Posts Tagged ‘The Alienist’

Random Friday Thoughts — March 30, 2018

The first big holiday of spring is upon us.  I know it’ll be a busy one for many of you, so thank you for taking the time to check out my random thoughts.

HAPPY EASTER!

A flashback to Easter 2001 and Miss ABBA visiting the Easter Bunny!

ABBAEaster2001

KRISPY KREME CELEBRATES EASTER 

For just a limited time in the United States and Canada, Krispy Kreme is featuring a Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg donut.

The chocolate-iced, nut-covered sweet treat is filled with a Reese’s peanut butter version of Krispy Kreme’s signature Kreme filling.

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If that isn’t your thing, the company will start selling a Lemon Glaze Doughnut, which was voted on by fans, on April 23, 2018.

SIX MONTHS NOW

Six months ago this weekend, on October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a country music concert on the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada.

LV

Before killing himself, he gunned down 58 others and injured more than 700.

Country star Jason Aldean was on stage when the massacre occurred.  While he has commented on the rampage before, he’s ready to try to move on.

Aldean tells “Entertainment Weekly”, “I’m not a politician.  I’m not trying to push my own agenda.  If I say that I believe this, I’m gonna piss off half of the people, and if I say I believe that, I’m gonna piss off the other half.  I have my opinions, but what the hell do I know?  I think everybody needs to sit down, stop pushing their own agendas, and figure out what will make it safer.  When people can’t go to a damn movie or a concert and not worry about somebody shooting the place up, there’s a flaw in the system.”

Amen!

“AMARILLO SKY”

Aldean has scored 34 Billboard Country hits since his career kicked off in 2005.  Of those, 29 have hit the Top Ten.  Ten topped the chart.

“Amarillo Sky” (#4, 2006) is one of my favorites.

REMEMBRANCE GARDEN 

In December 2017, while in Las Vegas, I visited the memorial for the victims — the Remembrance Garden and Wall!

Remembrance Garden

HOMOPHOBIA — THEN AND NOW

In 1997, homophobia allowed spree killer Andrew Cunanan to murder four people before he gunned down fashion icon Gianni Versace outside his Miami Beach mansion.

In Minneapolis, Cunanan killed his friend, Jeffrey Trail, and his ex-boyfriend David Madson before he murdered real estate developer Lee Miglin in Chicago — Cunanan planted gay erotica material at that crime scene.

Even after three murders, police weren’t looking too hard for the killer because only gays were being executed.

Cunanan ditched Miglin’s stolen car when he realized the car’s cell phone was being tracked by the FBI.  He killed a straight cemetery worker in New Jersey for his truck.

His final victim (besides himself) was Versace.

While police were looking for Cunanan in Miami’s gay community, they were convinced he might be masquerading in drag to hide out!

“THE ASSASSINATION OF GIANNI VERSACE: AMERICAN CRIME STORY”

Sadly, this excellent series is over.

I think when Emmy nominations are announced in July that Darren Criss and Judith Light will get acting nods for their roles of Andrew Cunanan and Marilyn Miglin.

Miglin

“THE SHAPE OF WATER”

If this movie needed an alternate title, how about “The Shape of Excellence”!

Nominated for 13 Oscars, the movie won four including Best Picture and Best Director for Guillermo del Toro.

An excellent Sally Hawkins was nominated for Best Actress and Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer were both nominated in the Best Supporting categories.

Eliza (Hawkins) is a mute woman working as a cleaning lady in a secret government lab in Baltimore during America’s “Cold War” with the Soviets.

She becomes infatuated with the creature that’s being experimented on in the lab.

Eliza’s neighbor, Giles, like her, is lonely and looking for love.  He’s older and gay and realizes if he’d been born at an earlier or later time, he might have had a fulfilling life as a gay man, complete with love.

Spencer is incredible as Eliza’s friend and after seeing this movie, I think Michael Shannon, the bad guy, should have gotten an Oscar nomination in the Best Supporting category instead of Willem Dafoe (“The Florida Project”).

“The Shape of Water” is a very adult “Beauty and the Beast” story.

GRADE:  A+

“WATCHDOGS OF DEMOCRACY?”

This is the second book this year I’ve read from the late UPI reporter Helen Thomas.  The first was “Front Row at the White House”, which was a great read.

watchdogs

This book examines how reporters were the “watchdogs” for the public in the early days of newspaper and even radio and television.

However, as presidents (especially Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush) began to limit the amount of information the public would know about military conflicts and wars (Vietnam, Grenada, and Iraq), reporters failed by not being more assertive in their questioning the information press secretaries were feeding them.

Thomas was especially harsh toward the presidency of George W. Bush, which she mostly referred to as “Bush-2”.

I was thrilled that she also gave President Jimmy Carter the due respect he deserved for bringing the hostages home alive from Iran.

President Carter National Christmas Tree 1979

Thomas writes, “But television commentators and anchormen [Ted Koppel’s “Nightline” was born out of the hostage crisis] were relentless in citing how many days it had been that the hostages were being held, fueling the perception that Carter was a weak president.  In truth, he brought the hostages back alive.  But President Reagan got the credit, because the Iranians waited until the day Reagan was sworn in to release them.”

“Watchdogs” is the ninth book I’ve read, so far, in 2018.

WHAT NOW?

Now that “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”, “The X-Files”, “9-1-1”, and “The Alienist” (although I still have the series finale to watch) are finished, I’m now going to check out “The Terror” on AMC and “Trust: The Getty Family Saga” on FX.

DONNA SHERIDAN:  DEAD OR ALIVE?

2008’s “Mamma Mia!” is still one of my favorite movies and I’ve watched it countless times.  It’s the 134th biggest movie of all-time worldwide bringing in $615.7 million.

In May 2017, it was announced that a sequel, “Mamma Mia!  Here We Go Again” would hit theaters in July 2018.  I was thrilled!

Capture1

But, that excitement turned to despair when the first trailers arrived.  Fans were quick to note that there was very little of Donna Sheridan (Meryl Streep), the star of the first movie.

Does that mean that Donna is dead since it focused on a young Donna (Lily James)?

After seeing the trailer in theater last week during “Love, Simon”, Donna was still referred to in the past tense.

I know there are many great people in “Mamma Mia!” and with the addition of Cher in the sequel, it’ll be great.

But, a dead Donna Sheridan means no “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” for me this summer!

THE END OF “THE X-FILES”

When this series “ended” in 2002 on Fox after the ninth season, I was not pleased with the “series finale”.

It was brought back for a six-episode tenth season in 2016 and then back for ten mostly painful episodes this winter.

Gillian Anderson, who plays FBI agent Dana Scully, announced that she would not return to the series if it comes back for another season.

And, after seeing this final finale, I can see why!

No more “The X-Files” please — unless it’s on the big screen as a movie!

“MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS”

This Agatha Christie thriller directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars as famous Detective Hercule Poirot, was a hit last year.

After solving a case in Jerusalem, Poirot is ready for a vacation, but stumbles across a “Murder on the Orient Express”!

The all-star cast is great and includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz and many more.

The cinematography is incredible!

On a $55 million budget, the movie made $350.5 million worldwide.

Fox announced earlier this year that “Death on the Nile”, another Christie novel, will be the sequel.

It’ll hit theaters in November 2019 with Branagh returning as director and star.

GRADE:  B

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

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Random Friday Thoughts — February 16, 2018

We’re midway through February now and for my snow-weary Midwest friends, spring is getting closer.

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

“REAL LIFE” TIME JUMP

When I was a kid, I was always looking forward to something and counting down to it (some things never change)!  My grandmother would wisely tell me that I was “wishing my life away”.

In the middle of the season of a television show I’m binge-watching now, it jumped ahead ten months from one episode to the next — usually that happens from one season to the next.

While I’d be wishing my life away, I so wish I could have a “real life” time jump and not be “wishing my life away”.  Except for the trips I’ve taken since moving to Florida, I haven’t been “living”, just surviving.

may 2019

But, by the summer of 2019, I’ll be living again — somewhere other than Florida!

I just need to find distractions until then.  For now, it’s reading and walking and binge watching television and movies.

BLOWING OFF THE VICE PRESIDENT

There’s been plenty of talk lately about 2018 Winter Olympics bronze medalist gay figure skater Adam Rippon and Vice President Mike Pence.

It all stems from Pence’s horrid LGBT track record.

Pence

Okay, just because Pence is the vice president doesn’t mean you must meet with him!  We’re still “free” to choose, right?

If it was me and Pence just wanted a photo op and I was appalled by his anti-LGBT policies (and I am), no way.

However, if it was going to be a conversation or a dialogue, I’d meet with him in a heartbeat to express to him man-to-man my displeasure with his ignorant and hateful policies of the past and the current administration that he’s a part of.

BEST SERIES FINALE

While it’s on its seventh and final season on ABC, I just started binge-watching “Scandal” and I’m almost done with season four.

I want to be Olivia Pope!  Kerry Washington is amazing!

She loves wine and popcorn (like me), but I’ve never had them together.

Olivia

Unlike me, she has two hot men fighting for her.

There’s Jake Ballard (the very sensual Scott Foley)…

SF.png

and President Fitzgerald Grant III (the very sexy Tony Goldwyn).

tony goldwyn

So, how do I know that “Scandal” isn’t real and it’s just part of Shondaland?  The picture below is why! 🙂

ap exam

RANKING THE SERIES I’VE WATCHED

When I started “Scandal”, I was thinking back to the five series I’ve watched from beginning to end and only two finales were truly fulfilling.

spoiler-alert

Since “House of Cards” is returning for the final season this year, it’s not included, yet I’m including “The X-Files” because it was done after nine seasons.

However, in television, I guess nothing is dead.

A six-episode tenth season aired in 2016.  We’re currently in a ten-episode run for the eleventh and final season since Gillian Anderson says she won’t return and creator Chris Carter says there’s no more “The X-Files” without Dana Scully!

5th place: “The X-Files”  — that whole bomb blast that killed (?)/disfigured the “Cigarette-Smoking Man”!  Really?

4th place: “Dexter” — Amazing series and I absolutely love (and crush on) Michael C. Hall and the twisted Dexter Morgan.

Dexter

But, a dead sister, a boat explosion, and becoming a logger?  As Debra would say, “Jesus F**k Dexter!”

3rd place: “Fringe”

2nd place:  “Six Feet Under” — the flash forward to the character’s deaths was awesome.

Six Feet Under starring Rachel Griffiths, Peter Krause, Michael C.Hall, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Freddy Rodriguez, Mathew St. Patrick, Justina Machado, Jeremy Sisto and James Cromwell

Best series finale: “Breaking Bad”

TELEVISION PRE-EMPTIONS

Since many of your favorite shows are being pre-empted because of the Winter Olympics, this is your chance to binge watch and catch up on something new.

If you’re not watching “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” on FX, do so.

The last three episodes dealt with Andrew Cunanan’s first three victims and those were even more powerful than the earlier ones dealing with Versace.

Miglin

Judith Light was incredible as the grieving Marilyn Miglin.

Also, the two episodes dealing with Cunanan’s first murders — his old friend Jeffrey Trail and his boyfriend David Madson were sexy and disturbing!

Darren Criss is amazing as Cunanan.

Criss.png

And, there’s “The Alienist”, also on TNT — creepy and powerful!

THEY SAID WHAT?

George Barbara

Former First Lady Barbara Bush — 1990 — Wellesley College commencement speech:

“Somewhere out in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps, and preside over the White House as the president’s spouse.  I wish him well!”

President Obama

Comedian Chris Rock (on President Barack Obama five years into his presidency – after the eight years of George W. Bush): “I think he’s done well – but it’s like, I don’t know who Tina Turner’s second husband was, but he was better than Ike.  Right?  Maybe he had faults, maybe he lost his job or whatever, but he was better than Ike.”

RuPaul

RuPaul (on Donald Trump): “it’s not that the openness and forward thinking has diminished – actually, the forward thinking is bigger than ever.  It’s that the other side feels more threatened than ever before, so they’ve rallied around this fool and this concept of trying to turn the clock back, which has never worked.  It feels like the stakes are higher for both sides.”

“VICTORIA & ABDUL”

If you love Netflix’s “The Crown” and are going through withdrawals waiting for the third season, check out this gem.

It’s the story of Queen Victoria (Judi Dench), ruler of England and Ireland from 1837 until her death in 1876, and her Indian Muslim servant, Abdul (Ali Fazal).

The movie is a dramedy and it’ll make you laugh and cry.  The bond between the aging queen and the charming, attractive young Indian man is touching.

GRADE: A-

“EASTSIDERS”

I’ve written about this LGBT series before.  It was nominated for two Daytime Emmy Awards in 2016.

The third season is now on Netflix and it was the best season yet.  It spends a lot of time on relationships and how much work goes into them.

One interesting plot line featured real life porn star Colby Keller, who was a Donald Trump supporter in the last presidential election.

I was curious how this would go over in a gay series.

Eastsiders

In this particular scene, Cal (show creator, writer, director, and star Kit Williamson) and Thom (the beautiful Van Hansis) pick up Keller’s drifter character for a threesome and are discussing “Thelma & Louise”.

It’s basically, “I’m the Thelma… Geena Davis.  I loved ‘A League of Their Own’.  So that means you’re the Louise, Susan Sarandon, right?”

ss

“I did love ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ as a kid, but I voted for Hillary Clinton.”

Hillary Laughing

So, that’s how it was handled in the series. 🙂

Warning:  Trailer contains adult subject matter and language!

GRADE (season three): A-

“THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER”

This is a very bizarre movie starring my “girl crush” Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell.  Both are incredible.

However, the supernatural-psychological drama makes you feel very awkward and uneasy from the beginning all the way to the end.

The standout, other than Kidman and Farrell, is Irish actor Barry Keoghan (“Dunkirk”), who plays psycho well!

While I’m glad I watched it, I’ll never have to see it again.

GRADE: B

PICK HIT

For singles this weekend after Valentine’s Day, we should just buy some half-price boxes of chocolate, have some champagne or wine, and go out with the girls.

As Kesha says in her latest Top 40 hit, “Woman”, the follow-up to the Grammy-nominated, “Praying”,“I buy my own things/ I pay my own bills” and “I don’t need a man to be holding me too tight.”

Warning:  Language!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — February 2, 2018

In life, we’re lucky if we’re blessed with good health, prosperity, happiness, and love.

As we go through “real life”, some or all of those things are taken away.

In my random thoughts today, I honor my one true unconditional love — the one that brought me so much joy and happiness.

STILL MISS MY SWEET GIRL

This week marks six years now that my golden retriever, Miss ABBA, crossed over the rainbow bridge.  She was a few months shy of turning 12.

We traveled down many roads together.  From the llama farm in Ohio where she was born to swimming in Lake Michigan when we lived in Chicago to the salty waters of the Atlantic Ocean on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and then back to the cold, snowy Midwestern winters in the Quad Cities, Miss ABBA loved it all and she loved life!

This is her contribution to storm clean up after a derecho (a fast-moving, widespread, intense line of wind) moved through Iowa and Illinois in 2008.  In Moline, Illinois, 94 mph winds brought destruction and power outages for days.

ABBADerecho1

This is Miss ABBA enjoying her last snow just days before that fateful day in 2012.

This was part of a calendar in her memory — “Miss ABBA’s 12 Christmases”.

ABBA Christmas Card 001

As I was lying on the bed comforting ABBA on those final two days, these words just came to me and I put them on paper.

While I’m not a poet, I still love this — my goodbye to Miss ABBA!

ABBA letter 001

 

The fog hangs in the air shrouding the light, not only in the sky, but in your eyes

You look lost and just want to sleep with me close by your side

 

I listen to you breathe and each breath sounds deeper

Is it the end or just a peaceful sleep

 

As I caress your neck and shoulder blades,

You snore even louder as I try harder to hold back the tears

 

I don’t want you to hear me cry,

I want you to let go and not fight for me

 

You’ve been there for me all your life

And I want to be there for you now, my love.

 

My best friend — ABBA (May 22, 2000-February 3, 2012)

This is one of my favorite pictures taken of Miss ABBA in her last month with us…

ABBAFashionShowJan2012

… and this one was one of the funniest back in the day! 🙂

ABBAJuly2010

Reading that poem brought tears to my eyes again, but seeing this goofy picture is making me smile. 🙂

Miss ABBA, thank you for the memories!

ALSO, MR. PANDA

Mr. Panda, our blind shar-pei buddy that we housed for periods of times over the past years, crossed the “Rainbow Bridge” one year ago this week, too.

ABBAPanda

The beautiful and strong little guy was almost 14!

As you may recall, he lived in Chicago, was a rescue, and lost his eyesight many years ago to glaucoma. Even though he spent the last half of his life sightless, he was still a happy, loving, crazy little critter!

WINTER OLYMPICS — GO GUS!!!!!!

Okay, if that last picture of Miss ABBA didn’t make you smile, this might.

This month, when our athletes go to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, we should all support them.

I’m totally “behind” 26-year-old British born-American silver medalist (2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi) freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy! 🙂

snowy gus

Now, who’s complaining about winter and snow??? 🙂

I hope he wins more medals this year.  Even if he doesn’t, he flies the rainbow flag proudly for the LGBT community!

Okay, can you tell I’m crushing on him? It’s all innocent because he has a boyfriend — actor Matt Wilkas (“Gayby”) !

Gus Matt

THIS MAKES ME SMILE, TOO!

The new country-tinged dance hit, “Dancing”, from Kylie Minogue came out Wednesday and I can’t stop watching it!

She looks so glamorous in her sequins!

The new album, “Golden” arrives April 6, 2018!

REMEMBERING KAREN CARPENTER

It was 35 years ago this weekend that superstar Karen Carpenter died of heart failure brought on from years of battling the eating disorder, anorexia nervosa.

It was a sad day and it still is because I idolized The Carpenters as a kid and I still love their music.

karen carpenterpeople

While eating disorders mainly affect girls and women, I’ve been very open and vocal about my battle with bulimia.

With all the images we see in the entertainment world of size zero women and men with their washboard abs, we need to be honest that those are unrealistic goals for most people.

Karen

On the Billboard Hot 100, The Carpenters scored 20 hits with 11 of them reaching the Top 5, including three #1s:  “(They Long To Be) Close To You” (1970, four weeks), “Top of the World” (1973, two weeks), and “Please Mr. Postman” (1975).

However, Karen and Richard were even bigger on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts.  They scored 32 hits.  Of those, 15 topped the charts and three more reached #2!

In honor of The Carpenters, I’m sharing my five favorite songs.

#5 “RAINY DAYS & MONDAYS”

#4 “WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN”

#3 CD

#2 “MERRY CHRISTMAS, DARLING”

#1 CD

top of the world

“THE ALIENIST”

You know I love “The X-Files”.  However, “The Alienist” is not about those “aliens”.

An “alienist” is someone who works with those with mental illness, those that have been “alienated” from society.

Caleb Carr’s book, “The Alienist”, came out in 1994 and I’ve owned the book for many years, yet I haven’t read it.

Now it’s an 10-episode TNT series that debuted last week and the production values are first rate.  TNT is spent a reported $5 million on each episode — that’s as much as some movies.  And, trust me, each episode looks like a mini-movie.

After seeing the first two episodes, let me say that it’s an incredibly acted series, but definitely not for the faint-hearted.

“The Alienist” is a psychological thriller.  It’s 1896 in New York City and a serial killer is on the loose.  The victims are boy prostitutes, some dressed as girls.

Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Bruhl), a criminal psychologist, John Moore (Luke Evans), a newspaper artist, and Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning), a secretary at the police headquarters under newly appointed police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt, are investigating the gruesome murders since “criminal psychology” isn’t a thing yet.

GRADE:  A

OTHER PHENOMENAL RECOMMENDATIONS FROM “THE ALIENIST” DIRECTOR

“The Alienist” is directed by sexy Belgian Jakob Verbruggen.

Jakob

He’s also directed three of my favorite shows:  “The Fall” (with Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan),  “House of Cards”, and “London Spy” (with Ben Whishaw).

If you’ve never seen the fantastic and creepy “The Fall” (three seasons — 17 episodes)…

or the incredible and heartbreaking “London Spy” (5 episodes), do so now!

“THE ASSASSINATION OF GIANNI VERSACE:  AMERICAN CRIME STORY”

If you’re not watching this, start!

I’m beginning my thoughts with Wednesday night’s stunning third episode and working backwards.

The most recent episode was about Chicago real estate developer Lee Miglin’s murder, Andrew Cunanan’s third victim.

Judith Light plays Miglin’s wife, Marilyn, the owner of a cosmetics and perfume company and a star on the Home Shopping Network.

Miglin

When Emmy nominations are announced later this year, I can see Light getting a nomination along with Darren Criss (more on him later).

Lee Miglin was played by Mike Farrell of television’s “M*A*S*H” fame!

After I watched this episode, I didn’t even delete it because it was so powerful that I might watch it again!!!

EPISODE THREE GRADE:  A+

The latest FX series from Ryan Murphy, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” is now three episodes into its nine-episode run.

It focuses on the murder of fashion designer Versace, how his family reacted to the senseless killing, and the manhunt for the shooter.

However, it drives home how homophobia in the police investigation let Andrew Cunanan’s killing spree go on long enough for Versace to become the most famous victim. After all, it was mostly just “gay people” being killed!

sarcasm

“Glee” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” star Darren Criss is incredible as Cunanan.  This role is giving him a great opportunity to go the dark side!

GRADE:  B+

INTERESTING TIDBITS

The Versace family is calling the series “a work of fiction”.

Yet, Ryan Murphy and FX are standing behind its accuracy and the validity of Maureen Orth’s 1999 book, “Vulgar Favors:  Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History”, which it’s based.  The Versace family was against the book, too, when it came out.

In Italy, where the Versace family lives, the series is so popular, its ratings are higher than “Game of Thrones”!

RYAN MURPHY ON THE SHOW’S TIMING

Fox's 62nd Annual Emmy Award Nominees Celebration

Ryan Murphy tells “Entertainment Weekly” that after the 2016 presidential election, there couldn’t be a better time for this series to air.

Murphy:  “I think it’s the perfect timing based on this president we have.  I felt there was so much progress in terms of gay rights and rights for any marginalized groups of people [under Obama] .  Suddenly it felt like Trump is inaugurated and the door closed and there’s fear again and they’re trying to take away everything we fought for.  This a bracing cold slap against the policies that the current government has.”

#Resistance

ANTHONY AS CUNANAN — BY ACCIDENT

I had my own small brush with Cunanan notoriety working as the weekend news anchor in Lubbock, Texas, in 1997.

The search for Cunanan was one of the biggest stories that summer.

Without thinking about it, the newscast was produced with me reading the story of Miami’s search for the suspected spree killer since I had a phone interview with a friend that lived in the city.

Cunanan

We used an “OTS” (over the shoulder) of Cunanan and then we started getting phone calls about the eerie similarities.  See for yourself! 🙂

“IT”

While I never saw the original television version of “It” with Tim Curry, I finally got around to seeing 2017’s movie version that’s made $700 million worldwide!

It was enjoyable and creepy.

While I expected the paper sailboat scene to end badly, how it went down surprised me and set the mood for the movie.

On a lighter note, the cussing teenagers and all the New Kids on the Block references cracked me up!

GRADE: B+

A sequel “It: Chapter Two” is scheduled to hit theaters in September 2019!

ALTERNATIVE “IT”

And, for a scarier (humorous) look at “It” and “Kellywise”.

snl kellyanne

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony