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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September 27, 1996

And just like that we've arrived at the final Tuesday Timeline for September 2016.  But fear not, I guarantee you that this one will be magical.

This will be your only clue for now.  Ponder on that while I list off some of the other historical happenings for September 27.

1590 - Pope Urban VII dies thirteen days after being chosen as Pope, making his reign the shortest papacy of all time

1669 - The Siege of Candia ends after twenty-one years

1777 - Lancaster, Pennsylvania becomes the capital of the United States - for one whole day

1822 - Jean-Francois Champollion announces that he has deciphered the Rosetta Stone

1905 - The equation E=mc^2 is first introduced in the publishing of Albert Einstein's paper "Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?"

1908 - The first production of the Ford Model T was built in Detroit, Michigan

1919 - Actress Jayne Meadows (d. 2015) is born in Wuchang, China

1920 - Actor William Conrad (d. 1994) is born in Louisville, Kentucky

1930 - Bobby Jones wins the U.S. Amateur Championship, which allows him to complete the Grand Slam of golf

1936 - "Soul Train" producer Don Cornelius (d. 2012) is born in Bronzeville, Chicago, Illinois

1940 - The Tripartite Pact is signed by Germany, Italy, and Japan in Berlin

1954 - "Tonight Starring Steve Allen" debuts on NBC - the show would later come to be known as "The Tonight Show", whose subsequent hosts would include Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and Jimmy Fallon

1956 - USAF Captain Milburn G. Apt dies shortly after exceeding Mach 3 in the Bell X-2 craft when the craft goes out of control

1959 - Typhoon Vera strikes Japan, killing five thousand people

1961 - Sierra Leone joins the United Nations

1965 - Silent film star Clara Bow passes away at the age of 60

1968 - "Hair" opens at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London and would host nearly 2,000 performances over the next five years

2000 - The first Olympic medal for tae kwon do was won by Michail Mourutsos during the Sydney Games

2001 - Fourteen people are killed and four more injured when a man goes on a shooting rampage in Zug, Switzerland; the gunman would later take his own life

2008 - P!nk's "So What" reaches #1 on the Billboard Charts

2015 - The television series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" airs its final episode after a fifteen year run on CBS

And here is a list of celebrity birthdays for September 27.  Birthday greetings go out to Wilford Brimley, Al MacNeil, Kathy Whitworth, Randy Bachman, Barbara Dickson, Meat Loaf, Tom Braidwood, Graham Richardson, Peter Sellars, Shaun Cassidy, Marc Maron, Stephan Jenkins, Steve Kerr, Alexis Stewart, Don Jamieson, Tamara Taylor, Clara Hughes, Gwyneth Paltrow, Carrie Brownstein, Sophie Crumb, Lil Wayne, Ella Scott Lynch, Avril Lavigne, and Austin Carlile.

I also want to wish my niece, Asia, a happy 20th birthday today!  

And while she is NOT the subject of today's blog, her birthday happens to be today's Tuesday Timeline date.  September 27, 1996.

But what in the world happened on September 27, 1996 in pop culture?  Well, at the time, I was fifteen years old so I do remember that day well.  Aside from the birth of my niece, there was something else that I was looking forward to. 

It was the debut of a television show that as I mentioned before was quite magical in a way.  And considering that Halloween is coming up next month, I figure that now is a good time to bring up the fact that this television show was filled with magic and witchcraft, and its storylines often left the viewers feeling spellbound.

It's a television show that was based on a comic book character that debuted in Archie Comics in 1962, and while this character once had her own cartoon show in the 1960s and 1970s, this television series was the first time that the character had been seen in live action - well, aside from the introductory made for television film that aired earlier in 1996.

Yes, it was twenty years ago today that "Sabrina: The Teenage Witch" debuted on ABC!  Twenty years!  My goodness, I feel old just thinking about it!

And, yes...I will definitely admit to watching this show - well, at least for the first couple of seasons anyway.  What was interesting about this show's run was that it ended up running for seven seasons total - but on two different networks.  From 1996-2000, the show was part of ABC's TGIF line-up, but beginning in 2000, the show switched to the WB Network for the remainder of its run.  The final episode of the series aired on April 24, 2003.

Mind you, by April 2003, Sabrina wasn't a teenager any longer.  Neither was Melissa Joan Hart who played the role of Sabrina (she was 20 when the show began).  But yet somehow, I think that Melissa Joan Hart was a good choice for the role.  After all, the Sabrina comic book series (at least the one that was illustrated by Dan DeCarlo) showed Sabrina as being a positive, caring, happy-go-lucky character.  And certainly Melissa was capable of playing such a role.  Heck, she was the star of "Clarissa Explains It All" way back in the mid-1990s!

And I have to say that for the most part, the show stuck with the formula that worked in the comic book series.  Rather than having Sabrina living in Riverdale with Archie, Betty, and Veronica, she lived in the fictional community of Westbridge, Massachusetts.  And the reason for why she has magical powers is because her father's side of the family come from a long line of witches and warlocks, dating back to the Salem Witch Trials period. 

Sabrina discovers her magical powers on the morning of her sixteenth birthday when she finds herself levitating over her bed.  And after talking with her two aunts, Hilda (Caroline Rhea) and Zelda (Beth Broderick), she comes to accept the fact that she can now cast spells.  She also comes to learn that the family pet, a cat named Salem (Nick Bakay) can talk.  In reality, Salem was once a powerful warlock who had a spell put on him that transformed him into a cat because his power got the better of him.

TRIVIA:  Beginning in 1996, all Sabrina comics that featured Salem changed his colour from orange to black to fit the television show better.

Of course, Sabrina had more to worry about than trying to control her powers - the first three seasons of this show clearly showed that she COULDN'T.  She also had to balance her witch life from her normal life, and when you're a high school student, that's not exactly easy to do.  It's especially hard when you're falling in love with your crush, Harvey Kinkle (Nate Richert), but you're competing against Libby Chessler (Jenna Leigh Green) for his attention, that's definitely not a good feeling.

And certainly on Sabrina's first day of knowing that she's a witch, she never expected to get so angry with Libby that she accidentally transforms her into a pineapple in front of the whole school!  Fortunately, Hilda and Zelda come up with a plan to restore Libby back to normal while never revealing Sabrina's secret.  It's quite complicated to explain, but the pilot episode is where it all happened.

Now, over the course of the show, characters came and went.  Melissa Joan Hart and Nick Bakay were the only ones to stay for the whole series.  Caroline Rhea left the series to host her own talk show, with Beth Broderick following suit.  Nate Richert came and went.  And new cast members joined the show at various points including Martin Mull (Mr. Kraft), Soleil Moon Frye (Roxy), Elisa Donovan (Morgan), David Lascher (Josh), and Dylan Neal (Aaron).  And when the show switched from ABC to the WB, it was also a turning point for Sabrina as she left high school and started attending college.  But, that's really all I can say as I haven't seen too many episodes of the last three seasons of the show.  You had to pay the cable company extra to get the WB, and it just wasn't worth the money.  Which I suppose is why the WB is now known as the CW.

I have to say that overall the show did stay true to the comics - well, the first few years anyway.  And while the show was never really destined to win any Emmy Awards, you do have to admit that it was a show that could appeal to all audiences with its family friendly storylines and magical whimsy.  Consider it a 1990s version of "Bewitched" if you will...only Sabrina never had to wiggle her nose to cast a spell.

Besides, the television show launched a comic book reboot, a series of youth novels, a cartoon series, and even a few video games!  And at the time it was airing on TGIF, it was the highest rated series in the block - and this was during a time in which "Boy Meets World", "Family Matters" and "The Hughleys" were airing alongside the show.  That's quite impressive, no matter what your feelings were about the show.

Personally, I liked it a lot.  But then again, I like almost anything associated with Archie Comics.  I wonder if the "Riverdale" series that is set to air on the CW in early 2017 will have the same success as Sabrina did, given that it seems to be wanting to go after a completely different audience.  Who knows, really?

But two decades ago today, Sabrina was the belle of the witch ball!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Monday of Munsch - Love You Forever

It's the final Monday in September, which means that it's time for the final Munsch least for now.

I may revisit this author at another time in the future, but for now, let's savour this moment while we can.

I have to say that a good 90% of Robert Munsch's stories are hysterical to read and usually involve stories that expect you to believe the unbelievable.  From mud puddles jumping on top of you from trees to getting into a fight with your principal and teacher over a snowsuit, to making yourself invisible after attempting to scrub off super indelible markers from your skin, it's safe to say that most of his stories are fun tales that suspend reality.

But perhaps one of Munsch's greatest stories that he has ever written comes from a place in which he was probably at his saddest.

If you read his official biography at, you'll read one sad footnote amongst all of the fun stories that he has shared over his career.  When Robert and his wife were trying to start a family of their own, they had two children that were stillborn.  And the tragedy devastated both of them - which lead to the couple's eventual decision to adopt children. 

But if there could be a positive to come out of the tragedy of losing two children, it was this.  Robert wrote a song about his lost children, and the song was called "Love You Forever".

"I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be"

It didn't occur to him that song would one day become his biggest selling book - one that has been loved from generation to generation since it was originally published in 1986.

"Love You Forever" is the tale of a mother and her son, and how strong that mother's love grows with each passing year - no matter what sort of trouble the child seems to get into.

You know the kind of trouble I mean.  Flushing Daddy's wristwatch down the toilet, or tracking mud through the kitchen, or sticking gum all over the place, or bringing in strange animals as pets.  These are all things that would most definitely test the patience of any parent.

And yet every single night, the mother would sneak into the room of her son, pick him up, cradle him, and sing the "Love You Forever" song to him, showing him just how much she loved him - even if he wasn't conscious at the time.

Even when the young man grew older and moved out of the house, she would always come over every single night and sing him the "Love You Forever" song, even if it meant that she grabs a ladder, climbs up to his bedroom window and picks him up even though he likely outweighs her by a hundred pounds!

Okay, so maybe there was a little bit of Munsch humour added in.  Not a whole lot, but a little.

Now, here's where the story gets heartbreaking.  Eventually, the mother of our tale starts to get frailer, and although it's not really implied in the story, it's eluded that she has some sort of illness that prevents her from remembering the song that she used to sing to her son.  By that time, the son is now a full-grown adult with a family of his own, and in gratitude for all that she has done for him, he sings her the "Love You Forever" song with a little tweak in the lyrics...
I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living
My Mommy you'll be"

Are your eyes dry yet?  Give me a moment to dry mine.

I guess the moral of "Love You Forever" is that a parent's love for a child never dies.  I truly believe that to be true even long after a parent departs this world and leaves their children behind.

And while I am lucky enough to still have both of my parents, I know that one day I'm going to come to the grim reality that they are not always going to be there...but even though there may come a day in which they are no longer here, I know that their love will never truly die.  We carry that love with us and pass it on to future generations - well, those of us who are lucky enough to have children, that is.  Until then, if you're lucky enough to still have your parents in your life, spend time with them.  Let them know how much you love them.  Be there for them.

Love each other forever.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Body Age, 35. Soul Age, 99.

Have you ever heard of the phrase "old soul"?  It's a term that someone might use to describe a person who either acts as though they are older than they actually are, or it's a term that is used to describe someone whose morals and values might seem more mature than the average person.

It's a term that I have heard many times.  And the reason is because I feel as though I have an old soul. 

Growing up in small town Ontario, I always had great difficulty relating to people my own age.  I tried to be friendly with them, and sometimes they would respond back in kind, but when it comes down to it, I always found myself on the outside looking in.  It wasn't really anything that I feel that I did, it's just that I couldn't relate to them as much as I could adults.

I suppose part of the reason for my thinking could have been due to the fact that I wasn't really exposed to many children when I was younger.  In the first five years of my life, I think my family moved to four different neighbourhoods, so I never really had a chance to really get to know people as we were constantly moving.  And by the time my family finally settled on the street that I called home for fourteen years, there were no kids my age on the street at all.  It was 85% elderly residents.

I mean, don't get me wrong.  Many of those elderly people were nice people, and many of them gave me extra treats on Halloween whenever I went trick-or-treating as for many years I was the only child on the street.  But it made for a rather lonely childhood at times.

It wasn't until I started elementary school that I finally got the chance to interact with people my own age.  Unfortunately, the majority of the kids in my class already had a major head start in social skills than I had.  Many of them came from neighbourhoods with lots of children, or they were in daycare programs that allowed them access to other kids their age.  I never really had that experience, and I think it ended up being detrimental to trying to get along with people my own age.

Even at 35, I can probably count all the friends who were born the same year I was on both hands.  I just find it difficult to initiate conversation with people near my age because I feel as though I have nothing to offer in terms of conversation.  And that's nobody's fault.  It's just the way that I feel and my own individual experiences.

When I was a kid, it seemed to me that most of my friends back in those days were fully-grown adults.  I found that I could have better conversations with adult figures than I could with people my own age.  The guy who used to deliver bread to the convenience store was my friend.  The bank teller at the Bank of Montreal was my friend.  Any random person on the street that was older than me, I considered a friend.  Of course, I should reiterate that I just didn't go around the streets of my hometown talking to random strangers.  My parents would have never allowed that.

Thing is, I don't know why I found it easier to talk to adults than I did talking with people my own age.  Maybe it was because I saw adults as being protective figures, and that by talking to them that they wouldn't be mean to me.  And 99% of the time, that was my experience with them.  We won't discuss the mean neighbours across the street from the house I grew up in.

But ultimately, I think it all came down to what I was exposed to as a child.  And as it so happened, most of my childhood experiences were around adult figures.

Even having siblings that were much older than I was sort of explained my gravitation towards adults instead of kids my age.  Because their friends were much older than I was, I was exposed to older people moreso than I was people of my own age group.  And even when I was in situations where there were kids my own age, I still felt more comfortable hanging around the adults.  That was just how I felt, and in many ways that's how I still feel.

Now, do I wish that things were different?  In one way, I do.  I hated being the kid that never fit in with the other kids at school, and I longed to have people accept me for who I was no matter what my age was.  But in many ways, I was a 50-year-old soul in a 10-year-old body, and I suppose it would be difficult for the average 10-year-old to find anything in common with a child who felt more open with adults.  Again, that's not anyone's fault.  That was just the way it was.

On that same token, I'm glad that I can relate well with adults because it taught me that somewhere underneath my goofy exterior was a responsible and mature person who somehow could interact with adults and not feel pressured to get off their lawn.  And as I've come to realize just based on the experiences I've had with my own peers, not everyone born the same year as me end up becoming all that mature.

Still...sometimes having an old soul can be as much of a curse as it is a blessing.  It all depends on how you see it.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 27 - The Talent Search, Part 1

Are you ready for Season 2 of Jem Reviewed?  I know I am...even though season one had a lot of ups and downs such as the Glitter and Gold episode last week. 

And we kick off Season 2 with yet another two-part episode!  This is Episode 27 - The Talent Search, Part 1.

It looks like Shana and Krissie are the first people to appear in the first scene as Shana has designed a dress for her.  Great, first she designs for her band, and now the Starlight Girls.  If Ba Nee asks her to design a dress for her Jem doll, I'm gonna scream.

Fortunately for us, Deirdre interrupts to tell Shana that Jem and the other Holograms request her presence in the rehearsal room, which Shana has completely forgotten about.  Luckily, Jem doesn't kill her or anything.

Shana wishes she could set fire to her drum set though.  Shana likes the drums, but she'd rather play her funky looking triangle guitar instead.  The problem is that Jem, Kimber, and Aja play drums about the same way that a two-year-old plays, so Shana is pretty much left to waste away in her prison of percussion instruments.

Why, hello there, Anthony Julien!  How nice of you to barge in uninvited!  Seriously, he just runs in, tells Shana that he has to take her away to meet someone special, and runs off with her!  They must REALLY be serious!  Or Anthony's a caveman.  Take your pick.

Turns out that the person that Anthony Julien wants Shana to meet is actress Liz Stratton, one of the biggest movie divas in all the world.  Believe me, we'll understand what the word diva really means in this episode thanks to her.  For now though, she's charming and witty with Shana and she has a proposition for her.  She wants Shana to design all of the costumes for her next motion picture!  Okay, so technically Shana and Danielle DuVoisin helped with fashion design for the Starbright Movie, but this is Shana's huge chance to prove herself as a solo designer.  The only problem is her commitment to Jem and the Holograms, and how they have a tour coming up.  But Liz isn't willing to budge and tells her that she either works for her, or not at all.  Charming lady, isn't she?

Of course, this leaves Shana in a bit of a pickle.  She knows that the opportunity is one that she can't pass up...but Jerrica, Kimber, and Aja are like sisters to her.  How can she tell them that she wants to take Liz's offer, and how will they react?

Apparently, Shana is shocked that Jerrica, Kimber, and Aja not only support her ambition, but immediately work on plans to replace her by having a talent search contest.  And they say this right in front of her!  No wonder Shana runs upstairs bawling her eyes out!  In fact, when the time comes for Shana to leave Starlight Mansion to move into Liz's quarters, she essentially gives all three girls the cold shoulder as she takes off into the night.

Of course, Shana is the most sensitive Hologram of the bunch - even moreso than Kimber, believe it or not.  And once Anthony and Shana are on the road, she dissolves into a mental breakdown, confused as to why they didn't fight harder to get her to stay.  Anthony reassures Shana that they do care about her and that they want what's best for her, but it's of little consolation.

But what Shana doesn't realize is that the rest of the Holograms are devastated over what happened and they really didn't want her to go.  But Aja explains it best when she deduces that Shana's loyalty to them would have gotten in the way of pursuing her dream.  Nice to see Aja's common sense and sensibility have remained in Season 2.  Jerrica is also sad to see Shana go, but also looks at it from a business perspective.  And since all the tours they go on bring money to Starlight House, she makes it a mission to try and find a replacement drummer for Shana.

Hence the search for the newest Hologram.  Ashley's posting ads for the contest in store windows, Lindsey Pearce is announcing the contest on her video show.  There's even a story about it in the local newspaper... that Pizzazz just happens to be reading.  And Pizzazz, Roxy, and Stormer are not pleased with the extra attention that Jem and the Holograms are getting.  Leave it to Eric Raymond to come up with a solution of his own.  Since Jem and the Holograms are looking for someone new, he decides that the Misfits trio should now become a quartet!  Roxy immediately gets defensive about the idea, saying that they don't need another Misfit, but Stormer seems to think that Eric's idea is sound, as another person can bring a fuller sound and more complex music to their discography.  See, Stormer gets the music business!  It's a wonder she didn't become the lead singer.  I guess probably because Pizzazz wanted the gig more for the publicity.  And, Pizzazz agrees with Stormer that a fourth Misfit is just what they need to stick it to Jem and the Holograms.

Initially, the search goes dry, as every club that they go to produces one bad artist after another.  After about ten clubs, Pizzazz and Roxy are ready to call it a day, but Stormer hears a killer saxophone sound coming from a building advertising a British band called the Tinkerbillies.  Random fact:  Tinkerbilly is Brit slang for Wannabe.  Oh, I sure hope they don't play Spice Girls songs.

No, instead we see a British gal dressed in black and white attacking the crowd with a giant black saxophone.  I'm guessing she must be a Tinkerbilly.  In actuality, her name is Jetta, but we don't learn that until a little later.  I'm just telling you now so you know.  Anyway, Jetta is so busy attacking the crowd that she doesn't notice that Misfits have hijacked the stage.

Pizzazz immediately tells Jetta that because she's violent and crazy, she already likes her style and encourages her to play along with them.  She agrees in her naturally aggressive manner.

Sweet Jesus, I think Stormer was bang on with her assessment that more band members mean more complex music.  I have absolutely no complaints about "I Like Your Style" at all.  The saxophone really adds to the song composition very well, and it easily sets the tone for the Misfits during season two.  If "Designing Woman" was my favourite Misfits song of season one, this song is a contender for season two for sure.

Pizzazz and Stormer are immediately enchanted by Jetta - Pizzazz because of Jetta's mean streak, and Stormer because of Jetta's natural talent and British accent.  And I may as well lead into Jem Trivia here while we're on the subject.  Jetta's voice actress is the very British Louise Dorsey - who happens to be the daughter of one Arnold Dorsey.  And Arnold Dorsey goes by the stage name of Engelbert Humperdinck (I know...what a name change, huh?)

(Coincidentally, Louise Dorsey isn't the only Brit on this show.  Samantha Newark, who voices Jem, was also born in Britain.  Obviously she uses an American accent for the show, but listen to her whenever Jem or Jerrica say the word "Very".  It's vurry obvious.)

It's also vurry obvious that Roxy and Jetta have no love lost between them, and they nearly get into a fist fight!  But that's the least of Jetta's issues.  Jetta is going to have problems joining the band, as she doesn't have the necessary visa to work in the United States.  Of course, Pizzazz sees this as not a problem, and tells Jetta that her father will take care of that nasty paperwork.  That's enough to convince Jetta to join the band!  Roxy still doesn't like it, but Pizzazz is too busy filling Jetta in on how much Jem sucks for her to take Roxy's feelings to heart.

Meanwhile, Aja is handing out flyers to every single music store to advertise the contest, and at one store she overhears someone playing the drums very well.  It's a blue haired man by the name of Craig Phillips, and immediately Craig is drawn into Aja's orbit.  He compliments her on her name, he compliments her on her beauty, and he actually hits on her!  Yep, Craig is very much smitten.  But just as I'm finally expecting Aja to get a storyline for once, she shuts him down cold, and tells him that they're only looking for serious contestants for their contest.  Ouch!  However, Craig is not about ready to give up on Aja just yet and decides that maybe by becoming a Hologram, he can get closer to his "love at first sight" moment.

And across town at a new location - Alonso Nurseries - we are introduced to a Latino-American family who runs their own flower growing business.  Normally this wouldn't be much of a big deal except that the daughter of the family takes the news about Jem's drummer leaving very seriously.

Introducing our drum playing flower child from Mexico - Carmen Alonso.  But, Carmen doesn't like being called that.  Instead, she goes by her nickname. Raya.  It's a name that her mother doesn't really approve of - but then again, Raya's mother doesn't really like the idea of Raya playing drums in the first place.  Then again, I get the feeling Mama Alonso doesn't like a lot of things like sunshine, or rainbows, or sex.  Thankfully, Papa Alonso is nowhere near the dream crushing harpy that his wife is, and he supports her in her quest to enter the contest!  Take that, Mama Alonso!

So, how is the talent search going?  Well, we have Jem, Kimber, and Aja filling in the roles of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson...and unfortunately, all of the people who are auditioning suck.  Lowlights include a girl going all butterfingers with her drumsticks and a nerdy guy playing the William Tell Overture on a Fisher-Price drum!  Jem is already wanting her Coca-Cola glass to be spiked with tequila, I'm sure.

One person who won't be at the auditions any time soon is Raya, who sees that the line is so long that she thinks she'd be wasting her time, and goes back home.  What was the point of that?

Seems like Raya isn't the only one who has become disenchanted with their recent choices.  It appears as though Shana is undergoing a "Devil Wears Prada" moment with Liz Stratton who completely trashes her and her designs.  Little Miss "Orange Is My Unlucky Colour" Stratton is being impossible with Little Miss Lavender-Haired Designer Shana, and Anthony Julien is noticing the tension in the air.  He suggests that maybe Shana should leave and go back to Jem, but Shana is insisting that she made the right choice despite the feelings of doubt that she has.  I guess we'll just have to see what happens.

Back at the Alonso nurseries, Papa Alonso is shocked that Raya just gave up on the audition, and Raya tells him that when she saw all the people in the line, she figured that she didn't have a chance.  It takes a pep talk from Papa Alonso to change Raya's mind, and together they go back to Starlight Music for Raya to audition properly.

Unfortunately they arrive just as the security at Starlight Music closes the doors of the record company.  Day one of tryouts are over, and Raya is upset that she is too late.  But wait!  Papa Alonso has an idea!  He grabs a couple of orchid plants from the back of his van, instructs Raya to carry one, and tells the person sitting at the desk that the flowers are for Jem!  I have to say, I like Papa Alonso's style, and I think he's one of the few male characters who seems to have a backbone and a brain! 

The plan works, and Papa Alonso and Raya arrive just as Jem, Kimber, and Aja are ready to pack up.  At first, Jem tells Raya to come back tomorrow, but Papa Alonso steps in to say that it took everything in him to get her to come back to the auditions because of Raya's shyness, and pleads with Jem to let her audition!  Charmed by Papa Alonso's personality, Jem relents and says that they have time for one more.

This in turn leads to a song called "Believe in Yourself" - a song that ties into Papa Alonso's advice to Raya beautifully!  As we can see, Raya really is a talented drummer, and the song is absolutely fantastic!  I see Jem has really stepped up her songs as well, as this one might be an instant favourite for Season 2 thus far!

Once Raya's audition is finished, Jem and Kimber tell her that she was vurry terrific, and Aja formally invites her to be one of the semi-finalists for the contest!  Outrageous!  Raya is blown away by the news and she and her father go off to celebrate - at least that is until her father realizes that they left behind his orchid plants.  This prompts Raya to tell her father to wait in the lobby while she retrieves them...

...which allows Raya to discover Jem's SECRET!!!  She has a great view of Jem using her JemStar earrings to transform into Jerrica Benton.  Uh-oh!

Furthermore, Raya happens to catch Jerrica talking with Synergy - Synergy of course telling Jerrica that she needs to be careful when revealing her identity to outsiders (because we all know how well that worked in Morvania), and Jerrica reassures Synergy that before they reveal who she is to a new band member that they have to trust them one hundred per cent.  What an interesting conflict this presents in Raya, who now knows everything, but the other Holograms aren't aware that Raya knows Jem's secret identity.  Whatever is she going to do?

She gets some time to sleep on it, as Day #2 of auditions take place, and who should happen to appear in the next batch of percussion hopefuls than Craig Phillips - the very person who tried to hit on Aja at the record store.  Once Aja recognizes him, Craig informs her that he never plays drums alone and asks for backup, to which Aja happily obliges.

Now, one thing I should note about Season 2 is that many of the episodes reuse old songs from Season 1, but puts different music videos to them, such as the case with "I Got My Eye On You" originally heard in Episode 3.  But instead of focusing on Jem and Rio, this video features the building attraction between Craig and Aja.  Both situations work great, and I'm not annoyed as I listed this song as one of my favourites from Season 1.  Another episode with solid music choices!

I can only assume that Craig was also picked to be a semi-finalist, as he, Raya, and six others are at a party at Starlight Mansion with the Holograms and Starlight Girls.  As Jem, Kimber, and Aja explain to Lindsey Pearce, they feel personal chemistry is as important as musical chemistry, and this was the best way to see who fit into their social circles the best.  You know, I've got to hand it to them...they're doing this talent search exactly right, and I'm very impressed!

One person who isn't impressed with Raya being there is some freakish looking punk girl who more or less insults Raya to the point where Raya runs off crying in the corner.  Fortunately for Raya, Kimber and Aja throw the punk off the property and kick her out of the contest!  Nice job, ladies!

Meanwhile, Jem approaches Raya and tells her that woman was just insecure and jealous and that Raya is there because she has the talent without the conceit, which makes Raya feel better.  And you know, I've given Jem a lot of grief in the past about her personality, but this episode really shows Jem's best side, and it's so great to see her interactions with Raya here.

Raya even decides to bring a present to the Starlight Girls in the form of a pinata, which Ba Nee smashes open to smithereens!  Raya explains to Kimber that she wanted to do something nice for the Starlight Girls because growing up in a house filled with brothers and a dream crushing mother had left her longing for sisters and positive female role models.

Of course, one of the semi-finalists comes to the conclusion that Raya is just doing this to make herself look good and is trying to score brownie points.  However, semi-finalist Craig stands up for Raya and tells the guy off.  This in turn makes Aja fall even more head over heels in love with Craig.  Aw!

While all of this is going on, Eric formally introduces Jetta as the newest Misfit, and Jetta is more than happy to answer any and all questions that the press may have.  Now, the one thing that you need to know about Jetta is that she is a pathological liar who gets off telling embellished stories about her upbringing, even telling the press that she is a descendant of British royalty and name drops celebrities.  Pizzazz and Stormer are instantly impressed by Jetta's stories, but Roxy sees right through Jetta and warns the rest of the band that they shouldn't trust her.  You know, this is a new side of personality that we're seeing from Roxy.  Seems like she might just be the most street smart of all the Misfits, which is a quality that should be embraced.

But even bigger than Jetta joining the Misfits is the announcement of the two finalists for the "Search for a Hologram" contest.  To nobody's surprise, the finalists are Craig and Raya, and as the two celebrate making it further, Papa Alonso happily cheers Raya on, telling the crowd "That's my daughter!".  Seriously, can we keep Papa Alonso as a permanent character?  Please?

Of course, Pizzazz is more upset that when the news breaks about the new Misfit, it's buried on page 18 next to an underwear ad while Jem's contest took the whole front cover.  Jetta's also standing right next to Pizzazz at the time, but says nothing.  I get the feeling she's too busy ogling Jim Palmer in his tighty-whities to really care at this point.

But once Stormer checks out the front cover of the magazine which has Craig and Raya on it, she starts to freak out - particularly when she sees Craig's photo.  She gets so freaked out by Craig's image that she runs out of the room, leaving the other three Misfits to wonder what the heck just happened.  But Eric's not concerned.  The wheels of evil schemes are turning inside his head and he feels that he can use Jem's talent search to take back control of Starlight Music once and for all.  His theory is that because Craig and Raya are the finalists, they must know who Jem's real identity is.  His plan is to give them a recording contract with Misfits Music in exchange for that juicy info.

And he decides to start with Raya by taking her to a Japanese restaurant, informing her that Jem doesn't really think she has talent and actually feels sorry for her, and bribes her with the recording contract if Raya will tell Eric who Jem is.  The really twisted thing is that Raya is the only one of the finalists who truly does know Jem's identity!  The question is...what will she do?

Of course, this is merely part one, and a TO BE CONTINUED sign appears over Raya's face.  But tune into Part 2 to see if Raya reveals all...and then some.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Big Brother 18 - A Turnabout of Turnoffs

If I could use but one word to describe Big Brother 18, it would be this.


You know, there was something so incredibly frustrating about this season, and I honestly didn't want to even write a blog summary of it not just because the end result was definitely NOT the one I hoped for.  No, this season was definitely hard to watch on a number of levels.  There were too many instances of schadenfreude being displayed in the house, and it was a turnoff.  The showmances in the house were a turnoff.  The fact that a totally undeserving person won the whole shebang was a turnoff.  And as far as I'm concerned, a good 75% of the cast this season were turnoffs.

Now, there are SOME things I liked this year.  25% of the houseguests were okay, and I genuinely would like to see them go another round in a future season.  And the BB Roadkill twist was quite genius - or at least it would have been had the group of houseguests we had not been stupid enough to TELL everyone that they won it!

I'm going to get into a huge rant about why this season went so wrong.  And I blame three people in general - and it's not the three you might be thinking either.

For now, I'll go through and give my final thoughts on each individual houseguest from 16th place to the winner, and I will definitely be blunt.  Trust me, most of these people I really have no desire to even want to know, so I don't care how annoyed I get with them here.

I'll start with Glenn.  And to be honest with you, I feel Glenn got a really raw deal.  The eldest houseguest this year, he really tried to be a competitor.  The only problem he had was that nobody would listen to him.  If they did, his team might have beaten "Big Sister", and Glenn would have lasted at least past eviction #1.  And, Glenn, you fought hard in the Battle Back comp, and I think had your timing been better, you would have beaten Jozea in the first round of the competition.  I'm really sorry to have seen you go so early because I truly believe you understood the game of Big Brother, and no matter where you go from here, I know you'll be a success.  I'd happily welcome you back for one more chance.  Thumbs up to you!

Oh, sweet delusional Jozea.  I struggle to comprehend what planet you beamed down from.  You claim to be the Messiah of Big Brother 18, but really, you were just a mess.  Did you even know how to PLAY Big Brother?  You should know that when you're plotting to vote someone off, you DON'T TELL THEM THAT!!!  I'm still trying to understand not only why you were picked to go on the show, but how you could even be considered a possible person to go on Big Brother Over The Top!  Seriously, just go. 

Next we have Victor who...oh, wait.  He won Battle Back.  Never mind.

Actually, we have Bronte next.  And aside from the fact that she claimed to be a math genius, we really didn't see her do much gameplay aside from starting up a "Spy Girls" alliance with Bridgette and Natalie.  It's nice to have an alliance early, but Bronte's math skills should have kicked in and told her that 3/16ths of the house does not make a majority alliance.  And getting tripped up on basic fractions is not a good game move.  Aside from that, I do like you. Bronte, and I do think you could have gone further had you tried to bring in a couple of others into your alliance.  Michelle and Tiffany, for instance.

Speaking of Tiffany, I am going to come right out and say it.  I was concerned about you the minute I found out you were the sister of Vanessa from BB17.  Vanessa wasn't my favourite player that year, and I was thinking you'd be just like her.  Well, as far as emotions go, you and her were two of a kind.  But when it came to gameplay, you got it.  Unfortunately, you and Glenn had something in common in that timing worked against you.  You should have stopped fighting with Frank and worked with him earlier.  That way, you could have gotten some bigger threats out of the game earlier.  Other than that, I do like you, Tiffany...and I think you may have made me start liking Vanessa more, as she was a better game player than most of the people from your own season!

Now, this season brought back four veteran players to play with the other houseguests, and Frank from BB14 was the first one to get evicted.  Frank is also the one veteran I actually really cheered for during the game because he ACTUALLY PLAYED IT!  He didn't let showmances, romances, or bromances stop him from playing the game.  Unfortunately, Frank's biggest mistake was his mouth.  He probably should have never let on that he won the Roadkill challenges, and he most definitely should have never showed his cards as much as he had.  As for the whole thing with Da'Vonne, only those two know what happened, so I can't comment on that.  But Frank, I appreciate you for taking the game seriously, which is more than I can say for mostly anyone else on that show, so for that I salute you!

Da'Vonne, on the other hand, was one vet I wished they had never brought back.  For one, while the other three at least made it to the halfway point, Da'Vonne was the second one voted off her season!  And what did she do all throughout this season?  A whole lot of pot-stirring and caused a whole lot of drama.  The only thing I can defend her on is that when she and Paulie got into that jury house fight, she at least realized that she went too far and toned it back a bit.  But that's not enough for me to say that she was a poor choice to bring back into the house.  If I wanted to watch drama, I'd watch "The Bold and the Beautiful".

Zakiyah, why the hell were you even on this show?  Seriously, what the heck did you do other than steal Bridgette's cake mix and play around with Paulie?  And even better, when Paulie decided to NOT use the veto on you - which got you evicted by the way - you still decided that he was still worth something and got closer to him (which likely helped contribute to the blow-up you and Paulie had with Da'Vonne).  I don't dislike you, Zakiyah, but I don't think you were in the Big Brother house for the right reasons.  Truth be told, there are probably thousands of people who would have been more entertaining houseguests than you.  Sorry.

Bridgette.  I'm not going to lie.  I think you're absolutely delightful and I really want your peanut butter cookie recipe because they looked delicious when I saw them on the show!  I really do think of all the women on this show, you were the one who showed the most heart.  And who knew that underneath that meek Cabbage Patch Kid exterior beat the heart of a fiery feminist who didn't back down?  Paulie may not like your feminist ways, but I support you in everything you do.  Heck, I'm going to say it.  I want you to come back on another season that isn't filled with morons so you can really show who you are to everyone!  Keep it real, Bridgette!

Needless to say, I don't feel that way about you, Paulie.  Paulie, you said when you first entered the Big Brother house that you wanted to have people remember the Calafiore name with pride - considering that your brother Cody lost to Derrick on BB16.  Unfortunately, you've more or less equated the word Calafiore to being a sexist, misogynistic jerk who more or less has the entire female population of New Jersey making sure that you stay single forever.  I have absolutely no respect for anything you did in the game from making a complete fool out of Zakiyah to insulting Natalie's personal appearance.  It just goes without saying that you still have a lot of growing up to do.  I just hope that this experience has taught you to treat people with more respect - because I have a feeling that when you go out into the real world, the shoe will be on the other foot.  And that shoe will be filled with cement.

Next is Victor who...wait...he won Battle Back AGAIN?  Ay carumba.

All right, next is Michelle.  Or Big Meech.  Or Whiny-Pants, if you'd rather.  Honestly, my impression of Michelle was not a good one.  I mean, when you fat shame people in your introductory video, it's probably a good sign that you have major issues in your life.  The only positive thing I can say about you now is that you've cried so many tears that you single handedly stopped the drought in California.  Well done to you!  But hey, at least one positive I'll say is that you are a superfan and you really did have genuine knowledge of the game which is more than I can say for some others.

Natalie, who knew that you would have ended up the bitter juror this year?  I mean, it just seemed like you just spent the last episode of the series feeling sorry for yourself and beating yourself up because James was evicted as well.  It really sort of turned me off a bit to be honest with you.  However, aside from that, I did find that I liked you.  And I suppose of all the showmances that were in the house, I appreciate the fact that you and James seemed the most sincere.  I still am very much anti-showmance in general though.  I'm just saying that yours was the least offensive.

Okay, so NOW can we talk about Victor?  You know, first off, congratulations for winning America's Favorite Player.  This was easily a no-brainer.  For one, you survived getting evicted not once, but twice.  You are the ONLY person to get three chances playing the game in the same season.  And because of that, you fought harder than basically anyone else in the house to stay.  For that, I will happily welcome you back to another season.  You truly are the real deal, and judging by your family videos, you seem to be the most well-adjusted of many of the Big Brother players.  That's an asset.  Hold onto that.  And congratulations again!

Corey, I really only know two things about you.  You love Christmas but hate giving gifts to the homeless (which contradict each other by the way), and you "love" Nicole.  Other than that, YOU DID NOTHING!  So, I can't really say anything in this space either.

I'll say this about you, James.  As a person, I think I would get along with you just fine.  As far as your showmance with Natalie goes, I do believe it was the most sincere of the relationships, and I believe that you and her will at least always stay friends.  But as a game player this season, you more or less did nothing.  I don't even remember you winning any challenges except for maybe one HoH competition.  You may be a good guy, and you may have won America's Favorite last year...but you certainly did nothing to warrant a win this time around.

It pains me to say this, but this time around the better man did NOT win.  And for that, Paul, I am truly sorry.  Your only crime was the fact that you had a stupid jury who voted for the wrong person - well, okay, Bridgette, Victor, Michelle, and James are exempt from this.  I can't say that I was 100% impressed with you.  Some of the language you used against some of the houseguests was not the greatest, and I truly never want to hear the word "friendship" from you ever again.  But played this game better than anyone else, and your adaptability alone was enough to guarantee you a final two position.  Don't be upset at happy that you made it as far as you did.  And feel free to use that $50,000 you won and go on a nice vacation with Pablo!  You both have earned it.

Finally, we go to the least deserving winner in the history of Big Brother.  I truly am gobsmacked over how a bumbling idiot like Nicole could ever have won the whole game.  This is the same woman who threw her game away for a showmance on BB16, and yet got involved with Corey 45 seconds after she proclaimed that she wouldn't get involved in another one.  She didn't EARN any HoH or Veto wins...she made sweetheart deals with other houseguests to ensure it.  That cheapens the thrill of it.  But perhaps the one thing that really turned me off Nicole was that in between the two seasons she was on, she went from being a naive, but nice young girl to a cold, calculating mean girl who thrived on the displeasure of others.  I can see why Bridgette voted against her as well.  Did you ever notice that she did everything she could to get all the other women out before her?  Nicole, here's what you can do with the half million.  Go back to Ubly, Michigan, and build a wall around your house so that I never have to see your face or hear your voice on Big Brother ever again. 

But I won't go so far as to say that you ruined Big Brother.  You were just a small part of a grander scheme.

No, I blame Allison Grodner, Rich Meehan, and Robyn Kass for casting and producing such a disgusting season of Big Brother in the first place.  When Big Brother first debuted in 2000, it was a half-decent show filled with everyday average Joes competing in challenges and voting people out.  Twists were very limited and hardly used, and people didn't feel the need to throw everything about themselves out the window to become television stars.  I dislike everything that you have done regarding the program, and honestly, you three are the real bimbos that have destroyed what was once a very interesting show.  Therefore, I refuse to watch your online season, and I am seriously thinking of boycotting Season 19 of the summer season as well.

Do the honourable thing, guys.  Step down or kill the show.