Posts Tagged ‘Vince Gill’

Random Friday Thoughts — November 10, 2017

Happy Friday (or whatever day you read this)!

The first story in today’s blog may not set well with some.  That’s fine.  Read it or scroll past it and check out the rest of my thoughts.

If you’d like to comment (and I’m asking for your opinion), do it diplomatically!

Have a great weekend and thank you for checking out my random thoughts.

Random Thoughts

REFLECTIONS — ONE YEAR LATER!

It’s been one year now since that fateful night in 2016 when the truly impossible happened.

The bottom line is that former FBI Director James Comey’s October 27th bombshell of reopening the email controversy was (and still is) the main reason for the unthinkable.  If that proclamation hadn’t been made, Hillary Clinton would be the 45th President of the United States!

Now that I’ve had a year to reflect on it (and you have, too), I’m still no more at ease than I was in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016.

In retrospective, I’m not mad at the minority of people that voted for “that man”. While I don’t know, I try to understand why they did.

I’m still angrier with the people that voted for Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.  Did they really think that either of them had a chance to win the election?  No!

Did they vote for them to make a statement against Hillary?  Yes!

But, was it worth the outcomes in the battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin?  If a fraction of the votes for Johnson and Stein in those all important states had been cast for Hillary, she would have had the electoral votes to win the election.

Now, my question for those who voted for Trump, are you happy with what he’s done for America? Also, do you think he’s well representing the U.S. and what we stand for on the world stage?

And, I didn’t even get started on the Bernie Sanders supporters that didn’t vote or didn’t vote for Hillary.  Again, was the outcome of that anger worth it?

Those are some of the questions I’ve asked myself every day for the past year!  I can’t answer them.

Hillary AP

I just know how I feel waking up daily and not having Hillary Clinton as my president. 😦

I hope things change.

“AMERICAN HORROR STORY”

The seventh season of “American Horror Story” wraps up Tuesday night, November 14th!

ahs dt

Wait, wrong graphic! 🙂

I can’t wait to see how “Cult” ends.  After the dismal fourth and fifth seasons (“Freak Show” and Hotel”, respectively), and the so-so sixth season, “Roanoke”, this season was entertaining and thought-provoking.

FAILED AGGRESSORS! 

“History is filled with aggressors who triumphed for a moment.  Then failed.”

Who do you think Madeleine Albright, the 64th U.S. Seceretary of State, was talking about in “Time” magazine in 2014?

Since you know me so well, I know who you’re thinking!

Surprisingly, it’s not “that man”.  It’s this slime bag– Vladimir Putin!

Putin

But, as time will likely tell, it’ll fit well into our current situation, too!

LAS VEGAS AND NOW TEXAS…

It sounds like a broken record.

Here’s what I wrote on July 14, 2017, before the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history in Las Vegas and before the Texas church shooting last weekend.

“When something like the Pulse Nightclub shooting, the Sandy Hook school massacre, or the bombing outside the Manchester Ariana Grande concert happens, we’re shocked for a few days before the news cycle moves on to the next story.

People go crazy on Facebook sharing “Remember <insert city>” or “Pray for <insert city>. And, then we move on, too!”

Why is this a regular part of our lives now?

DONNA BRAZILE & HER NEW BOOK

EMMA STONE & SEXISM

In her new movie, “Battle of the Sexes”, Oscar winner Emma Stone plays tennis legend Billie Jean King.

It’s about the historic tennis match with sexist, misogynist Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell).billie

In “Out” magazine in August 2017, Stone talked about where King and women were in the 1970s and where we are today “with a narcissistic, self-focused, constantly-stirring-the-pot kind of guy — again this incredible, qualified woman, and at the same time be playing Billie Jean King…”

Stone adds, “Obviously the way this has all panned out has been fascinating and horrifying, and it still feels like we’re in a bad dream, but those parallels make sense to me — the equal-pay issue makes a lot of sense to me.  At our best right now we’re making 80 cents to the dollar.”

“LOSING SLEEP” — CHRIS YOUNG

I’ll admit upfront that I grew up on country music in the 1970s and abandoned the genre for Top 40/English Invasion/Dance music in the 1980s, and then re-discovered country in the 1990s with Reba McEntire and Patty Loveless.

Once radio cooled on Reba and Patty, I pretty music gave up on the format and especially with its love of bro-country.

When I do buy a country album, it’s usually by female singers.  The last male country album I bought was Canadian Brett Kissel’s phenomenal “Pick Me Up”, my #7 CD of 2016.

Brett Kissel

Before that, it was Michael Ray’s self titled full length in 2015.

I went out a limb and bought the latest from country crooner Chris Young.

I really like the texture of his voice on past hits, “Getting You Home (The Black Dress Song)”, “Voices”, “Think of You” (with Cassadee Pope), and “Sober Saturday Night” (with Vince Gill).

On this album, there are some standout perfect songs.

My favorites and I’m putting them in the order of how I’d love for him to release songs as singles:  “Losing Sleep” (his current hit, just outside the Top Ten), the ballad “Where I Go When I Drink”, “Holiday” (the perfect summer song), and “She’s Got A Way”.

“Blacked Out”, “Trouble Looking”, and “Hangin’ On” are also great.

GRADE:  B+

I KID YOU NOT! 🙂

This is the “The River 100.5” WTRV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, playlist from yesterday morning!

24-hour Christmas music was being played just after Halloween at some stations!  Who needs to wait until Thanksgiving anymore?

Carving Turkey

As you can see, several Christmas songs are already charting on the Adult Contemporary charts.

CHRISTMAS ALBUMS SALES

In 2016, overall album sales dropped almost 17% (falling from 241.4 million in 2015 to 200.8 million in 2016).

However, Christmas albums sales jumped 10.6% (climbing from 7.2 million units to 7.97 million).

HOT NEW CRUSH

You may not know the name “Henry Golding” now.

Henry Golding

But, you will when “Crazy Rich Asians” hits theaters August 17, 2018!

Golding is a 30-year-old British-Malaysian actor and he got married a year ago in August! 🙂 😦

MORE MID-FALL TELEVISION THOUGHTS

“How To Get Away With Murder” — Absolutely loving the fourth season.  Analise is incredible and I can’t wait to see what this whole blood bath is all about.  Plus, Connor and Frank are so hot this season!

“Mr. Robot” —  I’m glad that Tyrell (Martin Wallstrom) was given a full episode to expand his back story.  And, Wallstrom is so sexy!

Tyrell

Also, I love Darlene (Carly Chaikin) and I’m always surprised at what comes out of her mouth.  In a recent episode, it was “muff divers” and “diddle your skittle”!  *The horror!* 🙂

As much as I’ve enjoyed the three seasons so far, I hope it ends with this season.

“Law and Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers” — I’m DVR-ing it, but have not watched the first episode yet.  Should I just delete it and free up the space?

“The Walking Dead” (again) — Episodes 2 and 3 of Season 8 sucked!  I’m giving it one more episode and I’m done.

This whole Ezekiel, his pet tiger Shiva, and the Kingdom plot line is such a laughable joke.

PICK HIT  

EDM (electronic dance music) producer and DJ Marshmello, who’s identity is unknown (but may be American DJ Christian Comstock), has scored seven hits in the U.S. on the Billboard Dance charts since 2015.

Two have reached the Top Ten.  “Alone” reached #9 in 2016.

His current hit featuring Khalid, “Silence” is currently at #2 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.  It’s also #36 on the Mediabase Top 40 airplay chart.

“Silence” already topped the Australian Dance chart and hit the Top 5 in Belgium, Norway, Sweden, and on the UK Dance chart.

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

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Reba “My Kind of Christmas”

Reba McEntire’s latest holiday offering, “My Kind of Christmas” came out a couple of weeks ago on October 13th.

REBA

This is her third Christmas album following 1987’s “Merry Christmas to You” and 1999’s “The Secret of Giving:  A Christmas Collection”.

If you already own those two, you have six of the fourteen songs on this new disc.  However, these are newly recorded versions with new arrangements.

The album kicks off with “Winter Wonderland” and “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” and the songs take you to an intimate piano bar during the holiday season with Reba as the lounge singer!

The piano vibe continues with “Jingle Bell Rock”, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, and the stellar remake of Dolly Parton’s classic, “Hard Candy Christmas”.

This song hits harder for me this year knowing I’ll be single and alone this Christmas.  (Reba experienced this two years ago after ending her 26-year marriage to Narvel Blackstock).

As Reba sings, “Maybe I’ll just get drunk on cheap red wine” and “Maybe I’ll just leave town/Maybe I’ll have some fun/Maybe I’ll meet someone and make him mine”!

You know I love Reba and I’ve expressed before that whenever Reba releases a new album, there’s also a song (or songs) that reflects what’s happening in my life like Reba is singing just to me.

For me, on this album, it’s “Hard Candy Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” (if only in my dreams!)

On “Jingle Bells”, Reba makes this simple standard refreshingly new with just piano and one other instrument, her voice.

If the album stopped there, I’d give it an “A+”, but it doesn’t.  It’s the duets that brings the album down.

It’s great to hear Vince Gill and Reba singing together again, with Gill’s wife, Amy Grant on “Mary Did You Know”.  However, when Grant start reciting the lyrics, it does nothing for me and makes me want to skip over the song!

And, then there’s an acoustic version of Reba’s incredible “Back To God” from earlier this year.  On “Sing it Now:  Songs of Faith and Hope”, it was flawless.

reba-faith

The arrangement on this version, which features Lauren Daigle, is offsetting.  Maybe I’m just too much of a fan of the original!

Her duet with Darius Rucker “O Little Town of Bethlehem” is good.

The album ends with the amazing “Silent Night” from Kelly Clarkson’s “Wrapped in Red” album (2013) that also featured Trisha Yearwood.

GRADE:  B+

Also, be sure to catch Reba hosting “CMA Country Christmas” on ABC on November 27th!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — October 27, 2017

The holiday season is officially here with Halloween next week.

I hope you have fun shopping this weekend for costumes and candy.  Will there be any left over for trick-or-treaters? 🙂

Random Thoughts

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

HARVEY WEINSTEIN’S DOWNFALL

Harvey Weinstein

As more and more sexual harassment allegations surface and multi-million dollar lawsuits are filed against Harvey Weinstein, the former head of The Weinstein Company, I’m just shocked at how long it took all of this to come to light.

One person that’s probably the least bit surprised is actor-comedian-writer-director Seth Rogen.

Rogen

In a December 2014 “Rolling Stone” magazine article, Rogen was quoted as calling Weinstein “a well-documented psychopath” and “a real motherf**ker”!

“HALLOWEEN” (2018)

Since John Carpenter’s “Halloween” movie came out in 1978, there have been nine sequels.

Well, guess what?  For the 40th anniversary of the original, the 11th movie in the franchise hits theaters October 19, 2018.

Halloween-2019-sequel-Jamie-Lee-CurtisJamie Lee Curtis will return as Laurie Strode.

But, wait, didn’t Michael Myers kill Laurie in 2002’s “Halloween: Resurrection”?  Oops….spoiler-alert

The 2018 film will be a direct sequel to the 1978 original and will ignore all of the previous sequels!!!

Here’s the original trailer.

“It was the boogeyman!”

“As a matter of fact, it was!”

HALLOWEEN CANDY — BY STATE

My favorite candy bars are Snickers and Zero and I also love Twizzlers.

Here’s what candystore.com reports as the most popular Halloween candy by state!

CANDY

So, I was born and raised in a “Tootsie Pops” state (Kentucky) and lived in two “Starburst” (Wisconsin and Texas) states.  I’ve also lived in “Sour Patch Kids” (Illinois), “Milky Way” (Maryland), “Blow Pops” (Ohio) and “Skittles” (Florida) states.

I also love Candy Corn and it’s the most popular Halloween candy in Idaho, New Mexico, Michigan, Alabama, South Carolina and Rhode Island.

I’M NOT AS POPULAR AS “SNL”, BUT… 🙂

It seems we think alike.

A couple of weeks ago, I was ticked off at one of Kellyanne Conway’s ignorant tweets and sent her one.

AP Clown

Well, I guess the writers of “Saturday Night Live” have the same thought process as me.

snl kellyanne

In a skit, Kellyanne is “Kellywise” and tries to lure Anderson Cooper into the sewers.  She’s already got two other famous victims in her clutches!

ARE YOU “READY FOR IT”?

“Ready For It”, the new video and second single from the upcoming Taylor Swift album, “Reputation”, is incredible, creepy, and sexy!

“MAMMA MIA: HERE WE GO AGAIN!”

A few months ago, I excitedly told you about the sequel to “Mamma Mia!”, the 2008 box office smash, based on ABBA songs.

Here’s an update — Cher is joining the cast alongside returning stars Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, and Amanda Seyfried. (Oh, Dominic Cooper is back, too) 🙂

While the details are limited, Cher was recently in the U.K..  She tweeted, “Just went through two dance numbers, everyone’s great.” and this:

Cher

The “Mamma Mia!” sequel hits theaters July 20, 2018, which will be ten years to the weekend of the original!  It made almost $610 million worldwide.

“TEN DAYS IN THE VALLEY”

I’m four episodes into the new ABC thriller starring Kyra Sedgwick, who plays a Hollywood television and documentary producer whose child goes missing.

Each episode covers one day in the investigation to find the little girl. And, each episode casts characters as suspects and clears others.

In the trailer, Sedgwick says “People say there’s some truth in every lie.”

That’s funny because I’ve been told there’s a little truth to all my jokes! 🙂

I highly recommend it, although it’s the least watched new series on the major networks this fall!

“BABY DRIVER”

In this summer action caper, Ansel Elgort plays “Baby”, a getaway driver for a group of criminals who rob banks and businesses for a crime boss played by Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”) .

I saw Elgort in his first three movies, “Carrie”, “Divergent”, and “The Fault in Our Stars” and I thought he was cute, but that was it.  However, in “Baby Driver”, he’s downright adorable.

The movie plays out like a two-hour music video.  It has a lot of heart, but you have to suspend disbelief very early on (less than five minutes into the movie) and quite often.

Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, and Lily James costar.

GRADE:  B

“MY KIND OF CHRISTMAS” REVIEW

Reba McEntire’s latest holiday offering, “My Kind of Christmas” came out a couple of weeks ago on October 13th.

REBA

This is her third Christmas album following 1987’s “Merry Christmas to You” and 1999’s “The Secret of Giving:  A Christmas Collection”.

If you already own those two, you have six of the fourteen songs on this new disc.  However, these are newly recorded versions with new arrangements.

The album kicks off with “Winter Wonderland” and “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” and the songs take you to an intimate piano bar during the holiday season with Reba as the lounge singer!

The piano vibe continues with “Jingle Bell Rock”, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, and the stellar remake of Dolly Parton’s classic, “Hard Candy Christmas”.

This song hits harder for me this year knowing I’ll be single and alone this Christmas.  (Reba experienced this two years ago after ending her 26-year marriage to Narvel Blackstock).

As Reba sings, “Maybe I’ll just get drunk on cheap red wine” and “Maybe I’ll just leave town/Maybe I’ll have some fun/Maybe I’ll meet someone and make him mine”!

You know I love Reba and I’ve expressed before that whenever Reba releases a new album, there’s also a song (or songs) that reflects what’s happening in my life like Reba is singing just to me.

For me, on this album, it’s “Hard Candy Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” (if only in my dreams!)

On “Jingle Bells”, Reba makes this simple standard refreshingly new with just piano and one other instrument, her voice.

If the album stopped there, I’d give it an “A+”, but it doesn’t.  It’s the duets that brings the album down.

It’s great to hear Vince Gill and Reba singing together again, with Gill’s wife, Amy Grant on “Mary Did You Know”.  However, when Grant start reciting the lyrics, it does nothing for me and makes me want to skip over the song!

And, then there’s an acoustic version of Reba’s incredible “Back To God” from earlier this year.  On “Sing it Now:  Songs of Faith and Hope”, it was flawless.

reba-faith

The arrangement on this version, which features Lauren Daigle, is offsetting.  Maybe I’m just too much of a fan of the original!

Her duet with Darius Rucker “O Little Town of Bethlehem” is good.

The album ends with the amazing “Silent Night” from Kelly Clarkson’s “Wrapped in Red” album (2013) that also featured Trisha Yearwood.

GRADE:  B+

CHRISTMAS STAMPS

Last week, I shared with you the two news USPS Christmas stamps and asked which ones you’d choose?

Although I liked them both, I’m buying these this year.

Stamps 1

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

I wish you the scariest Halloween ever!

DT MasksWait, many of us feel as if we’ve been living it since last Halloween!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

Chely Wright Knows That God Loves Her

“Dear God, please don’t let me be gay.  I promise to be a good person.  I promise… I promise… I promise… I promise… Please take it away.  In your name I pray.  Amen. ”

Variations of that prayer were a daily part of country singer Chely Wright’s life from the time she was a third grader until she privately accepted that she was gay.

Fast forward to January 26, 2006 — a cold winter’s morning when Chely stood defeated in her Nashville home with a loaded 9 millimeter gun in her mouth.  After all of the years of living in denial and fighting to be happy, but not out, she was ready to end it all.

However, the tears started falling and Chely just couldn’t pull the trigger.  She put the gun on the mantle and went back upstairs and stayed in bed for a couple of more days.

chely wright

The former Academy of Country Music’s Top New Female Vocalist and one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” couldn’t handle the stress of being gay and not being able to be open and honest about it.

That month of depression in January 2006 and the suicide attempt was a turning point for Chely.

Today, she’s happily married to LGBT rights advocate Lauren Blitzer (they met and married in 2011) and she’s the mother of twin boys, George Samuel and Everett Joseph, who turn one-year-old last weekend.

chely-wright-weddingChely's Twins Turn One

Although the book came out in 2010, I just got around to reading her autobiography, “Like Me”, which not only talked about her love of God, her family, country music and singing, but also her struggles with being a lesbian and having to hide her personal life to be a successful country music star.

Chely Wright Like Me

Richelle Rene Wright was born in the fall of 1970 in Kansas City, Missouri, and raised in a small Kansas town of 1,600 people.  She was the youngest of three children.

Even as a child, Chely knew that she was different.  She even had feelings for a teacher when she was just a little girl.

While Chely dated boys growing up in Kansas, she knew that it wasn’t going to change the feelings she felt toward women.  She moved to Nashville as a teenager to work at Opryland, where she had her first lesbian affair.

After landing a recording contract, Chely’s first album, “Woman in the Moon” and her first singles arrived at country radio in 1994 and 1995.

Chely Wright - Woman In The Moon

While the three singles got some radio airplay, none of them cracked the Top 40 on the Billboard Country chart.  However, at the gay country bar, Charlie’s, in Chicago, that I worked at during that time, “Sea of Cowboy Hats”, was a hit with the two-steppers.

Chely released a second album in 1996, but it, too, failed to catch on at country radio.  Meanwhile, she continued to tour extensively across the U.S. and visit and perform for troops around the world.

She always lived a double life.  When she wasn’t the “country singer” touring and promoting her songs, she was in an on-again and off-again relationship for about ten years with a music industry woman named Julia.

In 1997, she scored her first hit on the Billboard Country chart.  “Shut Up and Drive” reached #14.  It was followed by two more modest hits that reached #39 and #36, respectively.

While working to make it big as a country singer, she kept a low profile with Julia.  Julia even got married to a man, but that marriage ended in divorce and she and Chely got back together.  During this time, Chely also dated men, including her dear friend, Vince Gill.

Vince Gill

Even as she lived in the closet with country music fans, Chely hit the big time in 1999 when her album, “Single White Female”, went gold (selling more than 500,000 copies) and the title track topped the country charts in September.

In the book, Chely held nothing back about how hard it was to love God so much, yet struggle with being gay.  And, being in a genre of music that, for the most part, lacked compassion for gay people, she felt she was living a lie with her fans.

In late 2000, she met and started dating rising star, Brad Paisley.

Brad Chely

She had deep feelings for Paisley and he fell in love with her.  However, because she was a lesbian, her love for him wasn’t the same and he just couldn’t handle her getting close and pushing away.

brad-paisley-chely-wright

Throughout “Like Me” and since its publication, Chely regrets the way that relationship ended because she did care for Brad.

While Chely scored five more hits after the chart topper, “Single White Female”, through 2005, “It Was” was the biggest.  It made it up to #11 in 2000.

Chely knew that people on Music Row and in Nashville gossiped about her personal life and she had heard rumors that some thought she was gay.  Those dated back to 1994, just as she was starting her career.

However, Chely confirmed this with John Rich, a former member of the band, Lonestar, and one-half of the duo, Big & Rich.  The two had worked together back in 1990 at Opryland.

One night, in March 2005, the two of them were hanging out when Rich confronted her.

John Rich Chely Wright

Chely writes that Rich told her that people were talking about her and wondered if she was gay and that it wasn’t cool if she had “chosen to live that lifestyle” and that fans and the industry wouldn’t allow it.  He also told her, “People don’t approve of that kind of deviant behavior.  It’s a sin.”

She goes on to talk about how uneasy she started feeling because, at that point, he hadn’t asked her about her sexuality.  Rich was just telling her what he thought and what he felt that country music fans would think.  Finally, he asked, “You’re not gay, are you?”

Taking a deep breath, Chely exclaimed, “No, John, I’m not gay” to which Rich replied, “Good”.

JohnRich2

John Rich would go on the defensive again in late 2007 when he commented on a radio talk show that marriage equality would lead to incestuous marriages.

Days later, he offered this lame apology that was nothing more than damage control, “However, I also believe that intolerance, bigotry and hatred are wrong. People should be judged based on their merits, not on their sexual orientation. We are all children of God and should be valued and respected.”

Back in 2007, I interviewed Lonestar in Lubbock, Texas.  Luckily, for me, it was lead singer Richie McDonald and keyboardist/vocalist Dean Sams.  Rich was fired from Lonestar the following year and I’m so happy that I never met that homophobe!

Chely Wright Like Me

When Chely’s book came out in 2010, she also released her seventh studio album, “Lifted Off The Ground”, which focused around her personal struggles.  It reached #32 on Billboard Country album chart.

In June 2011, Chely released a documentary about the three years leading up to her coming out called “Wish Me Away”.

It won “Best Documentary” at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the “Documentary Channel Audience Award” for “Best Documentary” at the Nashville Film Festival.

Chely has also founded two organizations:  Reading, Writing and Rhythm (RW&R), which helps supply musical instruments and equipment to promote music in America’s schools, and about ten years later, in 2010, she started “The Like Me Organization”, which provides assistance, resources, and education to LGBT individuals and their family and friends.  It also works to prevent LGBT bullying and teen suicide.

Chely NOH8

So, while country radio and the Grand Ole Opry are missing out on a first-class talent, it’s great that real fans and LGBT people still have Chely around to offer support and give people courage to be themselves and not be afraid.

Chely, thank you for sharing your story and touching the lives of those that may be afraid to make that step to “come out”.

“Like Me:  Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer” is a must read!

CMT Flameworthy Video Music Awards

Chely, best wishes to you, Lauren, and the boys.

Anthony

While this blog was ready to be posted last week, I held off on it once Chely tweeted this about the loss of her mother, Cheri.

Chely -- Loss of Mother

I’m Ready To Move!

I can’t believe that I’ve already been back to work four days now from our mini-vacation.

Last Wednesday after I got off work, we headed south.  Ray and I were going to spend a few days at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, and my sister, Tammy, rode along with us to spend three days with her two kids and her two granddaughters, just northwest of Nashville.

IMG_4114

Driving down, the weather was incredible with mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the low-to-mid-70s.

IMG_4144

Our first stop for the night was in Grand Rivers, Kentucky, to eat at my favorite restaurant, Patti’s 1880s, which was lit up with a million lights.

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We started off with Patti’s whole milk mozzarella cheese sticks dipped in a dark beer batter and deep-fried and the flowering colossal onion.

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I had “Ella Mae’s Chicken”, which is a grilled chicken breast topped with slices of black forest ham with sautéed mushroom and freshly grilled asparagus and smothered in a homemade cheese sauce!

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And, for dessert, we had Bill’s Boatsinker pie (a rich, dark double fudge pie topped with coffee ice cream, piled high with whipped cream, “drizzled” with chocolate syrup and topped with a cherry) and a piece of coconut cake.

IMG_4192 IMG_4195

The food at Patti’s 1880s is so delicious.  And, I got to see my old college roommate, Perry, who is the executive chef there.  I last saw him in 1986!

On Thursday, we visited the “Reba:  All The Women I Am” exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame, which featured career mementos including awards, records, rodeo clothing, and many of Reba’s most famous outfits, including several red “Fancy” dresses.

IMG_4304 IMG_4305 IMG_4316

We also saw the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes, but pictures weren’t allowed.  That’s a bummer because the sets and the costumes were incredible.

On Friday, we visited the most incredible display, “ICE!” featuring “Frosty The Snowman”.  Everyone’s favorite snowman comes alive with hand-sculpted characters from the television classic made from more than two million pounds of ice created by 40 ice artists from China this fall.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This exhibit took me back to my childhood and I really felt like I was on the refrigerated boxcar with Frosty since the temperature inside the exhibit was 8°!

Ray and I also went down the ice slide!

 

Friday night, we spent the evening at “Lorrie Morgan’s Enchanted Christmas Dinner & Show”.

While she performed mainly Christmas standards and hits from her 1993 album, “Merry Christmas From London”, she opened the show with her country hits “Something in Red”, Except For Monday” (my favorite Lorrie song), and “Watch Me”.

IMG_4552

Lorrie looked flawless and her voice was so crystal clear.  I can’t wait to see her again and I may get my chance in the summer.  I’ve read that she and Pam Tillis will be playing two nights in Clinton, Iowa, next June.

 

On Saturday, we had a lunch cruise aboard the General Jackson Showboat on the Cumberland River.  Our lunch was turkey and all the traditional Thanksgiving fixings and since I didn’t get enough last month, it was perfect.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The entertainment on the cruise was comedian/singer Steve Hall and the Shotgun Red Band.  Steve was hilarious and his female vocalist, Jennifer Bruce was fantastic.

Steve was even funny when they walked through the crowds shaking hands after the show.  He shook my hand, looked at my shirt and said, “they can make anything out of a shower curtain!” 🙂

This is the shirt and yes, we fell for the photography sales trap of buying tourist pictures.  In retrospective, I wish we had done the same for the Lorrie Morgan show.

Nashville December 2013 001

Saturday night, we attended the historic Grand Ole Opry show at the Ryman.

Country legends Bill Anderson, Connie Smith, and Jean Shepard hosted and performed with up and comers Greg Bates and Sunny Sweeney.

Pictured below are Chris Carmack (“Will Lexington” on the ABC show, “Nashville”), Kathy Mattea, and Vince Gill  and his wife, Amy Grant, and their daughter.

 

It was fun to finally experience the Opry, which supplied the music that I grew up on in Kentucky.

 

The scariest moment of the show was when 80-year-old country legend Jean Shepard fell backwards off a stool and almost hit her head on the piano.  However, she was a true sport and entertainer.  She sat on stage and finished hosting her 30-minute segment of the Opry, performed another song, and even cracked jokes about her misfortune.

I admit that I did feel a little uncomfortable a couple of times during the show and it got me to thinking about something that irks me about the Opry.  However, since this is a fun-filled blog, I’ll explain it in details in tomorrow’s “Random Friday Thoughts”.

During our stay in Nashville, we spent a lot of time walking around the beautiful Opryland Hotel, took many pictures, and enjoyed some nice bubbly!

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And, I did meet one celebrity while in Nashville and, sadly, it wasn’t Lorrie Morgan.

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On our next visit, we plan on visiting the Loveless Cafe for a meal. But, our favorite culinary treat on this trip was the first night in Nashville at Solario, a Mexican buffet, located in the Opryland Hotel.

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The two cheesecakes on the plate were mojito (left) and strawberry margarita.  The second set of desserts were individual pecan pie, key lime pie shooters, and goat cheese cheesecake.  And, of course, a strawberry margarita.

So, needless to say, I loved this trip and I’ve always wanted to move to Nashville.  Could that be where we retire in a few years?

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — December 6, 2013

Happy Friday everyone.  I hope you’re having a great week and that you’re looking forward to the weekend.  Here are my random Friday thoughts.

GREETINGS FROM “MUSIC CITY USA”!

When we left the Quad Cities Wednesday, it was 47° and we drove seven hours to Grand Rivers, Kentucky, to check out the Christmas lights and have dinner at my favorite restaurant, Patti’s 1880’s and the temperature there was 72°.

Lights at Patti'sAnthony's Dinner

That’s my dinner.  It’s called “Ella Mae’s Chicken”:  freshly grilled asparagus over grilled chicken breast topped with black forest ham and sautéed mushrooms covered in homemade cheese sauce.  This was after appetizers of homemade cheese sticks and a blossoming onion and before we ate dessert!

On Thursday, we drove the final two hours to Nashville, Tennessee, dropping my sister off in Clarksville, about an hour northwest of Nashville, so she could spend the weekend with her kids and two granddaughters.

REBA EXHIBIT

Our first stop in Nashville before checking into the Opryland Hotel was a visit to the Reba McEntire exhibit, “All The Women I Am”, at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Anthony Reba

These are various “Fancy” performance dresses.

Reba Fancy Dresses

IT LOOKS LIKE CHRISTMAS AT OUR HOTEL

Opryland Hotel

THE ROCKETTES’

Last night, we saw the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes”.  The sets were incredible and the dancing was festive and fun.  Sadly, no pictures were allowed!

REST OF THE WEEKEND PLANS

Tonight, in a major ice storm, we’ll see “Lorrie Morgan’s Enchanted Christmas & Dinner Show”.  Tomorrow, it’s a lunch cruise on the Cumberland River on the General Jackson and tomorrow night, Opry at the Ryman, with Vince Gill, Kathy Mattea, Chris Carmack (who plays Will Lexington on ABC’s “Nashville”) and many others.

Chris Carmack

SINGER BECOMES BIG TIME SONG WRITER

Shane McAnally

25-year-old Texan Shane McAnally was signed to Curb Records and released his first single, “Say Anything” in 1999, which peaked at #41.  The follow-up single, “Are Your Eyes Still Blue” was his only Top 40 country hit, peaking at #31.

I loved both of those songs and I was probably one of the few people who took a chance on the newcomer and bought his debut and only album. After that, Shane dropped off the radar and moved to West Hollywood, California, and started bartending and performing as “Shane Mack”.

Shane Mack

In California, Shane was able to be openly gay.  Since he started living his life openly, he married his partner of six years, Michael Baum, in September 2012, and the couple welcomed a daughter and a son in December of last year.

I was pleasantly surprised this fall to see “Entertainment Weekly” give Shane the much overdue recognition that he deserves.

Shane returned to Nashville in a big way in 2008 as a co-writer of LeAnn Womack’s Top 15 hit, “Last Call”.  Since then, he has written #1 songs for Kenny Chesney, Jake Owens, The Band Perry, Lady Antebellum, and Miranda Lambert.  He also penned three songs for Reba McEntire’s 2010 album, “All The Women I Am” album.

Music Review Kacey Musgraves

And, this year, he co-produced my favorite country album 0f 2013, the #1 “Same Trailer Different Park” by Kacey Musgraves.

Shane, I wish you, Michael, and your children much happiness in 2014 and here’s to continued success in country music.  I hope to hear more of your singing in the future, too.

MEANWHILE, NOT SO GOOD TENNESSEE NEWS

While we’re having a good time in Nashville, a recent report from “24/7 Wall Street” doesn’t paint a rosy picture of Tennessee, ranking it as “the most dangerous state” in the United States.

It’s followed by Nevada, Alaska, New Mexico, South Carolina, Delaware, Louisiana, Florida, Maryland, and Oklahoma!

Tennessee Violent Crimes

The site ranks Tennessee #1 for aggravated assaults and in the top ten for murders and robbery.  In 2012, there were 388 murders, which is up for the second straight year.

Across the nation, Memphis ranks fifth and Nashville is at #18 for violent crimes.

Take this ranking and the information from “24/7 Wall Street” with a grain of salt, since the “Crime in Chicago” website reported 537 murders in the “Windy City” in 2012.  (As of December 1st, the site reports there have been 422 murders in Chicago in 2013.)

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Ice Hole Deer  squirrelSnow's a comin'

ICE STORM SOUTH, SNOW IN THE QUAD CITIES

Two rounds of ice will be heavily glazing the Nashville, Tennessee, area tonight and, again, Saturday night.  It’s going to get scary down here.  Meanwhile, on Sunday, several inches of snow are expected in the Quad Cities.  It looks like, at least, two inches are likely.

I’ll have more on this tomorrow to keep you ahead of the snow in Illinois and Iowa.

FRESH VENDING MACHINE SALAD

I know it’s easy to grab fast food or something out a vending machine when you’re working and eat it at your desk.  However, if you had the option, would you choose a fresh salad from a vending machine for a healthy alternative?

That is the option for people living or working near the Loop in Chicago near Clark and Lake.

Farmers Fridge Chicago

Farmer’s Fridge has installed its first vending machine salad, fruits, and vegetables prepared fresh daily and packaged in recyclable plastic jar.

The $8 salads are available at 10 a.m. and come in seven varieties including North Napa, Mediterranean, Crunchy Thai, The Cheater, and three other flavors.  The dressings include lemon tahini, spicy soy peanut, red wine vinaigrette, and four other flavors.

ISRAELIS TAKE A STAND AGAINST RUSSIA

As you know from reading my blog, I’ve been very outspoken against Russia’s homophobic laws and the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which are two months away.  There’s now a new Israeli campaign speaking out about the bloodshed and violence against the LGBT community in Russia.

Red Flag

“Red Flag”, similar to the American NOH8 campaign, was started by David and Jonathan, the publisher of the international lifestyle magazine, “F.O.D.”, for the Tel-Aviv gay man community.

Actors, singers, activists, drag queens, and the LGBT community were encouraged to take part in the photo shoot wearing Russian army uniforms with blood coming out of their mouths to bring attention to the violence brought against Russian and Ukrainian LGBT people.

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Organizers say, “Russia 2013 is a death trap for the LGBT community. This discriminating law is backed up with aggressive enforcement by the army and the police. Arresting activists in the LGBT community or any person suspected of being involved in “propaganda” has become a normal routine. This law refers to tourists from out-of-state and even athletes participating in the winter Olympics.”

PICK HIT

Earlier in the blog, I profiled Shane McAnally and mentioned that he co-produced Kacey Musgraves’ debut album.

He also co-wrote nine of the album’s twelve songs, including the first three singles:  “Merry Go Round” (#14), “Blowin’ Smoke” (#31 peak), and her current single, “Follow Your Arrow”,which is at #28.

“Follow Your Arrow” is witty and poignant.  Here’s a sample of the lyrics:  “You’re damned if you do/and you’re damned if you don’t/so you might as well do whatever you want, so make lots of noise/kiss lots of boys/kiss lots of girls/if that’s something you’re into”

Cheers, Kacey & Shane!

DALLAS BUYER’S CLUB

“And, the Academy Award for Best Actor Matthew McConaughey for “Dallas Buyers Club”.

Dallas Buyers Club

The movie is based on a true story.  Ron Woodruff was a homophobic, hard-living, good ol’ Texas boy who loved his liquor, drugs, and women.  In 1986, he was diagnosed with AIDS and told that he had 30 days to live.

He tried to get on the AZT trials that were being rushed onto the market to fight the AIDS pandemic.  Since he was denied that opportunity, Woodruff started buying it on the black market.  When he almost died, he came up with a plan to smuggle medications out of Mexico to try to stay alive.  Since Ron couldn’t sell the drugs, he started a membership only “buyers club” to distribute the Food & Drug Administration-unapproved medication.

DALLAS-BUYERS-CLUB

McConaughey, who plays Woodruff, lost about 50 pounds for the role and his co-star, Jared Leto, who plays transgender AIDS patient, Rayon, who befriends Woodruff, lost about 40 pounds for the role.

Both actors were electrifying and sold the story.  After initially gasping at McConaughey’s first appearance in the movie, I was sold for the next two hours that both actors were HIV-positive people fighting for their lives, while the government dragged its feet.

If you lived through the 1980s and saw friends getting sick and dying, you saw those friends in Ron and Rayon.  If you know people who have become HIV-positive in the past decade, where with medication, healthier living, diet, and exercise, it’s become a manageable disease, there’s a sense of relief that AIDS is no longer a certain death sentence.

GRADE:  A

CHRISTMAS PICK HIT

I just added “A Mary Christmas” by Mary J. Blige and “Christmas, With Love” by British singer Leona Lewis to my holiday collection this week.

Leona Lewis  Christmas With Love

Leona’s fourth album and her first Christmas colelction featured seven classics and three new songs, including the first single, “One More Sleep”.

Many of you probably remember Leona from her debut #1 single in 2008, “Bleeding Love” and its followup, “Better In Time”.

“SHELTER”

While I love “Dexter”, “The Walking Dead” and “American Horror Story”, love stories are at the top of my list, too.  “Pretty Woman” (1990), “Latter Days” (2003), “Shelter” (2007), “Weekend” (2011), and “Out in the Dark” (2012) are the ones that I can watch over and over and over.

Shane Mack (Shane McAnally) performed five songs on the “Shelter” soundtrack and since I’m in Nashville and I’m a strong advocate for being out and proud, here’s another one from Shane.

ENJOY YOUR WEEKEND

Have a fantastic weekend and I appreciate you checking out my random thoughts this week.  Let me know what you think.

Bundle up if you live across the eastern part of the country.  It’s going to be cold.

Anthony

They Said What??? Anthony Weiner, Snooki, & Lady Gaga

SCANDAL-RIDDEN NEW YORK CITY CANDIDATE ANTHONY WEINER

(on “Today” program getting fed up with constant questions about his wife):  “She is my wife, I love her deeply, but I’m the candidate.  I know there might be somewhere out there in Davenport, Iowa, someone who cares about my wife, but citizens of New York want to talk about their future, and so do I.”

“JERSEY SHORE” ALUMNI NICOLE “SNOOKI” POLIZZI

(responding to negative comments about her looking sickly after loosing 50 pounds):  “People are jerks. I don’t look emaciated. I look healthy! My arms still jiggle when I wave! I’m 4-foot-9, which is the size of a third-grader. So, weighing 96 pounds is normal for me.”

COUNTRY SINGER VINCE GILL

(confronting protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church outside his concert):  “I just came to see what hate looked like.”

FEMALE WBC PROTESTER

“Vince Gill, what in the world are you doing out here?  More importantly, what are you doing with another man’s wife?  Don’t you know that divorce plus remarriage equals adultery?”

MORE VINCE GILL

(responding to that woman protester):  “Don’t you know that you f—ers are lucky that you don’t have a sign that says something about my wife?   (Woman says, “Jesus Christ said it.”)  “Do you know what else he said.  He said a lot of stuff about forgiveness, about grace.  You guys don’t have any of it.”

ACTOR JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT

(on gay rumors):  “That would be really tacky — they would win if I had to clarify.”

“CARRIE” & “KICK ASS” STAR CHLOE GRACE MORETZ

“I have two gay brothers and two straight brothers, and my gay brothers were treated horrifically until they grew up and understood how to deal with it.  I will delete you and I will block you, and you will not be a part of my life if you ever say anything bad about my brothers.”

LADY GAGA

(on why she blocked “The Greatest Thing”, a duet with Cher that was supposed to be on Cher’s new album):  “I have so much respect for Cher and I love Cher so much that when we do a duet that we release, I wanted it to be something that was really really special and… we just didn’t have time to work on it together… We recorded it (separately)… and I wrote the song a long time ago.”

MORE GAGA

To be fair, if I was writing a song for Cher now, I would want to hear her album and I want to know where she is in her life. I would want to talk to her about where’s she is going musically, and I didn’t get to do any of those things. So I didn’t want to put out something that wasn’t up to par with what Cher has put out before. It’s not really about me, it’s more about her. Because it’s Cher!”

ACTOR CHUCK NORRIS

“The fact is, if the U.S. bombs Syria, we are playing right into Assad’s hands by fueling his very motivation and mission for dropping the chemical weapons in the first place: to increase Syrian support from its allies and anti-American sentiment in the global community and particularly the Middle East.  If I were one of our U.S. lawmakers, I would emphatically tell the president: Quit taking the bait! If all the chemical weapon evidence points straight to Assad’s front door, that doesn’t mean we check in our brains at the door of war and bow down to a Middle East dictator’s mindset.”

POP ICON MADONNA

“U.S. stay out of Syria! For fuck humanity’s sake.”

EVEN MORE LADY GAGA

(about Miley Cyrus):  “I just think everyone needs to lighten up and leave her alone.  It’s pop music. Everyone’s entitled to their own artistic expression, and if you have a problem with it, just change the channel. I just don’t understand the incessant need to go on and on about hating things all the time … She’s 20 years old, and if anything I give her props, you know. She’s growing up in front of the entire world.”

Anthony