Posts Tagged ‘Paris’

Move Forward & Stop Looking Back

Birthdays are interesting annual events.  Some people count down to the big day and some would rather it pass unnoticed.

As life goes on, the way we celebrate the natal day changes.  As a kid, we’re excited for a cake, a party, and gifts.

That’s me celebrating my first birthday with a cake that ISN’T chocolate! 😦

October 13 1965

In retrospective, I’m grateful I got to celebrate that birthday.  When I arrived six weeks early, in the fall of 1964, I weighed about three pounds and I wasn’t expected to make it.  The survival rate for preemies back then was only 28%!

For many, becoming a teenager is exciting and to others, it’s a terrifying time. Then, there’s 16, 18, and 21.

After that the pressure settles in as 25 nears and you become frantic at 30 feeling as though your youth is gone.  It’s time to evaluate where you’re at in life and where you’re heading.

Anthony2

I survived college, partying, and finding myself in my teens and 20s, starting my career in my 30s, finding love in my 40s, and losing it in my 50s.

There are days of bitterness and anger, but many more are now filled with uncertainty — not only of what lies ahead down this road of life we travel, but mortality!   Dessie-Hollie-Anthony -- Fall 1964

While the average life expectancy in the U.S. is now 78.7 years, my beautiful mother, Dessie, didn’t get anywhere near that.

She died at 47 (in 1990).  My father died three years earlier at 55.

Time

I’m optimistic that I have many years left since I’m physically and mentally healthy.  I just have to work on becoming emotionally and mentally happy!

My next birthday is right around the corner (October 13).

If you send birthday wishes to me via Facebook, I’ll get around to responding to them when I can since I’ll be out of the country!

I’m marking another continent off my travel list!

travel.jpg

This will be the fourth continent I’ve visited — following North America, Europe, and Asia!

To help you narrow it down, I don’t think I need to visit Antarctica and going to South America isn’t high on my travel “bucket list”.

Final clues before you see the pictures on Facebook when I have internet:  It’s north of the Equator (never been south of it), 99% Muslim, and it’s ruled by a King.

Birthday Trip 2

And, in August, Madonna spent her 60th birthday there.  I’m sure that her arrangements were on a grander scale! 🙂

Madonna.JPG

P.S. I share my birthday with Sacha Baron Cohen (47), Nancy Kerrigan (49), Fox Mulder (57), and Marie Osmond (59).  Oh, I can’t forget my dear friend, Crystal Craddock-Posey!

With that being said, I want to share some of my favorites birthdays of the past with you.

BIRTHDAY 2016

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hillary-bd

BIRTHDAY 2014

For my 50th birthday, I wanted to visit Tel Aviv, Israel.

When booking the trip, the connecting flight was through Paris, so it was decided to spend three nights in Paris and four in Tel Aviv.

For my birthday, I was treated to a Seine River dinner cruise, a view of Paris from atop the Eiffel Tower, and sitting stage side at the historic Moulin Rogue sipping champagne at midnight as I turned 50!

Anthony 50

Days later, in Tel Aviv, I had the best meal ever at Benny The Fisherman, right on the Mediterranean Sea!

Benny The Fisherman

BIRTHDAY 2012

The day started with an incredible brunch at the Stratosphere (back when it was good) in Las Vegas and ended with seeing Madonna and the incredible “MDNA Tour”.

Champagne

Madonna MDNA

BIRTHDAY 2011

This would be the last one with my best buddy in the world, my beautiful golden retriever, Miss ABBA.  It was a warm fall day in the Quad Cities and we spent it outside playing.

ABBAAnthonyBD2011

BIRTHDAY 2009

2009 Gifts

As I head into my 55th year and beyond, I’ll live by the words of Kylie Minogue and her life affirming hit “Golden” (which chronicles her turning 50 earlier this year)!

Kylie Golden 1

Kylie

Kylie Golden 2

My one goal for 2019 — seeing Kylie’s “Golden Tour” here in the U.S.!

Here’s to future!

Claire

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — October 13, 2017

Another weekend is upon us and I hope it’s a great one for you.

As always, I appreciate you taking the time to check out my thoughts.  Please feel free to share yours, too.  If you disagree with me, do it diplomatically!

WHAT A CLOWN!

It seems that Kellyanne Conway is still around and still Kellyanne.

In the wake of all of the inappropriate sexual allegations coming out against Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, I’d call him a pig, but I don’t want to insult the swine community!

Earlier this week, Conway lashed out on Twitter about Hillary Clinton’s slow response on condemning Weinstein, who donated to many Democratic candidates.

Kellyanne

I thought about it and it infuriated me even more, so I decided to reach out to her.

AP Clown

MY SIGNATURE BLOG CLOSE

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

Today, I’m starting and ending my blog with it.  We need it!

I woke up a couple of weeks ago to this series of tweets from #45.  I pondered the callousness of the tweets.

DT

Seriously? Puerto Ricans are natural-born citizens of the United States!

This island was devastated by two major hurricanes in September.

CarmenThis same mayor that he’s criticizing has been wading through floodwaters helping her people while some “leaders” golf the weekends away.

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of #45, but there comes a time when little boys need to grow up or shut up!

This saddens me as much as much as it angers me!

MEANWHILE IN PUERTO RICO

While being bashed by #45, Carmen Yulin Cruz, San Juan’s mayor, was thinking of Las Vegas and the victims of the massacre there, while working to get aid from the U.S. government for her people.

Carmen

LAS VEGAS MASSACRE AFTERTHOUGHTS

It’s been almost two weeks since a lone, white terrorist gunned down 58 people in a shooting spree at a country music concert outside Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas that left more than 500 others injured.

LV

While police sort through the facts of the case to learn “why”, the debate quickly turned to gun control.  Sadly, this is a long-standing debate that falls on deaf ears after every mass shooting in America.

Geez, we have more than any other country in the world, yet we have a gridlocked political system that will not work to find a solution to make both side happy. But, I’m not even getting into that debate in this blog.

I love Vegas and I’m going there in December.  While there, I’ll drop money at the casinos, I’ll eat in the restaurants, and I’ll tip the cocktail and food servers well.

My biggest problem in the hours following this massacre was with the thing that was needed the most.  Although a “Go Fund Me” page was set up and quickly raised several million dollars for the victims’ medical costs, I didn’t donate.  Why?  Because blood was needed more than money as the victims were rushed to the hospitals.

Blood

I’m not allowed to give blood because I’m a gay or bisexual man that’s had sex with another man in the past year.   This excludes me from donating, yet it’s okay for a man or woman that hasn’t had same-sex relations to donate.  Yet, they may have slept with half of the free world (and even without protection), but it’s okay for them to donate.

I understood the hysteria in the 1980s and early 1990s when so much was unknown about HIV and AIDS, but three decades later?

Every blood donation is so thoroughly screened and tested before it enters the blood bank and HIV tests can be done in 15 minutes these days!

I have beautiful veins and in the late-1980s, I donated blood every chance I got and I’m regularly tested for HIV.

So, when there’s a national crisis and the American Red Cross is begging for blood donations, that’s where I draw the line.  I’m emphatically uncompassionate to its pleas!

Harsh?  No, it’s a reality and it’s one for which I didn’t set the rules!  To the Food and Drug Administration, do your job and stop discriminating!

“HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER” — SEASON 4

The new season of one of my favorite shows, ABC’s “How To Get Away With Murder” is incredible.

After just two episodes (I haven’t watched the newest episode), I love the vibe of the season 4.

Viola Davis is incredible (as always) as the very mean Annalise Keating, who’s turned over a new leaf and so far, so good.

I actually cried during the season premiere and I applauded Annalise in first case after returning to practicing law.

Viola

She’s defending an older black woman, who has spent most of her life in and out of jail and prison.

The woman was raped as a young girl and arrested for prostitution at 13-year-old.  She was released back to the streets, while white girls arrested that year for the same crime was put in a home for rehabilitation and a chance to turn their lives around.

Annalise argues, “Because that’s what we do to black people, women, and gay people. We turn a blind eye and we tell them their lives don’t matter, but they do matter!”

Welcome back, Annalise and “Murder”!

JUST A THOUGHT

Wine

MY CONTRIBUTION TO ALL GOD’S ANIMALS

I’ve shared many pictures of the cute ducks and the babies in my complex since I moved to Panama City, Florida, in early May.

Ducks

And, I’ve also talked about the turtles feasting on unfortunate ducks.  I know, it’s the “circle of life”.

The other day, I was walking by the pond by my apartment and I noticed a turtle upside down in the shallow water with its head submerged underwater.

I guess it had fallen into the water upside down!  I didn’t know how long it had been there.  So, I had three options: let it drown, let it try to flip itself over (which seemed impossible), or flip it over myself.

Well, being the “tree hugger” and a softie, I helped it and it swam away.

Turtle 1

I hope it remembers that and it doesn’t feast on a baby duck one day!

“THE SNOWMAN”

I’ve only been to the theaters once this year.  Back in the spring, I saw “Beauty and the Beast”.

Next weekend, I’m going to see my future ex-boyfriend, Michael Fassbender, in “The Snowman”.

This movie is based on the superb Norwegian crime thriller by Jo Nesbo.

I haven’t been to a movie alone since 1996 in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, when I went to see “101 Dalmatians”!

PREMATURE BABIES

In 2010, the survival rate of a baby born under 3.3 pounds was at 78%.  There was a lot of improvement in those odds since the 1980s.  (What a great decade — except for AIDS and Ronald Reagan!)

Focus Anthony!  The point I want to make is that just five decades earlier, in 1960, the survival rate for a baby that size was only 28%.Dessie-Hollie-Anthony -- Fall 1964I was one of those babies and I spent the first six weeks of my life in the Mayfield Hospital and look at me now!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Yes, I’m a survivor and it’s my birthday!  I’m celebrating it with my sister Tammy and her boyfriend Gerald, who are visiting me in Panama City.

Here’s a quick look back in pictures!

This was my birthday in 2011, my last one with my best friend, Miss ABBA.  Yes, it warm enough in the Quad Cities to be out in a tank top playing ball. 🙂

ABBAAnthonyBD2011

My first birthday party with a white cake!

Wait, Dessie didn’t know then that I prefer chocolate cake?  (Actually, I haven’t met too many desserts I didn’t like.  Why can’t people be like desserts for me?) 🙂

AP 1st Birthday

My most exciting birthday ever was my 50th in Paris, France!

It started with a Seine River dinner cruise, a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and then sipping champagne stage-side at the Moulin Rogue (sans Satine!)  After that, it was off to my dream destination, Tel Aviv, Israel!

Also, I can’t forget celebrating in Las Vegas in 2012 with Madonna!

Let’s hope in the next 50 years I have other birthdays to rival those.

BOUGHT MYSELF A BIRTHDAY PRESENT

And, it arrives today.

It’s the new Christmas album from Reba McEntire, “My Kind of Christmas”.

REBA

As I shared with you in an August blog, Reba released a version of this album through Cracker Barrel, a chain restaurant with a history of homophobic and racist practices.

It was also the first Reba album that I didn’t buy!

This re-issue features new versions and new songs with Darius Rucker, Vince Gill and Amy Grant, and Lauren Daigle.

“THE GOOD DOCTOR”

Freddie Highmore was incredible as Norman Bates on A& E’s “Bates Motel”, so I was excited to check out his new ABC series, “The Good Doctor”.

Highmore is very convincing as Dr. Shaun Murphy, who is a surgeon with autism and savant syndrome.  The show follows the struggles he faces in the high pressure world of San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital.

While some of the show comes across as far-fetched to me, I’m still with it after three episodes.

“THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS”

This movie is based on the true story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the 1950s.

Without her knowledge, doctors used her cancer cells, known as HeLa, to advance not only cancer research, but research for many different other diseases, too.

Oprah Winfrey is great as Debra Lacks, Henrietta’s daughter, who worked with a Rebecca Skloot, a writer who was researching and writing a book about her mother.

The HBO movie was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Television Movie.

GRADE: B

PICK HIT

20-year-old Norwegian record producer and DJ Alan Walker was only 17 when he produced a version of a song called “Fade” without vocals.

A new version, “Faded”, featuring Norwegian singer Iselin Solheim, hit #1 in 17 countries and reached the Top Ten in, at least, ten more countries (add another one if you count the Billboard Dance Club Songs in the U.S., where it went to #4.)

“Faded” was my favorite song of 2016 and it’s been viewed more than 1.3 billion times (that’s billions with a “B”) on YouTube!

Walker’s latest is “The Spectre”.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Welcome to My House!

Okay, more correctly, it’s an apartment.  But, “My House” sounds better!

I’ve been in Panama City, Florida, for three months now and I still haven’t posted any pictures of my place.

So, I guess it’s time for the unveiling. 🙂

This is a cool shot I took of the reflection on the ceiling coming in from my balcony’s French doors.SecretMy spare bedroom is still “under construction” and is being used as storage.  I’ll have to have it ready for my sister’s visit in October!

One major thing I ran into decorating was limited space compared to what I had back in the Quad Cities!

So, here’s what it looked like when I moved in.  Much to my chagrin, the living room is so awkwardly shaped and my furniture was so big that I had to cover the fireplace!EmptySo, here it is.1 LIVING ROOMI had to put my wine rack in the living room just to center my table and chairs in the dining room under the light.  It would have imposed on guests sitting at the table.2 LIVING ROOMHowever, it gives me a chance to display some of my wine and olive pictures I took in California and the awesome treasure I found in a thrift store in San Francisco!  I found the fish light display at a yard sale in Moline!3 LIVING ROOMIn the three months I’ve been here, I haven’t eaten at the dining room table — maybe when I have guests!LR DR1 DINING ROOMKitchenMy bedroom…1 AP BEDROOM2 AP BEDROOMMy bathroom…1 AP BRThe three pictures you see below are a celebration of my 50th birthday.

The moment I turned 50, I was sitting at the stage of the Moulin Rouge in Paris sipping champagne and watching the exciting show.

Then, it was off to my dream destination, Tel Aviv, Israel.

The picture on the bottom left is still the best meal I’ve ever eaten at Benny The Fisherman on the Mediterranean Sea.  That’s just the “salad” portion of the meal!

And, the bottom right picture is looking toward Tel Aviv from Old Jaffa, a city that’s more than 3,500 years old and one of the oldest port cities in the world.2 AP BRThe guest bathroom with photos that I’ve taken since being here.TAMMY BATHROOMMy balcony…1 BALCONY2 BALCONYWell, that’s it.  This is where I hang my head.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — October 14, 2016

The weekend is almost here.  You know I love my weekends and I start counting down to them when I walk into work Monday mornings.

I greatly appreciate you taking the time to check out my random thoughts.  I think about a lot of things and writing not only gives me an avenue to express myself, but it gives me a chance to process all of the things that are happening in the world.

So, bear with me this week even if you’re over this year’s circus of a presidential election.

I also have random thoughts that are not about politics.  But, I feel it’s worth mentioning.

As always, if you disagree with me, just do it diplomatically.

SECOND DEBATE HIGHS AND LOWS

Here’s a shocker — I’ll say a nice thing about Donald Trump.

He did better in last Sunday’s debate. However, he also did a better job of showing he knows nothing about the job of president!

When asked repeatedly about what he’d do in Syria, he ranted and raved for minutes without ever answering the question.  I swear he thought they said, “cereal”.  It confused him and he didn’t know what to say — like most of what he said all night!

He did have one nice thing to say about Hillary before saying he didn’t agree with much of what she said.

dt-hillary-fighter

TELL HIM THE WAY IT IS!

My favorite celebrity tweet of the night came from Shonda Rhimes, the creator of “How To Get Away With Murder”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, and so many more ABC hits.

shonda

Look on the bright side, it’s all over in just a little over three week!  Get out and vote!

SHE SAID WHAT(!) IN THE BEST QUOTE OF THE WEEK 

Republican strategist and political commentator Ana Navarro made headlines last week in the wake of Donald Trump’s “Access Hollywood” secret recording degrading women.

In 2005, he was recorded boasting that because he was a celebrity, he could kiss anyone he wanted and could even grab their p***y.

In this video, Navarro shocked television censors when she stood up to Trump bobble head Scottie Nell Hughes.

Warning:  This is not censored like my statement three lines up!

Kudos to you Ana.  Speak the truth.  Sometimes that’s harder to swallow for some!

EARLIER THIS WEEK, I HAD MUCH MORE TO SAY…

Since my thoughts here are random and I don’t want to write chapters, I posted a blog about the Donald Trump and Billy Bush scandal and what it meant to me earlier this week.

bush-trump

If you missed it Wednesday, here it is (if you click on this link, it’ll open in a new window and you won’t lose your place here.)

Donald & Billy’s “Locker Room Talk”

Since I posted that blog on Wednesday, I’ve gotten great feedback.  Not everyone agrees with me, but we have that right.  As I said above, you can disagree, just do it diplomatically.

ANOTHER  BIRTHDAY 

On Thursday, I celebrated another birthday.

It was a low-key affair.  We’ll be celebrating with dinner and cake next week when my sister, Tammy, and Gretel are with us.

As I celebrate another year of life, I think back to my favorite birthdays.

Let’s see, there was my 50th, two years ago, sipping champagne at the Moulin Rogue after a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower after a dinner cruise on the Seine River.  Thanks Ray!

AP R Moulin

After that, it was on to Tel Aviv, Israel, one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited.

In 2012, we were in Vegas and I saw Madonna on the “MDNA Tour”.

AnthonyMadonna

And, of course, I’ll always cherish my birthday in 2011.  It was the last one with my golden retriever, ABBA, my best friend.

ABBAAnthonyBD2011

Finally, while I don’t remember it, here’s a photo of my first birthday celebration in 1965.

October 13 1965

Not bad for a premature baby born six weeks early weighing only four pounds before dropping down to three pounds and spending the first six weeks of his life in the hospital!

LOBSTERS 

No, I’m not talking about the movie, “The Lobster”, even though it was a great movie with Colin Farrell and Ben Whishaw.

This is about the lobsters that sadly find themselves one day swimming in the ocean and then on plates served with drawn butter.

lobster

I was reading an article in “Coastal Living” and I learned that regardless of their original color, lobsters turn red when cooked!  The exception is the albino (white) lobster that remains white.

By the way, some other lobsters colors include red, yellow, blue, and blue-green.  As you’ll see in this video, some of those are VERY RARE.

See, my thoughts are random!

“EMPIRE”

The cast of Fox’s “Empire” have something to say about the upcoming election.

But, where’s Terrence Howard????

COULD THE ELECTION BE RIGGED?

Donald Trump supporters definitely think so.

Full Frontal’s Samantha Bee sent two correspondents out to get to the bottom of the latest conspiracy!

As you see, this only applies if Hillary Clinton wins the election!

“THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN” — THE NOVEL

Back in my “Random Friday Thoughts — July 24, 2015” blog, here’s what I wrote about Paula Hawkins’ amazing debut novel, “The Girl on the Train”.

The Girl on the Train

“This is a definite hands down, take the train, bus, car, bicycle, or whatever means necessary to pick up this book!  Actually, you probably already have since “Variety” reports “The Girl on the Train” is the fastest-selling adult novel in history, having sold more than two million copies in the U.S. alone since it was published in January.”

In the book, Rachel is an alcoholic, divorced woman who becomes obsessed with a couple she sees on a regular basis from the train she takes into London.

One day, Rachel sees something strange that will trigger a series of events that will have you feverishly turning the pages to see what’s real, what’s not, and what really happened.  It’s a page turner until the end!”

“THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN” — THE MOVIE

Last Friday, the movie adaptation of the book came out in theaters.  It debuted at #1 in the United States with $24.5 million.  It’s global opening weekend box office draw was $41.2 million.

From book to movie, the location was changed from London to New York City.  This also meant that Rachel’s drink of choice had to be changed.

gordons_gin__tonic_in_can_250ml

Sadly, there were no gin and tonics in a can on the train.  I won’t tell you what her movie drink is — spoilers. 🙂

I sure hope when the Oscar nominations are announced in early 2017 that Emily Blunt’s name is on the list.

Blunt, as Rachel, was so compelling, sad, and heartbreaking.  I teared up when she took her first sip on the train.

Haley Bennett (Megan) was also a strong force in the movie.

If you loved the book, you’ll love the movie.  For me, it started out a little slow.  That’s because I read the book.  However, the pace quickly picked up.

If you haven’t read the book, this is one psychological thriller/drama that you’ll definitely want to see.

GRADE – “THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN” — THE MOVIE:  A-

GRADE- “THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN” — THE NOVEL:   A

“TIMELESS”

Time travel as a premise for a television series is not a new idea.  The new NBC series, “Timeless” is the latest to take this on.

In the premiere episode, a time machine that the government was unaware of (shock!) was stolen by an evil man (Goran Visnjic).

A ragtag trio consisting of a college history professor, a soldier, and a scientist working for the company that created the time machine are brought together to track him down.

I admit that the promos and print ads featuring the very sexy Matt Lanter caught my attention first.  I took notice of the show and its premise.

After the premiere, which took us back to 1937 and the Hindenburg explosion, and the second episode (Lincoln’s assassination in 1865), I’m hooked on the show.

It’s still early in the run, so you have a chance to catch up.

“HOLDING THE MAN”

This Australian romantic drama film was released late last year and is based on a 1995 memoir by Timothy Conigrave, an Australian actor, writer, and activist.

It tells the story of his life with his partner, John, from the time they met in high school in the 1970s to John’s death in the early 1990s.

It’s not too often these days to see a gay movie with a central plot line centered around AIDS.  Today, it’s more about coming-of-age or marriage equality.

But, other than vital to their lives and the decades it covered, it’s important in 2016 to see this story line.  People are still getting infected daily from HIV and people die daily from AIDS.

Younger men and women, whether LGBTQ or not, are becoming less familiar with the AIDS epidemic that took so many of our loved ones and friends in the 1980s and 1990s.

“Holding The Man” is not just a AIDS movie.  It’s a love story and a touching one and the lead actors, Ryan Corr and Craig Stott, are adorable as a couple.

GRADE:  A-

PICK HIT

Kelsey Waldon is from Monkey’s Eyebrow, Kentucky, just down the road from where I grew up in Mayfield.

She was one of six artists that “Entertainment Weekly” featured as up-and-comers, ” The New Queens of Country” in a recent magazine article.  Last week, I featured Margo Price.

If you like real, traditional country music, then you’re going to love “I’ve Got A Way”.

Listening to Waldon, I couldn’t help but imagine this collection of songs sung by another of Kentucky’s icons, Loretta Lynn.

So, until my favorite Kentuckian Patty Loveless releases another album, I’ll enjoy Waldon’s debut and maybe check out the newly recorded Christmas collection from Loretta Lynn, “White Christmas Blue”.

FINAL BIRTHDAY THOUGHTS

To all of you that took the time out of your day to send me birthday wishes, thank you very much.  I appreciate each and every one and I hope I responded to all of you.

Here are a couple more that I got — one by mail and one by email.  If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve already seen them! 🙂

jc bd

Hillary BD.jpg

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — October 7, 2016

October is here and I’m excited that cooler days are in the forecast and the holiday seasons are right around the corner.  (Notice I said “seasons”?  While Christmas is my favorite, I do love my Halloween candy and the Thanksgiving feast!)

Now that the summer heat is giving way to fall temperatures, we’ll probably be eating fewer Popsicles.

Popsicle

But, it’s always the perfect time for ice cream!

As political as I get sometimes, I admit that I really want November 8th to get here and have this long, drawn out election cycle and 2016 presidential election behind us.

Thank you for taking the time to check out my random Friday thoughts and as always, if you disagree, do it diplomatically!

CREEPY CLOWN SIGHTINGS

I’m not sure what’s behind this sudden fascination with creepy clowns showing up and freaking people out.

I’d venture to guess that social media and 24-hour news cycles are huge factors for us hearing so much about it.  Aren’t those two always to blame? 🙂

john-wayne-gacy-killer-clown

When it comes to creepy clowns, this is the creepiest by far!  On the brighter side, this particular “killer clown” in no longer a threat to anyone.

If you’re too young to know, that’s John Wayne Gacy, a serial killer and rapist that murdered at least 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978 inside his Chicago-area home.  Let me tell you, as a teenager when that killing spree was exposed, it creeped me out big time.

A decade or so later, I had a “too close for comfort” brush with Jeffrey Dahmer.  That’s a story for another time!

KIM KARDASHIAN ROBBED AT GUNPOINT

Reality star Kim Kardashian West was reportedly robbed at gunpoint earlier this week at her Paris hotel residence by five men dressed as police officers.

kim-kardashian-kanye-west-wedding

While she was “badly shaken but physically unharmed”, it had to be a scary ordeal!

At least $11 million in jewelry was taken including a jewelry box worth about $6.7 million and a ring valued at $4.5 million.

Unless I win the lottery, I’ll never know what it’s like to have that kind of money and anything of that much value in my house.

The thing that baffles me most about the ordeal is that if someone had that much money or jewelry, wouldn’t you keep it at a safer location like a bank or a vault?

In Kardashian West’s case, if she wanted any particular piece of her collection that was safely tucked away, she could have someone fetch it for her!

MAGIC MIKE MISFIRE

I really enjoyed “Magic Mike”, but I hated the sequel.

Now, James Marsden reveals that he regrets not signing on for the movie.

Well, that makes two of us.  Okay, three if you count Ray and I know the number doesn’t stop there!

With that in mind, if Marsden is still up to strip down, this might actually excite me for a third installment!

“FEAR THE WALKING DEAD” SEASON FINALE

The second season of AMC’s “Fear The Walking Dead” wrapped up last Sunday night with back-to-back episodes for a two-hour finale.

spoiler_alert_300_w2

While the first season’s six episodes were slow, it was still enjoyable.  However, the second season was stronger and much more powerful.

The finale featured one of the most intense “walker” deaths of the series.  It was a wrenching scene that lasted beyond the comfort level and that’s a good thing.

We also saw one of the show’s original cast members die.  While the death may not have come as a surprise, how it was executed was a shocker to me.  I tweeted the actor about his amazing two seasons and he liked the tweet.

While I gave the season and the finale a high grade (see below), I have a complaint.

It’s becoming monotonous when the characters disembowel a walker and smear the blood on themselves now that they’ve learned they can walk freely among the walking dead by doing that.

This is much more believable and is done with more intensity on “The Walking Dead”.  And, it isn’t overused as a gimmick.

rick

If “Fear The Walking Dead” is going to keep doing this, why not make it a “chore” and each day for several hours, people can go out, get exercise, and rid themselves of the walker population in their area.  But, this would be boring.

That’s my only complaint and I can’t wait for season three in 2017.

GRADE:  A-

“THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN”

After what seems like an eternal wait since I read the book, “The Girl on the Train” finally hits theaters this weekend.

I’ve highly recommended the Paula Hawkins book several times in my blog and I can’t wait to see the movie, which I think will easily debut at #1 in the U.S. and at worldwide box office.

“WILL & GRACE” TAKE ON VOTING

If you miss the NBC hit comedy, “Will & Grace”, you got a treat around the time of the first presidential debate.

The cast gathered ten years after the comedy left television to raise awareness on the importance of voting in this November’s election.

This is hilarious (and even borderline offensive to some).

Disclaimer:  it’s definitely not made for NBC’s “standards and practices”!

A LESS “BRAGGADOCIOUS” LOOK BACK

Comedian Randy Rainbow takes a much different approach to last week’s first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

I think this is the best skit I’ve seen him perform.

“MONEY MONSTER”

This Jodie Foster-directed suspense thriller starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, and Jack O’Donnell (“Unbroken”) was high on my list to see this summer when it hit theaters.

Life got in the way, so I caught it on DVD.

I’m glad it worked out that way because I wouldn’t have been too happy if I had spent $35-plus for tickets, popcorn, and sodas.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’d watch Julia Roberts read the newspaper.

The story was intense and the way it ended was fulfilling, but I had higher expectations.

I guess most of all, I want to see Foster back in front of the camera!

GRADE:  B

“RISEN”

This movie about the search for a risen Jewish messiah (yes, Jesus) was a modest box office hit earlier this year.

The $20 million movie grossed $46.1 million and most of that was here in the United States.

It was an entertaining movie without being too preachy for those that proceed with caution with religious-based movies.

The very sexy Joseph Fiennes plays Clavius, a Roman tribute, assigned to investigate the story of Jesus rising from the dead.  By the way, Jesus is played by Cliff Curtis, who plays Travis on “Fear The Walking Dead”.

One thing that cracked me up was the silly MPAA rating at the beginning of the movie.

For this one, it warned viewers of “Biblical Violence”.

Okay, while implied more than glorified with blood and gore, the movie was rather savage, at times, and violence is violence.  Putting the word “biblical” in front of it doesn’t make it less painful or deadly, right? 🙂

GRADE:  B-

PICK HIT

I admit that since I don’t hear any new music from my country favorites on the radio these days and I’m not a fan of “bro-country”, I don’t make it a point to listen to the genre.

However, Canadian country music star Brett Kissel is one of my new favorites even though he doesn’t get airplay on American country radio.

Recently, “Entertainment Weekly” showcased several women making inroads in the country music field.  Two of them stood out to me.

Margo Price, who was born in Aledo, Illinois, in Mercer County, just down the road from the Quad Cities, is one of them.

Her debut album, “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter”, which hit #10 on the Billboard Country Album chart earlier this year, features some great country music.

“4 Years of Chances” is a favorite of mine.

Next week, I’ll feature another standout and if you like traditional country music, you’ll love it.

ANOTHER PICK HIT

As I’ve stated before, “7/27”, the latest CD from Fifth Harmony is a great album.

It’s already produced the #1 hit “Work From Home” and the smash “All In My Head (Flex)”.

“That’s My Girl” is their latest release.

Right now, it’s at #36 on the Top 40 radio airplay charts.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — August 26, 2016

It’s now the last weekend of August.  Where did summer go?

While we still have about four weeks of summer left, Labor Day is fast approaching and, for some, that’s the unofficial end of the summer season.

If you’re ready for fall (and winter), then the first story in my “Random Friday Thoughts” is just for you.

Even if it’s not for you, if you live in the Quad Cities or nearby, please read it and take it to heart.

THE BOY THAT CRIED WOLF

It’s still summer, but we all know that fall is getting closer since our low dropped to 53° this past Monday in the Quad Cities.

While there’s plenty of warm weather left and time for several tropical systems to develop in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, colder weather is spilling in well to our northwest and some long-term computer models even paint a little snow over western Canada by September 1st. 🙂

Sept 1.jpg

This is a perfect time to clarify a couple of things and I’m sure you’ll hear me reiterate this again during the winter months!

We know there are some local forecasters across Iowa and Illinois that cry wolf and dramatize every potential snowflake to get Facebook likes, shares, and blog hits!

Snowflake

That’s not me!  While I love for people to read what I write and comment on it, I’m not going to sensationalize a forecast to get you to watch me or brag about the number of people that click on my page.

With that being said, when you see astronomical snow forecasts a week or so ahead of a potential snow event (which is stupid from a forecasting standpoint), just ignore them!

However, if you insist on looking, don’t make the mistake of asking me about it!  If I think there’s a chance of seeing a decent snow, I’ll definitely be telling you.  But, I will not justify another forecaster’s sensationalism!

Again, I know I’ll have to mention this again this winter.

2016 SUMMER OLYMPICS

I’m so proud of all of the athletes on Team USA that won gold, silver, and bronze medals at the 2016 Summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

rio.jpg

I’m just as happy for those that made the team that didn’t win medals, too.

I didn’t watch the games, but I did follow the medal count as Team USA won more gold and more medals overall than any other team in the world.

All of those performances shined brighter than the adolescent ignorance and shame brought on by gold medalist swimmer Ryan Lochte and his three friends who claimed they were robbed at gunpoint.  Lochte now says his story was “over-exaggerated”.

Speedo Ryan.jpg

SPEEDO FALLOUT

No, there’s no photo of a “wardrobe malfunction” with Lochte and his Speedo.  However, there is fallout from his lies.

Speedo USA ended its sponsorship of him earlier this week.  The company will still donate a portion of his fee ($50,000) to the global charity “Save The Children” in Brazil.

Sppedo Short.jpg

RALPH LAUREN FOLLOWS SPEEDO

The hits against Lochte didn’t stop with Speedo.  Ralph Lauren and two other companies cut ties, too.

The fashion company says, “Ralph  Lauren continues to proudly sponsor the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Team and the values that its athletes embody.”

It added, “Ralph Lauren’s endorsement agreement with Ryan Lochte was specifically in support of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the company will not be renewing his contract.”

Lochte, stuff that in your Speedos!

STILL NOT READY!

The Dixie Chicks debuted on the Billboard County charts in 1997 with “I Can Love You Better”.  From 1997-2003, the Texas trio charted 16 Top 40 hits with 14 of them reaching the Top Ten, and six topping the charts.

Then, in 2003, lead singer Natalie Maines told a foreign crowd that she was ashamed that then President George W. Bush was from Texas.  The fallout at country radio was swift, but not like Taylor!

“Travelin’ Soldier” was at the top of the country charts when Natalie’s words made is back to America.  Cumulus radio stations banned the Chicks and the song dropped off the charts in two weeks — from #1!

The Dixie Chicks returned with a new album, “Taking The Long Way”, in 2006.  It topped Billboard’s Top 200 and Country album charts, sold over two million copies, and won a total of five Grammy Awards.

They’re back on tour now, their first since 2006, and Natalie still has more to say!

Natalie

I’ll be seeing Natalie, Martie, and Emily for the second time in less than three weeks when they play the iWireless Center in Moline, Illinois, on September 15th, on the “DCX MMXVI World Tour”.

I’m currently listening to all my Dixie Chicks CDs again to rank my 20 favorite songs before the concert!

If you want to see the April 2012 blog I wrote about them and the war with country radio, here it is.  (It’ll open in a new window.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/a-nation-at-war-abroad-on-country-radio-as-a-statue-topples/

DO YOU LOVE COTTON CANDY?

I love cotton candy and I eat it every time I go to Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.  cotton candy

However, I thought of it in a different way recently reading an interview with Jennifer Lawrence talking about her upcoming movie, “Passengers”, with Chris Pratt.

Lawrence says (referring to Pratt), “He’s a bag of Gummi Bears.  He’s human cotton candy.”

Three things crossed my mind:  (1) “human cotton candy” sounds like something Hannibal Lecter would make if he was slumming for a dinner party dessert, (2) I do like cotton candy, and (3), I’d like it even more if it comes in the shape of the new and improved Chris Pratt body!

Chris Pratt.jpg

“BREAKING BAD”

I have another thought about winter today.

I know the most critically acclaimed show of all time (Guinness World Records, 2013), “Breaking Bad” concluded its five year run in the fall of 2013.

Ray and I were finally going to binge watch it when we got snowed in this winter, but we started it this week and after just three episodes, all I can say is “it’s incredible” — even if we saw Walter White (Bryan Cranston) too many times in his tighty whities. 🙂

Now, if we start seeing Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) in his, that’ll be different!

While we’ll still be watching “Breaking Bad” this winter, we also have “House of Cards”, “Justified”, and “Tyrant” to binge watch on when the days get short, the air gets colder, and the snow piles up.

Snow Saturday Morning

A BIRTHDAY PRESENT FOR ME???

At my age, I don’t really make a big deal out of my birthdays since I’ve already passed many of the milestones (13, 16, 18, 21, 30, 40, and 50).  Okay, I still have many years to go before retirement and social security.

For my 50th birthday, Ray treated me to a dinner cruise on the Seine River, a trip to top of the Eiffel Tower, and a show at the world famous Moulin Rouge, where I was sipping champagne and watching very risque and sexy performers at the stroke of midnight!

AP R Moulin

But, this year there’ll be a fun birthday present that I might just have to buy for myself.

One of my favorite bands of all-time, Erasure, is releasing a mammoth boxed set called “From Moscow to Mars”.  If you’re a die-hard Erasure fan or a fan of 1980s music, you’ll know where that title came from.  I know, you’re racking your brain now!

Check out this incredible video teaser!

Who knows how much that 13 disc set with over 200 tracks will cost, but I think I’m worth it!

AND THERE’S MORE….

If that wasn’t enough, Michael Buble is back, too, with a new album, “Nobody But Me” on October 21st.

Michael Buble To Be Loved

His last album, “To Be Loved” came out more than three years ago and his last tour ended in March 2015.

Michael has been spending more time with his wife, Luisana, and their two sons, three-year-old Noah and seven-month-old Elias.

The first single and the title track came out last week.

ANOTHER CHRISTMAS OFFERING

Christmas is still four months away, but it’s that time of the year when details of upcoming holiday albums emerge.

Already, I’ve talked about a duets Christmas album from Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood and a new holiday album from Kacey Musgraves.

Illinois native and country hit maker Brett Eldredge will also be releasing his first Christmas collection this fall.

The album will feature classics and a new song called “Glow”.  It’ll also have a “big band and swing sound”.

Until we get the track listing and that first video, here’s Brett from the 2014 CMA Country Christmas special.

And, if it’s too early for you to listen to a Christmas song, here’s Brett with one of my favorite songs of last year, his #1 country smash, “Lose My Mind”.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Get to Know Me Better

In a quest to get to know new employees at work and to introduce ourselves to them, we recently filled out a little fun questionnaire and called it “In Real Life”.

Although I grew up with some of you or have met you throughout my life of travels, many of you I know through social media and my blog, so I thought it’d be fun to share it with you.

Meet Anthony Peoples!

Position:  Morning Meteorologist, WHBF, Rock Island, Illinois.

How Long:  2+ Years

First job in the business:  Morning weather in Rhinelander, Wisconsin (Home of the Hodag!)

Hodag

Hometown: Mayfield, KY

Family: Anthony has been married for 4 years.  He has a teenage daughter that will be in high school this fall. (A freshman!)

Wedding2

APWedding

Most memorable moment:  Getting to meet one of his idols, Reba McEntire, and finding out that she’s as genuine and sweet as she comes across on screen!

Reba Anthony 2005

Hobbies/Talents: Anthony loves writing!

Nicknames: Peeps

Fun Facts:

Anthony spent his 50th birthday on a Seine River Cruise, visited the top of the Eiffel Tower, and sipped champagne at the Moulin Rouge in Paris.

Paris Birthday

He was briefly detained on the sidewalk outside the American Embassy in Tel Aviv by Israeli authorities for taking pictures of the Embassy Building.

This picture with Ray is from Old Jaffa with Tel Aviv in the background.

Ray AP TLV

And, I want to share my favorite meal ever.  This was the equivalent of a dinner salad at “Benny The Fisherman” in Tel Aviv.  They brought out even more food to sample before the main meal!  Incredible and so tasty.

Benny The Fisherman

He once took a selfie with Shania Twain in Las Vegas.

AP Shania

Anthony would love to meet Madonna, Britney Spears, Michael C. Hall, Andrew Lincoln, Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny.

madonnaAnthony Britney 07092011

Dexter-michael-c-hall

Andrew Lincoln

Gillian Anderson

David Duchovny

He wants to be in scene in a “Halloween” movie sequel.

Michael

Did you learn anything?

Anthony

Fortunate In 2014 & Looking Forward To 2015

Happy Holidays, my friends, it’s my favorite time of the year.  I love the sights and sounds, the music, and the fact that I get to catch up with my dear friends.

Christmas 2014

I hope 2014 was a great year for you, but more importantly, I hope 2015 is even better.  May you be blessed with good health, good fortunes, love, and happiness!

It was a fun year for us.  I’ll get to that, but first let me update you on our lives.

I’m nearing the end of my two-year contract as the morning meteorologist for the CBS affiliate here in the Quad Cities.  While I love what I do, I’m not sure how much longer I want to get up at 1 a.m. for work five days a week.

Ray is still the Planning and Economic Development Director for the city of Moline.  He’s been there nine years and loves what he does.  But, were both eyeing his semi-retirement and Gretel’s high school graduation in five years to move to a warmer climate.

Yes, Gretel is now an eighth grader and a teenager!  She wants to be a movie director when she grows up.

Anthony Gretel Ray

My sister, Tammy, is still living in the Quad Cities.  She’s been here for three years and while she’s happy, I can definitely see her return to Tennessee to be closer to her two granddaughters one day.

Tammy

It’s been almost three years since we lost Miss ABBA and we still don’t have a dog.  However, I hope that changes in the next year or two — if we travel less.  We did quite a bit of traveling this year.

ABBAFashionShowJan2012

We got away to Las Vegas for a few days this summer and saw Olivia Newton-John and Shania Twain in concert.

OliviaShania

While there, we also saw two Cirque du Soleil shows, “The Beatles LOVE” and “Michael Jackson ONE”.  Both were simply amazing with the theatrics, the acrobatics, and, of course, the fantastic music.  I’d highly recommend seeing one of these shows when you’re in Vegas.

Other concerts we enjoyed this year were Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan in Clinton, Iowa

Anthony, Pam, & Lorrie

Cher and Cyndi Lauper in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Cher 2014 311

Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull in Chicago, Illinois

Enrique

We also saw my favorite ’80s band, Erasure, in Chicago, the next night!

Erasure

We spent a few days in Branson, Missouri, on a summer vacation trip for Gretel and her friends, Zoe, in June, and I accompanied Ray on a conference to beautiful Ottawa, Ontario, the capital of Canada, in September.  I got to sight see while he worked.

Ottawa

And, then in October, we went on the big vacation to celebrate my 50th birthday!

Yes, the big 5-0!  I’ve always wanted to go to Tel Aviv, Israel, and when we were booking the trip, it took us through Paris to sit at the airport for a few hours.  We thought, “why not stay a few days since we’re already going to be there?”  So, we cut Tel Aviv to four nights and stayed in Paris three nights.

Paris Birthday

For my birthday, Ray bought a package deal that included a Seine River dinner cruise, a visit to the Eiffel Tower (the view from the top at night was incredible), and a cabaret show at the world-renowned “Moulin Rouge”.  Since we were on Paris time, I actally turned 50 sipping champagne as the show girls (and boys) performed at the “Moulin Rouge”!

Paris was incredible, but Tel Aviv, on the Mediterranean Sea, was so beautiful and the religious history surrounding the city was mind-blowing.

Ray Anthony Old Jaffa

Old Jaffa, just miles away, is more than 4,000 years old.

And, we had a yard sale this summer and started saving change and a few dollars to go on a holiday cruise to the eastern Caribbean in early December with Tammy and Gretel.

Eastern Caribbean

Needless to say, we didn’t buy many presents for each other this Christmas.  The trip was the present.

It been an enjoyable year and we’re definitely looking forward to see what 2015 brings!

As you start to take down the holiday decorations and winter sets in, I hope that you’re looking to the new year for bright new adventures, good health, and much happiness.

“May hope and faith conquer fear and hate” in 2015.

Anthony

 

 

 

 

Random Friday Thoughts — October 24, 2014

The weekend is almost here and I hope you have fun plans.

The nice thing is that temperatures will be near 70° for Iowa and Illinois.  If you recall by this time last year, the Quad Cities had already had its first measurable snow of the season! (0.4″ fell on October 22, 2013, in Moline, Illinois.)

Snow

Yes, I have a few random thoughts to share and I hope you enjoy reading them.

EBOLA FEARS & BLAME

As of now, one person has died here in the United States from Ebola, a disease that has killed close to 5,000 people in Africa.  However, the World Health Organization says that the true number may be three times that official number.

Twice recently, while traveling, I had the unfortunate experience of watching Fox News in the hotel room and I was disgusted that the talking heads were blaming President Obama for not doing enough.

Maybe they need to step back for a moment and look at this fact!

EBOLA - AIDS

If you think that’s just some Democratic, liberal slant of the facts, read a full article that I blogged about that in July 2012.

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

REBA IS READY FOR A COMEBACK

It’s sad to say that when you have more Top Ten hits on the country chart than any other woman in history and you’re tied with Dolly Parton with the most #1 country songs by a woman that you’re staging a comeback, but that’s what Reba McEntire, my idol, is doing.

REBA_ATWIA_COVER_500

Reba’s last album, “All The Women I Am” was released almost four years ago and it featured her last #1 song, Turn On The Radio”, which topped the chart on New Year’s Day in 2011.

Here’s Reba performing that song in Moline in October 2011.

Since then, the next three singles faltered at country radio peaking at #22 (the remake of Beyonce’s “If I Were A Boy”), #40, and #44.  Thanks country radio!

Nevertheless, she’s back with a new label and she’s making new music.

Earlier this week, Reba announced that she signed with Nash ICON Music, a joint venture between Big Machine Label Group (Taylor Swift’s label) and Cumulus Media, the broadcasting giant that owns 460 AM and FM stations in the United States.

Reba

Reba is working with her longtime friend and producer Tony Brown, who’s behind her biggest hits albums from the early-to-mid-1990s including my favorites, “Rumor Has It” (1990) and “Read My Mind” (1994).  James Stroud is also co-producing the album.   Stroud has produced some of  Clay Walker and Tracy Lawrence’s biggest hits.

Reba has already cut 11 songs for the new album and six are finished.  She adds, “I’ve got three more to record that I have found.  I’m always trying to beat out what I have already, so we just keep looking.”

While there’s no date set for the new single and new album, Reba promises it will be “soon”!

“GONE GIRL”

The latest David Fincher masterpiece, “Gone Girl”, is amazing.

The movie is based on the New York Times best seller and critically acclaimed novel of the same name by former “Entertainment Weekly” writer Gillian Flynn.

In just three weeks, the movie starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, and Neil Patrick Harris has grossed more than $216 million worldwide with more than one-half of that domestically.

While I plan on reading the book in early December, the movie was incredible.  It really helped that Flynn also wrote the screenplay for the movie.

Here’s the trailer, which tells you what you really need to know about the movie.

Affleck was very solid just as he was in “Argo” and Pike definitely has a future in Hollywood.

Harris is so versatile as an actor and this is one of his most revealing and vulnerable, naked performances he’s given.

Let’s just say that he was definitely acting on Broadway in his critically acclaimed role in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, because there is much more there!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Okay, that’s my way of saying you see more of Harris in this movie than you’ve ever seen before! 🙂

GRADE:  A

WE’RE HEADING TO THE CHAPEL AND WE’RE GOING TO GET MARRIED…

Marriage equality is sweeping the nation as court challenges and the Supreme Court of the United States are giving more Americans the freedom to get married.

Marraige Equality

Yet, that idiot and Fox News mouthpiece Mike Huckabee, the failed Presidential candidate, will not let it drop.

Check out this tweet and a Twitter response to his assessment of what Jesus probably thought.

Huckabee

While that might have offended some, that wasn’t my intent.  However, it made me smile and I couldn’t have said it any better.

PARIS AND TEL AVIV HIGHLIGHTS

Last week, I turned the big 5-0 and we saved our pennies and dollars and celebrated the milestone birthday with a trip to Europe (Paris, France) and the Middle East (Tel Aviv, Israel).

Here are some of the interesting things we experienced on the trip.

My birthday present from Ray was dinner cruise on the Seine River, followed by a trip to the Eiffel Tower at night.  We paid the extra 12 Euros to go to top and it was amazing to see the sprawled out city of Paris twinkling in the distance.

And, the night didn’t end there.  It was then off to the historic Moulin Rouge for a show and champagne.  I actually turned 50 during the show.

AP R Moulin

Thanks Ray!!!!!!!  You’re incredible.

We also had duck and goose a couple of times and while I’ll not make it a regular part of my eating habits, it was rather tasty.

The oddest thing I saw in Paris was a Chinese buffet near our hotel that we kept eyeing on our walks.  We finally gave it a try and you actually had to microwave your food that was sitting out on the buffet!  I wasn’t a fan of that.  Osaka Buffet in Moline, you have nothing to worry about!

But, then again, who goes to Paris and has a Chinese buffet?

It’s a small world after all.  As we were waiting in the line to go through customs at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, all of a sudden I heard “Hey Moline” and it was a sweet little, older couple that was coming back from a European River Cruise.  You never know who or where you’ll see your peeps! 🙂

TLV Sunset

Then it was off to Tel Aviv for three days.

It’s absolutely gorgeous there and from our hotel room, we could see the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean Sea!

We were amazed at how beautiful, healthy, and in shape most Israeli men are.  Note to self:  eat better and work out more!

The morning Israeli breakfast our hotel, Prima City Hotel, was very tasty.  However, our favorite meal was at בני-הדייג, which translates to Benny The Fisherman, right on the Sea.

Starter

That was just the salads and “starters” that they brought out.  Yes, fifteen of them, including the bread basket!

Incredible!  I wanted to go back again, but we didn’t.

TEL AVIV SCARE

Sadly, we didn’t get our a stamp on our passport from Israel.

The customs agent was so flustered from ranting a woman in front of us for sticking her passport in her mouth that he forgot.  He refused to let her go through his line because he wasn’t going to touch her passport.  And, I really don’t blame him.  However, his approach was a little abrasive.

As for us, our only scare was when we happened upon the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv on the way to dinner.  It was dusk and we decided to take a picture of it for our photo album.

However, three guards came out (one with a large weapon) and told us not to take pictures and took my driver’s license and called it in since we weren’t carrying our passports.  After a very long five minutes or so, they let us go and told us not to take pictures.

It’s very interesting because last month in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, the guards there had no issue with photo-taking tourists.

And, on our return flight home, the snow-covered Alps were beautiful!

Alps

PICK HIT

While in Tel Aviv, Israel, I was delighted that VH-1 showed music videos all the time.  There was no filler programming or reality crap, just real videos like in the old days of MTV and VH-1.

I fell in love with the song, “Stolen Dance”  by the German pop/rock/folk duo, Milky Chance, made up of singer Clemens Rehbein and DJ Philipp Dausch.

What I was surprised to learn is that the song is #1 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart (six weeks) and #1 on the Rock Airplay chart (four weeks) in the United States.

And, it’s already topped the charts in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Ireland, and Switzerland, and it peaked at #2 or #3 in Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovakia, and Sweden.

So far, it isn’t a Top 40 hit on mainstream radio in the U.S., but it’s catching on.

THE CALENDAR SAYS HALLOWEEN, BUT…

I’m already in the Christmas spirit.

However, I plan on watching “Hellbent”, a gay horror movie, from the people who brought us “Halloween” and “The Nightmare on Elm Street”.  It’s a movie that I watch every October.

Now, back to Christmas.  There are many upcoming holiday releases coming out including LeAnn Rimes, Darius Rucker, and Earth, Wind, & Fire.

But, I’ve already bought two new CDs.

Idina Holiday Wishes

I just got Idina Menzel’s “Holiday Wishes” this week.

While I believe that “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is a tired Christmas song and it’s becoming one of my least favorites, Idina’s version with sexy crooner Michael Buble, is fun and enjoyable.

Other standouts on the disc are “Silent Night”, “Holly Jolly Christmas”, her remake of the Joni Mitchell classic, “River”, and the aforementioned duet with Buble.

I admit that it did take several listens to her version of the Mariah Carey classic, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, before I could like and appreciate it.   Carey’s version is perfect!

It wasn’t Menzel’s voice that threw me for a loop.  The arrangement is all over the place and the song is over five minutes long.  Once I “got it”, the song was more enjoyable.

GRADE:  B+

And, another one you definitely need to add to your Christmas music collection is actor, singer, producer, writer, and Oscar host Seth MacFarlane, “Holiday For Swing”.

seth-macfarlane-holiday-for-swing

He has an amazing voice and brings an old-time Rat Pack feel to Christmas on “Holiday For Swing”.  If you love jazz and Christmas music, you’ll love it.

Sadly, there are no snippets that I can find online to share with you.  What’s up with that, Seth?

I’ve listened to the album countless times and it could definitely become a standard!

GRADE:  A

THAT’S IT FOR NOW!

It was nice to share my random thoughts with you again.

As I promised when I stopped doing it weekly, I’d do one every once in a while.

I really miss writing, but I just can’t find the time to do with my crazy work schedule.  Work just seems to get in the way, but I do need that small paycheck.

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

50th Birthday Plans Revealed!

A milestone birthday is coming up for me in less than two months.  I’ve been living my life planning on this for almost 50 years now.

Dessie-Hollie-Anthony -- Fall 1964

My mother didn’t get that opportunity and my father barely made it.  She died at 47 (in 1990) and he passed away at 55 (in 1987).

So, what’s a few wrinkles and a head full of gray hair?  I never had a six-pack stomach, so as I get old/older, I don’t have to worry about losing that.  And, I can’t be all that disappointed that I have to work a little harder to keep the slowing metabolism in check.

AP 1st Birthday

While I definitely love cake, even that boring white cake for my first birthday in 1965 (Happy Birthday Crystal!), there’s a chance that I won’t have a cake this year — unless I have it early or late.

Since you only turn 50 once, Ray and I decided to make both of  our “nifty fifty” birthdays memorable.  Last year, he celebrated with a Danube River cruise that allowed us to spend a day in Zurich, Switzerland, and to visit Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, and Germany.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Since then, we’ve been saving our pennies (okay, mostly dollars) to make another international trip to celebrate my 50th.

However, the second part of that trip may now be in jeopardy due to missiles, bombs, bullets and bloodshed.  While we’re not changing the itinerary just yet, a back-up plan is being considered.   More on that shortly.

When we started planning the trip, it was going to be an overnight flight from the United States to the Mediterranean destination of my dreams with a plane transfer and four hours of sit-time in Paris, France.

Dreams of wine, cheese, and pastries began filling my head.

Pastries

At that point, we decided instead of spending seven nights on the Mediterranean Sea, we could spend three nights in Paris and hit two continents!

Picnic

So, now I plan on spending my birthday sitting in a park having a picnic of wine, cheese, fruit, bread, and pastries in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower — rain or shine!

eiffel-tower-at-night-with-moon

While Ray and I each paid for the trip, I already know what my birthday present is from him — a Sunday evening that includes a three-course dinner cruise on the Seine River, a one-hour visit to second floor of the Eiffel Tower to look out over Paris, and an evening at the world-renowned Moulin Rouge!!!

Now, about my original 50th birthday destination spot before Paris crashed the party!  I’ve always wanted to visit Tel Aviv, Israel, the fifth most visited city in the Middle East on the beautiful Mediterranean Sea.

Tel Aviv Mediterranean Sea

Tel Aviv is known for its dynamic atmosphere and famous 24-hour culture earning it the nickname, “party capital”.

It’s also known as “The City That Never Sleeps”, “The Bubble”, and “The White City” (for the more than 4,000 buildings built-in a unique style from 1930s German-Jewish architects and, yes, the buildings are white!).

Tel Aviv

Since Tel Aviv is Israel’s financial capital and is compared to New York City, it’s also nicknamed “The Big Orange”, because of the famous Jaffe (now a part of Tel Aviv) orange — a very sweet, almost seedless fruit similar to the Valencia orange.

We booked this trip back in January, but once the Israel-Gaza conflict started back in early July, which has led to bombings and missile strikes that have claimed more than 2,000 lives, mostly in Gaza, we thought about choosing another destination.

However, Tel Aviv is still the safest city in Israel and we’re still going.

So, that is how I plan on spending the last days of my 40s and the first few days of my 50s.

In the words of French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement, Victor Hugo, “forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age”.

Anthony