Posts Tagged ‘Matt Damon’

Oscars, I Disagree in One Acting Category

Finally, I can post this blog after seeing “Carol”.

Although the Oscars were months ago, I didn’t want to agree or disagree with voters on the Academy Awards until I watched each of the movies nominated for Best Picture and the ones featuring acting nominees.

In May, I posted whether I agreed or disagreed with the “Best Picture” category and I suggested some of the movies in that category that you may not have seen yet.  Here’s that blog again.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/05/13/did-oscar-get-it-right-on-best-picture/

Now, on with the acting categories.  I agree with Oscar on three of the four winners!

BEST ACTOR 

I agree that Leonardo DiCaprio won this category hands down for “The Revenant”.

Eddie Redmayne was incredible in “The Danish Girl” and Michael Fassbender was mesmerizing as “Steve Jobs”.

Bryan Cranston is always amazing and his role in “Trumbo was no different.

And, while I enjoyed “The Martian” and Matt Damon’s performance in the movie, I’m still a little surprised he was nominated for the big acting award.

BEST ACTRESS

This was a very tough category because all five women were captivating.  However, unless there had been a tie, Brie Larson was the true winner and was rightfully awarded the Oscar for her heartbreaking performance in “Room”.

I once blogged that Jennifer Lawrence (and Melissa Leo) should be in every movie and she outdid herself in “Joy”.  I know many see it as a movie about a woman and a mop and that would be simplifying it too much.  I loved this movie and Jennifer.

Charlotte Rampling is one of the most underrated actresses working today and if more people saw her in “45 Years”, they’d have to agree.

I admit that it took a turn on the final season of Showtime’s “Dexter” to introduce me to Rampling and her calculated performance in “London Spy” makes me want to check out more of her movies.

I also loved Saoirse Ronan in “Brooklyn”, which was one of my favorite movies of last year. It was amazing and if more people see the movie, I’m sure they’d fall in love with her “Eilis” and Emory Cohen’s “Tony”.

And, then there’s the always captivating Cate Blanchett and her turn in “Carol” was no exception.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

I want to do this supporting category first because I agree that Alicia Vikander won the Academy Award without a doubt playing opposite Best Actor nominee Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl”.

If Vikander hadn’t been in the category, I would have wanted Rooney Mara in “Carol” to win because I fell in love with her just as Cate Blanchett’s Carol did.

It’s interesting that both Vikander and Mara could just as easily been nominated in a less crowded “Best Actress” race.

I’m glad that Jennifer Jason Leigh was nominated in the over-the-top “The Hateful Eight” because I couldn’t take my eyes off her and she kept me laughing.  However, she didn’t deserve to win this category.

Kate Winslet was almost unrecognizable in “Steve Jobs” and the performance was duly recognized by Oscar.

While Rachel McAdams put in a strong performance in the “Best Picture” winner “Spotlight”, her reward was the nomination.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Here’s where my agreement with the Academy voters ends.  They chose Mark Rylance for “Bridge of Spies” as the winner.  It was a great performance opposite Tom Hanks in the Steve Spielberg movie.

But, there are two other actors in the category that I thought deserved the gold statuette more.

Before the Oscars, odds makers put their money on Sylvester Stallone picking up the award for his latest installment as Rocky Balboa in “Creed”.  I agree with them.

And, if it wasn’t Stallone, I would have given the award to Tom Hardy for his villainous performance opposite Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”.

The other nominees in the category were Christian Bale in “The Big Short” (incredibly quirky and unrecognizable) and Mark Ruffalo in “Spotlight” (solid performance, but not worthy of Oscar).

oscar-statues-02

Now that it’s taken me almost five months to finally post this blog after seeing all of the Best Picture and acting category movies, the 89th annual Academy Awards is just seven months away — February 26, 2017.

Anthony

 

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Did Oscar Get It Right on “Best Picture”?

This is not BREAKING NEWS!

The 88th annual Academy Awards were almost three months ago and this is not a spoiler:  “Spotlight”, Leo, Brie, Alicia, and Mark came away as the winners in the movie and acting categories.

Oscar-Nominations-2014

It’s taken me this long to see all of the nominees (the exception is “Carol”, which hopefully, I’ll get around to seeing next weekend — sorry Cate and Mara!)

So, did Oscar voters get it right?  Maybe I should rephrase that — “Do I agree with the Hollywood vote casters?  Yes, except for one category.

If you’ve already seen them, feel free to weigh in.  Here are my short reviews.

BEST PICTURE

The nominees:  “The Big Short”, “Bridge of Spies”, “Brooklyn”, “Mad Max:  Fury Road”, “The Martian”, “The Revenant”, “Room”, and “Spotlight”.

And, the Academy Awards goes to:  “Spotlight”!

“SPOTLIGHT”

This incredible story is about the Boston Globe’s investigation that broke open the Catholic church sex scandal and cover-up.

The acting was above par with Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams both picking up Best Supporting Actor and Actress nominations, respectively.  For both of those actors, I agree that “it’s an honor to be nominated”.  Like Oscar, I think someone else in the categories shined brighter.

GRADE:  B+

“THE BIG SHORT”

This movie about the housing bust is very talky with very little physical action and that’s a good thing.

Ryan Gosling was awesome, as always, and an almost unrecognizable Christian Bale was very intruiging.  Bale picked up a nomination for “Best Supporting Actor”, but I didn’t pick him as the winner in that category.

GRADE:  B

“BRIDGE OF SPIES”

This Steven Spielberg directed “Cold War” caper was an enjoyable movie starring the always stellar Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance, who won the Oscar for “Best Supporting Actor”.

GRADE:  B

“BROOKLYN”

I saw this Oscar-nominated Best Picture on the flight to China and what a beautiful love story it turned out to be.

Best Actress nominee Saoirse Ronan was heartbreaking as Eilis, a 1950s woman living in New York City and having to choose between the man she met and loves in the U.S. and a charming man back home in Ireland.

GRADE:  A

P.S.  I would have loved to see Saoirse and my dreamboat, Ben Whishaw on Broadway this spring in “The Crucible”.

Ben_Whishaw.jpg

Damn you, Tony Awards, for snubbing them both! (Okay, different blog at a different time!)

“MAD MAX: FURY ROAD”

I’ve never seen any of the previous “Mad Max” movies and since they star the hateful Mel Gibson, that’s a good thing.

As beautiful as Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron are, I admit that during the first thirty minute of this movie, my thoughts were “WTF”.  Oh, if that’s too harsh for your sensitivities, I was thinking, “WTH”!

But, then it all started making sense and the movie blew me away.  I want to see it again just to marvel at director George Miller’s brilliance.

GRADE:  B

“THE MARTIAN”

Here’s what I wrote in my “Random Friday Thoughts — February 19, 2016”:

“I finally got around to see this $614.2 million dollar blockbuster that’s nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor for star, Matt Damon.

Everyone (and their mother) has already seen this, so I won’t write a long review.  I loved this movie much better than “Gravity”, which I didn’t like, and I haven’t seen “Interstellar”.

Damon does a great job in the role, but Oscar winning-worthy?  No.

My biggest complaint — the 2 hour, 21 minute running time was excessive and I think the movie could have been just as entertaining 30 minutes shorter.

GRADE:  A-

“THE REVENANT”

This movie took home three Academy Awards (“Best Actor” for Leonardo DiCaprio, Alejandro G. Inarritu for “Best Director”, and Emmanuel Lubezki for “Best Cinematography”).

The cinematography was breathtaking and beautiful.  While the movie was brutal, graphic, and realistic, you couldn’t take your eyes off the screen.

When I’m watching a movie and there’s an animal that is killed or injured, I tell myself that it’s a “Holly (insert animal here)” for “Hollywood (fake) animal”.  Well, there were many “Holly animals” in this one. 🙂

GRADE:  A

“ROOM”

From my “Random Friday Thoughts — March 11, 2016”:

“When I read the blockbuster book, “Room” by Emma Donough, I didn’t know what I’d think of the movie adaptation when it was announced.  Even after seeing the trailer last summer, I still was unsure.

However, after watching the potent movie that earned star Brie Larson this year’s Best Actress Oscar, my reservations were unfounded.

Because I had read the book, tears were streaming down my face after just the first ten minutes of the movie.  Tears continue to fall at different times in the movie.

GRADE:  A

So, there you have all eight nominees for “Best Picture”, the Oscar winner, and my grades.

You’ll notice that my top picks (based on grades) were “Brooklyn”, “The Revenant”, and “Room”.  If it was based solely on that, I’d say Oscar was wrong.

It was definitely a hard choice for me for “Best Picture” between “The Revenant” and “Spotlight”.  However, with the social message, the real life emotions, and the changes it brought in humanity, “Spotlight” rightfully won the Oscar.

And, I want to add that Oscar was correct honoring Inarritu for “Best Director” and Lubezki for “Best Cinematography” for “The Revenant”.

Soon, I’ll blog about the acting categories since I still need to see “Carol”.  As of now, I agree with three of the four winners.

Stay tuned  or coming soon, whichever you like best.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts –February 19, 2016

I hope you enjoyed the week and are ready for the weekend.

It’s been an interesting week since my last “Random Friday Thoughts” — Valentine’s Day, a snowstorm for Iowa and Illinois, the return of “The Walking Dead”, and warmer temperatures!

Have a fun weekend and thank you for checking out my thoughts today.

YOUR COMPASSION IS HEARTWARMING

Last Friday, I shared with you a vile response to a blog I posted on why I support Hillary Clinton for president.  It was one of my most viewed blogs on the day it was posted since  I started writing my blog four years ago.

MrazLoveAlbumCover

The feedback and compassion you extended to me was incredible and greatly appreciated.  I know there are so many more great people in this world than the jerks — they just spew their hate openly and loudly.

As I told many of you in my responses, rude comments like that tick me off.  However, it doesn’t hurt my feelings because being in the public eye, I’ve developed a tough skin.

Something it proves is that as much progress as we’ve made in this country, there’s still so much more work to be done before we reach equality — not just for the LGBT community, but for women, race, pay, and the list goes on and on.

Again, thank you!

LoveEqualityFormula

SUPREME COURT JUSTICE DEAD

Speaking of equality, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a man that made a career of voting against it, died at a Texas resort last weekend at the age of 79.

Since I was just talking about compassion, I’ll just say that I feel for his wife and their nine children.

Since the word “hate” is such a vile word, I didn’t “hate” Scalia, but I disliked him with strong convictions because of his long history of being anti-gay in his court decisions.

NATALIE COLE’S FAMILY UPSET ABOUT THE GRAMMYS

The family of singer Natalie Cole, who died on December 31, 2015, at the age of 65, is upset with the “shameless” tribute she received at Monday night’s Grammys compared to other musicians that were memorialized.

Cole’s son, Robert Adam Yancy told “Entertainment Weekly”, “Here is a woman who has been in the business for four decades, had 21 Grammy nominations and won nine Grammys. She deserves more than a minute-and-a-half tribute.”

Cole was remembered in a photo montage, while Lady Gaga performed a seven-minute musical tribute to David Bowie, who won two Grammys in his career.  (I’m torn writing this because Gaga was incredible.  It’s the principle I’m addressing here!)

There were also tributes to Maurice White (of Earth, Wind, & Fire), winner of seven Grammys, Glenn Frey of the Eagles (six Grammys) and Lemmy Kilmister (of Motorhead) with only one Grammy win.

One one other music tribute was to a musician who won more Grammys than Cole, B. B. King  (15 Grammys).

So, there’s my tribute video to Cole and not the others!

OKAY, I COULDN’T RESIST

Here’s Lady Gaga’s amazing tribute to David Bowie from the Grammys.

STARS READING “MEAN TWEETS”

These always crack me up because the entertainers make the best of a bad situation.  On the other hand, mean people really do suck!

What troopers — to read what idiots say about them!

“THE PEOPLE VS. O.J. SIMPSON”

We all know the story — a savage double murder in the posh Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles in 1994 involving the wife of a famed football star.

A botched (?) criminal case that allowed a murderer (?) to walk free!

Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk (“American Horror Story”) are behind the new Fox series “American Crime Story:  The People v. O.J. Simpson” (notice the similar title).

This 10-episode series event is going behind the story to share details that we may not remember from the headlines or the circus that was the murder trail against Simpson.

After watching the first two episodes, I’m intrigued with the detailed story telling and the acting of Sarah Paulson (Marcia Clark), John Travolta (Robert Shapiro), and Courtney B. Vance (Johnnie Cochran).

However, Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. as O.J. Simpson is a hard sell for me.  One, Gooding doesn’t remind me that much of Simpson and, two, the constant whining and ranting is annoying.  I’m totally not buying him as O.J.!

Overall, a great show and it hasn’t even gotten to the trail yet!

YES, BEYONCE IS BLACK!

I’m sure you already know that Beyonce is black.  If not, she is!  And, remember that expression from the 1960s that “Black is Beautiful” and Bey is definitely beautiful.

Bey1

The most recent controversy with Beyonce started on February 6th when she released the “Formation” video, which features references to New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina black culture, racism, and police.

She performed the song the next day at “Super Bowl 50” and more controversy ensued from conservatives thinking she was promoting too much black — power, the Black Panthers, and Black Lives Matter.

Former New York City Major Rudy Giuliani vented, “This is football, not Hollywood, and I thought it was really outrageous that she used it as a platform to attack police officers who are the people who protect her and protect us, and keep us alive.”

While “Formation” won’t have the same radio success as “Crazy in Love”, “Irreplaceable”, and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”, pop and R&B/Hip Hop stations are already playing it!

For the record, Beyonce has had huge success on the pop chart (Billboard Hot 100) with 26 hits, fifteen of which hit the Top Ten, and five of those went all the way to #1.

However, she’s had more success on the R&B/Hip Hop charts — 38 hits, 23 of which made the Top Ten, and 8 topped the chart.

And, this is not even counting her hits with Destiny’s Child!

“SNL” NAILS IT AGAIN!

“ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY” IS BECOMING GREEDY

I’m a huge fan of “Entertainment Weekly” and I look forward to my magazine each week even though I can find much of the same information online from their website and tweets.

It used to be that they’d have a feature series with several cover photos and present them all in the issue.  You’d just flip the cover and there’d be the next one.

That would have been perfect for this week’s “The Walking Dead” feature with six different collector edition covers.  However, they randomly picked which cover you’d get.  But, you could purchase the other five covers!

Seriously?

Rick EW.jpg

While I wanted Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), I got Daryl Dixon.  As much as I love the show, there’s no way I’d buy the other five!

Greedy!

29 AND ANCHORING IN NEW YORK CITY?  NO WAY!

If you’re familiar with how the television news business works, you know you start out at small market stations and work there for a couple of years before moving on to a larger market.

You work there for a couple of years and then move on again.  You continue this process until you get to the big markets (New York City is the largest TV market followed by Los Angeles and Chicago).

If you’re very talented and you luck out, you might skip one of these ladder jumping moves.  Or, maybe there’s other factors.

I’m not saying that 29-year-old Stefan Holt, the son of “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, isn’t talented, but…

The younger Holt graduated college and interned at KABC in Los Angeles and with NBC News in London before joining the ABC affiliate in West Palm Beach, Florida, as a reporter and fill-in anchor.  This is market  #38 out of 210 (the smallest).  It’s unusual to get your first job in a market that size.

After just two years there, he moved on to NBC5 in Chicago (market #3) as a reporter and weekend morning anchor.  Holt was promoted to weekday mornings just months later where he worked for five years.

Again, 29 and anchoring in the biggest television market in the country!  What’s next? Filling in for his dad on “NBC Nightly News”?

JUSTIN BIEBER

Okay, first things first about Justin Bieber.

I bought his “Purpose” album last fall and it’s a great album and has already produced four huge hits, including three #1s, “What Do You Mean”, “Sorry”, and “Love Yourself”, and my favorite 2015 Bieber hit, the Grammy Award-winning “Where Are U Now”  with Skrillex and Diplo.

And, if you haven’t noticed, Justin is gorgeous and I feel more comfortable saying that now that he’s a man — over 18 years old!

Bieber

However, I was a little freaked out by music executive and producer L.A.Reid’s description of Bieber in his new book, “Sing To Me”.

Reid says, “this kid was beautiful, like a woman can be beautiful and men rarely are, and he turned it on as soon as he stepped into the room.”.

This one sounds more innocent and I totally agree, “Justin was simply beautiful.  His superpower was his face.”

PICK HIT

Zayn Malik, another sexy and beautiful man, who left the boy band One Direction for a solo career, is off to a great start.

“Pillowtalk” debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100 and is burning up the radio airwaves.  It’s already on the short list of my favorite songs of 2016.  I know, it’s only February!

The video is pretty erotic and steamy, too!

Malik’s debut album, “Mind of Mine”, comes out March 25, 2016.

“THE MARTIAN”

I finally got around to see this $614.2 million dollar blockbuster that’s nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor for star, Matt Damon.

Everyone (and their mother) has already seen this, so I won’t write a long review.  I loved this movie much better than “Gravity”, which I didn’t like, and I haven’t seen “Interstellar”.

Damon does a great job in the role, but Oscar winning-worthy?  No.

My biggest complaint — the 2 hour, 21 minute running time was excessive and I think the movie could have been just as entertaining 30 minutes shorter.

GRADE:  A-

“THE OVERNIGHT”

In stark contrast to “The Martian” in running time, “The Overnight” is one hour, 18 minutes long and it works in a lot in that short time.

A couple with a small son move from Seattle to Los Angeles where they meet another father and son playing in the park one day.  Since they don’t know anyone and the boys get along, they’re invited to a pizza party.

At the party, after much alcohol and the boys go to bed, the foursome talk about everything, including sex.  Inhibitions are lowered and tempers flare when insecurities surface.

The question becomes will they or won’t they and how will that change the course of the relationships — between each couple and the two couples’ friendship.

GRADE:  B

“FREEHELD”

This movie is an expansion of the Oscar-winning “Best Short Documentary” in 2007 with the same name.

This 2015 film stars Oscar winner Julianne Moore as Laurel Hester, a 23-year veteran of the police force in Orange County, New Jersey.

She sues after finding out she has lung cancer and her request to have her domestic partner receive her benefits is denied.  Oscar nominee Ellen Page (“Juno”) plays her love interest, Stacie.

The acting is superb not only from the female leads, but also from Michael Shannon, Hester’s partner on the police force, and Luke Grimes, a closeted police colleague.

However, watching the movie, it did feel like a Lifetime movie.  And, that’s not a bad thing.

This is based on a true story.

GRADE:  B

“TRUTH”

This movie focuses on the authenticity of documents reported by “60 Minutes” on CBS from iconic news anchor Dan Rather during George W. Bush’s 2004 presidential re-election campaign.

The controversy called into question if Bush received preferential treatment while he served in the Texas Air National Guard in the early-1970s.

Robert Redford stars as Rather in the last days of his career at CBS, but the focus of the movie is on Mary Mapes, Rather’s producer on the investigative piece.

Mapes is played by two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett.  As expected, she is flawless.  Yet, even she couldn’t save this movie and make it a thriller.

GRADE:  C

THAT’S IT

I think that’s enough thoughts for one week.  As always, thank you for taking the time to check out my randomness!  Feel free to share your thoughts with me — as long as you’re diplomatic.

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — October 4

Another weekend is here and I’m taking advantage of this one to relax.

While it will feel like summer Friday with highs in the 80s, storms Friday night and Saturday will cool us off.  By Sunday, highs only in the 50s and morning lows in the 30s to around 40° are likely.  This will be the coolest day in the Quad Cities since Memorial Day weekend.

So, I’m thinking a big pot of chili for comfort food, popcorn, watching the first season of “Bates Motel”, and enjoying a nice fire in the fireplace with champagne!

champagne

Here are my random thoughts this week.  Whether you agree or disagree, let me know!

POSTAGE STAMP INCREASE… AGAIN?

To my friends that work for the United States Postal Service (USPS), I hope things work out for you.  With that being said, I’m on the verge of cutting my last ties with the mail service!

The USPS is proposing ANOTHER first-class stamp increase from 46 to 49 cents in January 2014 to try to offset its loss of $6 billion dollars this year.

USPS

I only use stamps once a year at Christmas when I mail out about 150 holiday cards.  I love sending Christmas cards and wishes each year and I wouldn’t mind paying the extra three cents for a stamp if I felt the USPS was serious about trying to save its floundering business.

Why do we still have Saturday mail delivery?  Think of how much money could be saved without that service (The Postmaster General has even asked that Saturday mail delivery be cut for most customers, which would save an estimated $2 billion per year)!

If people really needed to mail something on Saturday, there are substations in many grocery stores and other businesses.

So, if you’re on my Christmas mailing list, this may be the last card you get from me!  And, if you haven’t seen them yet, here are two of the new Christmas stamps for 2013.

2013 Poinsettia Stamp Christmas Cleveland MOA

ERASURE CHRISTMAS ALBUM UPDATE

Three weeks ago, I blogged about Erasure’s first Christmas album, “Snow Globe”, coming out in the U.S. on November 12th.

Erasure Snow Globe

Here’s a first listen to Andy and Vince on “Silent Night”.

ANOTHER EMMY AWARDS THOUGHT

If you, like me, were not one of the 17.6 million people watching the Primetime Emmy Awards two Sundays ago, you missed Michael Douglas winning the Best Actor award for playing Liberace in “Behind The Candelabra” (if you want to read more about the movie from my blog last week, type in “Liberace” in the blog search engine in the top right).

Douglas Emmy Awards

In his acceptance speech, Douglas looked down to his co-star, Matt Damon, who was also nominated, and said, “You really deserve half of this.  So, you want the bottom or the top?  Top?  I figured that!”  Too funny!

If you’ve seen the movie, you know what he’s talking about since it’s part of pivotal scene.  If you haven’t seen the movie yet, it wouldn’t take much to figure it out. 🙂

COULD THERE BE EMMY CONFUSION NEXT YEAR?

The hit Netflix series, “Orange Is The New Black” is a critical and fan favorite.

The series focuses on Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a Connecticut woman living in New York City, who is sentenced to 15 months in a women’s federal prison for transporting a suitcase full of drug money for her former lover ten years ago.

Orange is the New Black

The series also stars Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset.  Sophia is a transgender woman who’s in prison for credit-card fraud and she’s the hairdresser for many of the inmates. Outside of the prison walls, she has a son with her wife, Crystal.

Laverne Cox

Cox, the actress that plays Sophia is also transgender in real life.

If Cox gets the attention of Emmy votes, would they be progressive (and educated) enough to nominate her in the right category of Outstanding Supporting Actress?

ACRONYMS & LABELS CAN BE CONFUSING

Back in the day, there was the “gay community”, which covered both gays and lesbians.  But, then as society began to educate itself on sexual orientation and sexual identity, a couple more terms, bisexual and transgender were added to that community.

LGBT

So, when you see “LGBT”, it refers to people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (those who deviate from their assigned gender at birth, including transsexuals, cross-dressers, drag queens and kings, genderqueers, and others).

In the coming months and years, there will be more and more court cases and publicity around transgender men and women.  Advocates are working harder to ensure that someone born with a penis, but has always identified as being female, is not discriminated against and called a “man”.  This blurs lines and it’s not cut and dry or one or the other.

I’m bringing this up because I was reading an article last week and it was about a person that was identified as “genderqueer trans masculine person”.  While it would take some thought to figure that one out, I have a simple solution.  Just refer to this human as a “person” and love them just the same.

While it’s easy to label someone, the shoe doesn’t always fit.

As for me, you can call me “gay”.  However, I don’t like the term “homosexual”.  To me, that sounds like a medical term from before 1973 when being gay was still considered a “mental disorder.”

MOST POWERFUL 5 MINUTES TO SIMPLIFY MY LAST COMMENTS

While those terms I just described can label a person, it does so with class.  As we all know, there are other hurtful terms that people use to identity people in the LGBT community.

Check out this incredible, heart-wrenching video, “Define Me”, from New York City singer and songwriter, Ryan Amador, along with Jo Lampert.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Black Sheep Crazy Ass Eat Well

EUROPE IS ONLY TWO WEEKS AWAY NOW!

With that last “Food For Thought” in mind, Ray and I have to work very hard over the next two weeks to get to a chosen, acceptable weight as we embark on our first European cruise to celebrate Ray’s 50th birthday this past August.

Sound of Music Cruise

When Betty was here recently, I had five buffets in four nights and then last week we celebrated my sister’s birthday by eating out and having cake!!!

Our goal is to lose five to ten pounds before October 18th, which is also the date of my annual physical.  I guess this means other than a pizza buffet for my upcoming birthday, all buffets will be put off until November. 🙂

“WORK BITCH” OR “WORK WORK”?

Britney Spears is racing up the chart with the first release from her new studio album that comes out on December 3rd.  The video debuted earlier this week.

Britney Las Vegas

Two versions of the song were serviced to pop stations across the country.  One changes the title, which is said many times in the song, from “Work Bitch” to “Work Work”.  Here in the Quad Cities, one station is playing the “Bitch” version (my preference) and one is playing the sanitized “Work Work” version.

KHHM program director Pattie Moreno says, “Britney, can you please put out a record out without the word ‘bitch’ in it?  Please, can you help a girl out?”  (If you recall, her last hit, “Scream & Shout” with will.i.am, featured Brit Brit saying her classic line, “It’s Britney, Bitch”.)

However, WNOW New York PD Gillette is playing the original version and adds, “‘Bitch’ is not a dirty word. “No complaints so far. Plus, it’s a great dance track.”

I have one to say, “you’d better work”.  Oh wait, that’s another song!

The bottom line is “It’s Britney, Bitch”!

“PRISONERS”, “DON JON”, & “LOOSE CANNONS”

Two new big movies hit theaters this weekend.  There’s “Gravity”, which already has Oscar buzz for star Sandra Bullock.  The sci-fi thriller also stars George Clooney.  Also, “Runner Runner”, a thriller with Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake, makes its wide release debut.

If those movies don’t appeal to you, I have a couple of suggestions.  We saw a double feature last weekend of “Prisoners” and “Don Jon”.

Prisoners

If you want a psychological thriller that will make you cringe and eat your popcorn nervously, check out “Prisoners” with Academy Award nominees Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, and Terrence Howard, along with Oscar winner Melissa Leo.

The movie focuses on the disappearance of two little girls on Thanksgiving Day and what lengths one desperate parent (Jackman) would go to get a confession out of the suspect, Alex (Paul Dano).

In a weaker Oscar race year, I think that Jackman would have a chance for a nomination.   But, with many buzzed about performances coming up before Christmas, I’m thinking he’ll just have to relish his nomination last year for “Les Miserables”.

However, I think Melissa Leo could get nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category for her portrayal of Alex’s religious aunt.

GRADE:  A-

Don Jon

This directorial debut of actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who also wrote the screenplay, is a solid effort.  While porno movies and masturbation play an integral part in the comedy, it’s really a love story!

In no way am I a prude, however, the first part of movie made me think that I was watching some “adults only” site online and it started out as a strong “R-rated” movie that bordered on “NC-17”.

In the movie, Gordon-Levitt plays Jon Martello, a New Jersey bartender that loves God, his family, his apartment, his car, his boys, his girls. and his porn.  He’s totally satisfied with one-night stands and fulfilling his sex life “alone” until he meets the perfect woman, Barbara, played with perfection by Scarlett Johansson.

He loves his movies (porn) and she loves her movies (romantic comedies).  Once they start spending the night together, she discovers that he likes to, um, be alone in the other room after they have intimate time together.  She gives him an ultimatum — her or the porn.

Again, it sound very adult in nature and it is.  But, the bottom line, it’s a comedy that has heart and it’s a love story.

While entertaining, you could definitely wait and see it on DVD.

GRADE:  B

Loose_Cannons

“Loose Cannons” (Mine Vaganti ) is a critically acclaimed 2010 Italian comedy that is just now coming out on DVD in the United States.

It focuses on the Cantones, a pasta making family in conservative southern Italy.  At a family dinner one night, the youngest son, Tommaso, is going to “come out” to his family.  Before he does, his older brother, Antonio, who runs the factory announces to his family that he’s gay!

Their father has a heart attack at the table and he kicks Antonio out of the house and the business.

While there’s plenty of secrets and drama, this is a comedy.

It’s also an award-winning movie.  It was nominated for 13 David di Donatello Awards (the Italian equivalent to the American Oscar), including Best Film.   The film picked up two awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

GRADE:  A

PICK HIT OF THE WEEK

Okay, this week, today’s selection is more of a featured song than a pick hit.  It’s from the movie, “Loose Cannons”.

I fell in love with the song, “Una Notte a Napoli” by the Portland, Oregon, band, Pink Martini, featuring vocalist China Forbes, who is the cousin of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

The song was featured on their second album, “Hang On Little Tomato” from 2004, which is sung in seven different languages!

I’M FINALLY READING A BOOK!

For years, my magazines have been stacking up.

I finally organized all of the “Rolling Stone”, “Time”, “Men’s Health”, “Details”, and “Boston Magazine” issues and read the stories that appealed to me.  Since those subscriptions expired, I only get “Entertainment Weekly”, “The Advocate”, “Instinct”, and “Out”.  (I just ordered “Time” again!)

Since I’m totally caught up on magazines until the new “EW” arrives later today, I grabbed the book, “Golden Days:  Memories of a Golden Retriever” by Arthur Vanderbilt to read.

Golden Days

I bought the 1999 book shortly after its release when Miss ABBA, my late golden, was just a puppy.  I think it’s finally time to read it!

Since I haven’t read a book in five years, I don’t think the 143-page story of Amy, a New England golden retriever and the bonds she formed with her people, will overwhelm me!

Actress Betty White says of the book, “Once someone has had the good fortune to share a true love affair with a golden retriever, one’s life and one’s outlook are never quite the same again. A warm afterglow remains that lasts a lifetime. The author is fluent in that language.”

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

The Beatles’ John Lennon would have turned 73 next week on October 9th.

Outside of the Beatles, Lennon, as a solo artist, scored 13 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

John Lennon NYC

Of those hits, two reached the top of the charts:  1974’s “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night” and “(Just Like) Starting Over”, which was released in October 1980, but it reached #1 three weeks after Lennon was murdered outside his apartment in New York City on December 8, 1980, at the age of 40.

“Nobody Told Me” reached #5 on the Hot 100 in 1984 more than three years after he died, marking his last Top 40 chart appearance.

Happy Birthday, John!  Your wisdom and your humanity are greatly missed in today’s world.

“BATES MOTEL”

Have yourself a great weekend and make the most of it.  We’re spending it with Norman and Norma Bates.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — September 27, 2013

It’s Friday and this is my first blog of the fall season.  Happy Autumn!

Fall

Miss Betty was here last weekend and this weekend, it’s just me and Ray.  I really wanted to go to Chicago to see the Pet Shop Boys in concert, but that didn’t work out.  So, we’re planning on going to a few yard sales before the rain Saturday and then do a double feature at the movies!

I hope you have a great weekend and I appreciate you checking out my random thoughts.

SUMMER’S LAST HURRAH –SORTA!

Last Friday, the second to last full day of summer, I was shocked to see this weather observation from Monticello, Iowa, which is about 80 miles northwest of the Quad Cities.

Monticello Weather

While that 129° reading would have beat the old Iowa state record of 118°, what is even more incredible is the dew point of 127°, which is not even achievable on Earth.  The combination of the temperature and the dew point produced a heat index of 459°!!!!!

The weather sensor at the airport there is now corrected!

THIS MAKES ME SMILE

Former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter, Barbara, are supporters of marriage equality.  However, that support ends with her husband, George W. Bush, the 43rd U.S. President.  At least that was his opinion in 2004 since he won’t comment on the subject today.

However, this past weekend, his father, George H.W. Bush, the 41st U.S. President, was an official witness at the same-sex wedding of two longtime friends, Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen in Kennebunk, Maine.

George H.W. Bush

I love how he rocks the one red and one blue sock!  And, Barbara looks very happy at the ceremony.

George Barbara

This gives me hope!

Sadly, the next two thoughts are more about despair!

NOT EVERYONE THINKS RUSSIA IS WRONG

Six American organizations have joined a worldwide coalition of more than 100 conservative groups that are behind Russia’s anti-gay legislation.  One of those groups, World Congress of Families, is located right here in northern Illinois, in Rockford.

Larry Jacobs, the managing editor of the organization, says, “Even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has shown that sexually transmitted diseases, drug use and suicide rates are significantly higher among what it discreetly calls a ‘sexual minority.’  CDC data also demonstrates that there is much greater health risks among teenagers who practice homosexuality than those who do not engage in homosexual behavior.”

Jacobs_Family_Christmas

Jacobs adds, “All the law does is to prohibit advocacy aimed at involving minors in a lifestyle that would imperil their physical and moral health.”

Sadly, I’m more concerned with the lies, the close-minded attitudes, and the “family values” he’s teaching his own children!

WHO OWNS THE RAINBOW?

Scott Lively, who runs Abiding Truth Ministries, a church dedicated to combating “the homosexual agenda” in Springfield, Massachusetts, is a staunch supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s calling him “the defender of Christian civilization”.  (Maybe Lively should move to Russia to show his love!)

Scott Lively

Recently, Lively made a recommendation to Russian Olympic officials to fly a rainbow banner over the games to steal the thunder of gay activists that plan on rainbow-bombing the games.  His reasoning?  To show “the global homosexual movement” that “the rainbow belongs to God”!

Rainbow Unicorn

Really?  What is he going to tell me next?  That God doesn’t want to share unicorns with the LGBT community either?

ROSIE HAS A VALID POINT

And, I have one more thought in this arena before I move on to happier topics.

Over the years, I’ve been indifferent about out lesbian actress and former talk show host, Rosie O’Donnell.  While I loved her on “Nip/Tuck” as Dawn Budge, she definitely could get under my skin with some of her comments.

I’ve never thought of her as a spokesperson for the entire gay community, just as my comments are likely not supported by all in the LGBT community,.  However, I admire the fact that she speaks out.

Rosie O'Donnell

O’Donnell recently said this about the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and it got me to rethinking my thoughts about supporting a boycott.

She says, “I have really mixed feelings about it. Part of me feels yes, we should boycott it. And part of me feels trepidation about all those athletes, some of whom are gay, who have spent their entire lives waiting for this moment that only comes once every four years. Would it be better if America went there and everyone wore a rainbow flag on their arms? I don’t know. It’s a very tough decision. You know, when I hear those stories about what’s going on in Russia, you know, we have to remind ourselves of the amount of gay bashing that happens in our country. Although ours is not sanctioned by the president — you know, Putin seems to be very pro-gay-bashing — it still occurs in our country at a rate that is shameful.

Great point about the gay bashing that takes place here at home!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Heaven Earth Hell

GagaHold It

CHER FINALLY MAKES BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

This has been a very big week for Cher.  Yes, that Cher!

Cher Closer To The Truth

The 67-year-old entertainment icon released “Closer To The Truth”, her first new studio album in almost twelve years (“Living Proof” came out in late 2001) and she announced the dates of her “Dressed To Kill” tour that kicks off in the spring.

Cher

Her last road trip, the “Farewell Tour” ended in 2005 after playing 325 dates in twenty countries over three years.

The “Dressed To Kill” tour kicks off in March 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona, and will hit 49 cities wrapping up about four months later in San Diego, California.

Earlier in the week, she performed on the “Today” show and said, “The road is horrible, but the concerts are great.  I understand why guys in bands tear up hotel rooms and throw TVs out the windows, because it’s a very lonely place. The only time you have fun is at the concerts.”

Cher Dressed to Kill Tour

If you live in the Midwest, she’ll be playing in St. Louis, MO (June 4), Milwaukee, WI (June 6), Chicago, IL (June 7), Des Moines, IA (June 9), and Minneapolis, MN (June 11).

The first single from the new album, “Woman’s World” didn’t get mainstream radio airplay, but it became her latest #1 hit on the Billboard Dance chart.

Des Moines, here we come!

“BEHIND THE CANDELABRA”

This past Sunday night, “Behind The Candelabra”, Stephen Soderbergh’s HBO movie based on the life of flamboyant pianist Liberace won an incredible, record-tying eleven awards for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie at the Primetime Emmys.  “Eleanor and Franklin”, in 1976, also won eleven Emmys.

Behind The Candelabra

Oscar winner Michael Douglas also picked up the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie playing Liberace beating out his co-star, Matt Damon, who played Liberace’s much younger lover, Scott Thorson.

The movie covers the last ten years of Liberace’s life and the ups-and-downs of the couple’s relationship.  The movie is based on Thorson’s book, “Behind The Candelabra:  My Life With Liberace”, which was published after the entertainer’s death in 1987 of AIDS-related complications.

With that being said, it does paint Liberace in more of a negative light and Thorson as an innocent teenager that was taken in and controlled by the entertainer, who was in his 50s when their relationship started.

I mentioned “innocent”, when talking about Thorson, because he’s had many run-ins with the law including an arrest earlier this year in Reno, Nevada, for burglary and using a credit card without consent.

As I watched the movie, I kept that in mind and told myself that Liberace (“Lee”) probably wasn’t as mean as he was portrayed in the movie.  Instead, I marveled at how Douglas disappeared in the role as the over-the-top piano man.

matt-damon-behind_the_candelabra-02rob-lowe-behind_the_candelabra-01

“Behind The Candelabra” also picked up Emmys for Outstanding Costumes, Hairstyling, Makeup (Non-Prosthetic), and Prosthetic Makeup.

It was incredible how the makeup artists made Damon, who’s in his early-40s, look like a teenager when he met Liberace.  Also, sexy Rob Lowe was almost unrecognizable as Liberace and Scott’s plastic surgeon.

Everything was lavish and over-the-top.  The $23 million movie that was finally picked up by HBO Films because Hollywood movie companies said it was “too gay” to gamble on was a fabulous two hours of entertainment.

GRADE:  A

It just saddens me that Liberace lived in an era (not so much different from today for some lead actors) where he had to pretend to be straight and that he just hadn’t found the right woman for him to settle down and marry.

liberace

Gay?  No way!  Who would have even imagined such a thought?  But, seriously, showmanship and acting can only get you so far.  🙂

VEGAS REGRET

When I was in Las Vegas in 1993, the Liberace Museum was still opened.  I wanted to visit it, but my friend that I was traveling with, Dennis, did not want to see it.  Now, I regret not venturing out on my own to check it out.  The museum, which opened in 1979, closed in the fall of 2010.

Liberace Museum

I’m hoping with the success of the HBO movie that someone will re-open it in 2014 when we’re there to see Britney “It’s Britney, bitch” Spears!

WHERE DOES THE TIME GO?

We’re just days away from our two-year wedding anniversary.

While Ray and I have been together going on five years, we made it official on September 30, 2011, in Davenport, Iowa, in a small ceremony attended by Gretel, our now 12-year-old daughter, my sister, Tammy, Ray’s sister, Cindy, and Betty, the woman I call “Mom”.

Wedding Park Fountain

Here is the video I put together of our first three years together.  I posted this the day we made the announcement that we had gotten married.

The song is “So Good Together” by Reba.

Reception 2011

The following day, October 1, 2011, we created the most beautiful majestic, magical reception in our backyard.

The song in this reception video is “In This Life” by Bette Midler.  The photographer was Jenny Butler Hipskind.

Happy Anniversary Ray!  Here’s to many more years together!

PICK HIT OF THE WEEK

While the duo, Quadron, has only charted in their native country of Denmark, I love their recent song, “Hey Love”.

Quadron

Singer Coco O (Coco Maja Hastrup Karshøj) and musician/producer Robin Hannibal released their self-titled debut album in 2009 and it made “New York” magazine’s top ten album list that year.

They’ve had a big summer.  Coco O recorded “Where The Wind Blows” for “The Great Gatsby” soundtrack and the duo’s second album, “Avalanche”, reached #3 after its May release in Denmark.  The album also peaked at #16 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop album chart in the U.S.

The first  single, “Hey Love”, peaked at #8 on the Danish Charts.

MOVIE DOUBLE FEATURE THIS WEEKEND

This weekend, we plan on seeing “Prisoners” and “Don Jon”.

Prisoners

Don Jon

You gotta love Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhall, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt!

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

Daryl Hall and John Oates met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania back in 1967 and released their first album in 1972, but it didn’t make the Billboard charts.

Their first single, “She’s Gone” peaked at #60 in 1974.  However, from their first Top 40 hit, “Sara Smile” (#4, 1976) to their last, “So Close (#11, 1990), they scored 29 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

Of those, 16 reached the Top Ten, 11 made the Top Five, and 6 topped the chart:  “Rich Girl” (1977), “Kiss On My List” (1981), “Private Eyes” (1981), “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” (1982), “Maneater” (1982), and “Out Of Touch” (1984).

I love Hall & Oates and one of my favorite songs from the duo is from the “Voices” album.  “You Make My Dreams” reached #5 in 1981.

That’s enough random thoughts, insanity, and fun for one week.  I should stop before my head starts hurting.  Here’s to the weekend!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — July 5, 2013

The weekend is almost here and that means it’s Friday and I get to share some of my random thoughts!  When I do this, it’s my way of expressing some of the things that have crossed my mind.  Some are small, some are big, and some have little relevance to anything, but I love having this avenue.  I know you may not always agree with me or I may enlighten you on something you haven’t thought about, but I appreciate you checking out my blog and my random thoughts.  I always welcome your thoughts, too.

I hope you all had a great time celebrating our independence from England yesterday!

Happy Fourth

Oh, the Fourth of July.  A day to show off your pride and wear your finest red, white, and blue!  What a way to rock that fringe!!  (Thanks Stacia!)

Behind_the_Candelabra_poster

By the way, I pre-ordered “Behind the Candelabra”, the HBO Liberace movie with Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his much younger lover, Scott Thorson.  It covers the last ten years of the flamboyant singer’s life and his “secret” affair with Thorson.  “Secret”?  That’s right, people thought he was straight!  (Said no on ever — out loud!)

When “Candelabra” aired on HBO on May 26, 2013, 3.5 million people tuned in making it the highest rated TV film for the network since 2004.  It arrives on DVD on September 17, 2013.

HATERS DEFY THE RECORD NUMBER OF OPEN-MINDED

Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional.  This now makes federal benefits available to people in same-sex marriages.

Earlier this week, a new USA Today poll shows that a record number of Americans (55%) support marriage equality.  That’s the highest level of support nationwide since Gallup first asked this question in 1996 when only 27% of Americans supported marriage equality.

Yet, while millions are rejoicing and are moving to the right side of history, there are still haters that can’t mind their own business and tend to their own lives, families, and marriages.  Of course, one of the first to speak out against this righting of a wrong in American history was Chick-fil-A COO and President Dan T. Cathy.

Here’s what he tweeted (and quickly deleted) on the day of the SCOTUS landmark decision.

Dan Cathy

Chick-fil-A spokesman Jerry Johnson quickly issued a statement saying, “He realized his views didn’t necessarily represent the views of all customers, restaurant owners and employees and didn’t want to distract them from providing a great restaurant experience” and that “Chick-fil-A is focused on providing great-tasting food and genuine hospitality to everyone.”  If you read between the lines, that basically says the company wants your money — regardless of who you love.

I’ve made it very clear in the past about how I feel about Chick-fil-A and Dan Cathy and the money they give to anti-gay groups, so I won’t go there today.  (You can type in Chick-fil-A in the search engine at the top of the blog to read the previous stories!)  However, I’ll just let three sassy “ladies” do the work for me.

Warning:  NSFW!

THE WEAKEST LINK IN EQUALITY

In that poll released this past Monday, “USA Today” also reports that the only other major demographic groups that a majority still opposes marriage equality are Republicans (68%) and seniors 65 and older (51%).

MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS — RAP WITH A HEART  ❤

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not a huge fan of rap or hip-hop music.  In 1986, I owned the Beastie Boys’ “Licensed to Ill” cassette and in 1990, I bought the cassette of “To The Extreme” by Vanilla Ice!  However, there’s a Seattle rapper and producer that I have to shout out to and say “thank you”.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Rapper Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis are one of the hottest acts in pop music today.  Just this year alone, the duo topped the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks (and the R&B/Hip-Hop chart for 14 weeks) with “Thrift Store”.  Its already sold almost 5.6 million copies.  They followed that up with five more weeks at #1 on the Hot 100 and 7 weeks atop the R&B/Hip-Hop chart with “Can’t Hold Us”.  That song’s sales are up to 3.1 million copies.

Almost one year ago, on July 18, 2012, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis released “Same Love” with singer Mary Lambert.  The song was written to support legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington, which would be voting on “Washington Referendum 74” that fall.  It also tackled homophobia in hip-hop music.

“Same Love” is racing up the Billboard Hot 100 (up from #28 to #16 this week).  And, on the Billboard Rap Songs chart, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have three of the top songs (#1, #2, and #4)!  The video has already been viewed more than 54 million times!

Who better than Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, the hottest act on the chart, to get the word out about marriage equality and homophobia!  Even if you’re not a rap or hip hop fan, take seven minutes to watch this incredible video with a powerful message.  And, another thing that I love about the video is that there is a sparkler and champagne toast.  Ray and I did that at our wedding reception almost two years ago!  🙂

And, while it doesn’t matter, another thing that makes this even more amazing is that Macklemore is straight.

Macklemore

He says, “It’s a record I’ve wanted to write a long time.  I tried writing it from the perspective of a gay bullied kid… I grew up in the Catholic Church, I grew up with two gay uncles and a gay godfather, and I grew up in the hip hop community. So the Catholic Church and hip hop community are known as being very homophobic communities in a lot of ways.”

Gay Uncles

And, those are his gay uncles.

MORE Z IS ON THE WAY, BUT I’M NOT TALKING “ZZZZZ”, AS IN SLEEP

After months of speculation about how “World War Z” would perform at the box office, the verdict is in and it has Paramount very happy.

world-war-z-poster

The $190 million, zombie flick with Brad Pitt has already brought in $271.4 million in its first thirteen days ($136 million of that is from the United States).  Talk about the troubles the production encountered and a third act re-shoot gave Paramount cold feet about the movie becoming a trilogy.  However, after the box office success, last month Paramount announced that it was moving ahead with a sequel!

Now, we can see if the “camouflage” will really buy the survivors time!  That’s not really a spoiler because you’d have to know what the “camouflage” is and I’m not talking about what you see them wearing on “Duck Dynasty”.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Carry On Elementary English Usage

TASTY, BLOODY DEXTER

The eighth and final season of my favorite show, “Dexter”, premiered last Sunday night and shattered records.  This season opener ranked as the series’ highest-rated premiere ever with 2.5 million viewers at 9 p.m., which is up 4% from the season seven premiere.  For the night, “Dexter” had 3.2 million viewers, up 5% from season seven.

Dexter S8

And, since I can’t have Dexter for my birthday, I’ll settle for the “Dexter” action figure or these bloody, incredible desserts created to coincide with the kick off to the final season and the last twelve episodes!

Dexter Cupcakes Dexter Cupcakes2

These sweet confections are from Magnolia Bakery in New York City.  The red velvet cupcakes are topped with a whipped vanilla icing dripping in blood (caramel) and sugar “glass” shards!

SERIOUSLY, GROW A PEAR!

If you remember back to last spring and summer, it was a very warm to hot one in the Quad Cities.  March 2012 was the warmest on record with an average temperature of 53.3°, which was more than 14° above average.  And, we only had 4″ of snow in March 2012 and that fell toward the beginning of the month.

Needless to say that flowers, shrubs, and trees got off to a quick start.  This picture was taken toward the end of June last year.  The pears were huge!

Pears 062412

It’s a much different story this year.

With 10.6″ of snow and temperatures almost 8° below average this March (about 22° colder than March 2012), the growing season is a little behind.   And, it isn’t being helped by more than 21″ of rain falling in April, May, and June.  We’ve only been at 90° or higher three times this year.  Last year, at this time, we had already been there 15 times!

This pear picture was taken this week!  As you can see, they are much smaller.

Pear July 2013

I THOUGHT ABOUT “MACHETE KILLS” AND GOT SIDETRACKED

When I hear the word “Latin”, I instantly think of sexy Enrique Iglesias and Sofia Vergara!   Be still my beating heart! 🙂  How could two people be any sexier???

Enrique Iglesias sofia-vergara

This really has nothing to do with them, it just gave me a reason to Google search images of Enrique and Sofia!  Okay, now that I’m sidetracked, I’ll talk about Sofia and her new movie.  I’ve gone to two movies lately, “World War Z” and “White House Down” and both showed previews of her action flick coming out this fall, “Machete Kills”.

Machete-Kills-Lady-Gaga MACHETE KILLS

It features the acting debut of Lady Gaga and Sofia is over the top cray cray in the previews.  I definitely won’t be seeing it in a theater, but I’ll check it out on DVD.  While it doesn’t appear to be my kind of movie, it’s crazy enough that I’m interested.

And, when listing the stars in the movie, the trailer boasts, “and introducing Carlos Estevez” as the President of the United States.  WTH??  Sorry, Charlie Sheen, you can’t sneak that past me.  I know it’s you.

OKAY, NOW THE HOT LATINA WITH A SHOT OF TEQUILA

Shakira - Paulina Rubio

Does the name Paulina Rubio ring a bell to you?  That’s her on the right in the white shirt.

The other woman is Colombian singer Shakira.  Of course, Shakira is the biggest star of the two selling more than 70 million records worldwide and she is one of the best-selling Latin artists of all time.  Shakira has had nine hits on the Billboard Hot 100.  Of those, four have reached the Top Ten, including her biggest hit, the #1 smash, “Hips Don’t Lie”.  You also know her as the substitute judge on “The Voice” this season for Christina Aguilera.  While Shakira is talented, I want to introduce you to my favorite Latina star.  Okay, that’s Selena, but she’s no longer with us!

PaulinaRubio

My favorite, for about a decade now, is Paulina Rubio.  The 42-year-old Mexico City native has sold about 20 million records worldwide and is regarded as the “most influential Latin celebrity in the world”.

Her first Latin album came out in 1992.  In 2002, she made a modest attempt at a crossover to English music with her album “Border Girl”.  It reached #11 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and #1 on the Latin album chart.  The closest she came to having a big hit on mainstream radio in America was with “Don’t Say Goodbye/Si Tú Te Vas”, which peaked at #41 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Rubio has scored 24 Billboard Latin chart hits.  Of those, 15 have reached the Top Ten and five of them have reached #1.  Here’s one of those #1 Latin Hits from 2004, “Dame Otro Tequila”.  She and her friends are too Caliente!  Hot!

You’ll see much more of Paulina Rubio this fall when she joins the third season of “The X Factor” as one of the two new judges replacing Britney Spears and L.A. Reid.  The other new judge is Kelly Rowland, formerly with Destiny’s Child.

INTRIGUED BY “LIFE”

I’ve don’t own a Rolling Stones album or CD.  I can only list a few of their songs without cheating and looking at Wikipedia:  “Start Me Up”, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, “Beast of Burden” (with Bette Midler), and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, thanks to Whoopi Goldberg.

But, I just read an excerpt of “Life”, the 2010 rock memoir from Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards, in a November 2010 “Rolling Stone” magazine (not to be confused with the Rolling Stones, the band) and it sounds intriguing.

Keith-Richards-book-cover-Life

The book deals with his strained relationship with Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger, how the Stones got started, and a lot of talk about drugs.

But, it was this quote that captured my attention and made me keep reading the article, “I think in a way your persona, your image, as it used to be known, is like a ball and chain. People think I’m still a goddamn junkie. It’s 30 years since I gave up the dope! Image is like a long shadow. Even when the sun goes down, you can see it…. It’s impossible not to end up being a parody of what you thought you were.”

“Image is like a long shadow” is so philosophical!

Keith Richards 1967 keithrichards

And, it doesn’t hurt either that in the 1960s and the 1970s, Richards was a hot, young lad!  Since I was never a big fan, it was interesting to looks back 40 or 50 years to see who he was back then.  I’m definitely getting the book and learning more about Richards and the Rolling Stones.

PEEP’S ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

Since I’m talking about Keith Richards, I’ll feature his band in this week’s ’80s Friday Flashback.  In the United States, from their first hit in 1964 (months before I was born) to their last radio hit in early 1990, the Rolling Stones hit the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 a total of 41 times.  Of that impressive feat, 23 of those songs reached the Top Ten, and seven made it all the way to #1.

My favorite Rolling Stones hit peaked at #2 in the fall of 1981, just as I was halfway through my senior year in high school.  “Start Me Up” was the first release from their #1 multi-platinum album, “Tattoo You”,  which moved more than 4 million copies sold in the U.S.

And, by the way, I remember “State of Shock” with the Jacksons, but that a Mick Jagger hit without the Stones.

‘WHITE HOUSE DOWN”

If you’re going to this movie for an Academy Award winning flick, you’re wasting your time and money.  If you’re going to see a great popcorn summer movie that’s full of action and destruction to American institutions that director Roland Emmerich likes to deliver (“Independence Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow”), you’re in the right place.

“People” magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” (Tatum) is trying to get a job as a Secret Service to protect the President of the United States, played by Oscar winner Jamie Foxx.  Tatum’s John Cale is not having a good day with his 11-year-old daughter after he misses her recital.  He makes it up to her by getting her a tour of the White House.  Needless to say, terrorists take over the White House and then we have an action movie.

The movie was very entertaining, riveting, suspenseful, and enjoyable.  The biggest question on my mind as I went into the movie was not how many people would be killed or blown up, but how long would I have to wait to see Tatum lose the suit and parade around in the more comfortable and appealing white tank top. 🙂

GRADE:  B

WHD

This is a continuation of a running gag that started last summer when I had my picture taken by the poster of the very hunky Channing Tatum when “Magic Mike” was in theaters.

062912 Magic Mike

Now, there are three reasons that my body does not look like Tatum’s:  (1)  that popcorn for starters, (2) he has a trainer and the motivation to work out, and (3) he’s 33 and I’m in my late-40s!

SUMMER PICK HIT

I’ve had pretty good luck picking future hits.  You may have heard of “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen and “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, but that one was already well on its way.  However, I’m still waiting for “Get It Tonight” by Erika Jayne with Flo Rida to take off.

Take note of the name Avicii, (pronounced “Uh-vee-che”).  The Swedish DJ will turn 24-years-old in early September just about a week before he releases his debut album, “#True”.

Avicii and Madonna

His career really took off last summer when he remixed “Girl Gone Wild” by Madonna and he became the first DJ to headline at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.  Two performances last September were sold out and the first show took less than a minute to sell out!

While he’s had a couple of moderate radio hits in the United States (“Levels” reached #33 last year on the radio airplay and “I Could Be The One” with Nicky Romero peaked at #34 on that same chart earlier this year), his biggest successes domestically has been on the Billboard Dance chart.  Avicii has hit the Top Five with his last four songs:  “Collide” with Leona Lewis and “Levels” both topped that chart, “Silhouettes” reached #4, and “I Could Be The One” was also a #1 Dance hit.

And, the song I’m featuring today made its debut all the way up at #12 this week on the Billboard Dance chart.  It’s at #81 on the Billboard Hot 100.

HAPPY WEEKEND

I hope you have a fun, safe weekend.  Ray and I are going to relax this weekend.  With the heat and Gretel still at her grandmother’s this weekend, we’ll be spending some time in the pool.  I’m sure the potent potable will be refreshing, even if it isn’t a “Skinny Girl white cranberry Cosmo”.  We drank that yesterday in the pool. 🙂

Pool Time

Anthony

Summer’s Coming, So Get the Popcorn Ready

I’m sure there aren’t too many people who would tell Ryan Gosling, Hugh Jackman, Sandra Bullock, James Franco, Amanda Seyfried, and Henry Cavill to wait.

Ryan GoslingHugh Jackmansandra_bullock_james franco imageamanda-seyfried-2Henry-Cavill-Shirtless-On-Superman-Set

As hot and talented as they are, I’ll likely be waiting for their new movies, “Only God Forgives” (Gosling, July 19), “The Wolverine” (Jackman, July 26), “The Heat” (Bullock, June 28), “This Is The End” (Franco, June 12), “Lovelace” (Seyfried, August 9), and “Man of Steel” (Cavill, June 14) to arrive on DVD in late 2013 or 2014, even though they all hit the movie theaters this summer.

Here are the movies that I’ve decided will send me into the theaters for my large popcorn and large Coke Zero (and free refills).

May 10, 2013

“THE GREAT GATSBY”

If the latest Buz Luhrmann movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Tobey Maguire is as magical as Luhrmann’s 2001 musical, “Moulin Rouge!”, it’ll be a masterpiece to me.  From all of the buzz I’m hearing, this 2013 version should easily surpass the 1974 adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald literary classic with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow.

May 17, 2013

“STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS”

I previewed this sequel to J.J. Abrams’ 2009 hit and re-boot, “Star Trek” last week in my “Random Friday Thoughts”.  I can’t wait to see where this movie takes the USS Enterprise.  Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana return and are joined by Benedict Cumberbatch (of the BBC hit series, “Sherlock”).

June 21, 2013

Since we’ll have Gretel one of these two weekends (June 21 or 28), we’ll have to make it a double feature weekend at the movies when she’s not with us.  It also saves money because you’re only buying one popcorn and two sodas and getting refills instead of doing it each weekend!

The last time we did that, Ray and I saw “Les Miserables” and “Zero Dark Thirty” on the same day.

Of the two new movies I want to see in late June, one features a fight to save the world from, you guessed it, zombies!  And, the other features “Magic Mike” Channing Tatum with his clothes on trying to save the President of the United States (Jamie Foxx).

“WORLD WAR Z”

This will be one of the most anticipated movies of the summer.  The Brad Pitt-action flick was pushed back from a December 2012 release date for re-shoots, which is sometimes seen in Hollywood as a sign that the movie is in trouble.  Plus, it’s not a cheap movie with a budget of  more than $170 million!  Pitt hopes that this feature will become a franchise.

All I can say is that these are not your “The Walking Dead” slow-moving flesh eaters.  They can move!

June 28, 2013

“WHITE HOUSE DOWN”

While I’ve never gone to the theater to see over-the-top movies by Roland Emmerich (the modern-day Irwin Allen), I’ve decided that it might be fun doing something I normally don’t do.  I enjoyed his “The Day After Tomorrow” on DVD.

And, with publicity pictures like this, I’d be a fool not to go!

Tatum Foxx

August 7, 2013

“ELYSIUM”

The Oscar-nominated 2009 action/thriller “District 9”  was incredible.  Director Neill Blomkamp is back with his latest thriller starring Matt Damon and a very stunning and sexy Jodie Foster.  I mean, check out that hair!  Did that sound too gay?  I’ve always been in love with Jodie!

Elysium-Jodie-Foster1

The movie takes place in 2154 and “the world has been divided into two classes”, says “Entertainment Weekly”:  the rich living aboard a high-tech orbital space station, “Elysium”, and everyone living on the suffering, dying Earth below.

Matt Damon plays an Earth resident that has to break into Elysium to cure himself of a medical condition that is available there, but not on Earth.  And, from what I’ve read, Jodie Foster is the villian in this movie.  She heads up the Elysium Corporate Authority.

The movie also stars Sharlto Copley, the star of “District 9”.

August 7, 2013

“PERCY JACKSON:  SEA OF MONSTERS”

Sometimes you do it for the kids.

Gretel is a huge fan of the Rick Riordan young-adult series, she loved the first movie, “Percy Jackson & the Olympians:  The Lightning Thief”, and she has a crush on “Percy Jackson” actor Logan Lerman.  (I have to admit that he is cute.)  Grown-ups will more likely know him as Charlie in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” from last year.

This movie will whet our appetites for “The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire” coming in November.

HONORABLE MENTION

And, while I’ll wait for the DVD, the new movie from Oscar winner Pedro Almodovar, “I’m So Excited” looks very funny.  His last movie, the horror/psychological drama, “The Skin I Live In”, was one of my favorite movies that I saw in 2012.

And, I’ll never think of the Pointer Sisters performing this song again after seeing this over-the-top, hilarious version of “I’m So Excited”.  Here’s the video.

In honor of the late movie critic Roger Ebert, I hope my choices that I’ll spend good money on get “two thumbs up”.

Anthony