Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey’

Random Friday Thoughts –February 19, 2016

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

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

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

YOUR COMPASSION IS HEARTWARMING

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

MrazLoveAlbumCover

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

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

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

Again, thank you!

LoveEqualityFormula

SUPREME COURT JUSTICE DEAD

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

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

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

NATALIE COLE’S FAMILY UPSET ABOUT THE GRAMMYS

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

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

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

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

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

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

OKAY, I COULDN’T RESIST

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

STARS READING “MEAN TWEETS”

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

What troopers — to read what idiots say about them!

“THE PEOPLE VS. O.J. SIMPSON”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YES, BEYONCE IS BLACK!

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

Bey1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“SNL” NAILS IT AGAIN!

“ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY” IS BECOMING GREEDY

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

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

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

Seriously?

Rick EW.jpg

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

Greedy!

29 AND ANCHORING IN NEW YORK CITY?  NO WAY!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUSTIN BIEBER

Okay, first things first about Justin Bieber.

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

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

Bieber

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

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

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

PICK HIT

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

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

The video is pretty erotic and steamy, too!

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

“THE MARTIAN”

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

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

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

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

GRADE:  A-

“THE OVERNIGHT”

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

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

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

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

GRADE:  B

“FREEHELD”

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

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

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

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

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

This is based on a true story.

GRADE:  B

“TRUTH”

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

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

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

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

GRADE:  C

THAT’S IT

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

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

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Why We Should Fear Marco Rubio

Florida Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio saw a surge in his political profile after last Monday’s Iowa Caucus.

Marco Rubio

He finished third, but it was a major boost to the candidate that had taken a back seat to blowhards Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in the campaign.

However, now that the spotlight is on the rising young star, he might be cracking a bit under the pressure.  In a debate Saturday night before the upcoming New Hampshire Primary, Rubio got frustrated over badgering from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

It prompted Christie to comment, “he gets very unruly when he gets off his talking points.”

Christie is on to something here and Rubio will be the first to tell you that he gets agitated easily and when confronted, he loses it.  He confessed that, as much, in his book, “An American Son”.

I just read it and I enjoyed it.  I’ll have more on that book and the introduction to his family, but first I want to focus on why I think Rubio is not right for America.  Actually, why he scares me and should scare you.

WHY RUBIO SCARES ME…

There are reasons more than being anti-gay.

Overall, I enjoyed getting to know Rubio over 307 pages.  However, I have a couple of issues with his own trustworthiness.

In a recent Republican debate, in his commercials, and in his speech last week after the Iowa Caucus, Rubio bashed Hillary Clinton over honesty.

president-hillary

Yet, nowhere in the book did he mention that he was arrested in a Florida park after hours in 1990 on a misdemeanor charge, yet he shared getting sick on vodka shots on a plane and vomiting on a high-ranking person in the Republican party, talked about going to “foam party” in clubs, and other things he did when he was younger.  Yet, no mention of the arrest?

And, then there’s the issue that his parents were Cuban exiles that immigrated to the United States in 1956 instead of 1959, when the guerrilla war reached its peak and Fidel Castro took office as prime minister.

He only “learned” of this when newspapers reported the inaccuracies???  As detailed as the book was, I find it hard to believe this only surfaced once it went public!

So, who has trust issues, Mr. Rubio?

Marco Rubio

In a recent blog, in an effort be more diversified, I crossed the aisle and read Mike Huckabee’s “Do The Right Thing”.  After the Prologue, his close-mindedness bored me.

I also said “Move on Mike.  Your 2016 presidential run is DOA and Iowa doesn’t love you like it did in 2008.  Go home to your family and retire.”  While I can’t take credit for it, his abysmal showing in the Iowa Caucus earlier this week prompted him to suspend his run for president that never really a “run”.  It was more like a limp.

Now about Rubio’s “An American Son”.

It was a much better book and story than Huckabee’s.  In an alternate universe (where Rubio liked gay families and didn’t use the word “conservative” like it was dirty), I could see liking the man.

Just based on the book, I would love to sit down and have dinner with him and his wife Jeanette to show them that I pray to God every night and I’m a kind and loving person that just happens not to fit into the “conservative values” circle.

I enjoyed hearing about his wonderful parents and their struggles leaving Cuba and working all their lives to give their kids a life they didn’t have.

Rubio told a very touching story about a struggling woman looking into the eyes of her newborn child, just your parents did to you.  His “people” (inner political handlers) didn’t want him to tell the story even though it was very heartfelt.  The reason?  It’d make sound like a Democrat!  If human = Democrat, I have two things going for me.

By the way, his wife, Jeanette was touched by it and wanted him to tell that story.  That’s another reason I think I’d like her.

Rubio also spoke about the 2008 election when Barack Obama won.  He became teary-eyed because of the significance of an African American being elected to the highest office in the most powerful country in the world.  That night he “was so proud to be an American”.  He knew he’d have plenty of time to fight the president to turn the country around because it was heading in the “wrong direction”.

CarterPres

I disagree with Rubio on his anti-Jimmy Carter sentiments he learned his grandfather.  Jimmy Carter is still my favorite president that was dealt a bad hand while in office.

Also, we’re at odds when he stated that the way Bill Clinton’s administration handled the Elian Gonzales case “arguably, it cost Al Gore the election” in 2000.

Arguably is right.  We know how that election was lost — Republican shadiness in Florida — “arguably”!

So, the bottom line is, I really want to like Rubio.  But, I’m not willing to give back the rights and happiness I’ve been given over the past few years as an American.

Anthony

 

Random Friday Thoughts — October 25. 2013

Greetings this Friday morning from Germany!

In the past week, we’ve been to Zurich (Switzerland), the airport in Budapest (Hungary), Bratislava (Slovakia), Vienna (Austria), and Durnstein and Melk in Germany.

Yesterday, we toured Passau, Germany, a city that was ravaged by flood waters this summer as the Danube River inundated many cities along its path.

Passau Flooding 2

This is what it looked like Thursday and you can still see the marks of how high the flood waters were back in the summer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We have two more days left on our amazing Danube River cruise on the “Sound of Music”.  On Sunday, we’ll begin our international journey back to the Quad Cities just in time for me to be at work bright and early Monday morning at 2 a.m. with jet lag.

Have a great weekend and here are my random thoughts this Friday.

REPUBLICANS, FIND ANOTHER CANDIDATE FOR 2016

The name that tops most people’s list of leading Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential bid is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

chris-christie

Please find another candidate to run against Hillary Clinton (or whoever it is if she doesn’t run)!  I cannot imagine waking up each day with him as President in a worse case scenario!

And, yes, it’s personal.  It’s over marriage equality and marriage equality alone!

After the New Jersey Senate and the New Jersey Assembly approved marriage equality in early 2012, Christie vetoed it.  And, now that a high-ranking judge says that same-sex marriages will start in the Garden State this week, he’s still opposed.

Luckily, earlier this week, he gave up his fight to marriage equality in New Jersey.  It’s about time since the the numbers were against Christie.

A few weeks ago, a new Quinnipiac University poll showed that 61% of those polled in New Jersey opposed Christie’s decision to stand in the way of marriage equality, while only 31% agreed with him.

I’m glad that Christie wised up!

OH, IT GETS BETTER!

Last Tuesday, Christie said that if one of his four children told him that they were gay, he would “grab them and hug them and tell them I love them.” and then say “that Dad believes that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Chris Christie Family
FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Haunted HouseClown Margaritas Laugh it Up

HALLOWEEN IS JUST DAYS AWAY

Gretel is ready to go trick-or-treating one more time before she gets too old.  Yes, I encouraged her to go this year for the candy! 🙂

Have you gotten your fill of watching horror movies yet?  I’m hoping next week that I get a chance to see “Hellbent” again.  It’s become a staple for me since I first saw it in 2006.

If you haven’t seen it, check it out.  It’s from the co-creator of “Halloween” and the executive producer of “A Nightmare on Elm Street”.

BODE, KEEP TALKING!

Russia and the International Olympic Committee, listen up.

Bode Miller

35-year-old American Olympic Gold Medalist Bode Miller recently spoke out about the upcoming 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games and Russia’s anti-gay laws that were implemented this past summer.

Miller says, “I think it’s absolutely embarrassing that there’s countries and there’s people who are that intolerant and that ignorant.  But it’s not the first time.  We’ve been dealing with human-rights issues probably since there were humans.”

While some think that politics, sports, and the Olympics should not be seen as one, Miller disagrees.

He says, “I think it’s unfortunate when they get stuffed together because there are politics in sports and athletics.  They always are intertwined, even though people try to keep them separate or try to act like they’re separate. Asking an athlete to go somewhere and compete and be a representative of a philosophy and … then tell them they can’t express their views or they can’t say what they believe, I think is pretty hypocritical or unfair.”

Here’s to Bode making the team and winning more Gold for America and a big thank you for his stance on equality!

TOO MUCH SKIN?

When you think of Britney Spears’ music, you think of a pounding dance beat and when you think of the accompanying video, you probably expect to see plenty of skin.

Her latest hit, “Work Bitch”, the first single from her upcoming December album, “Britney Jean”, doesn’t disappoint on both of those requirements.

Britney Las Vegas

Britney says, “Oh my god, we showed way more skin and did way more stuff for the video than what is actually there.  Like, I cut out half the video because I am a mother and because, you know, I have children, and it’s just hard to play sexy mom while you’re being a pop star as well. I just have to be true to myself and feel it out when I do stuff.”

About her sexy videos, she adds, “A lot of sex goes into what I do.  But sometimes I would like to bring it back to the old days when there was, like, one outfit through the whole video, and you’re dancing the whole video, and there’s like not that much sex stuff going on.”

workbitch_2

This led some to believe that Britney was coerced into being more revealing than she wanted to be, but the “Work Bitch” director Ben Mor disputes that.

He says, “I don’t know if it’s being misinterpreted or not, but Britney’s in control of every aspect of the video, from the concepts to the setups to everything.  There’s nothing that we shot that she didn’t approve of. As far as the edit, you can always make it a little more racy, because we had scantily clad people on set. It’s just an editorial choice, and I always tend to go sexy anyway, so that was my choice. I think she just wanted it to be more dance-centric.”

Britney Whip

Mor adds, “My cut was a lot racier for sure, but it didn’t necessarily involve Britney.  It was really just cutaways. An artist knows how they perceive themselves. I promise you 100 percent:  All of these artists are in charge of their content. No one is forcing anyone to do anything that they don’t want to do, and they’re very well aware of that. They might change their mind after the fact, but Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and Britney Spears are all very much in control of their image. Things don’t just happen. Everything is scrutinized.”

BLOOMBERG EATS WHAT?

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the 13th wealthiest person in the world and is worth $31 billion.

Michael Bloomberg

He gives billions to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, and millions to the arts,  for education and the environment, and for politicians that believe as he does.

He owns homes in the Upper East Side of New York City; upstate New York; Vail, Colorado; London; and Bermuda.

And, his favorite meal is … “White-bread toast, Skippy peanut butter and bacon”!

Peanut_butter_and_bacon_sandwich

RADIO MISFIRE — THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN A BIGGER HIT

While you’re putting the final touches on your Halloween costume, Kelly Clarkson will be celebrating Christmas Vegas-style.

kelly-clarkson-wrapped-in-red-album-cover

She’ll be taping her December holiday special, “Kelly Clarkson’s (Cautionary) Christmas Tale on NBC” at the Venetian singing songs from “Wrapped in Red”, her first Christmas album that comes out October 29th and features Reba and Trisha Yearwood on “Silent Night”.

Instead of tormenting you with another Christmas song this week since it’s six days before Halloween, here’s one of my favorite new songs from Kelly’s “Greatest Hits — Volume One” album that came out last November.

“People Like Us” only reached #28 on the Top 40 radio airplay charts, but it topped the Billboard Dance Club chart.

I love the lyrics, “People like us we’ve gotta stick together/Keep your head up, nothing lasts forever/Here’s to the damned, to the lost and forgotten/It’s hard to get high when you’re living on the bottom” and “We are all misfits living in a world on fire”.

“TIME”, THEN NO MORE “TIME”

I just renewed my subscription to “Time” magazine after not getting it for a couple of years.  However, after two issues, I cancelled it.  It just didn’t do anything me other than the articles by my favorite “Time” writers Joel Stein (because of his warped sense of humor) and Joe Klein (because of his political leanings).

Joe Klein  Time

In the issue I just read, Klein didn’t hold back on his thoughts of the Tea Party.   He calls them “the radical nihilist minority of the Republican Party and the GOP’s craven leadership.” 

Tea Party Illionis

Klein continues, “These radicals — it is wildly inaccurate to call them conservatives — are a pestilence feeding on ignorance and cynicism, preying on fear as a period of unprecedented prosperity wanes.  They are not the apocalypse but represent the desperate last gasp of the white majority and of an era.  My generation’s era.”

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

“You’ve got to have a J-O-B if you want to be with me/No romance without finance” sounds materialistic and if you’re saying it to a man, some might find that controversial.

Gwen Guthrie

That’s exactly what people thought back in 1986 when R & B singer Gwen Guthrie sang those lyrics in her #1 R&B and Billboard Dance Club hit, “Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On But The Rent”.  It also hit #1 in New Zealand and #5 in the U.K.  Sadly, it only hit #42 on the Billboard Hot 100.

While Guthrie, who was born in Oklahoma and raised in New Jersey, never scored a Top 40 hit on the Hot 100, she did have four Top 40 hits on the R&B charts.  But, “Rent” would become her trademark song.

Before venturing out on her own, she sang back-up for Aretha Franklin, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, and Madonna.

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK BONUS!

As a ’80s bonus, here’s Gwen singing backup on “Lucky Star”, Madonna’s first Top Ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984.  It peaked at #4 on that chart and reached #1 on the Dance Chart.

THAT’S IT FOR NOW!

Have a great weekend and I’ll be back in States Sunday night!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — May 10

The weekend is almost here and on any given Friday, I’d be excited to have the next two days off .  However, I’ll be working Saturday night, so it’s a six-day work week for me and only one day off this weekend.  However, that extra work day will come in handy as a “comp day” this fall when I want to take a vacation.

Otherwise, it’s Mother’s Day weekend, so Happy Mother’s Day!  This picture is of my mother’s last spring celebration with us in 1990.

Dessie 1990

Ray and I were going to take my sister out to brunch Sunday, but Tammy has to work a double that day.  So, if you go see her at work, tip her well! 🙂  We’ll just take her out next weekend and since our schedule opened up Sunday, we’re going to see ‘The Great Gatsby”.  I sure hope it’s as dazzling as “Moulin Rouge!”

MY FRIEND WINS A NATIONAL AWARD

I’m very proud of a friend of mine who works as a counselor at Erie Elementary School in Erie, Illinois.  GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) awarded Matt Beck as the 2013 Educator of the Year!

Matt Beck

And, here’s what his very proud husband, Scott, tells me:  “Matt, a professional school counselor for the past 6 years, relentlessly is on the mission of teaching elementary school kids that it’s ok to be different, that families come in all shapes and sizes, and that respect for others is the common goal we can all share and strive for.  Matt epitomizes the strength that you do not give up and retreat when opposition rises, especially when it goes against your ethics and is harmful to kids.”

Matt will accept his award May 20th in New York City.

For those of you that may not remember the story, here are two blog links about it from last May and June.  That first story was my most viewed blog ever in one day.  And, needless to say, not all of the comments to me were positive.  But, it was a story that needed to be told!

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/the-erie-school-district-illinois-needs-to-address-bullying/

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/erie-school-board-diversity-controversy-goes-national/

Congratulations Matt!  Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your huge accomplishment last year when you shared the story with me to get the word out.  Keep up the good work!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

You Look CrazyAcceptingNew Jersey, What Are You Waiting For

SLIMMING DOWN FOR 2016?

Speaking of the Garden State, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie secretly underwent a weight-loss surgical procedure in February and he revealed the details to the “New York Post” earlier this week.   The surgery will limit the amount of food he can take in, but it doesn’t affect his digestive process.  The lap band surgery involves the placement of a silicone band around his stomach to reduce its size.

chris-christie-weight-loss-surgery

Christie says, “I’ve struggled with this issue for 20 years.  For me, this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them.”

I sincerely believe he did it for his family, but I don’t think that is the only reason.  I would venture to say it’s because he’s eying a run for the presidency in 2016 and weight has come up many times in the past when his future political ambitions are discussed.  He downplays this by stating,  “It’s so much more important than that.”

While Christie has never stated his weight, it’s been reported at between 300 and 350 pounds.

On this weighty topic, the last president to weigh over 250 pounds was William Taft, the 27th U.S. president from 1909-1913.  Taft weighed in at a reported 316 pounds and had  a BMI (body mass index) of 42.3, which is considered “very severely obese”.  He died of a heart attack.

That was 100 years ago and my personal opinion is that in today’s 24-hour media circus and the internet, weight does matter.

As much as I disagree with your politics, Governor Christie, I wish you good health.

GOODBYE “BIG”

A few weeks after Miss ABBA died in early February 2012, Panda, the blind shar-pei that we doggie sit for from Chicago came to stay with us in the Quad Cities with his live-in golden retriever companion, Big.  They stayed with us for about a week.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I just found out that “Big” died recently of cancer at the very young age of seven.  Poor baby!  Now, heaven is graced with another beautiful golden that I know Miss ABBA welcomed with a tail wag and a smile.

MICHAEL BUBLE — “TO BE LOVED” OR NOT?

I’m a huge fan of sexy, Canadian crooner Michael Bublé.  I own eleven of his CDs, including all of his studio albums beginning with the 2003 release “Michael Bublé”, along with “live” recordings and extended plays.  My favorites are “Christmas” (2011) and “Call Me Irresponsible” (2007).

Bublé recently released his latest album, “To Be Loved”, which sold 195,000 copies in its first week and debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart.  It also debuted at #1 in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom!  But, is it any good?

Michael Buble To Be Loved

I bought the “deluxe” version from Target with three additional songs.  If you’re a die-hard Bublé fan, get the deluxe version.  If you’re not all that familiar with his music or sound, the standard version that’s $3 cheaper (14 songs) would suffice.

The first four songs on the disc, including his new radio hit, “It’s a Beautiful Day”, are fantastic and perfect.  He gets your blood pumping with the disc opener, “You Make Me Feel So Young” and keeps you happy with “Who’s Lovin’ You” and  “To Love Somebody”.

But, then the album hits a brief road block to bliss.  As much I love actress Reese Witherspoon, her appearance on “Something Stupid” is boring and off-kilter.  It sounds like she just phoned in her vocals and I wish that Bublé had done the song solo.

The magic returns on the next three songs.  Fellow Canadian and 1980s pop superstar Bryan Adams even shows up on “After All” and shows us that he’s still the master of mid-tempo love songs.  The two singing together is a perfect combination.

Other than the title track, “To Be Loved”, which is song #10 on the disc, which is perfect, the album loses steam once we get to the tired classic “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” to the end of the standard disc.

Of the three “exclusive” songs on the “deluxe” version, only the “swing mix” of the current radio hit, “It’s A Beautiful Day”, excels.

GRADE:  B

Buble2

I’ve seen Bublé in concert twice.  Both times were in Moline, Illinois.  However, Quad Citians, if you want to see him, he’s moved up in the world.  The closest he’ll be playing to the Quad Cities will be at the United Center in Chicago on September 7, 2013.

WAY TO GO, DELAWARE!

Following Rhode Island last week, Delaware, earlier this week, became the 11th state in the United States (along with the District of Columbia) to make marriage equality legal.  Minnesota may become #12 as early as next week after the House passed the measure yesterday with a vote of 75-59.  The bill is expected to move to the Democrat-controlled Senate Monday.

So, what about Illinois?  Movement in the House has been slow since the bill for full marriage equality passed out of a House committee in late February 2013.  The legislation needs at least 60 votes for passage in the House to land on the desk of Gov. Pat Quinn, who hopes to quickly sign it into law.

A group of country musicians, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris, and “Big” Kenny Alphin, issued an open letter to Illinois lawmakers saying, “When two people are lucky enough to find each other and want to commit their lives to one another, it is nothing less than a blessing to us all.”

Open Letter

Even before I heard about this open letter last week, I had been listening to some of my old Mary Chapin Carpenter albums.

Since she scored her first country radio hit in 1989 until her last Top 40 appearance on the country chart, she’s charted with 22 hits.  Of those Top 40 hits, nine reached the Top Ten and one, 1994’s “Shut Up and Kiss Me”, topped the chart.  Her 1992 album Come On Come On” produced seven Top 40 country hits between 1992-1994 and sold more than four million copies.

My favorite Mary Chapin Carpenter song, “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her”, reached #2 (Billboard) and #1 (Radio & Records) in 1994 and it was nominated for a Grammy Award for Record of the Year.  The song also featured some of the biggest names in country music:  Patty Loveless (one of my favorites), Emmylou Harris, Kathy Mattea, Trisha Yearwood, Pam Tillis, and Aledo, Illinois’ own Suzy Bogguss.

Mary Chapin, Emmylou, Rodney, and “Big” Kenny, on behalf of all of us in Illinois wanting marriage equality, thank you!

BEATLES’ ARE NOT THE PROBLEM, GRASSHOPPERS ARE

70-year-old Sir Paul McCartney may want to think about playing outdoor concerts in the future.  Earlier this week, during his three-hour set, in Brazil, the former Beatles was invaded by grasshoppers!

Paul McCartney GrasshoppersBrazil Grasshoppers

At one point, the sky was filled with the creatures.  Nevertheless, Paul just kept right on performing and even introduced one of the insects as “Harold” during “Hey Jude.”

I guess sometimes you should just “Let It Be”!

WHY DO I LOVE FREAKS?

“Entertainment Weekly” is slowly winning me back with humor.  As you may recall, a few weeks ago, I was pretty miffed at the magazine for a major spoiler alert they blabbed with insufficient warning.  While I’m still working on totally forgiving my favorite magazine, it made some progress with this entry in its May 3, 2013, “Dan Snierson’s Hit List”, a look at ten things that really happened in the entertainment world, complete with a witty comeback:

After sleeping in glass case for MoMA exhibit, Tilda Swinton poses with centipedes on her face for fashion-mag shoot  As of press time, Swinton was being classified as 49 percent James Franco, 47 percent Lady Gaga, and 4 percent other/no clue”.  Too funny (and true)!

tilda-swinton-posing-for-w-magazine-with-centipede-eyebrows-and-mustaches

By the way, I love Tilda.  If you’ve never seen any of her movies, check out “We Need To Talk About Kevin” (my third favorite movie that I saw in 2012) and “The Deep End” (2001).

FUTURE HIT PICK — SONG OF THE SUMMER?

ErikaJayne1

Atlanta, Georgia, singer Erika Jayne is a beautiful singer that you likely haven’t heard of — yet.

That is unless you’ve been hanging out in dance clubs.  Since her first release, “Rollercoaster” soared to the top of the Billboard Dance charts in 2007, Erika has followed that up with five consecutive number one hits:  “Stars”, “Give You Everything”, “Pretty Mess”, “One Hot Pleasure”, and “Party People (Ignite The World)”.

ErikaJayne2

Her new song, “Get It Tonight”, is going to take her to the top of the dance charts again and out of the clubs for a crossover to Top 40 radio!

She teams up with rapper/musician Flo Rida, who’s no stranger to pop radio.  He’s already scored 14 hits since he topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart with his first hit, “Low” in 2007.  He’s also topped that chart with “Right Round” with Ke$ha in 2009, and with “Whistle” last year.

I have her first CD, 2009’s “Pretty Mess” and it’s fantastic.  Her new disc featuring “Get It Tonight” is titled “Glitz, Glamour, & Fun”, but there is no release date yet.

Remember the name, Erika Jayne.  She will have the summer song of 2013!

THE CLUBS WON’T BE THE SAME!

While not a household name, Peter Rauhofer is one of the most amazing DJ/remixers/producers.  Sadly, he died Tuesday at the age of 48 after discovering he had brain cancer just weeks ago!

Peter Rauhofer Madonna

Rauhofer worked with Madonna, Britney, Whitney, Lady Gaga, Cher, Janet, Kylie, Christina, Pink, Mariah, Depeche Mode, and countless others.

In 1999, he remixed “Nothing Really Matters” for Madonna.  That song would go on to hit #1 on the Billboard Dance chart and win an ASCAP Rhythm and Soul Award in 2000 for “Award-Winning Dance Song”.  The video would be nominated for “Best Special Effects” for the MTV Video Music Awards.

R.I.P. Peter!

FACEBOOK FLASHBACK PICTURES

This week, last May, I made mint and jalapeno-mint jelly and they both turned out fantastic and as you can see by this photo, the mint took over the herb garden!  This year, I transplanted it and much of it is struggling to survive.

May 11 2012 Jalapeno-Mint Jelly

And, last May, Ray had a conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, and I went with him.  I’d love to move to Indy!

On the way there, we stopped at what is now one of my favorite restaurants in Illinois, Destihl in Champaign.  The food, from the appetizers (shrimp ceviche and watermelon feta) to the homemade desserts were fantastic.  I think we need to make a road trip downstate for dinner soon!

May 16 2012 Destihl Shrimp Ceviche and Watermelon & Feta Champaign, IL

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

As new wave swept across the Atlantic in the 1980s, Kim Wilde scored the first of her two Top 40 hits in the U.S.  “Kids In American” hit #25 in 1982 and five years later, she hit #1 with a remake of The Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”.

My friends, that’s enough random thoughts for one week.  Have a great weekend and Happy Mother’s Day!

Anthony