Posts Tagged ‘Reba’

2017: My Favorite Songs

What’s your favorite song of 2017?  Was it pop, country, dance, R&B, hip-hop, jazz, or a new Christmas song?

I’m ready to share my 20 favorites of the year.  Some I know might be on your list and there are some many of you may not have even heard.

Best Songs

So, before I start, a quick look back over the years.  In 2013, my favorite song (and video) was Hailey Rowe’s “My Boyfriend Is Gay”.

In 2014, it was “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift and Jason Derulo’s “Want To Want Me” was tops for me in 2015.

My favorite song last year was “Faded” by Alan Walker (featuring Iselin Solheim).

Here’s an interesting fact for you — the video has been viewed an incredible 1.44 billion (that’s BILLION, with a “B”) times!

20

“THE STAR” — MARIAH CAREY

 

 

19

“WE WERE THAT SONG” — BRETT KISSEL

18

“THERE FOR YOU” — MARTIN GARRIX ft. TROYE SIVAN

Bonus

Troye Sivan had my #2 song of last year, “Youth”

#17

“ALONE” — ALAN WALKER

P.S. Alan Walker, please release an album of all of your songs.  I buy CDs, but not downloads. 🙂

16

“I CAME HERE FOR LOVE” — SIGALA ft. ELLA EYRE

15

“SAY YOU WON’T LET GO” — JAMES ARTHUR

#14 Movie

“BODY LIKE A BACK ROAD” — SAM HUNT

13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“LIFE’S ABOUT TO GET GOOD” — SHANIA TWAIN

12

“YOUR SONG” — RITA ORA

11

“I NEED YOU” — ARMIN VAN BUUREN & GARIBAY ft. OLAF BLACKWOOD

Bonus

I love Armin van Buuren’s music and “Sunny Days” with Josh Cumbee was also an incredible track this year!

10

“PRAYING” — KESHA

9

“LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE” — LEANN RIMES

8

“IT AIN’T ME” — KYGO ft. SELENA GOMEZ

#7 CD

“LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO” — TAYLOR SWIFT

6

“MILLION REASONS” — LADY GAGA

5

“THERE’S NOTHING HOLDIN’ ME BACK” — SHAWN MENDES

4

“I DON’T WANNA LIVE FOREVER” — ZAYN & TAYLOR SWIFT

Holiday Bonus

Watching season one of Netflix’s incredible series “Master of  None” with Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe, I discovered this amazing song.

It’s “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” from Father John Misty’s 2015 album, “I Love You, Honeybear”.

And, when I fell in love with the song on the show, I didn’t know how gorgeous Father John Misty (real name: Josh Tillman) was!  I do now.

FJM

green 3

“BACK TO GOD” — REBA

2

“I FEEL IT COMING” — THE WEEKND ft. DAFT PUNK

#1 MOVIE

“SILENCE” — MARSHMELLO ft. KHALID

Anthony

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Random (Christmas) Thoughts — December 22, 2017

Christmas is here in a few day!

Thank you for checking out my festive, holiday version of “Random Friday (Christmas) Thoughts” today.

“CHRISTMAS GHOSTS — LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT”

MARIAH CHRISTMAS TO YOU!

I just saw the “All I Want For Christmas Is You” Mariah Carey show in Las Vegas.  She was absolutely gorgeous and flawless and her voice was crisp and angelic.

MC ALL I WANT VEGAS

The sets were magical and stunning and for just over 90 minutes, all my unhappiness was a distant memory!

Here’s my Facebook album of the amazing show.

https://www.facebook.com/anthony.gene.13/media_set?set=a.10155163332614849.1073742044.500579848&type=3

By the way, the title track to the new holiday movie, “The Star”, by Mariah has already been nominated for a Golden Globe award and is in contention for an Oscar nomination!

POINSETTIAS

The poinsettia, traditionally an American Christmas flower, originally grew in Mexico; where it was known as the “Flower of the Holy Night”.

Poinsettia 1

It was first brought to America by Joel Poinsett in 1829.

CANDY CANES

During the Christmas/Hanukkah season, more than 1.76 billion candy canes will be made.

christmascocktails

I wonder how many of those billions end up as garnishes in festive holiday drinks?

CHRISTMAS TREES

The National Christmas Tree Association reports that Americans buy 37.1 million real Christmas trees each year.  And, of that number, one out of every four are from the country’s roughly 5,000 choose-and-cut farms.

ABBA's First Christmas 2000

I did that back in 2000 and 2001 for Miss ABBA’s (my late golden retriever) first two Christmases.

In retrospective, I felt guilty for cutting down that big, gorgeous tree!

TURKEYS

The Christmas turkey first appeared on English tables in the 16th century.

Our Turkey 2012

However, in rich households, it didn’t immediately replace the traditional goose, beef or boar’s head.

CHRISTMAS STAMPS

I chose these stamps this year to help out a very financially stressed United States Postal Service.  I sent out 136 cards and that’s really the only time I use the USPS except when I order things online.

Stamps 1

It’s ironic that the USPS is about to go under because as early as 1822, the postmaster in Washington, D.C. wanted to limit the number of cards people could send at the holidays.

People were sending out so many homemade cards, since commercial cards weren’t available then, that an extra sixteen postmen had to be hired in the nation’s capital to handle the extra mail.

The Postmaster General would be ecstatic if that was the case today!

I guess this is my chance to say once again, stop Saturday mail service and save yourself a lot of money!

“SILENT NIGHT”

“Silent Night” was written in 1818, by Austrian priest Joseph Mohr.

On Christmas Eve, he was told that the church organ was broken and it would not be repaired for service that evening.

Saddened, he wanted to write a carol that could be sung by choir to guitar music and he sat down and wrote three stanzas.  Later that night,  “Stille Nacht” was performed for the first time in that little Austrian church.

BABY JESUS & THE MANGER

Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, was born in a cave, not in a wooden stable.

Back then, animals were kept in caves because they were much warmer and the carpenters of Jesus’ day were really stone cutters.

Thus, wood was not widely used.  So, whenever you see a Christmas nativity scene with a wooden stable, that’s the “American” version, not the Biblical one.

And, this is Miss ABBA wanting to be a part of the “Americanized” Christmas nativity scene.

ABBA in the Manger Christmas 2006

“JINGLE BELLS”

And, finally, the Christmas classic, “Jingle Bells”, was composed in 1857 by James Pierpont.  It was originally called “One-Horse Open Sleigh.”

Check out this version of the popular holiday carol at Germany’s largest supermarket chain, Edeka.

It made me smile.

GLOWING TURTLE

Here’s a holiday bonus, “glowing turtles” were found a couple of years ago off the coast of the Solomon Islands (northeast of Australia).

Glowing Turtle

The biofluorescent species glow red and green!

“TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS”

And, while it isn’t one of my favorite holiday songs, crazy town’s Janice Dickinson’s version of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” is over-the-top fun.

However, the song was written to help Catholic children, in England, remember different articles of faith during the persecution by Protestant Monarchs.

Now, I found this online and didn’t take the time to verify it, but it’s still interesting.

In the song:

The “partridge in a pear tree” = Christ.
2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity– the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the “Pentateuch”, which relays the history of man’s fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of Creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed

HOLIDAY BREAK

While I have a few year end “best of” or “favorites” blogs coming, I’m taking time off from “Random Friday Thoughts”.

If there’s something that I really want to talk about, I’ll write something just about that. 🙂

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — December 1, 2017

Welcome to December!

I hope you’re getting into the holiday spirit.  I am, but I’m also ready for this dreadful year to end and start anew in 2018.

While I’m glad the upcoming royal wedding is giving us a slight breather from mass shootings and the shameful cesspool of sexual misconduct in Hollywood, television news, and politics, I’m already over the talk of Prince Harry and his actress fiancee. *

With this comment, you can tell that starting anew and positive is still a month away. 🙂

* Oops, I spoke too soon.  After I wrote that paragraph earlier in the week, Matt Lauer was fired from “The Today Show”!

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

“WORLD AIDS DAY”

December 1st is “World AIDS Day”.

It was started in 1988 to raise awareness about the spread of HIV and the AIDS pandemic.

World-AIDS-Day-2012_0

While we now have medications, when that taken properly, that allow those living with HIV to live a long, full life, that wasn’t always the case.

We still have a world of people that are still not being treated for HIV and AIDS because of the cost of medication and the fact that many in this country and the world don’t even know they’re infected with HIV.

People, if you’re sexually active (even in a relationship), get tested!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HIV-POSITIVE & UNDETECTABLE

Great news coming in the fight against the spread of HIV.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says that HIV-positive people that are being treated and with undetectable viral loads CANNOT spread the HIV virus to others.

This is fantastic news in the fight against HIV and for serodiscordant couples — where one is HIV-positive and one is HIV-negative.

While this is a huge step forward, people still need to be aware of the other sexually transmitted infections out there that are rampant in both the LGBT and straight communities!

THANKING PRESIDENT BUSH

While I agreed with a few things that President George W. Bush did as Texas Governor when I lived in Lubbock in 1997, we were usually at odds in our thinking process, especially when he was Commander-in-Chief.

STOP AIDS

One of the things I’m most proud of came in the early part of his presidency.

In his 2003 State of the Union message, President Bush committed $15 billion (that’s billions with a “B”) to fight AIDS in Africa in what would be knows as PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief).

It’s still one of the biggest programs ever to fight a single disease by any country.

Thank you again, President Bush!

By the way, I still love former First Lady Laura Bush and I’d love to meet President and Mrs. Bush one day to chat!

Laura Bush

LOVE ANA’S HONESTY!

If you’re not familiar with Ana Navarro, she’s a Republican strategist and political commentator who’s not afraid to be honest — she doesn’t care what political party!

CONGRATS REBA!

Congratulations to Reba McEntire on the Grammys nomination for her first gospel album, “Sing It Now:  Songs of Faith & Hope”!

reba-faith

It earned a nomination in the BEST ROOTS GOSPEL ALBUM category.

While “Pray To God” didn’t get nominated, Reba is getting country radio airplay for the latest single, “God and My Girlfriends”!

It debuted on the Billboard Country Airplay chart at #54 and is expected to move up some week!

“CALL ME BY YOUR NAME”

“Call Me By Your Name”, the critically-acclaimed LGBT love story, is the movie that I most want to see.  But, it won’t be until early 2018 that I’ll get that chance since it’s only in limited release now.

However, it opened in four theaters last weekend and grossed an eye-opening $103,233 per screen average.

That was the biggest per screen average of 2017 and it was good enough to debut at #14 for the weekend ($412,932) — again, in just 4 theaters!!!

call me

“BEACH RATS”

While I await the wide release of “Call Me By Your Name”, I checked out “Beach Rats”, a movie that’s getting a lot of buzz, too.

It’s nominated for two Film Independent Spirit Awards — for Best Male Lead (Harris Dickinson) and Best Cinematography.

21-year-old East London newcomer Dickinson plays Frankie, a young man wasting away his summer hanging out with his friends on the Brooklyn boardwalk drinking, doing drugs, and watching fireworks.

This isn’t just a “coming-of-age” summer for Frankie.  His dad is dying of cancer and he’s secretly meeting older men for sex in public wooded areas.  The struggle with his sexuality is something he keeps from his girlfriend, his family, and his friends for much of the movie.

Dickinson is a bright new talent and earns the rave reviews he’s getting for his acting.  And, that has nothing to do with how cute he is or his gorgeous body! 🙂

GRADE:  A-

“MUDBOUND”

This poignant Netflix drama takes place in poverty-stricken and backwards Mississippi in the 1940s.

It tells the story of a white family with a racist patriarch that ends up having to live on the land of an African American family.

Casey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Mary J. Blige, Rob Morgan, and Jonathan Banks lead an excellent cast.

However, the standouts are Garrett Hedlund and Jason Mitchell, the two sons — one from each family — returning from war.  The friendship that forms between them is very touching.

I know it’s a period piece, but the frequency of use of the n-word, the blatant racism, and the graphic violence at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan are still painful to watch.  But, the movie is powerful.

I really wish I had seen more of Mary J. Blige.

If you check out “Mudbound”, stay for the amazing Blige song playing over the credits.

GRADE:  B

BINGE WATCH “THE BRAVE”

I’m really enjoying this freshman NBC action series.

The winter finale was very suspenseful and with the holidays, you have a chance to binge watch the nine episodes before it returns January 1, 2018!

For God & Country - Season Pilot

Here’s what I had to say about the series earlier in the fall:

I checked out one of the new fall series, “The Brave”, on NBC, mainly because I have a crush on Mike Vogel (“Cloverfield” and “Under The Dome”).  It was very entertaining and suspenseful and the pilot episode ended with a major cliffhanger, so I’ll be back next week to see what happens.

And, in November, I mentioned the series again and added, Still enjoying this thriller, yet it seems like every time they go up against terrorists, they always win without causalities.  That’s a good thing because this show has the most beautiful cast!

JAMES TAYLOR

Speaking of beautiful, I was just reading an old “Rolling Stone” magazine and came across this 1969 photo of James Taylor!  Holy moly!

JT 1969

You probably remember him from his hits “Fire and Rain” (#3, 1970) and “You’ve Got A Friend” (#1, 1971).

COUNTRY RADIO SHOWING A LITTLE LOVE FOR…

Shania Twain’s second single from “Now”, “We Got Something They Don’t” is getting some radio airplay at country stations.

The lead single, “Life’s About to Get Good” only reached #33 on Billboard Country, but it reached #12 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.

MOST PLAYED CHRISTMAS SONGS

Christmas music is taking over the airwaves now, especially at adult contemporary stations, which have gone to 24-hour holiday music.

Earlier this week, I shared the 10 most played Christmas songs last year, according to Nielsen Music.

Let me just say that I was shocked at what was #1!

It wasn’t “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey or, sadly, my favorite Christmas song, “Merry Christmas Darling” by the Carpenters.

The most played Christmas song last year was by a Puerto Rican singer.  It was released in 1970 and didn’t even crack the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 — it peaked at #44.

#1

Find out what that song is and if your guess was in the Top Ten!  Click on the link.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2017/11/27/oh-lord-christmas-music/

“LAST CHRISTMAS”

I don’t even want to think of my “Last Christmas” because it would sadden me.

However, this fun, upbeat, chic remake of the Wham! classic is okay to think about. 🙂

If you’ve never seen Cascada’s cool version, here it is.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Reba “My Kind of Christmas”

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

REBA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

reba-faith

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

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

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

GRADE:  B+

Also, be sure to catch Reba hosting “CMA Country Christmas” on ABC on November 27th!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — October 27, 2017

The holiday season is officially here with Halloween next week.

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

Random Thoughts

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

HARVEY WEINSTEIN’S DOWNFALL

Harvey Weinstein

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

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

Rogen

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

“HALLOWEEN” (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the original trailer.

“It was the boogeyman!”

“As a matter of fact, it was!”

HALLOWEEN CANDY — BY STATE

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

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

CANDY

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

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

I’M NOT AS POPULAR AS “SNL”, BUT… 🙂

It seems we think alike.

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

AP Clown

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

snl kellyanne

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

ARE YOU “READY FOR IT”?

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

“MAMMA MIA: HERE WE GO AGAIN!”

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

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

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

Cher

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

“TEN DAYS IN THE VALLEY”

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

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

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

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

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

“BABY DRIVER”

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

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

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

Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, and Lily James costar.

GRADE:  B

“MY KIND OF CHRISTMAS” REVIEW

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

REBA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

reba-faith

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

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

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

GRADE:  B+

CHRISTMAS STAMPS

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

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

Stamps 1

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

I wish you the scariest Halloween ever!

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

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

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.

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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

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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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Anthony