Posts Tagged ‘Snow Globe’

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

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Erasure Is on Fire With “The Violet Flame”

The countdown is on and I’m getting so excited.  The new Erasure album, “The Violet Flame” comes out next week (in most of the world Monday, 9/22, and Tuesday, 9/23,  in the United States).

The Violet Flame

And, I get to see Andy Bell and Vince Clarke in concert for the first time in Chicago on October 4th!

The Violet Flame Erasure

I’ve been a huge fan since I fell in love with “Oh L’amour” in 1986.  The duo has now dazzled us with the most incredible dance music for almost three decades and their latest, their 16th studio album, is no different.

The lead single is the amazing “Elevation” and Andy has never sounded better.

Now, the dark-haired young man in the video is beautiful, but where is Andy and Vince?  I’ll get over them not being in the video because I know they’ve been busy preparing for “The Violet Flame Tour” that kicked off last weekend with shows in Miami, Orlando, and St. Petersburg, Florida.

Before we got the first listen of “Elevation” in July, our last set of new music from Erasure was “Snow Globe”, their first holiday collection, last November.  It was one of my favorite albums of 2013.

Erasure Snow Globe

Now, while it featured their unique interpretation of holiday classics and some deep, dark holiday tunes, you knew their next full length dance album would be spectacular based on “There’ll Be No Tomorrow” and “Loving Man”, which still had me playing “Snow Globe” this spring and summer!

Here’s my blog from last November about my love for Erasure and “Snow Globe”.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/erasure-takes-us-to-the-dark-side-of-christmas-back/

Now, back to “The Violet Flame”.  While it doesn’t come out until next week, “Gay Times” and “USA Today” is giving us a sneak peek at the entire album on their website.

The album kicks off with “Dead of Night” and it gets your pulse pumping after only about a fifteen second build-up.  Andy’s voice is crisp and he’s in total control and is ready to take you on a journey.

“Elevation”, the first single is the album’s second track and that is followed by one of my favorite songs based on the first couple of listens, “Reason”.

This is from Sunday night’s show in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“Paradise”, the next to last song on the album, is another amazing, mesmerizing Erasure song.  It sounds more like a modern-day EDM or trance song stolen from the disco era.

“The Violet Flame” is a classic Erasure dance album and it will become a classic!

The Violet Flame

Even when Andy and Vince slow things down on the beautiful love song, “Be The One”, it’s almost four minutes of bliss.  As that song moves into the album’s sixth song, “Sacred”, it only takes Vince Clarke less than a minute to create another thumping dance track.

Unfortunately, outside of “Elevation”, the songs on the album are not on YouTube yet for me to feature in this blog.  But, you can check them out here today with this link.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2014/09/15/erasure-violet-flame-album-premiere/15529401/

And, don’t forget to buy the album!

With  “The Violet Flame”, I know Erasure is going to add to their hit tally back home in the U.K. and on the American dance charts.

“Elevation” debuted this week at #44 on the U.S. Billboard Dance chart and will become the group’s 23rd dance hit.  Of those, 16 of them have reached the Top Ten and two topped the charts.

Back home in the U.K., Erasure has had 32 hits with 15 of them reaching the Top Ten.

erasure3

Andy & Vince, I’m counting down the days until Chicago.  Until then, I’ll have to put “The Violet Flame” on repeat.

GRADE: A

Random Friday Thoughts — November 15, 2013

Greetings, my friends.  Can you believe it’s already the middle of November!  Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away and Christmas will be here before you know it.

Last weekend, we put some outdoors lights up and we’ll add more this weekend despite the rainy forecast.  Here are my random thoughts this week.

STORES OPENING ON THANKSGIVING

I’ve been hearing a lot of uproar about Kmart opening at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

KMart

Since then, Best Buy announced it will be opening at the same time and remaining open until 10 p.m. Friday!  Also, Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s and others plan on opening their doors Thanksgiving evening.

People are complaining that this is keeping employees from spending time with their families on Thanksgiving.

It is.  However, for much of my career, I’ve worked the holidays.  This year, I’ll be working Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, but I’ll still make sure that I get to celebrate with my family.

Our Turkey 2012

And, the way I look at it is that there are people who don’t have families or someone to spend the holidays with and they welcome the stores being open to have something to do!

JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

I’ll just going to keep walking on the treadmill and telling myself that I’m going to eat healthy to prepare for the feast that is Thanksgiving!

However, thanks to Pringles and Lay’s — fat chance!

lays_chocolate_potato_chips_630x420 Limited Time Only Pringles

Here are their new holiday offerings.  Let me know if you’ve tried either the “Lay’s Wavy Original Potato Chips dipped in Milk Chocolate”and Pringles’ “Pecan Pie” and how they taste.

Last year, I liked the “Cinnamon & Sugar”, but I didn’t really care for the “Pumpkin Pie”.  Also, in 2012, there was the “Peppermint White Chocolate”, which I didn’t get to try.

A DARKER SIDE TO CHRISTMAS

I’ve a huge fan of Erasure and the English duo just released their first Christmas album, “Snow Globe” this week.

Erasure Snow Globe

I previewed the album yesterday.

Here’s the link:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/erasure-takes-us-to-the-dark-side-of-christmas-back/

It’s not your traditional Christmas album!  If you don’t believe me, there’s a song on the album called “Blood on the Snow”.

On “Snow Globe”, you’ll also find songs that may make you forget it is a Christmas album, but you won’t care.  There are many Christmas classics with the trademark Erasure sound.  Here’s a preview of “Silent Night”.

“Snow Globe” is a great addition to any Christmas or dance collection.  My full review and grade are in the blog from yesterday.

And, it’s exciting that Erasure retweeted my blog tweet!

Erasure Retweet

ANOTHER “WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?”

Joel Osteen is a televangelist out of Houston, Texas, and his ministry, through broadcast media, reaches millions of people each week in over 100 nations around the world.

Seriously!

As a writer, I’ve made typos.  There are times when I’m editing my blog and I change a few words that I may leave an old word in there or the subject and verb may not agree after editing, but I can’t recall having anything like this go public.

If this is real and this was a quote on social media or if it was a verbal quote, it definitely went astray.  Religion isn’t the first thing that went through my mind!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Fish Be You

Today's Forecast What Will Happen -- Gay Marriage

A NEW CAREER POSSIBILITY

There is more and more talk in our household about retirement as I enjoy my last year in my 40s and now that Ray has hit the big 5-0.

Unfortunately, my current position is paying me slightly more than I was making eight years ago and considerably less than I was making at my last job.  So, if I don’t win the lottery, I think I’ve found a new career that might even give me the flexibility to relocate!

Air Ttraffic Control

“Time” magazine recently reported that by the end of 2016, about one-third of the nation’s air-traffic controllers will be retiring — that’s about 4,500 job openings!

Various websites report that the middle 50% of controllers make anywhere from $85,000-140,000!  But, the wind was knocked out of my sails when I read that rookies only make anywhere from $16,000-35,000, depending on location!

SOME MUSICIANS SHOW A SENSE OF HUMOR

With Facebook and Twitter, people can instantly share their thoughts, right or wrong, nice or vicious.  Jimmy Kimmel asked some in the music industry to read tweets about them.

This is too funny and Ke$ha is just amazing!

I’VE FOUND MY NEW LOVE STORY

I don’t care that Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) was a prostitute in “Pretty Woman”.  Obviously, neither did Edward Lewis.

That is my one of my favorite movie love stories, along with “Latter Days”, “Shelter”, and “Weekend”.  Chances are that you’ve never heard of those last three, but you should definitely search them out if you’re open-minded and feel that love is love.

OUT-IN-THE-DARK-Poster

I can now add “Out In The Dark” to that small list.

This 2012 Israeli gem features an amazing storyline and stunning performances from lead actors Nicholas Jacob and Michael Aloni.

out-in-the-dark

“Out In The Dark” begins when Palestinian student, Nimr, sneaks across the border into Tel Aviv, Israel to party with his friends at a bar.  There he strikes up a conversation with Israeli lawyer, Roy.  They share a fun evening talking at the club and promise to keep in touch when he leaves to go back to Palestine later that night.

Nimr finds out from his friend, Mustafa, that Roy was asking about him.  Roy and Nimr start dating when Nimr gets papers allowing him to be in Tel Aviv once a week for an internship.

While the two fall in love, homophobia in the very religious West Bank threatens to tear them apart when Nimr’s family finds out his secret.  Meanwhile, back in Israel, Nimr has to confront hatred because he’s Arab.

It’s a beautiful love story that may or may not end in happiness.

Both gorgeous actors make the love story very realistic and touching.

Aloni (Roy) is an established film and movie actor and television host and was nominated in 2011 for an Israeli Academy Award for portraying a platoon commander in “Infiltration”.

Michael Aloni

And, “Out In The Dark” marks the acting debut for Israeli born Nicholas Jacob.  Interestingly, he spent about half of his childhood in Nashville, Tennessee, where he fell in love with music.  Now, he follows both dreams — acting and music.

Nicholas Jacob

So, how much did I love this movie?  I gave it a grade that I rarely give a movie!

GRADE:  A+  

GAGA’S WORLD DOMINATION

If you follow my blog, you already know that “ARTPOP”, the latest Lady Gaga album came out earlier this week and it’s expected to sell about 275,000 copies.

ARTPOP

On first listen, it definitely is a rockier version of dance music.

I’ll get the bad news out of the way.  I doubt that I’ll ever really like “Jewels N’ Drugs” featuring T.I., Too Short and Twista!

Since the album is new to me and my favorites will likely change over time, here are the ones that excite me the most right now:  “Do What U Want” (the new single featuring R. Kelly), “Donatella”, “Applause”, “Artpop” and “Swine”.

In addition to her hosting “Saturday Night Live” and also performing this weekend, her first 90-minute Christmas special, “Lady Gaga & the Muppets’ Holiday Spectacular” will air on ABC Thanksgiving night.

ABC Lady Gaga Muppets

Two years ago, “A Very Gaga Thanksgiving” aired on ABC and featured acoustic version of songs from her second album, “Born This Way”.  It also featured “White Christmas”.

INTERESTING TEXAS TRIVIA

While you may or may not find it scary that Rick Perry and Ted Cruz are both successful politicians in the “Lone Star” state, here’s something that may be even scarier.

Chuck Norris Kickboxing

A recent “Time” magazine article stated that the FBI reports that Texas leads the nation for the most people who were either punched or kicked to death in 2012!

PICK HIT OF THE WEEK

“Work Bitch”, the first single from the upcoming album, “Britney Jean”, by Britney Spears reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was a moderate hit at pop radio.

britney-spears-perfume

The second single, “Perfume”, is now racing up the charts and will likely make Britney a Top Ten hit maker one more time!

The new song is stripped of the electronic sound and is more like a 1980s arena ballad.

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

New York singer-songwriter and actress Melissa Manchester has only scored seven Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.  However, the three of those hits that have reached the Top Ten are still memorable more than three decades later.

Melissa Manchester

Her first hit, “Midnight Blue” reached #6 in 1975.  After a couple of modest hits, she reached #10 in 1978 with “Don’t Cry Out Loud”.  That was followed by a couple more modest hits before she scored the biggest hit of her career.

In 1982, “You Should Hear How She Talks About You” reached #5.

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

I hope you’ve enjoy this week’s random thoughts.  If you agree, let me know.  If you disagree, I welcome that discussion, too.

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

Erasure Takes Us To The Dark Side of Christmas & Back

I’ve been a huge fan of Erasure since I first heard “Oh L’Amour” back in 1986 when I started going to clubs.

While I haven’t gotten to see them in concert (there’s talk of a possible tour in late 2014), I did get to meet Andy Bell & Vince Clarke and get their autograph when they visited the Fox News Chicago’s morning show where I was a news writer more than a decade ago.

April 2013 001

The band just released their first Christmas album, “Snow Globe” earlier this week.

Erasure Snow Globe

The album captures what Erasure fans have loved about them for almost thirty years — Andy Bell’s soulful voice, Vince Clarke’s captivating mastery of electronic music, and a perfect mix of bubbly dance tracks and thought-provoking lyrics like “I don’t believe in your religion, I only know what I can see”, which is from the first song on the new album, “Bells of Love (Isabelle’s of Love)”.

Christmas2011

Realistically, Christmas isn’t a holly, jolly time for all people and “Snow Globe” captures that part of Christmas perfectly.

You know this isn’t your standard, predictable Christmas album when you look at the track list and see “Bleak Midwinter” (about the birth of Baby Jesus) and “Blood on the Snow”.

“Gaudete”, an eerie track with a very Tim Burton-ish video, is the album’s first release and is everything you’d expect from Erasure with a haunting touch of winter’s chill.

I love Andy Bell’s familiar, warm vocals and Vince Clarke’s arrangements on their quirky take on “The Christmas Song”.

Other Christmas standards that are included on “Snow Globe” are “Silent Night”, “Midnight Clear” (stunning vocals), and “White Christmas” and “Silver Bells” (both stripped down to little more than Andy’s strong voice).

Erasure

If you only listen to Top 40 radio in America, you probably know very little about Erasure since they’ve only had three hits, “Chains of Love” and “A Little Respect” (#12 and #14, respectively, in 1988) and “Always (#20, 1994).

However, in American dance clubs, they’ve scored 21 hits with 16 of them reaching the Top Ten and two topping the charts.  Back home in the U.K., Erasure has had 32 hits with 15 of them reaching the Top Ten.

Erasure excels in dance music and “Snow Globe” is no exception.  “There’ll Be No Tomorrow” and “Loving Man” are incredible dance floor fillers and both will make Erasure fans long for another new studio album that is expected next fall.

What makes “Snow Globe” an incredible album is the mix of Christmas standards and holiday/winter-related songs and the familiar electronic sound that is Erasure.

Erasure Snow Globe

That mix will ensure that when Christmas decorations come down and the new Christmas albums by Kelly Clarkson and Mary J. Blige are put away on the shelf with Michael Buble and Josh Groban’s excellent holiday collections from the past, “Snow Globe” will still be getting played next spring.

GRADE:  A

Okay, I was dying to include “Oh L’amour”, so here’s a bonus!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — November 8, 2013

The weekend is almost here and I’m so ready for it.  We have friends coming over for dinner Saturday night and I plan on putting up the outdoor Christmas lights Sunday.

In addition to working on today’s blog and still posting pictures of our European trip on Facebook, I started working on my Christmas cards this week.  I ended up not buying the poinsettia Christmas stamps that I featured a few weeks ago in my blog.  When I went to the post office, they had these awesome little decorated Christmas Gingerbread houses!

GingerBreadHouses-Forever-Block4-Singles-v2

Here are my random Friday thoughts.

TOTALLY GIVING UP ON EMINEM

By the time you read this, Eminem’s latest album that was released Tuesday will have already sold hundreds of thousands of copies.

After years of spewing anti-gay lyrics in his songs, I thought he was “evolving”.  I read an old “Rolling Stone” article after he crashed from drug abuse and it actually made him sound very down to earth and more human.  And, in 2010, he even made comments to support marriage equality.

Eminem

However, he’s back to his old ways.  Check out these disgusting lyrics from “Rap God” on his new album.

“Break a motherf**ker’s table over the back of a couple of fa**ots and crack it in half”, “You fags think it’s all a game till I walk a flock of flames off a plank, and tell me what in the f*ck are you thinking” and “Little gay looking boy/So gay I can barely say it with a straight face looking boy/You witnessing a massacre like you watching a church gathering.”

And, his views toward women haven’t softened any either, “They asking me to eliminate some of the women hate/But if you take into consideration the bitter hatred that I had/Then you may be a little patient and more sympathetic to the situation/And understand the discrimination”.

elton-john-and-eminem1

Eminem has performed with and befriended openly gay singers Elton John and Sia, who scored big with “Titanium” with David Guetta.  She even has a duet with him on the new album.

After hearing the lyrics to “Rap God”, in a Twitter discussion with a fan, she initially defended Eminem as not personally being homophobic, but added, “I truly understand your point, and am certainly experiencing fear around the repercussions if he doesn’t explain his art.  I am queer, and love my queers, young and old. I work with the Center and homeless LGBT kids, and when I heard ‘Rap God’ I was very anxious.  He has a character called Slim Shady who represents the worst and darkest bile of America. I see how it can be unclear.”

sia

You may or may not be shocked at how many homophobic remarks popped up against Sia and the fan from Eminem fans!  Very sad!

Sia is now donating the proceeds she receives from the Eminem collaboration, “Beautiful Pain”, to the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, a 50-bed shelter and transitional living program geared toward LGBT homeless youth.

Here is how Eminem responded to “Rolling Stone” for his upcoming cover story about “Rap God” being anti-gay, “It was more like calling someone a bitch or a punk or asshole. So that word was just thrown around so freely back then…  And, not saying it’s wrong or it’s right, but at this point in my career – man, I say so much shit that’s tongue-in-cheek. I poke fun at other people, myself. But the real me sitting here right now talking to you has no issues with gay, straight, transgender, at all. I’m glad we live in a time where it’s really starting to feel like people can live their lives and express themselves.”

Maybe that “real me” that is Marshall Mathers III (Eminem) is really okay with LGBT people.  But, I don’t understand how he’ll spew hate, I mean, raps that are homophobic that advocate young or uneducated people to have such vile and hateful thoughts toward the LGBT community!

Maybe I just don’t get it!

ILLINOIS HOUSE DOES THE RIGHT THING!

With a vote of 61-54-2 Tuesday, the Illinois House says “yes” to marriage equality!

The Illinois Senate approved this back in February with a 34-21 vote.

Marriage Equality Illinois

The “Land of Lincoln” is now the 15th state (along with the District of Columbia) to make marriage available to all residents.  Governor Pat Quinn plans on signing it into law on November 20th.

Locally, I want to say “thank you” to Representatives Pat Verschoore and Mike Smiddy for their “yea” votes!

Same-sex marriages in Illinois will begin on June 1, 2014.

THE COUNTDOWN TO “ARTPOP”

It’s been almost a year-and-a-half since Lady Gaga released “Born This Way” and in just a few days, we get “ARTPOP”, Gaga’s third full-length studio album.

ARTPOP

Several of the album’s 15 songs have been made public, including the Top 5 Hot 100 hit “Applause”, along with “Aura”, “Dope”, “Venus”, and her new single, a duet with R. Kelly, “Do What U Want”, which is already racing up the charts.

Here is Lady Gaga’s recent performance of “Venus” and “Do What U Want” on “The X Factor” UK, which prompted several complaints for being too adult!  Seriously?

OUR FISH LOVE THE RECENT RAIN

During the drought in the Quad Cities this summer, it was a struggle to keep the water level up in the fish pond.

As we head deeper into fall and eventually winter, last week’s almost two inches of rain and the one-half inch that fell earlier this week really made a big difference in giving our 13 fish (our original six and the newly acquired, older, and bigger ones) plenty of water.  And, we’ve already added the de-icer to keep the pond from freezing this winter.  So, bring on the snow!

Fish Pond Late February 2013

IN THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

While we’re still weeks away from decorating the inside of our house, this weekend I’m decorating the outside before it gets too cold!  We have some new lights that we bought for half-price last Christmas.  This is what it looked like two years ago.

Christmastime 2011

I love following charts, whether it’s music, movie, or whatever.  As I was looking at the Mediabase charts and playlists, the first Christmas song of the season is at #43 today on the Adult Contemporary (AC) airplay chart.  AC stations are usually the ones that embrace and switch over to Christmas first.

“Underneath The Tree” was the song from Kelly Clarkson’s new album, “Wrapped in Red”.

“WRAPPED IN RED”

I love Kelly Clarkson’s music and her voice, but I have to admit that two other variables put it at the top of my new CD wish list:  it’s a Christmas album and it features Reba McEntire!

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

Reba and Trisha Yearwood join Kelly on “Silent Night”, the last song on the album.

While Reba’s version on her own 1987 album, “Merry Christmas To You” is flawless, the arrangement on the new version is spectacular.

Of the album’s 14 tracks, eight are Christmas classics and Kelly does each one justice.

Kelly’s versions of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, “Please Come Home For Christmas”, “Blue Christmas”, and “White Christmas” are my favorites of the classics.  And, Ronnie Dunn, of Brooks & Dunn, joins Kelly on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”.

Most of the originals are strong songs, too.  My favorites of the six original are the slow tempo, “Winter Dream (Brandon’s Song)”, dedicated to her new husband, the upbeat, fun, and catchy “4 Carats” and the new single, “Underneath The Tree”.

It’s going to take many more listens, but “Just For Now” doesn’t do anything for me — for a Christmas album.

GRADE:  A-

A holiday television special to promote the album, “Kelly Clarkson’s (Cautionary) Christmas Tale” was filmed live in Las Vegas last week and it’ll air on NBC on December 11th.  It also features Reba, Trisha, and Ronnie.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Mommie DearestHuckabee

VeteransDay

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

Marketing is very important in what we watch, wear, drive, drink, and eat.  Advertisement agencies make billions and earn billions for their clients by cleverly encouraging us to spend our hard-earned money on their products.

But, I have to ask, did this agency close its doors after this ad campaign and what was Burger King in Singapore thinking?

burger-king_seven-incher

Last January when I was in Las Vegas for the Lady Gaga concert, I visited the old downtown area and Fremont Street for the first time and the Heart Attack Grill stood out to me.

Heart Attack Grill Las Vegas

The restaurant features the “Quadruple Bypass Burger” (four half-pound beef patties, twenty strips of bacon, eight slices of American cheese, a whole tomato, one-half of an onion served in a bun coated with lard).  It checks in at a whopping 9,982 calories!

Quadruple Bypass

Disgusting!

“THE WAY WAY BACK”

On our recent flight to Europe on Swiss Airlines, we watched the coming of age dramedy, “The Way Way Back”, rated PG-13.

The movie focuses on 14-year-old Duncan, played by the incredible 17-year-old Canadian actor Liam James, as he spends his summer vacation seaside in Cape Cod with his mother, Pam (Toni Collette) and her boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell).

Trent is a total jerk, which is made clear in the opening scene of the movie when he forces Duncan to rate himself on a scale of one-to-ten.  When the teenager says “six”, Trent proceeds to tell him he’s just a three!

All summer long, Trent stays on Duncan’s case.  To escape the misery, the teenager sneaks away to a local water park, Water Whizz, and befriends Owen (Sam Rockwell).

Duncan and Owen

While the movie features stellar performances from all of the actors, the standout is Allison Janey, who plays a boozer, Betty, who lives next door.  Her one liners kept me laughing and her comic timing is impeccable!  (“See You Next Tuesday”!)  If you’ve seen the movie, you’re laughing at that line right now. 🙂

“The Way Way Back” is a must see this fall!

GRADE:  A

“NOW YOU SEE ME”

If you love magic, suspense, and action, this summer caper is the movie for you.  The $75 million motion picture made $351.7 million and a sequel is in the works and is expected to begin production next summer.

Now You See Me

In the movie, four street magicians are summoned by an unknown benefactor and make their debut as “The Four Horsemen” in Las Vegas.

Their Vegas finale is to rob a bank of millions of Euros in Paris, France.  The movie follows them as they continue to dazzle crowds by stealing hundreds of millions of dollars and giving it to the audience while trying not to get caught by the FBI and Interpol.

“Now You See Me” stars Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Melanie Laurent, Common, and Michael Caine.

If you loved Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network” or “Zombieland”, you’re going to love him in “Now You See Me”.  And, I was really digging his long hair in this movie.

Jesse

GRADE:  B 

PICK HIT OF THE WEEK

Corey Hart was one of my biggest crushes back in the mid-to-late-1980s and my favorite Canadian export.

His latest release is with Papercha$er, “Night Visions (Sunglasses)”.

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

Corey+Hart

Hart hit the Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 nine times, but only two of those songs reached the Top Ten hits.

In 1985, he took “Never Surrender” to number three on the Billboard Hot 100, but it was “Sunglasses at Night”, his first hit that made it up to #7 that captured my attention and provided me with my second entertainment crush.  John Schneider (Bo Duke, from “The Dukes of Hazzard”) was the first!

FINAL THOUGHTS

That’s it for this week.  I hope you have a fantastic weekend.  Let me know what you think of my random thoughts or let me know your random thoughts!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — October 4

Another weekend is here and I’m taking advantage of this one to relax.

While it will feel like summer Friday with highs in the 80s, storms Friday night and Saturday will cool us off.  By Sunday, highs only in the 50s and morning lows in the 30s to around 40° are likely.  This will be the coolest day in the Quad Cities since Memorial Day weekend.

So, I’m thinking a big pot of chili for comfort food, popcorn, watching the first season of “Bates Motel”, and enjoying a nice fire in the fireplace with champagne!

champagne

Here are my random thoughts this week.  Whether you agree or disagree, let me know!

POSTAGE STAMP INCREASE… AGAIN?

To my friends that work for the United States Postal Service (USPS), I hope things work out for you.  With that being said, I’m on the verge of cutting my last ties with the mail service!

The USPS is proposing ANOTHER first-class stamp increase from 46 to 49 cents in January 2014 to try to offset its loss of $6 billion dollars this year.

USPS

I only use stamps once a year at Christmas when I mail out about 150 holiday cards.  I love sending Christmas cards and wishes each year and I wouldn’t mind paying the extra three cents for a stamp if I felt the USPS was serious about trying to save its floundering business.

Why do we still have Saturday mail delivery?  Think of how much money could be saved without that service (The Postmaster General has even asked that Saturday mail delivery be cut for most customers, which would save an estimated $2 billion per year)!

If people really needed to mail something on Saturday, there are substations in many grocery stores and other businesses.

So, if you’re on my Christmas mailing list, this may be the last card you get from me!  And, if you haven’t seen them yet, here are two of the new Christmas stamps for 2013.

2013 Poinsettia Stamp Christmas Cleveland MOA

ERASURE CHRISTMAS ALBUM UPDATE

Three weeks ago, I blogged about Erasure’s first Christmas album, “Snow Globe”, coming out in the U.S. on November 12th.

Erasure Snow Globe

Here’s a first listen to Andy and Vince on “Silent Night”.

ANOTHER EMMY AWARDS THOUGHT

If you, like me, were not one of the 17.6 million people watching the Primetime Emmy Awards two Sundays ago, you missed Michael Douglas winning the Best Actor award for playing Liberace in “Behind The Candelabra” (if you want to read more about the movie from my blog last week, type in “Liberace” in the blog search engine in the top right).

Douglas Emmy Awards

In his acceptance speech, Douglas looked down to his co-star, Matt Damon, who was also nominated, and said, “You really deserve half of this.  So, you want the bottom or the top?  Top?  I figured that!”  Too funny!

If you’ve seen the movie, you know what he’s talking about since it’s part of pivotal scene.  If you haven’t seen the movie yet, it wouldn’t take much to figure it out. 🙂

COULD THERE BE EMMY CONFUSION NEXT YEAR?

The hit Netflix series, “Orange Is The New Black” is a critical and fan favorite.

The series focuses on Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a Connecticut woman living in New York City, who is sentenced to 15 months in a women’s federal prison for transporting a suitcase full of drug money for her former lover ten years ago.

Orange is the New Black

The series also stars Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset.  Sophia is a transgender woman who’s in prison for credit-card fraud and she’s the hairdresser for many of the inmates. Outside of the prison walls, she has a son with her wife, Crystal.

Laverne Cox

Cox, the actress that plays Sophia is also transgender in real life.

If Cox gets the attention of Emmy votes, would they be progressive (and educated) enough to nominate her in the right category of Outstanding Supporting Actress?

ACRONYMS & LABELS CAN BE CONFUSING

Back in the day, there was the “gay community”, which covered both gays and lesbians.  But, then as society began to educate itself on sexual orientation and sexual identity, a couple more terms, bisexual and transgender were added to that community.

LGBT

So, when you see “LGBT”, it refers to people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (those who deviate from their assigned gender at birth, including transsexuals, cross-dressers, drag queens and kings, genderqueers, and others).

In the coming months and years, there will be more and more court cases and publicity around transgender men and women.  Advocates are working harder to ensure that someone born with a penis, but has always identified as being female, is not discriminated against and called a “man”.  This blurs lines and it’s not cut and dry or one or the other.

I’m bringing this up because I was reading an article last week and it was about a person that was identified as “genderqueer trans masculine person”.  While it would take some thought to figure that one out, I have a simple solution.  Just refer to this human as a “person” and love them just the same.

While it’s easy to label someone, the shoe doesn’t always fit.

As for me, you can call me “gay”.  However, I don’t like the term “homosexual”.  To me, that sounds like a medical term from before 1973 when being gay was still considered a “mental disorder.”

MOST POWERFUL 5 MINUTES TO SIMPLIFY MY LAST COMMENTS

While those terms I just described can label a person, it does so with class.  As we all know, there are other hurtful terms that people use to identity people in the LGBT community.

Check out this incredible, heart-wrenching video, “Define Me”, from New York City singer and songwriter, Ryan Amador, along with Jo Lampert.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Black Sheep Crazy Ass Eat Well

EUROPE IS ONLY TWO WEEKS AWAY NOW!

With that last “Food For Thought” in mind, Ray and I have to work very hard over the next two weeks to get to a chosen, acceptable weight as we embark on our first European cruise to celebrate Ray’s 50th birthday this past August.

Sound of Music Cruise

When Betty was here recently, I had five buffets in four nights and then last week we celebrated my sister’s birthday by eating out and having cake!!!

Our goal is to lose five to ten pounds before October 18th, which is also the date of my annual physical.  I guess this means other than a pizza buffet for my upcoming birthday, all buffets will be put off until November. 🙂

“WORK BITCH” OR “WORK WORK”?

Britney Spears is racing up the chart with the first release from her new studio album that comes out on December 3rd.  The video debuted earlier this week.

Britney Las Vegas

Two versions of the song were serviced to pop stations across the country.  One changes the title, which is said many times in the song, from “Work Bitch” to “Work Work”.  Here in the Quad Cities, one station is playing the “Bitch” version (my preference) and one is playing the sanitized “Work Work” version.

KHHM program director Pattie Moreno says, “Britney, can you please put out a record out without the word ‘bitch’ in it?  Please, can you help a girl out?”  (If you recall, her last hit, “Scream & Shout” with will.i.am, featured Brit Brit saying her classic line, “It’s Britney, Bitch”.)

However, WNOW New York PD Gillette is playing the original version and adds, “‘Bitch’ is not a dirty word. “No complaints so far. Plus, it’s a great dance track.”

I have one to say, “you’d better work”.  Oh wait, that’s another song!

The bottom line is “It’s Britney, Bitch”!

“PRISONERS”, “DON JON”, & “LOOSE CANNONS”

Two new big movies hit theaters this weekend.  There’s “Gravity”, which already has Oscar buzz for star Sandra Bullock.  The sci-fi thriller also stars George Clooney.  Also, “Runner Runner”, a thriller with Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake, makes its wide release debut.

If those movies don’t appeal to you, I have a couple of suggestions.  We saw a double feature last weekend of “Prisoners” and “Don Jon”.

Prisoners

If you want a psychological thriller that will make you cringe and eat your popcorn nervously, check out “Prisoners” with Academy Award nominees Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, and Terrence Howard, along with Oscar winner Melissa Leo.

The movie focuses on the disappearance of two little girls on Thanksgiving Day and what lengths one desperate parent (Jackman) would go to get a confession out of the suspect, Alex (Paul Dano).

In a weaker Oscar race year, I think that Jackman would have a chance for a nomination.   But, with many buzzed about performances coming up before Christmas, I’m thinking he’ll just have to relish his nomination last year for “Les Miserables”.

However, I think Melissa Leo could get nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category for her portrayal of Alex’s religious aunt.

GRADE:  A-

Don Jon

This directorial debut of actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who also wrote the screenplay, is a solid effort.  While porno movies and masturbation play an integral part in the comedy, it’s really a love story!

In no way am I a prude, however, the first part of movie made me think that I was watching some “adults only” site online and it started out as a strong “R-rated” movie that bordered on “NC-17”.

In the movie, Gordon-Levitt plays Jon Martello, a New Jersey bartender that loves God, his family, his apartment, his car, his boys, his girls. and his porn.  He’s totally satisfied with one-night stands and fulfilling his sex life “alone” until he meets the perfect woman, Barbara, played with perfection by Scarlett Johansson.

He loves his movies (porn) and she loves her movies (romantic comedies).  Once they start spending the night together, she discovers that he likes to, um, be alone in the other room after they have intimate time together.  She gives him an ultimatum — her or the porn.

Again, it sound very adult in nature and it is.  But, the bottom line, it’s a comedy that has heart and it’s a love story.

While entertaining, you could definitely wait and see it on DVD.

GRADE:  B

Loose_Cannons

“Loose Cannons” (Mine Vaganti ) is a critically acclaimed 2010 Italian comedy that is just now coming out on DVD in the United States.

It focuses on the Cantones, a pasta making family in conservative southern Italy.  At a family dinner one night, the youngest son, Tommaso, is going to “come out” to his family.  Before he does, his older brother, Antonio, who runs the factory announces to his family that he’s gay!

Their father has a heart attack at the table and he kicks Antonio out of the house and the business.

While there’s plenty of secrets and drama, this is a comedy.

It’s also an award-winning movie.  It was nominated for 13 David di Donatello Awards (the Italian equivalent to the American Oscar), including Best Film.   The film picked up two awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

GRADE:  A

PICK HIT OF THE WEEK

Okay, this week, today’s selection is more of a featured song than a pick hit.  It’s from the movie, “Loose Cannons”.

I fell in love with the song, “Una Notte a Napoli” by the Portland, Oregon, band, Pink Martini, featuring vocalist China Forbes, who is the cousin of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

The song was featured on their second album, “Hang On Little Tomato” from 2004, which is sung in seven different languages!

I’M FINALLY READING A BOOK!

For years, my magazines have been stacking up.

I finally organized all of the “Rolling Stone”, “Time”, “Men’s Health”, “Details”, and “Boston Magazine” issues and read the stories that appealed to me.  Since those subscriptions expired, I only get “Entertainment Weekly”, “The Advocate”, “Instinct”, and “Out”.  (I just ordered “Time” again!)

Since I’m totally caught up on magazines until the new “EW” arrives later today, I grabbed the book, “Golden Days:  Memories of a Golden Retriever” by Arthur Vanderbilt to read.

Golden Days

I bought the 1999 book shortly after its release when Miss ABBA, my late golden, was just a puppy.  I think it’s finally time to read it!

Since I haven’t read a book in five years, I don’t think the 143-page story of Amy, a New England golden retriever and the bonds she formed with her people, will overwhelm me!

Actress Betty White says of the book, “Once someone has had the good fortune to share a true love affair with a golden retriever, one’s life and one’s outlook are never quite the same again. A warm afterglow remains that lasts a lifetime. The author is fluent in that language.”

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

The Beatles’ John Lennon would have turned 73 next week on October 9th.

Outside of the Beatles, Lennon, as a solo artist, scored 13 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

John Lennon NYC

Of those hits, two reached the top of the charts:  1974’s “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night” and “(Just Like) Starting Over”, which was released in October 1980, but it reached #1 three weeks after Lennon was murdered outside his apartment in New York City on December 8, 1980, at the age of 40.

“Nobody Told Me” reached #5 on the Hot 100 in 1984 more than three years after he died, marking his last Top 40 chart appearance.

Happy Birthday, John!  Your wisdom and your humanity are greatly missed in today’s world.

“BATES MOTEL”

Have yourself a great weekend and make the most of it.  We’re spending it with Norman and Norma Bates.

Anthony