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Monday, May 02, 2016

Celebrating Harry Potter In Film - 2011 Movie Moment

I still remember that fateful day back in 2001 when I was first introduced to the wonderful world of Harry Potter. 

A friend of mine had gotten free tickets to the Ottawa premiere of the movie "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone", and she had an extra one to spare and wanted to know if I'd like to tag along with them.

Of course, I never turn down free anything, so I jumped at the chance to see it.

There was just one thing.  I had never read any of the Harry Potter books prior to 2001.  I knew that they had existed, but I didn't have any time to get to read them.  So, I suppose you could say that I was going into the film as a real "muggle" of sorts.

And yet after watching that first film, I immediately wanted to read the book version, just so I could see how the film differed from the book and what have you.  And, I suppose you could say that was the catalyst towards my being a Harry Potter fan.

I read all seven books, and I watched all eight movies, being completely amazed at how such a wonderful story could be crafted as well as seeing how the three main young actors - Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe, and Emma Watson - matured from little children to young adults. 

Of course, all good things must come to an end...and in July 2011, the final part of the movie based on the seventh book - "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" was released. 

I know.  It seems hard to believe that it has been five whole years since the Harry Potter film series concluded, and all of the actors went their separate ways (yet are all still quite active in the film industry).  But whether you've seen all the films or only watched one, I can guarantee that this collection will be entertaining generations for years to come.  And that is to the credit of J.K. Rowling who not only wrote all the books in the series, but also watched over every detail of the films to make sure that they stayed true to the book.

So, as a celebration of the Harry Potter film franchise that ended in 2011, I thought that I would post some behind the scenes trivia and facts that you might not have known - just as a little token of appreciation towards the films and books.  And since all month long, we'll be looking at topics from 2011, I thought that there was no time like the present!

1.  According to Daniel Radcliffe, he destroyed approximately eighty magic wands during the production of all the films because he kept using them as drumsticks.  That averages out to ten wands a film!  Hope they didn't cost too much money!

2.  On the subject of magic wands, each one created was between 13 to 15 inches long - and no two wands were ever alike!  That is amazing attention to detail!

3.  Obviously the scar that Harry Potter boasts upon his forehead isn't real.  It was applied to Daniel Radcliffe and his stunt doubles by talented make-up artists.  But I bet you don't know how many times that scar was applied.  Would you believe it was almost 6,000?  At least 2,800 of those times alone was on Daniel Radcliffe!

4.  Giving a new meaning to the term "Netflix and Chill", you would have to do a lot of chilling to binge watch the whole Harry Potter oh...18 hours and 20 minutes worth of it!

5.  Seems as though magic wands weren't the only thing that Daniel Radcliffe went through a lot of.  Apparently Radcliffe used 160 different pairs of prop glasses for the whole series!  Though, to be fair, some of the scenes required Harry's glasses to break...

6.  While thousands of actors appeared in at least one of the eight film adaptations, only fourteen can boast that they have been in every single one; Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Tom Felton, Rupert Grint, Josh Herdman, Matthew Lewis, Devon Murray, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Daniel Radcliffe, Geraldine Somerville, Alan Rickman, Emma Watson and Bonnie Wright.

7.  The final part of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" is the shortest running film at just two hours and ten minutes.  The longest film is "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", at two hours and forty-one minutes.

8.  It is estimated that over 25,000 pieces of clothing was used for the entire film series.

9.  Although the film series was nominated for several Academy Awards over its ten year history, nobody ever won one.

10.  The second part of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" is currently ranked as #8 of the world's highest grossing movies of all time.

11.  The same song that concludes the first film of the series is also used to conclude the eighth film.

12.  Although J.K. Rowling was unsure as to which characters would still be alive at the end of the seventh book and eighth movie, she did know one thing - Hagrid would definitely be a survivor.

13.  Emma Watson once revealed in an interview during the filming of the first film that she would NEVER kiss her co-stars in the movie.  And, by the end of the series, she kissed both Rupert and Daniel!

14.  It took several takes for the main actors to nail their kissing scenes.  While some only took a few takes (Ron and Hermione's only needed six), some took a lot more.  The kiss between Harry and Cho Chang?  THIRTY takes to get it right!

15.  J.K. Rowling had always intended to kill off a Weasley (in the case of both the book and film, it was Fred Weasley that was dispatched).  But would you believe that the Weasley patriarch and Ron himself were nearly killed off?  Luckily, Rowling opted not to, but imagine how that ending would have been if Ron weren't around to see it!

16.  Appropriately enough, this blog is being posted on May 2.  According to the books, the Battle of Hogwarts took place on May 2, 1998!  And no, I did NOT plan this.  It just happened that way!

Sunday, May 01, 2016

The Break-Up Of R.E.M. - 2011 Music Moment

Welcome to a whole new month, as well as a whole new look for A POP CULTURE ADDICT'S GUIDE TO LIFE!

Or...should I say...OLD look?

In case you haven't already noticed, the colour scheme has turned into dark blue and light pink.  Already this might seem like a drastic change, but there is a reason for it.

You see...when this blog first debuted five years ago in May 2011, the original colour scheme was blue and pink.  The reason I chose those colours were because those two colours were heavily used in my childhood years.  Every living room that I was in, every television show that I watched, and every classroom that I sat it had lots of blue and pink things inside of them.  I'm almost beginning to think that blue and pink were the official colours for interiors during the years of 1985 and 1992!

I even designed a logo based on those two colours...but I'm sure you'll agree that it was a...ahem...half-assed job at that. 

But five years later - and getting skilled with paint programs in the process - I've perfected that look and have brought an old sense of familiarity to the fifth anniversary of this blog.

And, as I mentioned before, this blog will be making everything five years old brand new again because for most of the month of May, all the posts will be from events and fads that took place during the year that this blog was founded - 2011.

And just for one month only, I'll be resurrecting some of the topics that I used to do five years ago.

So, this is the projected schedule for May 2016...


So, given that today is Sunday, I should be talking about something music related.  And, certainly I will be. 

Now, 2011 was one of those years that had a lot of great moments.  It was the year that Lady Gaga empowered everyone to be proud of who they were when she released the self-esteem anthem "Born This Way".  Katy Perry broke records with her "Teenage Dream" album, even tying a record for having five #1 songs from the same album - a record that had been previously established by Michael Jackson in 1984.  And, it was also the year that Justin Bieber received an early Christmas present when his holiday album reached platinum status by the end of the year.

But 2011 was also a year in which several musical acts called it quits.  The White Stripes, silverchair, and Rx Bandits all hung up their musical instruments and disbanded that year.

But I think one of the bands that broke up in 2011 was one that absolutely shocked me - not because of the fact that they were a great band (at least in my opinion) that had been around since the year before I was born (1980), but because they were a band that I had listened to practically my entire young life. 

I still remember the very first song that I heard them playing.  By that point the band had started to get their songs played on the radio after years of merely being able to be heard on independent college stations.

The song was "Stand", and it was one of the songs that was in heavy rotation on the radio station I listened to back in 1989.  Although I was only eight years old at the time, I absolutely loved that single, and I wanted to know who it was that sang it.

Of course, the answer to that question is R.E.M.  And I happily considered myself to be a fan.

R.E.M. was made up of four members - lead singer Michael Stipe, lead guitarist Peter Buck, drummer Bill Berry, and pianist Mike Mills.  In January of 1980, Stipe, then 19, met Buck at an Athens, Georgia record store, where both men learned that they had similar musical interests.  Shortly after that, the pair befriended Mills and Berry, both students at the University of Georgia.  At that moment, the band that would come to be known as R.E.M. was born.

Their first gig was three months later at the birthday party of a mutual friend, and after writing and playing several songs, the four tried to come up with a name.  Some of the rejected names included Twisted Kites, Negro Wives, and Cans of Piss! 

Yeah, I don't know if I would have liked the band as much had they decided to name themselves Cans of Piss.

So, how did the band come up with the name R.E.M.?  Well, you can thank Webster's Dictionary for that one.  Stipe randomly opened up the book to the R section where the first entry was about rapid eye movement - or R.E.M.

Over the next year, R.E.M. found a manager, and was touring various venues around the Southern United States.  But back in 1980, alternative rock music was still a fairly new genre, and not a whole lot of support was given to alternative bands back in those days.

But the band kept going on, and in the summer of 1981, the band released their first single, "Radio Free Europe" with an independent label.  Only one thousand copies of the single were initially up for sale, and all one thousand copies sold out in no time.  Though the single never really made an impact on the major charts, that's not to say that the song wasn't a critical hit.  In fact, it was listed as one of the ten best singles of 1981 by "The New York Times"!

Two years later, R.E.M. made their first television appearance on "Late Night With David Letterman", where they performed the single "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)".  Although the track hadn't been named at the time of their Letterman performance, it would be the lead single off their 1984 album "Reckoning" - which to the band's surprise would peak at #27 on the Billboard 200 Charts.  An unusual feat for a college band!

It wouldn't be until 1987 and three albums later that the band would start to enjoy mainstream success with the album "Document".  And, I will say this.  "Document" is a great album.  In addition to two songs that are still very well represented on the radio ("It's The End Of The World As We Know It" and "The One I Love"), the album itself was a political commentary of several recent world events...and fans absolutely ate it up.

But it was during this time that R.E.M. broke off relations with their former record company, I.R.S., and signed on with Warner, which ultimately proved to be a blessing for the group as well.  While signed under Warner, the group had four hit albums in a row, "Green" (1988), "Out Of Time" (1991), "Automatic For The People" (1992), and "Monster" (1994). 

(And, yes...I owned all four albums at one time.  What can I say?  I was a fan.)

It also helped that R.E.M. wasn't afraid of trying new things either.  For their 1991 album, they used a variety of acoustic musical instruments and blended them together with standard instruments to create a brand new sound - notably featured on songs such as "Shiny Happy People" and "Losing My Religion".

("Losing My Religion" by the way was heavily used in the television show "Beverly Hills 90210" - particularly in episodes after Dylan left Brenda to be with Kelly.)

And later on in their career, the band took on the challenging role of creating the entire film score for the 1999 film "Man On The Moon", which featured their single "The Great Beyond".

Interestingly enough, the band had a hit in 1992 with the single "Man On The Moon", both songs written about Andy Kaufman.

But by the end of the 1990s, the band underwent a few setbacks.  First there was the departure of Bill Berry in 1997, due to fears regarding his health - he had passed out during a set in 1995 from a brain aneurysm.  And their albums after 1996 sort of suffered as a result.  While I did like their 1998 album "Up", many critics panned it, and it became one of their lowest selling records.  And during most of the 2000s, their music - while still good - also didn't do very well with critics and fans.

But there were some highlights.  In 2007, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  And for the record, the band's final album together, "Collapse Into Now" was a huge hit, peaking within the Top 5 of the Billboard 200.

But the writing was on the wall by that point.  And on September 21, 2011,  the band officially announced that they were disbanding after twenty-one years.  Their record contract had been completed, and they mutually agreed that now was the time to walk away.

So, what has happened in the five years since R.E.M. sang their last song together?

Well, Bill Berry turned his attention to agriculture, and has been working as a farmer for the last few years.  He is married and a father of one child.

Peter Buck continues to record music.  What's interesting is that his 2014 album "I Am Back To Blow Your Mind Once Again" was only released on vinyl!

Mike Mills has also continued to perform music, and in 2012 contributed to a single that was aimed at preventing the building of a Walmart in Athens, Georgia!

As for Michael Stipe?  Well, he too has stayed within the music industry, contributing vocals to other artist projects...and in 2014, he was the one who inducted Nirvana into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  But as Stipe was probably the most private person of all in the band, I imagine a lot of his private life has managed to stay private, so we'll leave it at that.

At any rate...R.E.M. managed to carve out a place in alternative rock...and in doing so, they had lots of fans who followed them every step of the way until September 2011.

I'm happy to say that I was one.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Religious Freedom =/= The Right To Be A Jerk

I'm going to begin this entry by talking about an event that I remember from my childhood.  And yes, it's somewhat linked to the topic that I have chosen for today.

Do any of you that are around my age remember when McDonald's had birthday parties?  I know I certainly do.  After all, I had a party there when I was seven years old.

I'm not entirely sure why I wanted a McDonald's birthday when I was seven.  Perhaps it was because back in 1988, McDonald's food was still edible.  Or maybe it had to do with the fact that a couple of my classmates had McDonald's parties, and I decided that I wanted one too.  Either way, I spent my birthday with Ronald McDonald and six of my classmates. 

And I have to say for the most part, the party went off without a hitch.  We played on the Playland slides and equipment, we gorged on ice cream and french fries, and we even took a tour of the McDonald's kitchen to see how everything worked.  Granted, we were all seven at the time and we all thought it was the coolest thing ever.  Flash forward almost thirty years, and I'm thinking that anyone who ever worked at McDonald's should deserve a medal for putting up with what they put up with!

There was however, one tiny problem.

You see, the week that my party was booked was the same week that the men's washroom decided to malfunction.  I don't exactly know what happened, but it was deemed unusable that whole week.

What did this mean?  Well, for that one week, McDonald's was forced to turn the women's washroom into a unisex washroom.  This meant that certain stalls were reserved for men, and certain stalls were reserved for women.  I imagine it must have been an inconvenience for a lot of people, but I do understand McDonald's decision to do this.  The only alternative would have been to have closed the restaurant down while repairs were made, and that wouldn't have been a good option financially.

(Not to mention that my party would have been cancelled.)

Here's the kicker though.  Sure, it was a setback.  But nobody really complained about it.  At least, not back in 1988 they didn't.  When people have to go, they have to go, right?  I imagine the women weren't very happy to share a public bathroom with men, but at the same time, the stalls were all closed in.  Nobody could see anything that they didn't want to see.  And I imagine that for some of my friends at the party, they were just excited to see what the inside of a women's bathroom looked like!

But again, I reiterate the point that nobody complained.  We just dealt with the situation as best as we could.  I don't think anyone had any long-term effects from the week that McDonald's had a unisex bathroom.

So, I don't quite understand why people are in an uproar over Target making an announcement that anybody could use any bathroom that they so desired. 

Well, okay...let me clarify. 

When it comes down to it, most of us know what gender we are.  I know I'm male, so I will use the men's washroom - or if all the stalls are full, I'll use a designated "family washroom" in an emergency.  And yes, family washrooms do exist.  There's one at the store I work at.  Sometimes, that washroom has been a godsend.

But what happens if a person is confused about what gender they feel they are?  Or if a person decides to undergo gender reassignment surgery to become the gender that they feel that they should have been born as?  It's certainly a question that many people have wondered.

Some may say that transgender or questioning people should use the washroom as the gender that they were born as (which I don't believe is fair) and some feel that they should use the washroom as the gender they currently are (which I completely support).  And some just think that transgender people should have a bathroom of their own (which would be pointing out more attention to them which I don't really agree with).

Whatever the case, I just want to say that I really don't understand why there is such anger about it.

Some people claim that the idea to open up bathrooms to all genders is just asking for trouble.  My response to that is...why?  I mean, think about it.  Most people who go the bathroom aren't doing so to pick up a date.  They have to do things in there that really aren't appropriate to discuss inside of this blog!  I really couldn't care less if the guy in the stall next to me is really a male or not because I'm kind of doing my own thing, if you know what I mean! 

Besides, if I had someone staring at me trying to deduce whether I'm really male, I would think that would be more of a problem!

Some make the argument that it invites pedophiles into the opposite sex's bathrooms so that they can continue their deviant behaviour - and yes, certainly that is a legitimate concern.  But where did it say that all transgender people are pedophiles?  The vast majority of them are not!  And to be honest with you, I think anybody who does feel that way is a person that I most certainly do NOT want to know.

When it comes down to it, I think that transgender people have gotten enough abuse, and it needs to stop.  I get so angry when I see anybody get rights taken away from them because people do not understand their lifestyles or their cultures.  And, I especially get ticked off by people who claim to love their God and use that to justify being jerks towards people who don't fit into what they believe to be "normal".

Here's what's abnormal.  People who use religion as an excuse to hate people and to abuse their power to satisfy their own logic.  I think that's why I and many other people are outraged that states like North Carolina, Mississippi, and Tennessee are passing laws that deliberately deny people who identify as being a part of the LGBTQ community basic human rights.  To me, it's no different than it was back in the 1950s when skin colour dictated what water fountain a person drank from.

I thought we were supposed to improve on what history taught us, not go back in time and celebrate the worst of it.

To me, religious freedom means that a person has the right to practice whatever religion they feel best fits them, whether it be Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, etc.  It's even cool if you don't follow any sort of religion, as I certainly don't.  Religious freedom does NOT mean that you have the right to take away other people's rights because they clash with your own.  It doesn't mean that you have the right to bully other people who appear different from you because it's what the Bible tells you.  It doesn't mean that you have the right to kill someone else because they go against everything you stand for.  That's not religious freedom at all.  That's hate.

I think that the people of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi who do NOT have this much hate need to band together and get these politicians out of office.

Because this is an issue that goes beyond bathrooms...this is an issue of human dignity.  And believe me, no matter what gender you identify as, we all deserve that dignity.

After wasn't a problem in 1988.  I just provided proof of that.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 6 - Starbright: Falling Star

Before I begin this edition of "Jem Reviewed", I'll state that when I first began this blog and did a general entry on Jem and the Holograms, I actually watched episodes as a result, I probably know those episodes the best of all 65.  The good thing is that I can be more detailed...and more snarky in the process!

Last week, we watched Jem and the Holograms win a movie contract, control of Starlight Music, and ownership of Starlight Mansion.  Today we get to see how the movie is made in Episode 6:  Starbright - Falling Star.

So, as the narrator recaps the first five episodes of the series, we learn that six months has passed since the Battle of the Bands.  And appropriately for Jem Trivia this week, the same holds true for the airing schedule!  The last part of the Battle of the Bands series aired January 12, 1986.  This episode originally aired July 3, 1986.  Almost exactly six months!  Freaky!

And, admiring the continuity Christy Marx has shown, Jerrica's looking a little more polished and her hair has gotten longer.  It's a subtle change, but a noticeable one.  Also, the animation quality has gotten better as well.

But as far as Jerrica goes, she remains the same.  A total control freak at the party announcing the movie, and ordering her foster girls to be her slaves.  Some girl named Becky is ordered to get more cups, to which I wonder what the party guests are drinking out of - cereal bowls?

Anyway, Countess Danielle DuVoisin has been looking for Jem, and so Jerrica does her whole "Showtime, Synergy" spiel, changes to her cotton candy haired alter ego, and meets Danielle and the rest of the Holograms in a bedroom.  Apparently, Danielle has been hard at work on a brand new line of Jem fashions - which is good since her last collection was ruined by the Misfits - and she wanted Jem to try on her latest creation.

That latest creation just happens to be a fancy pink evening gown that would make Susan Lucci jealous.  And, Rio's already salivating at the mouth seeing Jem in that dress.  I'm guessing he'd probably like to see her out of that dress too, but since this is a cartoon and not Japanese anime, I don't see that happening.

But before Rio can pounce on Jem, Mrs. Bailey, the lovable housekeeper of Starlight Mansion approaches and wants to get Jerrica to come to the living room for a moment.  Just like that, Jem turns back into Jerrica lickety-split and takes off with Mrs. Bailey leaving Rio standing there as if he has just taken part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Mrs. Bailey takes Jerrica into the room where we meet another one of the Starlight Girls, a little Vietnamese girl named Ba Nee.  And fair warning, like Ashley, you'll see Ba Nee a lot.  Notice how Ba Nee is sitting extremely close to the television set?  Apparently this has been going on for some time, and Mrs. Bailey is concerned that Ba Nee may have a serious problem.  Nice to know that SOMEONE is looking out for the girls.  At least Jerrica tells her that she'll make an appointment with Ba Nee's eye doctor.

Once again, someone interrupts.  This time it's Anthony Julien, who wants to introduce Jem to someone.  Sheesh, can't Jem/Jerrica be ONE person for more than five minutes?

Once back into Jem mode, Anthony introduces her to videographer Vivien Montgomery - but she'd rather be called by her nickname of Video.  Because, you know, she makes videos.  At least she isn't called Porn Star.  As it so happens, Video is a fan of the band, and she is going to join the film crew of the Jem movie!  So, I'm guessing that we'll be seeing a lot of Video over the next three episodes.

Once more, Jerrica is being hunted down by Lela, and this proves to be a bit too much for Jem/Jerrica to take.  She walks through one of the walls of the mansion where Synergy's room is, and wants to make sure that Synergy isn't getting worn out to the point where she short circuits, explodes, and burns down their home again.  Synergy tells Jerrica not to worry, as the man who designed her - Jerrica's father - has prevented her from doing that.  However, as you'll see in future episodes, Synergy does have her weaknesses.

Anyway, once Jem changes back into Jerrica, Lela announces that they are out of ice.  THAT'S the emergency?  Sheesh, Lela...just go back to guarding the Honor Jar!  Jerrica sends Becky to get more ice, to which I would hope that Becky responds that her name ain't Britney bitch, and she's no slaaaaaaave for her.  But then I realize that this show was 15 years before 2001, so never mind.

Rio takes Jerrica aside, and tells her that he loves her, but Jerrica calls Rio out on the fact that he likes Jem too, and Rio makes the mistake of comparing Jerrica to an old pair of shoes.  Or, maybe Jerrica does that herself.  Who cares, it's time for a song.

You know what else I've noticed about episode 6?  The songs are more polished, more mature, and more sultry.  Seriously, I don't know how they got the line "is he making love to a fantasy" into the song, but kudos to them!  At any rate, I do like "Who Is He Kissing".

But I'm sure the Misfits don't.  In fact, Pizzazz is staring at the party through a pair of binoculars along with Roxy and Stormer.  Interesting fact #1...they seem to be staring at them from a mansion that is larger than Starlight Mansion.  Interesting fact appears that the mansion belongs to Pizzazz's father!  Who knew that Pizzazz was a rich spoiled brat?  I NEVER would have guessed!

You might be surprised to know that Pizzazz doesn't care that much about the wealth and money.  Instead, she wants to be famous and she wants to be noticed.  Perhaps this could explain why she is the way she is...we'll see.

Whatever the case, Pizzazz is absolutely upset that Jem and the Holograms won the movie contract because now they'll get all the attention.  So she does what she does best...get her father, Harvey Gabor, to buy the very studio that is making the Jem film.  Oh, this can't be good.

Sure enough, when Jem and the Holograms arrive at the movie studios, the man with no cojones himself, Howard Sands explains that someone else bought the studio, and has taken control of all the productions inside.

And you can only imagine the shock of Jem and the others when Eric Raymond and the Misfits are standing there.  And the news is grim.  With Harvey Gabor owning the movie studio, Eric announces that the only way that he will let the Jem movie continue is if the Misfits become cast members.  Naturally the other Holograms are upset at this, and naturally, Howard Sands comes up with a solution for the girls to quit the movie...

...but Jem announces that she's not going to be bullied by Eric Raymond, and declares that the show will go on no matter what!  If only she would have taken her foot and kicked Howard Sands in the face, that would have been even better!

So Jem, Kimber, Shana, and Aja arrive on set for their first day of shooting where they immediately walk in on an argument between Eric Raymond and Anthony Julien.  Jem makes a funny comment about how Eric is not a morning person and leaves them be.

Now, you might think that because Jem and the Holograms are sharing a movie set with the Misfits that things may be a little tense...and well, you'd be right.  The Misfits barge ahead of them in line for the make-up chairs, and this causes Aja to lose her cool.  I swear, if you let Aja at them, she'd rip off Pizzazz's hair extensions!

Inside the make-up area, Pizzazz is telling make-up artist Georgia about how much she hates Jem and proceeds to trash talk her.  Not very professional, Pizzazz.  Back outside, Kimber remarks that if the make-up artists go near Jem's face, they may disrupt Synergy's hologram which would be a catastrophe!

Jem comes up with some quick thinking and tells Georgia that she has brought her own make-up kit and she can put on her face herself - but Georgia is left thinking that Pizzazz was right about Jem being snobbish, and treats her very coldly.  I wonder if this little plot development will have any hand in the way the finale plays out.

We also find out that the leading man of the movie is a guy by the name of Nick Mann, who sort of resembles a young Val Kilmer or Mickey Rourke before his face was completely destroyed.  And as it turns out, Kimber and Pizzazz both have a major crush on Nick.  But when Pizzazz goes all diva like and orders a chair, Kimber nearly gets knocked out. 

Fortunately for Kimber, she is saved from injury by Nick's stunt double, a man named Jeff Wright whose hair is darker than Nick's.  Nick also happens to be smitten by Kimber.  Maybe it's the scarlet hair.  But Kimber rebuffs Jeff to try and get Nick's attention - only to be humiliated when Nick decides that he wants Jem instead.  Gee, I hope this doesn't make Kimber drive off in a huff again.

Outside the studios, a woman with pink and blue hair pulls up and announces that she is Montgomery and is here to pick up her studio pass. 

Less than a minute later, Video pulls up and asks for the same pass - and comes to a horrible conclusion that Clash is on the set.  But just who is Clash?

Oh, I see.  Clash is that pink and blue haired woman.  And the reason she's called Clash is because she has wrist bracelets that look like cymbals that cause a clashing sound when banged together.  She also happens to be Video's cousin.  And she is a HUGE fan of the Misfits.  Oh, great...another person out to sabotage the movie. 

Video tries to warn Jem and the others that Clash is on the movie set, but before she can explain what she looks like, Clash bursts in on the Holograms and smashes her cymbal bracelets so loud that Jem and Aja are visibly shaken.  This causes Anthony Julien to lose it and tell Clash to leave the set immediately.  This in turn causes Eric Raymond to tell Anthony that Clash and the Misfits are staying as per the rules of the amended contract. 

Anthony decides that he's done with the movie and quits as the director!  I'm sure that Shana will likely come over to his place for a little lovin'...ahem...tender care later.  For now, Eric announces that he will direct the film himself, which sends fear trembling through the hearts of the cast and crew.

But all Rio can feel is jealousy.  With Jem doing romantic scenes with Nick, you can see Rio's eyes turning as green as Pizzazz's hair.  And as Jem and Nick are filming their scene, a Jem and the Holograms song plays.

I must say...the ending of the video with Rio punching Nick in the jaw says a lot about both characters.  It tells us that Nick is a bit of a sleaze...but it also tells us that Rio has anger management issues.  And Eric nearly fires Rio on the spot!

Of course, Pizzazz - who is still in love with Rio despite also being in love with Nick - orders Eric to keep Rio on the payroll - making sure that Rio promises to be nice to Pizzazz right in front of Jem!  Now who's jealous?

I should also note that Mrs. Bailey has announced that Ba Nee's eye appointment is on the Saturday coming up.  It seems so random right now, but as we've learned in the Jem series, nothing is EVER random.

Whatever the case, a huge press conference has descended onto the movie studios, and Lindsey Pearce (who looks so much different from two episodes ago) is at the head of the media circus.  Lindsey interviews Eric and seems legitimately shocked and scared that Eric has taken over directing duties of the Jem movie.  And when Lindsey interviews Jem and Nick Mann about the movie, Nick takes the time to plant a huge kiss on Jem's lips...prompting Aja to make a smartass comment about Nick being shy.  

Yep, Aja's slowly becoming my favourite Hologram! 

Kimber becomes extremely jealous and starts to storm away, but Eric catches up with her.  He makes Kimber a promise that he will write in a scene for Kimber with Nick in the movie, and once again plays on Kimber's insecurities about trying to compete with Jerrica.  Once again, quintessential Eric Raymond strikes again.

The kicker seems to be when Pizzazz and Roxy hijack the press conference by revealing a giant banner that reads "THE MISFITS IN STARBRIGHT" with Jem and the Holograms in tiny lettering underneath.  Wow, that's low.  And, certainly Pizzazz taking great joy in humiliating the Holograms isn't sitting right with them.  This is turning out to be a war.

Howard Sands seems to also be at war with Harvey Gabor, with Harvey claiming that the Misfits are destroying the Jem movie and that Harvey needs to step in and reign in his daughter.  But for some reason, Harvey won't listen to reason.  Gee, I wonder where Pizzazz gets part of her personality from.

The final straw comes when Jem and the Holograms arrive on set to film a scene, but are shocked to see the Misfits performing their own song instead.  But to the Misfits credit, the song is an awesome one!

I mean, seriously.  Find one thing wrong with "Universal Appeal".  One.  I can't.  It's like the perfect Misfits song with one kick-ass video.  I told you the video production has gotten better in episode six!

Well, obviously Jem doesn't share any universal appeal towards Pizzazz and after a back and forth game of "let's attack the stars with stars", Pizzazz gets knocked to the ground and stares at Jem as if she wants to stab her right in the jugular.  But Jem decides that she's had enough of Eric and the Misfits and she, Aja, and Shana storm off the set announcing that they quit the film!  Eric tries to convince Kimber to stay, and Kimber hesitates for a bit - but in the end, she decides that no scene with Nick Mann is worth taking the abuse of the Misfits, and she quits too.

And while Georgia the make-up artist is like "sayonara, bitches", Video follows the band out and announces that she's quit the project too, saying that Eric isn't getting any of her footage.  It's actually kind of nice the way that Jem and the others make Video an honourary Hologram.  It makes me realize that yes, Jem and the Holograms can be genuinely nice.

Of course, the Misfits and Clash celebrate the fact that Jem and the Holograms have walked away, and Roxy spray paints over Jem's name.  So, that's that.  Jem's movie career is over before it even began.  What else could go wrong?

Well, a lot.  At Ba Nee's eye appointment, the doctor reveals to Jerrica that Ba Nee has a degenerative eye disease that she inherited from her parents, and the doctor gives Jerrica the grave news that in a matter of weeks, Ba Nee could lose her eyesight forever.

Cue the TO BE CONTINUED and Jerrica's shocked face - which has greatly improved since episode 1.

Tune in next week where we continue the Starbright saga.  Can anything be done to save Ba Nee's sight?  Will Jem rejoin the film?  And which two Holograms find themselves in major danger?  You'll have to wait until May 6th to find out!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

We're Gonna Party Like It's 2011!

Hey, everyone!

By now, I'm sure that you've noticed that this blog is looking slightly different.

I've changed the font of the main body - which I believe looks fantastic, and I've also changed the font of the titles...which is exactly the same font that I used for this blog when I debuted it five years ago.

This is not merely a is planned.

I won't have much time to do much more than that for now, but I just wanted to drop a line and state that for the fifth anniversary of this blog in May 2016, I'm going to be planning a month long celebration in which we're going to party like it's 2011!

Seriously.  With the exception of the Tuesday Timeline posts and the Jem Reviewed series, every single post that I will make this month (and yes, I'll be making one post each day in the month of May) will have something to do with the year 2011 - the year this party began!

So, download Angry Birds onto your iPhone 4S, challenge your pals to a game of Words With Friends, and post your planking videos onto YouTube because this coming month, everything five years old becomes new once more!

You're seeing a taste of what to expect...on May 1, I reveal the blog's new look...or, should I say...OLD look?

You'll just have to wait to find out...

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April 26, 1986

It's time for the final Tuesday Timeline in April, and I have to say that coming up in the next week, I'll be starting a celebration for the fifth anniversary of this blog.  I can't reveal too much about what I will be doing right now, but it will legitimately be a throwback to the past - right down to the look of this blog itself!  Stay tuned for more.  I'll make the changes the end of April.

For now, it's the 26th of April, and we've got quite a bit to talk about.  But as always we'll talk about the historical events of the day that didn't quite warrant a full discussion.

1564 - William Shakespeare is baptized in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England

1721 - Tabriz, Iran is completely destroyed by an earthquake

1777 - Sixteen-year-old Sibyl Ludington rides 40 miles to warn American colonial forces of the approach of the British

1803 - Thousands of meteor shards fall from the skies over France, convincing European scientists that meteors exist

1865 - John Wilkes Booth is shot and killed by Union cavalry troopers

1923 - The Duke of York and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon get married at Westminister Abbey

1933 - The Gestapo is established in Nazi Germany

1943 - The Easter Riots commence in Uppsala, Sweden

1954 - The Geneva Conference begins

1962 - NASA's Ranger 4 crashes into the face of the Moon

1965 - Rioting causes a Rolling Stones concert in Toronto to be shut down after just fifteen minutes!

1981 - Dr. Michael R. Harrison becomes the first doctor to perform a human open fetal surgery in the world

1989 - Comedy legend Lucille Ball dies at the age of 77

1991 - "General Hospital" actress Emily McLaughlin passes away, aged 62

1994 - China Airlines Flight 140 crashes at a Japanese airport - only seven passengers survive

1999 - British journalist Jill Dando is gunned down outside of her home in London - Dando was just thirty-seven at the time of her death

2013 - Country legend George Jones passes away at the age of 81

2015 - Actress Jayne Meadows dies at the age of 95

And birthday wishes go out to the following famous faces - I.M. Pei, Mac Martin, Carol Burnett, Duane Eddy, Giorgio Moroder, Claudine Clark, Bobby Rydell, Gary Wright, Nancy Lenahan, Koo Stark, Giancarlo Esposito, John Corabi, Roger Taylor, Joan Chen, Michael Damian, Debra Wilson, Jet Li, Susannah Harker, Kevin James, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Curtis Jones, Kate Hardie, Melania Trump, Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, Jay DeMarcus, Geoff Blum, Ivana Milicevic, Tom Welling, Avant, Stana KaticJason Earles, Tyler Labine, Jordana Brewster, Channing Tatum, Marnette Patterson, Jon Lee, and Jessica Lynch.

Certainly a long list of celebrity birthdays, huh?

Okay, so I've kept you waiting long enough.  Let's take this Tuesday Timeline back in time to the year that Peter Gabriel released "Sledgehammer", Sigourney Weaver battled aliens once more, and a quartet of "Designing Women" spread their Southern charm to CBS viewers.

We're going back thirty years to April 26, 1986.  And for several people in the vicinity of the Soviet Union at that time, it is a date that they will never forget as long as they live.

You see, on this date was an event that was so shocking and so devastating that it killed hundreds of people, displaced thousands more, rendered an entire portion of the world uninhabitable, and put fear into the hearts of many people who questioned the safety of using nuclear power.

Can you believe that it has been thirty years since the Chernobyl Disaster?  I can hardly believe it myself.  I mean, I was just a few weeks shy of my fifth birthday, so I wasn't able to process just how devastating this was.  The only clue as to how it might have gone down may have been similar to a music video released by the band Ultravox in 1984.

Okay, so the Chernobyl reactor didn't completely melt down.  But something happened within the walls of the power plant, located within the city of Pripyat which at the time was part of the Soviet Union - it is now considered a part of the Ukraine since the Soviet Union folded in 1991.

The events of Saturday, April 26, 1986 began quite normally.  A systems test had been scheduled for that morning just after one o'clock at the power plant's #4 reactor and it was slated to be just like all of the others that had been performed since the power plant became operational in 1977.  There was one incident that occurred in September 1982 when a partial core meltdown occurred in Reactor #1, but the reactor was fixed and fully operational by 1983.  However, only those who worked at the plant that day knew what had happened, as the 1982 incident was never made public until years later.  I can only imagine that had more people known, perhaps the incident in April 1986 might never have happened.

When the test was set to begin, everything in Reactor #4 was business as usual - at least, that is until something unexpected happened.  Too much electrical power was being used and that energy caused a massive power surge.  Recognizing the dangers of a power surge, engineers at the power plant tried everything they could to reduce the amount of power that was being used, even triggering an emergency shutdown of the whole reactor.  Unfortunately, that shutdown made the problem much worse, and the power surge intensified.

The resulting power surges caused a series of steam explosions, and ruptured the reactor vessel which caused the reactor to ignite into flames.  The fire shot out clouds of smoke that were filled with highly toxic radioactive particles, and the clouds covered much of the Soviet Union area, with some clouds drifting over as far as Scandinavia!

The hardest hit areas of the disaster were Russia, the Ukraine, and especially Belarus - where it is estimated that 60% of the nuclear fallout landed there.

At least thirty-one people died instantly at the Chernobyl plant.  It's unclear as to what the official death toll is from the incident, as that number continues to climb, but the facts are quite sobering.

Between 1986 and 2001, it was estimated that close to 350,000 people in the Chernobyl area were forced to relocate to areas that were not highly contaminated from the radiation.  Further statistics indicate that since 1986, the rate of cancer has increased among citizens of Europe with the 2006 TORCH report stating that a prediction of up to 60,000 people will lose their lives prematurely as a direct result of the Chernobyl disaster.

Now certainly the world has done its best to try and help those who were the most affected by the disaster.  I know that since the late 1980s, my town has hosted a "Children of Chernobyl" exchange program where kids from the Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia were hosted by a local family so that they could have the chance to experience life that was free of radiation.  I have no idea if the program is still a go, but I can tell you that so many children had positive experiences during the years the program went on.

And interestingly enough, even though the land around the reactor is uninhabitable by humans, there have been some instances in which tourists have been allowed to visit the area - provided that they don't come too close to certain areas that are still covered in radiation.  And over the last thirty years, while the human population has decreased in that area, the animal population has increased and seems to be thriving. 

But don't take that news lightly.  The 1986 Chernobyl Disaster made the land unsafe for humans to stay for a significant period of time.  It's said that the radiation won't dissipate until at least fifty years from the time of the accident.  And in some areas, it may never fully disappear.  It's certainly a monument to the worst case scenario for sure.

Perhaps no place best describes that feeling than the once prosperous city of Pripyat.  Once home to fifty thousand people, the population is now zero.  The city left abandoned for thirty years.  In some ways, it serves as a time capsule to what life was like back in the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s, as children's toys, books, medical equipment, and Soviet propaganda still decorates the walls of the now decaying schools, hospitals, businesses, and residences within.  A ferris wheel sits rusting having never been used - the Pripyat Amusement Park was set to open in May 1986 - but as we all know, that grand opening never came, as every citizen of Pripyat had to evacuate the city by the 27th of April.

I can only imagine the frustration, fear, and horror the people of Pripyat had to face that day.