Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

Random Friday Thoughts — October 2, 2020

The holiday seasons are fast approaching with Halloween up next!

I’m sure you’ll agree that it’ll be nice to put 2020 behind us and hope for a better 2021!

Just a clarification before you read it. I’m calling someone “scum of the earth” and I’m following my own advice of being “diplomatic”. The words I’d like to use would show far less diplomacy! 🙂

But, first…

HELEN REDDY, YOU’RE ALREADY MISSED!

International superstar, Grammy Award winner, Golden Globe Award nominee, and feminist Helen Reddy passed away earlier this week at the age of 78!

A movie honoring Helen and her iconic song, “I Am Woman” is out now and will be released on DVD on November 3, 2020.

I submitted an entry this summer on what Helen’s music and that song meant to me for an advertising campaign promoting the movie. I was chosen! 🙂

Here’s my original and unedited 1 minute, 10 second submission!

Here’s a little bit about my favorite Helen Reddy song!

While the song was included on her 1971 album, she re-recorded it and it was shipped to radio in May 1972. 

It stalled out at #97 and dropped off the chart! Months later, it was released again.

This time, it took off and by the end of 1972, “I Am Woman” topped the chart becoming the first #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 from an Australian-born artist and the first song written by an Australian to win a Grammy Award!

Helen, thank you for the music and you’ll be missed even though you’ll be in our hearts and souls! ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

SCUM OF THE EARTH

Read this clearly: Most of us already know which candidate we’re going to vote for on November 3, 2020, so this isn’t about Joe Biden or Donald Trump!

But, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is scum of the earth!

In no time following the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, McConnell was on the fast track to have her replacement named and confirmed before the 2020 Election — just a little over a month away!

Again, I don’t care if you’re supporting Biden or Trump (well, I really do, but that’s not the point of this post!), it’s the principle.

SCALIA’S DEATH

Because it was a presidential election year, when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, McConnell was such an obstructionist!

He and the Republican-controlled Senate declined to take any action on President Barack Obama’s nomination, Merrick Garland, one month later.

That nomination expired with the end of the 114th Congress in January 2017 and #45’s nomination later that month was confirmed in the spring.

The bottom line is that “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”!

While a nominee has already been announced, we SHOULD WAIT for the outcome of the 2020 presidential election to move this process forward. The winner should be nominating the next Supreme Court justice!!!

THE “MILLENNIUM” SERIES

Although this Swedish crime series came out more than a decade ago, the three books have been sitting on my bookshelf.

I finally read the Stieg Larsson’s series — “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl Who Played with Fire”, and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest” — and loved them!

The first book was my favorite and I felt the quality dropped off a little with the next two books.

I also watched the first two Swedish movies based on the books and Noomi Rapace was amazing as Lisbeth Salander.

I remember seeing David Fincher 2011’s English version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and it not making an impression on me. I’ll have to watch it again now that I’ve read the books!

“BETWEEN SUMMER’S LONGING AND WINTER’S END”

Leif G.W. Persson’s 2002 book was translated to English in 2010.

On the back cover, here how it’s described: “acclaimed as one of the greatest Swedish crime novels of all time” .

Well, based on the four that I’ve read, after the three “Millennium” books, I disagree! Halfway through the 638 page book, I was ready to discard it!

So, skip it!

There are definitely better Scandinavian crime novels out, like Norwegian Jo Nesbo’s “The Snowman” (2007, translated to English in 2010)!

And, totally irrelevant, 60-year-old Nesbo is so hot! 🙂

That’s just a bonus! 🙂

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

I normally read autobiographies, biographies, and books on real events, so my familiarity with fiction isn’t that great.

However, in the four Scandinavian crime novels that I read this year from Stieg Larsson and Leif G.W. Persson, one thing I appallingly noticed was the degradation and the violence directed toward women.

But, just the description of women in these books was gross and unjust.

Is it a crime novel thing? Heaven forbid, I can’t imagine that Scandinavian women would put up with this from men! Now, granted, these four books were written before the “Me Too” movement.

However, earlier this year, this was addressed by Nesbo in an interview with “The Guardian”.

He says, “Violence against women is a problem in society – it is something we should talk about. I would be more worried if there was an absence of violence against women in fiction, because it’s a problem in real life. Of course, it’s a question of how you do it, but in general I would be more worried if fiction pretended it wasn’t a problem.”

“MAGIC”

On a lighter note and one that excites me so much, Kylie Minogue treated us fans to the second single from her upcoming “Disco” album coming out November 6th!

“Magic” is the new single!

“MAGIC” BONUS TRACK!

I hope you took a few minutes and watched the amazing Kylie video.

So, now you know it’s not a remake of Olivia Newton-John’s four-week #1 smash from the “Xanadu” soundtrack from 1980!

MEGYN KELLY “SETTLE FOR MORE”

I enjoyed reading Megyn Kelly’s 2016 autobiography.

Along with stories about her childhood, her career as a successful lawyer, and how she gave it up to become a television reporter and anchor with no experience (really, I mean no real experience!), she spent a lot of time talking about her abuse from Donald Trump and his supporters in the 2016 presidential election!

She also talked about how great of a guy that toxic, creepy, nasty, dead pervert Roger Ailes was! He’s the one that sadly brought Fox News and Donald Trump into our lives!!!

By the way, “toxic, creepy, nasty, dead pervert” are my words, not Kelly’s!

It wasn’t until the end of the book that she addressed the sexual allegations that brought Ailes down. It felt more like, “Oh, I should mention that!”.

In fairness, Kelly shared a 2006 meeting with Ailes in his office when he once again came on to her. She said he tried “to grab me repeatedly and kiss me on the lips”.

Kelly got away from him and as she moved toward the door, Ailes allegedly (I’ll say that word for legalities even though the scumbag likely said it with venom) said, “When in your contract up?”

She also states that Ailes earlier said, “I don’t like to fight, but when I do, I fight to kill.”

MORE THINGS SHE SHARED IN “SETTLE FOR MORE”

When she moved to Chicago in 1995 to take a law firm job, she looked out her Navy Pier apartment window drinking white Franzia boxed wine and listened to Tina Turner’s “I Don’t Wanna Fight” CD. She said that her “real life” was starting! (I only shared this one because I loved Franzia boxed wine!)

She told Roger Ailes that while she was raised in a Democratic household, she was “apolitical”. She went on to share a passage from her 1988 journal, “Am I a Republican or a Democrat? I seriously don’t know.”

There were rumor of her having an affair with married Fox News anchor Brit Hume. He thought it was funny and said people wouldn’t believe it. She disagreed by saying, “people love to dismiss potentially threatening women as ‘nuts or sluts’. Evidently, I didn’t pass as a nut, so I was to branded a slut…”

“BOMBSHELL”

If you haven’t seen the 2019 movie, “Bombshell”, check it out.

Here’s what I said about it in January.

“Even after seeing ‘The Loudest Voice’ on Showtime last year, watching ‘Bombshell’ was a different viewing experience about the toxic environment at Fox News.  (Oh, and about the toxic, creepy, nasty Roger Ailes!)

While John Lithgow was incredible as Ailes, it was definitely the women who made the movie — Charlize Theron (as Megyn Kelly), Nicole Kidman (as Gretchen Carlson), Margot Robbie (as a composite character created from many of the women that Ailes victimized), and Kate McKinnon (a co-worker, Jess Carr).

I expected Oscar nominations for Theron the Best Actress category and for Robbie in Best Supporting Actress category and they got them!”

GRADE:  B

“Bombshell” was my #13 movie of 2019!

“CHOW DOWN”

Although this parody of Wilson Phillips’ #1 1990 debut hit, “Hold On”, came out in 2012, I can’t watch it enough — even today! 🙂

The drag queen trio of Willam Belli, Detox, and Vicky Vox take on the anti-gay agenda of the Georgia chicken restaurant chain, Chick-fil-A.

Disclaimer: Yes, it’s hilariously funny and R-rated.

***It includes adult language and adult situations***!

The bottom line and I couldn’t have said it better myself:  “we just want a little meat without your Bible!”.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AGAIN!

While I wished my idol, President Jimmy Carter a Happy 96th Birthday last week, I’ll do it again since his birthday was October 1st!

In 2016, I left this message for the Carters when I visited the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

ABBA: The Iconic Band, The Dog, & The Six Degrees of Separation

ABBA — those four letters are iconic!

Yet, for me, they have an added, special meaning.

If you follow me on social media or if you’ve regularly read my blog over the years, “ABBA” instantly makes you think of my beautiful late golden retriever.

If you’re seeing this from anywhere else across the world, the four letters, “ABBA”, instantly identifies one of biggest and the best musical acts ever!

My love of Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Benny, and Bjorn inspired me to name my dog ABBA and it’s the inspiration for today’s blog — a love letter to the foursome and a big “Thank You For The Music” and for the memories!

As I get into the meat and potatoes of today’s blog, I’ll be sharing a few personal stories that connect me to ABBA — the super group and the dog!

This was my dinner in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2017, which is where Bjorn was born and a city that played a big part in ABBA’s musical history. (Okay, that’s a slight deviation there, but I said this was going to be personal!) 🙂

ALMOST 50 YEARS ALREADY!

We’re not quite there yet, but it’s mind-boggling to think that we’re approaching the 50th anniversary of ABBA’s world domination!

They scored their first Swedish hit, “People Need Love”, in the summer of 1972 as “Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid”, then recorded “Ring Ring” for the 1973 Eurovision Song Contest.

But, it was winning Eurovision the next year, in 1974, with “Waterloo” that propelled ABBA to international fame!

I still listen to ABBA’s music regularly and it brings me just as much joy today as it has over my lifetime!

However, I was inspired to share my stories and my love of Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny, and Frida (Anni-Frid) after reading Carl Magnus Palm’s 2001 biography called, “Bright Lights, Dark Shadows: The Real Story of ABBA”, which sat on my bookshelf for almost two decades!

Crazy, right?

What a great read! Check it out!

Growing up in the southern United States (Kentucky) in the early-1970s, I was country when country wasn’t cool!

I was still infatuated with Tanya Tucker, while my teenage cousins (our summer baby sitters) were dancing around to the Carpenters, Olivia Newton-John, and ABBA. But, I was slowly coming around to pop music!

Somehow I acquired the 45 rpm single “SOS” and I was hooked on ABBA!

It was just two years earlier that I bought my first pop single, “Delta Dawn” by Helen Reddy, at the age of eight!

And, just as I was getting on the ABBA bandwagon as a fan, the international super group was coming undone and were calling it quits.

In the summer of 1980, they released the single, “The Winner Takes It All”.

It was the lead single from the upcoming November album, “Super Trouper”, with Agnetha singing lead.

While Bjorn says the song is about divorce and it’s fiction, he and Agnetha divorced early that year.

Yet, that wasn’t the end. The group would release what would become their last studio album, “The Visitors”, in November 1981.

The lead single in America was “When All Is Said And Done” with Frida singing lead.

Like “The history book on the shelf/Is always repeating itself”, Frida and Benny ended their relationship and divorced earlier in the year!

With both couples in ABBA divorced, new relationships pursued, and outside musical ventures already underway, there was no reason for the band to make new music together.

1990s ABBA-RENAISSANCE

While they hadn’t charted on the American singles charts since early 1983, the world would experience an ABBA-renaissance a decade later!

It started in the summer of 1992, when my favorite English pop group of the 1980s, Erasure, released “Abba-esque”.

That four-song EP featured remakes of the ABBA hits, “Lay All Your Love on Me”, “SOS”, “Take a Chance on Me”, and “Voulez-Vous”.

The duo scored an American Top 10 Dance Club Songs hit with “Take a Chance on Me”.

An ABBA revival was just getting underway and was ready to sweep the world!

After eight studio albums and countless compilation and greatest hits albums in the 1970s and 1980s, the real ABBA was ready to claim their rightful place again in music history.

“ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits”, featuring 19 of the group’s biggest hits, was released in September 1992.

It has gone on to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide making it the best-selling ABBA album ever!

In the spring of 1994, I was getting ready to make the biggest (and best) decision of my life.

I was moving from my small hometown of Mayfield, Kentucky (population around 10,000) to Chicago, the third largest city in the U.S. This move would lead to my career as a television meteorologist and it opened the world of international travel to me.

That spring, while packing to move, “ABBA Gold” was on repeat and the song I remember most vividly was “Knowing Me, Knowing You”.

THE BIG SCREEN LOVE AFFAIR WITH ABBA

After the international success of the Erasure album and “ABBA Gold”, the band’s profile would be raised even more in 1994 and 1995 with the release of two Australian dramedies — “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and “Muriel’s Wedding”.

In “Priscilla”, the movie centers around three drag queens on a cross country trip across the Australian Outback. One of the queens is obsessed with ABBA and two of them perform “Mamma Mia”.

In “Muriel’s Wedding”, socially awkward Muriel spends much of her time fantasizing about a glamorous wedding to get out of Porpoise Spit, Australia, by listening to ABBA (and 1970s music)!

Like in “Priscilla”, Muriel and her friend, Rhonda, perform an ABBA number. They choose “Waterloo”!

After seeing “Muriel’s Wedding” in 1995, I decided that my next dog would be named “ABBA”.

That became a reality in the summer of 2000, when I got my golden retriever. And, yes she was named ABBA!

October 2011

With their chart domination and stardom in the 1970s and with “ABBA Gold” and those two Australian movies in the 1990s, the world already had two chances to fall in love with iconic group.

However, the music of ABBA was getting ready to conquer another entertainment staple and a whole new audience!

ABBA 2.0 — “MAMMA MIA!”

The musical “MAMMA MIA!”, featuring a story line based around the music of ABBA, opened in London in April 1999. Almost a year later, it made its North American debut in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

My personal connection with the musical: Before it opened on Broadway in the fall of 2001, it played at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago that summer, where I first saw it.

Since we got to the venue early, we stopped in at Dunkin’ Donuts, right around the corner. And, you’ll never guess who was standing right in front of me?

It was Louise Pitre, who was playing Donna in Chicago and would originate the role on Broadway! I so wish I had said “hello”, but I let her be!

Pitre earned a Tony nomination in 2002 in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role category!

Worldwide, since 1999, based on limited available data, ‘MAMMA MIA!”, the musical, has grossed almost $2.1 billion (yes, that’s BILLIONS)!!!

BUT, WAIT!!!!

In the summer of 2008, the movie version of “Mamma Mia!” with Meryl Streep in the lead role became an international blockbuster bringing in $615.7 million at the box office.

It spawned a successful sequel in 2018, “Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again” ($395 million).

There’s even talk of a third movie that may feature new ABBA music!

And, before I share my ten favorite ABBA songs, I have the ultimate connection to the group as if naming your dog after them, isn’t enough. 🙂

It’s like “life imitates art” or “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”!

In late 2016, being the planner that I am, a trip to Scandinavia was booked for August 2017 to see much of Norway, some of Sweden, and Copenhagen, Denmark (loved it)!

However, in early 2017, my ex and I decided to end our eight-year relationship, but the big down payment on the Scandinavian trip was already paid!

So, in true ABBA fashion — the band with their last two albums and us with our trip — we honored our commitment to travel together even as divorced or separated couples!

That was us in Gothenburg, Sweden.

We parted amicably with fond and beautiful memories of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark!

A LITTLE CHART HISTORY FIRST

Okay, let’s kick off the countdown with a little ABBA chart trivia.

Ironically, Australia was one of the ABBA’s biggest success stories, while the U.S. was one of their biggest disappointments! It’s no secret that the band didn’t enjoy touring and that’s vital to success in America!

On the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States, ABBA scored 14 Top 40 hits.

Of those, four reached the Top Ten (“Waterloo” #6, 1974; “Dancing Queen” #1, 1977; “Take a Chance on Me” #3, 1978; and “The Winner Takes It All” #8, 1980).

Shockingly, in the U.S., “Dancing Queen” was the band’s only #1 song on the Hot 100. Yet, when you add in sales and other variables, “Take a Chance on Me” was their biggest hit in America!

MY TEN FAVORITE ABBA SONGS

I narrowed this list down to 23 songs and it was so hard cutting it down to just my ten favorites!

“DANCING QUEEN”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Original working title was “Boogaloo”!

“GIMME! GIMME! GIMME! (A MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT)”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: ABBA rarely allows artists to sample their music, but Madonna was permitted to use the instrumental introduction of this ABBA hit in her #1 2005 smash “Hung Up”!

“SUPER TROUPER”

“TAKE A CHANCE ON ME”

“WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE”

“FERNANDO”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Originally recorded for a Frida solo album!

INTERESTING TIDBIT #2: Spent a record setting 14 weeks at #1 in Australia!

“KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU”

“WATERLOO”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Original working title was “Tango”!

FROM “MURIEL’S WEDDING”

“MAMMA MIA”

FROM “THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT”

“SOS”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Considered as Agnetha’s first “heartbreak classic”!

INTERESTING TIDBIT #2: I still think Pierce Bronson should be sued for slaughtering (not slaying) the song in the “Mamma Mia!” movie! 😦 🙂

Now that you know my favorite ABBA songs and my history with the band, I have one more confession to make… as a teenager, I had the biggest crush on Benny!

Thank you for taking the time to ready my love letter to ABBA. What are you favorite ABBA songs or memories?

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — August 3, 2018

Welcome to the first weekend of August.  Summer is chugging right along and before you know it, fall will be here.

Thank you for taking the time to check out my thoughts!

THANK GOD FOR RBG!

Fantastic news this week from 85-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

My senior colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, he stepped down when he was 90, so think I have about at least five more years.”

This is a major sigh of relief after the sad news earlier this summer that Anthony Kennedy is stepping down, which might allow 45 to make the court more conservative!

Come on Democrats, give the Republicans a dose of their own medicine like in 2016 when President Obama’s SCOTUS nominee Merrick Garland didn’t get confirmed.

Back to Ginsburg — she was appointed by President Bill Clinton and was confirmed by a 96 to 3 vote in August 1993.

“RBG”, a documentary about Justice Ginsburg this year has already grossed $13.1 million and will be released to DVD on August 28, 2018.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Liberals.JPG

MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT FROM MY IDOL

President Jimmy Carter recently spoke at the Carter Center and he stated that the U.S. has lost its long-term commitment to human rights.

He says, “We should be the champion of human rights. We’re a superpower, not based solely on military power; part of that definition should be a commitment to human rights.”

And, this is from earlier this year!

jc peace.JPG

NATIONAL CHEESECAKE DAY

Earlier this week, it was “National Cheesecake Day”.  Here are four of my favorites that I’ve made over the years.

Anthony's Cheesecakes.JPG

SHADE (AND I LOVE IT)

You already know that while I love their food, I won’t pay to eat at Chick-fil-A because of its well known history of being anti-LGBTQ.

A new store is opening soon in Glastonbury, Connecticut, and their next door neighbor, McDonalds, wants people to know that, at the golden arches, “WE WELCOME EVERYONE”.

Capture.JPG

While the other side of the sign advertises Quarter Pounders, the message is clear with Chick-fil-A in the background!

McDonald’s manager says with a smile that it didn’t mean anything to the anti-gay chain restaurant,  “It just means that everyone is welcome, young old, everyone.”

“A SHADE SHADY (NOW PRANCE)”

Perfect time for RuPaul’s 1993 #1 Billboard Dance Club Songs hit, “A Shady Shade (Now Prance)”.

This was the follow-up to the international hit, “Supermodel (You Better Work)” (1992, #2 Billboard Dance Club Songs) and “Back To My Roots” (1993, #1 Billboard Dance Club Songs).

“SHARP OBJECTS”

Amy Adams comes to television in a big way on HBO’s “Sharp Objects”, based on Gillian Flynn’s first novel.

Many of you know the former “Entertainment Weekly” writer from her blockbuster novel and movie, “Gone Girl”.

In “Sharp Objects”, there are more gone girls, but these young girls turn up dead!

Adams plays Camille Preaker, a St. Louis newspaper reporter and alcoholic, sent back to her small hometown in the southeast Missouri Boothill to cover the tragedy unfolding in Wind Gap.

Also, Camille was recently discharged from a psychiatric hospital and is a “cutter”.  It’s especially painful to watch when she’s carving into her own body!

On a happier note, it’s great seeing Adams and the stunning and sexy Chris Messina together again.

They played a married couple in 2009’s “Julie and Julia”, about chef Julia Child.

Adams Messina.jpg

DEMI LOVATO

Since Amy Adams’ character is into “cutting” and in light of singer Demi Lovato’s recent drug overdose, I want to share this information. (Lovato is an admitted “cutter”.)

demi-lovato.jpg

There’s a nationally-recognized self-harm help program called S.A.F.E. (Self-Abuse Finally Ends) Alternatives.

The toll-free information hotline number is 1-800-DON’T-CUT (366-8288).

“OZARK”

Season 2 of the amazing Netflix series “Ozark” starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney, one of my all-time favorites, is less than a month away.

The killer new season premieres August 31st.

The show picked up four Emmy nominations including one for Bateman for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.  Both Bateman and Linney are nominated for Screen Actors Guild Awards!

In the new trailer, it’s chilling when Wendy says, “We do not kill people.”

FUN LIQUOR BOTTLES 

3 Bottles.JPG

AND, I DEFINITELY WANT TO TRY….

these Ketel One flavors:  Peach & Orange Blossom, Grapefruit & Rose, and Cucumber & Mint.

I just have to catch them on sale!

Ketel One.jpg

“GOD’S OWN COUNTRY”

You can watch this stunning English drama on Netflix starring Englishman Josh O’Connor and Romanian Alec Secareanu.

O’Connor plays Johnny, a young man living with his father and grandmother on the family farm in northern England.  Johnny now has more responsibility after his father’s stroke.

He leads a lonely existence and drowns his sorrows in alcohol and cheap, meaningless sex.

The family hires Gheorghe, a Romanian migrant worker, for the upcoming lambing season and sparks begin to fly between the two young men.

But, can Johnny admit his feelings for Gheorghe and come out to his family that may or may not be accepting?

O’Connor won the British Independent Film Award for Best Actor beating out his co-star for the honor.

GRADE: B+

“THE CROWN”

By the way, O’Connor was just cast to play Prince Charles in seasons 3 and 4 of the incredible Netflix series, “The Crown”, which returns in 2019.

“BORG VS. McENROE”

As a teenager, I played tennis by returning volleys against my grandparent’s garage.  Bjorn Borg did the same thing in Sweden.  Guess which one became one of the greatest tennis players of all time? 🙂

I remembered being glued to the television for the 1980 Wimbledon final between Borg and John McEnroe.

Borg was going for his fifth consecutive Wimbledon final.  Believe it or not, at the time, I had pride in my country and was rooting for McEnroe.

But, after seeing the incredible and nail-biting “Borg vs. McEnroe”, in retrospective, I would have rooted for Borg all the way!

Sverrir Gudnason plays Borg and Shia LaBeouf plays McEnroe.

GRADE:  A

WHAT?  NEVER PLAYED TENNIS???

Swedish actor (of Icelandic origin) Sverrir Gudnason plays Borg in “Borg vs. McEnroe” and he’s absolutely gorgeous and captivating!

Sverrir 2.JPG

When the soon-to-be 40-year-old landed the role, here’s what he had to say, “I had never even been on a tennis court in my life and I didn’t just learn to play tennis, I learned to play tennis like Bjorn Borg.”  (By the way, he plays Borg at 26-years-old!)

Gudnason’s next big role comes this November as Mikael Blomkvist in “The Girl in the Spider’s Web”, the second movie in the Millennium series following “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2009/2011).

FORMER “REBA” STAR GOES TO BAT FOR OUR TEAM!

Some of you may know Steve Howey from “Shameless”.  I know him from playing Van Montgomery, Reba’s son-in-law on the WB/CW comedy, “Reba”, from 2001-2006.

Steve Howey.jpg

The straight, married father of twins shocked some and confused many when he tweeted four words, “I’m gay and proud”.

Howey.JPG

Howey, who isn’t gay, says “My whole point was to be a champion, a supporter, of the movement.  I can say it and have no problem with it.  If you are, be proud and say it.  I’m just here to hold the flag up and say I’m in support.  If that helps you come out or say it with pride, that’s all my intention was.”

Howey goes on to tell “The Advocate” (June/July 2018), “If it’s difficult to come out of the closet in Los Angeles, it’s got to be f*cking terrifying in Des Moines, Iowa; or Boulder, Colorado.”

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

‘Tis the Season, My Friends!

Christmas is my favorite time of the year.  This year, I put my tree and decorations up earlier than usual.  I really needed the beauty of the sparkling lights and the sounds of Christmas music to get me through my toughest year since my mother died 27 years ago!

Ap tree

After eight years together, Ray and I decided to go our separate ways earlier in the year.

It wasn’t just one thing that brought us to this conclusion.  The outcome of the 2016 election was very difficult for me and it took its toll on us. (I’m still not at peace with it!)  Also, it turns out I was a better dad to a golden retriever than his teenage daughter.  And, Ray realized he wasn’t happy some time ago, but he didn’t address it.

So, I took a morning meteorologist position in Panama City, Florida.  I still love what I do, but with the changes in my personal life and the move, it hasn’t been easy.  I’m miserable and it’s not just because of the split. I miss my sister, my friends, my koi/fish pond, and the snow in the Midwest!

With that being said, life is too short to feel this way and if things don’t change soon, I’ll make a change for myself and not just accept a “Band-Aid” to cover something that needs more attention – my happiness.

Enough with the “Hard Candy Christmas”, let’s make it a “Holly Jolly Christmas”!  There were fun things in 2017!

CC

Meeting my childhood idol was the highlight of my move.

In July, I drove hours through the Southern “backwoods” to Plains, Georgia, and enjoyed a church sermon from President Jimmy Carter.

Not only did I get my picture taken with him and his wonderful wife, Rosalynn, but they sent me an autographed picture of us!

Autograph Carters

Since paying bills isn’t the only reason I work, I traveled, too!

You know how much I love Las Vegas.  In March, I saw Britney Spears for the second time.

Brit

And, I caught the Australian Bee Gees, a cover band.

Of course, splurging on buffets is a huge draw for me. I’ve now made the scrumptious Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan and the incredibly delicious Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood part of my Vegas tradition!

In August, Ray and I traveled to Scandinavia together since we had already booked and paid for the trip.  Copenhagen, Denmark was gorgeous and Norway was beautiful, too (I loved Bergen and Oslo and seeing snow on Sognefjord (“King of the Fjords”).  We also spent one night in Gothenburg, Sweden.

AP Scand

My sister, Tammy, is still in the Quad Cities. She and her boyfriend, Gerald, came down for a week to visit in October.

ATG

Just after she got home, her family expanded in October with the birth of twin grandsons.  Now, her two granddaughters are big sisters.

I hope life is treating you well and that you have so much to be thankful for — not just at the holidays, but every day.  With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!  Here’s wishing us great health and happiness in 2018 as we travel down this road of life!

“May hope and faith conquer fear and hate this Christmas!”

Love, Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — September 29, 2017

After a month long absence, I decided to share a few random thoughts.  I hope you enjoy them and this last weekend of September.

Random Thoughts

“LESBIANS, WE’RE UNDER ATTACK”

That was the funniest line I heard on television since my last “Random Friday Thoughts”.  With out Googling it, do you know what it’s from?

In the episode, a blackout hits a neighborhood and a frantic gay man runs next door to and shouts this to his lesbians neighbors.  Of course, the immediate blame goes to Russia or Isis!

The answer is at the bottom of the blog. 🙂

STAND, KNEEL, OR SIT

A huge national debate is underway about something that’s been going on for more than a year now.

Are NFL players or professional athletes being disrespectful to the American flag and veterans for not standing and saluting the flag during the National Anthem?

You have your opinion and I have mine, but this is not what I’m talking about today.

#45 tweeted that the NFL should fire players for disrespecting the flag.

Let me just say that we live in a country where you should NOT be fired because a PRESIDENT disagrees with you or you disagree with him or her.  That’s ANY president!

However, we do live in a country where you can be fired in 28 states just because you’re LGBT!

Now, there’s some food for thought!

OH, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY! 🙂

OLD MEMORIES, NEW BEGINNINGS

Now that the dust is settling after the blog I shared with you last week about our break up and pending divorce, it’s time to move on.

But, it just so happens that the return of “Random Friday Thoughts” also coincides with our six year wedding anniversary.

Since it’ll officially be history next year at this time, I’m going to share this video of our reception party one more time because it was one of the most exciting times in my life.

We organized it all — from beginning to end — and it was a “magical” evening not just for us, but for our friends.

Remembering the past and looking to the future — for us and for everyone!

Ironically, after five years, I see that the “s” was left out in the “Anniversary” title on the video, but spelled correctly under the video.  Oops!

NORWAY

Oslo was a beautiful city and I loved the scenic bus ride to the snow-covered mountains. Bergen was also an amazing city.

It was fun to climb all the way to the top of Floyen, a mountain inside the city of Bergen.

Floyen

We also sampled fresh Norwegian fish and chips.

We were told that Norway is one of the most expensive cities in the world.  We found that out when we bought two 3-liter boxes of wine (one red and one white).

In the U.S., those two boxes might have cost $36.  There it was about 775 Norwegian Kroners  (98 U.S. dollars)!!!

Our next box in Sweden cost only about 20 U.S. dollars!

SWEDEN

While on one of our restroom stops in Sweden, Ray and I took advantage to get steps in.  We saw a nursery across the street and went in.

What was strange is that we entered through the side with the outdoor plants.  We looked at them and then walked through the store.  As we approached the front of the store, Ray mentioned that we hadn’t seen one employee during the entire time.

I looked at the front door and it didn’t open until 10 a.m. and it was only 9:30 a.m.

We casually walked very fast to the back of the store and back out the way we came in!

Could you imagine getting arrested for being inside the store without our passports or identification on us since it was on the bus across the street?

Fun times. 🙂

DENMARK

Copenhagen was the most incredible city.

There was a farmer’s market that featured the most amazing produce, fresh seafood and meats, sandwiches, olives, and desserts.

The University of Copenhagen Botanical Gardens were beautiful.

The next day, we explored the city on our own and found the “Copenhagen Food Truck”, an indoor building featuring all kinds of cooked delicacies.

Also, there was the Yoko Ono exhibit called the “Wish Tree Garden”, where you could post a message on a piece of paper and tie it to the tree.

Tree

If you ever get a chance to visit Scandinavia, you’ll love it!

“THE BRAVE”

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.

Anne Heche also stars.

Sadly, only 6.2 million people checked it out.  It followed the lowest-rated season premiere of “The Voice” in that franchise’s 13-season history!

“ELLE”

Isabelle Huppert earned a Best Actress nomination at this year’s Oscars in this chilling movie about a woman being raped in her home.

Instead of reporting the crime to police (there’s a back story), she takes another route to ensure her safety.

While a great movie, Huppert’s performance definitely makes it stronger.

A well-deserved nomination.

GRADE:  B+

“IT COMES AT NIGHT”

This horror movie was a box office disappointment.

As the movie opens, we see a family attending to a dying elderly man, the wife’s father.  We know that he’s dying of a mystery virus.

With all the silly horror movies directed at teenagers that make so much money, I was bummed to see a movie of this caliber of story telling and acting fall by the way side.

Joel Edgerton (“Animal Kingdom”, “Zero Dark Thirty”, and “Loving”) and Christopher Abbott (“The Sinner” and “Girls”) star.

GRADE:  B

PICK HIT

I love this song from Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren and American singer Josh Cumbee.

It’s already reached the Top 5 in the Netherlands and the Top Ten in Belgium.

“LESBIANS, WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!”

It’s from “American Horror Story: Cult”.

lesbians-were-under-attack-billy-eichner-ahs-cul-scared

After three so-so seasons, “Freak Show”, “Hotel”, and “Roanoke”, “Cult” is one of my favorite seasons.

Sadly, it could be because of theme — the 2016 presidential election.

It also feels like salt in a wound!

If you haven’t started watching it, episode four is mind-blowing!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — January 31, 2014

Another weekend is here.  Do you have big plans?  I’m emceeing a fashion show tonight and tomorrow is my company’s Christmas party.  ‘Tis the season.

As always, on Friday, I share some of my random thoughts and I welcome your feedback.

SNOW AND MORE SNOW

This January, the Quad Cities is already the record book as one of the ten snowiest Januarys on record at #7.  So far, 17.7″ of snow has accumulated this month and more could be added before midnight.  However, the heavier snow will come late Friday night and Saturday.

A “Winter Weather Advisory” and a “Winter Storm Warning” covers the area and goes into effect Friday evening into Saturday evening.

Warnings Advisories

(Editor’s note:  Only the “Advisories” map was updated.  The snow projections are still looking good.)

Here is how much snow I’m forecasting today, tonight, and Saturday.

Snow Today & Tomorrow

KEEP UP ON THE LATEST FORECAST BECAUSE THIS COULD CHANGE!

The bottom line is that I don’t mind the snow.  I just wish we could keep the bitter cold away!

GRAMMY LOVE & HATE

This is not about Taylor Swift going home empty-handed after she thought she won “Album of the Year”.

Taylor Didn't Win

At the 56th annual Grammy Awards last Sunday night, the big winners were the French electronic duo Daft Punk taking home five trophies and Paul McCartney and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis each winning four awards.

Grammy’s Best New Artist, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis performed their same-sex marriage anthem “Same Love” with Mary Lambert and Madonna.   Toward the end of the song, rapper and talk show host, Queen Latifah married 33 straight and gay couples.  Latifah was sworn in as a commissioner by the state of California to perform the ceremony and her powers ended that night at midnight.

Macklemore, Mary Lambert, Madonna, Ryan Lewis, Queen Latifah

It was a happy time for those on stage and for many celebrities.

Happy about Same Love

Meanwhile, others were not happy and definitely didn’t share any love on Twitter.

Anti Same Love 1 Anti Same Love 2

What do you think?

GRIMM NEEDS TO RESIGN!

New York Republican Rep. Michael Grimm, who’s been under a two-year investigation about his 2010 campaign fundraising, needs to resign after threatening  a reporter Tuesday night.

Grimm

After the interview that Grimm walked away on, Capitol Hill reporter Michael Scotto closed by saying, “Congressman Michael Grimm does not want to talk about some of the allegations concerning his campaign finances … but as you saw he refused to talk about that”.  At that point, Grimm comes back and allegedly tells the reporter, “Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this f—–g balcony.”

Grimm issued this statement after the altercation, “I doubt that I am the first member of Congress to tell off a reporter, and I am sure I won’t be the last.”

I’m sorry Congressman Grimm, but telling a reporter off and threatening to break him in half and throwing him off a balcony is not just telling someone off!

As a reporter that was thrown against a car in Lubbock, Texas, by someone who didn’t want a story done about them, I find your comments belligerent and unprofessional.  Go away!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Spring Already

Snowman HostageHuman Interaction

SOCHI IS A HARD SALE

One week from today, the 2014 Winter Olympics kick off in Sochi, Russia.

Whether it’s the economy, the terrorist threats, or the fact that the games are being held in Russia, which has displayed so much encompassing love to all people in the past year (sarcasm), tickets are not selling like in past games.

SOC_Olympic logoRGB

Around the middle of January, Sochi organizers say that 70% of tickets have been sold for the games.  These tickets went on sale in February 2013 and ranged in price from 500 rubles ($15) to 40,000 rubles ($1,200).

Four years ago, 97% of the 1.54 million tickets available for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada were sold.  And, 97% of the 8.5 million tickets for the 2012 Summer Games in London were snatched up.

SOCHI HAS NONE OF THEM!

Anatoly Pakhomov, the mayor of Sochi, Russia, is certain that his city has no gay people!  He told the BBC, “We do not have them in our city.”

Anatoly Pakhomov

When the journalist told him that he was in the city’s gay bar the night before, the mayor added, “I am not sure, but I don’t bloody know them.”

So, if you’re keeping count, there are no gays in Sochi or Iran!

AND, RUSSIA IS CONCERNED WITH GAYS?

In the February/March 2014 issue of “The Advocate”, it’s reported that the HIV infection rate in Russia is twice as high as the United States.  In the numbers that were released last month, 58% of cases result from intravenous drug use, 40% from heterosexual sex, and 2% from “other”, which includes gay sex.

HIV AIDS

Russia should not be focused on gay people as the root of all evil.  If the HIV/AIDS rates were not bad enough, the country has the world’s highest abortion rate.  One reason, the magazine reports, is there is such a stigma when it comes to buying condoms that abortion is most prevalent form of contraception.  Insane!

I really do feel for the people of Russia, even though as I blogged last fall, a Pew Research Center survey shows that 74% of Russians think that gay people should not be accepted by society!

Anti-Gay Russia

ON A LIGHTER NOTE…

“I’ve got chills and they’re multiplying” and it has nothing to do with a young John Travolta or Olivia Newton-John.

If you love “Grease”, check out these Swedish Marines in Afghanistan and their rendition of “Greased Lightning.”

UNDERSTANDING SHAKESPEARE

Does William Shakespeare’s style of writing confuse you when you read it?

If you’re never read Shakespeare or it’s been a long time, have no fear.  I have a short “Hamlet” monologue by Tom Sandoval from the Bravo show, “Vanderpump Rules” for you to enjoy.

Don’t worry because there won’t be a quiz afterwards.  You’ll likely be distracted and not comprehend a thing!

“BLUE JASMINE”

The latest Woody Allen movie, “Blue Jasmine” is up for two Oscar acting awards:  Cate Blanchett for Best Actress and Sally Hawkins for Best Supporting Actress.

blue_jasmine

Blanchett is Jasmine, a New York City socialite who loses everything because of her husband’s shady business dealing.  Broke, she heads to San Fransisco to live with her sister, Ginger, and her two children in a poorer part of town in a small, confining apartment.

This is Blanchett’s sixth Oscar nomination.  She won for Best Supporting Actress in 2004 for “The Aviator”.  In “Blue Jasmine”, she’s incredible as the pill-popping and boozing woman who has to start over and even learn how to hold down a job.

It’s heartbreaking when you learn that pills, alcohol, and having no money may not be the worst of Jasmine’s problems.

It’s going to be a close Oscar race between Blanchett and Meryl Streep in “August: Osage County”.

GRADE:  B+

PICK HIT

International superstar and one of my favorite entertainers, Kylie Minogue is back with a new song, “Into The Blue”, the first single from her latest album, “Kiss Me Once” that comes out March 18, 2014.

Kiss Me Once

Kylie has sold about 70 million records worldwide.  In the U.S., she’s had 5 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with two reaching the Top Ten.  However, in the U.K, Kylie has scored 49 Top 40 hits with 35 of them reaching the Top Ten, and 8 topped the charts!

I really hope that she tours in 2014 and that I get to see her!

“MORE TALES OF THE CITY”

I’m on a roll with my reading.  It really helps that I’ve been spending a lot of time on the treadmill.  Since January 2nd, I’ve lost 6.6 pounds.  I’ve hit brick wall now and the weight loss from here on out is going to more difficult and slower.

I just finished my fourth book this year, which matches what I read in all of last year!

More Tales of The City

“More Tales of the City” is the 1980 follow-up to Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City”.  “More Tales” is the second in the nine-book series.  I reviewed the first book last week and talked about it and the PBS television miniseries based on it that debuted in the U.S. twenty years ago this month.

In this book, we still follow all of the comings and goings of Anna Madrigal and her “children” at 28 Barbary Lane on Russian Hill in San Francisco.  It’s still the 1970s.

Mary Ann and Michael go on a cruise and both meet the men of their dreams, but Mary Ann’s is a man of mystery.  He just can’t remember it.  Mona escapes to a Nevada brothel (even though the book uses the w-house word) and learns a big secret.  Also, a major character dies, one has a health issue, and another is almost attacked!

After reading the first book, I started watching the first miniseries again.  Now that I’m two books in, I’ll continue on to the second installment miniseries that aired on Showtime in 1998.  Here’s that trailer and it does contain adult language and images.  (The first miniseries’ trailer is in last week’s random blog.)

Now, it’s on to book three in the series.

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

Missouri-born country singer Sara Evans will release her seventh studio album, “Slow Me Down” in March.  The title track is her new single and it became her 19th Top 40 hit on the Billboard Country chart.

Sara Evans

Her first four singles generated buzz for Sara, but they failed to reach the Top 40.  The second single from her second album was the one to do it.  “No Place That Far” not only became her first Top 40 hit, it was also her first #1 song in 1999.

Of her 19 Top 40 country hits, nine have hit the Top Ten, and five, including, “No Place That Far” have topped the chart:  “Born To Fly” (2001), “Suds In The Bucket” (2004), “A Real Fine Place To Start” (2005), and “A Little Bit Stronger” (2011).

I saw Sara in concert in August 2001 in Buffalo, New York, as part of Reba McEntire’s “Girls Night Out” tour that also featured Martina McBride, Jamie O’Neal, and Carolyn Dawn Johnson.

THAT’S IT FOR NOW

Be safe out there and enjoy your weekend.  I know some of you read my random thoughts each Friday and some may have seen them for the first time today because of the snow forecast included in today’s blog.  I appreciate it.  Feel free to check back and see what I have to say.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — July 12

How’s your week going?  This week, I’ve been nursing a sunburn to just my face and stomach from spending too many hours in the pool last Sunday with Ray.  It’s been several years since I had a sunburn and that was from a tanning bed!

Otherwise, the John Deere Classic is going on the Quad Cities.  While I’m not a golf fan, it was nice getting four invitations to parties (three at the Classic) focusing around the tournament.  It’s fun to eat and drink and socialize even if you’re not watching the play!  I hope you have a great weekend and thank you for checking out my random thoughts today.

BREAKING NEWS

“Rah rah ah ah ah”.  While I had already planned a controversial Lady Gaga mention in today’s blog (you’ll see it below), Mother Monster made a very big (HUGE!) announcement in the very early hours Friday morning while you were sleeping!

ARTPOP

“ARTPOP”, her third full length studio album and the follow-up to the multi-platinum, “Born This Way” disc, will be released on November 11, 2013, and the new Lady Gaga single comes out August 19th.  I’m so excited.  I now return you to my regularly scheduled “Random Friday Thoughts”.

I’D LIKE TO VOMIT, TOO, BUT I’M ON THE WAGON!

As I’ve blogged and shared before, I’m a recovering food addict.  I was bulimic from 1986-1995 and I’ve been on the wagon ever since.  Yes, I think of how much easier it would be if I was still a practicing bulimic rather than having to eat healthy and exercise, but that would be very unhealthy!  But, this blog has nothing to do with that.  It’s just a metaphor.

However, Pat Robertson, the religious zealot and host of “The 700 Club” basically says that I make him want to vomit and I guess in all fairness, that’s okay because he makes me want to vomit, too!

Pat, here’s something for you.

Vomit

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Profile PicLoved and lost

IS THAT WHY I LOVE DOUGHNUTS?

In the past I’ve talked about how much I love doughnuts and donut-flavored vodka.  (I’ll spell it both ways to cover all bases).  Now, I find that there might be a reason! 🙂

Donuts

Years ago, I subscribed to the website realage.com to do some survey on life expectancy.  Occasionally, the site will send me an email for new quizzes.  Interestingly enough, a couple of weeks ago, I got an email with the subject line, “Tasty tips for your love life”.  Of course, it got my attention and I clicked on it instead of just deleting it.

And, this is what I found:  “Aphrodisiac Foods  — We’ve got a food list that’ll spice up your sex life. These natural aphrodisiacs will get both of you in the mood for love.”  So, I kept reading and if it’s true, a trip to grocery store might be all you need, my friends!

The article claims, “Men, a sniff of lemons, doughnuts, or licorice can increase blood flow to your genitals. For women, licorice and cucumbers often do it.”  WTH???

twizzlers

Now that I have your curiosity aroused, forget the B-52s and the “Love Shack”, here are the “love snacks” that Real Age recommends!

Love Snacks

Bon appetit, you sexy devil!

COUNTRY WITH A HINT OF PINK

Quickly, name an African-American pop star.  Of course you’re thinking Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Prince, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, and the list goes on and on.

Now, name a black country music star.  If you’re on top of your game, Darius Rucker and Charley Pride come to mind.  After those two, you’d have to think very hard and you’d likely come up empty-handed.  Big & Rich fans might say Cowboy Troy. While he hit #2 on the country album chart in 2005, he never scored a Top 40 country solo hit.  I also remember Rissi Palmer and while she released three singles in 2007-2008, none of them cracked the Top 40 at country radio either.

Let’s try another.  Name a gay pop singer.  This is another easy one:  Elton John, George Michael, Tegan & Sara, Ricky Martin, Boy George, Melissa Etheridge, and many more.

Now, name an out country music singer.  You might say k.d. lang.  She did have two hit country albums that reached #9 and #12 on the chart in the late-1980s and two modest hit songs at country radio during the late-1980s, reaching #21 and #22.  However, that was before she came out as a lesbian in 1992.

There’s also Chely Wright.  She scored nine Top 40 country hits between 1997 and 2005.  One of them, “Single White Female” made it to the Top Ten peaking at #1 in 1999.

However, she didn’t come out as a lesbian until 2007.

Now, there’s a Chicago singer that’s gaining national attention. Could 22-year-old Steve Grand be the first openly gay country singer?  The video to “All-American Boy” has now been viewed more than  462-thousand times.

Steve-Grand-All-American-Boy

Earlier this month, Steve said, “I fought with who I was for most of my life. In every way a young person can fight with himself.  But starting today, I’m laying it out there. I’m done playing it safe.”  He added, “I feel like most music industry people wouldn’t like the idea of me “pigeonholing” myself by telling this story as I have. But I don’t believe the world sees change until it sees honesty.”

Steve, good luck!

SWEDISH FEAR OF WOLVES

I just read an article about the late author Stieg Larsson, who wrote the “Millennium” series (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl Who Played With Fire”, and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest”) and I found out something very interesting about Swedish culture.

When he grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, there was an old Swedish law, written about 100 years ago, that was still on the books that prohibited children from attending school until they were seven.

Swedish Wolves

It was to protect little kids from being devoured by wolves as they were coming and going to school when walking through the woods and forests.

GET WELL SOON, ELTON

Sir Elton John has been forced to “postpone all forthcoming shows from his current European tour.”

The 66-year-old rocket fell ill while on tour and his medical team ordered a number of exploratory scans and blood tests.  He was diagnosed with appendicitis and is currently taking intensive antibiotics to reduce toxins within the inflamed appendicitis site and he’ll undergo surgery in the next few weeks.

Summer tour dates in London, Italy, Germany, Russia, France, Spain, and Monaco were cancelled.  While Elton will not return to touring until he’s fully recovered, he hopes to play his September and October dates, which include 14 shows at The Colosseum At Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Elton LasVegas

We saw him there last October for my birthday weekend (Elton on Friday night and Madonna on Saturday night).  He was flawless and fantastic.  Elton, I wish you a speedy recovery.

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

For today’s ’80s flashback, who better to feature than Elton John.

From his first hit, “Your Song” (#8, 1970) to his last radio hit, “Written In the Stars” (#29, 1999) with LeAnn Rimes, Elton made 60 Top 40 appearances on the Billboard Hot 100.  Of those 60 songs, 29 reached the Top Ten, 20 of them climbed into the Top 5, and nine made it all the way to number one!

There are so many of his hits that I absolutely love, but today I’ll share a song that only reached #13 in 1989, but with his upcoming surgery, you couldn’t find a more convenient hit song than “Healing Hands”.

FACEBOOK FLASHBACK PICTURES

As you probably know, I love taking pictures and sharing them on Facebook.  However, unless I’m on vacation or on a getaway, I don’t take as many pictures now that Miss ABBA is in “puppy heaven”.  Looking back this week in 2010, we were at Ray’s parent’s old house on Spirit Lake, Iowa.  Yes, it was a challenge keeping both of our girls out of the water!

ABBA Fish 07172010  Gretel ABBA 07172010Anthony Ray 07182010

And, two years ago, as Gretel celebrated her birthday with a little cookout with cake and ice cream with her neighborhood friends, I drove to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to spend the evening with Britney.  Yes, Britney “It’s Britney, Bitch” Spears.

Anthony Britney 07092011 Britney 07092011

ANTICIPATION IS BUILDING AND I’M NOT ALONE!

billboard.com recently held its Mid-Year Music Awards and while I didn’t take part in the voting, I definitely agree with the top two choices of what online readers were excited about in the music industry this fall.

Most Anticipated Event of 2013’s Second Half: 


1. New Music From Britney Spears (23%)
2. New Music From Lady Gaga (19%)
3. Beyonce’s ‘Mrs. Carter’ Tour… And Album? (17%)

In all fairness, I’m curious to hear Beyonce’s new music and I’d definitely see her in concert.  But, my loyalty lies with Britney and Gaga.

While Britney is currently in the studio working with will.i.am on her eighth studio album due this fall, her new song, “Ooh La La”, from the soundtrack to this summer’s “The Smurfs 2” is currently at #23 on Mediabase’s radio airplay chart.

Britney claims that she “always loved the Smurfs as a kid and now my boys are the biggest Smurfs fans EVER. I wanted to surprise them with a song in the movie. I know they’ll think it’s Smurftastic!”.

The video to “Ooh La La” was just released yesterday and features not only Britney, but her sons, Sean Preston and Jayden James.

britney-spears-ooh-la-la-video-still

About the new album, expected this fall, Britney says, “I want to definitely take this album and have a new approach with it and make it a little different than anything I’ve ever done.  Will has a lot of really interesting different tracks that I’ve listened to that are really cool that I haven’t actually written on yet, but there’s a lot of guitar and I think people will be surprised with this album. It’s gong to be really different.”

Earlier this year, will.i.am & Britney scored a Top Five hit (and #1 on the Billboard Dance chart) with “Scream & Shout”.

Britney is also “really, really excited” to be working with William Orbit on the new album.  He’s co-produced Madonna’s Grammy-winning 1998 “Ray of Light” album.  Orbit is also excited about the venture.  He posted this on his Facebook page, “Going to cut vocals in LA with Britney in a few weeks.  We’ve songs to die for.”

PUT YOUR PAWS UP!

After being forced to cancel the rest of her highly successful and profitable, “Born This Wall Ball” Tour earlier this year because of a labral tear of the right hip that required surgery, Lady Gaga has been rather quiet.  She even shut down her Twitter account recently.  Obviously, it was for some big news (“ARTPOP” comes out in November and her new single arrives in August!)

Many were already speculating that there was going to be a big announcement since billboard.com posted this story recently, “On two recent Interscope Records industry email blasts (its “Top 40 Fact Sheet”), a simple closing line has shown at the end, after the label has filled in radio/records/trades on other current releases. Four words:  “COMING SOON: LADY GAGA!”

I’m so excited that we’re on “The Edge of Glory” to hear new music from Mother Monster!  Her last hit at Top 40 radio was “Marry The Night” and that was released in November 2011!

Gaga Las Vegas

I was so lucky to see Gaga in Las Vegas, Nevada, in late January, just nine shows before she had to cancel the rest of the tour!

A few weeks ago, Gaga came out for one of her first live performances since February, when she sang “The Star Spangled Banner” at New York City’s Gay Pride parade.

And, of course, that performance has become controversial because she changed the last line from “home of the brave” to “home for the gays”.

Allen West Tweet

Allen West - Lady Gaga

Former U.S. Congressman, Tea Party advocate, and current Fox News contributor (enough said, but I’ll carry on) Allen West posted this on his Facebook page, “I find Lady Gaga’s defiling of our National Anthem reprehensible… This young lady should be taken to Ft. McHenry and given a history lesson as to why Francis Scott Key wrote those words incredible words… She and all those who cheered her abomination should be ashamed and apologize to every serving and retired member of our Armed Services. But perhaps I ask too much…”

But, Gaga isn’t his only target lately.

More West RantsEven More West Rants

I’m glad we live in the land of the free where West has a right to say whatever he wants, even if I think he’s a blowhard.  Some may think the same of me!

And, one last Anthem comment, conservatives also criticized Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, and Steven Tyler for changing the words to the National Anthem.

So, what are your thoughts?  Was Gaga wrong to change the words to the National Anthem?

SEARING A THOUGHT INTO YOUR BRAIN

“Under the Dome”, the new hit CBS drama based on a Stephen King novel, is one my favorite shows on television. It’s debut episode was the highest drama summer premiere on any network since 1992 with 16.7 million viewers.

If you haven’t seen the three episodes that have aired, you have to catch up!  A mysterious dome appears over Chester’s Mill, Maine, cutting part of the town off from the world around it.  No one knows how or why it appeared or how to make it go away.  People have died and I’m sure more will before the 13-episode first season ends September 16, 2013.

I warned you earlier that you might want to skip this part, but the most incredible special effect in the premiere was when the dome came down on a cow pasture and one unfortunate bovine was cut in half.  This is the aftermath, but the effects were incredible watching it happen.  Way to go to the producers and CBS for being clever (and gross)!

COW UNDER THE DOME

Okay, I can’t leave you on that note.  My apologies.  “Under The Dome” is not all gore and sadness.

Under The Dome Shirtless

Peace!  Have a great weekend and thank you for checking out my random thoughts this week.

Anthony

You can watch all of the episode for free here:  http://www.cbs.com/shows/under-the-dome/