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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

May 24, 2011

Welcome to a very special edition of the Tuesday Timeline.  It's a date that is quite personal to me, and one that I really want to discuss.  I'm sure that if you have been following along with this blog, you may know why that is.  But before we get to that, let's see what took place on this date in history.

1607 - One hundred English settlers disembark in Jamestown - the first English colony to appear in America

1819 - Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (d. 1901) is born

1830 - Sarah Joshepa Hale's poem "Mary Had a Little Lamb" is first published

1844 - The first telegraph line is inaugurated by Samuel Morse who successfully sends the message "What hath God wrought?"

1883 - After fourteen years of construction, the Brooklyn Bridge opens to traffic

1895 - Henry Irving becomes the first person from the world of theatre to be knighted

1915 - Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary during World War I

1930 - Pilot Amy Johnson lands in Darwin, Australia - the first female pilot to fly solo from England to Australia

1935 - The first night baseball game is played Cincinnati, Ohio between the Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies

1945 - Jazz/soul singer Terry Callier (d. 2012) is born in Chicago, Illinois

1956 - The Eurovision Song Contest is held for the first time in Lugano, Switzerland

1958 - United Press International is formed via the merger of United Press and the International News Service

1961 - Freedom Riders are arrested in Jackson, Mississippi on charges of disturbing the peace after leaving their bus

1962 - Actor/choreographer Gene Anthony Ray (d. 2003) is born in New York City

1967 - Rap artist Dwight "Heavy D" Myers (d. 2011) is born in Jamaica

1968 - FLQ separatists bomb the American consulate in Quebec City, Quebec

1976 - The Concorde jet service begins with flights between London and Washington D.C.

1981 - The president of Ecuador - Jaime Roldos Aguilera - is killed in a plane crash along with his wife and presidential committee

1984 - Vince McMahon Sr. - the founder of the WWE - dies at the age of 69

1994 - Four men linked to the 1993 bombing of New York's World Trade Center are sentenced to 240 years in prison

2001 - At age sixteen, Temba Tsheri becomes the youngest person to climb to the top of Mount Everest

2014 - An earthquake measuring 6.4 strikes near Greece and Turkey injuring 324 people

There's quite a lot of celebrity birthdays as well to list today.  Happy birthday to Michael Lonsdale, Joan Micklin Silver, Tommy Chong, Bob Dylan, Gary Burghoff, Patti LaBelle, Priscilla Presley, Albert Bouchard, Jim Broadbent, Nell Campbell, Alfred Molina, Rosanne Cash, Chip Ganassi, Doug Jones, Kristin Scott Thomas, John C. Reilly, Ricky Craven, Eric Close, Tommy Page, Greg Berlanti, Dermot O'Leary, Will Sasso, Marc Gagnon, Kym Valentine, Jo Joyner, Owen Benjamin, Andy Lee, Mark Ballas, Kimberley Crossman, and Billy Gilman.

So, I suppose it shouldn't come as a surprise that the date that I've chosen for this particular entry is this one.

May 24, 2011.

That date, of course, is the day that this crazy blogging project began!  I can't believe that I've kept this thing going for five whole years now!  I may have slowed it down a bit, but I still write in this space whenever I feel the need to.  This space is really one of the few spots where I can be free to be myself and not worry about what I say or how I say it.  Some of you may love what I write about.  Others might not.  But what I can tell you is that as far as the personality and heart goes in preparing this blog for the last five years...that is 100% truth.

That's why I've decided to make this whole month a celebration of what life was like five years ago.  It's because we've all changed so much over the last half-decade.  I know I certainly have.  And I know this blog certainly has!

Case in point.  This was my very first logo for this blog.  It's so cornball and cheesy, isn't it?  I drew this one myself using a couple of gel pens and I believe a leftover envelope from a birthday card I had received the week before.  Yep, my blog was low budget back then!

Oh, who am I kidding.  My blog is STILL low-budget.  But dammit, it had a lot of heart.  And that first logo inspired the current look you see today.  When I first began this blog five years ago, the colour scheme was blue and pink - much like it is now.  But it wasn't always the case.

Such as the purple and yellow phase I went through between 2012 and 2014.  I may go back to that when this blog turns six...I haven't decided yet.

Or, the time when I decided to completely change everything around including the logo itself.  This was certainly one of the brightest looks I've ever seen this blog go.  I can see why I ditched it after a few months.

Sometimes I would decorate the blog for the Christmas holidays.  This one turned out quite beautifully.

And until recently, I went with a gold theme - partly in celebration of my parents' Golden Jubilee anniversary last August.

The logos changed a lot over the last few years as well.  Most of them I was very happy with - at least until I got sick of them!  I'm really liking the one I have now.  I'll probably keep it for a while.

Even the content of this blog has changed quite a bit.  Before it was all about pop culture, but over the years, I've opened up myself more and more, and now it's almost second nature to bring pop culture and life together.

But it's really cool to see how much I've grown as a writer since May 2011 when I first started this blog off.  I go back to some of my entries that I wrote back when I first started and I cringe because my opinions have changed so much.  In 2011, I loved "The Biggest Loser", and now I can't even stand to watch the show any longer.  In 2011, I used to really be into video games, and now I've shifted my focus to music and arts.  And most importantly, this blog has sort of been a venting point for some of the demons that continued to haunt me, and I feel that this space has given me the courage to battle those demons and defeat them.  I'm not quite finished the battle yet, but I'm well on my way.  That's all anybody can ask for, right?

But one thing I don't think I've ever talked about - at least not in this blog anyway - is why I started this blog in the first place.

Well, I suppose part of the reason could be for me to actually have something to show least digitally anyway.  It's hard for someone to make their mark on this planet when there are so many people on it, and I guess I'm at the age where I feel as though I want to be remembered for something that I did - not for what other people did for me or to me.  This blog is really the only place where I can be free to be me without judgment.

(Well, okay...some of the comments in my comment box have been not so nice, but I can just delete those.)

The point is - this blog is my own personal growth project, and a permanent - or at least until the servers stay up and running - reminder of who I am and how far I've grown.  And even though I've had a couple of things published over the years, nothing will take away from the fact that this is five years of dedication and joy.  And, I'm hoping to keep this going for another five - even if it means shifting the focus of this blog.

This blog has also helped me realize that I'm not as strange as I thought.  So often, I'd come up with topics that I would think nobody would ever relate to, and to my surprise they garnered huge responses.  Who would have thought that a blog on a soap opera called "Loving" would be within my Top 10 read posts?  Who would have thought that so many people would be fascinated by my personal story on paper cranes?  Who would have thought that so many people were trying to figure out the mystery behind Richard Marx's "Hazard"?  I mean, it's awesome to have opened up these dialogues and interact with other people on these subjects. 

But it also makes me feel good when I write about something deeply personal and share some stories from my childhood - which as you all know wasn't sunshine and daisies every day.  And to know that people not only responded, but also gained the courage to share their stories as well.  It's a good feeling!

I honestly don't know what the future of this blog will hold within the next five years.  But all I know is that A POP CULTURE ADDICT'S GUIDE TO LIFE has been a big part of my life since 2011...and I think I'm a better person because of it.

Thanks for supporting me all of these years.  I love each and every one of you.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Jack and Jill - 2011 Movie Moment

Unless you've been living underneath a rock, you probably have heard the sad story of Jack and Jill at one point.  Maybe it was at your nursery school.  Maybe it was at the library.  Maybe Ernie and Bert re-enacted the tale on an episode of "Sesame Street".  Wherever you heard the tale, it's a tale of frurstration, pain, and embarrassment.

You have a boy named Jack.  And you have a girl named Jill.  Now, there's nowhere in this story that depicts the relationship between Jack and Jill.  Jill could be Jack's sister, cousin, girlfriend, or that prostitute he met on the corner of Hollywood and Vine.  But the relationship doesn't really matter very much.  Jack is very thirsty and he wants some water to drink.

Now, I'm guessing that this story was probably written before stores started selling Dasani and Aquafina, because the only way that Jack can grab some water is to go up a gigantic hill.  And Jill, being extremely co-dependent, decides that she wants to go with him to get some water.

But tragedy strikes upon reaching the top of the hill.  Jack loses his footing, falls down the entire length of the hill and breaks his crown.  Now, whether that means an actual crown that he is wearing, or a porcelain crown on his tooth, I'm not quite sure.  All I know is that Jack had a crown, and it is now broken due to his klutziness.  And Jill - whether it be because of the hill being steep, or because she can't stand being left out - decides to come tumbling after.

There's no resolution at the end of the rhyme.  For all we know, Jack and Jill could have both ended up dead trying to get some H2O.  We never really do find out.

Of course, this was back in the 18th century.  I wonder what the rhyme might have gone like if it were written in...oh...2011, perhaps?

Jack and Jill released a film
Turned out to be very scary
The film, it tanked, it was so rank
Won lots of Golden Raspberries

Okay, that poem kind of sucked.  But then, so did the 2011 film "Jack and Jill".  Which has really nothing to do with the nursery rhyme at all - I just wanted a clever opening.

Seriously, this film was one of the worst films of the year 2011.  I mentioned in my little poem that it won lots of Golden Raspberry Awards - that's the ceremony that's like the Academy Awards, only instead of celebrating the best in film, they actually celebrate the worst.

And "Jack and Jill" probably holds a record that no other film wants to have - it won a record TEN Razzies!  And as far as I know, it is the only film to have won a Razzie in every single category.  Not even "Movie 43" was that bad...and I consider that film even worse than "Jack and Jill" - though not by much.

Seriously, check out this list of Golden Raspberry Awards that this film won. 

1.  WORST ACTOR - Adam Sandler
2.  WORST ACTRESS - Adam Sandler
6.  WORST DIRECTOR - Dennis Dugan
8.  WORST SCREEN COUPLE - Adam Sandler and anyone!

(NOTE:  #10 is because the movie was loosely based off "Glen or Glenda" - a film released in 1953.)

I'm guessing that the Golden Raspberry Awards Committee aren't fans of Adam Sandler.  Truth be told, neither am I.  The only Adam Sandler movies I enjoy feature Drew Barrymore.  But he must have been really terrible if he won for worst actor AND worst actress.

Well, that's because he played fraternal twins in this film.  Jack and Jill.  And the whole plot of the movie is this.  Jack is successful.  Jill is not.  And whenever Jack and Jill get together, they do more than fall down a hill trying to get water.  I won't really go into the plot details in this space because I don't think I can really get through it without either falling asleep at my keyboard or smashing my computer against the wall.  Trust me.  It's that bad.

In fact, if you go on the website "Rotten Tomatoes", you'll find that it only has a 3% Fresh rating.  That makes it one of the worst reviewed movies ever featured on that site. 

What really boggles my mind is the fact that this movie attracted some big name cameos.  What the hell was Al Pacino thinking signing up for this garbage?  I'll never understand it.  Same deal with Katie Holmes.  I mean, yeah, I get that her star power temporarily dimmed when she was married to Tom Cruise, but she's a very capable actress.  Why would she resort to this?

Though, I suppose this film is a perfect example of what life was like in 2011.  After all, Bruce Jenner and Jared Fogle were both in this movie, and as of 2016, one's a woman, and the other one's in jail for showing his five dollar footlong to the wrong age group.  Funny how five years can change people a lot, isn't it?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Glen Campbell's Diagnosis - 2011 Music Moment

I don't normally follow the world of country music.  Truth be told, there are many times in which I've questioned whether or not I was adopted because I seem to be the only member of my family that does not listen to country music on a daily basis.

(Note:  I am NOT adopted.)

Don't get me wrong though.  Country artists do sing some very good songs, and there are even some songs and artists that I really do like.  I think Reba McEntire is fantastic.  I think Jennifer Nettles from Sugarland has a unique voice.  Luke Bryan's got a couple of songs that are quite good, as does Tim McGraw.  And I dare you to listen to Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise" without feeling the urge to dance.

And, I suppose I'd be fine with it if my parents listened to country music that was released within the past five years or so.  But they were always more into the retro style of country.  This meant a lot of George Jones, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Tammy Wynette, George Strait, and Conway Twitty.

Which I suppose wouldn't be bad if it wasn't for all of the twang and the "everyone's dead including my dog and truck" lyrics.  I'm not denying that they had talent - these artists are the foundation behind the current crop of country artists out there now, but they simply just aren't my cup of tea.

But five years ago, one of these legends received some devastating news that essentially put an end to his career...and he made the decision to end his career off with a bang.

When I say the name Glen Campbell - what are the words that you might associate with that name?  Well...I can think of exactly two.

ARTIST:  Glen Campbell
SONG:  Rhinestone Cowboy
ALBUM:  Rhinestone Cowboy
DATE RELEASED:  May 26, 1975

Yep.  You're reading that correctly.  This was a country music crossover - the kind that Shania Twain and Taylor Swift are famous for.  The song "Rhinestone Cowboy" was #1 on the charts in September 1975, dethroning - would you believe - K.C. and the Sunshine Band's "Get Down Tonight"?  Of course, this song was overthrown by David Bowie's "Fame" just two weeks later, but still...having Glen Campbell on the top of the charts in 1975 alongside a disco band and Ziggy Stardust?  That's quite impressive.

Many people would consider "Rhinestone Cowboy" to be Campbell's signature hit.  But he's had so many more since his singing career began all the way back in 1958.  In fact, at one point in his life, he was a member of the band known as "The Champs" - you know, the band that brought us "Tequila"?  He left that band in 1961, but started up his own solo career shortly after that.

A career that launched over 70 studio albums, over 80 single releases, and sales of over 45 million records!  One of his records even went double platinum!  In addition to "Rhinestone Cowboy", Campbell enjoyed success with other songs such as "Wichita Lineman", "Southern Nights", "Galveston", and "Gentle On My Mind". 

And in his later years, he would partake in projects outside of singing.  He was the celebrity host of the Los Angeles Open for thirteen years, he did the voice of Chanticleer in the 1991 animated film "Rock-a-Doodle", and in 2005, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  It's even stated that Glen Campbell was instrumental in helping discover new talent - including Keith Urban and Alan Jackson - whose wife he met on an airplane where she was a stewardess!

But over time, Glen Campbell's health began to take a turn for the worse.  He was having trouble remembering things, he felt disoriented, and he was having issues communicating with people.  The symptoms started happening right around the time he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and by 2010, they were noticeable enough for his family to seek answers.

In December 2010, it was confirmed that Glen Campbell was suffering from the early effects of Alzheimer's Disease.  And anybody who has ever known anybody who battled it knows just how cruel a disease it can be.

But he chose to wait until June 2011 to make the official announcement because he wanted to make sure he went out his own way.

And this included one final album, and one final tour.  And he didn't have much time to make it happen, as he didn't know how long he would have before the Alzheimer's made it impossible for him to continue.

The final album, "See You There" was released in August 2013, released digitally, and on vinyl and CD.  It was sort of similar to a greatest hits album, as all of the songs on it were classic hits.  But they were re-recorded by the then 70-something Campbell.  In many ways, this was him saying goodbye and thank you to all of the fans who supported him, and it really did become a full circle moment for him.

As for his tour, it began in late 2011, and concluded on November 30, 2012.  For the most part, the tour went very well, although signs of the disease certainly became evident.  Once able to remember his lyrics without any problem at all, he was forced to rely on teleprompters to finish songs.  Much of his newer material was scrapped, as Campbell couldn't remember the chords needed to play the songs.  And sometimes Campbell was so into the concerts that he completely forgot he had Alzheimer's to begin with, and had to be constantly reminded.  It was a bittersweet tour, but I'm sure that anyone who saw him in concert in 2012 knew that just seeing him perform one last time was well worth it. 

He made his final televised appearance at the Grammy Awards on February 12, 2012.  And his final single release was nominated for an Academy Award just last year!

It's sad to say that since Campbell hung up his microphone in late 2012, his disease has gotten worse.  He currently lives in a Nashville facility where he has lost the ability to communicate with his loved ones, and is not even aware when people are speaking to him.  And, to me that just seems so unfair.  As I mentioned before, Alzheimer's is one of the cruelest diseases out there.  It completely destroys a person's mind to the point where only their body seems to remain.  I can't even imagine what his family must be going through.  It must be very difficult.

But you can't argue that since going public with his diagnosis five years ago that Glen Campbell wanted his last few years on Earth to be done his way.  And regarding his career, I'd say mission accomplished. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Farewell, Uncle Scrooge...

I'm taking a short recess from the "everything five years old is new again" theme to talk about something quite sad.

Now, I know that some of you can probably relate to this one, but you'd probably have different reasons why.  Take anybody who ever became a television journalist, for instance.  You might have been affected more by the death of longtime "60 Minutes" correspondent Morley Safer this past Thursday than the average population.  But that's not to discount what Morley Safer did...he was a fine journalist.  One of the best.

I'll admit to taking the deaths of both Prince and David Bowie hard because both of them were so influential in the music paths of so many entertainers, and I totally grew up listening to their music.  It's been a tough year for musicians already in 2016, but both of them passing within three months of each other seemed too much to bear.

And now, another legend has passed on...and this is one that really saddened me because he was an even bigger part of my childhood than any of the ones that I've listed in this post.

It all dates back to the early 1980s, when I first watched the holiday special "Mickey's Christmas Carol".  Of course, everyone knows that Mickey and Minnie Mouse are the official ambassadors of the Walt Disney company, and nobody could ever take their place.  However, the character of Scrooge McDuck certainly did his best to...shall we say...upstage them?  It wasn't Mickey and Minnie I was paying attention to - it was Scrooge!  It wasn't the first time that Scrooge McDuck had appeared in a Disney cartoon - some sources say that his first appearance was all the way back in 1947!

But it wasn't until Alan Young started voicing Scrooge that his character really started to take off.  I think his appearance in "Mickey's Christmas Carol" was outstanding, and again, that was to the credit of Alan Young, who really gave him a lot of personality.

In fact, I think he breathed new life into the character, as Scrooge emerged a favourite Disney character for anyone who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s.  After all, I think it was that success that created this show in the late 1980s, as well as a motion picture in 1990.

All Disney theme songs were fantastic - but I have a soft spot for "DuckTales".  It was my favourite of all the Disney Afternoon cartoons, and again, it had to do with Scrooge being the star.

I guess when I was a kid, I took Uncle Scrooge for granted.  I just always assumed he'd be there forever.  But as we learned on May 19, 2016, there's no such thing as forever.

Alan Young, the guy who voiced Scrooge, died that day at the age of 96 of natural causes.  And although he died at an age that most of us probably hope we could, it still makes it hard to swallow.

And that was just my own experiences with him.  Sure, I remember him best as Scrooge McDuck, as well as many other cartoons he did voices for - I'm thinking mostly of "The Smurfs", where he did the voice of Farmer Smurf.

But some people who are much older than I am - like say, my parents' age - probably remember him best as Wilbur Post, the clumsy man who had a horse that could talk.

To this day, I have not seen one episode of "Mister Ed".  And honestly I have no idea why that is the case.  I guess it's because no cable channel in Canada felt it was a good idea to rebroadcast the show in their kids' block of programming (yet felt it was a better idea to show endless reruns of "Size Small" with that grandmother whose lisp was so severe that every S sound made her whistle - it was fine for a while, but it grew annoying very quickly...)

I'm rambling.  Where was I again?  Oh yes, Mister Ed.

So, I never watched Mister Ed, but I've heard it was a fantastic show.  And although the series finale of that show was fifty years ago, it's still a beloved memory for people who grew up or were around in the 1960s.  And I imagine that they are grieving the loss just as hard as people in my generation are too.

There is a silver lining to this though.  Alan Young's career spanned almost eight decades.  That means that there's nearly 80 years of work that he has done over the years.  And while his work on the radio may forever be just a memory, there are lots of videos, DVD's, television shows, movies, and even video games of his voice in existence.  

(I'm not kidding about the video games either - he voiced Scrooge in the "Kingdom Hearts" franchise.)

Knowing that makes his loss easier to handle.

Thanks for the memories, Uncle Scrooge...

Friday, May 20, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 9 - The World Hunger Shindig

Previously on Jem Reviewed, the Holograms overtook the Misfits in the movie wars, and Ba Nee got her eyesight restored.  And this week, we get a chance to see Jem and the Holograms try to make a difference by raising awareness for famine.

It's also the first episode that does NOT have a second part to it!

Time for Episode 9:  The World Hunger Shindig.

A little background before we begin.  This episode originally aired in 1986 - right around the time of the concert benefit era to eradicate world hunger.  It was the time in which we had Farm-Aid, Live-Aid, Band-Aid, USA for Africa, Northern Lights, etc, etc.  So, the timing of this episode is appropriate.

The setting of the episode is Houston, Texas, and The World Hunger Shindig is taking part in Houston's Astrodome.  Great, a cartoon that establishes real world landmarks in real world cities.  A touch of realism is always appreciated.

The World Hunger Shindig is being presented by none other than Miss Sally Brand and Miss Ellen Sue Tanner, who have a little bit of a bet going on between them.  Ellen Sue gives Miss Sally a challenge to raise eight million dollars for the hunger relief fundraiser - which might seem like pocket change given that Jerry Lewis raised nearly nine times that amount for his kids during the telethons he used to host for muscular dystrophy.  Nevertheless, Miss Sally accepts the bet and pulls her trump card out.

You know, I've said that the more I watch this show, the more mature that Jem and the Holograms' songs are.  This is a case where this is true.  "We Can Make A Difference" is a wonderful song with a wonderful message.  Consider this their own version of "We Are The World", if you will.  And at this point, I think I like the idea of Jem doing more ballads.

After the song is over, Rio and Jem meet up with Miss Sally and an oil investor named C.B. Dodd who is looking to invest in a record company.  Miss Sally is pleased to meet them, but she is wondering where Jerrica is.  This prompts Jem to summon a taxi cab hologram of Jerrica to arrive at Miss Sally's manor, which switches places with Jem.  So now Jem is the hologram leaving in the hologram cab, and Jerrica is the flesh and blood person.  Got all that?

I should also mention that since this is a benefit concert, Jem and the Holograms aren't the only ones performing.  One of the headliners happens to be budding teen idol from Britain, Sean Harrison!  And right off the bat, Kimber is smitten over the dulcet tones of Sean's obviously exaggerated British accent.

I say this because in this installment of Jem Trivia, Sean Harrison is voiced by actor Dan Gilvezan - an American.

I think it's sweet that Kimber's found love so soon after Jeff Wright...I mean, that whole period between episodes 8 and 9 must have been so horrible for our flame haired love goddess.  And yes, that's sarcasm.

Of course, no episode of Jem would be complete without the Misfits barging in on the action.  This time however, Eric has a legitimate reason for being there.  Somehow, he's managed to convince Miss Sally to hire him as the official promoter of The World Hunger Shindig, and that's the only reason he's there - or so he tells Miss Sally.  The Misfits just happen to be there because they want to perform in the concert as well.  Problem is, Miss Sally already has the line-up prepared for the live album to be released later, and they can only be on the album if another rock band drops out.

You can smell where this is going a mile away, can't you?

Oh, and it turns out that Pizzazz has a little bit of a history with Sean Harrison.  Back when Pizzazz was in London, it's alleged that they used to date - and maybe then some.  It's also alleged that Sean was just as crazy as the Misfits back in those carefree days of being nineteen some two months ago, or however old Sean's supposed to be.  Sean flat out rejects Pizzazz, saying that he's grown up and she should run along.  If I wasn't so distracted by Sean's fake accent, I'd cheer him on!

Jem warns Miss Sally that Eric Raymond is nothing but trouble, but Miss Sally doesn't pay attention, simply telling Jem that she's worked with people like Eric before and she can handle him just fine.  My question is...can we swap out Howard Sands for Miss Sally?  She's awesome!

So, Eric and the Misfits are staying inside Miss Sally's guest house, which only has three bedrooms.  I say only because Eric and the Misfits are sharing the same living space, and the Misfits naturally take all the rooms.  But Pizzazz basically issues a threat to Eric that he had better make sure that he gets them on the live record.  You know, I used to think that Eric got off too easily with his crimes against Jem and the Holograms, but having to be saddled with the Misfits - well, Pizzazz and Roxy anyway - makes a swell punishment.

Of course, Eric can't do this alone, so he calls in reinforcements.  Welcome back to the now brunette Zipper!  I'm not even going to ask how Eric got Zipper out of jail for nearly killing the Holograms on four separate occasions...I'm still trying to comprehend how ERIC got out of jail!  But one thing is for sure...Zipper is on the loose, and nobody is safe.

Morning comes, and Jerrica and Kimber run into Miss Sally once more, who is all suited up in her finest business clothing.  And after Jerrica makes up an excuse that Jem caught a cold and will be resting in her room, Miss Sally encourages the girls to explore the ranch with C.B. and Sean.  She does warn them to say away from the rivers, as flash floods can happen at any time.  Sounds like a rather random thing, but whatever.

It's also a perfect opportunity for Kimber and Sean to get to know each other, since she seems to have forgotten about the guy who saved her life last episode.  What was his name again?  Jeff?  Jack?  Jebediah?  Who cares?  Kimber's got a new man now!

See?  Look how they are having fun riding horses, and swimming in the lake, and doing all the things that lovers do.  It's like a Eurythmics video come to life with these two!

What else is interesting is the fact that while everyone is on a picnic, Sean gets a call on a cellular phone!  And back in 1986, the only cell phones that existed were Zack Morris brick phones!  Oh, 1980s, technology, how I've missed you!

Needless to say, Sean and C.B. have to be called away for a bit, but Sean promises to see Kimber and the others at a hayride that is scheduled for later that night.  Sounds like a really romantic time.

Of course, what isn't romantic is Zipper and his thugs approaching the Holograms armed with guns, ordering them to follow them.  Now, we all know that the Holograms are not allowed to die, so this is a fairly empty threat.  That being said, it scares the girls enough to do what they say.  Oh, and since Zipper and the others are wearing masks, they don't know who they are. 

They're brought to a deserted canyon area that looks like it used to be a river before it dried up.  Not a great place to be.  And Jerrica and the others are really concerned that they will never be found.

Surprisingly enough, it's Kimber that comes up with a clever escape plan.  Remembering what Miss Sally said about flash floods, she fakes getting injured to distract Jerrica long enough to concoct one of the most elaborate Synergy holograms that she's done so far.

I mean, seriously...Synergy creates a gigantic thunderstorm and a tsunami like wave to sweep over Zipper and the others, making them fear for their lives!  Of course, we all know that the wave is harmless, but seeing how Synergy can create something like that?  It makes me wonder if they bothered using some of those special effects in their Starbright film.  Bravo, Synergy!  Whatever the case, it worked, and Jerrica and the others are free to make the hayride.

It's just a shame that Sean hasn't arrived yet.  Thanks to him being "abducted" by the Misfits who take him to a dive bar on the outskirts of Houston, Sean misses the whole thing, and Pizzazz wants it that way.  I can't help but feel that this is where the Pizzazz/Sean/Kimber love triangle begins.

And to just summarize how legitimate Pizzazz's interests are towards the World Hunger Shindig, she and the Misfits perform a song called "Gimme Gimme Gimme"!  How...inappropriate!

I do have to say..."Gimme Gimme Gimme" isn't a bad song - at least stylistically.  I just wish the video were better.  But again, seeing as how this is an episode about a charity event, it's extremely out of place.  Though one can argue that the Misfits being there is out of place as well!

At any rate, Sean's had all he can take of Pizzazz's selfishness, and he sets out to try and find Kimber.  He forces the Misfits to drive him to the place where the hayride was set to leave from, which Pizzazz reluctantly agrees to do.  Of course, while they're in the car, Pizzazz and Sean get into an argument about Kimber, and neither one of them are watching where they are going.  Stormer notices the hay wagon coming in the opposite direction and screams loud enough for Pizzazz to narrowly avoid hitting it, but the hay wagon derails and collapses on the side of the road.

Of course it comes as no surprise that the hay wagon happens to be the same one that Jerrica and the others are on, and because the wagon wheel is busted, they'll have to walk back to the ranch.  Meanwhile Kimber declares that she is never speaking to Sean Harrison again.  Sure hope she kept Justin's number on her.  Or is that Jeremy?  Oh, who's time for the World Hunger Shindig to begin!

Ah, but before we do that, we have to get the prerequisite shot of Eric getting a call from Zipper saying that he screwed up again!  So, with Jem and the Holograms still making their way to the Astrodome, Eric now has to come up with another plan to get them out of the way.

Oh, and while he's at it, why not appoint Zipper as a ticket seller so that he can pocket the ticket sales for his own greedy needs?  This sadly doesn't shock me, as Eric embezzled money from Starlight Music for months before Jerrica caught on.  But you'd have thought he'd have learned his lesson.

Oh, wait.  This is Eric Raymond.  Never mind.

It seems as though Jem and the Holograms were expected as some bald guard arrives on what looks like a golf cart to escort the girls to their dressing room.  But just as Kimber is about to board, Sean arrives on a cart of his own, desperate to explain why he was with Pizzazz the night of the hayride.  Jem convinces Kimber to hear him out, so Kimber hops on Sean's cart to listen to his explanation while the other three arrive at their dressing room.

I don't know though...something doesn't seem right.  Maybe it's the fact that the guy is smirking through the whole thing.  Maybe it's because their dressing room has a peephole in the door.  Maybe it's because HOLOGRAMS is spelled incorrectly and appears to be drawn on the door with sidewalk chalk.  Yeah, that's standard for the Astrodome.

I knew it.  It was all a trap.  Baldy happens to be one of Eric and Zipper's henchmen, and they purposely locked Jem, Aja, and Shana in the room long enough for them to miss their performance so that the Misfits can take over.  Sounds just like Eric.  It's just a shame that their plan has one tiny blip.

You see, Kimber was too busy fawning over Sean to avoid the trap, and when she arrives at the stage and sees only Rio there, she wonders what's up.  Rio is upset too because he can't find Jem or Jerrica, and the rest of the band has gone missing.  But before Rio has a chance to yell "J'ACCUSE" at some random roadie for trying to woo away his women...woman...whatever, Kimber puts two and two together, and realizes that something must have happened.  Rio and Kimber go off to try and find their missing friends before the Misfits try to sing a rousing chorus of "Gimme Gimme Gimme" at a hunger fundraiser.

The henchman goes to check on his prisoners, and Jem, Shana, and Aja are sitting there quietly.  Maybe a little too quietly.

I knew it.  Jem projected holograms of the three of them while they make their escape through the air ducts of the Astrodome.  I'm not so sure this is a great plan given how huge the stadium is, but I do give them credit for trying to find their own way out instead of relying on Rio to help them.

And it is here where Jem and the others discover the sinister plan that is taking place thanks to Zipper.  He stashes the money he stole from the ticket booth in the air ducts while revealing the plan to Jem indirectly.  You don't think that Jem will take that lying down, do you?

She uses Synergy's help to project an image of a deadly rattlesnake to appear in front of the suitcase of money - which does make sense as the Southern United States are filled with rattlesnakes.  Zipper naturally gets freaked out and runs away screeching like a little girl, and Jem grabs onto the suitcase filled with money.  That's one problem solved, but how do they get onto the stage to sing at the Shindig?

I sure hope they find a way soon.  Kimber and Rio have found Miss Sally and they try to convince her to put the concert on hold for a few minutes until they find Jem, but Miss Sally has to play by the rules.  Of course, Miss Sally isn't aware of the fact that Eric's been playing dirty pool, so I'll give her a pass for this unlike the man with no cojones Howard Sands.  Of course Eric is standing in the background taking it all in, knowing that the Misfits will be going on stage, and that there's nothing that can be done about it... least until a voice that sounds a lot like Synergy announces that Jem and the Holograms are here!

Somehow, Jem, Aja, and Shana traced the path of the air ducts to the pledge board above the stage and somehow use one of those nets that are used for balloon drops on New Years' Eve to slide down to the stage safely.  Now, if this weren't a cartoon, Jem, Aja, and Shana would be dead, and Kimber would have to carry the band all on her own.  But physics are not allowed on cartoons, so we just have to pretend that balloon nets have as much durability as a parachute.

Once Kimber joins the rest of the Holograms, they break out into their song.  Interestingly enough, the Misfits get a couple of lines in this song, though they aren't credited for it.

I guess "Share A Little Bit Of Yourself" is meant to be the theme song for the World Hunger Shindig, and I suppose it's an okay song...but I like "We Can Make A Difference" much better. 

There is some bad news though.  Even after Zipper's scheme to steal the money from the benefit comes to light and Jem gives the suitcase back to Miss Sally, Miss Sally is still fifty thousand dollars short of the eight million dollar goal.  It seems like a sad ending that the Holograms managed to perform and Miss Sally put in all that work only to come up short.

Oh, but this where I really LOVE Miss Sally.  See, Miss Sally long suspected that Eric would cause trouble at the event, and with Zipper caught in the act, Miss Sally knows where to hit him where it hurts.  Seems Eric was paid fifty thousand dollars up front to help with the promotion of the World Hunger Shindig - and now that Eric's been exposed, Miss Sally forces Eric to sign over his fee to HER to donate to the Shindig!  Eric, knowing that he's over a barrel, has no choice, and as the Misfits chuckle in his misfortune, the tally board reaches the eight million dollars and the Shindig is a success! 

Seriously, can Miss Sally appear in EVERY episode?  I love this woman!

So that was our first standalone episode, and I have to say, I didn't mind it.  It was nice to see the Holograms doing a charity concert, and I even have to say that despite Pizzazz's obsession with Sean being a bit annoying, the Misfits actually weren't too obnoxious here.  Maybe they too have a soft spot when it comes to charity events, even though they really wanted to be there to get more attention.  If anything Zipper was the one who did the most damage of all, and I have to wonder why Eric continues to deal with this loser.

Oh, and the Kimber/Sean thing?  I'm not sold on it yet...though I hear this isn't Sean's first appearance in the show, so time will tell.

Next week, the girls go to China...and Jem loses something very important.