Posts Tagged ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’

Randomness — Holidays, Movies & More

Since I’m taking a break from my “Random Friday Thoughts”, I still wanted to share some recommendations on things I watched and enjoyed lately.

If you saw these, too, let me know what you thoughts.  If you didn’t, you have some things to check out!

A QUEEN BRINGS LIFE TO THE NEWBORN KING!

Leave it to a queen, BeBe Zahara Benet, to bring life to the newborn king holiday ballad, “The Little Drummer Boy” !

This is an incredible, fun version of the song and I love the video. 🙂

BABY, BRING THE BUBBLY INSIDE!

Fun Mimosas.jpg

CHRISTMAS SONG THOUGHTS

I’m not even going to get into the whole “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” debate.  It was already one of my least favorite holiday songs even before this year!

But, here are a few things to think about when listening to Christmas music this year!

In “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, it lists the other reindeer and then asks a very silly question, “but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all”!

hermey-rudolph01

Seriously, if he’s the most famous reindeer of all, of course we remember him!

From “Do You Hear What I Hear”, “a child, a child, shivers in the cold, let us bring him silver and gold”.

While silver and gold would be nice to have, why not a damn blanket since the baby is cold!!!

Wise-Men-Baby-Jesus-Manger.png

And, I love the Carpenters!  But, in “Home For The Holidays”, I shake my head when Karen sings of going home and “Geez, the traffic is terrific!”

Traffic is terrific????  SAID.NO.ONE.EVER.

It’s more like…

gtfo

… of my way!

“IT’S CHRISTMAS, EVE”

I finally got around to watching “It’s Christmas, Eve” with LeAnn Rimes, which made debuted on the Hallmark Channel in November.

Rimes stars as Eve Morgan, who goes back home as Interim school superintendent to get the district out of financial trouble.  The easiest way to do it is to cut the arts program.

And, who does she meet living across the street from her mother and stepfather?  You probably guessed it — a very handsome music teacher, Liam (Tyler Hynes), at one of the schools on the chopping block!

While predictable, it’s still a cute movie.

The only thing I cringed about was the use of my least favorite (and widely overused) term these days:  “meet cute”.   It wasn’t used once or twice, but three times, if I’m not mistaken! 🙂

GRADE:  B

Before the show premiered, I wrote, “the soundtrack is incredible!  Okay, incredible is an understatement.  It’s the best Christmas album in the past few years!!!!” and I gave it an “A” grade!

REMEMBERING DREW & JUAN

After the summer 2016 Pulse Nightclub massacre, I vowed that as long as I blog, I’ll remember the victims — especially 32-year-old Christopher “Drew” Leinonen and his 22-year-old boyfriend Juan Guerrero.

Christmas Was Perfect

While that Christmas was perfect for the young men and their families, I know the following ones have been difficult for the grieving families.

To their families. Christopher and Juan are still not forgotten this Christmas!

“JONESTOWN:  TERROR IN THE JUNGLE”

This past November marked the 40th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre.  Some called it “mass murder” and others, a “mass suicide”.

I’m in the “mass murder” camp, since the Reverend Jim Jones was deranged and pretty much forced those people to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid at gunpoint!

More than 900 people died.

This SundanceTV documentary following Jones’ life from Indiana to the jungles of Guyana was incredible.

GRADE:  A

“PADDINGTON 2”

2014’s “Paddington” was fun.  The little bear is adorable and especially so, voiced by my big-time crush, Ben Whishaw!

Ben Whishaw

Plus, Nicole Kidman as a villain was icing on the cake.

This year’s $40 million sequel was box office gold.  It made $226.9 million.

Paddington is living in London and wants to buy his aunt a picture book.  But, this movie’s villain (played by Hugh Grant) wants the book because it holds clues to a treasure that no one knows about, except him.

The movie is very cute and heartwarming.  With just minutes before the end credits, Iit brought tears to my eyes!  🙂

Also, at one point near the end of the movie, a scene with two-time Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins made me feel like I was watching “The Shape of Water 2”! 🙂

GRADE: A-

“SEARCHING”

This incredible movie was made for just a million dollars and brought in an astounding $70.6 million in theaters.

It was shot mostly on smartphones and computer screens and is eerie and creepy.

John Cho stars as a dad that learns he knows very little about his 15-year-old daughter when she goes missing.

Debra Messing (“Will & Grace”) is a detective that’s helping solve the case.

Cho is nominated for the “Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead”.

GRADE: A-

“THE GOOD DOCTOR” WINTER FINALE

While I still like “The Good Doctor” on ABC, I recently wrote that I’ve cooled on the show.  Well, that all changed with the winter finale, “Quarantine”!

If you’ve never watched the show or you don’t watch it religiously, watch this episode “On Demand”!!!

And, if you’ve never watched it, all you need to know is that Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) is autistic and is considered a savant!

It was intense and scary to think that this could really happen!  And, which major characters will die?

“The Good Doctor” returns on ABC Monday, January 14, 2019.

“JANE FONDA IN FIVE ACTS”

Two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda, who turns 81 next week, is still turning out award nominated work both on the big screen and on television (“Grace and Frankie”).

There are still people in the U.S. that dislike (okay, hate) Fonda for a mistake she made back in the Vietnam conflict.

But, this HBO documentary is amazing.

It shows Fonda in five acts:  from Henry Fonda’s daughter and her first years as an actress through the men that try to define her (three ex-husbands) to her current work.

GRADE: A-

“BLACKkKLANSMAN”

This Spike Lee picture was made for $15 million and made $88.2 million in theaters.

It’s based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first African-American to join the Colorado Springs Police Department in Colorado in the early-1970s.

John David Washington (Denzel’s son) plays Stallworth, who contacts the Ku Klux Klan and then has to coach a white officer (Adam Driver) to pose as Stallworth to meet the hooded haters!

While this story took place in the ’70s, there were subtle and not so subtle references to “that man”, 45!

The nominations are coming in for BLACKkKLANSMAN”!  It’s up for five Critics Choice Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor (Driver).

It’s also nominated for four Golden Globes including Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Actor – Drama (Washington) and Best Supporting Actor (Driver).

While this movie was very enjoyable and entertaining, my favorite Spike Lee movie is still 1999’s underappreciated “Summer of Sam”.

GRADE: B+

“SORRY TO BOTHER YOU”

Lakeith Stanfield will be a name you’ll hear more of in the future.

He leads this movie about a telemarketer who learns that using a “white voice” helps his sales and will move him up the corporate ladder at WorryFree faster.

But, it comes with a price.

This comedy is crazy and definitely goes off the rails with well-endowed horse people (you’ll have to watch the movie)! 🙂

Sexy Armie Hammer (“Call Me By Your Name”) stars as the CEO of the company.

It made $17.6 million in theaters and is nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards.

GRADE: B

“HEREDITARY”

I like horror movies and I love Toni Collette (“Muriel’s Wedding”), but I wasn’t drawn to the theaters to see “Hereditary”.

I finally saw it on DVD and I made the right decision to avoid it.

Supernatural movies have less appeal to me than horror movies with deranged serial killers!  Hello Michael Myers!

Halloween

“Hereditary” does have a very surprising and shocking death scene that I didn’t see coming.

While Collette and Alex Wolff, who plays her 16-year-old son, are great, the movie was too long and convoluted.

Yet, it was a box office hit earning $79.3 million.

GRADE:  B-

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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It’s Not Too Early For Christmas Thoughts

So, Christmas is now less than three months away!

That should come as no surprise because I saw Christmas decorations in the “seasonal” aisle at Walgreen’s with the Halloween costumes and candy this past weekend!

notchristmasyet

The good news is that we’re going to be seeing very warm temperatures for this first weekend of autumn in the Quad Cities and across much of the country.

But, now that I’ve mentioned Christmas, I want to talk about my favorite holiday of the year!

Christmas Outside

The first thing I do is look ahead to see what new Christmas albums I want to buy for the season.

Erasure Snow Globe

Last year, my favorite Christmas album was “Snow Globe” by Erasure.

Erasure is my favorite band and this week, they just released a fantastic new dance album called “The Violet Flame” and I’m excited to see them in concert in Chicago next weekend, October 4th.

My other two favorite Christmas albums last year were “Wrapped In Red” by Kelly Clarkson and “Christmas, With Love” by Leona Lewis.

Idina Holiday Wishes

Idina Menzel, who had huge success last year with the motion picture and soundtrack, “Frozen”, and the hit “Let It Go”, is releasing her first Christmas album in mid-October.

It was produced by Grammy Award-winner Walter Afanasieff, who has worked with Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Mariah Carey, Josh Groban, and so many more.

The track list reportedly includes “Do You Hear What I Hear?”, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, “A Holly Jolly Christmas”, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and many more classics and non-traditional songs.

seth-macfarlane-holiday-for-swing

Seth MacFarlane is behind some of the biggest shows on television (“Family Guy” and “The Cleveland Show”), the blockbuster movie, “Ted”, and, in 2013, he hosted the Oscars.

He also sings!  In 2011, he released “Music Is Better Than Words”, an amazing jazz album and on September 30th, his first Christmas album, “Holiday For Swing” comes out.

It’ll feature holiday standards like “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, plus many other classics.

MacFarlane gets some assistance from Norah Jones and Sara Bareilles (“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”).

jim-brickman-on-a-winters-night

Jim Brickman is one of the best-selling pianist of all-time and he’s collected 27 hits on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts!

Not only is he his getting his latest collection of Christmas songs ready for release on October 7th, but he’ll be playing at the Adler Theatre in Davenport, Iowa, on December 28th!

“On A Winter’s Night” features appearances from John Oates and Kenny Rogers and holiday classics like “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, “Blue Christmas”, and “Away In The Manger”.

Also, the album will have many less familiar tunes.

ABBA Christmas Card 001

I also love writing out Christmas cards to my friends across the country and I always look forward to the new Christmas stamp selections.  This year, the United States Postal Service will celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” with a stamp.

hermey-rudolph01

But, the ones that I’m going to purchase are called “Winter Fun Contemporary Christmas”.  Those definitely look fun!

14-WinterFun-4designs

And, I’m still deciding on what flavor cheesecake to make this year.

A couple of years ago, I made a red velvet cheesecake for Christmas.  While it was beautiful and tasty, I want something new and exciting this year.

Red Velvet 2

Finally, my Christmas shopping list is smaller this year because Ray, Gretel, Tammy and I are getting away before the holidays for some fun in the sun and on the high seas.  That is our gift to each other this year.

So, in honor of that, here’s a little less wintry-sounding Christmas song.

Merry Christmas!  Oh wait, that’s still about three months away.

Anthony

Cyndi Lauper Is Unusual, But Most of All, She’s An Ally

As a kid, I loved the “Island of Misfit Toys” in the Christmas classic, “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”.

rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer-island-of-misfit-toys

When I was a teenager, I was captivated by the originality of Top 40 pop music newcomer Cyndi Lauper, with her crazy clothes, her bizarre hair styles and hair colors, and that unmistakable voice.

She was so unusual and in her autobiography, “Cyndi Lauper:  A Memoir”, she admits to being a “misfit” and mentions “Rudolph” and the “island”.

Cyndi Lauper A Memoir

While reading the book, I realized why, other than her music and her style, I was so mesmerized by her in the 1980s and, even, today.

This summer, Cyndi turns 61-years-old.

Cyndi Lauper 2

While she’s only eleven years older than me and eleven years younger than my mother, her approach to life reminds me so much of my late mother, Dessie.  My mother could have been Cyndi’s big sister if Cyndi was a southern woman!

Cyndi tells people the way it is and she takes no bull.  My mother was the same way.

cyndi lauper 1970s

Without giving away too many details of the book since I think you should read it, it was interesting to learn more about Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper before she became “Cyndi Lauper”.

She had a rough childhood with a creepy stepfather, school problems, keeping a job, losing a baby, sexual assault by former band members, and several health issues.

It was interesting hearing her take on the music business in her bands before she made it big with her #2 Billboard Hot 100 smash, “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”.

The follow-up, “Time After Time”, became her first chart-topper.

It was followed by the #3 hit, “She Bop”, the #5 “All Through The Night” and one of my all-time favorites, “Money Changes Everything”, which was only a modest radio hit reaching #27 in 1985.

Her debut solo album, “She’s So Unusual”, from 1983, would go on to sell 16 million copies worldwide.  Six million of those were in the United States.

cyndi-lauper-she' s-so-unusual

My favorite Cyndi Lauper performance has always been and is still “When You Were Mine”, the Prince classic, on 1985’s “American Music Awards”.  It was so captivating to me almost thirty years ago and it still takes my breath away today!

Cyndi was also part of the historic, “We Are The World” charity recording by USA For Africa that topped the chart in 1985 and she scored her first Top Ten hit movie theme, “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough”.

Illness, surgery, and turmoil with the record company delayed the release of the follow-up album, “True Colors” until 1986.

True Colors

However, it turned out to be another success selling more than 7 million copies worldwide.  More than 2 million of those were sold in the U.S.

The title track became Cyndi’s second #1 hit (third counting her contribution to USA For Africa).  “True Colors” also became an anthem for the LGBT community and for her friends that were dying from AIDS.

While radio changed in the late 1980s and 1990s and stop playing Cyndi with her last hit, “I Drove All Night”, which hit #6 in 1989, she kept recording albums and touring and scored 9 more Billboard Dance hits after her radio days.  Five of those reached #1 or #2.

In all, Cyndi has picked up 15 Grammy nominations over the past thirty years.  In addition to her Grammy Awards, she’s also won MTV Video Music Awards, American Music Awards, an Emmy Award for her acting on the NBC hit, “Mad About You”, and a Tony Award for “Kinky Boots”.

In the past twenty years, Cyndi has become a leading force in the fight for equality for her LGBT friends.  While the gay community fights very hard, it’s always encouraging when our straight brothers and sisters like Cyndi, Cher, Madonna, and Lady Gaga reach out and fight hard for our rights.

In 2007, Cyndi started the “True Colors Tour”, the “True Colors Fund” in 2010, and the “Forty to None Project” in 2012, which brings to light the fact that about 10% of youth in America is LGBT, but that small group makes up about 40% of the homeless youth in the U.S.  Cyndi and her organization want that number to drop to zero.

If you’re looking for an interesting, fun, ballsy book to read this spring or summer, you definitely have to check out “Cyndi Lauper:  A Memoir”.  It’ll take you back thirty years to remind you why you loved Cyndi Lauper so much in the 1980s and you’ll learn so much more about her.

I find it hilarious that she’s not afraid to set people straight and then tell us about it.  Bob Dylan, are you listening?

She's So Unusual 30th Anniversary

On April 1, 2014, Cyndi will be releasing “She’s So Unusual:  A 30th Anniversary Celebration”, a two-disc deluxe set featuring many songs from that hugely successful 1983 album, plus old and new remixes, early demos, and rehearsals.  It’s a must for die-hard Lauper fans.

Cyndi is also working on a new studio album and she’s heading out on tour again this spring with Cher on the “Dressed To Kill Tour”.

Cher Cyndi Lauper

I saw Cyndi and Cher in concert about ten years ago in Chicago and the show was incredible.

I’ll be seeing Cher and Cyndi for the second time in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on June 6th.

Cyndi, I know you won’t notice me in the crowds, but I’ll be screaming for you and singing along to your music.  Thank you for sharing your music, your humor, your strength, and your commitment with us over the past 30 years.

Anthony

Christmas TV Classics — Why I Think “The Little Drummer Boy” Is Out of Tune

Each holiday season, new Christmas albums, songs, and movies appear to entice the viewing and listening public.  Many of them are decent, a few of them will become standards, and some of them are downright awful.

Five years ago, before I joined Facebook and before I started my own personal blog, I first addressed the topic I’m talking about today.

A sure sign that the holiday season is here is when the perennial Christmas favorites from our childhood pop up on television, even though many of us own them on DVD or VHS!

Christmas wouldn’t be the same without “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1964),

Rudolph

“The Little Drummer Boy” (1968),

Little Drummer Boy

“Frosty The Snowman” (1969),

Frosty

and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” (1970).

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Those are the ones that I’ll call the classics and focus on today.  For the record, I’m older than all of the television versions (okay, only six weeks older than the “Rudolph” television show)!

However, the songs have been around much longer than me:  “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” (1934), “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1949), “Frosty The Snowman” (1950), and “The Little Drummer Boy” (recorded in 1955, although it was written in 1941 as “Carol of the Drum”).

Now back to the classics.  I have a theory about which one is the least popular and why.  So, last night, after I had already written this blog, I asked my friends on Facebook to tell me their favorite and least favorite of the four classics that I’m talking about today.

Little Drummer Boy

My theory is that most people would list “The Little Drummer Boy”  as their least favorite.

It is the most religious of the classics and that could have something to do with it being ranked lower.  It’s also sad, although Frosty melting, Rudolph being bullied, and the Burgermeister Meisterburger outlawing all toys are not happy themes either.

However, being a biblical story is not the main reason I predicted it to be people’s least favorite — I suspect the reason is that it’s the only one WITHOUT snow!!!!

Snow puts people in the Christmas and holiday spirit and since “The Little Drummer Boy” takes place in the desert, there are no snowflakes, no snow drifts, and no cold winds blowing.

So, when I posed this question to you on Facebook in my unscientific poll, which was the least favorite?

LDB

69% chose “The Little Drummer Boy”!  16% picked “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” as their second least favorite followed by “Frosty The Snowman” at 13% and “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” at 2%.

I was correct in my prediction of which one would be picked least favorite.  But, is my reasoning correct???

And, which was listed as the favorite?

hermey-rudolph01

52% picked “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”!  That was followed by 23% for “Frosty The Snowman”, 14% for “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”, and 11% for “The Little Drummer Boy”.

Snow! Snow! Snow!

Now that I gave you the reasons why I think we don’t like “The Little Drummer Boy” as much as the other classics, tell me which one is your favorite and why and why you didn’t like “The Little Drummer Boy” as much, if you were one of the 69%!

I wish you the very best this holiday season, whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa.

Anthony