Posts Tagged ‘Xanadu’

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)

Random Friday Thoughts — March 20, 2020

After a few weeks of making time to share some of my “Random Friday Thoughts”, this will be the last one for some time.

I have another blog coming soon to announce my “next chapter”.

Shhhhh

CORONAVIRUS & LAS VEGAS

When we rang in 2020, my plans were to move to Las Vegas on June 1st.  I was giving up television weather to wait tables and pursue a “life”!

2020

After much thought and deliberation (with myself), I decided that the timing wasn’t right.   And, much to my chagrin, I also don’t think a move to Vegas in this lifetime is now in the cards! 😦

Now, with the widespread impact of Coronavirus just beginning to be felt nationwide (and across the world), I know I made the right decision!

The service industry in Vegas (and many other cities) is going to decimated by this and who knows how long it’ll take to recover once Coronavirus is under control!

DOG REVENGE

This cartoon is too funny not to share — K9 revenge!!!

Dogs

By the way, the World Health Organization says, as of now, dogs can get Coronavirus, but there’s no evidence they can spread it!!!

PARENTS, TRUE OR NOT???? 🙂

Parenting

“ARMY OF THE DEAD”

Recently, I watched Zack Snyder’s “Dawn of the Dead” (2004) again.  It’s still a great addition to the zombie genre.

I was excited to learn that Netflix acquired the rights to the sequel with a $90 million budget.

“Army of the Dead” will center around a heist on a Las Vegas casino during a zombie outbreak!

Principle photography and filming is reportedly done, but a release day is not set.

Now I’m wondering if/how our real life Coronavirus outbreak will affect the release of a movie about a viral outbreak that causes the dead to become undead and walk the Earth!

If you haven’t seen Snyder’s movie, here’s the trailer.

By the way, I also watched George A. Romero’s 1968 “Night of the Living Dead” again recently and it was SO BAD!

LAST CORONAVIRUS THOUGHT

While I’m taking precautions to stay safe and healthy (and I hope you are, too), the fear of the unknown is overwhelming!

When I feature songs or music videos in my blog, you may just scroll right past them.

But, here are five that ALWAYS make me feel so happy and carefree. 🙂

If you’re not familiar with them, give them a listen!  It might help you to relax and forget about real life for a few minutes at a time! 🙂

“XANADU” — OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN  (#8, 1980)

“TARZAN BOY” — BALTIMORA (#13, 1985)

“TWO OF HEARTS” — STACEY Q (#3, 1986)

“ONLY IN MY DREAMS” — DEBBIE GIBSON (#4, 1987)

“I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY (WHO LOVES ME) — WHITNEY HOUSTON (#1, 1987)

AVOCADOS

I love avocados anyway you serve them!

I especially love making guacamole and when I add them to shrimp for a ceviche, I’m in heaven.  (Yes, I made this!)

Shrimp C

In a perfect world, I’d love to be rich and live on land where I had avocado, lemon, lime, and orange trees!  Wishful thinking!

Avocado

I was going through an old “Eating Well” magazine (March 2019) and came across these interesting tidbits.  I thought I’d share them.

  • 90% of U.S. avocados are grown in California.  There are over 5 million avocado trees in the state and and one tree can produce up to 200 avocados in one year!
  • It takes 12 to 18 months to grow a California avocado and the heaviest avocado on record weighed 5 pounds, 8 ounces!
  • Hass avocado trees bloom in the spring and a mature fruit can stay on the tree for up to a year!  They don’t ripen until they’re picked, but most are harvested from March through September.
  • Finally, the average American eats about 7.75 pounds of avocados a year.  In 1990, that number was only ONE POUND!

Happy Avocados

Way to go America!

“TRUE COMPASS”

I just read Edward Kennedy’s 2009 memoir that came out after he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in May 2008.

True Compass Ted Kennedy

Kennedy did a lot of great things in his almost 47 years as a U.S. Senator and I applaud him for that.

I enjoyed hearing his stories about his brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Senator Bobby Kennedy.

In the book, I felt he was upfront and honest about the tragic accident at Chappaquiddick that resulted in Mary Jo Kopechne’s death in the summer of 1969.

I admired his honesty about indulging too much in liquor, women, and food in his single years between marriages.

He also talked extensively about the fact that he made it a point never to address tabloid gossip, no matter how far-fetched.

Kennedy said once you do, you’ll spend more time trying to correct the misinformation.  If you start setting the record straight, then you’d look guilty in the future if you didn’t address a story, rumor, or gossip!

With that being said, I turned against Ted Kennedy in 1980 and I held a grudge against him for mounting his only presidential bid against my idol, sitting President Jimmy Carter.

CarterPres

It was bad enough that Iranian militants in Tehran were holding American hostages for over a year, but the economy was in the pits and we were dealing with an energy crisis.

Kennedy’s presidential run weakened Carter’s presidency even more since it forced the president to spend more time and effort to be the Democratic nominee for re-election.

It was time Carter could have used to fight Ronald Reagan and try to solve America’s problems and free the hostages.

Kennedy admits that he felt Carter held that against him from that point on and, personally, I don’t blame him!

“True Compass” was a fantastic read.  I’m glad I took time to learn more about the man.

Edward Kennedy died at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, on August 25, 2009.

ONE MORE EDWARD KENNEDY NOTE

I’m currently reading “The Senator: My Ten Years With Ted Kennedy” by Richard E. Burke, who became Kennedy’s Chief of Staff in the late-1970s, at the ripe age of 25!

The Senator Burke

As a freshman in college in 1971, Burke started working as a volunteer in Kennedy’s mail room.

While Burke idolized Kennedy, “The Senator” is a much more scandalous book talking about Ted Kennedy’s very active sex life (extramarital affairs), orgies, and drug use (cocaine and poppers).

I’m only halfway through the book, but I can’t imagine Senator Kennedy being too thrilled when the book came out in 1992!

THAT’S IT

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

Anthony

My Future in Other People’s Words

You know I love writing and sharing my thoughts with you.   I’ve been doing with my blog for eight years now.

Today, I’m sharing some thoughts about my future — more specifically, the spring of 2020 — and I’m doing this in other people’s words!

I hope you find this deviation interesting and enlightening!

CHRIS McCANDLESS

In 1990, after graduating from Emory College with degrees in history and anthropology, 22-year-old Chris McCandless gave away his $24,000 in savings to a charitable organization that fought against global poverty.

He then hit the road to live a vagabond life.

In late April 1992, he was last seen alive on the Stampede Trail around the northern boundary of Denali National Park in Alaska.

Chris McCandless.jpeg

After spending months in the frontier, with little food and equipment and inexperienced with the layout of the area, McCandless headed back to civilization.  But, he was trapped by melting snow and flooding!

His journal entries indicated 113 days in the wilderness, but his last real thoughts were noted on day 107.

McCandless died in August 1992 at the age of 24.

While Chris met an untimely and sad ending, I’m inspired by his young thinking mind!

McCANDLESS:  “So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.”

McCandless goes on to say, “The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”

Jon Krakauer’s 1996 book, “Into the Wild” about McCandless’ life and death was made into a movie the next year starring Emile Hirsch.

“RHINESTONE COWBOY” (GLEN CAMPBELL)

In my career life, the cities have always chosen me:  Rhinelander (WI), Lubbock (TX), Youngstown (OH), Mansfield (OH), Salisbury (MD), Moline (IL), Rock Island (IL), Panama City (FL), and Duluth (MN).

The only times I’ve chosen the city to call home that wasn’t career-related, it was Chicago.  And, both times, it was the best decision I’ve ever made!

I’ve been walkin’ these streets so long/Singin’ the same old song

I know every crack in these dirty sidewalks of Broadway

Where hustle the name of the name of the game

And nice guys get washed away like the snow and the rain

There’s been a load of compromising/On the road road to my horizon

But I’m gonna be where the lights are shining on me”

“BEAUTY AND THE BEAST”

Belle: “There must be more than this provincial life.”

Belle

“XANADU”

“A million lights are dancing and there you are, a shooting star/
An everlasting world and you’re here with me, eternally/
Xanadu, Xanadu”

Xanadu

“Xanadu, your neon lights will shine/for you, Xanadu”

REBA McENTIRE IS TALKING TO ME!

No matter what’s going on in my life, good or bad, happy or sad, when Reba McEntire releases a new album there’s a song that I feel is just for me.

On her spring 2019 release, “Stronger Than The Truth”, there were two songs!

Reba Truth

Neither are happy, but one offers some hope.

“THE CLOWN”

My life in 2017 was played out tragically in song with “The Clown”.

“After a couple of bottle of red wine, the truth finally came out/
The words ‘I don’t love you anymore’ spilled from his mouth”

But, in the restaurant, the piano kept playing, cell phones kept ringin’, glasses were clinkin’, and everyone was laughin’, dancin’, and singin’

“So I painted a smile on my face to cover the frown/
In that room full of jokers and jesters, I was the clown”

“THE BAR’S GETTING LOWER”

If you don’t have Reba’s “Stronger Than The Truth” album, it’s fantastic.

“The Bar’s Getting Lower” is the song that really sings to me.  It punches you in the gut, but it also offers hope!

Reba sings of a woman whose mother told her to hold out for a good man, which, many years ago, sounded like a good plan.  However, as we know, life doesn’t always go as planned!

“She was hoping for pink champagne/
But she’ll settle for well whiskey

She saw herself in a long white gown/
Not downtown gettin’ tipsy

And that one-night stand walking through the door/
Ain’t the marrying kind, yeah that’s for sure

But she’s gettin’ older/And the bar’s gettin’ lower”

So, does she go home with the one night stand or not?

“She could thank him for the drink and walk away/
Live to love another day

But she’s gettin’ older
And the night’s gettin’ colder
And the bar’s gettin’ lower”

Take a listen to the song here if you haven’t heard it.

And, I’ll end this look at my future in the words of others on a very happy and sexy note with Kylie Minogue.

In 2018, she turned 50 years old.  And, after beating cancer in 2005, she’s still as popular and busy as ever.

“Golden” was the title of her 2018 album and subsequent tour.

Kylie Golden Tour

The lyrics of the title track are so inspiring!!!

Tomorrow has all the answers/ Today says we’ve just begun”

“We’re not young, and we’re not old/
We’re the stories not yet told/
Won’t be bought and can’t be sold/
We are golden”

“Don’t you feel the sun on your face?/
Hopeful hearts of the human race/
Wrapped in the arms of love”

We’re golden/Burn like the stars
Stay golden/Straight from the heart
We’re the voice that’ll never give in/
Getting knocked down, back up again
We’re golden, golden
That’s who we are”

Here’s the very stunning Kylie Minogue with an array of beautiful men helping her out, including Jake Leigh and Anders Deeno Nielsen.

In my future, when the rain comes falling down, may it rain glitter!

Kylie

And, here’s a bonus just because it’s so damn hot and summer is coming!

Maybe I should re-consider Las Vegas? 🙂

Anthony

 

My 2019 Holiday Greetings to You

My favorite months of the year are upon us!

While most were carving jack-o-lanterns 🎃 and wanting to feast on turkey, I was impatiently waiting for the first weekend of November to arrive to put up my Christmas tree 🎄!

Christmas Tree 2019.jpg

I hope 2019 is a year that you’ll remember fondly.  If not, there’s hope for us in 2020! 🙂

I’ve now been in Duluth, Minnesota, for a year-and-a-half and I’m still the Chief Meteorologist at Fox 21 News.

My first winter in the Northland lasted from October 2018 through May 2019 and brought over 106” of snow – the most I’ve seen in my lifetime!!!

Snow Car 1

Ironically, that didn’t even rank as one of the ten snowiest winters on record!

The bitter cold was relentless, too, with a few consecutive nights with -30° low temperatures!  Wind chills were even lower at -50°!

Oh, in February, I did a “Polar Plunge” into the icy waters of Lake Superior to raise money for Special Olympics Minnesota!

Polar Plunge.JPG

In March 2019, I escaped the “winter wonderland” for a week in Bangkok, Thailand, and it was very hot & humid.

Night Cruise

The temples were beautiful,

Koi Buddha

the food was amazing and I got to hold a large, gorgeous yellow and white albino Burmese python – my Britney Spears flashback moment!

AP Britney Snake

I saw my sister, Tammy, a few times this year.  She visited me in April and I saw her in the Quad Cities (an eight hour drive) in June, August, and October.

That August visit was for a trip to Las Vegas.

Anthony Tammy Las Vegas

It was her first time there and she wasn’t impressed! 🙂

It was my first time back to Vegas since December 2017 when I saw Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” show.

MC ALL I WANT VEGAS

I also saw Tanya Tucker and Lionel Richie in concert and I got to meet him before the show!

Tanya

Capture2

As strange as it may sound, I’m looking forward to another long winter in the Northland.

AP Frozen Lake.jpg

Yes, I love snow.  But, I’m more excited for the “next chapter” in my life in 2020.  I know I said that last year, but there’s actually a plan in place this time! 🙂

As Belle sings in “Beauty and the Beast”, ♪ “I want much more than this provincial life… I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can tell!” ♪

Belle.gif

Maybe it’ll be “Xanadu” – ♪ “a place where nobody dared to go” where “a million lights are dancing and there you are – a shooting star”!

Xanadu.gif

Here’s wishing you a bright and beautiful holiday season and an incredible year ahead!

carter Dove.JPG

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

Anthony

Thank You For The Beautiful Music and a Lifetime of Wonderful Memories!

Life is a funny thing.

Most of us try to do what’s right.  We strive to treat those we love and care for with affection.  But, with real life constantly getting in the way, do we really stop long enough to tell them how much we care for them and appreciate them?

That’s my purpose today.

When I’m done, I’ll call my sister and tell her I love her.  But, this is about Olivia Newton-John.  I want her to know how much she has touched my life!

Olivia 1

As you likely know, especially since I regularly write about her, Olivia is battling cancer again.

She was first diagnosed back in 1992 and beat it.  It returned in 2013, then again in May 2017 and just last month, I learned that she now has Stage IV cancer.

One thing I know from being a fan is that Olivia is a fighter and I know she’ll continue living life to its fullest.  That’s more than some, including myself, are doing even without cancer!

Olivia Don't Stop Believin

I just finished reading Olivia’s autobiography, “Don’t Stop Believin'”, and it was beautiful!

I enjoyed hearing about her childhood, her singing and acting career, and her dear friendships with two ladies I truly admire and love, Karen Carpenter and Helen Reddy.

Olivia Karen

helen olivia.JPG

It was Helen Reddy and her ex-husband that were instrumental in Olivia taking on the iconic role of Sandy in “Grease”!

I’ve been a huge Olivia fan since I heard her first Top Ten hit, “Let Me Be There”, in 1973, as an 9-year-old listening to country music on WNGO-AM 1320, back in Mayfield, Kentucky.

Olivia Newton-John - Let Me Be There

All these years later, I have a confession to make.  As an little kid, I thought the beautiful voice belonged to Olivia Newton and the booming, manly back-up singer was named John! 🙂

From her first hit, “If Not For You”, in 1971, to her last Top 40 Billboard Hot 100 smash, “Soul Kiss” (#20, 1985), the English-born, Australian-raised singer charted with 27 Top 40 hits. Of those, 15 reached the Top Ten!

Olivia had five of those Top Ten hits reach #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!

Olivia 2

In early 2014, Olivia announced “Summer Nights”, a 45-show residency at the Donny and Marie Showroom at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino on the Strip between April and August.

I saw her amazing show on May 30th of that year.

Olivia

Since it’s my favorite number, I’m counting down my thirteen favorite Olivia Netwon-John songs that charted in America!  It was so hard narrowing down the list! 

(Chart positions are from the Billboard Hot 100 unless otherwise noted and the year listed is when the song peaked.)

Along the way, I’ll add three bonus songs and share some personal stories about a few of the hits!

Again, Olivia, thank you for the music!

13

“TWIST OF FATE” (#5, 1984)

12

“MAKE A MOVE ON ME” (#5, 1982)

#11 Movie

“I HONESTLY LOVE YOU” (2 WEEKS AT #1, 1974)

#10 MOVIE

“YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE” (with Chloe Lattanzi & Dave Aude)

(#1 Billboard Dance Club Songs, 2015)

In this re-imagining of Olivia’s #1 hit “Magic”, which you’ll see later in my countdown, DJ extraordinaire Dave Aude takes Olivia and her daughter Chloe Lattanzi to the top of the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart!

The fun video features an incredible looking Olivia and a graveyard of Las Vegas signage of the city’s casino history, show girls, Chippendales, and Britney, Tina Turner, Marilyn Monroe, and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.  Oh wait, those are illusionists! 🙂

“You Have To Believe” was my #16 song of 2015!

Bonus

Being a gay teenager in small town Kentucky in the early-1980s without knowing anyone else like myself was very isolating.

Back then, you didn’t think about falling in love since you didn’t hear about those things, but the release of “Physical” and its homoerotic video was definitely eye-opening and it gave this kid hope!

“PHYSICAL” (10 WEEKS AT #1, 1981-1982)

9 CD

“A LITTLE MORE LOVE” (#3, 1979)

#8 MOVIE

“HAVE YOU NEVER BEEN MELLOW” (1 WEEK AT #1, 1975)

In 1978, Olivia had the starring role as Sandy in “Grease”, a movie that racked up $396 million at the box office.

When I saw the movie, I was a shy, introverted 13-year-old boy still listening to country music.  Occasionally, I’d sneak a listen to ABBA, the Bay City Rollers, and the Bee Gees!

I connected with the innocent Sandy and was petrified when she came out dressed to the nines in leather and holding a cigarette!

I’m no longer naive! 😉

olivia-newton-john-grease-sandy

That was a turning point for me.  Somewhere after “Grease”, I started listening to more pop or Top 40 music and I came across an 8-track recording of Olivia’s sultry album “Totally Hot”.

Totally Hot

It was one of three 8-tracks that I owned.  The other two were “Helen Reddy’s Greatest Hits” and “Glass Houses” by Billy Joel.

#7 CD

“DEEPER THAN THE NIGHT” (#11, 1979)

#6 CD

“MAGIC” (4 WEEKS AT #1, 1980)

#5 MOVIE

“IF YOU LOVE ME (LET ME KNOW)” (#5, 1974)

Bonus

“I NEED LOVE” (1992)

In the summer of 1992, Olivia was ready for another comeback with the release of her third greatest hits album, “Back to Basics:  The Essential Collection 1971-1992”.  It included four new songs.

A world tour was also planned, but it was scrapped when Olivia was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The first single from the collection, “I Need Love” really touched me more than a quarter-century ago.  It’s even more powerful for me now as I approach the age of 55 and still single a couple of years after my divorce.

The song talks about wanting more than just a one-night stand or cheap sex.  These lyrics sum up exactly how I felt then in my 20s and how I feel now in my 50s!

“Another place, another time/I would take my chances/Oh I know I could take you home tonight/But I don’t want to wake up with you wishing I was alone”

“I’m not lookin’ for a Band-Aid on loneliness/I’m not lookin’ for a temporary get me through the night/I’m holding out for something more than physical/I need love to make the sex right”

Give the song a listen because unless you’re a die-hard Olivia fan, I know you probably never heard it on the radio!

4

“PLEASE MR. PLEASE” (#3, 1975)

green 3

“SUDDENLY” (with Cliff Richard) (#20, 1981)

#2 MOVIE

“LET ME BE THERE” (#6, 1974)

#1

We’re now up to my favorite Olivia Newton-John song!

I’ve watched the movie “Xanadu” several times and I can’t hear this song without smiling and feeling good.

The soundtrack was more popular than the movie and the title song reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980.

Back in 2014, when I turned 50, I compiled the soundtrack of my life — my all-time favorites songs — and “Xanadu” came in at #4!

Olivia, as your birthday nears, I wish you a “Happy Birthday”!

olivia-newton-john john-easterling.png

Stay strong and keep fighting!

Bonus

“YOUR GOOD GIRL’S GONNA GO BAD” (FROM “SORDID LIVES”)

Years after mainstream fame was behind her and Olivia was living life to the fullest, her friend Del Shores gave her an incredible role.

In 2000, when he made a movie of his play, “Sordid Lives”, he cast Olivia as Bitsy Mae Harling, a lesbian bar singer with a “reputation”!

She reprised the role in the 2008 Logo miniseries.

sl onj.JPG

If you’ve never seen this Texas “black comedy about white trash”, you have to find it and spend two hours laughing!

Here’s Olivia singing the theme song (contains adult language) and her and the cast in the end credits performing Tammy Wynette’s “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad”.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — August 14, 2015

The weekend is almost here and after working the past eight Saturdays, I’m back to having my weekends off again!

I plan on having a fun one and I hope the same for you.  Let’s kick it off with my “Random Friday Thoughts”.

As always, let me know what we agree on and what we don’t!

FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER HAS CANCER

My favorite President, Jimmy Carter, who is now 90-years-old, revealed Wednesday that he has cancer.

Jimmy Carter

It was discovered during a recent liver surgery.  He also stated that the cancer had spread to other body parts.

He plans to undergo treatment and says he’ll share more details next week.

I’ll say an extra prayer for President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, for a speedy recovery.

President-Jimmy-and-Rosalynn-Carter1

I’ve been a huge fan of his since I was an 11-year-old boy growing up in Kentucky when he was running for President in 1976.

I even devoted a full blog to him in March 2012 that I want to share again with you.  (You can click on the link below and it’ll open in a new window so you don’t lose your place in this week’s blog!)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/forget-marilyn-i-want-my-week-with-jimmy/

REPUBLICAN RACE SHOWDOWN

After a television debate last week with most of the Republican candidates vying to become the next President of the United States, most people talked about Donald Trump and his rude comments.

Fox News commentator Megan Kelly started a question with “You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals’, and Trump replied, “Only Rosie O’Donnell”.

Rosie O'Donnell

While a sad expression of honesty from a man who wants to run this country, it must be working for him.  An NBC News poll after that debate showed Trump as the front-runner with an increasing lead.

Donald Trump had 23% followed by Ted Cruz (13%) and Ben Carson (11%).

Carly Fiorina surged to fourth place (8%) and is now tied with Marco Rubio.

The rest of the top ten: Jeb Bush and Scott Walker (7%), Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee (5%), and Rick Perry and John Kasich (2%).

santorum

Rick Santorum and George Pataki are in last place with 0%!

THEY SAID WHAT???

REPUBLICAN FRONT RUNNER FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

(about Fox News commentator Megyn Kelly after her questioning in that debate):  “there was blood coming out of her eyes … blood coming out of her wherever.”

MORE TRUMP

(after an uproar accusing him of being sexist with the hormonal overtones to his comment about Kelly):  “Do you think I’d make a statement like that? Who would make a statement like that? Only a sick person would even think about that.”

Kelly Trump

FOX COMMENTATOR MEGYN KELLY

(speaking about the personal attacks from Trump):  “Mr. Trump is an interesting man who has captured the attention of the electorate. That’s why he’s leading in the polls. Trump, who is the frontrunner, will not apologize. And I certainly will not apologize for doing good journalism, so I’ll continue doing my job without fear or favor. And Mr. Trump, I expect, will continue with what has been a successful campaign thus far. This is a tough business and it’s time now to move forward.”

POP ICON & ACTRESS CHER

Cher Dressed to Kill Tour

(About going back out on tour after having to cancel the second leg of her “Dressed To Kill Tour” because of an acute viral infection affecting her kidneys):  “You know, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do this. That’s my wish. But I can’t say that I actually will be able to… My will is pretty strong, so… I don’t know.”

MARVIN GAYE’S SUE HAPPY FAMILY

The family of late R&B legend Marvin Gaye sure loves to sue people.

They successfully sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell over the mega hit “Blurred Lines” claiming that it ripped off “Got To Give It Up”.  Gaye’s family was awarded $7.4 million in damages for copyright infringement, but this is being appealed.

Empire

Now, a son is ready to sue the makers of Fox’s very successful #1 drama, “Empire”, claiming that it was his idea.

I’m thinking two things:  First, they don’t want Taraji P. Henson’s “Cookie” to come down on their asses and secondly, that family needs to get a life – their own!

MORE “MARVIN GAYE”

Singer and songwriter Charlie Puth topped the charts earlier this year with “See You Again” with Wiz Khalifa.  The song was featured in “Furious 7” and was a tribute to the late actor Paul Walker.

Puth is now racing up the charts with “Marvin Gaye” with a little help from Meghan Trainor.

The song is already one of 25 most played songs at Top 40 radio in the U.S.

I especially like the fun, sexy, and LGBT-inclusive video!

REBA — YOU TAKE THE GOOD, YOU TAKE THE BAD

Sadly, since my last “Random Friday Thoughts” in late July, my idol and country superstar Reba McEntire and her husband Narvel Blackstock announced they were separating after 26 years of marriage.

On a more positive note, I saw Reba in concert for the 13th time when she played the Mississippi Valley Fair last week.  She also announced last week, “Until They Don’t Love You”, would be the second single from her album, “Love Somebody”.

Reba Until They Don't Love You

This song sounds amazing live and she also performed it on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” Wednesday night.

You can click on this link to see it:  http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/video/reba-mcentire-until-they-dont-love-you/2890917

“YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE”

If you listened to music in the late-1970s, you probably know that’s part of a lyric ( “You have to believe we are magic, nothin’ can stand in our way”) from Olivia Newton-John’s #1 smash “Magic” from the motion picture, “Xanadu”, that hit theaters about this time in 1978.

Now, Olivia has re-recorded part of that song with her daughter, Chloe Lattanzi and DJ extraordinaire Dave Aude.

Olivia and Chloe look incredible re-enacting the vibe from “Xanadu” in and around Las Vegas.

I believe that this song and remix will return Olivia to the Billboard Dance chart.  Her last appearance on that chart was back in 1988 when “The Rumour” peaked at #17.

Olivia’s last Top 40 on the Hot 100 was “Soul Kiss” back in 1985.  It reached #20.

“HANNIBAL”

I’m truly saddened that there’s only three episodes of “Hannibal” left.

Hannibal-NBC-Poster-2012

This was definitely one of the most intelligent, thrilling, artistically creative, and well acted shows on television.  Maybe it was too intelligent!

I’ll especially miss Gillian Anderson as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier!

However, I’ll still see Anderson in “The X-Files” in January 2016 and I’m really enjoying her as Metropolitan Police Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson on the BBC hit show, “The Fall”.

It also stars Jamie Dornan, best known as Christian Grey of “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

If you haven’t checked out the two seasons of “The Fall”, it’s a must see!

“MR. ROBOT”

Another show I highly recommend is my new summer favorite, the incredibly intelligent “Mr. Robot” on USA Network.

MR. ROBOT

Rami Malek is the breakout star as Elliot Alderson, a computer hacker by night and a security technician at a cybersecurity company by day.

Elliot suffers from chronic depression and social anxiety disorder, which makes him quirky and very awkward in social situations.

Christian Slater stars as Mr. Robot.

This is definitely a thriller drama you need to check out and it was renewed for a second season even before the first episode aired!

FALLING IN AND OUT OF LOVE WITH COUNTRY MUSIC 

This part will be very familiar if you read my blog earlier in the week!

Growing up in Kentucky, I was raised on country music — Tanya Tucker, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton.

In the 1980s when I went away to college, it was all about pop and dance music (Madonna, Janet Jackson, Taylor Dayne), and the second “British Invasion” (Erasure, Duran Duran, Culture Club).

While I stuck with dance and pop music in the 1990s, I also started listening to Reba McEntire and Patty Loveless and they brought country music back into my life.

I’ve always been more of a fan of female singers.  However, I’ll admit that in the music video age, a good-looking singer in a cowboy hat could grab my attention long enough for me to listen to the music.

That turned me on to Clay Walker’s music.

Clay Walker

From his debut hit, “What’s It To You” in 1993 that topped the chart to his last Top 40 country hit, “Where Do I Go From You” in 2010.  In his career, he’s scored 29 Top 40 hits, 17 of which hit the Top Ten, and six topped the country charts.  As a matter of fact, five of his first six were #1 hits.

“This Woman and This Man” is still my all-time favorite Clay Walker song.  It topped the chart for two weeks in early 1995.

Once country radio started cutting back on airplay for Reba, Patty, Pam Tillis, Lorrie Morgan, Martina McBride, and females no longer in the younger demographics, I lost interest in the format.

In the past fifteen years, the only male country singer I became fan of was Keith Urban.

keith_urban

However, with the recent crossover of Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time” and the anticipation of Reba’s concert last week in the Quad Cities, I glanced at the country chart.

I watched a few videos and I liked “Make Me Wanna” by Thomas Rhett (I actually interviewed his father, Rhett Akins, back in 1997).

MICHAEL RAY — ALBUM PICK HIT 

michael-ray

Michael Ray’s “Kiss You in the Morning” is the most played country song in the U.S. this week.

I just bought his self-titled debut album and I’m so glad I did.  Here is the link to my review of the album and you’ll get to hear more of my favorite tracks from it:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/michael-ray-could-bring-me-back-to-country-music/

And, it’s pretty cool that even with his busy touring schedule and with radio and television appearances, Michael had a chance to read my blog and review of his album and tweeted back at me.

Michael Ray Tweets

“THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL”

As much as I love movies, it’s crazy that I still haven’t been to the theater this calendar year.  The last theater movie for me was “Unbroken” back in late December!

I’ve been waiting to see “Jurassic World”, but my summer work schedule nixed that.  And, I’m definitely going to see “Everest” on the big screen (the release date is now September 25, 2015).

Now, I’ve found another one that looks amazingly funny and bold and it has a 95% positive rating on the site, “Rotten Tomatoes”.

“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” is the story of a 1970s teenager, Minnie Goetze, played by British actress Bel Powley, and her affair with her mother’s boyfriend told from her diary.

Kristin Wiig, who’s been in two of my favorite movies over the past year, “The Skeleton Twins” and “Welcome To Me”, plays Minnie’s mother and Alexander Skarsgard (“True Blood”) stars as Wiig’s boyfriend.

The movie is only playing in selection theaters now, but will be expanding in August.  Hopefully, it’ll be in the Quad Cities this fall!

“UNDER THE DOME” — THE END?

I loved the first season of “Under The Dome” on CBS and suffered through the end of season two.

under-the-dome

After watching just a bit of the season three premiere, I’d had enough.  And, I guess America has, too.

The show premiered with 13.5 million viewers (17.76 million with DVR figures added).  Last week’s episode was down to an astonishing 3.88 million!

I highly suspect that the show will be cancelled (along with “Extant”).

CBS entertainment chairman Nina Tassler at the Television Critics Association’s press tour earlier this week told reporters that the dome will come down in the finale.  “Entertainment Weekly” reports that “producers have written the finale to serve as a potential series finale or a season finale”.

Regardless of the fate of the show, two great things came out it — one gorgeous and one gory!

600full-mike-vogelCOW UNDER THE DOME

Sorry, I couldn’t resist!  I still try to catch the show’s opening just to see the dome split the cow in half!

FALL IS GETTING CLOSER

Okay, let me get that taste out of your mouth!  Look what’s new from M&M for this fall season: Pecan Pie M&Ms!

Pecan Pie M&M

Yum!  I can’t wait to try them!

While I love spending time floating in the pool and I love snow (but not the extreme Midwestern cold), fall is my new favorite season.

Fall

That all sounds incredible, but it’s really all about…

“THE WALKING DEAD”

On August 23rd, “Fear The Walking Dead” premieres on AMC and hopefully that’ll hold me over until October 11th when the sixth season of “The Walking Dead” begins.

Here’s the incredible new trailer for “The Walking Dead”!

THAT’S IT FOR NOW

Thank you for checking out my “Random Friday Thoughts”.  Let me know your thoughts on anything I wrote about today.

Have a great weekend.  I’m going to relax and enjoy the pool.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — February 7, 2014

After a very busy weekend last weekend, I’m happy that I only have one function this weekend.

On Sunday, I’ll be judging a chili cook-off and cookie contest.  Otherwise, it’s a movie watching two days of relaxation.  I hope you have a great weekend.

Thanks for checking out my random thoughts today.

SUPER BOWL — HAPPY THOUGHT

I’m not a football fan, but I know that Seattle blew Denver away, that Bruno Mars got rave reviews for his halftime performance, and that Super Bowl 48 was the most watched television event ever with 111.5 viewers.

And, since Madonna or Beyonce wasn’t performing, I didn’t watch.  However, leading up to the big game, I was touched by this commercial.  Although I only saw three commercials, I’m partial to this one.

It’s been viewed 44 million times on YouTube and, incredibly, about six thousand people gave it a “thumbs down” or “dislike”.  What kind of people are they?

SUPER BOWL — SAD THOUGHT

Probably the same kind of people who are appalled by Coca-Cola’s commercial, “It’s Beautiful”.

Coca Cola

The ad features “America The Beautiful” sung in seven different languages to show what the company calls our country’s “incredible diversity”.

Here’s what Fox News’ Todd Starnes had to say.

Todd Starnes

And, he wasn’t alone!

Anti Coke Tweets

How do these hateful Tweeters know that those featured in the commercials didn’t speak English and were just singing in their native language?  I admit that if I moved to a foreign country, I would learn that country’s language, but I’d also speak English, my first language.

But, there were also some very positive Tweets.

Coca Cola Tweet

I wish the haters could comprehend what Coast Life Guy had to say.

Diversity and tolerance, we’re not there yet and we may never be.  But, I hope that we continue to make strides in the right direction!  Maybe we need to just think back to this 1971 Coca-Cola commercial.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Cat Lady Starter KitLet It Snow 5 Stages of Winter

MORE SNOW THIS WEEKEND?

A little clipper system dropping across the Midwest Saturday will bring 1-3″ of snow to the area with the heaviest falling across the north.

This has been a very cold and snowy winter, so far!

Temperatures are running about 10° below average this winter and we’ve had 25 mornings with below zero temperatures in the Quad Cities.

Even before this next snow, this ranks as the 27th snowiest winter on record in the Quad Cities. Only 5.2″ of snow would push us from#27 to #10, so we’ll be jumping up this list this weekend!  (The graphic below was updated Saturday with the new snowfall added, so we are higher than 27th now!)

Snowiest Quad City Winters

After more bitter cold early next week, a warming trend FINALLY kicks in by the middle and end of next week!

ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION

Now that I have your attention, this is serious and not a joke.  Ladies, listen up.  Yes, I said ladies.  Men can read it, too.

Did you know that erectile dysfunction is one of the first signs of cardiovascular disease?  While I’ve heard that before, I was glancing through the March 2013 “Family Circle” magazine and Dr. Lawrence Hakin at The Cleveland Clinic Florida added that “It can predate a heart attack by up to five years”.

And, I even took the high road in this public service announcement by not showing a picture!  🙂

MEANWHILE… THAT HIGH ROAD DIDN’T LAST LONG

I think Ben Affleck is hot.  I absolutely loved the ’70s look in “Argo”.

Argo-Ben-Affleck

I got a good laugh and had a few indecent thoughts over a joke CBS producer Chuck Lorre (“The Big Bang Theory”, “Two and a Half Men”, and many more) told at the Producer Guild Awards in late January when he was accepting a career achievement award.

Lorre joked with the crowd that he was standing next to Affleck in the bathroom, “Yes I peeked. And yes, Comic Con, he can play Batman.”

ben-affleck-batman-t-shirt

As you might know, the fanboy/fangirl world was turned upside down when it was announced that Affleck would play Batman in the new untitled Superman/Batman” movie in May 2016.

Affleck laughed at Lorre’s joke and followed it up onstage with this joke about his genitals, “Thank you very much.  Whoever you are, God bless you. I’m often confused with Matt Damon but rarely with Michael Fassbender, so it was a nice change.”

Chuck Lorre

There was so much uproar about Lorre’s joke that the producer issued this statement, “Not that it really matters, but the joke I made at the Producers Guild Awards regarding Ben Affleck’s genitals being of sufficient size to fill the caped crusader’s codpiece was just that, a joke. I’ve never met Mr. Affleck in or out of a men’s room. Nor am I in the habit of peeking at another guy’s junk while standing at a urinal.”

People, chill out.  It was funny.

PICK HIT OF THE WEEK

It’s no secret that I absolutely adore Kylie Minogue and I hope that I get to see her in concert when she tours next.

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

I know I featured the lyric video to her new song last week, but here is the official video and she looks incredible!

Kiss Me Once

The new album, “Kiss Me Once” comes out March 18, 2014.

“FURTHER TALES OF THE CITY”

If you’ve been reading my blog over the past two years, you know that I often talk about music, movies, and television.  Lately, I’ve been including books, too.  My friend, Kelly Hager, would be so proud of me.

Over the past week, I just finished my fifth book of 2014!  That obviously means I’ve been spending a lot of time on the treadmill and it’s working.  I’m down 8.2 pounds since the start of the year!  Only 12 more pounds to go before this summer.

I just finished “Further Tales of the City”, the third book in Armistead Maupin’s nine-book “Tales of the City” series.

Further Tales

If you recall from my last two “Random Friday Thoughts” blogs, the series is about a “family” of friends at 28 Barbary Lane in San Fransisco in the 1970s.

In this book, it’s now 1981, President Reagan is just beginning his years in office and the Jim Jones’ Jonestown Masscare plays an integral role in the mystery and intrigue.

One character moves away from Barbary Lane, two residents begin a relationship with each other after years of avoiding it, and one couple re-unites only to break up again.

Someone strives to become a television reporter and another ends up dead and you’ll never guess who killed the character and what happened to the body!

Sadly, this was the last of the books to be made into a miniseries.  It aired on Showtime in 1998.  Here’s the trailer and it contains some adult situations and language!

Many moons ago, I read the first three books in the series that I just re-read.  Now, it’s on to book four and I have no idea what happens, so this is exciting!

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

Olivia Newton-John just announced this week that she’ll be playing 45 shows from April through August in the Donny and Marie Showroom at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino!

Olivia

Earlier this year, I blogged that I want to see her in concert this year.  This might be my chance to see her and catch Shania Twain and Britney Spears, too.

The English-born, Australian-raised singer first charted in the United States in 1971 with the #25 pop hit, “If Not For You”.

However, she became an international superstar when she scored five consecutive top ten hits on both the pop and country charts at the same time beginning in 1973.

On the country chart, Olivia had 13 top 40 hits.

Olivia Newton-John - Let Me Be There

“Let Me Be There” was her first Top Ten hit in America in 1973 reaching #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #7 on the Billboard Country chart.

That song won Olivia her first Grammy for “Best Female Country Vocal Performance”.  She also won numerous country music awards beginning in 1973 and in the years to come, too.

Olivia Physical

Olivia’s 1981 hit, “Physical” is one of the biggest songs of all-time.  It stayed at the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for ten weeks.  This came after her huge success in the movie, “Grease”, which made $394.5 million in 1978 and the soundtrack spawned three top 5 hits.

Olivia would go on to hit the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 27 times with 15 of those songs reaching the top ten.  She reached the #1 spot on the Hot 100 with “I Honestly Love You” in 1974, “Have You Never Been Mellow” in 1975, “You’re The One That I Want” with John Travolta from “Grease” in 1978, “Magic” in 1980, and “Physical”.

While I could not pick my favorite Olivia song because I love the country songs, the pop songs, and the dance songs, the one that always make me smile and sing along was the #8 title track from her 1980 movie, “Xanadu”.  The song featured the Electric Light Orchestra.

DON’T BLAME CANADA, YOU GOTTA LOVE IT

The 2014 Winter Olympics are underway in Sochi, Russia.  So far, there hasn’t been a lot of love for the hosting city or country from terror threats, poor accommodations for many attending the games, Russia’s anti-gay legislation, and the list goes on.

In full Olympics spirit, the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion has a message for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cronies.

“Don’t You Want Me” by the Human League is still one of my favorite songs of all time and now I’ll smile even more when I hear it.

That’s it for this week.  Enjoy your weekend and thank you for checking out my thoughts.  Feel free to share your thoughts about anything I had to say, whether you agree with me or not.

Anthony

New Christmas Sounds: Two Are Great & One Is A Lump Of Coal

When it comes to Christmas music, the standards are hard to beat.  While there are newer originals that are incredible like “Secret of Giving” by Reba (1999), there are also some really bad new songs each Christmas season.  This Christmas, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Colbie Caillat, and Cee Lo Green all have new albums.

And, while I’ve already bought three new Christmas CDs this year, there are two more that I want to pick up.

Blake Shelton Christmas

Blake Shelton’s “Cheers, it’s Christmas” is one of them and to be honest, while I like his voice, I really want it because he does a duet with Reba on “Oklahoma Christmas”.

Also, I’m not an “American Idol” fan even with the amazing Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.  However, I finally broke down this past summer and bought my first “AI” alumni CD, “Trespassing” by Adam Lambert.  It was great, but it totally bombed!

With that being said, I was very apprehensive about the new holiday disc from last year’s winner Scotty McCreery.

ScottyMcCreery

Yes, he’s cute and he has that great, masculine Josh Turner-like voice, but did I really want to take a chance on “Christmas With Scotty McCreery”.  I finally decided yes, so I’ll going to buy it.

So, what about the three new Christmas CDs that I bought?  Two are fantastic, but one of them has a drawback.  The third is acceptable and I would only recommend it for one reason.  It would be closer to a “lump of coal”.

coal

“MERRY CHRISTMAS, BABY” — ROD STEWART

Rod Stewart

Ladies and gay men, you may have swooned in the 1970s when he sang “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” and “Young Turks” in the 1980s, but does that gravelly voice translate into holiday cheer?

“Merry Christmas, Baby” is Rod Stewart’s first holiday disc and I can’t believe that we made it through all of the past holidays without him.  This disc is definitely going to be a holiday classic.

Stewart excels in the classics, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”, “White Christmas”, “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and “Blue Christmas”.

Several duets are featured and my favorite is  “Winter Wonderland” with Michael Buble.  He also has nice duets with Cee Lo Green on “Merry Christmas, Baby” and “We Three Kings” with Mary J. Blige.

Rod does a great duet with the late Ella Fitzgerald on “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”  God rest her soul, but I have to say that I’m not a fan of singers recording new songs with people who have passed on.   (If this trend continues, I hope Madonna releases a Christmas CD next year and does “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” with the late John Lennon.)

There is one original song on the disc, “Red-Suited Super Man”, and it’s a fun song.

“Merry Christmas, Baby” has been played many times since I bought it.  I love this disc.

GRADE:  A

“ON THIS WINTER’S NIGHT”  — LADY ANTEBELLUM

Lady Antebellum Christmas

I absolutely love the harmonies of country music’s hottest trio, Lady Antebellum.  I saw them open for Reba a few years ago and I love their energy and their voices.

You can’t go wrong on their new Christmas album, “On This Winter’s Night”.

Every song on the disc is pure Christmas joy from the upbeat fun of Hillary Scott’s “Holly Jolly Christmas” to Charles Kelley getting down on a fun “Blue Christmas”.  Other perfect standouts are “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, “The First Noel”,  “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”, “Silent Night (Lord of My Life)”, and “Silver Bells”.

My only gripe, and this is a big one that long time fans may agree with me on, is that this disc feels like a ripoff to make some quick money on their popularity.

Of the twelve songs, six of them were released on the trio’s 201o EP, “A Merry Little Christmas”.  So, if you’re a fan and you bought that one two years ago, you’re paying for the same six songs this year with only six new songs!  (Santa may place the record company on his “naughty list” for marketing the recycled songs!)

Putting that behind me, if you made confectionery concoctions as tasty as any song on this disc, you’d definitely be in demand year around for your baking!

GRADE:  A 

“This Christmas”  — JOHN TRAVOLTA & OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN

John Olivia Christmas

John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John set the world on fire with the 1978 blockbuster, “Grease”.  Their hit song, “You’re The One That I Want”, is one of the best-selling duets of all-time.  However, while lightning does strike twice, that doesn’t always happen in the entertainment business.  Their follow-up movie together, 1983’s “Two of A Kind”, was a box office bomb, but Olivia did score a top 5 hit, “Twist of Fate”, from the movie soundtrack.

After Travolta got a text from Olivia last year about how successful their “Grease” duet still is, they decided to do a Christmas CD together to benefit her charity, “The Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre” in Melbourne, Australia and his charity, “The Jett Travolta Foundation”, in memory of his 16-year-old autistic son, Jett, that died in early 2009 in the Bahamas after he fell and hit his head.

I’ll get the bad news out of the way first and then focus on the good.  The opening song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, is probably the worst version I’ve ever heard.  As much as I love Olivia, she couldn’t get “Physical” enough to save this disaster!  Three songs later, “This Christmas” would have been better without John’s vocals.

Enough picking on John.  I like the man and I love his acting.  He does a fine job singing solo on “This Christmas Waltz”.

He and Olivia are joined by Barbra Streisand on “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and it’s excellent.  Four songs later, Cliff Richard joins them on “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (you may remember Cliff from Olivia’s 198o’s hit, “Suddenly” from “Xanadu”).  Tony Bennett and The Count Basie Orchestra show up on “Winter Wonderland” and James Taylor drops in on “Deck The Halls”.

Olivia’s solo, “Silent Night” is incredible and their medley “Auld Lang Syne/Christmas Time Is Here” is a great closer to an uneven album.

The most exciting song on “This Christmas” is the one that I think should have been sequenced as the first song on the album, “I Think You Might Like It”.  It’s a very fun song and if I close my eyes while listening to it, I see Danny & Sandy in “Grease” dancing to it around the Christmas tree.  Here is the new video from Olivia & John!

GRADE:  C+   (There are great songs on it and there are some not so great songs, but the album is for a good cause.  It’s Christmas and the holidays are about charity!)

And, while we’re talking about amazing Christmas albums, these three are still my favorites.

Happy listening and Merry Christmas early!

Anthony