Posts Tagged ‘Matthew Shepard’

Random Friday Thoughts — July 14 , 2017

The weekend is here and I hope you have a great one planned!  Thank you for checking out my “Random Friday Thoughts”.

ACTION, NOT SUBMISSIVE REACTION

This thought is not about the Second Amendment, gun laws, gun control, bad cops, etc. It’s about the lack of respect for human life these days.

There’s so much going on in the U.S. and around the world.  It saddens me to think that it’s easier for people to shoot or kill someone rather than to talk things out or just mind their own business.

When these senseless acts of violence happen, with no justification, it’s heartbreaking.

Fence

When Matthew Shepard was beaten, tortured and left for dead on a fence in Wyoming in October 1998 and James Byrd Jr., was dragged behind a pickup truck for three miles on an asphalt road by three white supremacists four months earlier, we were horrified.

One was killed because he was gay and the other because he was black.  Yet, it took 11 years before the “Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act” was signed into law.

Still today, it’s a joke how many people commit hate crimes and don’t get charged with it.

When something like the Pulse Nightclub shooting, the Sandy Hook school massacre, or the bombing outside the Manchester Ariana Grande concert happens, we’re shocked for a few days before the news cycle moves on to the next story.

People go crazy on Facebook sharing “Remember <insert city>” or “Pray for <insert city>. And, then we move on, too!

black_lives_matter

I commend the three ladies that started a movement in 2013 with just a hashtag —  #BlackLivesMatter — after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Since then, it’s been directed at law enforcement in the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, and many more — unarmed black people — that died by the guns or hands of white police officers.

Card Cover

I know it’s wishful thinking, but I’d love it if we’d talk more instead of resorting to violence!  I wish we could “Give Peace a Chance”! 😦

GOODBYE LAYAFETTE

Nelsan Ellis, who played Lafayette Reynolds, on HBO’s “True Blood”, died last weekend of complications of heart failure.  He was 39.

“True Blood” creator, Alan Ball said, “Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege.”

While there was Sookie and the sexy men of “True Blood” (Jason, Eric, and Sam), Lafayette was my favorite character.  He was a proud, flamboyant, and out gay black man in the backwoods of Louisiana.

Here’s a compilation of some of Reynolds’ best scenes as Lafayette.  (Contains adult language and situations!)

LG(BISEXUAL)T

I’m always open to learning new things and thinking outside of the box.  I’m still evolving, too.

Bisexuality comes to mind.

With the acronym LGBT, I never bought into the “B” for bisexual.  I always thought bisexuals were gay people afraid to admit it because of family, religion, or the fear of homophobia.

LGBT

You often hear certain celebrities come out as “bisexual”, but I’ve never had a friend tell me they’re “bi”.

However, looking back to my early years in the gay community, I recall a friend that was lesbian that went on to marry a man and have children and another woman that was married to a man, but also took on a lesbian lover with her husband’s knowledge.

So, I’ve evolved to believe that there are true “bisexuals”.

“CHIPS” & HOMOPHOBIA ACCUSATIONS

The theatrical update of the NBC television hit series, “Chips” (1977-1983), starring Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox bombed at the box office.

Interestingly enough, while no one really went to see it (it broke even if you just compare the cost to make it and box office receipts), some accused the movie as being homophobic.  I didn’t see that.

In one scene, it shows non-sexual man-to-man contact in the locker room (a bro-hug).

In that same scene, “Ponch” asks Jon not to give him a welcome hug now that they’re partners since Jon is only wearing underwear.

As a matter of fact, there are discussions in the movie debating what is and what isn’t “homophobia”.

While I didn’t see anything in the movie as homophobic, I was wishing midway through the movie that it was like the television series — only an hour long!  However, at that point, it went off the rails and the second half was very entertaining. 🙂

Warning:  This is the “Red Band Trailer” and it’s for mature audiences only.  (Translation: very adult!)

I watched the innocent trailer and there was a scene that added clothes to Jon when he was naked in the movie. Lame!

So, proceed with caution with this trailer!

GRADE:  B

Honestly, it deserves a B-, but with Shepard’s lanky body on display out of uniform in a few scenes and Adam Brody looking so adorable in this movie with his porn star ‘stache, there was a grade curve! 🙂

Adam Brody

POWERFUL KESHA COMEBACK

In the past couple of years, when you heard Kesha’s name in the news, it wasn’t about chart-topping hits.

She was in a bitter lawsuit with her former producer, Dr. Luke.  She accused him of sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, emotional abuse, and more.

It looked like it might be years before we’d hear any new music from her, but last week, she released the powerful new single, “Praying”.

Kesha also announced “Rainbow”, the new album, would arrive August 11th!

Her last album, “Warrior”, was my favorite album of 2013!

WALKING JUST TO EAT

Since moving here with no friends and my family a thousand miles away, I’ve been walking and reading outdoors — a lot.

Back in the Midwest, I’d walk an hour on the treadmill.  Here, I’ve only gotten on the treadmill twice when it was pouring down rain, but I just wasn’t into it.

I’m still getting in more than 25,000 steps a day.  But, since I’m a little OCD, some days that number tops 30,000 and even 40,000!

Why?  Because it gives me less time to think about why I’m here and the future and because I like to eat and not worry about weight gain.

Diet

Here’s a test for you.  I could live off three of these, but I gave the other up years ago!  Do you know which one is no longer part of my “well-rounded diet”?

“THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE”

This must be the summer of Jessica Chastain for me.

Just last week, I featured her performance in “Miss Sloane” and gave the movie an “A”. While the movie was a box office bomb, it was spectacular and her icy performance was incredible.

“The Zookeeper’s Wife”, a movie that barely made its money back at the theaters, is powerful and heartbreaking.  It’s based on a true story.

It takes place in Poland just as the Germans invade at the start of World War 2.

spoiler_alert_300_w2

Chastain’s character and her husband run the Warsaw Zoo.  When the air strikes commence, many of the zoo’s animals are killed and the Germans take the most prized survivors for “protection”.

They learn of Hitler’s attacks and the treatment of Jews and decide to start a “human zoo” — hiding Jewish men, women, and children.

It’s hard to relive this dark chapter in world history, but the story is rewarding at the same time.

A must-see!

GRADE:  A-

“HOUSE OF VERSACE”

This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the shooting death of Italian designer Gianni Versace outside his Miami Beach mansion on July 15, 1997, by spree killer Andrew Cunanan.

versace-mansion-casa-casuarina-bloody-steps.jpg

Last weekend, I caught the 2013 Lifetime movie, “House of Versace”.

It covered the relationship between Gianni and his sister Donatella before his murder and how she ran the company after his death.

Gina Gershon is intriguing to watch as Donatella and the soundtrack to the movie was fantastic with Snap, Technotronic, and Deee-Lite (“Groove is in the Heart”).

On 2013’s “Artpop”, Lady Gaga paid tribute to Donatella.

NEW GUILTY PLEASURE

I know Niecy Nash from her hilarious turn on the painful to watch Ryan Murphy rare misfire, “Scream Queens”.

But, she does dramedy (drama-comedy) very well on her new TNT series, “Claws”.

She owns a nail salon in Palmetto, Florida, and is laundering money for the local crime/drug king (or “queen”), “Uncle Daddy”, flamboyantly played by Dean Norris (“Breaking Bad” and “Under The Dome”).

It airs on Sunday nights and you still have time to catch up.  Only five episodes have aired and the season finale is August 13th.

Earlier this week, it was renewed for a second season to air in 2018!

LEFTOVER RED WINE?

I get several recipes emailed to me.

This one is from myrecipe.  Check out the story headline.

Leftover Wine

Excuse me, but leftover and wine in the same sentence???

I like telling the story of my single days when I had my golden retriever, ABBA, and I’d make shrimp scampi.

She’d always get the shrimp tails as a tasty, crunchy treat to compliment her dry dog food.

And, after using the one-quarter of a cup of white wine for the scampi, I always felt it’d be sacrilegious to the “grape Gods” to not finish the 750 ml bottle of wine with dinner!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

When I Get To Heaven

Heaven.

It’s something we think about and many of us almost instinctively think of hell.  Well, to hell with that, I want to talk about heaven today.

There’s Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” (which was re-made by DJ Sammy), “Heaven Is A Place On Earth”, “Heaven’s Just A Sin Away”, “Stairway To Heaven”, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”, “One Night In Heaven”, “Tears In Heaven” and many more songs with “heaven” in the title.

Yes, I’m getting older, but I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about mortality.  My parents died early — my mother was 47 and my father was 55.  I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t cross my mind.  However, my latest physical showed that I was healthy and I feel good for my age.

Heaven

But, I know one day I’ll come to those pearly gates and I’ll be welcomed in with open arms.  Since we really don’t know what heaven is like, how we see it is subjective.

When the time comes, I’ll miss those that I leave behind here on Earth.  However, I already know what I’ll do when I get there.

Animals Heaven

It brings me such joy almost four years after my beloved golden retriever, ABBA, left us on Earth to know she’ll be there smiling and happily greeting me.

ABBAFashionShowJan2012

October 2011

October 2011

04012011 ABBA Anthony
If she’s napping when I make my entrance, I wonder what her thumping tail on the clouds will sound like when she knows I’ve entered heaven.  I hope it still sounds like her tail thumping on the hardwood floors in life.  That brought me such joy to come home and hear that welcoming sound.  Upon hearing that, any problems I had that day just melted away.

Since heaven is peaceful, I know that Miss ABBA and my chow chow, Keshia, (1986-1998), are friends.

Keshia 001 Keshia 002

Their demeanor was very different.  ABBA loved everyone (she was a golden) and Keshia was very much a one-person dog.  She showered me with love, but was slow to warm to others.

And, it would be great to see our family dog, Cricket, again.  We had her through much of my childhood in the 1970s.  She died in 1982, my senior year in high school.

After I shower Miss ABBA with love and reacquaint myself with Keshia and Cricket, I can’t wait to see my mother and let all the years, tears, and sadness since November 1990 just fade away.

Dessie Birthday 1989

I won’t have to give her all of the details of my successes and failures and the ups and downs in my life.  She already knows all of that because she’s been looking over me and my sister, Tammy, now for 25 years.

Dessie 1990

It’ll be so nice to see my grandparents, John Henry and Helen Peoples, again.

HelenJohn Henry

I was lucky to have my grandmother Helen around until I turned 29, but my grandfather, John Henry, was taken away from us in early 1978, when I was only 13.

While I’ll never forget his last Christmas as he was dying from colon cancer, it was remarkable how he stayed in good spirits.

I’ll always cherish the weekends we spent together at Kentucky Lake camping out and fishing.  Also, all of the memories of just piddling around in the back yard and in his work garage will remain vividly clear in my mind.  He made me feel loved and appreciated.

I never really liked the taste of beer too much.  But, as a kid, it was so cool that he would let me lick the suds off his beer cans when he’d open them.  Maybe it’s because of the suds that I’ve now moved on to champagne, wine, and vodka as an adult. 🙂

I can’t wait to say “thank you” and let him know how much I idolized him.  I know, as a kid, I never told him.

There was talk that I was almost named after my father.  I’m grateful that I wasn’t.  However, it would have been an honor to have been a “John Henry”!

Dessie-Hollie-Anthony -- Fall 1964

Since heaven is a perfect place, it’ll be nice to be friends with my father, Hollie.  We weren’t friends in life.

I’d be able to forgive him for his hateful, homophobic, sexist, and racist attitudes, and his total disregard for anyone else’s feelings.  In heaven, we wouldn’t have to deal with his alcoholism and all of the times he aimed guns at me and my mother and sister forcing us to hide outside until he passed out.  All would be forgotten.

In life, I was not sad when he died.  I was only saddened because of my mother’s broken heart.  Whatever good she saw in him, maybe I’d be able to see in heaven.

The-Carpenters

Once I caught up with my cherished pets and my family, the first person I want to befriend in heaven is Karen Carpenter.

While chasing fame in life, Karen was obsessed with her weight and she starved herself to death.

In heaven, Karen would never have to hear the words anorexia nervosa and I wouldn’t know anything about bulimia, the eating disorder that I struggled with for nine years from 1986 through 1995.

In early 1995, I was down to 116 pounds and I thought I was fat.  While I’m not a practicing bulimic today, I’m still obsessed with weight gains and losses, eating too much, and fighting the urge to binge and purge.

On Earth, Karen had the voice of an angel.  In heaven, I would be blessed to have a front row seat to hear my new friend sing.

Until then, her music lives on.

And, since it’s Christmas time and that friendship and concert with Karen will have to wait, I can enjoy this classic.

John Lennon

I’d also like to meet John Lennon and just sit and listen to his wisdom of his words.  People on Earth would still be able to strive for the peace found in “Let It Be” and”Imagine”, my two favorite songs of all time.

I’d also want to hang out with Jessica Savitch and let her know that she inspired me go into television news.

Jessica

And, finally, in heaven, I’d be able to witness former President Ronald Reagan hanging out with the more than 650,000 Americans that have died of AIDS.  A majority of those have been gay men.

RonaldReagan

It took President Reagan almost six years after taking office to publicly mention AIDS for the first time.   In the spring of 1987, he called it “public enemy number one”.

From the summer of 1981 when “The New York Times” published an article about “gay cancer” to end of the year that Reagan first publicly mentioned AIDS, a reported 50-thousand-plus Americans were diagnosed with the disease and more than 40-thousand of them died!

I hated the man for decades for his ignorance in handling the AIDS crisis.

However, in heaven, all would be forgiven and I could see Ronald Reagan at a disco or a tea dance with all those that suffered during his presidency and all of those that succumbed to AIDS in the 25 years after he left office.

I can envision haters like Jesse Helms, Jerry Falwell, Anita Bryant (if she goes before me), and their close-minded friends on Earth partying with Harvey Milk, Matthew Shepard, Teena Brandon, and every other LGBT person that died at the hands of anti-gay violence brought on by bigotry and ignorance.

In heaven, we’re all God’s children like we should be on Earth.

In heaven, there’s only love.

I’m not ready to go to heaven just yet, but I sure would have so much fun catching up and living the life.

Anthony

You Will Never Be Forgotten

It’s hard to believe it was 15 years ago this week that most of the country and the world first heard the name, Matthew Shepard.

Today marks the 15th anniversary of his death in a Fort Collins, Colorado, hospital after being savagely and brutally beaten five nights earlier in Laramie, Wyoming.

I’m now reading “The Meaning of Matthew:  My Son’s Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed” (2009) written by Matt’s mother, Judy Shepard.

meaning_of_matthew_l

In the past, I’ve written in my blog about Matthew and that horrible night that ended his life prematurely.  Today, I want to share a few things from Judy’s book that I’m reading that touched me.  (All rights reserved by Hudson Street Press)

Judy Shepard

“You know him as Matthew.  To us he was Matt.  I have tried to reconcile the two within these pages.  It would be unfair to Matt if only Matthew’s story was told.  Matt was so much more than “Matthew Shepard, the gay twenty-one-year-old University of Wyoming college student.”  He had a family and countless friends.  He had a life before the night he was tied to that fence.” (Author’s Note by Judy Shepard)

Candlelight Vigil

As candlelight vigils popped up across the country, the Shepard family spent their time focusing on their son, Matt, who was lying in a coma and would never regain consciousness.  Once the ventilator tubes were removed, Matt died in the early morning hours of Monday, October 12, 1998.

Rulon Stacey

About three hours after Matt died, Rulon Stacey, the CEO at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, informed the world that was praying for Matt that he was gone.

“At 12:53 a.m. Matthew Shepard died, his family was at his bedside… He came into the world premature and he left the world premature.  Matthew’s mother said, ‘Go home, give your kids a hug, and don’t let a day go by without telling them you love them.’  Matthew’s family is so grateful that his last words to them were, ‘I love you.'” 

Sadly, there are Matt Shepards out there right now being attacked verbally and physically every day for being gay.  Like Matt, some will die.  But, many will survive and live every day of their lives wondering how some in the world can be so cruel.

As I remember Matt and think of Judy, her husband, Dennis, and their other son, Logan, I want to share what  Judy and Dennis said about Matt in their first press conference through Stacey on October 10, 1998.

“His [Matt] one intolerance is when people don’t accept others as they are.  He has always strongly felt that all people are the same — regardless of their sexual preference, race, or religion.  We know he believes that all of us are part of the same family called humanity, and each and every one of us should treat all people with respect and dignity, and each of us has the right to live a full and rewarding life.  This is one lesson which we are very certain he would share with you, if he could.”

Matthew Shepard

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — October 11, 2013

The weekend is almost here and if you consider birthdays a big deal, then this weekend is a big deal.

October 13 1965

48 birthday cakes later( symbolically), this Sunday, I’ll enter the last year of my 40s!

While we’ve been trying to eat healthy and exercise in anticipation for our European trip next Friday to celebrate Ray’s 50th birthday, I’m not counting calories this weekend.

I plan on stuffing myself with pizza (mostly dessert pizza) and boneless chicken wings at Wise Guys Pizza in Davenport, Iowa, my favorite pizza place in the Quad Cities.  And, Sunday, I think I want crab legs and fried chicken at the casino.  However, I won’t be playing slots!

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

REMEMBERING MATTHEW

Tomorrow marks the 15th anniversary of the death of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, who died five days after being beaten and left for dead tied to wooden fence in Laramie, Wyoming.

Matthew Shepard

Matthew had been robbed, pistol-whipped, tied to the fence for 18 hours, and left to die in 30° Wyoming weather.

When he was found, he had fractures to the back of his head and to the front of his right ear.  Matthew had brain stem damage so severe that doctors could not operate.  He had a dozen or so cuts on his head, face, and neck.  These horrific injuries were inflicted on him because he was gay!

This week and every week, please remember Matt and every person, regardless of their sexuality, gender, race, etc., that are beaten and killed just for who they are.

“NATIONAL COMING OUT” DAY

Today is somewhat a holiday.   While the post offices and the banks won’t be closed, it’s “National Coming Out Day”.

National Coming Out Day

This is a civil awareness day observed all over the world for LGBT people.  It was first held on October 11, 1988, on the one year anniversary of  the “Second March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights”, a political rally that brought an estimated 200,000 people to the nation’s capital.

Come out, come out wherever you are.  While we have a long way to go (hello Russia and Uganda), the world is a more accepting place these days!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Human Rights Respect Hillary 2016Mood Swings

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARIE OSMOND

Prior to this year, I always mentioned that I shared my birthday with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  Sadly, the “Iron Lady” passed away this past April at the age of 87.

Margaret Thatcher

Now, I’m proud to say that I share my birthday with singer and entertainer Marie Osmond.  She turns 54 this year.

While I’ve always been aware of her singing career and her musical family, I was really proud of Marie earlier this year when she was chosen as ABC World News’ “Person of the Week”.

She said about her lesbian daughter, Jessica, “I believe in her civil rights, as a mother.  I think that my daughter deserves everything that she desires in life.  She’s a good girl.  She’s a wonderful child.”

Marie & Jessica

These words are coming from an open-minded devout Mormon.  As you probably already know, that religion and its church hasn’t been a leader in diversity, understanding, and compassion toward the LGBT community.  However, they are slowly coming around.

Marie also added, “The God that I believe in is a God of love, not fear” and “I don’t think God made one color flower, I think He made many.”

Happy Birthday Marie!  I hope it’s everything you could imagine.  Thank you for loving God and your daughter.  And, thank you for your support of marriage equality.

National Television Awards - Inside Arrivals

As a singer, Marie has scored ten Top 40 hits on the Billboard Country charts with four of them reaching #1.  She’s has also had three solo Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.  With her brother, Donny, she had another six hits on the Hot 100.

Her first release, “Paper Roses”, in 1973, hit #1 on the country chart and it was a crossover hit on the pop chart where it peaked at #5.

And, did you know that Marie turned down the role of Sandy in the “Grease” movie that went to Olivia Newton-John?

MORE BIRTHDAY WISHES

In addition to Marie Osmond, I also share my birthday with “Borat” actor Sasha Baron Cohen (42), David Duchovny’s character Fox Mulder (52) on “The X-Files”, and “The X-Files” creator Chris Carter (56).

Country singer Rhett Akins, who I met back in Lubbock, Texas in 1997, was also born on my birthday.  He turns 44.

September 2013 001

From 1994-1996, Akins scored six Top 40 hits on the country chart including the #1 song, “Don’t Get Me Started”, in 1996 and “That Ain’t My Truck” that reached #3 in 1995.

CONGRATULATIONS!

Former “Grey’s Anatomy” star T.J. Knight, now playing Mercutio in an off-Broadway production of “Romeo & Juliet”, married his longtime boyfriend, Patrick, last week “in an intimate ceremony in front of family and friends” in New York City.

T.J. Knight

Knight’s best friend and former “Grey’s” co-star Katherine Heigl flew in for the wedding.  It’s unknown if she bought a new dress for the wedding or if she wore one of her “27 Dresses” that she is well-known for. 🙂

MORE CONGRATULATIONS…

On the same day that T.J. and Patrick were getting married on the East Coast, a “Glee” start got engaged on the West Coast.

Three-time Emmy nominee Dot-Marie Jones proposed to her girlfriend of three years, Bridgett Casteen, at Gay Days Anaheim near Disneyland Resort’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.

DotMarie

The 49-year-old actress who plays Coach Shannon Beiste on “Glee” says, “It’s the happiest day of my life. I never thought I’d find somebody that is so loving and kind.”

Casteen is the mother of two children from a previous marriage.

Congratulations T.J., Patrick, Dot-Marie, and Bridgett!

“I DO”

While we’re talking about marriage and engagements, last weekend I saw an incredible movie from writer and out, sexy actor David W. Ross called “I Do”.

Jack Edwards (Ross) is an English photographer that has been living in New York City since he was teenager.  His brother, Peter, and Peter’s fiancée also live there.

When Jack’s work visa is denied, the only option he feels he has to stay with his family is to enter into a “green card marriage” with his best friend, Ali, played by Jamie-Lynn Sigler of “The Sopranos”.

I Do

When the marriage is questioned in a routine investigation from Immigrations and Jack meets Mano, a Spaniard living in New York City, their friendship is tested.

The movie highlights the inequalities that binational gay couples living in the United States face that a married man and woman don’t have to deal with because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Now that the Supreme Court of the United States struck down parts of DOMA, things will get better for binational gay couples sooner rather than later.

LGBT families (supposedly) will now be treated the same under immigration law as different-sex immigrant families.

For more on Immigration Equality, check out this website:  http://immigrationequality.org/issues/couples-and-families/faqs-for-binational-couples/#sthash.rEMOy3rc.dpuf

“THE WALKING DEAD”

Sunday is not just my birthday because there’s something bigger going on.  The fourth season of one of the most incredible shows on television kicks off!

The Walking Dead Season 4

Yes, it’s “The Walking Dead”.  While ratings are at an all-time high for the apocalyptic thriller, AMC is working on a spinoff for the 2015 television season.

Robert Kirkman, the writer of “The Walking Dead” comic book and the co-creator of the television show says, “After 10 years of writing the comic book series and being so close to the debut of our fourth, and in my opinion, best season of the TV series, I couldn’t be more thrilled about getting the chance to create a new corner of ‘The Walking Dead’ universe.  The opportunity to make a show that isn’t tethered by the events of the comic book, and is truly a blank page, has set my creativity racing.”

First-Look-Walkers-Makeup-760

Here’s to more blood, gore, walkers, and biters!

PICK HIT

My pick hit today is one of my favorite songs from one of the best albums of 2013.  It’s the fourth single from “Electric” from the Pet Shop Boys.

Pet Shop Boys

Here’s what I wrote about the song when I reviewed the album back in July, ““Thursday” features English rapper Example.  This song would have the best chance of mainstream success in America because it has an updated feel of 1980s club beats, very distinguishable Pet Shop vocals and music, and a strong rap, which is pretty much a staple of many songs played on Top 40 radio these days in the U.S.”

FINISHED “GOLDEN DAYS”

Last week, I mentioned that I started reading my first book in almost five years, “Golden Days:  Memories of a Golden Retriever” by Arthur Vanderbilt.

Golden Days

The book was incredible.  It had me tearing up by page five before Vanderbilt shares fun stories of Amy, the golden retriever, and an exciting history of the Cape Cod area.

By the time I got to the final chapter, page 133 of the 143-page book, my heart was breaking and the tears started slowing and I knew I had to be focus since I walking on the treadmill.

Amy reminded me so much of Miss ABBA, my golden that went to “puppy heaven” almost two years ago.  I love the stories of Amy and her sticks, her tennis balls, her treats under the table and the frozen paws in the snow.

Here’s Miss ABBA from Spirit Lake, Iowa, in the summer of 2010.

ABBA Spirit Lake Summer 2010

Miss ABBA, Amy, and all goldens are the most amazing creatures God ever created!

Check this book out if you’ve ever loved a dog like it was human and not just a pet!

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

Sir Cliff Richard turns 74-years-old next Monday and he’s getting ready to release his 100th album!

While he’s music royalty in his native England, he only hit the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 nine times.  His first hit reached #30 in 1959 and he last hit the Top 40 in 1981 peaking at #23.  Of those nine hits, three reached the Top Ten.

His biggest hit, “Devil Woman” hit #6 in 1976.

However, “We Don’t Talk Anymore”, which was released in late 1979, became his biggest selling song of all time with five million copies sold.   When the song spent two weeks at #7 in January 1980, Richard became the first artist to reach the Top 40 on the Hot 100 with songs in the 1950s, the 1960s, the 1970s, and the 1980s.

From that video, you can see why this 15-year-old (back in 1980) had the biggest crush on him.  That crush only intensified when he sang a duet, “Suddenly” with Olivia Newton-John later that year!

olivia_newtonjohn_cliff_richard-suddenly

Happy Birthday, Cliff!

Everyone have a great weekend and make the best of it.  Thank you for checking out my random thoughts this week.

Anthony

A Solemn December 1st

If you’re celebrating a birthday today, “Happy Birthday”.  If it’s your anniversary, “Happy Anniversary”.  And, if you’re going to be busy decorating or shopping for Christmas, “Happy Holidays”.

Although I think of my friends that are HIV-positive all the time, I really take time to think of the people who I’ve known that have died of AIDS on December 1st, “World AIDS Day”.

“World AIDS Day” was conceived by two public information officers for the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organization, James Bunn and Thomas Netter.  It was first observed on December 1, 1988.

The purpose is to raise awareness of AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) and the spread of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), which attacks the body’s immune system.

Granted you may not know anyone personally that has died of AIDS, but it’s likely that you know someone who is HIV-positive.  Across the globe, 34 million people are positive.  And, here’s something scarier than that:  a majority of all HIV infections are passed on by people who DON’T even know they are HIV-positive!!!

From 1981-2007, more than 25 million people died from AIDS making it the “most destructive pandemic in history”.

Back in the 1980s and for part of the 1990s, developing AIDS was almost a certain death sentence.  It still is in many underdeveloped countries and here in the United States for people not on medication.  However, with proper medication and a healthier lifestyle, most people who become HIV-positive can still lead a long life and most will likely die from another cause later in life.

Knowing how the virus is spread and debunking myths are two of the most effective ways to beat HIV.

More than 90% of people who are HIV-positive were infected through sexual contact.  The following graphic may be too blunt for some, but I won’t apologize for that.

And, just as important to know how you can contract the virus, you should know how it isn’t spread!

Also, you  should know that HIV and AIDS are NOT the same thing.  A person who is HIV-positive may never develop AIDS.

Each year, since 2007, a 28-foot tall red ribbon is displayed at the White House for World AIDS Day.  And, since 1995, every U.S. president has read a proclamation.  Here is the link for this year’s proclamation from President Barack Obama:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/11/29/presidential-proclamation-world-aids-day-2012

Together

The road to educating the public about HIV and AIDS has been a long and deadly one.  For much of the 1980s into the 1990s, AIDS was incorrectly known as a “gay disease” or “gay cancer”.  And, although AIDS was first recognized and became public in the summer of 1981, it took President Reagan years to even mention it to Americans.  I blogged about this back in July.  Here is the link to that story:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/president-reagan-i-no-longer-hate-you/

On this day of compassion for those living with HIV or AIDS, there is another reason to be solemn in a non-related story.  Today would have been Matthew Shepard’s 36th birthday.

My October 7, 2012 blog about Matthew’s tragic death:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/a-sad-senseless-way-to-die/

Anthony

A Sad & Senseless Way to Die

Pumpkins, corn stalks, and scarecrows are common autumn and Halloween decorations this time of the year.  Fourteen years ago this afternoon, a passing cyclist saw what he thought was a scarecrow on this Laramie, Wyoming fence.

It wasn’t a scarecrow.  It was the frail, comatose body of 21-year-old University of  Wyoming student Matthew Shepard.

Matthew had been robbed, pistol-whipped, tied to the fence for 18 hours, and left to die in 30° Wyoming weather.  When he was found, he had fractures to the back of his head and to the front of his right ear.  Matthew had brain stem damage so severe that doctors could not operate.  He had a dozen or so cuts on his head, face, and neck.

Matthew never regained consciousness and was on full life support for days until he died in the early morning hours of October 12, 1998.

On the evening of October 6, 1998, Matthew was at the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, Wyoming, when he met Aaron McKinney (right) and Russell Henderson (left).

While drinking that evening, the two men came up with a plan to give Matthew a ride home and rob him.  Kristen Price, girlfriend of McKinney, later testified that Henderson and McKinney “pretended they were gay to get [Shepard] in the truck and rob him.”

In the trial, the two men claimed that Matthew came on to them and they panicked and that’s when the crime moved from robbery to homicide.  Media reports claim that Matthew was beaten so severely that when he was found, his face was covered in blood except where his tears partially washed away the blood.

Henderson (above) pleaded guilty in April 1999 and agreed to testify against McKinney to avoid the death penalty.  He is now serving two consecutive life sentences.

McKinney was found guilty by a jury of felony murder.  While the jury was deliberating the death penalty, Matthew’s parents negotiated a deal that would keep him from being put to death.  In return, he would serve two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Matthew’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, have worked tirelessly to bring “hate crimes” front and center in America.  In December 1998, they established the “Matthew Shepard Foundation” that supports diversity and tolerance in youth organizations.

Three years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed “The Matthew Shepard Act” into law, which added crimes motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability to the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law.

Today, tomorrow, the next day, and every day after that, my heart goes out to Judy and Dennis Shepard and every parent that has watched their son or daughter die at the hands of some ignorant person or persons that were not man or woman enough to love their fellow-man or leave them well enough alone.

Matthew, on December 1, 2012, you should have been celebrating your 36th birthday.  You should have had a chance to love and be in love, to be a parent, or to be anything you wanted to be.

I’m so sorry that the last thing you saw before you slipped into a coma was the darkness around Laramie, Wyoming that night or the sun rising that morning tied to a fence and left for dead.

Your courage to be you may have cost you your life, but you will not be forgotten and I’ll do whatever I can to make sure you’re not forgotten.

Anthony