grahame-Smith — a parody novel/mash-up of Jane Austen’s 1813 classic, “Pride and Prejudice”.

My favorite line in the book was from an annoying character that I prayed would be devoured by zombies! No such luck! 😦

I know of nobody that is coming, I am sure, unless Charlotte Lucas should happen to call in – and I am sure my dinners are good enough for her, since she is an unmarried woman of seven-and-twenty, and as such should expect little more than a crust of bread washed down with a cup of loneliness.”

So catty! Meow!

And, I read “Julie & Julia” (2005) by Julie Powell, which is based on real life.

Many of you know of this book from the 2009 movie starring Oscar Best Actress nominee Meryl Streep as Julia Child and Amy Adams as Julie Powell.

“TALKING TO GIRLS ABOUT DURAN DURAN”

I also finished Rob Sheffield’s humorous look of growing up in the 1980s and how the music ( “best.music.ever” — my description of the 1980s) shaped his life.

DURAN DURAN

Since the book is more about the music and the decade rather than Duran Duran, here are a couple of pictures I took when I saw them on the “Paper Gods Tour” in Las Vegas in 2016.

Here’s a snippet of my 4th favorite Duran Duran song, “The Wild Boys”, live from that concert!

And, here are my three favorite Duran Duran songs!

“HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF

“THE REFLEX”

“IS THERE SOMETHING I SHOULD KNOW?

DURANNIES, YOUR FAVORITE?

Let’s hope this doesn’t start World War 3, but who was/is your favorite?

For me, it’s Roger Taylor!

He’s followed by Simon, John, and Nick. Sorry, Andy!

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

 

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:

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…

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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

Random Friday Thoughts — July 26, 2019

It was great last week sharing some random thoughts with you, along with my funny story involving the movie and the very graphic sex scene! 🙂

This week, I learned first hand to be careful what you write (especially if you have a blog) in today’s technological age!

Thank you for checking out my “Random Friday Thoughts”!

WAIT!  I SAID WHAT???

Writers calls it “foreshadowing”.  I’d probably call it something with expletives!

Five years ago, on the Fourth of July, I reviewed a movie that really touched me and I shared a personal anecdote.

It was the Chilean drama “Gloria” and I said it was one of the best movies I’ve seen in the past few years.”

In it, Paulina Garcia plays Gloria, a 58-year-old divorcee facing single life again after her two grown child moved out.  But, Gloria didn’t just sit at home.  She went out drinking and socializing to meet men — hoping she’d find “the one”.

In that blog, I added, I was so impressed with her strength and determination”.  I also wrote about finally finding “the one” and summed “Gloria” up with “I just couldn’t imagine doing it in my late-50s or 60s!!!”

Wait, what was that again? “I just couldn’t imagine doing it in my late-50s or 60s!!!”

How prophetic in 2014 that I’d be talking about my own life in 2019 as I approach my mid-50s single for over two years!

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Reading that was definitely a “WTF” moment!

However, “I GOT THIS”!  I’ve already shared with you that 2020 is the year for change.  I’ll take back my life and start living again!

#NextChapter2020 and #Pug2020

“Gloria” ended up being one of my 20 favorite movies in 2014.

Here’s how I ended my review of the movie, “Garcia’s heartbreaking performance was amazing and she made me wish that Gloria was my friend.  The role won Garcia the Silver Bear Award for Best Actress at the 63rd Annual Berlin International Film Festival.”

GRADE:  A

“GLORIA BELL”

I absolutely love Julianne Moore, but I had serious reservations about whether I wanted to see director Sebastian Lelio’s re-imagining of his original “Gloria”.

Well, I rented it and Moore and John Turturro were amazing.  Except for Americanizing the soundtrack and Moore freely exposing herself with confidence, I couldn’t wait for the movie to be over!

If you love Moore and you haven’t seen the original, rent it and you’ll enjoy it.  Otherwise, rent the original!

GRADE:  C+

“POSE”

Although the second season debuted back in early June on FX, real life got in the way of me catching up on this amazing drama.

pose

After watching the first episode of season two, “Acting Up”, I saved it to watch again!  It was the absolute best episode of the young, incredible series!

Season two picks up three years after the first season (1987).

Last season, two characters learned they’re HIV-positive.  “Acting Up” is about their fight to stay alive when so many of their friends are dying at an alarming rate and the government could care less about their suffering!

It also touched on the fear of taking the life-saving, but also toxic new drug AZT — the only HIV/AIDS drug available at the time.

pose billy porter

For the first season, Billy Porter (Pray Tell) and the show both picked up Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Television Awards nominations.

Both were just nominated for Emmys this year!  This makes Porter the first openly gay black man to be nominated in the “Outstanding Lead Actor” drama category!

I also wish that Mj Rodriguez (Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista) had gotten a nomination, too.

One final note about season two:  it’s now 1990 and Madonna just released “Vogue”, which brought the underground ball scene of New York City to a mainstream audience!

Here’s Candy (Angelica Ross) in her “Blonde Ambition” best!

Candy as Madonna

Next week, I want to talk about the powerful fourth episode, “Never Knew Love Like This Before”.  Why not this week?  I want to give you a chance to get caught up!

spoiler-alert

“Pose” is already renewed for a third season!

As Pray Tell says, “THE CATEGORY IS LIVE.WORK.POSE.”

FIVE MONTHS TO CHRISTMAS

Christmas is now less than five months away!

Recently, it was announced that actress/singer Lea Michele (“Glee”) will be starring in the ABC holiday movie, “Same Time, Next Christmas”, in December.

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She’ll also be releasing her first Christmas album later this year!

THIS CHRISTMAS(LAND) GIVE ME THE CREEPS

The ten-episode AMC series, “NOS4A2”, wraps up Sunday night and has already been renewed for a second season of Christmas horror!

It’s a “supernatural horror drama” that’s pretty damn creepy because Christmas and child abductions drive the story line.

Zachary Quinto (“Star Trek”) is unrecognizable, at times, as the immortal 135-year-old Charlie Manx!

A young woman, “Vic” McQueen, realizes she has a supernatural ability to track down Manx, who feeds off the souls of children.

He then drops the living, yet soulless kids, off at Christmasland.  It’s a very twisted part of Manx’s imagination where every day is Christmas Day!

By the way, it’s pronounced “Nosferatu”.

GRADE (before the finale):  B

SLOW DOWN CHRISTMAS, LET’S TALK HALLOWEEN!

Last week, Jamie Lee Curtis posted on Twitter that not one, but two more “Halloween” movies are on the way!

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On October 16, 2020, “Halloween Kills” hits theaters and then the following fall on October 15, 2021, “Halloween Ends”!

“Halloween (2018)”, the eleventh movie in the franchise, was critically acclaimed and made $255.5 million worldwide!

Halloween

As we all know, “You can’t kill the boogeyman!”

REMEMBERING LAURA BRANIGAN

Since I talked about “Gloria”, I want to take a moment to memorialize Laura Branigan, who died of a brain aneurysm at her home almost fifteen years on August 26, 2004.

From 1982-1987, she placed seven Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

Of those, three reached the top ten:  the Grammy Award-nominated, “Gloria” (#2, 1982), “Solitaire” (#7, 1983), and “Self Control” (#4, 1984).

While “Gloria” peaked at #2 on the Hot 100, it topped the Cash Box singles chart in the United States in November 1982.

It also hit #1 in Canada and spent seven weeks at the top of the chart in Australia in early 1983.

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.

Celebrity.jpg

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!

AP Shania

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.

Madeleine Albright.jpg

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!

Randy Travis.jpg

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 &amp; 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, &amp; 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.

Molly Sims.jpg

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”)

Dexter-michael-c-hall

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…

Britney

and Mariah Carey once!

MC ALL I WANT VEGAS

So, tell me who you’ve met!

Anthony

Random Thoughts — May 10, 2019

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

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

Dessie 1990

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

IT’S SPRING, BUT NOT SO MUCH IN DULUTH

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

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

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

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

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

REALLY CLASSY PANAMA CITY BEACH! 

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

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

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

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

Sadly, it’s probably true!  Pathetic!

PINK SAID WHAT???? 

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

“FERRARO: MY STORY”

This 1985 autobiography is by Congresswoman Geraldine A. Ferraro.

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

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

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

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

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

“THE BLOOD OF ABRAHAM”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMERICA’S CRY FOR PEACE

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

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

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

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

I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist!

“MADAME X TOUR”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“KILLING EVE” UPDATE

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

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

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

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

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“MURDER ON THE DANCEFLOOR”

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

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

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

MARIAH CHRISTMAS EARLY!

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

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

MC ALL I WANT VEGAS

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

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

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Thoughts — May 3, 2019

Now that May is here and the weather will start being nice on a regular basis (I hope), I’m ready to get out more and enjoy life.

So, I have just a few more blogs to share with you before I go on hiatus.

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts.  Feel free to share your thoughts about what I’m talking about and if we disagree, that’s fine.  Just do it diplomatically!

GET VACCINATED!

I know I probably have friends that don’t believe in vaccinating their children, but this is a subject where we sorely disagree.

If you don’t vaccinate, I’m sure you have your reasons.

I think people, of any age, should be up to date on their shots to help prevent the spread of contagions!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tweeted this on Monday!

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KENT STATE MASSACRE

This weekend marks the 49th anniversary of the Kent State Massacre!

As you recall, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on the campus and the shootings left four students dead.

In May 2000, I was a reporter in Mansfield, Ohio, about 75 miles away from Kent State University and I got to cover the 30th anniversary of the shooting spree.

It was very eerie and I can’t believe that next year will be 50 years!

Here is the report that I filed in 2000.  My apologies for the quality since this was recorded on my phone from TV and VHS!

The story is still great!

2019 BILLBOARD MUSIC AWARDS

The 2019 Billboard Music Awards were amazing! It was a total throwback for me to the fun 1980s American Music Awards — so many great, exciting visual performances!

Madonna & Maluma, Taylor & Brendon Urie, Mariah Carey, Ciara, Paula Abdul and The Jonas Brothers rocked Las Vegas and the MGM Grand, along with Halsey and Kelly Clarkson (both performances)!!!

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I’m still crushing on Brendon!

“KILLING EVE”

We’re midway through the eight-episode second season of BBC America’s “Killing Eve”.

I just finished binge watching the first season’s eight episodes and finally brought myself to start watching the second season.

After the shocking season one finale, I hesitated to start this season because I know I’ll have to wait for the next four episodes to air on television and then wait another year for the third season!

The show is absolutely incredible!

Sandra Oh, who won Best Actress awards in a drama from the Critics’ Choice Television Awards and the Golden Globes, is amazing, as Eve Polastri, an MI5 officer in London.

And, every time that Jodie Comer, who plays psychopathic, hired assassin Villanelle, is on screen, I’m mesmerized!

And, of course, I’m crushing on Sean Delaney, who plays Kenny Stowton, an ex-hacker who has been recruited by Eve in her search for Villanelle!

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“SECOND ACT”

I love Jennifer Lopez and I’m hoping to see her in concert this summer.

Until then, you can catch her on this hit from last winter.  The $16 million comedy brought in $72.3 million in theaters.

Lopez plays Maya Vargas, an assistant manager at a Value Shop store, who is ready for a big promotion after working there for 15 years.

She’s passed over because she doesn’t have a college degree.

On her birthday, she makes a wish that is far-fetched.  But, through the magic of the internet and social media, things start happening for Maya, but it’s based on a lie!

Leah Remini is hilarious and sexy Milo Ventimiglia (“This Is Us”) plays Lopez’s boyfriend.

Okay, the movie is cute, sexy, and funny, but it’s not totally realistic.  But, that’s why we watch some movies!

GRADE: B+

“ON THE BASIS OF SEX”

This movie is based on the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

It covers her life from her college years, when not too many women were enrolled at Harvard Law School, to her trying her first big case.

Felicity Jones (“The Theory of Everything”) plays Bader and dreamy Armie Hammer (“Call Me By Your Name”) plays her husband, Martin Ginsburg.

It’s a well told story and both actors are great, so I recommend it.  However, I’d highly suggest that you watch the superior “RBG” instead or in addition to “On The Basis of Sex”.

GRADE: B

“RBG”

In September 2018, I wrote, “This superb 97-minute feature directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen documents the career of 85-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”  

GRADE: A

“SANTA CLARITA DIET” CANCELLED

I haven’t gotten around to watching the third season of this Netflix comedy.

I guess I should laugh and cherish each episode since it was cancelled!

Where will I watch Timothy Olyphant now?

SPECTRUM “ON DEMAND”

My cable company, Spectrum, is pretty much like any other cable company, most notably, Mediacom — very expensive and very unreliable.

While recently on a customer service call, I was told that “On Demand” is free.

I politely told the agent that while Spectrum may consider it “free” and there may not be a line on my bill that charges me for “On Demand”, when I pay them $140.40 a month, when I turn on the television to watch something on cable, it’s not free!

I was calling because there was a missing episode in season three of “Veep” and there are four missing episodes scattered about in seasons three and four of “Younger”!

“YOUNGER”

Speaking of… I’ve been trying to binge watch the TV Land series, “Younger” for over a year now.

I watched season one last spring while I was still in Panama City.  When I got to Duluth, Minnesota, seasons two through four were not available “On Demand”, yet I did DVR season five.

Now “On Demand”, all five seasons are available with random missing or unavailable episodes.

I’m just finished season four and for the missing episodes, I just read the Wikipedia episode synopsis and ventured on. 😦

“Younger” is from creator and producer Darren Star, who brought us the classics “Beverly Hills, 90120”, “Melrose Place” and “Sex and the City”.

It stars Sutton Foster, as Liza, a 40-year-old recently separated mother of a teenager, who’s trying to jump start her once thriving career.  She tries to get a job in publishing, but she realizes the industry is obsessed with much younger employees!

Her roommate and best friend, Maggie (Debi Mazar), gives her a makeover and she lands a job as a “26-year-old” and works for Diana Trout (a hilarious Miriam Shor) and alongside Kelsey Peters (Hilary Duff).

She meets and falls for young, inked, and insanely sexy Josh (Nico Tortorella), a tattoo artist, who thinks Liza is around his age, mid-20s!

I’ve crushed on Tortorella since he was on the first season of Fox’s “The Following”.

Nico Tortorella

On ‘Younger”, the bisexual/genderfluid actor is absolutely stunning!

And, the sexiness doesn’t end with Tortorella.  There’s also Peter Hermann (Charles) and Dan Amboyer (Thad).

Dan Amboyer

Amboyer (above) came out as gay in 2017 and announced he had married his long-term partner.

And, my new hottie in seasons three and four is Ben Rappaport!

Ben Rappaport

Season six debuts on June 12, 2019, on TV Land.

“ME”

Taylor Swift is back and she seems happy after the awesome, darker 2017 “Reputation” album.

This time she’s teaming up with sexy Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco.

Wonder if there’s going to be a duet with The Dixie Chicks on the new album?

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Thoughts — April 26, 2019

My sister, Tammy, and her boyfriend visited me last week in Duluth, so I didn’t share any random thoughts.

While she was here, we ate some great food and actually won some money at the casino — finally!

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

STILL SHAKING MY HEAD!

So, former Vice President Joe Biden announced he’s running for president in 2020.  Of course, 45 fires off a tweet.

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Two things quickly come to mind!

It’s so encouraging when “that man” vows the race will be “nasty”. (Note, that’s sarcasm!)

It’s even more bizarre when 45 talks about himself the same way his detractors speak of him, “you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick & demented ideas”.    For once, I agree with Trump on something!

And, really, attacking Biden’s intelligence, “long in doubt”.   That’s the pot calling the kettle black!

A similar scenario:  it’s usually the most disgusting guys that are always thinking that gay guys are cruising them or hitting on them!

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“WRITE IT WHEN I’M GONE”

While it may be common, this is the first time I’ve come across this premise for a biography!

President Gerald Ford talked with print journalist Thomas M. DeFrank, the author of “Write It When I’m Gone”, for almost three decades.  The only thing is that nothing they talked about could be published until after Ford’s death.

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What an insightful read!  I’m glad that even after their harsh 1976 election campaign, Ford and my idol, President Jimmy Carter became friends and Carter even spoke at Ford’s January 2007 funeral.

Even though I was on Team Carter in 1976, I’m sure that I would have liked Ford in person!  He seemed down to earth, dearly loved his wife, Betty, and had two golden retrievers, Liberty and her pup, Misty.

LibertyandPuppiesGeraldFord

Here’s what Ford said about gay couples in the years after his short stint as president in the mid-1970s, “I think they ought to be treated equally. Period!” and gays joining and being welcomed by the Republican Party, “I have always believed in an inclusive policy, in welcoming gays and others into the party. I think the party has to have an umbrella philosophy if it expects to win elections.”

“STRONGER THAN THE TRUTH”

Reba’s latest album, “Stronger Than The Truth”, her first country album in four years, debuted at #4 on the Billboard Country Albums chart.

That’s 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 a little for deviating from Reba’s new album!

Reba Truth

This is Reba’s 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 gives us 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 “Stronger Than The Truth” 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”.

“Freedom”, the first official single that radio ignored, is a great song, too.

GRADE:  B+

REBA’s SINGING TO ME

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, from this album it’s not an optimistic song.  It’s a reality check ballad called “The Bar’s Getting Lower”.

In a future blog I’m working on, I’ll go more in depth on this subject!  🙂

MADONNA’S RETURN TO MUSIC

Madonna is back with a new song, Medellín”, which features Colombian hottie Maluma.  Her album, “Madame X” arrives June 14th.

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The video debuted earlier this week on a format that Madonna knows all too well, MTV!

Madonna’s last album was 2015’s “Rebel Heart”.

“MADAM SECRETARY”

The fifth season of this great CBS drama just wrapped with a huge announcement!

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Now it’s up to CBS to renew the show for a sixth season to see how it all plays out.

“VEEP”

The seventh and final season of “Veep”, the Emmy-winning HBO comedy, is airing now.

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I just got caught up on the first six seasons and Julia Louis-Dreyfus is amazing!

The series is so funny and so filthy.  If you want political correctness, you won’t find it here! 🙂

Warning: graphic! 🙂

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In addition to the star being outrageously funny, I absolutely love Sam Richardson as Richard and Tony Hale’s Gary is hilarious!  Poor Gary!

HAPPY 40TH “BAD GIRLS”

This week back in 1979, Donna Summer released her seventh studio album, “Bad Girls”.

Donna-Summer Bad Girls

The double album sold more than two million copies in the U.S. alone and spent six weeks at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart.

The “Bad Girls” album would produce four hits in the U.S. with two of them reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 — “Hot Stuff” for three weeks and the title track for five weeks.

“Dim All The Lights” made it to #2.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony