Posts Tagged ‘Reba’

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.

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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.

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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. 🙂

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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

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What I’ll Miss About the Quad Cities

Quad Cities, it’s been fun!

After 11.5 years, I left bright and early this morning to start my 1,000-mile journey to Panama City, Florida, to start the next chapter of my life.

PC

I’m stopping along the way in Grand Rivers, Kentucky, to have lunch with one of my best friends, Steve, at one of my favorite restaurants, Patti’s 1880’s Settlement!

If you’ve never heard of it and you’re traveling through Land Between The Lakes in western Kentucky, you have to stop there!

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On Thursday, I talked about my local television career.  Today, it’s all about how the Quad Cities enriched my life and, hopefully, made me a better person.

First off, social media made me more accessible to my friends.  It also made loyal viewers more connected to me and my life.

That’s definitely an advantage (and to some degree, with some, a disadvantage).  The friendships I’ve fostered over the years definitely outweighed the negative people that suck. 🙂

SETTLING INTO THE QUAD CITIES

It’s hard to believe that Miss ABBA, my golden retriever, and I arrived in Moline, Illinois, from Salisbury, Maryland, the week of Thanksgiving 2005 when I accepted the weekend meteorologist and weekday reporter position at the ABC affiliate.  After seven years there, I moved to WHBF for a little over four years.

When ABBA and I moved here, I was still earning my meteorology certification while working full-time.

We’d go on long walks to Karstens Park and sit for hours.  I’d be reading and studying and she happily watched the world go by.  She was always hoping that every person that walked by would stop and love on her. She was a golden retriever, after all!

It was always fun on our walks.  We’d stop and make “photo ops” out of someone else’s yard decorations! 🙂

EATING OUT

I love to cook and when I moved here, I ate most of my meals at home.  But, when my sister Tammy or “Mom” (Betty) visited the Quad Cities, I enjoyed going out to eat.

Bishop’s Buffet in South Park Mall in Moline was one of my favorites.  As you know, I love buffets and even though it was served cafeteria style, it was still a buffet and it was incredible.  I was saddened when they closed the doors.

I loved their coconut chicken and it was there that I first had strawberry-rhubarb pie. Bishop’s desserts were out of this world.  I still eat more desserts at a buffet than real food. 🙂

Along with Bishops, I loved Panda Buffet in Moline, which is now Osaka Buffet.  I got to eat there once more yesterday!

Where else can you have tasty Chinese food and great sushi at such a reasonable price!

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I’ll truly miss Osaka Buffet, but I know Panama City will have something similar to make me happy.

FATE KEEPS ME IN THE QUAD CITIES

After a few years here, I was thinking about leaving the Quad Cities in early 2009.  But, fate intervened and Ray and Gretel came into our lives.  I joined Facebook in March of that year and you pretty much know most of what’s happened since then. 🙂

But, since I’m sharing my memories of the Quad Cities and some of you are newer friends, I have more to tell.

Ray and I met in February 2009 and our first lunch date was at Exotic Thai in Moline.  I had pumpkin curry and each anniversary of that date we went back there and I had the same thing each time!

2013 Anniver ET.jpg

Once we got past that date, I invited Ray over for dinner and made him Shrimp Scampi, which was healthier than my comfort food staple, Chicken a la King with mashed potatoes!

I still make Shrimp Scampi, but I’ve now mastered an incredible Shrimp Ceviche!

Shrimp C.jpg

The first dinner Ray made for me and Miss ABBA at his place was Chicken Piccata (thinly breaded, pan-fried chicken cooked with lemons and capers).  It’s now one of my favorite meals and Ray made it again for me last weekend.  (This is Ray’s Chicken Piccata from earlier this year.)

Chicken PI’ll never forget this funny story from that first dinner date.

While he was cooking, Miss ABBA was on the linoleum floor waiting for him to share with her or drop something.

Much to his chagrin, because he hated the ugly floor (and it was), I laid down beside her and just talked to him while he made dinner. 🙂

Since we both love to cook, the second big project after I moved in was to renovate the kitchen and we were very pleased with the final project in the summer of 2012.

I’m truly going to miss our kitchen!

FIRST CONCERT DATE

We’ve gone to many concerts over the past eight years:  Madonna (twice), Lady Gaga (three times), Reba (three times), Britney Spears, Elton John, Bette Midler, Olivia Newton-John, Shania Twain, Duran Duran, Janet Jackson, Scissor Sisters, Michael Buble, Josh Groban, the Dixie Chicks, Erasure, Enrique Iglesias, Pitbull (twice), Kesha, Carly Rae Jepsen, The Band Perry, Ellie Goulding, and more.

But, our first concert together in the summer of 2009 was Keith Urban and pre-megastar Taylor Swift at the iWireless Center in Moline!

KU AP R

Yes, in all of his sweaty hotness, Keith was this close to us.  But, I was on a date and I adore Nicole Kidman too much to think about it (okay, maybe a little!). 🙂

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TRAVEL

Before the Quad Cities, my travel was confined to North America:  Nashville (TN), Louisville (KY), Houston (TX), Palm Springs (CA), Las Vegas (NV), Niagara Falls (NY), and Cancun (Mexico).

Once I met Ray, we started traveling more domestically.

Our first trip together was to Reno and Lake Tahoe, Nevada, when I accompanied him to a conference.  That was in the fall of 2009 and I was so excited when an October snow dropped several inches overnight to make Lake Tahoe even more breathtaking.

Since then, I’ve gone along with him to New Orleans (LA), Houston, Indianapolis (IN), Ottawa (Ontario, Canada), San Francisco (CA), Anchorage (AK), and Atlanta (GA).

And, for fun, we’ve gone to New York City and to Savannah (GA) and Charleston (SC) on the Atlanta Trip.

Bratislava

For his 50th birthday, we decided to go big and I got to get a passport for the first time. Ray chose a cruise on the Danube River in Europe and we got to see Bratislava (above), Austria, and Germany.

Although it was Ray’s celebration and he chose the location, I convinced him to fly into Zurich, Switzerland, since we were so close.  I’ve always wanted to visit there and it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

Zurich.jpg

For dinner that night, we went to a restaurant and the menu consisted of mostly deer and boar, so we politely got up and left while the waiter was getting water. Okay, we bolted for the door! 🙂

We ended up going to a grocery and getting cheeses, breads, dessert, and wines and it was a much more intimate and enjoyable dining experience.

Zurich (43)

For my 50th birthday celebration a year later, in 2014, I chose to go to Tel Aviv, Israel, a mystical and stunning place I’ve always wanted to go.

The connecting flight was in Paris, France, so we decided to spend three nights in Paris since we were already there and four night in Tel Aviv.

For my birthday celebration, Ray treated me to a dinner cruise on the Seine River, a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and a show at the world-renowned and historic Moulin Rouge — sans Satine (Nicole Kidman — her again!)

Paris Birthday

I actually turned 50 years old while sipping champagne stage side at the Moulin Rouge show.

AP R Moulin

From there, it was on to the beautiful Tel Aviv on the Mediterranean Sea.

Ray Anthony Old Jaffa

The trip was so magical.  Even though tensions kept us from visiting the holy city of Jerusalem, we did walk to Jaffa — the oldest part of Tel Aviv (about 3,500 years old).

You know how much I love food and the morning Israeli breakfast at our hotel, Prima City Hotel, was very tasty.

Israeli Breakfast

However, my favorite meal ever was at בני-הדייג, which translates to Benny The Fisherman, right on the Mediterranean Port.

What you see here is the equivalent of their “starters” — fifteen of them, including the bread basket!  This was brought out before our entrees!

Benny The Fisherman

And, last spring, we went to China.  While I’d never have to go back again, if you ever get a chance to go, do it.

While we saw many fun things including the Great Wall, the Terracotta Army soldiers, and much more, my favorite part was at the end — Shanghai!

China.jpg

Why did I deviate from the Quad Cities to food and travel elsewhere?  If it wasn’t for my time here, I may not have gotten to experience all of those other things.

One more thing and then I’ll close with a few more Quad Cities thoughts.  I shared my favorite restaurant (Patti’s 1880s Settlement) and my favorite meal (בני-הדייג — Benny the Fisherman).

Since you know I love lists and rankings, my favorite entree was in Atlanta last September at Tavernpoint — Sonoran Salmon (avocado soup, goat cheese-black bean cake, crema, pico).

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And, my favorite brunch or buffet is Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas!

Wicked Spoon.jpg

Now, back to the Quad Cities.

I’m going to miss Wise Guys Pizza in Davenport.  Their boneless chicken wings are superb and their dessert pizzas (cherry, apple, and cinnamon crumb) are not to be missed.  I always eat more dessert pizza than the others.

I’ll miss the mimosa brunches at the Bix Bistro and Thunder Bay and the weekend crab legs at Jumer’s.

Crab.jpg

However, while I’ll miss my Lotus Flower slot machine, I won’t miss leaving my $$$ with the casino!

Seriously, enough about food.  I’ve gained five pounds writing this.

PERSONAL THANK YOUS…

When I first moved here, I started working to promote the LGBT community in the Quad Cities.

I was very impressed with the work that Wendy Kelly and Thea Hansen Bettis were doing with “The Project of the Quad Cities”.  This is an amazing group that provides HIV testing and services to those with HIV/AIDS.

Anthony Thea

While I’m not an “organized religion” person, a great alternative and welcoming group is Reverend Rich Hendricks and the Metropolitan Community Church of the Quad Cities.

Rich

Rich, thank you for all that you do for the community.  It’s been a pleasure standing along side you in the fight for love and no hate!

Anthony NOH8

Also, to Rich, to those who fought for us, and the Iowa judges that brought “marriage equality” to Iowa and the Midwest before the Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that allowed me to get married in September 2011, thank you!

Ray, Anthony, & Gretel

Reception 2011

Finally, since all of you know how much Miss ABBA meant to me, I have to say a special thank you to Dr. Thomas Greiner and his wonderful wife, Pamela, and all of the great people at Oak Knoll Animal Hospital in Moline.

Miss ABBA always thought going to the vet was a fun time.  Even with shots, she still socialized and had a blast.

February 3 2012 Daddy A & ABBA

You were there for us for all of the fun times and even the dark day when Miss ABBA crossed the “rainbow bridge”.

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Thank you for everything and enjoy retirement and traveling!

AND, NOW YOU!

My friends, you’ve been amazing over the past 11.5 years and I hope you stay in touch across the miles.  I know you’re probably not interested in Florida weather, but once I get my work page set up, feel free to “like” it and follow me.

Otherwise, I know most of us will stay in touch personally.

To you, my friends…

sarah-paulson-love

Anthony

It All Starts With Me

“I’m going to exercise more and I’m going to watch what I eat”.

“I’m going to blah blah blah”.

It sounds like late December and we’re all optimistic as we don our gay apparel.  The old year is winding down and we’re bubbly with anticipation for what lies ahead for the new year.

champagne

Well, it’s April and either I’m late with my new found determination or I’m early for 2018.  Regardless, I’m ready for change and it all starts with me.  I have to make it happen!

As a teenager, and even into my early-and-mid-20s, I was never really comfortable enough to speak out and express my views.   After all, it was the conservative Reagan years and I lived in small town Kentucky.

Anthony1982

Luckily, for me, I found my voice after moving to Chicago in 1994 and I feel that I’ve used that voice to raise awareness for issues that are near and dear to me (the LGBT movement, marriage equality, women’s rights, and more.)

On the downside of that, I realize that the same voice that can prompt a healthy dialogue and change can also be short and abrasive.

That’s something I’m finding myself guilty of more and more lately.  I’ve always considered myself a “realist”.  While I always look for the “silver lining” in life, I find that I don’t sugarcoat things like I used to do.

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This comes across as harsh and I’ve been told that my “tone” is hurtful.  It’s gotten me to think, “that’s not me and is this what I’ve become?”

It takes a good friend to stand beside you during these times, but if that person is a true friend, they’ll hold up a mirror so you can see the reflection of yourself.  And, that reflection isn’t always pretty — unlike this beautiful photo of Miss ABBA in 2007.

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I’ll be the first to admit my temperament changed for the worst after November 8, 2016, when the unthinkable happened.

Hillary AP

I lost faith in myself and in my fellow man and now, it’s up to me to find it again.

That search may be near or it may be far.  It’s not going to happen today or tomorrow, because it really didn’t start overnight.

Reba Anthony 2005

If you know anything about me, you know that I idolize Reba McEntire and like millions of others, her music touches hearts.

While I knew who Reba was in the mid-1980s, I was in college and listened to Top 40 music (Madonna, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Culture Club, Duran Duran) and dance club music (Erasure, Dead or Alive, Depeche Mode).

While visiting a gay Chicago nightclub on “country night” in the summer of 1990, I heard a song and I was captivated by the voice.  It was Reba and I was hooked.

But, it’s more than the voice.  It’s the heartfelt emotions and the messages she expresses that touches me.

I was optimistic with life in 1990 as “Climb That Mountain High” kicked off the first Reba CD I bought, “Rumor Has It”.

Dessie 1990

After my mother’s sudden death in November 1990, I felt Reba was talking directly to me with her fall 1991 release, the heartbreaking album “For My Broken Heart”.  It featured two tearjerkers — the title track and “If I Had Only Known”.

Earlier this year, Reba treated fans with her first gospel album, “Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope”.

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I’ve expressed this before and I’ll say it again.  I pray every night and I’ve done so since I was kid.  However, I don’t believe in “organized religion” (if you do, that’s your prerogative and your right and I’m good with it).

I’ll speak in broad strokes here.  For me and for America, we’re at a very trying, unsure time in our lives.  I don’t care if you live in a blue state or a red state or if your candidate won or lost in the last presidential election, you really have to sense that the world is dealing with a lot of issues with few plausible answers.

I know that sounds preachy and it is.  With that being said, it’s only fitting for me that the first song from Reba’s new album really hits home — now more than ever after what I’ve told you today.

Don’t worry, I’m not a “Jesus freak” (Okay, breathe!  I love that term and I only use it for those right wing, conservative people that use God to justify “hate”).

I didn’t like my mother’s church because it focused so heavily on the fire and brimstone message of Revelations.  Yes, that helped taint my view of “organized religion”.

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But, there are so many songs on Reba’s new album that I loved as a kid in church: “Amazing Grace”, “How Great Thou Art”, “I’ll Fly Away”, and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, plus other new religious-themed-country tunes that only Reba can deliver.

These songs won’t take me back to church, but could give me a feeling of peace and tranquility.

If you’re still reading, I hope this touched you as much as it helped me to open up and express myself.  Admitting you need to make a change is the first step in bringing on that change.

Here’s to the rest of my life and a new me and I’m ending this with a happy, upbeat message.

Make sure you watch the video and I hope it brightens your day, too.

Happy New Year (in April)!

Anthony

Reba Invites You To Church – Country Style

“Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope” is Reba McEntire’s 29th studio album, but it’s her first Christian album.

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It debuted at #1 on this week’s Billboard County Albums chart and at the top of the Christian Albums chart, too.  On the Billboard 200 Albums chart, which includes all music, it debuted all the way up at #4.

It sold 52,000 copies in its first week!

I’ve always wanted Reba to do a full gospel album after she recorded “Sky Full of Angels” for her 2003 “Room To Breathe” album.

The deluxe version of the new album features 22 songs.

“Back To God” is the first single.

On the gospel classics, Reba’s voice and musicianship are simple and stunning!

There are many songs that, if you didn’t know more about this album, you’d think they were just more Reba country songs.

But, as Reba once joked around the 1995 release of “Starting Over” album, whatever genre of music she sings becomes country when the words come out of her mouth.

The song I love the most on the album is “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”.  The album version is four minutes of pure bliss!

My favorite “country” gospel numbers on this album are “I’ll Fly Away”, Hallelujah Amen”, “I Got The Lord on My Side”, “How Sweet Thou Art”, “Sing It Now”, “Oh Happy Day”, and “God And My Girlfriends”.

“Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope” is almost perfect.  I think when an artist stretches an album out to 22 songs, there are ultimately a couple that wouldn’t have made the cut on a shorter album.  But, I’ll take those songs here just to have more new Reba music.

With the divisive election last November and the circus of the past few weeks, this album does soothe the soul.

I was raised in a Pentecostal church that preached all about fire, brimstone, and damnation and I still find solace in gospel music!

Reba Anthony 2005

Reba, I’ve been a fan forever.  I’ll follow you down any musical road.

If you’re listening, how about a bonafide dance album next?  Your voice and EDM could be amazing!

GRADE: A-

Random Friday Thoughts — February 17, 2017

I hope you had a nice Valentine’s Day, especially if you’re part of the 55% of Americans that celebrate the day.

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If you’re in a relationship, I hope you got chocolates, flowers, or whatever makes you happy.  And, if you’re not seeing anyone, I hope you treated yourself to something nice.

Thank you for checking out my Random Friday Thoughts.

“HOUSE OF CARDS”

We just finished binge-watching the first four seasons of “House of Cards”.

I absolutely love Robin Wright as First Lady Claire Underwood and Kevin Spacey as President Frank Underwood.

Season five debuts on Netflix May 30, 2017.

If you haven’t watched the show and you love politics, you have to start!

Check out this amazing scene from season three.  Claire has to tell the world that an American citizen jailed in Russia for being openly gay and protesting the country’s anti-LGBT laws committed suicide.

To Russia and the rest of the world that still think this way (Americans, #45, and his cabinet members, some of you could use some educating, too), wake up, open your eyes and your heart, and let’s start more of a dialogue!

A NEGRO TRAVEL GUIDE?

It’s sad to think this is reality, but it’s definitely not hard to believe in our country with all the hatred — then and now.

I was reading an “Out” magazine article that mentioned “The Negro Motorist Green Book”.

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It was a resource travel guide that started publication in 1933.

Its purpose was to keep black motorists safe and to let them know what places refused to serve non-whites, provide information on “sundown towns”, predominately or all-white towns that practiced segregation, and much more.

After the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there must have been enough security (or hope) in the United States that it ceased publication in 1966.

Sadly, with the open hatred of people that aren’t white in the “post-January 20, 2017th world”, it might need to come back.

And, while we’re at it, maybe a rainbow version is needed, too, to keep the LGBT community safe from the haters, too!

PICK HIT FOR VALENTINE’S DAY

Last fall, as Michael Buble was ready to launch his latest album, “Nobody But Me”, he and his wife, model Luisana Lopilato, dropped out of the public eye when his 3-year-old son, Noah, was diagnosed with cancer.

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Two weeks ago, Buble released this encouraging update:

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Last Friday, the video to “I Believe in You” was released and if you don’t smile or shed a tear after seeing this video, hopefully you got a heart for Valentine’s Day because you need one. 🙂

Oh, if that didn’t encourage you to watch it, Derek Hough of “Dancing With The Stars” fame is absolutely drop dead gorgeous (and shirtless) in the video!!!!!!

REMEMBERING EMMANUELLE RIVA

With so many celebrity deaths already this year, the passing of French actress Emmanuelle Riva was pretty much overlooked in America.  She died of cancer January 27, 2017, in Paris.

In 2012, she became the oldest woman to earn an Academy Award Best Actress nomination for her heartbreaking turn in “Amour”. (She was 85 at the time.)

“Amour” was my #6 movie of 2013.

“REMNANTS”

Whether country music stations play her new songs or not, LeAnn Rimes’ albums usually debut in the Top Ten on the Country Albums charts.

Her last Top Ten album on the Billboard 200, which includes all genres, was 2007’s “Family”.

LeAnn Rimes is back with her latest album, “Remnants” and it’s flawless.

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I definitely love LeAnn’s country music.  My favorites in that genre are “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way”, “Something’s Gotta Give”, “Some People”,”One Way Ticket (Because I Can)”, and “Big Deal”.

I met LeAnn in Salisbury, Maryland, in the fall of 2005.  She was a sweetheart.

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LeAnn has released many pop-oriented albums in her career and “Twisted Angel” (2002) is still one of my all-time favorites of hers.

Her new album, “Remnants” is the latest pop effort.  It was released last fall in the U.K. and just came out last week here in the U.S.

The highest charting single from the new album is “Long Live Love”.  The Dave Aude remix is currently #2 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart!

Twelve of the thirteen songs on “Remnants” are absolutely perfect!

My favorites are the soulful “Do It Wrong”, the religious-tinted “I Couldn’t Do That To Me”, “Love Is Love Is Love” (which LeAnn sings about not wanting to start an argument, just a conversation about tyrants, politics, religion, and love), the torch song-sounding “Outrageous Love”, and “The Story”.

Just because radio is missing out this amazing voice and music doesn’t mean you have to!

GRADE:  A

“SING IT NOW: SONGS OF FAITH & HOPE”

“Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope” is Reba McEntire’s 29th studio album, but it’s her first Christian album.

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It debuted at #1 on this week’s Billboard County Albums chart and at the top of the Christian Albums chart, too.  On the Billboard 200 Albums chart, which includes all music, it debuted all the way up at #4.

It sold 52,000 copies in its first week!

I’ve always wanted Reba to do a full gospel album after she recorded “Sky Full of Angels” for her 2003 “Room To Breathe” album.

The deluxe version of the new album features 22 songs.

“Back To God” is the first single.

On the gospel classics, Reba’s voice and musicianship are simple and stunning!

There are many songs that, if you didn’t know more about this album, you’d think they were just more Reba country songs.

But, as Reba once joked around the 1995 release of “Starting Over” album, whatever genre of music she sings becomes country when the words come out of her mouth.

The song I love the most on the album is “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”.  The album version is four minutes of pure bliss!

My favorite “country” gospel numbers on this album are “I’ll Fly Away”, Hallelujah Amen”, “I Got The Lord on My Side”, “How Sweet Thou Art”, “Sing It Now”, “Oh Happy Day”, and “God And My Girlfriends”.

“Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope” is almost perfect.  I think when an artist stretches an album out to 22 songs, there are ultimately a couple that wouldn’t have made the cut on a shorter album.  But, I’ll take those songs here just to have more new Reba music.

With the divisive election last November and the circus of the past few weeks, this album does soothe the soul.

I was raised in a Pentecostal church that preached all about fire, brimstone, and damnation and I still find solace in gospel music!

Reba, if you’re listening, how about a bonafide dance album next?  Your voice and EDM could be amazing!

GRADE: A-

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — February 10, 2017

Happy Friday and Happy Weekend!  I hope you have a great one whatever you do.

The highlights for me will be watching the season four finale of “House of Cards”, this week’s “How To Get Away With Murder” and “Madam Secretary”, and the return of “The Walking Dead”!  And, I hope to work in seeing “La La Land”!

Thank you for checking out my thoughts.  As always, if you disagree with me, do it diplomatically and be concise. 🙂

LADY GAGA SUPER BOWL HALFTIME SHOW

Lady Gaga is an amazing performer.  I’ve seen her in concert three times and I’d go see her again another three times.

I guess I can count her “Super Bowl LI” halftime show as my fourth Gaga show.  Like tens of millions across the world, I was blown away!

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While Gaga is earning rave reviews for her energy, her vocals, her performance, and her costumes, you know there are going to be haters.

Some say she wasn’t “political” enough.  Yes, she could have been more blatant about it.  However, if you stop and think about it, she did two things that were political and brave.

She opened with “God Bless America” and then segued into “This Land Is Your Land”, which Woody Guthrie wrote in 1940 as a contradiction to Kate Smith’s late-1930s patriotic “America” song, which he thought was unrealistic.

Some versions of “This Land” also include Guthrie’s original lyrics:

This Land.jpg

Gaga, in front of the football crowd and the millions watching — even in red states — brazenly sang of equality for all during “Born This Way”.

She didn’t hold back with the lyrics “don’t be a drag, just be a queen”, she sang about being “gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgender”, and that no matter what your race, you were born this way and born to be brave!

That’s a first for the Super Bowl halftime spectacle!  Take that!

It’s estimated that 113.7 million people watched “Super Bowl LI”, but the audience spiked during Lady Gaga’s halftime show, which generated a 50.0 rating, which means that one out of every two televisions on at the time were tuned into the game!

MORE ON GAGA

After the performance, some (the insecure) took to social media and started fat-shaming her.  Seriously?

This isn’t the first time people took aim at Gaga over her weight, which is even sadder considering she’s recovering from an eating disorder.

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That was about four years ago.  I wrote about it at the time and even talked about my own battle, Karen Carpenter’s, and others.

Here’s the link (it’ll open in a new window):

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/you-need-to-shut-your-fat-mouth/

“SNOWDEN”

Edward Snowden is a hero to some and a traitor to others.  After exposing the American government for spying on the lives of Americans (and people across the entire world), he’s now exiled in Russia.

Director Oliver Stone’s movie about Snowden, with the always charming Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the whistle blower, came and went in 2016.

Watching the trailer, it was Gordon-Levitt’s voice that was hard for me to grasp.  However, it was less distracting in the 2-hour-plus movie. But, once I heard the actor’s voice and the real Snowden’s voice, I’m more baffled than ever about the voice portrayal.

While Gordon-Levitt is compelling as Snowden, the real stars of the movie are Shailene Woodley as his girlfriend Lindsay Mills and the computer special effects and the music score.

It’s frightening to know just how much information governments collect on citizens every time we’re online or use our cell phone.

Even before Snowden, this movie, or Russian or Chinese computer hackers, it doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to know that the most private of our correspondences are not private at all.

Overall, the movie was too long and it seemed like a dramatization of a Wikipedia page on Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency.

But, if you really didn’t get bogged down in the real-life Snowden that played out in the news, it’s worth your time.

GRADE:  B-

SARAH PALIN

While we’re political opposites, I’d still love to have dinner with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd.  (Now, this dinner would have to take place at a restaurant — not Chick-fil-A or Cracker Barrel — because I wouldn’t want to feast on moose or reindeer, although Alaskan salmon would be great!)

Recently, I finally got around to reading her 2009 book, “Going Rogue” and watching the movie “Game Change” about the 2008 presidential election with Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Julianne Moore as Palin.

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I enjoyed learning more about Palin and the events that shaped her life and her views.  I admire her love and commitment to her family.

With that being said, at that dinner with Palin, I’d ask her about a reoccurring theme in the book for clarification.

Early on (page 45), Palin writes that she has “respect for equality” and later on (page 395), she says she’s “tired of divisions”.  She also says, “too many of us have felt ignored and become disillusioned.”

I find these comments ironic because she is/comes across as very divisive.  Also, when she talks about respecting equality, who is that for?  Clearly, it’s not for the LGBT community.

Trust me, when she talks about feeling ignored, I’d have to ask her again how can she say that without thinking about the LGBT community with discrimination laws and the fight for marriage equality.  Her version of equality and my version are different.  Mine includes ALL AMERICANS!

This brings me to another point that Palin makes.  She says it doesn’t matter where you grew up, who you are, your gender, race, or religion “if you love this country and will defend our Constitution, then you’re an American”.

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It’s clear from the book that she loved Ronald Reagan as much as I love Jimmy Carter, who she detests.

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My final dinner discussion point would be that Palin stressed that our 52 American diplomats and citizens held hostage for 444 days in Iran (November 1979-January 1981) were released minutes after President Reagan was inaugurated.

She writes, “The enemies of freedom took notice”.

Future enemies might have taken notice, but what Palin failed to clarify is that those 52 hostages were ALREADY on that plane to freedom while Jimmy Carter was still president.  The plane was held on the tarmac until Reagan was officially sworn in as one last swipe at Carter’s presidency.

Long before #45’s administration coined the phrase “alternative facts”, Palin is/was on board with them, too.

DINNER PARTY WITH….

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?

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Of course, I’d love to dine with Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton and President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter.

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But, after reading legendary gossip columnist Liz Smith’s 2005 book, “Dishing:  Great Dish – And Dishes – From America’s Most Beloved Gossip Columnist”, I now desperately want to attend a dinner party hosted by Barbara Walters at her Fifth Avenue apartment!

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Smith says, “Whether or not she has the position of society’s grand dame, Barbara certainly knows how to host New York’s most interesting dinner parties.”

Smith adds that Walters doesn’t hesitate to have her guest mingle outside of their “circles”, sing songs, make speeches, give a toast, or write poems.  It sounds incredible!

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Walters starts her lavish parties with “excellent caviar, toast, the works.”  She calls that the easy part.

This is followed by “The Children’s Menu” — “small delicious hamburgers, tiny baby hot dogs on delicate buns… a miniature ramekin of macaroni and cheese, french fried potatoes, incredible little dishes of coleslaw, and large servings after of ice cream and sauces.  All of this served with incredible wines followed by coffee and big glasses of what most host and hostess forget — ice water.”

The entertaining book also shares interesting recipes, including the fun Elvis-inspired “fluffernutter”.

Smith also tells funny stories about the secret food lives of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, “mountain oysters”,  and she shares this great quote from Larry Gelbart, the creator of “M*A*S*H”, “Champagne is only ginger ale that knows somebody!”

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“BACK TO GOD” CONTROVERSY

Country music icon and one of my idols, Reba McEntire, just released her first Christian/Gospel album, “Sing It Now:  Songs of Faith & Hope”.

It’s expected to debut at #1 on the Country and Christian album charts and in the Top Ten on the “Billboard 200”, which charts all genres of music.

Her new single, “Back To God”, has already topped the Christian sales chart, but the song is getting more press with some outlets claiming that it’s pro-Donald Trump.

If you know anything about Reba, regardless of her political affiliation, she does not preach about it.  Yes, she’s friends with former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara Bush and she’s donated money to both Democrats and Republicans.

But, “Back To God”, is not singing the praises of #45.  The song was originally on Randy Houser’s debut album in 2008, so it was released during George W. Bush’s presidency!

The bottom line is that the song talks about how society seems broken.  Regardless of your party affiliation, you have to admit that we, as Americans and the human race, are in a bad place now and the lack of respect for our fellow man only adds to the sad state of affairs.

So, sing it Reba and preach on!

I’ll have my review on the new Reba album soon.  Also, I highly recommend, “Remnants” by LeAnn Rimes. It’s spectacular and I’ll have my full thoughts on that one, too.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — January 27, 2017

It’s Friday again and the weekend is almost here.

I appreciate you checking out my Random Friday Thoughts.  As always, if we disagree and you want to tell me so, do it diplomatically and concisely.

LGBT RIGHTS & CLIMATE CHANGE, GONE!

Moments after #44 became history and America moved on to #45, searching the White House website yielded no results for “LGBT” and “Climate Change”.

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In my heart I know what this means and anyone with a functioning brain knows, as well.

At the time of this tweet, I laughed to myself as a man, an American, and one of those people he thanked!

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I think now just as I thought then, it’s just another joke and a bad one played on me and my fellow Americans.

THE COUNTDOWN IS ON…

If you’ve never watched the U.S. version of the political drama, “House of Cards”, you’re missing one of the most intelligent television shows ever!

Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey are incredible in the lead roles.  Their characters’ determination, iciness, and conviction to get what they want in the political arena is mesmerizing.

The show gives us the backstory of what really goes on in Washington.  Things are not cut and dry.  While it’s a television show, you know that Beau Willimon, the man behind the American version, is serving you a slice of reality.

He also tweeted that slice of reality last Friday morning!

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We’re now at 1,454 days now!

Resist!

ONE LAST COMMENT

Facts:  “a thing that is indisputably the case.”

Synonyms of “facts”:  reality, actuality, certainty

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So, Kellyanne Conway, “Alternative facts” are LIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

REBA HEADS INTO A NEW DIRECTION

Country music icon Reba McEntire is heading into a new musical direction with her latest release on February 3rd.

The deluxe version “Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope” will feature 22 gospel hymns.

Ever since “Sky Full of Angels” from 2003’s “Room To Breathe” album, I was hoping that Reba would record a gospel album.  And, since country radio airplay for her last album, 2015’s “Love Somebody” was pretty much non-existent, this is the perfect time for a change of genres.

The first single is “Back to God”.

Reba, how about a dance-oriented album next since you hit #2 on the Billboard Dance Club Play chart in 1996 with “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”?

JIMMY CARTER

In September, when visiting the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library And Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, I left this message.

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I’d love to visit the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas and leave a similar message!

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I hope I have those feelings again for a future president!

HAVEN’T TALKED GAGA IN FOREVER

If you regularly read my blog, you know I love Lady Gaga.  I’ve see her in concert several times and her shows are amazing!

Gaga Las Vegas

However, I wasn’t fond of the musical direction she took on “Joanne”, her latest album, and it’s the first Gaga album I didn’t buy. 😦  (I wasn’t alone.  Sales and radio airplay have paled in comparison with her previous releases!)

She’ll be playing the Super Bowl halftime show next weekend.  While I’m not a football fan, I’ll be watching her performance.

Sources close to Gaga told “Entertainment Tonight” last week that Gaga was informed that she couldn’t mention the 2016 presidential election or the current president.

The NFL says otherwise, “This is unsourced nonsense from people trying to stir up controversy where there is none. The Super Bowl is a time when people really come together. Lady Gaga is focused on putting together an amazing show for fans and we love working with her on it; we aren’t going to be distracted by this.”

Ironically, that nameless “source” is quoting another “unsourced” person.  Seriously, grow a pair, face up, and speak up or shut up.

Unless Gaga has gone soft, you know she’ll say and do whatever she wants.

Did Beyonce make a statement last year with “Formation”?  You’re damn right, she did.

Did her career suffer?  One word:  “Lemonade”!

“FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS”

This comedy, based on a true story, was my #3 favorite movie of 2016.

It’s about a wealthy woman, Florence Foster Jenkins, who was determined to become a successful singer although she was horrible.

Meryl Streep, who some idiot called “overrated”, was amazing as Jenkins.

On Tuesday, she earned her 20th Oscar nomination in the “Best Actress” category.

GRADE:  A

“CAPTAIN FANTASTIC”

Also, on Tuesday, I was ecstatic Viggo Mortensen was nominated in the “Best Actor” category for my #2 movie of 2016.

Here’s what I had to say about the movie in December.

“I highly recommend “Captain Fantastic”, which just hit DVD.

This little-seen movie in theaters is about a family living in the forests of the Pacific Northwest away from the trappings of modern life.

Viggo Mortensen plays Ben Cash, the father of six children, who has to decide how to keep his family together after the death of his wife.

It’s a shame that this movie only made $9 million in theaters.  It’s incredible and now you have a chance to see it at home.

Spoiler Alert:  Seeing Mortensen’s penis should NOT be reason enough for a warning at the beginning of the movie with “Brief Graphic Nudity”.  As his character says, “it’s just a penis!”

Wouldn’t “Brief Nudity” suffice?

By the way, on Thursday, Mortensen was nominated for a “Critics’ Choice Award” for “Best Actor in a Comedy”.  While I’m happy for the nomination, I have to ask, “comedy”???  There are funny scenes in the movie, but this leans more toward a drama to me.

Another great performance in the movie was from George McKay, who played Mortensen’s son, Bodevan.

GRADE:  A

PICK HIT

Calum Scott is best known for appearing on “Britian’s Got Talent” in 2015.

One of the songs he performed on the reality series was “Dancing On My Own”, a remake of Robyn’s 2010 hit.

Scott’s version has already topped the chart in Scotland and reached #2 in Australia and the U.K.

It’s recently just debuted on the American’s Top 40 radio airplay charts.

Scott’s debut album is expected this year.

ORIGINAL VERSION BY ROBYN

Swedish singer Robyn dominate the worldwide charts with this incredible song in 2010.

In America, it was a bigger hit on the Dance Club songs chart.

It reached #3 on both the U.S. and the U.K. dance charts.  But, it hit #1 in Sweden and #2 in Denmark.

“THE SHALLOWS”

It’s winter now, so you don’t have to worry about going into the water and thinking about sharks.

The last two Blake Lively (the beautiful wife of the gorgeous Ryan Reynolds) movies I saw were also on my favorites’ list in the respective years.

She was great in “Savages” (my #7 movie of 2013) and she was incredible in “The Age of Adaline” (my #7 movie of 2015).

I see a trend there.  Will “The Shallows” be my #7 movie of 2017?  Probably not.

However, it was a very enjoyable and realistic movie.

I got a little scared 72 minutes into the 87-minute movie because the plausibility took a little hit.  You realized that while what happened could take place, the stars would really have to align perfectly.  But, hey, it’s Hollywood.  Just go with it.

“Jaws” this isn’t, but it’s worth an hour-and-a-half of your time.

GRADE:  B-

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony