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Thursday, December 08, 2016

Scrooged: 24 Hours of Christmas Non-Favourites!



Okay, let's begin Day #8 of the POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR with a confession. 

Today is my workplace anniversary.

It was twelve years ago today that I began my job at my current workplace.  Well, okay, technically it's been almost a year in my current area.  I've been bounced around so many times, I feel like those metal balls that you bounce around a pinball machine not knowing whether I'll find myself scoring huge points or going in a direction that leads to the dreaded TILT message.

But I've been with the company for twelve years.  And while there are some things that I wish could have gone differently, it has been a good run.  I mean, it is a job with full time hours and benefits - something that doesn't exist for a lot of people this day and age.  So, in a way, I'm very fortunate to have that.

It's funny that I started off as a Christmas temp hire, and I've stayed for twelve years.  I guess some things you don't necessarily plan for in life.  And while I do believe that everything happens for a reason, I sometimes wonder what that reason is.  Often.

Again, for the most part, things have been fine there.  But because I was hired during the Christmas season, it does lead up to the second part of the "SCROOGED" series - that's where I take one thing about the holidays that I don't particularly like and rant about it.

In this case, the rant I have is about the endless loop of Christmas carols that play over and over and over again.



Now, when I say Christmas carols, I actually don't mind the traditional ones.  I can listen to almost any version of "Silent Night" or "Holy Night" without feeling the urge to snap candy canes in two.  I can listen to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer without wanting to toss a Christmas tree into a wood chipper.  Hell, I could even listen Band-Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" without wanting to set fire to an entire gingerbread village.

It's when they decide to make modernized versions of these Christmas carols in all their auto-tuned glory that makes me want to spew vomit all over everything green and red in the world.  I mean, I realize that every single singer in the world feels the need to release a holiday album.  But just because they can doesn't mean that they should.



I really don't care about Britney Spears wanting a man dressed in a big red bow underneath her Christmas tree.  I don't want to know what Destiny's Child wants for their 8 days of Christmas or however many days they feel Christmas should last.  And if I hear Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" one more bloody time, I'm going to tape her mouth shut.



ALL RIGHT, WHERE'S MY DUCK TAPE?!?

Look, in all seriousness, I never used to hate Christmas music this much...but when you hear the same songs in a continuous loop for eight hours a day, it makes me grateful that I can put my iPod in at my lunch break and crank up some Billy Joel tunes that have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas.  That gives me joy - and sanity - during the holidays.

But then again...if Billy Joel were to have some Christmas music out, it might sway me to the positive point of view once more. 


I guess like almost everything Christmas related, it's better served in small doses.  Christmas carols, cookies, egg nog, and yes, even gifts.  

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Christmas Wish Come True #1 - 60 Reasons to Smile!



We're at the end of the first week of the POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR.  This is Day #7, and since Wednesday is all about wishes, I thought I'd tell you a story of a time in which I wished for something very special, and ended up getting it underneath the tree.  It's going to be kind of a short story as I don't have too much time to spare, but trust me...it's a nice story.

Believe me, it's certainly a lot better wish than the ones that are currently in the Sears Wish Book.  I don't know what they were thinking with that catalogue this year!

Anyway, when I was younger, I think I was one of those rare kids that preferred art supplies to toys.  Oh sure, the toys that I did get, I loved very much.  But as a naturally creative child, I loved the idea of getting notebook paper, coloured markers, construction paper...anything would work!  And at Christmas, I usually was lucky enough to get some of the higher-end products like the Crayola caddy, or the 96 pack of Crayola crayons, or special art kits.  I relished gifts like that, and anytime someone would give me gifts like that, it was a proven kid pleaser.

I know this is going to make me sound strange, but while most kids dream gifts were a Nintendo (something I bought myself), a bicycle, or a ski trip, my dream gift was something a little more practical.



I was always a fan of Laurentian pencil crayons as a kid.  I was such a fan of them that at one point I had the 24 pack of colours memorized with their corresponding number.  That's how much I loved the products.  And they were pencil crayons that lasted a very long time.  I think I still have some kicking around from the 1980s that have miraculously survived!



But while the 24-pack was something that was easily found and really cheap to buy - you could not say the same for the 60-packs of Laurentian pencil crayons.  There were 60 different colours of them available, and they were priced extremely high.  I want to say that back in the 1990s, they were easily around twenty dollars a package, though I could be wrong about that.

Whatever the cost was...I wanted a set.  I wanted a set so badly.  I actually wanted them as soon as I heard that one existed.  I think my aunt Heather had a set of her own that she used for school and I was mesmerized by them.  I may have even pilfered a Light Orange #30 pencil crayon from her set when I was the tender age of four.  I couldn't help myself.  I just knew that I wanted one.  Part of me was curious to know what the other colours were and I wanted to see which ones would become my new favourites!

But growing up in a working class family, I knew that money was tight and that I probably wouldn't get my hands on a 60-pack of Laurentians in my lifetime.

Well, at least that was the case until Christmas 1990.  That was the year that I got a present from Santa Claus and inside was the 60-pack of Laurentians!  And, to say that I was excited about that gift would be an understatement.  I actually still had some presents left to unwrap that I wanted to open up later because I really wanted to use those pencil crayons anyway.  It's just as well anyway...those gifts ended up being socks and underwear anyway.  Only I would open up the lamest gifts last.

(Though now that I'm 35, socks and underwear would be gifts that I would definitely like and appreciate.)

I just remember it being a great moment as a child...trying to memorize another 36 different colours and numbers, and seeing which colours I liked the best.  It's a bittersweet moment as well, given the fact that Laurentian pencil crayons are no longer manufactured.  But I bought another one for old times sake just before the company folded, and I still have it today - even though they changed some of the colours to make them more colourful.  I guess I could understand that though.  Most of the colours in the 50-60 range were different shades of grey and black.

So, I'm sure you want to know my favourite colours of Laurentian pencil crayons, huh?  Okay, here's my Top 12, along with the numbers.

2 - Sarasota Orange
5 - Orchid Purple
8 - Emerald Green
13 - Ultramarine Blue
19 - Cherry Red
22 - Sky Magenta
25 - True Blue
33 - Tangerine
35 - Canary Yellow
37 - Grape-Violet
39 - Ocean Blue
51 - Cloud Grey

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

December 6, 1988



The POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR continues with Day #6 - as well as the Tuesday Timeline entry.  It's the first one for the month of December, and I'll tell you something...I had no shortage of topics to choose from.  The clincher is that I wanted to try and make this Christmas themed...and that was the hardest part.  But, I think I've found a way to do that...even if it means talking about the final day of one singer's life.

Before we get to that, let's have a look at some of the other events that took place on the 6th of December.

1768 - The first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica is published

1790 - The United States Congress relocates to Philadelphia from New York City

1865 - The ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution effectively bans slavery in the United States

1877 - The Washington Post is printed for the first time

1884 - Construction of the Washington Monument is completed

1897 - London, England becomes the first city in the world to host licensed taxicabs

1900 - Actress Agnes Moorehead (d. 1974) is born in Clinton, Massachusetts

1907 - 362 coal miners lose their lives following a mine explosion in Monongah, West Virginia

1917 - A munitions explosion occurs near Halifax, Nova Scotia, killing 1,900 people

1947 - The Everglades National Park is dedicated

1953 - Vladimir Nabokov completes the novel, "Lolita" - one of the most controversial pieces of literature ever written

1955 - Baseball player Honus Wagner dies at the age of 81

1967 - The first human heart transplant is performed by Adrian Kantrowitz

1971 - The diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan are severed, leading up to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

1989 - Fourteen women are gunned down by an anti-feminist gunman at an engineering school in Montreal, Quebec

1993 - Actor Don Ameche passes away at the age of 85

2006 - NASA reveals photographs taken by the Mars Global Surveyor that suggests the presence of liquid water on Mars

2010 - Canadian reporter and CityTV personality Mark Dailey dies of kidney cancer, aged 57

2011 - Singer Dobie Gray passes away, aged 71

And, for celebrity birthdays, we have the following people turning one year older.  Happy birthday to Patrick Bauchau, JoBeth Williams, Wendy Ellis Somes, Tom Hulce, Steven Wright, Nick Park, Judd Apatow, Torri Higginson, Ulf Ekberg, Craig Brewer, Noel Clarke, and Ryan Carnes.

So, how far are we going back in time this week?



Well, how about three decades less two years?  That would make the date December 6, 1988.

As I mentioned before, this date is a sad one in the music industry.  This was the day in which a real music legend lost his life...and it came at a time in which he was experiencing what could be considered one of the greatest comebacks in the industry.

Now, for some artists, they make comeback albums every three or four years or so.  It seems like it's almost a joke of sorts.  But in actuality, this was an entertainer who was in his prime in the late 1950s and early 1960s and hadn't had another hit until 1988.  Not only did he have success as a solo artist, but he had joined a supergroup that had formed the year before with Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and George Harrison. 



Who knew that Roy Orbison would have had such a career resurgence at the age of 52?  Even he seemed surprised at the idea of people responding so well to him.  After all, this was a man who started his career in 1957 with a voice that was unlike any other male voices heard on the radio at that time.  Whereas most of the male artists at that time had a defining masculinity about him which could be heard in their vocals, Orbison's voice showed a little bit of vulnerability, and almost seemed operatic in comparison. 

And yet, it seemed to fit in very well during the early 1960s.  He had hit after hit with songs like "Only The Lonely", and "Crying", and "Oh, Pretty Woman".  He even released a few Christmas singles such as the one heard below.  



Throughout the 1970s, his career stagnated a bit, but by the time 1988 rolled around, he had jumped in full swing with his work with The Traveling Wilburys, as well as recording a brand new album entitled "Mystery Girl".  By late 1988, the tracks were all completed and Orbison was set to release the album sometime in 1989.  It was the first new album that Orbison had released in ten years, and thanks to his work with the Traveling Wilburys, fans were anticipating the release.

But what the public didn't know was that Orbison hadn't been feeling very well in the weeks leading up to his death.  In November 1988, he had been experiencing chest pains.  He confided to his friend, Johnny Cash, about this and Cash had reportedly encouraged Orbison to get checked out by a doctor, but Orbison decided to ignore the advice and went ahead to Europe.  There, he accepted an award as well as performed in Antwerp, where he performed one of his newest singles, "You Got It".

From there, he conducted a series of interviews for television, flew back to the United States to perform shows, and by the 4th of December, he was physically exhausted from the stressful schedule.  He returned to his home in Henderson, Tennessee to recuperate from it all.  He planned to stay there until after the holidays were over, and from there, he would fly out to London to film some more videos for the Traveling Wilburys.  At least, that was what the plan was.

Sadly, two days later, on December 6, 1988, Orbison suffered a massive heart attack at the age of 52.  The tabloids had suggested that Orbison had worked himself to death, but Orbison had had heart troubles as far back as ten years prior to his death.  In many ways, the stress certainly didn't help him out, but my opinion is that Orbison's health had been a ticking time bomb for several years, and it's unfortunate that he died when his career was going so well.



But his legacy continues on.  His last album, "Mystery Girl" was released in February 1989, and that song that he performed in Antwerp became Orbison's final hit.

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Commonwealth P.S. 1991 Olympic Games!



I'm really excited to talk about Day #5 of the POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR because this is a personal story that I want to share with all of you.

You know how when I first announced the schedule for this blog, and how I would devote Mondays to events that took place at school during the holidays?  I think part of the reason why I want to do this is to remind people that there was a time in which schools actually celebrated the holidays and we did lots of fun things during the last week of school before Christmas.  Not all schools seem to do this now because of fear of offending people who don't celebrate Christmas, which I think is wrong.  But I also think it's wrong for schools to ignore all the other holidays as well, and that's what's leading to today's school memory.

The scary part of this memory is that I remember exactly when this memory took place.  It was Christmas 1991.  And, what's even scarier is that this was 25 years ago.  I can't believe I'm old enough to remember things that happened that long ago, especially since as a 10-year-old during that time, I thought that it would take forever to reach the age of 25!  Anyway, the only reason I remember the date well was because it was a couple of months away from the 1992 Winter Olympics, and our school decided to do something special in preparation for the event.



I guess you could say that we put on our own Olympic games that year.

I honestly don't know who participated - I want to say it was grades 1-8, as my school at that time had kids from kindergarten to 8th grade under one roof.  But we were all divided up into I believe thirty-six teams, each containing at least three kids from each grade level.  Each team was represented by a country that was taking part in the Olympic games.



My team?  We were the Swedes, ya!  We represented the land that gave us ABBA, Ikea, meatballs, and a crazy chef Muppet that liked the word BORK!  I would have rather been on Team Canada, but at least Sweden had similar weather to us.  And besides, the Swedish flag was easy to draw and colour!

And of course the week long event concluded with a winter fun day, where all thirty-six teams competed against each other in Olympic style events for kids.  I think my team finished in the middle of the pack, but it was still a decent showing.

But I think the part that I liked the best were the events leading up to the huge fun day.  My elementary school had eighteen gathering places for students - the various classrooms, the gym, the library, and the computer lab.  And each of these classrooms were used as various stations for us to move around with each classroom having a different activity.  Now, because we had 36 teams, this meant that two teams were in each classroom at any given time, so in a way, I guess the teachers were trying to teach us lessons in diplomacy.  After all, competing against other nations is one thing, but you also have to be a good representative of your own nation by treating those in other countries with dignity and respect.  It's a lesson that I think schools need to teach more than ever.

And in each classroom, we were given activities that were linked to the countries that we had to represent.  I do believe I made a Swedish Santa ornament at one of these stations, and I think that I still have it today.  I just don't remember what box I put it in, because it's gone missing and I'm still unpacking boxes in the garage from when I moved in the summer of 2015!

And of course, we learned all about the various Olympic sports that were performed as well, and it was a real great way to get us excited about the upcoming Olympics...

...even though in 1992, Canada only won seven total.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

It's Not Christmas Without You




This is Day #4 of the POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR, and since today is Sunday, I'm going to be featuring some sort of musical interlude that has to do with the holiday season.

But for the first installment of this, I'm going to do something a little bit different, and talk directly to those of you who might be celebrating Christmas away from home, or those of you who have a loved one who is away.  This is definitely the song for you.

Trust me...I think we can all agree that there have been times in which we have been separated from a loved one for the holidays.  A snowstorm might have struck on Christmas Eve preventing you from flying home.  Your husband might be deployed to another country because of his service in the military.  Or perhaps you have a parent who is hospitalized or in a nursing home and they cannot come home.  Whatever the case, it can definitely be harder on you during the holidays - a time in which families are supposed to come together, not be apart.

(Given the recent political climate that is happening in the United States, it seems as though more and more people are spending the holidays alone whether it be by choice or not.)

Well, in 2010, "American Idol" runner-up Katharine McPhee decided to record a song that symbolizes the feelings that one might have when it comes to missing someone over the holidays. 

The song is called "It's Not Christmas Without You", and it appears on her third studio album "Christmas Is The Time to Say I Love You".  I'll post the song here below.  Have a listen, and we'll talk about it later.



ARTIST:  Katharine McPhee
SONG:  It's Not Christmas Without You
ALBUM:  Christmas Is The Time to Say I Love You
DATE RELEASED: October 12, 2010

You know, I keep forgetting that Christmas albums are released as early as October now.  Talk about pushing the season!

Anyway, back to the song.  The music video debuted on Vevo in December 2010, and in addition to McPhee (who can now be seen in the CBS television series "Scorpion"), actor Joel David Moore of "Avatar" fame makes an appearance as her love interest who can't make it home for Christmas.

But you know...we don't even need the video to show McPhee's disappointment in the song.  We can hear it in her voice, as well as in the lyrics.  I mean, I get it.  When you see wreaths on doors, and sparkling Christmas lights on the tree, and carolers singing on the streets, it's a once-a-year event that you really want to spend with someone you love.  Knowing that someone isn't there with you makes it seem less magical.

But, in many cases, these feelings don't have to be forever.  I think in many cases, there are things we can do to try and get our minds off of the fact that our loved ones can't make it home this Christmas.  And I know that they wouldn't want us to feel sad...they'd want us to try and enjoy the season as best we can, be it through volunteering, or baking treats for the neighbourhood.  It won't be exactly the same, but it can still fill your heart with joy.  And with absence making the heart grow fonder, it just gives you a reason to get excited for the following year!

Saturday, December 03, 2016

The Christmas Raccoons



Here we are with Day #3 of the POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR!  And if I'm correct with my scheduling, I'm supposed to talk about a holiday special, either in television or movie form.

I think because I'm crunched for time this weekend, I'll stick with a television special.  After all, they generally run shorter.

So, today, I'm going to share with you a classic Christmas tale that many of you in the United States might not remember seeing.  Truth be told, I missed the original run when it aired, as it was in December 1980 and I was still in the womb at that time.  But in Canada, this was the television special that kicked off a long-running Canadian animated series that I absolutely adored when I was a kid, and still love today.  In fact, there's a part of me that would love it if CBC decided to bring this show back.

Of course, maybe I also want them to bring back the colour changing markers that they released around the same time as the show too.  Those markers were the best invention ever!




No, I'm talking about the Canadian cartoon series "The Raccoons".  I did an entry about them around Canada Day one year, but it was more or less a generic entry.  This time around, I'll be talking about the television special that kicked off the Raccoons series - "The Christmas Raccoons"!



This is the episode that introduces us to married couple Ralph and Melissa Raccoon, their best friend Bert, the antagonist Cyril Sneer, his son Cedric, and a human family consisting of the father, Ranger Dan, and his two kids Julie and Tommy.  Oh, and we musn't forget the family pet, a giant dog named Schaeffer.

So, the story begins with a bit of a mystery.  Ranger Dan is noticing that pine trees have been disappearing at a rather alarming rate - even more than in previous years.  I suppose it could have something to do with the fact that the story starts two days before Christmas and many people who use real Christmas trees usually decorate them the week before the big day.  But with trees disappearing at such a high rate, it's enough for concern.

But Ralph, Melissa, and Bert are completely oblivious to the tree mystery.  They're too busy decorating their own home for the holidays - a gigantic pine tree that they lovingly call the "Raccoondominium".  I like it.  Very catchy!

It's not until the Raccoons discover the news about the disappearing trees that we learn who is behind it.  The evil, materialistic, greedy Cyril Sneer is the one who is chopping down all the trees because he thinks that he can use the wood from the trees to make a huge profit.  Of course, not everyone seems to agree with Cyril's plan.  Cyril's own son Cedric thinks that it is a really terrible idea because he will soon eliminate the entire forest and then there will be no trees left to harvest.

But Cyril decides that chopping down trees is the way to go, and just to prove a point, he levels an entire row of trees one by one - and one of those trees happen to be the Raccoondominium!  And to make matters worse for the Raccoons, the Raccoondominium is taken away by Ranger Dan's children as their brand new Christmas tree!

So, with the Raccoons homeless, Cyril filled with greed, and Christmas just around the corner, is there any hope for a Christmas miracle in store?

The answer is YES!  And, as a special bonus treat, if you CLICK HERE, you can watch the special live!  But take advantage of it while you can because who knows how long it will be up!

Friday, December 02, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 37 - The Jazz Player



Hello, everybody!  This is not only the 37th episode review for the cartoon series, Jem, but it's also Day #2 of the POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR!

Last week, we watched Jem and the Holograms thwart the plans of a magician who wanted to take over a show.  I wonder what will be in store this week?



Let's find out in Episode 37: The Jazz Player!



It's nighttime at Starlight Mansion, and you know what that means!  Lindsey Pearce's video show is on.  And as a bit of a switch, Lindsey has decided to invite the leader of a popular jazz band of the 1940s, Taps Tucker, for an interview and a performance.  Most of the girls in the room are thrilled to watch the show, but Kimber feels as though it's too old-fashioned.  Kimber, have you learned nothing from the Bobby Bailey thing?  Sheesh?



However, after 40 years, Taps Tucker still has it.  He plays his lucky trumpet - the one he never leaves home without, and plays a fantastic jazz solo.  It's enough to make Kimber eat her words and the rest of the Starlight girls to become mesmerized by the sweet sound.  Unfortunately, that performance is interrupted by four rude women who think that jazz is out and they are in.  Can you guess who they might be?



Ah, yes.  The Misfits.  Ironically, they're playing the same song that they played when they were trying to evict Bobby Bailey from his home!  And once again, I'll state that if they were singing about an ex-boyfriend, "Jack, Take a Hike" would be a killer tune.  Used in this context, it's tasteless and rude.



Lindsey seems to agree with my perspective, telling the Misfits that they've once again blown the chance to be interviewed on her show, and that's enough for Jerrica to shut the television off in disgust.  However, the Holograms come up with a brilliant idea.  Since Taps Tucker still sounds great, why not reunite the old band together for one more album.  After all, Shana makes the remark that jazz was making a comeback in the late 1980s (something that was actually true at the time), and it might be a great surprise to bring Taps Tucker back with his band for one more jam session.



But when Jem and the Holograms track down Taps Tucker, they find that his life isn't really all that fantastic.  He's living in a crummy old apartment with holes in the walls and dingy furniture.  Which to me, I call shenanigans on, because you'd think that he would at least get some royalties from his songs.  He must have not had a great record company backing him.  At first, Taps isn't sure he wants to go ahead with the reunion mainly because it's been 40 years since they were last together.  But Jem can be quite the persistent devil and tells him that she knows a man who owns a jazz recording label and that if he agrees to reunite the band for a comeback album, it might change his fortunes around.  Eventually, Taps accepts Jem's offer, and Jem gives Mark Rockwell a call.



As it so happens, Jem calls right in the middle of a business deal between Mark and Eric Raymond, who is making his own pitch for a jazz record collection.  It seems as though Eric has been working on this pitch for a while, so naturally he'd be upset that Jem is trying to butt in.  Mark explains that he only has enough resources to support one project, so he makes Jem a deal.  If they can get the Taps Tucker Band together in 24 hours time, he'll go with them.  Should they fail, Eric will get the deal.  That's not a whole lot of time for Jem to work.  It seems slightly unfair - but keep in mind that Eric did get to Mark first.



Of course, Eric and the Misfits aren't worried.  They plan to use Techrat to find out where each of the members of the band are so they can make them disappear.  Nice, hacking into the database system to locate people.  I'm pretty sure that's a crime.



But I guess Jem and the Holograms don't seem to worry about getting arrested either because they make Synergy do the same exact thing!  I'm thinking that there really should have been an episode where Techrat tries to hack into Synergy.  That would have been epic.  But instead, we get the addresses and workplaces of the three members of the Taps Tucker Band.  Ace O'Toole, the saxophonist, isn't too far away.  He lives in a small place called Duke's Landing, so Jem sends Shana out to retrieve him.  Bassist Dave Wilson is in Houston, Texas, so she books a flight for Kimber to retrieve him.  And Aja's going to Seattle, Washington to meet up with Joey London, the drummer of the band.



But as the girls are prepared to leave for their respective destinations, Ba Nee arrives with the telephone.  Taps Tucker is on the line and he has bad news.  Someone broke into his apartment and stole his trumpet!  Gee, I wonder who was responsible for that?  Whatever the case, Jem decides to stay in town to locate Taps' horn, and she keeps Raya with her in case she needs back up.



Now, flying out to these locations is one thing, but the hard part is convincing the band members that a reunion would be fun.  But in Aja's case, she needs not try too hard because Joey gives her an emphatic yes!  Seems as though Joey's life has gone downhill and he owes a lot of money to a lot of loan sharks.  The reunion could be what he needs to pay back the money he owes.



But Eric's already sent the Misfits out to wreak havoc...and Stormer is busy sabotaging Aja's car so that they'll be stranded.  But Stormer also notices a couple of creepy men entering the apartment and wonders what's going on.



You know those loan sharks that Joey owed money to?  They're here to collect.  Fortunately, Aja kicks them both in the no-no spot and it allows her and Joey to escape.  But with Stormer sabotaging the car, they're forced to hide in Seattle's underground city to avoid getting caught.  This doesn't look good for Aja and Joey.



Over at Duke's Landing, Shana is surprised to learn that Ace O'Toole has done very well for himself and is legitimately happy in what he's doing.  He's opened up a bar in the tiny coastal town and his pride is his boat which he takes out every day.  He's so happy that he doesn't feel the need to reunite with his old band, and tells Shana this to her disappointment.  But Shana does agree to go out on a tour in his boat, hoping that she can somehow convince Ace to change his mind.



Roxy and Jetta are upset that they went there for nothing, but they decide that while they're in town, they'll empty out the fuel in his boat and disable radio communications.  What harm could come from that?



Well, when Ace and Shana are out on the boat, they are unable to hear the storm warnings, and soon both of them find themselves in the middle of what could be called a mini-hurricane!  Boy, those Misfits know how to cause trouble!



In Houston, Kimber meets up with Dave Wilson at the Astrodome, where he cleans the stadium after every game or concert.  Not surprisingly, Dave decides that ANYTHING would be better than cleaning the hundreds of toilets at the Astrodome, and he happily accepts Kimber's invitation to reunite with his old band.  



But before they can leave, they discover that every single door is locked and it doesn't take a genius to figure out how that happened, as Pizzazz appears on the jumbotron to let them know that they are trapped like rats.



And in this edition of Jem Trivia, I'll let you know that this is only one of TWO episodes that features two songs by the Misfits (the other one was the very first episode).  I do have to admit that "Trapped" is a great song...but I question how all four Misfits could appear at the same time when they're scattered all over the place.  They must have stolen a copy of their video when they were thrown off Lindsey's show.  And with Techrat tagging along with Pizzazz, we know how they assumed control of the electrical panels.



Back in Duke's Landing, the storm is violently shaking the boat, and it causes Ace to fly over the side!  Fortunately, Shana is a strong swimmer, and swims out to save Ace's life.  She seems to have enough strength to drag Ace back to the boat.  If this isn't enough for Ace to change his mind about going back to the reunion, he must have a heart of stone.



The loan sharks have Aja and Joey surrounded, and they appear ready to turn both of them into hamburger.  But Stormer's in the area too, and she is feeling might guilty for her role that she played.  She just wanted to keep them from coming back in time, but she never wanted them to get hurt.  So she causes a distraction by breaking a window in the opposite direction which causes the loan sharks to flee.  This gives Aja and Joey time to catch a cab and get to the airport.  Stormer looks on, knowing that Eric will give her a hard time...but in the end, her good side won out.  Nicely played, Stormer.



And in Houston, Dave seems to have an idea as to how they can get out as well.  It's true that all the doors are sealed with electric locks...but if they can cut off the power, then maybe the doors will open back up.  Dave finds the circuit breaker, shuts it off, and the whole place goes dark.  Techrat and Pizzazz are left confused wondering what was going on, while Dave and Kimber make their great escape!



Back home, Jem and Raya are with Taps trying to figure out who would steal Taps' horn.  Jem seems to have the idea that the other person who was trying to get the deal with Mark might have tried to sabotage the reunion on purpose, so she gives Mark a call to find out who the other person is.  When Mark tells her that Eric Raymond is the second party, Jem and Raya quickly deduce that Eric stole Taps' horn.  Well, d-uh!!!



Of course, Jem and Raya can't very well go into Misfits Music and ask Eric for the horn back, so they need to resort to some trickery.  They have Synergy disguise them as exterminators, and they tell Eric that the building is infested with termites and that he needs to leave the office immediately.  Of course, Eric tells them to bug off, but Raya does a fantastic job yelling at him and making him feel guilty until he agrees to leave.



Once he's gone, Jem and Raya look around the office and discover that Eric has Taps' horn stashed away in a cupboard.  But as soon as they grab the horn and put it in their bag, Eric returns and accuses the exterminators of stealing from him!  Well if that isn't the pot calling the kettle black!  



Jem quickly manages to create a hologram of Taps' horn to fool Eric and Raya can't resist yelling at Eric again for his false accusation!  But Jem reminds Raya that as soon as they leave, the hologram of the horn will disappear, so they need to get out fast!



Sure enough, the hologram of the horn vanishes, and a furious Eric runs out into the hallway to try and catch the thieves.  He passes by a couple of weird looking potted plants that seem to be completely out of place in his search.  



Oh, that's because those plants are really Jem and Raya.  Synergy's disguises are getting better!



Jem and Raya arrive back at Taps' apartment where Kimber, Aja, Joey, and Dave have already arrived.  And while Taps is happily getting reacquainted with his former bandmates, Jem is worried that Shana and Ace haven't arrived yet.  They decide to go down to Mark's office, hoping that they will be meeting him there.



Of course, we know that Shana and Ace are stuck in the middle of the ocean.  The storm is over, but they have no way of getting back to shore.  Ace is extremely grateful to Shana for saving him, and Shana remarks that he can thank her by agreeing to the reunion.  Thankfully, the coast guard spots Ace's boat and tows them to safety.  The question is...can Ace and Shana make it back to Los Angeles in time to stop the deal between Mark and Eric from going through?  I guess it all depends on how far away Duke's Landing is from Los Angeles.



I imagine it must be somewhat far, as when four-fifths Jem and the Holograms and three-quarters of the Taps Tucker Band arrive at Mark's office, they see one whole Eric Raymond smiling with glee that not everyone is there.  Jem begs Mark to give them more time, but Mark is a man of his word, and even though he believes that the Taps Tucker Band would be a bigger draw for him, Eric legitimately did get to him first, so he has to do what he feels is right.



But before Mark can finish signing the contract, Shana and Ace arrive just in time, and the Taps Tucker Band is reunited once more!  Isn't it grand that Jem believes in happy endings?  Of course, Eric is pissed and tries to justify that Mark signed his contract...but Mark simply states that he never finished signing it, and shreds the contract that he had with Eric to pieces right in front of his smug face.  Tough luck, Eric.

Mark immediately signs the Taps Tucker Band to a new contract, and with that, the first single is released - with a very special collaboration with a very special band.



The song "Jazz Has" is a song that I kind of like.  It blends the old with the new, and it's definitely a new sound for Jem and the Holograms, but Britta Phillips' voice is the main attraction of this single.

And to thank Jem for all her hard work, Taps Tucker reveals that he's going to dedicate their comeback album to all of the Holograms.  How nice!



I have to admit, I love this episode.  And in a way, it's a nice episode for the Christmas season.  After all, isn't bringing back family and friends for a celebration what the holidays are really all about?  Of course, there's no Christmas lights or egg nog in this episode, but it's still a nice one.



Coming up next week, the Holograms are filming a video for a contest hosted by Xanthos about goodwill and friendship.  But when one of their pivotal team members gets seriously injured during the filming, can she recover in time to get the job done?