Posts Tagged ‘The Carpenters’

My Life: The First 35 Years

While it’s not a milestone birthday, like my first, another one is approaching.

My life’s longevity has surpassed both of my parents (my mother died at 47 and my father at 55) and I’m grateful for that.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that as we get older, we pontificate about life more.

We think about the past — good and bad — and wonder what the future holds. And, Good Lord, with 2020 and Covid-19, I hope it’s an improvement!

With that in mind, I started thinking about the events and the songs that have influenced me most in life.

So, today, I’m sharing the 13 most memorable events of my first 35 years (1964-1999). Why 13? It’s my favorite number and I was born on the 13th!

EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#13 KENT STATE MASSACRE (MAY 4, 1970)

While I was only five years old when this happened and I didn’t understand the Vietnam War or the protests, I vividly remember the news that evening and this iconic photograph.

As you may recall, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed students killing four and wounding nine others.

On the 30th anniversary of the deadly shootings, I covered the story for a television station in Mansfield, Ohio.

#12 MADONNA MARRYING SEAN PENN (AUGUST 1985)

It’s no secret that I love Madonna. I’ve seen her in concert four times and I remember buying her first album at Terrapin Station in Murray, Kentucky, in 1983, before she was a household name.

But, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I shed tears the day she married Sean Penn in 1985!

Not because I was happy. I just knew it wouldn’t last and it was my “Madonna”! 🙂

#11 JEFFREY DAHMER & MY MILWAUKEE SUMMER (1990)

Back in 1990, I moved from Kentucky to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While I was only there for the summer into the early fall, I enjoyed my job as a bartender at “Partners”, one of the oldest LGBTQ bars in the city.

OMG, I was so young — in stone-washed jeans and a New Kids on the Block t-shirt! 🙂

On a slow Sunday night, a couple came in and ordered drinks.  Jerry was a good-looking man and his lady friend, who was older than him, was D’nell. 

While Jerry flirted with me, it was my bond with D’nell that would stand the test of time. She became my “Mom” and I called her that until her death in early 2009.

One night I went out drinking with my friends and co-workers in the seedier part of the gay district at C’est La Vie and Club 219.

Needless to say, I had way too much to drink and the scary alley, while unsavory, was a great place to puke before we moved on elsewhere!!!

I didn’t think too much about it at the time, but when serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested, I got chills. Club 219 was one of his favorite haunts and he picked up many of his victims there!

I used to keep journals and my night at Club 219 coincided with the stalking and murdering timeline. He very well could have been lurking in the corner that night I was totally wasted!

#10 VANESSA WILLIAMS TURNING OVER HER MISS AMERICA CROWN (JULY 1984)

It was a beautiful night in 1983 when Vanessa Williams became the first black Miss America.

It was a very sad day in the summer of 1984, when the 21-year-old turned over her crown after artistic (and unauthorized) nude pictures surfaced in Penthouse. (Even as a gay boy, I bought the magazine to see what the fuss was all about!)

Another admission: I was saddened and cried watching this press conference! I was hoping that she’d fight to keep her crown and tell the Miss America pageant to “f*ck off”, but that didn’t happen!

But, Vanessa has gone on to a very successful singing and acting career with numerous Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award nominations!

As a bonus, my favorite Vanessa Williams song!

Here’s my blog from earlier in 2020 dedicated just to Vanessa! (It’ll open in a new window.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2020/03/18/vanessa-williams-still-reigns/

Along with the events that impacted my first 35 years, I’m sharing my 35 favorites songs from those 35 years!*

Casey Kasem is my inspiration. I still recall all the weekends I spent listening to Casey count down the 40 biggest songs in America!

As I compiled my comprehensive list, it started out with 236 of my favorites!!!

As a teenager, I remember telling my grandmother Helen that a certain song was my “favorite” and she replied, “they’re all your favorites”!

But, when I was a youngster, there could only be one winner!

So here goes… enjoy the countdown and the videos!

#35 “GLORIA” (LAURA BRANIGAN) (1982)

#34 “SUGAR SUGAR” (THE ARCHIES) (1969)

#33 “LIZZIE AND THE RAINMAN” (TANYA TUCKER) (1975)

#32 “YOU ARE” (LIONEL RICHIE) (1983)

#31 “NEVER SURRENDER” (COREY HART) (1985)

MORE EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#9 “JOHN WAYNE GACY’S CHICAGO MURDER SPREE (1970s)

Just before Christmas 1978, John Wayne Gacy was arrested in Des Plaines, Illinois (near Chicago), for the murder of 15-year-old Robert Piest.

During his confession, police would learn there were many other bodies.

Gacy is known to have killed, at least 33 young men and boys. Of those, 26 were buried in the crawl space of his home!

When the news of this serial killer broke, I was a 14-year-old gay boy living in western Kentucky, just six hours away.

This had a very chilling effect on me since I was the same age as some of his victims. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that people could kill others just for the thrill of it!

#8 KAREN CARPENTER’S DEATH (1983)

Karen and Richard Carpenter were on “top of the world” in the 1970s topping the chart with their amazing melodies and her incredible voice.

After years of battling anorexia nervosa, the music world was shocked on February 4, 1983, when Karen died of a heart attack. The years of starvation had destroyed her body.

Karen’s battle with an eating disorder brought that subject to the forefront for America. I know the awareness has saved many lives.

#7 AIDS EPIDEMIC (FROM THE SUMMER OF 1981 TO NOW)

For almost 30 years from the 1980s through the early-2010s, I strongly despised, even hated, President Ronald Reagan.

In the summer of 1981, a new “gay cancer” (it would be called AIDS later) was attacking and quickly killing homosexuals in alarming numbers.

However, President Reagan didn’t mention the deadly disease publicly until a press conference in 1985. And, it’d be six years into the AIDS pandemic (1987) before he gave his first speech on AIDS — after more than 20,000 Americans had already died!

What a terrifying time for a 16-year-old boy that wasn’t even sexually active yet.

Four decades later, by the grace of God, I’m still HIV-negative, but I have friends that are positive and I’ve know people that have died of AIDS.

Thankfully, we now have drugs, when taken properly, make it impossible to spread the virus!

National Institute of Health: “U=U means that people living with HIV who achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load—the amount of HIV in the blood—by taking and adhering to antiretroviral therapy (ART) as prescribed cannot sexually transmit the virus to others.”

#6 “HALLOWEEN IN HOUSTON” & ELECTING BILL & HILLARY CLINTON (1992)

My first time on a plane was in October 1992 when I flew to Houston to celebrate Halloween with my friends Steve and Dennis.

There were so many amazing costumes in the big city including 1992 presidential candidate Ross Perot!!!

That pretty much summarizes the PG version of our nights on Montrose in the gay district.

There are many more scandalous pictures of that trip elsewhere in my blog’s history, including ones of yours truly!

Remember I was in my carefree 20s and it was before Facebook!!! 🙂

Clearly, there was boob admiration going on here between the two of us — he won!

Since my outfit was rather risque, I didn’t drink much that night and maybe that was a good thing! 🙂

However, after an intoxicating Sunday night with vodka cranberries, we flew back to Kentucky Monday and on Tuesday, I cast my first vote for the Clintons, which sent them to the White House for what would turn out to be eight years! 🙂

Now, back to the countdown!

#30 “MERRY CHRISTMAS DARLING” (THE CARPENTERS) (1970)

#29 “SOS” (ABBA) (1975)

#28 “DREAMS” (GABRIELLE) (1993)

#27 “YOU MAKE MY DREAMS” (DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES) (1981)

#26 “SO EMOTIONAL” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1987)

#25 “TARZAN BOY” (BALTIMORA) (1985)

#24 “EMOTIONS” (MARIAH CAREY) (1991)

#23 “BORDERLINE” (MADONNA) (1984)

#22 “ONLY IN MY DREAMS” (DEBBIE GIBSON) (1987)

#21 “I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY (WHO LOVES ME)” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1987)

EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#5 THE DEATH OF MY FIRST IDOL — MY GRANDFATHER (1978)

My first two idols in life were my my mother, Dessie, and my grandfather, John Henry Peoples.

Sadly, my life with my grandfather was cut short since I had just become a teenager when he died in early 1978.

I’ll never forget his last Christmas as he was dying from colon cancer, it was remarkable how he stayed in good spirits.

I’ll always cherish the weekends we spent together at Kentucky Lake camping out and fishing.  Also, all of the memories of just piddling around in the back yard and in his work garage remain vividly clear in my mind.  He made me feel loved and appreciated.

I never really liked the taste of beer.  But, as a kid, it was so cool that he would let me suck the suds off his beer cans when he’d open them. 

Maybe it’s because of the suds that I’ve now moved on to bubbly champagne as an adult (along with vodka and wine)!

When I finally get to heaven, I can’t wait to say “thank you” and let him know how much I idolized him.  I know, as a kid, I never told him.

There was also talk that I was almost named after my father.  I’m grateful that I wasn’t.  However, it would have been an honor to have been a “John Henry” Junior!

#4 JIMMY CARTER BECOMING PRESIDENT (1976)

In November 1976, as a 12-year-old boy in Kentucky, I cast my first presidential vote for the Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter, and four years later, at 16, I voted for him again. 

So, you might be thinking, that’s impossible.  Many things go on in Kentucky that aren’t talked about in other states, but kids still can’t vote. 

Well, since my Grandmother Helen was not very literate, I accompanied her into the voting booth and I got to vote for the candidates of my choice.  Even then, I knew what I was doing.  🙂

Now, you might be thinking, why Carter?  Maybe it was because he was a Southerner and he talked like me!  I’m kidding.  I just liked him.

At age 12, I didn’t know anything about “gay rights”, but then again, there was no such thing as “rights” for those kind of people in the mid-1970s!

While Carter was a deeply committed Christian that taught Sunday school and prayed several times a day, he was the first president to address gay rights and his administration was the first to meet with gay rights activists.  He was opposed to the Briggs Initiative in California that would have banned gays from teaching in public schools.

In the summer of 2017, while living in Panama City, Florida, I drove through the darkness of night and across the backwoods of the Southeast to hear President Carter give a sermon at his church in Plains, Georgia, and I got to meet my idols, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter!

#3 MY DECADE LONG STRUGGLE WITH BULIMIA (1986-1995)

Over the years, I’ve written many times about eating disorders from Karen Carpenter’s anorexia nervosa to my own battle with bulimia.

Just know that eating disorders affect men and women, girls and boys, the young and the elderly!

I wrote, “In early 1995, I was down to 116 pounds and I thought I was fat… I’m still obsessed with weight gains and losses, eating too much, and fighting the urge to binge and purge.”

Another time I shared, “… I fight the food demon of overeating every day.  A few pounds to the average person is a huge burden, a catalyst for insecurity, and a path for destruction to a food addict.”

While I was a practicing bulimic for nine years from 1986-1995, I got my act together for more than two decades.

Beyond the scope of this blog, I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times and then I just get up and start over again!

Like other addictions, it’s a daily struggle and not something that’ll just go away.

Let the countdown roll on….

#20 “AIN’T EVEN DONE WITH THE NIGHT” (JOHN COUGAR MELLENCAMP) (1981)

#19 “DIM ALL THE LIGHTS” (DONNA SUMMER) (1979)

#18 “ON MY OWN” (PATTI LaBELLE & MICHAEL McDONALD) (1986)

“ON MY OWN” (REBA McENTIRE, MARTINA McBRIDE, TRISHA YEARWOOD, & LINDA DAVIS) (1995)

#17 “NO FRILLS LOVE” (JENNIFER HOLLIDAY) (1985)

#16 “I AM WOMAN” (HELEN REDDY) (1972)

#15 “TWO OF HEARTS” (STACEY Q) (1986)

#14 “FASCINATED” (COMPANY B) (1987)

#13 “I LOVE MY RADIO” (TAFFY) (1986)

#12 “TOP OF THE WORLD” (THE CARPENTERS) (1973)

#11 “MISSING YOU” (JOHN WAITE) (1984)

“TAINTED LOVE” (SOFT CELL) (1982)

“WE DON’T HAVE TO TAKE OUR CLOTHES OFF” (JERMAINE STEWART) (1986)

“ONE PROMISE TOO LATE” (REBA McENTIRE) (1987)

“OH L’AMOUR” (ERASURE) (1986)

“DON’T YOU WANT ME” (THE HUMAN LEAGUE) (1981)

“HARPER VALLEY P.T.A.” (JEANNIE C. RILEY) (1968)

“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU” (MARIAH CAREY) (1994 ORIGINAL)

“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU” (MAKE MY WISH COME TRUE EDITION) (MARIAH CAREY) (2019)

EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#2 MOVING TO CHICAGO (1994) & KICKING OFF MY TV CAREER (1996)

In November 1993, my grandmother Helen (the last of my living parents and grandparents) died.

I was still in my hometown helping to take care of her and since Tammy was young and had her own family, I had no reason to stay in Kentucky any longer.

I often wondered “Is There Life Out There?” (the title of a huge Reba McEntire song in 1992), and I struggled through the 1993 holidays and the early winter months of 1994.

In the spring of 1994, my friend Steve shared with me the PBS series, “Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the Cities” and Mary Ann Singleton (Laura Linney) became my inspiration to make a change in my life!

Over Memorial Day 1994, Steve, Dennis, and I went to Chicago to party for the weekend and we had a blast.

At Gentry’s on Rush, the owner started sending over free cocktails and the boys (and the music) were so hot!

It was there that I fell in love with “Dreams” by Gabrielle (back at #28) and Sarah Brightman’s “Once in a Lifetime” from the “Dive” album!

It was also that weekend that I decided I was moving to Chicago!

Six weeks later, over the Fourth of July weekend, I moved to the big city and it was the best decision I ever made!

It was an interesting two years — bartending in a country gay bar, meeting a psycho on my 30th birthday that ended up trying to kill me several times, and then meeting someone that would become my longest relationship (9 years).

It was also during my first residency in Chicago that my television news career took off in the spring of 1996. My first network-affiliated television weather job was in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, that summer. And, from there, jobs in Texas, Ohio, Maryland, Illinois, Florida, and Minnesota followed!

#1 MY MOTHER’S DEATH (NOVEMBER 7, 1990)

My beautiful, wonderful mother, Dessie, died of a heart attack on the morning of November 7, 1990.

While I’ve lived more than half of my lifetime without her, I’m grateful for the 26 years we had together.

She was there to see me make my theatrical stage debut in “The Curious Savage” and saw me present weather at Murray State University’s television station that was only broadcast on cable systems in two cities.

My mother was there in the spring of 1989 when I became the first college graduate in our family.

One of the funniest stories I have of my mother happened in the spring of 1990. I took her to Sunday brunch at 101st Airborne in Nashville, Tennessee.  

She didn’t drink, but her champagne glass was empty every time the server came by and mine was always full since I kept switching glasses with her. I’m sure the waitress thought Dessie was such a lush and I was so innocent allowing my mother to drink so freely while I just sipped my champagne! 🙂

There have been so many times over the past 30 years that I’ve wanted to grab the phone to share something with her and then realize that I couldn’t do it!

As I reflect back on my life with my mother, I was so fortunate to be loved. She wasn’t just my mother — she was my biggest supporter, she was my rock, and she was my friend!

When I think of all of the things I wrote about today and not having a chance to talk to her about them, I can still smile and feel warm inside.

I know that my mother is with me — in my heart and in my memories!

P.S. The #38 song at the bottom of the blog was played at my mother’s funeral!

To quote Casey again, back to the countdown because “we don’t stop until we get to the top!”

“XANADU” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1980)

“IMAGINE” (JOHN LENNON) (1971)

“LET IT BE” (THE BEATLES) (1970)

Casey, take us home, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!”

I appreciate you taking time to check out my fun little walk down memory lane.

Anthony

*Okay, since I ❤️❤️❤️ LISTS & COUNTDOWNS, I’m really sharing my 101 favorites!

Why 101? There were “101 Dalmatians”! 🙂

#101 “SO MANY MEN, SO LITTLE TIME” (MIQUEL BROWN) (1983)

#100 “LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER” (THE CAPTAIN & TENNILLE) (1975)

#99 “DREAM WEAVER” (GARY WRIGHT) (1975)

#98 “KISS AN ANGEL GOOD MORNIN'” (CHARLEY PRIDE) (1971)

#97 “OBJECT OF MY DESIRE” (STARPOINT) (1985)

#96 “EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE” (THE POLICE) (1983)

#95 “ANOTHER SAD LOVE SONG” (TONI BRAXTON) (1993)

#94 “I’LL TUMBLE 4 YA” (CULTURE CLUB) (1983)

#93 “CHAINS” (PATTY LOVELESS) (1989)

#92 “FAITH” (GEORGE MICHAEL) (1987)

#91 “HIGHER LOVE” (STEVE WINWOOD & CHAKA KHAN) (1986)

#90 “CAN’T FIGHT FATE” (TAYLOR DAYNE) (1989)

#89 “SAD SONGS (SAY SO MUCH)” (ELTON JOHN) (1984)

#88 “EDGE OF SEVENTEEN” (STEVIE NICKS) (1982)

#87SAY YOU, SAY ME” (LIONEL RICHIE) (1985)

#86 “IT MATTERS TO ME” (FAITH HILL) (1995)

#85 “DO YOU REALLY WANT TO HURT ME?” (CULTURE CLUB) (1982)

#84 “I KNEW YOU WERE WAITING (FOR ME)” (ARETHA FRANKLIN & GEORGE MICHAEL) (1987)

#83 “JESSIE’S GIRL” (RICK SPRINGFIELD) (1981)

#82 “EXCEPT FOR MONDAY” (LORRIE MORGAN) (1991)

#81 “LOUISIANA WOMAN, MISSISSIPPI MAN” (CONWAY TWITTY & LORETTA LYNN) (1973)

#80 “I LOVE ROCK & ROLL” (JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS) (1982)

“I LOVE ROCK & ROLL” (BRITNEY SPEARS) (2002)

#79 “HEAVEN’S JUST A SIN AWAY” (THE KENDALLS) (1977)

#78 “OPEN YOUR HEART” (MADONNA) (1986)

#77 “WITH EVERY BEAT OF MY HEART” (TAYLOR DAYNE) (1989)

#76 “TAKE ME AS I AM” (FAITH HILL) (1994)

#75 “1999” (PRINCE) (1982)

#74 “MAMMA MIA” (ABBA) (1975)

#73 “I CAN DREAM ABOUT YOU” (DAN HARTMAN) (1984)

#72 “EMPTY GARDEN (HEY HEY JOHNNY)” (ELTON JOHN) (1982)

#71 “ONLY IN MY MIND” (REBA McENTIRE) (1985)

#70 “NO MORE WORDS” (BERLIN) (1984)

#69 “WEST END GIRLS” (THE PET SHOP BOYS) (1984)

#68 “MAGIC” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1980)

#67 “I GUESS THAT’S WHY THEY CALL IT THE BLUES” (ELTON JOHN) (1984)

#66 “I RAN (SO FAR AWAY) (A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS) (1982)

#65 “TRUE” (SPANDAU BALLET) (1983)

#64 “IS THERE SOMETHING I SHOULD KNOW?” (DURAN DURAN) (1983)

#63 “DREAMLOVER” (MARIAH CAREY) (1993)

#62 “THIS WOMAN AND THIS MAN” (CLAY WALKER) (1995)

#61 “COLD HEARTED” (PAULA ABDUL) (1989)

#60 “COME GO WITH ME” (EXPOSE) (1987)

#59 “IT’S NOT RIGHT BUT IT’S OKAY” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1999)

#58 “YOU GOT IT (THE RIGHT STUFF) (NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK) (1988)

#57 “FLASHDANCE (WHAT A FEELING)” (IRENE CARA) (1983)

#56 “FRIENDS & LOVERS” (GLORIA LORING & CARL ANDERSON) (1986)

#55 “SUNGLASSES AT NIGHT” (COREY HART) (1984)

#54 “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY” (JANET JACKSON) (1986)

#53 “LOOKING FOR A NEW LOVE” (JODY WATLEY) (1987)

#52 “DANCING ON THE CEILING” (LIONEL RICHIE) (1986)

#51 “LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE BOY” (DENIECE WILLIAMS) (1984)

#50 “IF YOU LOVE ME (LET ME KNOW)” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1974)

#49 “MAKING LOVE OUT OF NOTHING AT ALL” (AIR SUPPLY) (1983)

#48 “(THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU” (THE CARPENTERS) (1970)

#47 “LET ME BE THERE” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1973)

#46 “HOW WILL I KNOW” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1985)

#45 “WHAT MADE YOU SAY THAT” (SHANIA TWAIN) (1993)

#44 “KARMA CHAMELEON” (CULTURE CLUB) (1983)

#43 “BLAME IT ON YOUR HEART” (PATTY LOVELESS) (1993)

#42 “TOO SHY” (KAJAGOOGOO) (1983)

#41 “BELIEVE” (CHER) (1998)

#40 “THE REFLEX” (DURAN DURAN) (1984)

#39 “FOREVER YOUR GIRL” (PAULA ABDUL) (1989)

#38 “WIND BENEATH MY WINGS” (BETTE MIDLER) (1989)

#37 “I’LL BE YOUR SHELTER” (TAYLOR DAYNE) (1990)

#36 “KIDS IN AMERICA” (KIM WILDE) (1981)

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

Randomness — Holidays, Movies & More

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

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

A QUEEN BRINGS LIFE TO THE NEWBORN KING!

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

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

BABY, BRING THE BUBBLY INSIDE!

Fun Mimosas.jpg

CHRISTMAS SONG THOUGHTS

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

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

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

hermey-rudolph01

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

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

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

Wise-Men-Baby-Jesus-Manger.png

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

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

It’s more like…

gtfo

… of my way!

“IT’S CHRISTMAS, EVE”

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

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

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

While predictable, it’s still a cute movie.

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

GRADE:  B

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

REMEMBERING DREW & JUAN

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

Christmas Was Perfect

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

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

“JONESTOWN:  TERROR IN THE JUNGLE”

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

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

More than 900 people died.

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

GRADE:  A

“PADDINGTON 2”

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

Ben Whishaw

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

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

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

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

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

GRADE: A-

“SEARCHING”

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

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

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

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

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

GRADE: A-

“THE GOOD DOCTOR” WINTER FINALE

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

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

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

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

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

“JANE FONDA IN FIVE ACTS”

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

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

But, this HBO documentary is amazing.

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

GRADE: A-

“BLACKkKLANSMAN”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GRADE: B+

“SORRY TO BOTHER YOU”

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

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

But, it comes with a price.

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

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

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

GRADE: B

“HEREDITARY”

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

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

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

Halloween

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

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

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

GRADE:  B-

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

 

Thank God For Women (and a Few Good Men)

With the exception of my grandfather, John Henry Peoples, and President Jimmy Carter,

Autograph Carters

women have always seemed to inspire me more.

inspiration

This started with my dear mother, Dessie and Jessica Savitch of NBC News in the 1970s and 1980s, to Hillary Clinton!  I’m still with her!

Hillary AP

In the 1980s, I was obsessed and inspired by Madonna, Janet Jackson, Taylor Dayne, and Whitney Houston.

Reba Anthony 2005

In the 1990s, for me, it was Reba McEntire, Patty Loveless, Mariah Carey, LeAnn Rimes, Toni Braxton, Julia Roberts, Jodie Foster, and Gillian Anderson.

The 21st century highlighted a 1980s favorite, Kylie Minogue, and Britney Spears (who debuted on the pop scene in late 1998).  Both overcame what could have been career-ending obstacles (cancer and a breakdown) to show their strength, thus inspiring millions!

But today,  my blog is really dedicated to the first four female singers who made a big impact on my formative years — the 1970s.

While they all dominated the music world that decade, one charted her biggest hit in the 1980s and one of the others had massive hits in her genre into the mid-1990s!

Ironically, it wasn’t until the past five years or so that I finally got to see three of them in concert.  While radio only plays their classics now, they sounded amazing live well past their radio dominance!

In honor, I’ll start with the one that’s no longer with us.

Karen

Karen Carpenter’s voice was so angelic and the music of the Carpenters was inescapable starting with “(They Long To Be) Close to You” in 1970, which was their first Top 40 hit and it went on to top the chart.

“Merry Christmas Darling” is my second favorite Carpenters song and this one is my favorite.

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN

In September, Olivia Newton-John celebrated her 70th birthday.

As a kid, I absolutely fell in love with her when “Let Me Be There” hit the Billboard Country Top Ten in 1973.

Olivia has charted 27 Top 40 hits (pop and country).  Of those, 15 reached the Top Ten.

Five of those smashes reached #1:  “I Honestly Love You” (1974), “Have You Never Been Mellow” (1975), “You’re The One That I Want” (1978, with John Travolta), “Magic” (1980), and “Physical” (1981), which spent ten weeks at the top of the chart becoming her biggest hit.

I saw her in concert in Las Vegas in May 2014.

Olivia 2014

“Xanadu” is my favorite Olivia Newton-John song!  It reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980.

If you’d like to read a full blog I dedicated to Olivia, here’s the link and it’ll open in a new window when you click on it.

I’m Still Hopelessly Devoted To Olivia

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/im-still-hopelessly-devoted-to-olivia/

TANYA TUCKER

I’ve been a huge Tanya Tucker fan since she exploded onto the country music scene in 1972 with “Delta Dawn”.

While Tanya is just six years older than me (she just celebrated her 60th birthday), it was fun seeing a teenager dominating country music.

delta_dawn-1973-tanya_tucker

I finally got to see Tanya in concert in December 2017 in Las Vegas.  She looked and sounded amazing.

Tanya.jpg

I’ve written two blog about her.

One was about her book “Nickel Dreams”, which covered her music career and her crazy personal life.

I’m Glad Tanya Tucker Shared Her Nickel Dreams

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/im-glad-tanya-tucker-shared-her-nickel-dreams/

The other was a countdown of my 20 favorite Tanya hits before I saw her in concert!

My 20 Favorite Tanya Tucker Songs

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2017/11/01/my-20-favorite-tanya-tucker-songs/

Spoiler alert!

spoiler-alert

If you don’t click on that to see what my 20 favorite Tanya songs are, here’s my favorite!

“Lizzie and the Rainman” hit #1 on the Billboard Country chart in 1975.

But the star of today’s blog is Helen Reddy, who’s celebrating her 77th birthday (October 25, 2018)!

HelenReddy2

Charting 14 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 (three made it all the way to #1), she was referred to as the “Queen of 70s Pop”.

I was fortunate enough to catch her in concert outside of Chicago in March 2013.

Helen Reddy Sign.jpg

Helen Reddy 1

I almost got to meet her, but there was a mix-up at the theater.  😦  However, my friend Jim, who works for Helen, arranged for this gorgeous consolation gift!Helen Reddy Autograph

In honor of her birthday, I’m counting down my 10 favorite Helen Reddy songs!

#10  “YOU AND ME AGAINST THE WORLD”

#9     “AIN’T NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY”

#8    “EMOTION

#7   “PEACEFUL”

#6  “I DON’T KNOW HOW TO LOVE HIM”

5

“LEAVE ME ALONE (RUBY RED DRESS)”

Interestingly enough, Helen now condemns the song “Leave Me Alone” as repetitive and points out that you hear the title of the song 43 times in the single.  I bet you’ll go back and listen to it now and count along.  🙂

When I saw her in concert in 2013, she didn’t perform it.

She once told an audience that it is “one song I will never ever sing again” and “that sort of songwriting doesn’t do much for me, but it was a hit. However, I don’t have to sing it anymore if I don’t want to, and I don’t want to.”

4

“ANGIE BABY”

#3 CD

“DELTA DAWN”

#2 CD

“KEEP ON SINGING”

This was featured in the medley for #5, but I’m posting the full version here.

Another number 1

“I AM WOMAN”

I’ve dedicated three blogs to Helen over the years and here are the links if you’d like to read them.  Again, each will open in a new window when you click on it!

Helen Reddy, Thank You For Making Me The Advocate I Am Now! (February 2012)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/helen-reddy-thank-you-for-making-me-the-advocate-i-am-now/

Helen, Here’s To Many More Happy Birthdays (October 2012)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/helen-heres-to-many-more-happy-birthdays/

Why Helen Reddy Will Always Remember Moline (September 2014)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/why-helen-reddy-will-always-remember-moline/

To each of these beautiful and wonderful ladies, thank you for music and the memories.  And, to all of the women (and Jimmy Carter and my grandfather), thank you for the inspiration!

Happy Birthday Helen and Happy Belated Birthday Olivia and Tanya!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — August 31, 2018

Where does time go?

It’s Labor Day weekend, which, to some, marks the “unofficial” end of summer!

Thank you for taking the time to check out my random thoughts.

BAD THINGS FOLLOW ME???

I know it’s only coincidence, but I’m beginning to think that bad things follow me!

In January 2017, I was at The Jacksonsville Landing Mall.

Jacksonville.jpg

Just last Sunday, a gunman opened fire there killing three (including himself) and injuring 11 others (ten by gunfire).

There are others places I’ve visited that were followed by mass shootings and the time frame was closer!

I was in Ottawa, Ontario, in September 2014.

AP Ottawa.jpg

One month later, a gunman opened fire on Parliament Hill and the Canadian National War Museum.  He killed one and injured three others.

AP Paris

I was in Paris, France, in October 2014.

Less than three months later, two French Muslim extremists attacked the “Charlie Hebdo” headquarters killing 13 people and two days later, another terrorist killed four others in a grocery story.

And, then on November 13, 2015, coordinated attacks across the city killed 137 (89 of those were at the Bataclan Theatre), including seven perpetrators.

Vegas

And, I was in Las Vegas in March 2017, and October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a country music concert killing 58 and injuring another 851 (422 by gunfire).

LV

And, I’ll end this craziness with a couple of bittersweet photos.

When I was in Las Vegas two months after this massacre, a gorgeous “Vegas Strong”
Remembrance Garden was built for the victims.

Vegas Strong.JPG

OH DONNIE, KEEP YOUR TWEETS STRAIGHT!

The top one is from this week and the bottom one is from six years ago!

FYI, Donnie, “extremely credible source” is just another term for “anonymous source”!

Oh Trump.JPG

KAREN CARPENTER’S WEDDING

This weekend in 1980 (Sunday, August 31), Karen Carpenter got married.

KC Wedding

The wedding to real-estate developer Thomas James Burris took place in the Crystal Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard.

The menu included Karen’s favorites, shrimp salad, a main course of chicken chasseur with broccoli polonaise, rise pilaf, strawberries Romanoff, and Parducci Chablis wine.

Five-tiered chocolate and mocha creme cake was served for dessert.

Sadly, while hospitalized, Karen filed for divorce on October 28, 1982, (just fourteen months later) because their relationship was built on lies that Burris told her.

Three months later Karen was dead!

If you’d like to read a great book about Karen and The Carpenters, check out “Little Girl Blue:  The Life of Karen Carpenter” by Randy L. Schmidt.

MY FAVORITE CARPENTERS’ SONGS

The Carpenters are still one of my favorite musical acts of all time.  Here are my five favorite songs!

#5 “RAINY DAYS & MONDAYS”

#4 “WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN”

#3 “(THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU”

#2 “MERRY CHRISTMAS DARLING”

#1 “TOP OF THE WORLD”

“INSATIABLE”

This Netflix series was trashed before it even premiered based on the trailer.

It was accused of fat-shaming and homophobia.

After watching the 12-episode series, while it was borderline, at times, on both of those subjects, I didn’t find it offensive.

Yes, Patty (Debby Ryan) thought that by being thin would change everything in her life.  She comes to realize that’s not true.

One character even tells her, “Being skinny don’t mean shit if you’re ugly on the inside.”

As for homophobia, there’s some name-calling that’s offensive.  However, I’ve known effeminate straight men, so I find Bob Armstrong’s (Dallas Roberts) character realistic.

Alyssa Milano is incredible as Coralee, Bob’s wife.

Milano did get some bad press over a story line involving her husband being accused of inappropriate behavior with a minor and her character didn’t believe the victim.

In real life, that’s bad.  But, this is a dramedy and Milano’s character and her real life involvement with the #MeToo movement are not the same!

By the way, Christopher Gorham is super hot in this series!

Christopher Gorham.jpg

GRADE:  B+

“THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD”

If you’re looking for something short and funny to binge watch, check out this Netflix series.

17-year-old James thinks he’s a psychopath and he decides he’s going to kill a classmate, Alyssa, to see if he is.

There were many classic lines in the series, but this one from Alyssa is my favorite:

“I sometimes wonder if I should just become an alcoholic. It means you’ve always got something to do.”

GRADE:  B

“AMERICAN GIGOLO”

I know this movie came out in 1980 and I’m just getting around to watch it.  The $5 million blockbuster brought in almost $53 million and introduced the world to Richard Gere!  Let me tell you, he’s damn hot!

Gere plays an escort in Los Angeles and gets wrapped up in situation where a trick takes a bad turn.

But, what I find most interesting watching the movie almost forty years after its release was the very homophobic tones, which fit perfectly into the early-1980s of the Reagan years.

Also, Gere used a phrase that I’ll write as “R F” (politically incorrect term for a mentally challenged gay person).  It floored me at just how gross the term sounded today and that it was okay to use either of the derogatory terms even then!

GRADE:  B

ALCAZAR

The Swedish dance group Alcazar has scored ten Top Ten hits in their native country since their first single was released in 1999.

Worldwide, between 2001-2004, they sold more than 12 million records.

In the U.S., they gained notoriety when their club hit “Crying at the Discotheque” was featured on the first season of “Queer As Folk” and it made the soundtrack.

The song also featured the line, “He wore a tie like Richard Gere”! 🙂

They also had another hit in 2002 with a remake of The Human League’s #1 hit from 1982, “Don’t You Want Me”.

“THE BELKO EXPERIENCE”

I took a chance of this movie which is more of a psychological thriller rather than a “horror” movie as it’s billed in this trailer.  And, it’s actually a decent movie that didn’t make much money!

As workers arrive at a South American company, some notice the usual guards are not at the gates.

Shortly into the work day, a menacing message comes across the intercom telling them that in order to survive, they must kill other employees!

Talk about a rough day on the job!

Tony Goldwyn (“Scandal”) is the biggest star and when the movie reaches its climax, another “Scandal” regular makes an appearance!  SPOILER! 🙂

GRADE:  B

“THE STEPFORD WIVES” REMAKE

I finally got around to seeing the 2004 remake of “The Stepford Wives” and even Nicole Kidman and Bette Midler couldn’t save this mess.

However, there was this funny exchange between Bobbie Markowitz (Midler) and Joanna Eberhardt (Kidman) that cracked me up!

SW

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

Random Friday Thoughts — December 1, 2017

Welcome to December!

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

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

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

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

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

“WORLD AIDS DAY”

December 1st is “World AIDS Day”.

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

World-AIDS-Day-2012_0

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

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

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

HIV-POSITIVE & UNDETECTABLE

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

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

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

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

THANKING PRESIDENT BUSH

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

STOP AIDS

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

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

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

Thank you again, President Bush!

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

Laura Bush

LOVE ANA’S HONESTY!

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

CONGRATS REBA!

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

reba-faith

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

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

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

“CALL ME BY YOUR NAME”

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

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

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

call me

“BEACH RATS”

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

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

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

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

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

GRADE:  A-

“MUDBOUND”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GRADE:  B

BINGE WATCH “THE BRAVE”

I’m really enjoying this freshman NBC action series.

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

For God & Country - Season Pilot

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

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

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

JAMES TAYLOR

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

JT 1969

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

COUNTRY RADIO SHOWING A LITTLE LOVE FOR…

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

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

MOST PLAYED CHRISTMAS SONGS

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

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

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

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

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

#1

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

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

“LAST CHRISTMAS”

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

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

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

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Random Thoughts — Christmas 2016

BITTER COLD & SNOW

We all know that Santa lives at the North Pole and it’s pretty cold and snowy there.  Well, if you’re out doing Christmas shopping across the Midwest, the weather is rather Christmas-sy or very North Pole-ish.

We picked up 2.8″ of snow this weekend, officially, in the Quad Cities bringing us to 13.8″ for December.  But, more importantly, it’s bitterly and dangerously cold.

Sunday morning, I woke up to -9° at my house in Moline, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa, was even colder at -13° .  We saw similar temperatures Monday morning.

cold

This is the coldest morning since late February 2015, almost two years ago, when we reached about -18° in the Quad Cities.

If those temperatures weren’t bad enough, the wind chill early Sunday morning was -35° in Davenport and Clinton.

Temperatures start to warm today and this warming will last through the rest of the week!

That’s my part of the blog to keep you safe.  Now let’s have fun since you’re already reading!

CHRISTMAS!

Christmas is only a week away now!  Where has this year gone?

White Red Christmas

I hope you and yours are having a festive holiday season.  I’ve only bought four Christmas presents so far.  What am I waiting for?

Thank you for taking the time to check out my thoughts and feel free to share yours.

NOLA Christmas

THINGS TO MAKE YOU GO, HMMMM

Now that some stations are playing Christmas tunes twenty-four hours a day and others are sprinkling in a holiday song here and there, I have these questions for the writers of some of the classics.

  • “Do You Hear What I Hear?” — So “a child shivers in the cold, let us bring him silver and gold”.  Why not bring him a blanket or clothes?
  • “Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer” — “Do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?”  Um, if he’s the most famous of all, of course we remember his name.  But, can we name the other eight without singing the song?
  • “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas” — Wanting one this Christmas?  SAID.NO.ONE.EVER

WHAT SONGS MAKE YOU CRINGE?

“Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer” is without a doubt my least favorite Christmas song of all time!

Other songs that make me quickly change the radio station in the car are “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas” and “Linus And Lucy” from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.

For Ray, it’s “Santa Baby”.

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is not there yet, but it’s definitely getting tired.

MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS BOOK

It’s not secret that Jimmy Carter is my favorite president and after reading his book, “Christmas in Plains” a few years back, it’s one of my Christmas traditions to read it each holiday.

ChristmasInPlains

I’m finishing the political book I’m reading now and I’ll dive into the very touching, easy-to-read 155 page book.

President Carter shares stories of Christmases from his childhood, with Rosalynn and his children, in the White House, and more.

Merry Christmas President and Mrs. Carter!

MERRY X-MAS!

So, does seeing “Merry X-Mas” upset you at the holidays?

xmas

It doesn’t bother me.  However, “Christians” do!  Before you have a coronary thrombosis, click here to see what I’m talking about!

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/11/23/merry-xmas-christmas-to-all/

So, every day, not just at Christmas, let’s put “Christ” back into “Christian”, too.

READY FOR AN “UNSILENT NIGHT”  *

VH1, the older people’s MTV, rang in the Christmas cheer earlier this month with “Unsilent Night”, the latest concert in its “Diva” concert series.

Mariah Carey was the headliner and opening act for this show.

And, before you watch it here, know that as a gay man, I can’t get enough of Mariah Carey’s divaness and her boobs!  (As you gasp,  you’ll know what I’m taking about from the video or just from the thumbnail image below.  There’s no doubt that she wanted those ornaments to be seen!)

I also love the back-up dancers.  Who knew Christmas could be so sexy?

The other divas this year included Vanessa Williams, Miss Patti LaBelle, and Chaka Khan.

A VERY MERRY ($$$) MARIAH CHRISTMAS  *

Mariah Carey’s holiday tradition of performing shows at the Beacon Theater x is something that I hope I can finally see.  Heck, this year, Beyonce and Shania Twain checked out the performance.

While she won’t be singing “All I Want For Christmas”, I’m planning on seeing Mariah and Lionel Richie on tour in the spring of 2017.

Along with her Christmas shows, her Las Vegas residency, her tour with Lionel Richie, and performing on this year’s “Dick Clark’s Rockin New Year Eve” to ring in 2017, Mariah kicked off the holiday season with a seven-minute performance in Toronto, Ontario (Canada).

Mariah Toronto.jpg

She performed “Here Comes Santa Claus” and her now iconic classic, “All I Want For Christmas” for a cool million bucks for Saks Fifth Avenue holiday window display unveiling!

SPEAKING OF DIVAS

This performance by Patti LaBelle (without her back-up singers and the words) is classic for all the wrong reasons.

But, Ms. LaBelle is a champion!

READY FOR A “CHRISTMAS PARTY”?

Derrick Barry is the most amazing Britney Spears!  Okay, other than the real Britney, bitch!

This Christmas version of “Slumber Party”, “Christmas Party” makes me want to deck the halls!

While this has nothing to do with Christmas, it gives me a chance to show the original “Slumber Party” by Britney Spears and Tinashe, which is now a Top 40 song at pop radio!

It’s already been viewed more than 38 million times in less than a month.

THIS CHRISTMAS IS SUCH A “DRAG”

And, that’s amazing!

One hundred or so Dutch drag queens got together to put together this Christmas medley and it’s amazing!

Ray was scared of some of them, but I loved it.  This is what drag is all about.

Warning:  This is a rather risque part about eight minutes in. 🙂

Thank you, Lady Galore!

THIS CHRISTMAS GIVE FRUITCAKE SOME LOVE

I’m one of those that absolutely loves fruitcake, but not everyone does.

funny_fruitcake

But, I know some celebrities that do!

Sir Paul McCartney orders a fruitcake from cake designer Fiona Cairns each Christmas and, in early 2011, Cairns was tapped to make the royal wedding cake for Prince William and his future bride, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.

Royal Wedding Fruit Cake

CONFESSION AT CHRISTMASTIME *

You probably know how very popular James Corden’s “Carpool Karoke” is.  If not, he’s joined by celebrties in a car and they sing, talk, laugh, and confess.

Okay, I’ll confess two things — (1) I think James is adorable and I have a tiny crush on the teddy bear and (2) I’ve always loved Mariah Carey and I just can’t get enough of her now!  And, I finally get to see her in concert in May in Nashville, Tennessee!

But, first things first, check out this all-star version of Mariah’s incredible Christmas hit (again).

Love it!

CHRISTMAS TRIVIA TO DAZZLE FRIENDS

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

christmascocktails

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

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

Poinsettia 1

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

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

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

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

ABBA in the Manger Christmas 2006

Again,I hope that Bible story and information is correct since I didn’t verify it.  The big man upstairs didn’t get back with me on that one.

CHARITY & CHRISTMAS

While we feast at Christmas, one of my favorite songs of the holiday season is, sadly, about not having enough to eat and starvation.

Can you believe that “Do They Know It’s Christmas” was released more than 30 years ago?

Between the single’s release in December 1983 and 1989, it sold 11.7 million singles worldwide.

It was the best selling single in U.K. until “Candle in the Wind” by Elton John in 1997 following Priness Diana’s death.

FORGET THAT OLD “12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS”

The Christmas classic is tired and so outdated.  Do we really care about “Lords a Leaping”, “Maids a Milking”, and all that stuff.

Why not infuse the song (and video) with botox, prancing gays, naked men, former husband, and giant breasts.

I bet I have your attention now!

MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS SONG

“O Holy Night” is my favorite traditional Christmas song, but my favorite of all-time is a song that was first released in 1970.

It was re-issued in 1974 and 1977.  It’s The Carpenters’ “Merry Christmas Darling” by my favorite vocalist of all-time, Karen Carpenter.

And, what song is now my second-favorite Christmas song?….

CHRISTMAS WOULDN’T BE CHRISTMAS *

without Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas”.

What did we do before this now-classic, 1994 hit was released that’s had more than 226.7 million views?

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

P.S.  Did you figure out the what the * denoted in the blog?  Mariah “visions”, of course. 🙂  Leave the “visions of sugarplums” for ” ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas”!

P.S. 2  

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.  I hope it’s fun of love and joy.  Most of all, I hope you’re not screaming “You Ruined My Christmas” to anyone this year.

Here are the Supreme Fabulettes, thanks to the one and only Boy George, who directed the video and co-wrote the song.

Anthony

Merry Xmas (Christmas) To All

ORIGINAL POST:  November 23, 2016

UPDATED:  November 28, 2017

I guess you can say the holiday season is here — trick-or-treating is behind us and we’ve already enjoyed our Thanksgiving feasts.

Our Turkey 2012

People are decorating their homes, writing out Christmas cards, and making holiday gift lists and checking them twice.

Meanwhile, radio stations are transitioning from their tired playlists to treat us with holiday standards while sprinkling in a few new offerings of Christmas musical cheer.

I added one Christmas CD to my collection, “My Kind of Christmas” by Reba McEntire.

REBA

Yet, I know I’ll resort to listening to The Carpenters’ “Christmas Portrait” (1978) , Michael Buble “Christmas” (2011), Mariah Carey “Merry Christmas” (1994), and Reba McEntire’s “Merry Christmas to You” (1987) and “The Secret of Giving:  A Christmas Collection” (1999) over and over again.

I love Christmas music so much that I could listen to it year around.

Christmas is just so magical.  I’m mesmerized by the twinkling of the lights and I love holidays parties. I can’t get enough of the appetizers and the baked goodies — the cookies, fudge and divinity, and even the fruitcake!

funny_fruitcake

Each year, my Christmas cards are mailed the day before Thanksgiving to begin the trek across the country.

Xmas.jpg

I’m smiling now because I’m sure someone has already commented on Facebook where the link to this blog was first posted because I put Xmas in the title line.

I know that many people get their tinsel all twisted (that’s a Christmas way of saying “get their panties in a wad”) when they see “Merry Xmas”!

christ-in-chrismas

They say that writing Xmas takes Christ out of “Christmas”.  After all, he’s the reason for the season!

The whole Christ, Christmas, and Xmas debate got me to thinking.

People get so up in arms about leaving “Christ” in “Christmas”, yet many of those same people claiming to be Christians and living for the Lord can be so hateful and judgmental.

All of a sudden it hit me.  Maybe these same people should take a moment to put Christ back into Christian”! At that point, I decided to write about it and I really thought I was on to something.

As Indiana’s governor, we had Vice President Mike Pence doing all he could do to be discriminatory to LGBT people in his state until businesses started moving out (or threatening to) and it cost Indiana money.

Pence

He’s one of those people — “Christians”.  Note there that “Christians” is in quotation marks. They are the ones that use religion to hate or discriminate — “Christians”.

Then there are those that love and live for the Lord that also love their fellow man for who they are.  They are the true Christians!

As someone who doesn’t believe in “organized religion”, but prays to God and believes in a higher power, I’m all about loving the Lord and trying to live the best life I can.

However, when you “religious freedom” to hate, I don’t think my Lord would like that very much.

pence-gay-marriage

So, when I started putting this together, I did a quick Google image search to add a fun and colorful graphic to the story.

It was then that I found that my whole thought process of putting “Christ” back in “Christian” to off set “Christ” in “Christmas” wasn’t such an original idea!

Christ in Christian.jpg

Here’s the bottom line for me. I never write Xmas in a Christmas card, nor do I type it online (except in today’s blog to drive home a point!).

It has nothing to do with keeping “Christ” in Christmas.

In the same line of thinking, when you go to talk about “Christ” this Christmas, live up to what he was preaching.  Love your fellow man (or woman) whether they live the same way of life as you.

It’s something that I try to do every day and not just at Xmas.  (Ha, I was just seeing if you were still reading.)  I fail and then I just try harder the next time.

Christmas will always be Christmas to me and not Xmas.

Merry Christmas!  Happy Holidays!  Happy Christmas! Season’s Greetings! Happy Hanukkah!  Happy Kwanzaa! Happy Krampusnacht!  Happy Yule!  Happy Chalica!

Whatever you celebrate, have a great December and an even better 2017!

christmascocktails

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — September 9, 2016

Greetings from steamy Hotlanta, Georgia!

My whirlwind tour of South Carolina started with Tropical Storm Hermine blowing wind and rain across Charleston last Friday while we were there!  Other than bringing down some tree limbs, I’d say they missed the brunt of the storm.

We also visited Hilton Head, then it was off to Savannah, Georgia.

We loved its “Southern Charm”, the elegant mansions and colorful houses, and the tasty down home cooking at “The Lady and Sons”, Paula Deen’s restaurant.

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I loved having sweet tea again, but I’ll definitely give it up when I get home.  After Atlanta, we’re back home this weekend and I’ll be returning to work Monday.

I hope all is well in the Quad Cities or wherever in the world you’re checking out my “Random Friday Thoughts”.

PARENTS OF TEENAGERS — PAY ATTENTION!

I read mostly biographies and autobiographies or books about real events.  Recently, I read books by or about Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn Carter, the Carpenters, and Paula Deen.

All were very enjoyable and reading books about real life events or people takes me more into a life I thought I already knew.

I just finished “A Mother’s Reckoning:  Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy” by Sue Klebold and I realized there was so much I didn’t remember about this story.

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If you’re thinking, “what is the tragedy?” or “where have I heard that name?”, maybe this will bring it all home.

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Sue Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the two students (along with Eric Harris) that stormed into their school, Columbine High School, in Littleton, Colorado, on April 11, 1999, with guns and homemade bombs.

When their spree of violence ended, 14 students (including Klebold and Harris) and a teacher were dead, and 24 others were injured, some seriously.

It’s taken Klebold seventeen years to share her thoughts on the massacre:  how did the little boy that she raised do something this monstrous, how did she and her husband, Tom, miss the warning signs (how did they not see that the throes of depression wasn’t just teenager moodiness), and how could they continue living in Littleton when many people there saw them an accessories to murder in a school tragedy that started a nationwide copycat trend?

It’s a very compelling book by a woman that has suffered deeply living in the aftermath of such a horrendous crime.  She walks a fine line trying to reach out to the 39 families ripped apart by her son’s (and Eric’s) violent fantasies that became reality, while also trying to grieve the loss of Dylan, who became a monster, but was also her son, her baby.

She talks quite a bit about “brain illness” and “brain health” in this country (instead of using the terms “mental illness” and “mental health”).  It’s a strong message.

I know (and you likely know) that in the wake of every tragedy in this country, we ask how can this keep happening.  Mental illness is usually a contributing factor, but we keep sweeping it (mental health issues and reform) under the rug!

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Sue says we should not ask “Why?” when a tragedy occurs because it leaves us hopeless.  We should ask “How?” because that shows us a way forward to do what we must do.

When she speaks publicly, she now introduces herself by saying, “My son died by suicide.  He was one of the shooters in the Columbine tragedy.”

I feel for Sue, her family, Dylan, the 40 other families damaged by this tragedy, the town of Littleton, and the families and friends and communities of every shooting brought on by mental illness.

It’s a tough subject that needs to be addressed today or we’ll be talking about more tragedies tomorrow.

And, a final note about this tragedy, it could have been much worse.  The two teenagers had intended to blow up the school and kill everyone!  However, some of the bombs didn’t go off!

A must read for everyone, especially parents of teenagers.

LADY GAGA IS BACK!

“Perfect Illusion”, the first single from her new album dropped this morning at Top 40 radio.

MORE ON MY READING HABITS

After talking about my reading habits, I’ll say, on occasion, I’ll read some fiction.

The Girl on the Train

The last three fantastic ones were “The Girl on The Train” by Paula Hawkins (I can’t wait for the movie October 7th), “Day Four” by Sarah Lotz, and “Dietland” by Sarai Walker, which is being developed as a television series.

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If you’ve ever been the “fat” girl (or boy) and felt like the world was just for thin people or if you’re a woman just fed up with a degrading society, you need to read this book!

Here’s my blog about it from earlier this year:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/losing-weight-degrading-women-is-torture-in-dietland/

“THE WALKING DEAD” — PRESIDENTIAL STYLE

We’re still six weeks away from the season seven premiere of “The Walking Dead” to see who dies at the hand of Negan and his trusty barbed wire-baseball bat Lucille.

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And, we’re still about two months away from the 2016 presidential election.

Whether you’re on Team Hillary or Team Trump (sorry, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein), Michael Cudlitz (Abraham) of “The Walking Dead” has these comparisons of Clinton and Trump to the hit drama’s hero and villain.

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“I think we’re probably looking at that right now, I think Trump would be more like Negan, and Clinton would be more like Rick — kind of go with the political when you can, but not afraid to kill everybody if they had to.”

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Ahh, “Killary” Clinton in “The Walking Dead” circles!

Cudlitz continues, “But Negan’s a little bit of a loose cannon and Trump is a little bit of a loose cannon.”

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He quickly adds, “And that’s not me being political.  That’s by his own description.  So yeah, I think we actually have our Negan and our Rick.  And, neither one is perfect.”

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While I may not be objective (to some), I’d definitely feel safe living in country with  President Hillary Clinton and surviving in a zombie apocalypse with Rick Grimes in control!

TODAY’S YOUTH… SMH!

Full disclosure here, as a parent, I’m partially guilty in perpetuating a less than desirable future for our children.  Our daughter is 15 now.  She’s a great kid that makes good grades at school, isn’t boy crazy (yet), and doesn’t cause us any trouble.

Those are the good things.  She’s also 15, likes to just sit in her room and binge watch television shows and YouTube videos, have very little interaction with us, and is constantly having to be reminded to do the few chores she’s assigned.

I know there are many other things I could be complaining about, but I just have to shake my head because I can only say so much.

One thing I truly don’t believe in is that every kid deserves a ribbon or a trophy for participating and that’s the society we’re living in.

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Actress and pop singer Selena Gomez, after performing 56 shows on her “Revival Tour”, cancelled the fall and winter leg for the shows in Europe and South America, due to anxiety and panic attacks.  But, I understand Selena’s dilemma.  She confirmed last year that she has the auto-immune disease, lupus.

However, just recently, Camila Cabello of Fifth Harmony left the stage in St. Louis, Missouri, because of a panic attack.  She didn’t return to the show, but was at the next concert in Dallas.

And, Zayn Malik, formerly of One Direction has dropped out of concerts because of panic attacks.

Okay, I get it, we all get stressed.  I get anxious, but I’ve never dropped out of an event or called into sick at work because of it.  I guess it might have a lot to do with the fact that it’s the next generation and we weren’t raised that way.

So, if Whitney Houston was right in “The Greatest Love of All” and “I believe the children are our future” and they continue with this work ethic, God help us all. 🙂

“MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL”

I have the book and I’ve heard of Clint Eastwood’s movie, but while we were in Savannah, the carriage house we stayed at had the DVD in the player, so we watched it.

I’m glad I did.  It touched perfectly on southern living (wealth, closeted gay lifestyle, gossip, and intrigue) and when you throw in a little murder, you have a scandal.

And, the house used in the movie of the socialite that threw amazing Christmas parties was right in the neighborhood we were staying.

If you’ve never seen this 2007 movie, I highly recommend it this fall or winter.

GRADE:  A-

R.I.P. THE LADY CHABLIS

If you were already familiar with the “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” movie or book, you know that The Lady Chablis was the standout star.

Now, just days after discovering her and the movie, it saddens me to report that the 59-year-old transgender star died at a Savannah hospital Thursday.

Now, I have to read her 1997 autobiography, “Hiding My Candy”.

Here she is in a 1996 performance.

PICK HIT 

I have very versatile taste when it comes to music, movies, and television.

Some of my choices are rather risque, including today’s choice by Manila Luzon.

Warning:  Contains adult language and situations!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony