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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 22, 1940

It's a day that falls once a week every Tuesday, but instead of serving tacos, it serves knowledge.

The question is - What is the
Tuesday Timeline?

On the Tuesday Timeline, we take a look at one major event and a few minor events, as well as wishing a few famous faces a very happy birthday.  So, should we get right on with it?  We have a lot of ground to cover in this blog entry and not a lot of time to do it!

So, what happened in the world on July 22?  A lot of things!

1686 - Albany, New York is formally chartered as a municipality by Governor Thomas Dongan

1793 - Alexander Mackenzie becomes the first person to complete a transcontinental crossing of Canada

1796 - Surveyors of the Connecticut Land Company name a section of Ohio after General Moses Cleveland

1812 - British forces defeat French troops in the Battle of Salamanca

1864 - The Battle of Atlanta takes place which sees Confederate General John Bell Hood launching an unsuccessful attack on Union troops on Bald Hill

1894 - The world's first motor race is held in France, between Paris and Rouen

1916 - Ten are killed and forty more injured following the detonation of a bomb on San Francisco's Market Street

1933 - Wiley Post becomes the first pilot to fly solo around the world

1934 - John Dillinger is mortally wounded by FBI agents outside of the Biograph Theater in Chicago

1942 - The deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto begins on the same day that the United States government issues a rationing demand for gasoline because of World War II

1951 - Desik and Tsygan become the first dogs to make a sub-orbital flight

1977 - Deng Xiaoping is restored to power as Chinese leader

1991 - After police discover human remains in his Milwaukee apartment, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is arrested and taken into police custody

2003 - The sons of Saddam Hussein, Uday and Qusay, as well as Qusay's son and a bodyguard, are killed after members of the 101st Airborne of the United States attack an Iraqi compound

2005 - Jean Charles de Menezes is killed by police as the hunt begins for the terrorists who planted bombs in London on July 7 and July 21

2008 - Actress Estelle Getty passes away at the age of 84 in Los Angeles

2011 - A bomb blast targeting government buildings and a massacre at a youth camp occurs the same day in Norway

2013 - Eighty-nine people are killed when a series of earthquakes strike China

And the following people are celebrating turning another year older today. So, a very happy birthday to Bob Dole, Orson Bean, Oscar de la Renta, Louise Fletcher, Terence Stamp, George Clinton, Ron Turcotte, Bobby Sherman, Rick Davies, Danny Glover, Albert Brooks, Gilles Duceppe, Don Henley, Sylvia Chang, Brian Howe, Lonette McKee, Willem Dafoe, Dave Stieb, Keith Sweat, Rob Estes, Emily Saliers, John Leguizamo, David Spade, Patrick Labyorteaux, Rhys Ifans, Colin Ferguson, Daniel Jones, Rufus Wainwright, Franka Potente, A.J. Cook, Sharni Vinson, Selena Gomez, Amber Beattie, and Madison Pettis.

Whew...I'm exhausted!  That was a lot of birthdays!  Oh, and for the record, I am not related to jockey Ron Turcotte.  At least, not that I'm aware of anyway.

So, what date will be looking at this week?



The answer is July 22, 1940.  Here's the question.

What is the date in which our Tuesday Timeline subject was born?

Okay, let's continue on with the same category...for oh, how about $600?

The answer is Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. 

Oh!  I know!  What is the place of birth for today's Tuesday Timeline subject?

Correct!  Should we try the $800 question?  Maybe it's a Daily Double.

In 1984, this man took over the hosting duties of the long running game show, "Jeopardy", and will be celebrating his thirtieth year of hosting the program on September 10, 2014.



This is an easy one.  Who is ALEX TREBEK?

All right!  We win!  And, your prize is a blog entry on the game show host who will be blowing out seventy-four candles on his birthday cake today.  Alex Trebek is the subject of the blog.  And in this blog, we'll be taking a look at some of the things that Alex did before hosting Jeopardy, as well as learning about some of the funny and bizarre moments that he's experienced since.

And, I think I'm going to follow the Jeopardy method of introducing trivia by having the answer first, and then the question will reveal the answer to the...ahem...answer.  Does that make sense to you, because it did to me.

Anyway, here we go.

NAMES FOR $200
The answer is George.  What's the question?

What is Alex Trebek's real first name?  This is true.  He was born George Alexander Trebek.  I suppose George Trebek just didn't have that nice ring to it.

CHRONOLOGICAL EVENTS FOR $600
He had a hairy situation when he did this in 2001 after almost three decades.  What's the question?



What is shaving off his moustache?  Yes, after growing a moustache for well over thirty years, he decided to shave it off completely in 2001.  I still remember seeing the episode after he shaved it off, and I couldn't even recognize him.  I don't know if it was just me, but I thought it changed his entire look.

Okay, let's pick again.

GAME SHOWS FOR $800
Alex Trebek broke a record in 1991 for hosting three game shows at the same time - Jeopardy!, To Tell The Truth, and this game show which had contestants picking pairs to win cars.  What's the question?

The answer is..."Classic Concentration".  Here's a clip below.



For the record, I used to watch this game show when I was still in school.  It always aired during my lunch hour, so I would watch it every day until its cancellation in the fall of 1991.  It was challenging to solve the rebuses, but it was by far a much easier game than Jeopardy!

Okay, let's stick with GAME SHOWS FOR $400
In 1997, Alex Trebek swapped places with this game show host for an April Fools Day joke.  I guess you could say that he had a "wheely" good laugh.  What's the question



Who is Pat Sajak?  Those of you probably know that Pat Sajak is the host of "Wheel of Fortune", which airs alongside "Jeopardy!" in most television stations.  Well, on April 1, 1997, Sajak hosted Jeopardy!, and Trebek hosted Wheel of Fortune with Vanna White.  Personally, I wish they had Vanna on Jeopardy presenting the clues by touching the puzzle board on Jeopardy, but I guess that was a missed opportunity.

Okay...let's do this category now.

CANCELLED TV SERIES FOR $1000
Alex Trebek has had a lot of opportunities hosting television shows...but this Canadian dance music show was his very first hosting gig.  What's the question?

What is Music Hop?

Admittedly, I've never heard of that show at all.  Mainly because it debuted a full eighteen years before I was even born.  But he would have been just 23 years old when that show debuted.  Maybe he was trying to be the Canadian Dick Clark?  It's possible, I suppose.

Okay.  Last question.  In fact, let's make this the final Jeopardy question.  Here's the final answer...

In Jacksonville, Florida, Alex Trebek literally ran with a flame in his hands towards this final destination, a place in which athletes wish for gold in the year that the Macarena stayed at the top of the charts for fourteen weeks.  Thirty seconds, people.  Good luck!





Okay, Matthew.  You're the only contestant playing today so, let's see your answer.




You say it's the 1996 Summer Olympics, which were held in Atlanta, Georgia, and the torch run extended into part of Florida, in which Alex Trebek carried the Olympic torch.  You're correct!  And you win three thousand dollars!

Well, okay.  Not really.  I didn't win three grand.  However, I do have it on my bucket list that I would love to appear on a game show.  And I'm a lot more intelligent now than I was when I was a child.  I'd love to try and take part on Jeopardy one day...preferably before Alex Trebek retires from the show in the summer of 2016.  I think it'd be cool to meet him.  And to have the opportunity to play on a game show just once?  That would be very cool.

Until then, happy birthday, Mr. Trebek!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Global Fast Food Items

I think that I've done it.  I think that I've come up with a brand new theme for Mondays in the blog. 

Back in the days in which I was a part of an online talk show known as MOTIVE4CHANGE, the day used to be called MOTIVATION MONDAY.  Of course, when that show was put on hiatus, it left me with a bit of a dilemma.  Initially, I thought about keeping the theme of motivation going and for a few weeks, I wrote entries that had to deal with the subject of motivating others into doing something positive.

But to be perfectly honest with you...I don't think I'm a very good motivational speaker.  In order to motivate people, you have to have confidence.  And let's face it.  I'm not exactly the most confident person in the world.

But then I discovered that humour seems to be a great way to bring people together.  The last two posts that I wrote on Mondays in which I posted funny pictures and signs really seemed to resonate well with all of you.  So, I thought that I would make Monday the brand new day for funny things.

I guess for now, the theme name will be
FUNNY MONDAY (a take-off of "Funny Money")...but that name just doesn't seem to work for me.  If you guys have a better (more wittier) name, please send me your ideas either here, or you can tweet me @PCA_GuideToLife

So, given that we're going to be talking about funny things from here on out on Mondays, I suppose that I need to choose a topic this time around.

Well, let's talk about food.  I know it's a little early in the week to be doing so, but what the heck.  Mondays just became a lot less structured.

Specifically, I want to talk about fast food.  Not that I eat a lot of it, and not that anyone should be eating a lot of it (If you watched Morgan Spurlock's "Supersize Me", you'll never want to touch the stuff again), but I've always been interested in some of the creations that fast food places come up with.

On Friday, I talked briefly about the Dorito taco that Taco Bell sells, and I have to admit that it's a really creative and unique item that I'd like to try - even though I am not a taco fan.  My love for Doritos would overtake that dislike of tacos.  I know, it sounds bizarre, but I've never claimed to be one hundred per cent normal.

I also liked a couple of other novelty fast food items in my youth over the years.  Burger King came out with something called "Burger Bundles" which had three miniature burgers in a small package.  At the time they came out, I was in kindergarten, and I found it awesome that the restaurant made what I believed to be kid-sized burgers.  They didn't last too long, but I did like them.  Too bad nobody other than myself remembers them.

However, for every good novelty item that Burger King, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut comes up with, there are just as many items that could be considered inedible, weird, or just plain annoying.  Kind of like this song below.



A Pizza Hut, a Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and a Pizza Hut.  Oh, dear god, why did I post this?  The scary thing?  This was a Top 10 hit in the UK!!!

In today's blog, I'll be looking at fast food delicacies from all over the world that seemed like a good idea at the time, but didn't last too long.  Some of them I'd be willing to try (and I'll explain which ones I'd eat as we proceed with the list), but others make me want to reach for the airsick bag.

Of course, before I continue with today's post, I want to give credit to vibe.com, entrepreneur.com, businessinsider.com, and buzzfeed.com for the images that will be used in this blog post.

Ready for some taste treats that will make your mouth water in more ways than one?  Let's begin with a treat from the United States of America.



BACON MILKSHAKES (Jack in the Box)

Okay, I get that North Americans have a growing love affair with bacon.  And why not?  Unless you're vegetarian or vegan, bacon is a very tasty food that is used in a lot of fast food creations.  Just take a look at Wendy's "Baconator" for a good example of what I mean.

But somehow, taking strips of bacon, putting them into a blender filled with milk and ice cream, and turning it into a bacon milkshake...yeah, bring on the gag reflex.  How could anyone think that this was a good idea?  For those of you who like it, more power to you.  I just can't.

WOULD MATTHEW TRY THIS?  Hell no!



McGRILLSCHNAGG (McDonald's)

The bad news is that this sandwich can only be found in Swiss McDonald's restaurants.  The good news is...this sandwich can only be found in Swiss McDonald's restaurants.  I don't know...there's something about a pork sausage being placed on a bun with bacon surrounding it that sort of makes me very nervous.  Maybe it's the fact that there's too much pork, or maybe it's because I've never been a fan of pork sausage to begin with, but I honestly don't know if I would even order this sandwich, let alone eat it.

WOULD MATTHEW TRY THIS?  Probably not in this lifetime.



HOT DOG STUFFED CRUST PIZZA (Pizza Hut)

Okay.  Stuffed crust pizza is something that I can take or leave.  I prefer my pizza crust plain, but I won't turn down stuffed crust pizza.  Sometimes it can be good.

But when you stuff the pizza crust with a hot dog (as was the case in Pizza Hut restaurants based in the United Kingdom), that's a great way for me not to go near a pizza.  I'm not a huge fan of hot dogs (unless they are charred beyond recognition), so I'll have to pass on this one.  Seriously, how did they get a hot dog baked inside that crust?

WOULD MATTHEW TRY THIS?  I'll pass, thanks.

CROWN CRUST PIZZA (Pizza Hut)

This one comes to us from the Middle East...and in this one, I actually have a video to show you!



Okay, so unlike the hot dog stuffed crust, this one was surrounded by cheeseburgers!  And then there was something in the middle that looked like a tossed salad, but were actually condiments found in a burger.  It looks like someone took every possible fast food item in the world and merged them together into a super food.  And yet, there's something about that burger crust that makes my mouth water. 

WOULD MATTHEW TRY THIS?  I think I would actually...



WINDOWS 7 WHOPPER (Burger King)

Does everyone remember Windows 7?  I think most of you do.  In fact, some of you are probably using Windows 7 right now because you hate Windows 8 and are cursing Bill Gates for making a very complicated updated version of Windows that you can't use.

CONFESSION:  We still have people asking if we sell Windows 7 at my store because they hate Windows 8.  We don't.

SECOND CONFESSION:  I still use Windows 7 on my computer.

And how did Burger King Japan celebrate the launch of Windows 7?  By creating this very special burger!

Um...okay, so how the hell are we supposed to eat this thing?  Are we supposed to bite into the side of it, or are we to take it apart?  This is like the kind of burger that Jughead would make at the Chocklit Shop if Pop Tate wasn't around to supervise it.  And yet...I don't know.  As awkward as this burger looks...I feel compelled to try it.

WOULD MATTHEW TRY THIS?  Yes.  Would I finish it?  Probably not.



PIZZA-SIZE BURGER (Burger King)

Okay, what is Japan's obsession with gigantic hamburgers?  As if the Windows 7 stack of beef wasn't huge enough, they did it again with a whopper of a Whopper!  How about a Whopper that is as huge as an eight-inch pepperoni pizza?  It is cut into four equal pieces, so one burger could easily feed a family of four.  But there's a twist with this burger.  You know how some pizzerias have the half and half option in which you could get half pepperoni and half all-dressed pizza?  This burger works the same way.  Half the burger has traditional Whopper condiments like ketchup, lettuce, mayonnaise, and tomatoes.  The other half contains cheese, avocado, and a side order of tortilla chips.  I must say, this burger also intrigues me. 

WOULD MATTHEW TRY THIS?  I think I would.  Would I finish it?  Again, probably not.



PUMPKIN BURGER (Burger King)

You know, I will say this about Japanese Burger King restaurants.  They are very creative with their food items, and I do appreciate good creativity.  But there is no way in hell that you will ever convince me that putting chunks of pumpkin inside of a hamburger bun is ever a good idea.  If I were vegetarian, I could consider trying it, as it would be a meatless alternative to...

...ah, who am I kidding?  The pumpkin burger looks nasty!

WOULD MATTHEW TRY THIS?  Not in this lifetime.



KIT KAT POPS (Pizza Hut)

One thing that I can say about Pizza Hut is that they're always doing experiments with dessert items on the menu - which I appreciate, as I love desserts.  In Middle Eastern Pizza Hut restaurants, they came up with a new way to enjoy Kit Kat bars.  Dip them inside some pizza dough and bake them to a golden brown.  Sure they look quite bizarre...but surprisingly they also look delicious!

WOULD MATTHEW TRY THIS?  Absolutely!



LOBSTER AND CAVIAR BURGER (Wendy's)

Did you know that Wendy's has opened up locations in Japan?  Colour me surprised!  And who knew that they would be the ones to come up with a burger filled with the ingredients that you might find on dinner tables of the rich and famous?  Seriously, lobster and caviar?  I'd hate to discover how much that burger would retail at! 

WOULD MATTHEW TRY THIS?  Put me down as "I don't know".  I've never tasted lobster or caviar.  Maybe when I do, I can give you a better answer.



DRY PORK AND SEAWEED DONUT (Dunkin' Donuts)

This Chinese delicacy is...um...

WOULD MATTHEW TRY THIS?  No, NO, A THOUSAND TIMES NO!!!



MASHED POTATO BEEF BURGER (McDonald's)

I can't end this piece off without adding a food item from one of the most recognizable fast food places in the world.  But, seriously, McDonald's...making mashed potatoes a burger filling?  Apparently, China thought that it was a brilliant idea.

And to be honest with you, in theory, this combination could work.  I have a gross food secret.  When I was younger, I used to eat mustard with mashed potatoes.  Some of you might be gagging, but it was a flavour combo I enjoyed as a kid.  So, putting mashed potatoes in a burger wouldn't seem like a bad idea to me...as long as mustard was the only condiment.  I don't know what the hell is in the mashed potatoes in this burger, but it just looks wrong on so many levels.

WOULD MATTHEW TRY THIS?  I would...if I made it myself...and only had mustard on it.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

In the Year 2525

Hey, guys!  I hope you're interested in a flashback to the 1960s, because in this edition of the Sunday Jukebox, that's exactly where we're going.

Specifically to the end of that particular decade.

Today's song hit the top of the charts 45 years ago this week...and interestingly enough, something else happened 45 years ago this week.  In fact, today just happens to be the 45th anniversary of an event that changed the way we looked at the world - and the moon - forever.

I was unfortunately not alive when this event took place.  July 20, 1969 was eleven years, nine months, and twenty-eight days before I was born.  However, my parents were around to see it, as was my eldest sister who was toddler-aged at the time - though I doubt that she remembered it.



That was the day that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the very first people in the entire world - or, I suppose you could say galaxy if you don't believe in aliens - to take steps on the surface of the moon.  It was one of the biggest news stories of the decade, and while there are some people who make the claim that the moon landing was a complete and total hoax, there are millions more who cite the event as being the catalyst for the global interest in space travel, and trying to find out more about how the universe was structured and laid out.  And, in the forty-five years since that day, dozens of hundreds of people can now make the claim that they have been up in outer space.



I can just imagine some of the sights that the astronauts up above saw while they were floating through space.  Most of us look out the windows at our homes or workplaces and see the moon and the sun in the sky, but for anyone who has ever been in outer space, imagine looking out the window of the space shuttle and seeing Venus, or Mars, or Earth!  That would be an awesome sight!  And I imagine that if I were to go up into outer space right now (which will likely never happen, but go with me on this train of thought), it would make me feel so tiny watching the Earth suspended in our universe.  We all like to think that our planet is so huge, and that we couldn't possibly see all of it in our lifetimes...but looking down on it from space, it's really very tiny.

And yet, Earth has been a part of the universe for billions of years.  It's gone through a lot to get to where it is now.  It's been through prehistoric ages with dinosaurs, and it's been through ice ages, and it's seen a lot of history pass through its continents and oceans.

And, well...I thought that I would choose a song that has to do with the Earth and humanity, and there's no perfect song to choose than this song, which hit the top of the charts 45 years ago this week.



ARTIST:  Zager and Evans
SONG:  In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus)
ALBUM:  2525 (Exordium & Terminus)
DATE RELEASED:  1969
PEAK POSITION ON THE BILLBOARD CHARTS:  #1 for 6 weeks

Now, this is an interesting song.  It was a one-hit-wonder for Denny Zager and Rick Evans.  It was originally written five years before the single even charted by Evans, and it took approximately four years for the single to be released by a record company (the independent label Truth Records released some copies of the song in 1968).  But time was worth the wait as it topped the charts in the summer of 1969 - and it was the #1 song during the moon landing of July 1969 as well as during the Woodstock '69 music festival in August 1969.



Unfortunately for Zager and Evans, they are one of the few acts to have a #1 single, and then not have a single hit on the Billboard 100 after that.  The group disbanded two years after this single topped the charts, although they remain good friends.  In the case of Zager, he still works in the music industry, although instead of playing guitars, he builds custom-made ones instead in his current residence of Lincoln, Nebraska!

Okay, now let's get into the discussion of the lyrics of the song.  And considering the song's subject matter, it's a rather dark song.

It's also a song that is filled with predictions about the future, and as of right now, none of us know if those predictions will come true.  And unless they come up with a way to make all of us have a life expectancy of five hundred years, I have my doubts that any of us will be around to welcome in the year 2525.  



Just putting it out there.  In the year 2525, I would be 544 years old.  Yikes...

Of course, none of us will know what life would be like five hundred years in the future, but the year 2525 in this Zager and Evans song seems to be the start of the downfall of mankind. 

It's also probably one of the only songs ever released that seems to combine scientific themes with religious themes, as we see both mentioned in this song!

Basically the many verses of the song asks many rhetorical questions about what would happen in the 800 years that pass between the years 2525 and 10000.  Each verse goes up 1,010 years to the next year (with exception to the years 7510 and 8510), and a prediction is made about each millennium - the next one more dire than the last.

In fact, I've drafted up a nice little summary right here.

2525 - Zager and Evans wonder if man and woman can still survive

3535 - Everybody's actions will be controlled by ingesting a single pill

4545 - You won't need your teeth or your eyes because you won't find a thing to chew and nobody will look at you

5555 - Machines will do all the work that people used to do

6565 - No need for sexual reproduction.  There are machines that can help you do that, right down to choosing what sex you want your child to be

7510 - The possibility that God will come down to enact His "Judgment Day".

8510 - God decides whether he is happy about mankind's progress or whether he just wants to end it all.

9595 - Wondering if man can survive because they've taken everything the planet can give and given back nothing in return

10000 - The extinction of man

Wow! Now there's a song that makes you want to jump up and dance, isn't it?  



Of course, this isn't the first time pop culture has predicted a dystopian future in which man would find it difficult to survive and thrive.  We've seen this type of scenario unfold in movies like "Escape From New York" and "Blade Runner".  In television series like "Revolution".  In video games like "Chrono Trigger" and the "Final Fantasy" series.  We've even seen this sort of thing in the Disney movie "Wall-E".  But this song in particular seemed to strike a nerve in a lot of people, because it seemed to tell the world that if we keep continuing on in our wasteful ways, we could end up wiping ourselves off the face of the planet.

Let's put it this way.  I don't think it was a coincidence that Earth Day kicked off one year after this song became a chart-topper.

But you know, looking back at the lyrics of the song, I think that some of those predictions are in danger of coming true centuries ahead of schedule.  We already live in a world in which many of us are too dependent of technology.  I'm sure you've seen the "smartphones making us dumb" epidemic as of late.  And how many of us have said to ourselves "boy, technology makes this even more convenient than it used to be"?  Admit it, we've all said it.

The problem with technology is that not everyone in the world knows how to use it - or knows how to use it the right way.  And the more we rely on it to make our decisions for us, the more things get out of control.  If that makes any sense, that is.  At least it did for me when I wrote it.

Of course, what is the solution?  I don't know if there is one.  But if you stop and think about all of the astronauts who marveled in awe at what our planet looks like from up in space, it is a truly beautiful sight to see.  Wouldn't we all do whatever is possible to keep this place a beautiful one?

Just something to think about.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Philadelphia

Before I get into today's movie discussion, I just wanted to take some time to pay my respects to the 298 people who died when their plane (Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17) was shot down while flying over the Ukraine.  I honestly don't even know what to say to those family members who lost loved ones on that flight, except that my condolences are with you at this time. 

Among the victims of the plane crash were several doctors and researchers who were on their way to Melbourne, Australia to attend the International AIDS conference.  And as it so happens, (and believe me, I had chosen this topic before the tragic crash happened), today's film deals with the subject of AIDS.  In fact, many would consider it to be one of the very first instances of AIDS being referenced in modern day cinema.



Since the AIDS virus was discovered in the spring of 1981, millions of people have been diagnosed, and it is estimated that over thirty five million people all over the world have the virus in some form (whether they happen to be HIV positive, or whether they have the complete virus).  Now, there has been some incredible progress made in trying to find a cure for the disease, and certainly people who happen to become HIV positive are enjoying a higher quality of life thanks to new discoveries and treatments.  AIDS is no longer the instant death sentence that it was when it was first discovered.  That being said, while people who are diagnosed can now live life relatively symptom free for years, there is still no permanent cure for AIDS. 

It also seems as though the negative stigma that was long associated with AIDS is weakening over time.  Through research by doctors and people educating themselves more on the disease, we've discovered that AIDS is only able to be transmitted via heavy drug use, sharing used needles, sexual contact, and blood transfusions that were issued before 1990.  Unfortunately, back in the 1980s, the disease was fairly new, and not a whole lot was known about it.  With hundreds of people dying from the illness, it frightened a lot of people, who believed that they could catch it the same way that you could catch the common cold (you can't). 

And, sadly, the discovery of AIDS caused quite a lot of homophobic behaviour in a lot of people, due to the fact that a lot of the early victims of AIDS were gay males. 

Both the subjects of homophobia, and the initial fear of the AIDS virus are referenced in today's film.  A film that won two Academy Awards and made a total of $260 million at the box office. 

A film that takes place in one of the most recognizable cities in the state of Pennsylvania.



Today we're going to take a look at the movie "Philadelphia".  It debuted in theatres on Christmas Eve, 1993, and stars Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington in roles that certainly defined both of their careers.  Both men earned huge accolades for their fantastic performances, and in the case of Hanks, he was rewarded for his efforts with the Academy Award for Best Actor.

And this singer also took home an Academy Award for the theme song for this film.  Have a listen below.  I know the music post isn't until tomorrow, but what the hey...it's a good song.



ARTIST:  Bruce Springsteen
SONG:  Streets of Philadelphia
ALBUM:  Philadelphia Soundtrack
DATE RELEASED:  February 2, 1994
PEAK POSITION ON THE BILLBOARD CHARTS:  #9

Unfortunately, the movie did not get the award for Best Original Screenplay, as Ron Nyswaner lost to Jane Campion for her work on "The Piano".  That being said, the film was still a huge success - even if there was a little bit of controversy behind it.  But we'll get to that a little bit later. 



As the film begins, we are quickly introduced to Andrew Beckett (Hanks).  Beckett is a senior associate at Philadelphia's largest law firm who happens to be carrying a huge secret.  Beckett is gay, and has been with his partner Miguel (Antonio Banderas) for quite some time, but he has kept that part of his life separate from his professional life, knowing full well of the repercussions that could come from outing himself in the early 1990s.

For years, Beckett managed to keep the secret without anybody discovering the truth.  But when Beckett found himself battling AIDS, he found that it would be harder to hide - especially when he began to suffer from skin lesions as a result of the disease.  One of the partners of the firm notices one of these lesions on Beckett's forehead on the very same day that he is assigned one of the most important cases of his life - a case that could make or break his law career.  Knowing full well that the lesions were one symptom of AIDS, he attempted to play damage control by taking a few work days away from the office to brainstorm ways in which he could hide them from public view.

While he is away from the office, he finishes the complaint that he plans to present to the court for his case, but before he can submit the paperwork to the courts he suffers a medical setback which has him hospitalized.  As a result, he is forced to relay the paperwork to his assistants at the firm as the statute of limitations would expire later that day.

But when the paperwork goes missing and there doesn't appear to be any copies located on any of the hard drives of the computers in the offices, the firm is panicking and Beckett is frustrated over what happened.  The document is found at the last minute, but the damage was done.  Beckett was fired from the firm and his colleagues and assistants who once supported him turned on him, claiming that the missing document showed a complete lack of professionalism.



Beckett, on the other hand, deduces that something far more sinister is going on at his former workplace.  He believes that somebody who he trusted deliberately misplaced the paperwork that he filed as an excuse to make him look bad at his firm, and he believes that the real reason he was fired was because he had AIDS.  And Beckett planned to fight back.



The problem was that not a lot of lawyers would take on a client who was wrongfully terminated because of AIDS, and Beckett faced the harsh reality that his profession seemed to be filled with people who either didn't understand the disease, or who were blatantly homophobic.  He even sought the legal aid of a personal injury lawyer named Joe Miller (Washington) - a lawyer whom Beckett had tangled with in the courtroom - but unfortunately for Beckett, Miller didn't initially sign on to represent him as he was rather ignorant about AIDS.  He even went to the doctor after meeting with Beckett and asked if he could contract the disease through a handshake.

(You can't, just so you know.)



But Miller had a change of heart when he saw just how badly people treated him when they discovered that he was living with AIDS in a public library, and he was so disgusted by it that he offered to represent Beckett in his case.  But the case would not be an easy one to fight.  The head of the firm, Charles Wheeler (Jason Robards) is determined to protect his firm and his reputation at all costs.  And with Beckett's health rapidly failing, can Miller step in and fight for the man who has a disease that he doesn't quite understand?

Of course, I can't tell you how this ends.  I don't reveal movie endings.  What I can tell you is that the film is absolutely worth watching, and I can absolutely understand why Hanks deserved the Academy Award that year.  The performances of all the actors and actresses are unbelievably good.  And even though the film did have a sensitive subject matter, I think "Philadelphia" did a wonderful job putting it all together.

Of course, the film did have some controversy to it.  Shortly after the film was released, the family of Geoffrey Bowers issued a lawsuit against the writers and producers of the film, stating that there were several scenes (allegedly fifty-four in all) that were inserted in the film that paralleled Bowers' life so much that they claimed that when they were interviewed by producer Scott Rudin who promised them compensation for using Bowers' story as the basis for "Philadelphia" (Beckett's character was sketched after Bowers, who was the subject of one of the first cases of AIDS discrimination ever brought to a court of law).  Bowers' family alleged that Rubin used their interview to completely use their son's memory to make a film, but Rudin had left the project after hiring a writer, and claimed that he never shared the information in his interview with anybody who worked on the film.  The lawsuit was settled five days later, and the filmmakers were forced to admit that the movie was inspired in part by Geoffrey Bowers.

Here's some more trivia for you.

1 - Jonathan Demme immediately jumped on the chance to direct the film after the death of his friend Juan Suarez Botas in 1992.

2 - Tom Hanks, in preparation for his role, lost close to thirty pounds in order to film the final scenes of the movie.

3 - Denzel Washington, on the other hand, had to gain weight for his role.  In fact, Washington used to eat candy bars in front of Hanks, who was fasting for his own role!  I wonder if the scenes in which Washington and Hanks first met were taped during this period...

4 - Jonathan Demme wanted actor Ron Vawter to play the role of Bob Seidman from the very beginning.  But because Vawter was HIV positive, the insurance company representing the film would not expand their coverage to accommodate Vawter's needs.  Demme fought TriStar Pictures to keep Vawter on the project because he wanted him, and because it would give negative publicity over the irony that would have been generated for a film about wrongful termination from a workplace to terminate someone who was HIV positive.



5 - Ron Vawter died in April 1994 - just four months after the film debuted.

6 - The movie is one of the rare ones to be filmed entirely in sequence.

7 - The protestors outside of the courthouse were loosely based on the Westboro Baptist Church congregation.



8 - The scene in which Andrew and Miguel are dressed in military uniforms at a costume party was making a statement about how at the time that the film was made, there were laws stating that gay and lesbians could not serve in the armed forces.  The same month the film was released, Bill Clinton issued the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" legislation.

9 - Denzel Washington's character states that he hopes that the Philadelphia Phillies win the pennant.  They did the year this film was released.

10 - The opera scene was filmed live.

11 - Michael Keaton, Andy Garcia, and Daniel Day-Lewis were initially offered the part of Andrew Beckett before Hanks was give the role.

12 - John Leguizamo turned down the part of Miguel.

13 - Denzel Washington's part of Joe Miller was originally written as an Italian named Joe Martino.

14 - Original titles for "Philadelphia" included "Probable Cause" and "People Like Us".

15 - Many of the cast members of the film worked with Demme on a previous film - "The Silence of the Lambs".

Friday, July 18, 2014

Doritos

How many of you have a Taco Bell in your part of the woods?

In my area, we used to have one years ago.  I think it shut down for good in 2003, and it has since become either a Tim Hortons or a Kentucky Fried Chicken location.  It's been a while since it happened, so I can't seem to remember which building Taco Bell was in.  I'm almost positive that it was the Tim Hortons building, but I really don't remember.

And there's a reason why I don't remember.  Aside from the occasional order of nachos and cheese, I never really ate there.  I've never been a huge fan of Mexican or Spanish cuisine.  Nothing against it.  I've always liked Italian and Chinese better.  I guess I'd rather dine on pepperoni pizza and chicken fried rice. 

However, I keep on seeing commercials for a particular product that Taco Bell has to offer that makes me want to sample it.  Even though I don't really care for tacos much, there's just something about this particular taco that makes me really want to go to the nearest Taco Bell location to try it.

Here.  I'll post a commercial for it below.




I think you know what I'm talking about here.  I'm talking about a taco that is built inside of a Dorito shell!  



The Nacho Cheese flavoured ones have been out for a couple of years now, but this past year, Taco Bell has started selling them in a Cool Ranch flavour.  Either way, I would totally sample either kind of taco because having a taco made with Doritos just sounds like the coolest thing ever.



In fact, since I've brought up Doritos in this blog entry, let's make that the topic for today's FOODIE FRIDAY!  What can I say?  When it comes to junk food, I have a couple of weaknesses.  Peanut butter M&M's, sour jujubes, and of course, Doritos of any flavour.

But just how did Doritos come to be a part of every day life?  Well, believe it or not, the Dorito is celebrating it's fiftieth anniversary this year!

The year was 1964, and the location was a little restaurant in the middle of Disneyland.  At the "Casa de Fritos" restaurant, the owners decided on a creative way to get rid of their excess tortilla shells.  They cut them into smaller triangle like pieces, fried them, and added some seasoning.  The creation turned out to be a huge hit at the park, and they caught the attention of Arch West, who was Frito-Lay's vice president of marketing.  He made a deal with Alex Foods - the provider of many of the ingredients for the Casa de Fritos restaurant - to continue manufacturing the chips regionally.  That plan only lasted a few months, as the overwhelming popularity of the chips overwhelmed the small manufacturing facility.  Production was moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and it took approximately two years before the chips - named the Dorito after the Spanish word doradito (definition: turned golden or crisp) - were sold nationwide.

TRIVIA:  And with the invention of Doritos came the very first tortilla chip to be launched nation-wide throughout the United States.  Sure, there have been other brands that have appeared over the years (one that I remember from my childhood were giant bags of cheese tortilla chips that had Garfield on the bag), but as far as I'm concerned, nothing matches the perfection of the Dorito.

I mean, think about it.  Like Kentucky Fried Chicken's slogan, Doritos are also finger licking good.  No other chip seems to coat your fingers in a deep shade of orange quite like the Dorito.  Well, provided that you get the nacho cheese flavoured ones anyway.



And, speaking of flavours of Doritos, there have been dozens of them introduced.  Not all of them had the staying power of Nacho Cheese, Sweet Chili Heat or Cool Ranch, but they were still memorable.



Back in the days in which I used to peruse pop culture themed discussion forums, I heard a lot of people wanting Frito-Lay to bring back Taco Doritos.  And, occasionally, I've seen them make temporary reappearances on store shelves.  I've tried them, and I like them okay.  But, they are not really my favourite. 



(My favourite flavour for the record is Sweet Chili Heat).

One flavour of Doritos that seemed to only be available in Canada for a limited time was one called "Texas Tang".  They were nice and spicy and I couldn't get enough of them!  It's just too bad that they have since been discontinued.  I'd give anything to try them again.



Of course, there are some temporary flavours that I wouldn't touch again with a ten foot pole.  A few years back, Doritos held a contest here in Canada where you had two secret flavours in small bags labelled A and B.  We could vote on which flavour we wanted to see in larger bags online or via text message, and the winning flavour would be sold in stores.  I loved the B flavour, which was I believe buffalo wing and ranch.  But I hated the A flavour, which was a disgusting onion ring and ketchup flavour.  There was also a contest where fans could record a commercial for their favourite flavour for the chance to win a cash prize.



Guess which flavour won the contest?  Not the one I voted for.

(Though I suppose that the Doritos Collisions bag with buffalo wing chips and blue cheese chips were a reasonable substituton.)

And, I never thought that you could add dill pickle flavouring into a Dorito, but I admit that I did like the Dill-icious Dorito.  Then again, my favourite snack as a kid were dill pickles.  I know, I was a strange kid.

And, that's not even counting some of the wacky flavours that could be found all over the world.  Just get a load of some of these flavours...would you try any of them?



Hint of Lime Doritos - United Kingdom

Sushi Doritos - Japan



Clam Chowder Doritos - Japan

Fried Chicken Doritos - Japan

Butter and Soy Sauce Doritos - Japan

Tuna and Mayonnaise Doritos - Japan



Steak Doritos - Japan

Seaweed Doritos - Japan

Yogurt Doritos - South Korea

Orange Doritos - Israel

(Wow...remind me not to grab a snack from a Japanese vending machine anytime soon!)

And, now I turn the floor over to you.

BONUS QUESTION:  Do you like Doritos?  What are your favourite?



One final note for Canadian readers.  Have you seen the Roulette Doritos?  They look like ordinary bags of nacho cheese Doritos...but some of them have a secret.  Some of them burn your mouth with Frank's Red Hot sauce like levels.  And, wouldn't you know it?  The first chip out of the bag was a hot one.  Just my luck.