Posts Tagged ‘Nashville’

2017, Don’t Let Me Down

Happy New Year!

2017

I hope you had a great time saying goodbye to 2016.  While I worked Saturday night, I was home in time to ring in the new year with my husband, Ray, enjoying some champagne and shrimp cocktail.

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Our 15-year-old daughter, Gretel, is growing up and growing out of her parents — she welcomed in 2017 with her friends.

I’m always pontificating about life (the past, the current, and the future).  It’s like being visited by the three ghosts (spirits) at Christmas, but I do it year around.

A Christmas Carol

While reflecting on where I’ve been, the mistakes I’ve made, and what I’d change if given the chance to do it all over again, I still look forward.  I’m always counting down to something.

I remember so many times, as a kid, saying that I wished a certain event or date would arrive and my grandmother, Helen, telling me, “you are wishin’ your life away.”

As I became more prospective as a teenager and being 51 years younger than my grandmother, I foolishly thought that she meant I was wishing her life away.  After all, I was young and I was looking forward to the rest of my life.

Now that I’m 52 and approaching those golden years like my grandmother, I realize two things:  I’m still always planning and counting down to something, but I’m also very aware that I’m no longer a youngster.

Anthony April 1969

It doesn’t help knowing that my mother died at the age of 47 and my father died at 55.  With each passing year and each celebration of the new year, it makes me think even more.

The bottom line is that I’m blessed in life.

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I have a wonderful family, my health, and a job that I love for the most part.  While I’d love to make more money (who doesn’t?), I’m in a position to travel and see places that many may never visit.

AP Ray Night View Vegas

Last year, I got to visit China, see New York City, Las Vegas and Cleveland, Ohio, again, and I checked out Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina, for the first time.

I already have a few things planned for 2017.  As I often joke, I work just so I can travel.  Honestly, I do it to pay the bills, too!

Speaking of work, I can’t believe I’ve now worked in the Quad Cities television market as a meteorologist for more than 11 years.  I love what I do, but I also love to write.  There are times when I think about changing careers.  Will that be in 2017?

We all know that life is full of changes and uncertainty and I’m not shy about my feelings of dread for the next four years.

Almost two months after the shocking presidential election, I’m still devastated with the results.

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While three million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton to be the 45th president of the United States, the electoral college was obligated to vote otherwise.

Since I live in the real world, I know some of you voted for someone other than Hillary and you got your wish!  I hope I never hear you express regret over that decision.  You won’t find a bit of sympathy coming from me.

With that being said, I sincerely hope for the best for America (and the world).

As someone put it after the stunning election — wishing for the new president to fail is like boarding a plane and hoping it crashes.

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If we look at the next four years as a flight, I sure wish that Sully was in the cockpit.  Hell, I’d be happy if it was Tom Hanks playing Sully in the cockpit!

“Oh, but I need some time off/From that emotion/Time to pick my heart up off the floor.”

As the late George Michael expressed to us, we got to have “faith”!

With all this in mind, I wish you and yours the very best in the year ahead.

If you had a great 2016, I hope 2017 is even better.  If 2016 was less than stellar, I hope the new year treats you better.

As Mariah Carey laughs off in my favorite version of “Auld Lang Syne”, “does anybody really know the words?”.  That sounds like life to me!

By the way, I get to see Mariah and Lionel Richie in Nashville, Tennessee, this spring!  See, that’s something I’m counting down to. 🙂

If life gets you down or gives you lemons, make lemonade.  If there’s no sugar to sweeten the lemonade, just smile, say “f*ck” it, and add a shot of vodka!

Happy New Year!

Anthony

Chely Wright Knows That God Loves Her

“Dear God, please don’t let me be gay.  I promise to be a good person.  I promise… I promise… I promise… I promise… Please take it away.  In your name I pray.  Amen. ”

Variations of that prayer were a daily part of country singer Chely Wright’s life from the time she was a third grader until she privately accepted that she was gay.

Fast forward to January 26, 2006 — a cold winter’s morning when Chely stood defeated in her Nashville home with a loaded 9 millimeter gun in her mouth.  After all of the years of living in denial and fighting to be happy, but not out, she was ready to end it all.

However, the tears started falling and Chely just couldn’t pull the trigger.  She put the gun on the mantle and went back upstairs and stayed in bed for a couple of more days.

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The former Academy of Country Music’s Top New Female Vocalist and one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” couldn’t handle the stress of being gay and not being able to be open and honest about it.

That month of depression in January 2006 and the suicide attempt was a turning point for Chely.

Today, she’s happily married to LGBT rights advocate Lauren Blitzer (they met and married in 2011) and she’s the mother of twin boys, George Samuel and Everett Joseph, who turn one-year-old last weekend.

chely-wright-weddingChely's Twins Turn One

Although the book came out in 2010, I just got around to reading her autobiography, “Like Me”, which not only talked about her love of God, her family, country music and singing, but also her struggles with being a lesbian and having to hide her personal life to be a successful country music star.

Chely Wright Like Me

Richelle Rene Wright was born in the fall of 1970 in Kansas City, Missouri, and raised in a small Kansas town of 1,600 people.  She was the youngest of three children.

Even as a child, Chely knew that she was different.  She even had feelings for a teacher when she was just a little girl.

While Chely dated boys growing up in Kansas, she knew that it wasn’t going to change the feelings she felt toward women.  She moved to Nashville as a teenager to work at Opryland, where she had her first lesbian affair.

After landing a recording contract, Chely’s first album, “Woman in the Moon” and her first singles arrived at country radio in 1994 and 1995.

Chely Wright - Woman In The Moon

While the three singles got some radio airplay, none of them cracked the Top 40 on the Billboard Country chart.  However, at the gay country bar, Charlie’s, in Chicago, that I worked at during that time, “Sea of Cowboy Hats”, was a hit with the two-steppers.

Chely released a second album in 1996, but it, too, failed to catch on at country radio.  Meanwhile, she continued to tour extensively across the U.S. and visit and perform for troops around the world.

She always lived a double life.  When she wasn’t the “country singer” touring and promoting her songs, she was in an on-again and off-again relationship for about ten years with a music industry woman named Julia.

In 1997, she scored her first hit on the Billboard Country chart.  “Shut Up and Drive” reached #14.  It was followed by two more modest hits that reached #39 and #36, respectively.

While working to make it big as a country singer, she kept a low profile with Julia.  Julia even got married to a man, but that marriage ended in divorce and she and Chely got back together.  During this time, Chely also dated men, including her dear friend, Vince Gill.

Vince Gill

Even as she lived in the closet with country music fans, Chely hit the big time in 1999 when her album, “Single White Female”, went gold (selling more than 500,000 copies) and the title track topped the country charts in September.

In the book, Chely held nothing back about how hard it was to love God so much, yet struggle with being gay.  And, being in a genre of music that, for the most part, lacked compassion for gay people, she felt she was living a lie with her fans.

In late 2000, she met and started dating rising star, Brad Paisley.

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She had deep feelings for Paisley and he fell in love with her.  However, because she was a lesbian, her love for him wasn’t the same and he just couldn’t handle her getting close and pushing away.

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Throughout “Like Me” and since its publication, Chely regrets the way that relationship ended because she did care for Brad.

While Chely scored five more hits after the chart topper, “Single White Female”, through 2005, “It Was” was the biggest.  It made it up to #11 in 2000.

Chely knew that people on Music Row and in Nashville gossiped about her personal life and she had heard rumors that some thought she was gay.  Those dated back to 1994, just as she was starting her career.

However, Chely confirmed this with John Rich, a former member of the band, Lonestar, and one-half of the duo, Big & Rich.  The two had worked together back in 1990 at Opryland.

One night, in March 2005, the two of them were hanging out when Rich confronted her.

John Rich Chely Wright

Chely writes that Rich told her that people were talking about her and wondered if she was gay and that it wasn’t cool if she had “chosen to live that lifestyle” and that fans and the industry wouldn’t allow it.  He also told her, “People don’t approve of that kind of deviant behavior.  It’s a sin.”

She goes on to talk about how uneasy she started feeling because, at that point, he hadn’t asked her about her sexuality.  Rich was just telling her what he thought and what he felt that country music fans would think.  Finally, he asked, “You’re not gay, are you?”

Taking a deep breath, Chely exclaimed, “No, John, I’m not gay” to which Rich replied, “Good”.

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John Rich would go on the defensive again in late 2007 when he commented on a radio talk show that marriage equality would lead to incestuous marriages.

Days later, he offered this lame apology that was nothing more than damage control, “However, I also believe that intolerance, bigotry and hatred are wrong. People should be judged based on their merits, not on their sexual orientation. We are all children of God and should be valued and respected.”

Back in 2007, I interviewed Lonestar in Lubbock, Texas.  Luckily, for me, it was lead singer Richie McDonald and keyboardist/vocalist Dean Sams.  Rich was fired from Lonestar the following year and I’m so happy that I never met that homophobe!

Chely Wright Like Me

When Chely’s book came out in 2010, she also released her seventh studio album, “Lifted Off The Ground”, which focused around her personal struggles.  It reached #32 on Billboard Country album chart.

In June 2011, Chely released a documentary about the three years leading up to her coming out called “Wish Me Away”.

It won “Best Documentary” at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the “Documentary Channel Audience Award” for “Best Documentary” at the Nashville Film Festival.

Chely has also founded two organizations:  Reading, Writing and Rhythm (RW&R), which helps supply musical instruments and equipment to promote music in America’s schools, and about ten years later, in 2010, she started “The Like Me Organization”, which provides assistance, resources, and education to LGBT individuals and their family and friends.  It also works to prevent LGBT bullying and teen suicide.

Chely NOH8

So, while country radio and the Grand Ole Opry are missing out on a first-class talent, it’s great that real fans and LGBT people still have Chely around to offer support and give people courage to be themselves and not be afraid.

Chely, thank you for sharing your story and touching the lives of those that may be afraid to make that step to “come out”.

“Like Me:  Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer” is a must read!

CMT Flameworthy Video Music Awards

Chely, best wishes to you, Lauren, and the boys.

Anthony

While this blog was ready to be posted last week, I held off on it once Chely tweeted this about the loss of her mother, Cheri.

Chely -- Loss of Mother

Random Friday Thoughts — December 13

Happy Friday!  I’m a little scared today.  It’s not about the snow coming in tonight and Saturday, but about Jason Voorhees.  Yes, it’s “Friday the 13th”, so I hope you have a great weekend.

Here are my random Friday thoughts.

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BY THE WAY, SNOW IS ON THE WAY!

Snow is coming in tonight and early Saturday for the Mississippi and Illinois Valleys.  Here’s how much you can expect!

Snow Tonight & Saturday

JASON & SNOW DON’T SCARE ME, BUT ICE + IDIOT DRIVERS DO

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Meteorological winter is already here even if the calendar says we have to wait until next weekend for the winter solstice.  Last weekend, while in Nashville, icy road conditions and speed were responsible for a deadly accident in the metro area.

Driving home was very scary.  Once we got past the fresh coating of ice in northwestern Tennessee, we encountered leftover heavy snow in southern Illinois, and falling freezing rain in central Illinois.  While it was a slow drive for hours at 40-50 miles-per-hour, the interstate was littered with cars and semis in the ditch — some overturned.

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And, yet with all of the accidents and emergency crews working on the side of the interstate to rescue people, there were still idiots speeding past us and the slowing traffic.

People, ice and snow means conditions are not ideal, so slow down!

MISSING NASHVILLE

One week ago, I was looking forward to seeing Lorrie Morgan’s Christmas show, the ICE exhibit featuring “Frosty the Snowman”, a lunch cruise on the General Jackson showboat on the Cumberland River, and the Grand Ole Opry.  Now that we’re back and I put in my five days at work, the mini-vacation seems like it was so long ago!

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I would definitely consider Nashville as a place to retire.

OPRY VALUES AND THE CHRISTIAN FAITH

I thoroughly enjoyed my mini-vacation and it was cool to visit the Opry at the Ryman.  This is the music that I grew up on in Kentucky.  Most of the show that we saw was entertaining, yet some of it was painful.  But, that’s not the focus of my random thought.

Country music legend Connie Smith was the host of the first 30 minutes of the two-hour Opry show.  Smith, from 1964-1978, scored 40 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Country charts with 20 of them reaching the Top Ten!  She was very entertaining.

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However, my mind started wandering about the Opry and country music’s close ties to Christianity.

While I know there are many open-minded and loving “Christians” out there, the advertisements from sponsor, Cracker Barrel, and Smith’s introduction to a close family friend and medical doctor of Reverend Billy Graham, made me think more and more about homophobia.

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Country singer Chely Wright, who has scored nine hits on the Billboard Country chart with “Single White Female” reaching #1 in 1999 and was a regular performer at the Opry, has not been invited back since she came out publicly as a lesbian in 2010.

Chely Wright

Chely married her partner, Lauren Blitzer, in August 2011, and this past May, Chely gave birth to identical twins.

Last year, Chely told “Nashville Scene”, “I do think that there are homophobic people in the industry — some of them in power.  I feel that the greatest setback that plagues the country music industry is their collective fear of the consumer’s expected homophobia. I call this fearphobia. The industry is afraid of the record buying public’s fear of gays and lesbians. They’re afraid of fear. And that fear is enough to cause silence. And it’s deafening, if you ask me.”

I love Chely and she is a very courageous woman.  I just wish that the country music genre that I grew up listening to would be more welcoming to my LGBT brothers and sisters.

Opry, it’s time for you to do the right thing and welcome Chely back with open arms.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

LollipopCookie Swap

Eggs Milk Bread

REMEMBERING JOHN LENNON

While dignitaries around the world are paying respect and mourning the loss of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died last week, this past Sunday marked the 33rd anniversary of the shooting death of another man who was a voice for peace and love, John Lennon.

John Lennon

John, what you believed in, and Yoko, what you still fight for, is still achievable.  We may not see world peace, but I know that some are living more peaceful lives because of your efforts then and our efforts now.  No one has said it better that you — we just have to “Imagine”!

Happy Christmas everyone!  While this video contains disturbing images, we need to step outside our comfort zone to see how much work there is left to do in our lifetime.

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

Elton John and John Lennon were great friends.

Elton John and John Lennon

After the Beatles broke up and Elton John was dominating the pop charts in the early-1970s, John Lennon was working on his solo music career.  He reached #3 with “Instant Karma” in 1970 and #3 with “Imagine” the following year.

But, it would be his seventh solo hit that would become his only #1 hit in his lifetime after the Beatles.  “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night” featured his friend, Elton, on harmony vocals and piano.  And, John surprised Elton by appearing on stage during Elton’s Thanksgiving concert in 1974 at Madison Square Garden in Lennon’s last major concert appearance.

In 1982, Elton dedicated “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)” to his friend, John Lennon and the song reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100.

ELTON PREACHES TO RUSSIA

And, while I’m talking about Elton, he’s making news after his recent concerts in Russia.

Calling it “inhumane” and “isolating”, Elton took time out of his Moscow, Russia, concert last Friday night to talk about the anti-gay laws that were implemented in Russia this summer.

Elton John Performs at Madison Square Garden

Elton told the crowd, “I have always loved coming here, coming to this country, ever since I first played here in 1979. I love Russia – I love its art and its culture. But most of all, I love you, the people. You took me to your hearts all those years ago, and you have always welcomed me with warmth and open arms every time I have visited. You have always embraced me, and you have never judged me.  So I am deeply saddened and shocked over the current legislation that is now in place against the LGBT community here in Russia. In my opinion, it is inhumane and it is isolating.”

Vladislav Tornovoi

And, before he closed his condemnation of Russia’s homophobia, he asked for harmony to build “a future of equality, love and compassion” and he dedicated the show in memory of 23-year-old Vladislav Tornovoi, whose naked body had been dumped in a Volgograd courtyard this past May.  His skull was smashed and he had been raped with beer bottles.

Take three minutes to watch this compelling and heartbreaking story here from Sky News about Tornovio and the blatant homophobia that exists in Russia.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Joan Rivers cracks me up!

Joan Rivers Joan Rivers - Lindsay Lohan

CHRISTMAS PICK HIT

“Silent Night” from Kelly Clarkson’s Christmas special, “Kelly Clarkson’s (Cautionary) Christmas Tale” earlier this week on NBC.  It features Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood and is on Kelly’s “Wrapped In Red” holiday album.

TAKE DOWN THOSE DAMN CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!

Christmas lights brighten the holidays in multi-colors, solid colors, and clear bulbs.  However, if those lights are rainbow, it can cause some to freak out, especially in Rome, Italy.

RomeRainbow

This almost mile-long stretch of rainbow-flag lights decorate the Via del Corso, Rome’s main shopping street, to take a stand against homophobia following the recent suicide of a gay teenager.

The right-wing party, Fratelli d’Italia, calls the logic behind the decorations “provocative and ideological” and asked that they be replaced by the colors of Italy’s flag.

That was rejected and the lights will stay up as a dedication to the late South African President Nelson Mandela.

WE NEED MORE MAYORS LIKE ROME’S LEADER
While we’re on the subject of Rome, the city’s mayor, Ignazio Marino, says the “Eternal City” needs to stop living in the past when it comes to marriage equality.
Rome Mayor
Marino told HuffPost Live, “I believe that if a couple loves each other, they should get married.  I don’t see where the problem is. I guess it’s a problem with people thinking in the past — people belonging to the previous century. The last century is gone. It’s surprising for me that this is open for discussion.”
Thank you, Mayor Marino!

PICK HIT

“Work Bitch” is a fun song and Britney Spears looks amazing in the video.  However, it didn’t blow Top 40 radio away.

However, the follow-up, “Perfume”, is already one of the hottest songs in the country and is still racing up the chart.  The video debuted this week and Britney is incredible playing up vulnerability and insecurity.  And, I don’t know who is hotter — her or hot “boyfriend”.

“Britney Jean”, Britney’s eighth solo album debuted at #4 on the Billboard album chart this week with sales of 107,000 copies.

Britney Jean

While that’s a soft opening for Britney, she didn’t do any live performances to promote the album while she’s still rehearsing for her two-year Las Vegas residency that begins later this month at Planet Hollywood.

Britney’s last album, “Femme Fatale” sold 276,000 copies in its first week in 2011, but it had a huge smash at radio at the time, the #1 hit, “Hold It Against Me”.

A FINAL NASHVILLE THOUGHT

While I thoroughly enjoyed the “Reba: All The Women I Am” exhibit and the rest of the displays at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville last week, there was something that had me scratching my head.

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Whose idea was it to put the Dixie Chicks and Toby Keith memorabilia in the came display case?  Really?

Some days you just gotta dance if you’re not ready to make nice. 🙂

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

I’m Ready To Move!

I can’t believe that I’ve already been back to work four days now from our mini-vacation.

Last Wednesday after I got off work, we headed south.  Ray and I were going to spend a few days at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, and my sister, Tammy, rode along with us to spend three days with her two kids and her two granddaughters, just northwest of Nashville.

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Driving down, the weather was incredible with mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the low-to-mid-70s.

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Our first stop for the night was in Grand Rivers, Kentucky, to eat at my favorite restaurant, Patti’s 1880s, which was lit up with a million lights.

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We started off with Patti’s whole milk mozzarella cheese sticks dipped in a dark beer batter and deep-fried and the flowering colossal onion.

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I had “Ella Mae’s Chicken”, which is a grilled chicken breast topped with slices of black forest ham with sautéed mushroom and freshly grilled asparagus and smothered in a homemade cheese sauce!

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And, for dessert, we had Bill’s Boatsinker pie (a rich, dark double fudge pie topped with coffee ice cream, piled high with whipped cream, “drizzled” with chocolate syrup and topped with a cherry) and a piece of coconut cake.

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The food at Patti’s 1880s is so delicious.  And, I got to see my old college roommate, Perry, who is the executive chef there.  I last saw him in 1986!

On Thursday, we visited the “Reba:  All The Women I Am” exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame, which featured career mementos including awards, records, rodeo clothing, and many of Reba’s most famous outfits, including several red “Fancy” dresses.

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We also saw the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes, but pictures weren’t allowed.  That’s a bummer because the sets and the costumes were incredible.

On Friday, we visited the most incredible display, “ICE!” featuring “Frosty The Snowman”.  Everyone’s favorite snowman comes alive with hand-sculpted characters from the television classic made from more than two million pounds of ice created by 40 ice artists from China this fall.

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This exhibit took me back to my childhood and I really felt like I was on the refrigerated boxcar with Frosty since the temperature inside the exhibit was 8°!

Ray and I also went down the ice slide!

 

Friday night, we spent the evening at “Lorrie Morgan’s Enchanted Christmas Dinner & Show”.

While she performed mainly Christmas standards and hits from her 1993 album, “Merry Christmas From London”, she opened the show with her country hits “Something in Red”, Except For Monday” (my favorite Lorrie song), and “Watch Me”.

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Lorrie looked flawless and her voice was so crystal clear.  I can’t wait to see her again and I may get my chance in the summer.  I’ve read that she and Pam Tillis will be playing two nights in Clinton, Iowa, next June.

 

On Saturday, we had a lunch cruise aboard the General Jackson Showboat on the Cumberland River.  Our lunch was turkey and all the traditional Thanksgiving fixings and since I didn’t get enough last month, it was perfect.

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The entertainment on the cruise was comedian/singer Steve Hall and the Shotgun Red Band.  Steve was hilarious and his female vocalist, Jennifer Bruce was fantastic.

Steve was even funny when they walked through the crowds shaking hands after the show.  He shook my hand, looked at my shirt and said, “they can make anything out of a shower curtain!” 🙂

This is the shirt and yes, we fell for the photography sales trap of buying tourist pictures.  In retrospective, I wish we had done the same for the Lorrie Morgan show.

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Saturday night, we attended the historic Grand Ole Opry show at the Ryman.

Country legends Bill Anderson, Connie Smith, and Jean Shepard hosted and performed with up and comers Greg Bates and Sunny Sweeney.

Pictured below are Chris Carmack (“Will Lexington” on the ABC show, “Nashville”), Kathy Mattea, and Vince Gill  and his wife, Amy Grant, and their daughter.

 

It was fun to finally experience the Opry, which supplied the music that I grew up on in Kentucky.

 

The scariest moment of the show was when 80-year-old country legend Jean Shepard fell backwards off a stool and almost hit her head on the piano.  However, she was a true sport and entertainer.  She sat on stage and finished hosting her 30-minute segment of the Opry, performed another song, and even cracked jokes about her misfortune.

I admit that I did feel a little uncomfortable a couple of times during the show and it got me to thinking about something that irks me about the Opry.  However, since this is a fun-filled blog, I’ll explain it in details in tomorrow’s “Random Friday Thoughts”.

During our stay in Nashville, we spent a lot of time walking around the beautiful Opryland Hotel, took many pictures, and enjoyed some nice bubbly!

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And, I did meet one celebrity while in Nashville and, sadly, it wasn’t Lorrie Morgan.

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On our next visit, we plan on visiting the Loveless Cafe for a meal. But, our favorite culinary treat on this trip was the first night in Nashville at Solario, a Mexican buffet, located in the Opryland Hotel.

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The two cheesecakes on the plate were mojito (left) and strawberry margarita.  The second set of desserts were individual pecan pie, key lime pie shooters, and goat cheese cheesecake.  And, of course, a strawberry margarita.

So, needless to say, I loved this trip and I’ve always wanted to move to Nashville.  Could that be where we retire in a few years?

Anthony

Quad Cities’ Snow Threat Update

UPDATE:  Saturday, December 7, 2013, 3:39 p.m.

Snowfall amount forecasts haven’t really changed from this morning.

The only change is that there is a “Winter Weather Advisory” for some counties northwest of the Quad Cities.

The first part of the drive home tomorrow will be icy and dicey!

Anthony

Original Post:  Saturday, December 7, 2013, 8:07 a.m.

BRRRRRRRRRRRR!  It’s cold in the Quad Cities Saturday morning with temperatures flirting near zero.  Cedar Rapids was around three below zero this morning!

Quiet weather is expected today and tonight, but it’s going to be cold with highs only in the teens and lows back in the single digits to around 10 degrees.

Snow is still likely tomorrow and the heaviest accumulations will be basically northwest of the Quad Cities.

Based on the moisture availability map from NOAA, the darker green indicates where the heaviest snow will fall.  Parts of eastern Iowa will see 2-4″ of snow.

In and around the Quad Cities, 1-2″ are likely.  That is also what I expect east and south of the Quad Cities.

Snowflake

So, basically, this is not a freak-out snow.  But, it will slow people down Sunday and Sunday night.

Again, 1-4″ of snow expected.

On the other hand, after a quiet day today in Nashville, Tennessee, another freezing rain event moves in tonight and early Sunday with one-tenth to one-quarter of an inch of ice is expected.

A “Winter Weather Advisory” is in effect where I’m at from 9 p.m. Saturday to 9 a.m. Sunday.

The first four hours of our trip back to the Quad Cities may be a slow go with the new ice expected and the heavy snow that fell Thursday night and Friday in western Kentucky and southern Illinois.

This is how much snow fell there over the past two days.  And, remember when we drove through here Wednesday afternoon, it was about 72 degrees!

The red on the map below the snow-covered roads in southern Illinois.

The National Weather Service may issue a “Winter Weather Advisory” later today for tomorrow for the Quad Cities.

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — December 6

Happy Friday everyone.  I hope you’re having a great week and that you’re looking forward to the weekend.  Here are my random Friday thoughts.

GREETINGS FROM “MUSIC CITY USA”!

When we left the Quad Cities Wednesday, it was 47° and we drove seven hours to Grand Rivers, Kentucky, to check out the Christmas lights and have dinner at my favorite restaurant, Patti’s 1880’s and the temperature there was 72°.

Lights at Patti'sAnthony's Dinner

That’s my dinner.  It’s called “Ella Mae’s Chicken”:  freshly grilled asparagus over grilled chicken breast topped with black forest ham and sautéed mushrooms covered in homemade cheese sauce.  This was after appetizers of homemade cheese sticks and a blossoming onion and before we ate dessert!

On Thursday, we drove the final two hours to Nashville, Tennessee, dropping my sister off in Clarksville, about an hour northwest of Nashville, so she could spend the weekend with her kids and two granddaughters.

REBA EXHIBIT

Our first stop in Nashville before checking into the Opryland Hotel was a visit to the Reba McEntire exhibit, “All The Women I Am”, at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Anthony Reba

These are various “Fancy” performance dresses.

Reba Fancy Dresses

IT LOOKS LIKE CHRISTMAS AT OUR HOTEL

Opryland Hotel

THE ROCKETTES’

Last night, we saw the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes”.  The sets were incredible and the dancing was festive and fun.  Sadly, no pictures were allowed!

REST OF THE WEEKEND PLANS

Tonight, in a major ice storm, we’ll see “Lorrie Morgan’s Enchanted Christmas & Dinner Show”.  Tomorrow, it’s a lunch cruise on the Cumberland River on the General Jackson and tomorrow night, Opry at the Ryman, with Vince Gill, Kathy Mattea, Chris Carmack (who plays Will Lexington on ABC’s “Nashville”) and many others.

Chris Carmack

SINGER BECOMES BIG TIME SONG WRITER

Shane McAnally

25-year-old Texan Shane McAnally was signed to Curb Records and released his first single, “Say Anything” in 1999, which peaked at #41.  The follow-up single, “Are Your Eyes Still Blue” was his only Top 40 country hit, peaking at #31.

I loved both of those songs and I was probably one of the few people who took a chance on the newcomer and bought his debut and only album. After that, Shane dropped off the radar and moved to West Hollywood, California, and started bartending and performing as “Shane Mack”.

Shane Mack

In California, Shane was able to be openly gay.  Since he started living his life openly, he married his partner of six years, Michael Baum, in September 2012, and the couple welcomed a daughter and a son in December of last year.

I was pleasantly surprised this fall to see “Entertainment Weekly” give Shane the much overdue recognition that he deserves.

Shane returned to Nashville in a big way in 2008 as a co-writer of LeAnn Womack’s Top 15 hit, “Last Call”.  Since then, he has written #1 songs for Kenny Chesney, Jake Owens, The Band Perry, Lady Antebellum, and Miranda Lambert.  He also penned three songs for Reba McEntire’s 2010 album, “All The Women I Am” album.

Music Review Kacey Musgraves

And, this year, he co-produced my favorite country album 0f 2013, the #1 “Same Trailer Different Park” by Kacey Musgraves.

Shane, I wish you, Michael, and your children much happiness in 2014 and here’s to continued success in country music.  I hope to hear more of your singing in the future, too.

MEANWHILE, NOT SO GOOD TENNESSEE NEWS

While we’re having a good time in Nashville, a recent report from “24/7 Wall Street” doesn’t paint a rosy picture of Tennessee, ranking it as “the most dangerous state” in the United States.

It’s followed by Nevada, Alaska, New Mexico, South Carolina, Delaware, Louisiana, Florida, Maryland, and Oklahoma!

Tennessee Violent Crimes

The site ranks Tennessee #1 for aggravated assaults and in the top ten for murders and robbery.  In 2012, there were 388 murders, which is up for the second straight year.

Across the nation, Memphis ranks fifth and Nashville is at #18 for violent crimes.

Take this ranking and the information from “24/7 Wall Street” with a grain of salt, since the “Crime in Chicago” website reported 537 murders in the “Windy City” in 2012.  (As of December 1st, the site reports there have been 422 murders in Chicago in 2013.)

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Ice Hole Deer  squirrelSnow's a comin'

ICE STORM SOUTH, SNOW IN THE QUAD CITIES

Two rounds of ice will be heavily glazing the Nashville, Tennessee, area tonight and, again, Saturday night.  It’s going to get scary down here.  Meanwhile, on Sunday, several inches of snow are expected in the Quad Cities.  It looks like, at least, two inches are likely.

I’ll have more on this tomorrow to keep you ahead of the snow in Illinois and Iowa.

FRESH VENDING MACHINE SALAD

I know it’s easy to grab fast food or something out a vending machine when you’re working and eat it at your desk.  However, if you had the option, would you choose a fresh salad from a vending machine for a healthy alternative?

That is the option for people living or working near the Loop in Chicago near Clark and Lake.

Farmers Fridge Chicago

Farmer’s Fridge has installed its first vending machine salad, fruits, and vegetables prepared fresh daily and packaged in recyclable plastic jar.

The $8 salads are available at 10 a.m. and come in seven varieties including North Napa, Mediterranean, Crunchy Thai, The Cheater, and three other flavors.  The dressings include lemon tahini, spicy soy peanut, red wine vinaigrette, and four other flavors.

ISRAELIS TAKE A STAND AGAINST RUSSIA

As you know from reading my blog, I’ve been very outspoken against Russia’s homophobic laws and the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which are two months away.  There’s now a new Israeli campaign speaking out about the bloodshed and violence against the LGBT community in Russia.

Red Flag

“Red Flag”, similar to the American NOH8 campaign, was started by David and Jonathan, the publisher of the international lifestyle magazine, “F.O.D.”, for the Tel-Aviv gay man community.

Actors, singers, activists, drag queens, and the LGBT community were encouraged to take part in the photo shoot wearing Russian army uniforms with blood coming out of their mouths to bring attention to the violence brought against Russian and Ukrainian LGBT people.

Red Flag2

Organizers say, “Russia 2013 is a death trap for the LGBT community. This discriminating law is backed up with aggressive enforcement by the army and the police. Arresting activists in the LGBT community or any person suspected of being involved in “propaganda” has become a normal routine. This law refers to tourists from out-of-state and even athletes participating in the winter Olympics.”

PICK HIT

Earlier in the blog, I profiled Shane McAnally and mentioned that he co-produced Kacey Musgraves’ debut album.

He also co-wrote nine of the album’s twelve songs, including the first three singles:  “Merry Go Round” (#14), “Blowin’ Smoke” (#31 peak), and her current single, “Follow Your Arrow”,which is at #28.

“Follow Your Arrow” is witty and poignant.  Here’s a sample of the lyrics:  “You’re damned if you do/and you’re damned if you don’t/so you might as well do whatever you want, so make lots of noise/kiss lots of boys/kiss lots of girls/if that’s something you’re into”

Cheers, Kacey & Shane!

DALLAS BUYER’S CLUB

“And, the Academy Award for Best Actor Matthew McConaughey for “Dallas Buyers Club”.

Dallas Buyers Club

The movie is based on a true story.  Ron Woodruff was a homophobic, hard-living, good ol’ Texas boy who loved his liquor, drugs, and women.  In 1986, he was diagnosed with AIDS and told that he had 30 days to live.

He tried to get on the AZT trials that were being rushed onto the market to fight the AIDS pandemic.  Since he was denied that opportunity, Woodruff started buying it on the black market.  When he almost died, he came up with a plan to smuggle medications out of Mexico to try to stay alive.  Since Ron couldn’t sell the drugs, he started a membership only “buyers club” to distribute the Food & Drug Administration-unapproved medication.

DALLAS-BUYERS-CLUB

McConaughey, who plays Woodruff, lost about 50 pounds for the role and his co-star, Jared Leto, who plays transgender AIDS patient, Rayon, who befriends Woodruff, lost about 40 pounds for the role.

Both actors were electrifying and sold the story.  After initially gasping at McConaughey’s first appearance in the movie, I was sold for the next two hours that both actors were HIV-positive people fighting for their lives, while the government dragged its feet.

If you lived through the 1980s and saw friends getting sick and dying, you saw those friends in Ron and Rayon.  If you know people who have become HIV-positive in the past decade, where with medication, healthier living, diet, and exercise, it’s become a manageable disease, there’s a sense of relief that AIDS is no longer a certain death sentence.

GRADE:  A

CHRISTMAS PICK HIT

I just added “A Mary Christmas” by Mary J. Blige and “Christmas, With Love” by British singer Leona Lewis to my holiday collection this week.

Leona Lewis  Christmas With Love

Leona’s fourth album and her first Christmas colelction featured seven classics and three new songs, including the first single, “One More Sleep”.

Many of you probably remember Leona from her debut #1 single in 2008, “Bleeding Love” and its followup, “Better In Time”.

“SHELTER”

While I love “Dexter”, “The Walking Dead” and “American Horror Story”, love stories are at the top of my list, too.  “Pretty Woman” (1990), “Latter Days” (2003), “Shelter” (2007), “Weekend” (2011), and “Out in the Dark” (2012) are the ones that I can watch over and over and over.

Shane Mack (Shane McAnally) performed five songs on the “Shelter” soundtrack and since I’m in Nashville and I’m a strong advocate for being out and proud, here’s another one from Shane.

ENJOY YOUR WEEKEND

Have a fantastic weekend and I appreciate you checking out my random thoughts this week.  Let me know what you think.

Bundle up if you live across the eastern part of the country.  It’s going to be cold.

Anthony

Icy, Rainy Weather South & Midwest Snow Possible

Happy Wednesday!

However, it’s my Friday!  I’m heading back home to my neck of the woods of Kentucky and Tennessee through the weekend just in time for an ICE STORM!

Yes, it’s expected to be 70° Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee, and now there is the threat of two ice storms this weekend — one Friday night and the other Saturday night into Sunday.

Nashville

On top of that, and part of the problem, is 3-6″ of rain that’s expected to fall across the Mid-South.  This really sounds like fun vacation weather!

I hope Ray knows how to drive on about one-half inch of ice!!!!!!

Nashville

Back home in the Quad Cities, our 50-degree-plus weather Wednesday will give way to very cold temperatures through next week.

Highs Friday and Saturday will barely make 20° and lows will be in the single digits.

Anthony Twitter

Now, let’s really add some winter weather to that.  By Sunday, moisture coming up from the South will interact with the cold air and produce a light snow event for Illinois and  eastern Iowa.

While it’s still four days out, there is an increasing chance that we’ll see a few inches of snow.

With it being four days out, that’s all I’ll say this Wednesday because it could change.

While I’m away, I’ll keep up on the weather in Nashville and for the Quad Cities and give you an update.

Have a great rest of the week!

Anthony