Posts Tagged ‘Meryl Streep’

ABBA: The Iconic Band, The Dog, & The Six Degrees of Separation

ABBA — those four letters are iconic!

Yet, for me, they have an added, special meaning.

If you follow me on social media or if you’ve regularly read my blog over the years, “ABBA” instantly makes you think of my beautiful late golden retriever.

If you’re seeing this from anywhere else across the world, the four letters, “ABBA”, instantly identifies one of biggest and the best musical acts ever!

My love of Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Benny, and Bjorn inspired me to name my dog ABBA and it’s the inspiration for today’s blog — a love letter to the foursome and a big “Thank You For The Music” and for the memories!

As I get into the meat and potatoes of today’s blog, I’ll be sharing a few personal stories that connect me to ABBA — the super group and the dog!

This was my dinner in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2017, which is where Bjorn was born and a city that played a big part in ABBA’s musical history. (Okay, that’s a slight deviation there, but I said this was going to be personal!) 🙂

ALMOST 50 YEARS ALREADY!

We’re not quite there yet, but it’s mind-boggling to think that we’re approaching the 50th anniversary of ABBA’s world domination!

They scored their first Swedish hit, “People Need Love”, in the summer of 1972 as “Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid”, then recorded “Ring Ring” for the 1973 Eurovision Song Contest.

But, it was winning Eurovision the next year, in 1974, with “Waterloo” that propelled ABBA to international fame!

I still listen to ABBA’s music regularly and it brings me just as much joy today as it has over my lifetime!

However, I was inspired to share my stories and my love of Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny, and Frida (Anni-Frid) after reading Carl Magnus Palm’s 2001 biography called, “Bright Lights, Dark Shadows: The Real Story of ABBA”, which sat on my bookshelf for almost two decades!

Crazy, right?

What a great read! Check it out!

Growing up in the southern United States (Kentucky) in the early-1970s, I was country when country wasn’t cool!

I was still infatuated with Tanya Tucker, while my teenage cousins (our summer baby sitters) were dancing around to the Carpenters, Olivia Newton-John, and ABBA. But, I was slowly coming around to pop music!

Somehow I acquired the 45 rpm single “SOS” and I was hooked on ABBA!

It was just two years earlier that I bought my first pop single, “Delta Dawn” by Helen Reddy, at the age of eight!

And, just as I was getting on the ABBA bandwagon as a fan, the international super group was coming undone and were calling it quits.

In the summer of 1980, they released the single, “The Winner Takes It All”.

It was the lead single from the upcoming November album, “Super Trouper”, with Agnetha singing lead.

While Bjorn says the song is about divorce and it’s fiction, he and Agnetha divorced early that year.

Yet, that wasn’t the end. The group would release what would become their last studio album, “The Visitors”, in November 1981.

The lead single in America was “When All Is Said And Done” with Frida singing lead.

Like “The history book on the shelf/Is always repeating itself”, Frida and Benny ended their relationship and divorced earlier in the year!

With both couples in ABBA divorced, new relationships pursued, and outside musical ventures already underway, there was no reason for the band to make new music together.

1990s ABBA-RENAISSANCE

While they hadn’t charted on the American singles charts since early 1983, the world would experience an ABBA-renaissance a decade later!

It started in the summer of 1992, when my favorite English pop group of the 1980s, Erasure, released “Abba-esque”.

That four-song EP featured remakes of the ABBA hits, “Lay All Your Love on Me”, “SOS”, “Take a Chance on Me”, and “Voulez-Vous”.

The duo scored an American Top 10 Dance Club Songs hit with “Take a Chance on Me”.

An ABBA revival was just getting underway and was ready to sweep the world!

After eight studio albums and countless compilation and greatest hits albums in the 1970s and 1980s, the real ABBA was ready to claim their rightful place again in music history.

“ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits”, featuring 19 of the group’s biggest hits, was released in September 1992.

It has gone on to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide making it the best-selling ABBA album ever!

In the spring of 1994, I was getting ready to make the biggest (and best) decision of my life.

I was moving from my small hometown of Mayfield, Kentucky (population around 10,000) to Chicago, the third largest city in the U.S. This move would lead to my career as a television meteorologist and it opened the world of international travel to me.

That spring, while packing to move, “ABBA Gold” was on repeat and the song I remember most vividly was “Knowing Me, Knowing You”.

THE BIG SCREEN LOVE AFFAIR WITH ABBA

After the international success of the Erasure album and “ABBA Gold”, the band’s profile would be raised even more in 1994 and 1995 with the release of two Australian dramedies — “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and “Muriel’s Wedding”.

In “Priscilla”, the movie centers around three drag queens on a cross country trip across the Australian Outback. One of the queens is obsessed with ABBA and two of them perform “Mamma Mia”.

In “Muriel’s Wedding”, socially awkward Muriel spends much of her time fantasizing about a glamorous wedding to get out of Porpoise Spit, Australia, by listening to ABBA (and 1970s music)!

Like in “Priscilla”, Muriel and her friend, Rhonda, perform an ABBA number. They choose “Waterloo”!

After seeing “Muriel’s Wedding” in 1995, I decided that my next dog would be named “ABBA”.

That became a reality in the summer of 2000, when I got my golden retriever. And, yes she was named ABBA!

October 2011

With their chart domination and stardom in the 1970s and with “ABBA Gold” and those two Australian movies in the 1990s, the world already had two chances to fall in love with iconic group.

However, the music of ABBA was getting ready to conquer another entertainment staple and a whole new audience!

ABBA 2.0 — “MAMMA MIA!”

The musical “MAMMA MIA!”, featuring a story line based around the music of ABBA, opened in London in April 1999. Almost a year later, it made its North American debut in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

My personal connection with the musical: Before it opened on Broadway in the fall of 2001, it played at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago that summer, where I first saw it.

Since we got to the venue early, we stopped in at Dunkin’ Donuts, right around the corner. And, you’ll never guess who was standing right in front of me?

It was Louise Pitre, who was playing Donna in Chicago and would originate the role on Broadway! I so wish I had said “hello”, but I let her be!

Pitre earned a Tony nomination in 2002 in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role category!

Worldwide, since 1999, based on limited available data, ‘MAMMA MIA!”, the musical, has grossed almost $2.1 billion (yes, that’s BILLIONS)!!!

BUT, WAIT!!!!

In the summer of 2008, the movie version of “Mamma Mia!” with Meryl Streep in the lead role became an international blockbuster bringing in $615.7 million at the box office.

It spawned a successful sequel in 2018, “Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again” ($395 million).

There’s even talk of a third movie that may feature new ABBA music!

And, before I share my ten favorite ABBA songs, I have the ultimate connection to the group as if naming your dog after them, isn’t enough. 🙂

It’s like “life imitates art” or “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”!

In late 2016, being the planner that I am, a trip to Scandinavia was booked for August 2017 to see much of Norway, some of Sweden, and Copenhagen, Denmark (loved it)!

However, in early 2017, my ex and I decided to end our eight-year relationship, but the big down payment on the Scandinavian trip was already paid!

So, in true ABBA fashion — the band with their last two albums and us with our trip — we honored our commitment to travel together even as divorced or separated couples!

That was us in Gothenburg, Sweden.

We parted amicably with fond and beautiful memories of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark!

A LITTLE CHART HISTORY FIRST

Okay, let’s kick off the countdown with a little ABBA chart trivia.

Ironically, Australia was one of the ABBA’s biggest success stories, while the U.S. was one of their biggest disappointments! It’s no secret that the band didn’t enjoy touring and that’s vital to success in America!

On the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States, ABBA scored 14 Top 40 hits.

Of those, four reached the Top Ten (“Waterloo” #6, 1974; “Dancing Queen” #1, 1977; “Take a Chance on Me” #3, 1978; and “The Winner Takes It All” #8, 1980).

Shockingly, in the U.S., “Dancing Queen” was the band’s only #1 song on the Hot 100. Yet, when you add in sales and other variables, “Take a Chance on Me” was their biggest hit in America!

MY TEN FAVORITE ABBA SONGS

I narrowed this list down to 23 songs and it was so hard cutting it down to just my ten favorites!

“DANCING QUEEN”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Original working title was “Boogaloo”!

“GIMME! GIMME! GIMME! (A MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT)”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: ABBA rarely allows artists to sample their music, but Madonna was permitted to use the instrumental introduction of this ABBA hit in her #1 2005 smash “Hung Up”!

“SUPER TROUPER”

“TAKE A CHANCE ON ME”

“WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE”

“FERNANDO”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Originally recorded for a Frida solo album!

INTERESTING TIDBIT #2: Spent a record setting 14 weeks at #1 in Australia!

“KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU”

“WATERLOO”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Original working title was “Tango”!

FROM “MURIEL’S WEDDING”

“MAMMA MIA”

FROM “THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT”

“SOS”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Considered as Agnetha’s first “heartbreak classic”!

INTERESTING TIDBIT #2: I still think Pierce Bronson should be sued for slaughtering (not slaying) the song in the “Mamma Mia!” movie! 😦 🙂

Now that you know my favorite ABBA songs and my history with the band, I have one more confession to make… as a teenager, I had the biggest crush on Benny!

Thank you for taking the time to ready my love letter to ABBA. What are you favorite ABBA songs or memories?

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — June 12, 2020

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

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

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

Have a fantastic weekend!

STIMULUS CHECKS & UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay, I’m off my soapbox!

“HANNIBAL” IS NOW ON NETFLIX!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“THE POLITICIAN”

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

Jessica Lange is mesmerizing as white trash conniver Dusty Jackson!

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

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

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

“HOLLYWOOD”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STILL WATCHING…

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

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

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

“CHROMATICA”

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

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

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

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

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

GRADE: B

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

LADY GAGA JOINS AN ELITE GROUP OF WOMEN

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

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

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

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

HAPPY 10TH BIRTHDAY “LOVERS”

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

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

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

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

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

ALSO READ…

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

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

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

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

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

So catty! Meow!

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

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

“TALKING TO GIRLS ABOUT DURAN DURAN”

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

DURAN DURAN

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

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

And, here are my three favorite Duran Duran songs!

“HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF

“THE REFLEX”

“IS THERE SOMETHING I SHOULD KNOW?

DURANNIES, YOUR FAVORITE?

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

For me, it’s Roger Taylor!

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

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — July 19, 2019

It’s been some time since I last shared some random thoughts.

Thoughts

There have many things I would have written about if I was still doing “Random Friday Thoughts” on a weekly basis, so here are just a few.

It’s also a reason to share a personal potentially embarrassing story! 🙂

Have a great weekend and thank you for checking out my thoughts today!

THE MANSON MURDERS 

We’re coming up on the 50th anniversary of the Charles Manson “family” murders on August 9-10, 1969.

As you may recall, a group of psychos led by the notorious Manson terrorized Los Angeles by slaughtering actress Sharon Tate and four others at her Hollywood home at 10050 Cielo Drive.

Manson.jpg

The next night, the “family” randomly killed Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.

A crazy new book by Tom O’Neill called “Chaos” claims much of what we know about the case is wrong and that prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi lied in his book “Helter Skelter”.

I read that book and I’m interested to read O’Neill’s far-fetched (?) book and theories.

The thing that intrigues me the most is who O’Neill says knows more about the murders, but isn’t talking — actress Candice Bergen of “Murphy Brown” fame (pictured below)!

Candice Bergen

Bergen and record producer Terry Melcher (son of actress Doris Day) actually lived in the house where the murders took place as late as early 1969!!!

O’Neill tells “Entertainment Weekly” that Bergen “knows a hell of a lot more than she’s ever said.”   

Creepy tidbit:  Before the Manson murders, the home was rented to these Hollywood actors: Lillian Gish, Cary Grant, Dyan Cannon, Henry Fonda, and Olivia Hussey.

Murder House.JPG

And, the house’s owner, Rudolph Altobelli, moved back in just three weeks after the Manson bloodshed!!!  He lived there for the next 20 years before selling it in 1989 for the equivalent of $3.2 million today!

“OZARK” EMMY LOVE

After watching the second season of Netflix’s “Ozark”, in October 2018, I wrote, “I absolutely love this show and I’m predicting that Laura Linney and Julia Garner will (or should) get Emmy nominations next year when they come out.”

Netflix TCA 2018

Well, I was right!

“Ozark” picked up two more nominations this summer — one for “Outstanding Drama Series” and another for Jason Bateman.

“ARCTIC”

If you’d like something to distract you from the summer heat and humidity, definitely check out the thriller “Arctic”!

I’ve been a fan of Mads Mikkelsen since NBC’s “Hannibal”.

After seeing the survival story, I definitely hope there’s an Oscar “For Your Consideration” campaign for Mikkelsen for “Best Actor”.

“Arctic” is stunning, breathtaking, and heartbreaking — unlike Robert Redford’s alone on a boat and lost at sea 2013 movie “All Is Lost” (which was one of my four least favorite movies I saw in 2014)!

GRADE:  A

“HOTEL MUMBAI”

I love Armie Hammer and Dev Patel and when I watch movies, I tend to lean toward dramas and thrillers.

This one is based on a real-life terrorist attack in 2008 at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India.

While very realistic, it wasn’t overly gory.  It’s a great movie that was never given a chance for box office success.

GRADE:  B+

“GRAND HOTEL”

I started watching this ABC soap opera with low expectation, but I’m still watching it!

Yes, it’s cheesy and some of the characters are silly caricatures of spoiled rich people.

But, the cast is beautiful — especially Australian actor Lincoln Younes, Demian Bichir and Roselyn Sanchez!

GH.JPG

And, then there’s Shalim Ortiz as Mateo, the hotel manager!

Shalim Ortiz

Eva Longoria Baston (“Desperate Housewives”) is an executive producer on the series and guest stars as the late former hotel co-owner.

“BIG LITTLE LIES”

I read Liane Moriarty’s book in early 2017 and absolutely loved the HBO mini-series starring Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz, Alexander Skarsgaard and Adam Scott.

After the eight Emmy Award wins (out of sixteen), I was thrilled when it was announced that there’d be a second season even though the first covered everything in the book!

I love Kidman and the thought of spending more time with the “Monterey Five” was fantastic.  Meryl Streep joining the cast as Kidman’s imposing, untrusting mother-in-law with a sharp tongue was just icing on the cake!

What I’ve seen of the second season is great, but not fantastic!.  However, Kidman, Witherspoon and Streep make it very worthwhile.

And, I’m loving Laura Dern’s angry Renata Klein this season.  Here’s an example why! 🙂

And, here is my favorite scene, so far, by far.

Two Oscar winners going at it and then the line, “What do we call that?  Foreplay?” followed by a sinister laugh off-camera are just too much! 🙂

Please give Streep her Emmy now and Kidman and Dern their second ones for this series!

“CLAWS”

I’m still loving this TNT series lead by Niesy Nash!

However, halfway through the third season, it’s definitely different than the first two seasons.

Sometimes, it feels a little lost.  However, I know the payoff will be great!

I mean really, it’s focused around a casino! 🙂

“WORLD WAR Z” SEQUEL CANCELLED

I really loved 2013’s “World War Z” with Brad Pitt and I’m bummed that the long-planned sequel has been nixed!

The reason?  A source tells “The Hollywood Reporter” that the Chinese government’s ban on movies with zombies or ghosts is the single biggest reason that Paramount cancelled the sequel!

The expensive $190 million movie was a box office smash bringing in more than $540 million worldwide.  This made it the highest-grossing zombie film of all time!

It was my second favorite movie of 2013.

OMG!

I think this is too funny not to share.  I’m downsizing my apartment before my next move — including my CDs and movies.

I’m watching movies over again that I may have watched once over the years.  Some I enjoyed, but they weren’t my favorites.  Others, I vaguely remember.

The other night after work, I was watching one of those movies while eating a salad and drinking my wine.  A sex scene comes on and I didn’t think anything about it.

I’m VERY open-minded and liberal! 🙂

taylor-swift-selena-gomez-shut-the-fuck-up-vmas-2013

All of sudden, the scene gets more and more graphic!  It went from soft core adult to pornographic.  I thought, “Wow, they can show that!” and “I can’t believe I don’t remember that scene!”

Sitting in the dark with only the flicker of the large screen television, I looked over my shoulder and realized my neighbor directly across the way was out on his balcony!!! (Our balconies are only separated by two small patches of grass and a sidewalk.)

I quickly grab the remote to hit “stop” for the very graphic (but erotic) image to go away.  I HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON!!!!!!!!!

So, not only did it not go away, but it was frozen for all the world (well, my neighbor) to see!

I didn’t go back to finish that movie for a few nights and when I did, it still wasn’t that good.  No wonder I didn’t remember it!

As for the neighbor, I now realize he had his back toward my apartment and was leaning on his ledge watching his own television! 🙂

So, that’s my funny, almost embarrassing story.

Don’t get me wrong!  I have nothing against adult scenes or material. I’d just discrete about it! 🙂

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Thoughts — April 12, 2019

While it’s officially spring, I hope you’re having spring weather.

We had a significant winter storm with blizzard-like conditions move into the Northland of Minnesota and Wisconsin Thursday!

Snow Car 2.jpg

Snow Car 1

Enjoy your weekend and thank you for checking out my random thoughts.

“IN SEARCH OF HOPE”

After reading Mariane Pearl’s “A Mighty Heart” about the Al Qaeda kidnapping and execution of her journalist husband, Daniel, in early 2002, I jumped right into “In Search of Hope:  The Global Diaries of Mariane Pearl”.

MARIANE PEARL HOPE

It’s an excellent book with many great stories and photos of extraordinary women around the world up against incredible odds to make a difference.

While human and sex trafficking is a problem all over the world, including the U.S., some parents in Cambodia sell their daughters off to become prostitutes for less than $10!

Those girls and women then have to service many men each day for just pennies a trick while the pimps keep the rest.

Now, that may not sound like something you would want to read, but to hear about the women who are risking their owns lives to stop things like this is very encouraging.

“In Search of Hope” is a very powerful read!

GRADE:  A

“POSE”

If you didn’t see the incredible first season of FX’s “Pose”, you have time to binge watch the award winning series NOW!

pose

Season two premieres June 9th, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the “Stonewall Riots” and gay pride month!

This season jumps ahead to 1990 after Madonna released “Vogue”!

“CLAWS”

I know what I’ll be doing after work on June 9th.  I’ll be watching “Pose” and one of my other favorite shows, “Claws” on TNT.

Desna and the girls return for their third season.

I guess this isn’t a spoiler, but a main character that was shot in an assassination attempt at the end of season two is in the trailer, so I guess she lives. 🙂  I never thought for a moment that she’d die!

Again, if you haven’t seen the first two seasons, binge watch now!

Niecy Nash is awesome!

“THE NUTCRACKER & THE FOUR REALMS”

This 2018 holiday movie ended up making $173 million worldwide against an expensive $120+ million budget.

As you may gather, this fantasy is based on the “The Nutcracker”.

If you like the ballet and you like adventure, you’ll enjoy this movie.

If not, watch for the amazing special effects with the Mouse King in the woods!  Once you see it, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about!

The incredible sequences with American Ballet Theatre’s Misty Copeland are breathtaking!

GRADE:  B

“VICE”

This movie about George W. Bush’s Vice President Dick Cheney rightfully earned the Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling!

This was the only win out of eight nominations, including Best Picture!  What????

Attractive Christian Bale was physically lost in his look as Cheney.  He and Amy Adams, who played wife Lynn Cheney, were amazing in their performances.

That’s really about the only good thing I can say about this atrocious movie and waste of time — other than the hair and makeup!

Cheney is probably one of the most vile men ever in American politics.  With all of the nasty things he’s done in life, I definitely won’t shed a tear when he dies.  In all fairness, he won’t shed a tear for me when it happens either!

Full disclaimer here:  I’m a die-hard liberal (actually, in an argument once with a Republican former co-worker, I exclaimed, “I’m a Meryl Streep-loving, tree hugging liberal and I’m proud of it!”), but “Vice” was nothing more than a hatchet job against Cheney.  But, an honest one!

Spoiler alert:  About an hour into the movie, there was a fake ending and credit roll.  Watching the movie, I wished it was the real ending!

But, it wasn’t and the second half of the movie was better than the first half!

GRADE:  C-

PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER!

Horror movies really don’t drive me to the theaters like they used to.  Last October, I was excited to see “Halloween” and it was worth it.

I’d much rather see psychological thrillers now and there’s one coming out May 31, 2019, that really has me excited.

I first saw the short trailer of “Ma” on the season five finale of “How To Get Away With Murder”.

It stars Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer as a villain!!!!!!!!!

It’s directed by Tate Taylor (“The Help” and “The Girl on the Train”) and produced by Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions (“Halloween” and “Get Out”).

“A NO NO”

I absolutely love Mariah Carey’s latest album, “Caution” and this is the second single!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — November 23, 2018

I hope you’re having a great and happy Thanksgiving holiday and the kick-off to the Christmas season!

Thank you checking out my Random Friday Thoughts!

THANKSGIVING

turkey_thanksgiving

Before work, I enjoyed the Thanksgiving feast with my friend, Katie, and her family and friends.

I still have vivid memories (and pictures) of Thanksgiving pasts!

Our Turkey 2012

ABBATG2007

PLAY THAT CHRISTMAS SONG NOW!

A few weeks ago, I highlighted the soundtrack to “It’s Christmas, Eve” on the Hallmark Channel by LeAnn Rimes.

LeAnn

I wrote, “It’s the best Christmas album in the past few years!!!!” and I gave the album an “A”!

Not only am I telling you again to get the album, but I’m thrilled that LeAnn saw my review and called me “sweet” on Twitter. 🙂

LeAnn.JPG

By the way, LeAnn and I crossed paths back in Salisbury, Maryland, in 2005.  She was just as sweet and fantastic then as she is now!

AnthonyLeAnn

Check out this mix from the soundtrack!  Incredible!

LeAnn and family, Merry Christmas and Happy 2019!

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

While “Bohemian Rhapsody” went through cast changes (Sacha Baron Cohen was originally cast as Freddie Mercury) and a rocky road from development to screen, the movie was amazing!

In just three weeks, the $52 million production has already made $404.1 million (one-third of that in the U.S.)

Emmy winner Rami Malik (“Mr. Robot”) was incredible as Queen lead singer Mercury and will very likely be nominated for a Best Actor Oscar!

GRADE:  A- 

QUEEN — BY THE NUMBERS

In the U.S., the band scored eleven Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

Its first “Killer Queen” reached #12 in 1975.

Queen hit the Top Ten five times (two of those were with “Bohemian Rhapsody” — #9 in 1975, #2 in 1991).  “Rhapsody” also reached #33 on the Hot 100 this year, too, when the movie soundtrack came out.

They topped the chart twice:  “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (1980, 4 weeks) and “Another One Bites The Dust” (1980, 3 weeks).

As risque as Mercury could be, in 1984, the band’s relatively tame video “I Want To Break Free” was banned on MTV because the band was wearing women’s clothes!

Because of that ban in Reagan’s uptight America, the song only reached #45 here.

However, it hit #1 in three countries and the Top Ten in eight others around the world!

“MAMMA MIA!  HERE WE GO AGAIN”

In 2008, “Mamma Mia! was one of my favorites of the year and it grossed $615.7 million worldwide.

I was excited when the sequel was announced to hit theaters in the summer of 2018.

Mamma Mia Here We Go Again.jpg

Well, that was until I heard that a major character (my favorite) was dead in the sequel, but would appear briefly.

So, I refused to go see it in theaters.  But, it made $393.4 million worldwide.

Now that it’s on DVD and Redbox sent me a free movie for my birthday, I saw it.

Pros:  Jeremy Irvine, Lily James, Meryl Streep (in the closing credits production number), the closing production number, Cher, and Jeremy Irvine. 🙂

Cons:  incoherent mess (at times), the “I Kissed The Teacher” production number and several others, and Cher.

Instead of sharing the trailer for the movie, here’s the amazing closing credits production number!

GRADE:  B- 

JEREMY IRVINE

I put Jeremy Irvine in my “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” review because I’ve loved him since his 2011 movie debut in “War Horse”.

Jeremy_Irvine

I even enjoyed him in 2015’s reviled “Stonewall”!  About that movie, I know it was “white-washed”, but it still told a very important story in LGBTQ history!

“BOY ERASED” & “BEN IS BACK”

There are a few more movies I want to see this year.

“Boy Erased” (with the always incredible Nicole Kidman and the incredible Lucas Hedges) about gay conversion therapy ( P.S.  IT’S WRONG AND IT DOESN’T WORK!),

“Green Book”, “Mary Poppins Returns”, and “Ben Is Back”.  (I may have to wait until 2019 for some of them since they’re only playing in bigger cities for now!)

I absolutely love Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges (him again) blows me away.  When I heard they were doing a movie together, I was excited.

All I knew about it was that Ben is a drug user and he shows up on Christmas Eve.  So, I figured it was going to be a drama-filled holiday.

However, when the full trailer debuted, I was floored.  It’s so much more intense and powerful than I expected.

I’ll definitely be there when it opens in Duluth, Minnesota!  WOW!

Final note from the trailer:  When Ben says, “I’m not going to die.”

Really?  If this is like horror movie foreshadowing when they say “I’ll be right back”, you’re know they’re doomed and they won’t be back!!!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — July 27, 2018

July is basically over and we’ll be heading into the last unofficial month of summer soon.  Have a great weekend and thank you for checking out my random thoughts.

CELEBRITY AND ACTIVISM

Being in the public eye can be a “Catch 22”.

There are people that think you should stick to whatever it is you’re known for (singing, acting, giving the weather, etc.) and you should keep your personal views and thoughts to yourself.

While I’m not a celebrity, I’ve been a very vocal advocate for LGBT rights and marriage equality.  I was also a Hillary Clinton supporter and I didn’t hide it.

Hillary AP

I know I’ve helped some families deal with relatives coming out as LGBTQ.

But, I’ve also had a few people tell me to stick to television weather and keep my views to myself.  My response to that is that if you don’t like my “views”, then you shouldn’t have friended me on Facebook or read my blogs. (I don’t share my personal views on my professional social media page.)

A former co-worker once expressed his strong dislike for Meryl Streep because she uses her public platform to express her views or her politics.

To that I replied, “I’m a Meryl Streep-loving, tree hugging liberal and I’m proud of it!”

I’m a strong believer that if you have a platform and people’s attention, you should use it to try and educate them on matters they may not be that familiar with!

IMAGINE DRAGONS (AND UNICORNS)

The Grammy Award winning, Las Vegas-based group Imagine Dragons have sold more than 12 million albums and 35 million singles.

They’ve had massive radio hits like 2012’s “Radioactive” and last year’s “Believer”, “Thunder”, and “Whatever It Takes”.

While they’re one of the hottest rock bands on the planet, the group started getting more attention — namely from Mormons and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — when lead singer Dan Reynolds reached out to and began defending the LGBTQ community.

Why?  In Utah, suicide is the leading cause of death for teenagers!!!

Trevor

SuicideHotline

WAKE THE F*CK UP UTAH!  (That’s me speaking and not Dan in those exact words!)

A new HBO documentary, “Believer”, came out in June.

It talks about the struggles of LGBTQ communities across Utah, the suicide rate, and what Reynolds and Neon Trees lead singer Tyler Glenn and others are doing to fight this tragedy.  It also takes on the double cross-talking Mormon church!

Now, I wonder what my former colleague that was always singing “Thunder” would think about Reynolds speaking out against the church’s views on being LGBTQ?  Is Reynolds now in the Streep camp of just “shut up and sing”?

LOVELOUD

The second annual LOVELOUD concert with proceeds supporting national and local LGBTQ+ charities will be held Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Salt Lake City with Imagine Dragons, Tyler Glenn, Zedd, and more.

“SHUT UP & SING”

As the 2003 Iraq War was about to get underway, Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, told a London, England audience, at the kickoff of the “Top of the World Tour”, “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States (George W. Bush) is from Texas.”

Once those comments made it to the U.S. and onto every right-wing, conservative radio and television show (and into newspapers), their country music career was over and they became pariahs in that genre.

Their hit, “Travelin’ Soldier”, was #1 on the country chart when the comments were made.  After Cumulus Media dropped the Dixie Chicks from their 42 country stations, the song dropped to #3 the next week and off the entire chart one week later!

They got death threats, which was the premise of the excellent documentary, “Shut Up & Sing”.

Kudos to Natalie, Emily Robinson, and Martie Maguire for putting on a strong face in the face of the turmoil and being called every name in the book!

Dc.jpg

The controversy played heavily into their Grammy Award-winning comeback, sans country radio, with “Take The Long Way” and “Not Ready To Make Nice” in 2006.

It was during this time that I first saw them in concert in Chicago in 2006 on the “Accidents & Accusations Tour”.

By the way, Bush responded, “The Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind. They can say what they want to say … they shouldn’t have their feelings hurt just because some people don’t want to buy their records when they speak out … Freedom is a two-way street … I don’t really care what the Dixie Chicks said. I want to do what I think is right for the American people, and if some singers or Hollywood stars feel like speaking out, that’s fine. That’s the great thing about America.”

“LATTER DAYS”

This movie, written by former Mormon C. Jay Cox (“Sweet Home Alabama”) is still one of my favorite movies after a decade.

It’s the story of a group of Mormons on their two-year mission to Los Angeles and one of them has a big secret.

It’s funny, loving, sad, and heartbreaking with amazing performances from leads Steve Sandvoss and Wes Ramsey and guest stars Jacqueline Bisset, Mary Kay Place, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

A must-see!

NOAH’S ARK

zoo.JPG

“A QUIET PLACE”

I’m probably one of the last people to finally see this incredible movie.

This $19 million dollar picture, which marked Krasinski’s directing debut, has already brought in $332.4 million dollars!

I love Emily Blunt and she’s incredible (when isn’t she?) and absolutely crush on John Krasinski!  This movie definitely marks his place in Hollywood as a promising director!

I’m claustrophobic and this movie took my breath away with the silence!  Silence that when broken is deadly!

Millicent Simmonds, who played Blunt and Krasinski’s daughter, is magnificent, too.

The movie ended perfectly for a sequel and one is on the way.

Does it need one?  No.  It’s a perfect stand alone movie.   However, it gives us a chance to see more of Blunt and Simmonds.

I hope that the sequel works as both a sequel AND a prequel — without a “spoiler alert”, that’s all I’ll say. 🙂

GRADE:  A

“STREISAND:  HER LIFE”

In my eight weeks since moving to Duluth, I haven’t read a book.  The last book I finished was my 20th of the year, “Streisand:  Her Life” by James Spada.

spada.jpg

It’s amazing how talented Streisand is — from music to television to Broadway to movies.

Based entirely on her looks as a child and a young woman, no one believed she had what it took to make it!  And, now she’s an Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy award winner!

But, the book doesn’t hold back on how self-centered she is or comes across.

Her friend, composer James Newton Howard (“Pretty Woman”):  “Barbra is a sweetheart, but she can be quite blunt.  If you’re not thick-skinned, then she’s not easy to think.  I happen to think she’s a genius.  The process of working with her is a difficult one because her perfectionism is unequaled.  She’s incredibly demanding, but I can truthfully say that working with her has elevated my own work.”

While demanding, she also uses her name and talent to promote causes she believes in — being a staunch liberal! 🙂

Speaking to students at Harvard in 1995, Barbra said, “I’m also very proud to be a liberal.  Why is that so terrible these days?  [The audience cheered].

She continued, “The liberals were liberating.  They fought slavery, fought for women to have the right to vote… fought to end segregation, fought to end apartheid.  Thanks to liberals, we have Social Security, public education, consumer and environmental protection, Medicare, Medicaid, the minimum-wage law, unemployment compensation.  Liberals put an end to child labor.  They even gave us the five-day work week.  What’s to be ashamed of?…”

Still speaking,  “I have opinions, nobody has to agree — I just like being involved, and after many years of self-scrutiny, I’ve realized that the most satisfying feelings come from things outside myself.”

Finally, she concluded, “So until women are treated equally with men, until gays and minorities are not discriminated against, until children have their full rights, artists must continue to speak out, and I will be one of them.  Sorry, Rush, Newt, Jesse — the artist as citizen is here to stay.”
Barbra’s been working on her autobiography for years and it was to be released in 2018.  However, that’s not looking likely.  She told “Entertainment Weekly” that the part about “A Star Is Born” is already 50 pages long!
BARBRA’S MUSIC

In her 50-plus-year career, Barbra scored 22 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with 13 of them reaching the Top Ten.

She’s had five chart toppers:  “The Way We Were”, “Evergreen”, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” (with Neil Diamond), “No More Tears” (with Donna Summer), and “Woman in Love”.

One of my favorites, “Left in the Dark”, the lead single from her 1984 album, “Emotion”, only reached #50 on the Billboard Hot 100.  But, it reached #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

A “POSE” CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY

Christmas is now just five months away.

As you already know, I love FX’s “Pose” and it was renewed for a second season.

The first season has wrapped up, but just three episodes in, I got the thing I love most about any series — a Christmas episode!

Work it Blanca in a Pray Tell creation!

blanca

Angel also looked lovely in the heartwarming episode!

angel pose.gif

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — May 18, 2018

It’s past the middle of May now and the unofficial start to the summer season is getting closer — Memorial Day!

Have a great weekend and thank you for taking the time to check out my random thoughts.

REPUBLICAN HATE & JOHN McCAIN

I voted against Senator John McCain when he ran for president in 2008 and there are many things that he says and does that I disagree with.

McCain

However, I appreciate all that he did for the United States as a veteran and a former Prisoner of War.

It saddens me that he’s battling brain cancer.  What makes me equally sad (and mad) is the total lack of respect he’s getting from the Republican Party.

Recently, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch stated that he wants McCain to reconsider not wanting Donald Trump at his funeral.

With all of the mockery and the snide comments #45 made about McCain, I wouldn’t want him at my funeral either!  When that time comes, I hope that his family forbids Trump from attending.

Sadler

And, then late last week, White House aide Kelly Sadler said in meeting, “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.”

Seriously, if there’s a time and place to use a derogatory term for a woman (Sadler), it’d be now!

And, recently on Fox News, retired Air Force General Tom McInerney called McCain “songbird John” for allegedly providing information to the North Vietnamese while he was a POW!

DECENCY HITS “ROCK BOTTOM”

Here’s what former Vice President Joe Biden had to say the day after Sadler’s comment.

Biden

BANNING THE MEDIA

I’ve made it a point to mention #45 as little as possible over the past eighteen months.

I know it’s denial.  If I don’t talk about it, maybe I’ll wake up and realize it was all a bad dream.  Wait, that was on “Dallas”! 🙂

Last week, he tweeted (shock!) about taking away press credentials.

45 Press Trump

He’s sounding more and more like #37, Richard Nixon.  We all know how that one ended!

In case you don’t — resignation from office in disgrace!

ENOUGH ABOUT THEM

Gag Me

SOMETHING ABOUT THE ROYAL FAMILY!

There’s a big Royal wedding this weekend and I’m sure there’ll be cake.

This is what I wrote in December 2012, “Sir Paul McCartney orders a fruitcake from cake designer Fiona Cairns each Christmas and, in early 2011, Cairns was tapped to make the royal wedding cake for Prince William and his future bride, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.”

Royal Wedding Fruit Cake

THIS SHOULD MAKE YOUR SMILE

This video still rocks my world and makes me smile! 🙂

Why?  Because (1) “It’s Britney, Bitch” and (2) I still find actor Aaron Milo drop dead gorgeous!

I’ve featured “Eating Out:  Drama Camp” and “Eating Out:  The Open Weekend” actors Aaron Milo (from Rockford, Illinois) and Daniel Skelton’s fun video to Britney’s “Big Fat Bass” three times over the years of my blog.

So, why not a fourth time?

If you’ve never watched it, treat yourself now! 🙂

CREEPY CRUSHING

Okay, it’s a little creepy because, sadly, (1) he’s dead and (2) if he were still alive, he’d be turning 93-years-old this November.

So, it’s not a real crush.  But, look at how sexy Bobby Kennedy was in his 30s and, even at 42, when he was gunned down in June 1968.

Bobby Kennedy

Kennedy was the father of eleven and his widow, Miss Ethel, just turned 90-years-old in April.

“BOBBY KENNEDY FOR PRESIDENT”

When I saw that Netflix debuted this documentary, I thought it’d be an hour or two.  But, it’s four one-hour episodes and it’s incredible!

It covers Bobby’s life campaigning for his brother, John F. Kennedy, the nation’s 35th president, and becoming his attorney general.

After JFK’s death, Bobby had to decide whether to become President Johnson’s vice president in Johnson’s 1964 presidential run or venture out on his own.

He chose the latter.

When the documentary gets to Bobby’s assassination inside the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in June 1968 after winning the California Democratic Primary, it gave me chills and goosebumps.

We’ve all seen the Dallas footage of JFK’s assassination, but it’s in black and white and from a distance.

But, when Bobby raises his hand and his head is cradled, the blood and the blood red color of television is chilling!

Watching this documentary, I was thinking of what a great president Bobby Kennedy would have been if not for his senseless murder.

And, could you imagine Richard Nixon going over the deep end if he had lost to two Kennedys in his bid to be president?

Nixon

I guess it would have kept him from resigning in shame in 1974 after the Watergate scandal!

GRADE:  A

ANOTHER CRUSH AND IT’S NOT JUST ME

Actor Josh Brolin who plays the villain Cable in the upcoming “Deadpool 2” movie out May 18th tells “Entertainment Weekly” of a crush he developed after seeing 2009’s “The Proposal” many times.

DEADPOOL-2-847185

Brolin says, “I told Ryan [Reynolds].  I was like, ‘I don’t know why this is, and I don’t know what this means psychologically, behaviorally, emotionally, but I have kind of a crush on you.'”

Ryan-Reynolds-Body

Brolin, get in line!

“TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE”

I just finished reading my 17th book of 2018, Mitch Albom’s 1997 debut bestselling novel, “Tuesdays with Morrie”.

Morrie

It’s a beautiful, life-affirming, platonic love story between two men — an aging, dying college professor and one of his former students.

Sixteen years passed from college graduation to when sports writer Albom found out his sociology professor, 78-year-old Morrie Schwatrz, was dying from ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Albom Morrie

It’s a beautiful book that needs to be read.  It’ll give you a more positive look at life.

Here are a couple of my favorite words of wisdom from Morrie:

“Dying is only one thing to be sad over, Mitch.  Living unhappy is something else.”

“If you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them, too — even when you’re in the dark.  Even when you’re falling.”

Mitch learned the most valuable lesson of all from Morrie, “there is no such thing as ‘too late’ in life”!

Years ago, I read Albom’s second novel, 2003’s “The Five People You Meet in Heaven”.  I highly recommend both books!

“THE POST”

This Steven Spielberg-directed film starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks is based on the true story of the Washington Post’s fight with President Nixon in early-1970s over publishing the “Pentagon Papers”.

It got two Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Actress (Streep) and six Golden Globe Award nominations.

Streep plays Katharine Graham, the heiress of the Washington Post and the company’s television stations after the death of her father and her husband.  Hanks plays Post editor-in-chief Ben Bradlee.

It’s a great historical movie with superb acting!  However, I hated seeing Sarah Paulson in a throwaway role as Bradlee’s wife!

The last moments of the movie before the credits (two phone calls is all I’ll say so there are no spoilers) gave me goosebumps.  I was screaming, “Yes”!

If “The Post” was your typical “summer popcorn movie”, that final scene screamed “SEQUEL”.  But, if you know history, you know what happened next! 🙂   You could also say that the “sequel” came out in 1976! 🙂

GRADE:  B+

“PETER RABBIT”

This live action-computer-animated comedy starring James Corden (“Into The Woods”) and Rose Byrne (“Neighbors”) was very successful.

The $50 million movie brought in an incredible $320 million worldwide.

However, it did come with controversy.  The movie was accused of “allergy bullying”.

In one scene, a bad person (Domhnall Gleeson) is trying to kill Peter Rabbit and his family.  The rabbits learn that the person has an allergy and they use this allergen as a weapon in war.

I know allergies are serious, but if someone is trying to kill me, all is fair in love and war!

But, I know the movie is directed at kids and it may give them bad ideas!  Wait, does that mean no more movies, television, music, books, video games, or internet for them, too? 🙂

I loved the movie and highly recommend it.

GRADE:  B+

HAPPY 20TH BIRTHDAY!

This month, 20 years ago, Madonna entered the Billboard Hot 100 with her 37th Top 40 hit with the second single and title track from the “Ray of Light” album.

It also became her 21st chart topper on the Billboard Dance Club songs chart.  (She now leads all artists on that chart — a record-extending 46 #1 songs!)

“Ray of Light” won two Grammy Awards and five MTV Video Music Awards.

It was also voted one of the best songs of the 1990s!

BREAKING NEWS:  It seems that a new Madonna single is coming soon and her 14th studio album is finished!!!!!!!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — March 30, 2018

The first big holiday of spring is upon us.  I know it’ll be a busy one for many of you, so thank you for taking the time to check out my random thoughts.

HAPPY EASTER!

A flashback to Easter 2001 and Miss ABBA visiting the Easter Bunny!

ABBAEaster2001

KRISPY KREME CELEBRATES EASTER 

For just a limited time in the United States and Canada, Krispy Kreme is featuring a Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg donut.

The chocolate-iced, nut-covered sweet treat is filled with a Reese’s peanut butter version of Krispy Kreme’s signature Kreme filling.

Capture1

If that isn’t your thing, the company will start selling a Lemon Glaze Doughnut, which was voted on by fans, on April 23, 2018.

SIX MONTHS NOW

Six months ago this weekend, on October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a country music concert on the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada.

LV

Before killing himself, he gunned down 58 others and injured more than 700.

Country star Jason Aldean was on stage when the massacre occurred.  While he has commented on the rampage before, he’s ready to try to move on.

Aldean tells “Entertainment Weekly”, “I’m not a politician.  I’m not trying to push my own agenda.  If I say that I believe this, I’m gonna piss off half of the people, and if I say I believe that, I’m gonna piss off the other half.  I have my opinions, but what the hell do I know?  I think everybody needs to sit down, stop pushing their own agendas, and figure out what will make it safer.  When people can’t go to a damn movie or a concert and not worry about somebody shooting the place up, there’s a flaw in the system.”

Amen!

“AMARILLO SKY”

Aldean has scored 34 Billboard Country hits since his career kicked off in 2005.  Of those, 29 have hit the Top Ten.  Ten topped the chart.

“Amarillo Sky” (#4, 2006) is one of my favorites.

REMEMBRANCE GARDEN 

In December 2017, while in Las Vegas, I visited the memorial for the victims — the Remembrance Garden and Wall!

Remembrance Garden

HOMOPHOBIA — THEN AND NOW

In 1997, homophobia allowed spree killer Andrew Cunanan to murder four people before he gunned down fashion icon Gianni Versace outside his Miami Beach mansion.

In Minneapolis, Cunanan killed his friend, Jeffrey Trail, and his ex-boyfriend David Madson before he murdered real estate developer Lee Miglin in Chicago — Cunanan planted gay erotica material at that crime scene.

Even after three murders, police weren’t looking too hard for the killer because only gays were being executed.

Cunanan ditched Miglin’s stolen car when he realized the car’s cell phone was being tracked by the FBI.  He killed a straight cemetery worker in New Jersey for his truck.

His final victim (besides himself) was Versace.

While police were looking for Cunanan in Miami’s gay community, they were convinced he might be masquerading in drag to hide out!

“THE ASSASSINATION OF GIANNI VERSACE: AMERICAN CRIME STORY”

Sadly, this excellent series is over.

I think when Emmy nominations are announced in July that Darren Criss and Judith Light will get acting nods for their roles of Andrew Cunanan and Marilyn Miglin.

Miglin

“THE SHAPE OF WATER”

If this movie needed an alternate title, how about “The Shape of Excellence”!

Nominated for 13 Oscars, the movie won four including Best Picture and Best Director for Guillermo del Toro.

An excellent Sally Hawkins was nominated for Best Actress and Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer were both nominated in the Best Supporting categories.

Eliza (Hawkins) is a mute woman working as a cleaning lady in a secret government lab in Baltimore during America’s “Cold War” with the Soviets.

She becomes infatuated with the creature that’s being experimented on in the lab.

Eliza’s neighbor, Giles, like her, is lonely and looking for love.  He’s older and gay and realizes if he’d been born at an earlier or later time, he might have had a fulfilling life as a gay man, complete with love.

Spencer is incredible as Eliza’s friend and after seeing this movie, I think Michael Shannon, the bad guy, should have gotten an Oscar nomination in the Best Supporting category instead of Willem Dafoe (“The Florida Project”).

“The Shape of Water” is a very adult “Beauty and the Beast” story.

GRADE:  A+

“WATCHDOGS OF DEMOCRACY?”

This is the second book this year I’ve read from the late UPI reporter Helen Thomas.  The first was “Front Row at the White House”, which was a great read.

watchdogs

This book examines how reporters were the “watchdogs” for the public in the early days of newspaper and even radio and television.

However, as presidents (especially Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush) began to limit the amount of information the public would know about military conflicts and wars (Vietnam, Grenada, and Iraq), reporters failed by not being more assertive in their questioning the information press secretaries were feeding them.

Thomas was especially harsh toward the presidency of George W. Bush, which she mostly referred to as “Bush-2”.

I was thrilled that she also gave President Jimmy Carter the due respect he deserved for bringing the hostages home alive from Iran.

President Carter National Christmas Tree 1979

Thomas writes, “But television commentators and anchormen [Ted Koppel’s “Nightline” was born out of the hostage crisis] were relentless in citing how many days it had been that the hostages were being held, fueling the perception that Carter was a weak president.  In truth, he brought the hostages back alive.  But President Reagan got the credit, because the Iranians waited until the day Reagan was sworn in to release them.”

“Watchdogs” is the ninth book I’ve read, so far, in 2018.

WHAT NOW?

Now that “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”, “The X-Files”, “9-1-1”, and “The Alienist” (although I still have the series finale to watch) are finished, I’m now going to check out “The Terror” on AMC and “Trust: The Getty Family Saga” on FX.

DONNA SHERIDAN:  DEAD OR ALIVE?

2008’s “Mamma Mia!” is still one of my favorite movies and I’ve watched it countless times.  It’s the 134th biggest movie of all-time worldwide bringing in $615.7 million.

In May 2017, it was announced that a sequel, “Mamma Mia!  Here We Go Again” would hit theaters in July 2018.  I was thrilled!

Capture1

But, that excitement turned to despair when the first trailers arrived.  Fans were quick to note that there was very little of Donna Sheridan (Meryl Streep), the star of the first movie.

Does that mean that Donna is dead since it focused on a young Donna (Lily James)?

After seeing the trailer in theater last week during “Love, Simon”, Donna was still referred to in the past tense.

I know there are many great people in “Mamma Mia!” and with the addition of Cher in the sequel, it’ll be great.

But, a dead Donna Sheridan means no “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” for me this summer!

THE END OF “THE X-FILES”

When this series “ended” in 2002 on Fox after the ninth season, I was not pleased with the “series finale”.

It was brought back for a six-episode tenth season in 2016 and then back for ten mostly painful episodes this winter.

Gillian Anderson, who plays FBI agent Dana Scully, announced that she would not return to the series if it comes back for another season.

And, after seeing this final finale, I can see why!

No more “The X-Files” please — unless it’s on the big screen as a movie!

“MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS”

This Agatha Christie thriller directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars as famous Detective Hercule Poirot, was a hit last year.

After solving a case in Jerusalem, Poirot is ready for a vacation, but stumbles across a “Murder on the Orient Express”!

The all-star cast is great and includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz and many more.

The cinematography is incredible!

On a $55 million budget, the movie made $350.5 million worldwide.

Fox announced earlier this year that “Death on the Nile”, another Christie novel, will be the sequel.

It’ll hit theaters in November 2019 with Branagh returning as director and star.

GRADE:  B

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

My Oscar Nominations – Final Predictions

Oscar nominations for the 90th Annual Academy Awards will be announced tomorrow (January 23), so I’m making my predictions on the movies and actors that’ll be preparing speeches for Oscar night.

Oscar-Nominations-2014

The Academy Awards take place Sunday, March 4, 2018, and will air on ABC!

BEST ACTRESS

Jessica Chastain, “Molly’s Game”

Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”

Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”

Meryl Streep “The Post”

Who I think will win:

Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

BEST ACTOR

Timothee Chalamet, “Call Me By Your Name”

Daniel Day-Lewis “Phantom Thread”

James Franco, “The Disaster Artist”

Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”

Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

Who I think will win:

Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour” 

Who I want to win:

Timothee Chalamet, “Call Me By Your Name”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Holly Hunter, “The Big Sick”

Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”

Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”

Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

Michelle Williams, “All The Money In The World”

Who I think will win:

Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”

Armie Hammer, “Call Me By Your Name”

Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”

Christopher Plummer, “All The Money In The World”

Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Who I think will win:

Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” 

BEST PICTURE

“The Big Sick”

“Call Me By Your Name”

“Darkest Hour”

“Dunkirk”

“Get Out”

“Lady Bird”

“The Post”

“The Shape of Water”

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Who I think will win:

“Dunkirk”, “The Shape of Water”, or “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — October 27, 2017

The holiday season is officially here with Halloween next week.

I hope you have fun shopping this weekend for costumes and candy.  Will there be any left over for trick-or-treaters? 🙂

Random Thoughts

Thank you for taking time to check out my “Random Friday Thoughts”.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN’S DOWNFALL

Harvey Weinstein

As more and more sexual harassment allegations surface and multi-million dollar lawsuits are filed against Harvey Weinstein, the former head of The Weinstein Company, I’m just shocked at how long it took all of this to come to light.

One person that’s probably the least bit surprised is actor-comedian-writer-director Seth Rogen.

Rogen

In a December 2014 “Rolling Stone” magazine article, Rogen was quoted as calling Weinstein “a well-documented psychopath” and “a real motherf**ker”!

“HALLOWEEN” (2018)

Since John Carpenter’s “Halloween” movie came out in 1978, there have been nine sequels.

Well, guess what?  For the 40th anniversary of the original, the 11th movie in the franchise hits theaters October 19, 2018.

Halloween-2019-sequel-Jamie-Lee-CurtisJamie Lee Curtis will return as Laurie Strode.

But, wait, didn’t Michael Myers kill Laurie in 2002’s “Halloween: Resurrection”?  Oops….spoiler-alert

The 2018 film will be a direct sequel to the 1978 original and will ignore all of the previous sequels!!!

Here’s the original trailer.

“It was the boogeyman!”

“As a matter of fact, it was!”

HALLOWEEN CANDY — BY STATE

My favorite candy bars are Snickers and Zero and I also love Twizzlers.

Here’s what candystore.com reports as the most popular Halloween candy by state!

CANDY

So, I was born and raised in a “Tootsie Pops” state (Kentucky) and lived in two “Starburst” (Wisconsin and Texas) states.  I’ve also lived in “Sour Patch Kids” (Illinois), “Milky Way” (Maryland), “Blow Pops” (Ohio) and “Skittles” (Florida) states.

I also love Candy Corn and it’s the most popular Halloween candy in Idaho, New Mexico, Michigan, Alabama, South Carolina and Rhode Island.

I’M NOT AS POPULAR AS “SNL”, BUT… 🙂

It seems we think alike.

A couple of weeks ago, I was ticked off at one of Kellyanne Conway’s ignorant tweets and sent her one.

AP Clown

Well, I guess the writers of “Saturday Night Live” have the same thought process as me.

snl kellyanne

In a skit, Kellyanne is “Kellywise” and tries to lure Anderson Cooper into the sewers.  She’s already got two other famous victims in her clutches!

ARE YOU “READY FOR IT”?

“Ready For It”, the new video and second single from the upcoming Taylor Swift album, “Reputation”, is incredible, creepy, and sexy!

“MAMMA MIA: HERE WE GO AGAIN!”

A few months ago, I excitedly told you about the sequel to “Mamma Mia!”, the 2008 box office smash, based on ABBA songs.

Here’s an update — Cher is joining the cast alongside returning stars Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, and Amanda Seyfried. (Oh, Dominic Cooper is back, too) 🙂

While the details are limited, Cher was recently in the U.K..  She tweeted, “Just went through two dance numbers, everyone’s great.” and this:

Cher

The “Mamma Mia!” sequel hits theaters July 20, 2018, which will be ten years to the weekend of the original!  It made almost $610 million worldwide.

“TEN DAYS IN THE VALLEY”

I’m four episodes into the new ABC thriller starring Kyra Sedgwick, who plays a Hollywood television and documentary producer whose child goes missing.

Each episode covers one day in the investigation to find the little girl. And, each episode casts characters as suspects and clears others.

In the trailer, Sedgwick says “People say there’s some truth in every lie.”

That’s funny because I’ve been told there’s a little truth to all my jokes! 🙂

I highly recommend it, although it’s the least watched new series on the major networks this fall!

“BABY DRIVER”

In this summer action caper, Ansel Elgort plays “Baby”, a getaway driver for a group of criminals who rob banks and businesses for a crime boss played by Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”) .

I saw Elgort in his first three movies, “Carrie”, “Divergent”, and “The Fault in Our Stars” and I thought he was cute, but that was it.  However, in “Baby Driver”, he’s downright adorable.

The movie plays out like a two-hour music video.  It has a lot of heart, but you have to suspend disbelief very early on (less than five minutes into the movie) and quite often.

Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, and Lily James costar.

GRADE:  B

“MY KIND OF CHRISTMAS” REVIEW

Reba McEntire’s latest holiday offering, “My Kind of Christmas” came out a couple of weeks ago on October 13th.

REBA

This is her third Christmas album following 1987’s “Merry Christmas to You” and 1999’s “The Secret of Giving:  A Christmas Collection”.

If you already own those two, you have six of the fourteen songs on this new disc.  However, these are newly recorded versions with new arrangements.

The album kicks off with “Winter Wonderland” and “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” and the songs take you to an intimate piano bar during the holiday season with Reba as the lounge singer!

The piano vibe continues with “Jingle Bell Rock”, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, and the stellar remake of Dolly Parton’s classic, “Hard Candy Christmas”.

This song hits harder for me this year knowing I’ll be single and alone this Christmas.  (Reba experienced this two years ago after ending her 26-year marriage to Narvel Blackstock).

As Reba sings, “Maybe I’ll just get drunk on cheap red wine” and “Maybe I’ll just leave town/Maybe I’ll have some fun/Maybe I’ll meet someone and make him mine”!

You know I love Reba and I’ve expressed before that whenever Reba releases a new album, there’s also a song (or songs) that reflects what’s happening in my life like Reba is singing just to me.

For me, on this album, it’s “Hard Candy Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” (if only in my dreams!)

On “Jingle Bells”, Reba makes this simple standard refreshingly new with just piano and one other instrument, her voice.

If the album stopped there, I’d give it an “A+”, but it doesn’t.  It’s the duets that brings the album down.

It’s great to hear Vince Gill and Reba singing together again, with Gill’s wife, Amy Grant on “Mary Did You Know”.  However, when Grant start reciting the lyrics, it does nothing for me and makes me want to skip over the song!

And, then there’s an acoustic version of Reba’s incredible “Back To God” from earlier this year.  On “Sing it Now:  Songs of Faith and Hope”, it was flawless.

reba-faith

The arrangement on this version, which features Lauren Daigle, is offsetting.  Maybe I’m just too much of a fan of the original!

Her duet with Darius Rucker “O Little Town of Bethlehem” is good.

The album ends with the amazing “Silent Night” from Kelly Clarkson’s “Wrapped in Red” album (2013) that also featured Trisha Yearwood.

GRADE:  B+

CHRISTMAS STAMPS

Last week, I shared with you the two news USPS Christmas stamps and asked which ones you’d choose?

Although I liked them both, I’m buying these this year.

Stamps 1

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

I wish you the scariest Halloween ever!

DT MasksWait, many of us feel as if we’ve been living it since last Halloween!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony