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Friday, July 03, 2015

Thanks For The Sesame Street Memories, Maria...um, er...Sonia Manzano!

When you are a little kid, sometimes it's hard to distinguish the difference between an actor or actress and the character they play. 

I suppose on some children's shows, the hosts of the programs go by their real names anyway, so there's not an issue at all.  Case in point, "The Polka Dot Door", where all of the cast members went by their real names.

On shows in which people played a character, it is much different.  I have to wonder how many times Nerene Virgin was called Jodie on the streets of Toronto for her role on "Today's Special", and I imagine that Alyson Court probably had to endure her share of "Yo, Loonette" calls from her work on "The Big Comfy Couch".



I know that this was the case when I watched Sesame Street as a kid.  Sure, I knew all of the adult characters of the show.  I knew that Gordon and Susan lived at 123 Sesame Street.  I knew that Mr. Hooper ran Hooper's Store until he passed away, and then David and Gina took over.  I know that Luis and Maria ran the Fix-it-Shop for many years before they both apparently started working at a post office (when did Sesame Street get a post office, anyway).  And of course, Bob was the music teacher who over the years had everyone singing about sunny days keeping the clouds away.

Of course, the people playing these characters weren't really named those.  They were just actors playing the parts.

(Well, okay.  Bob was actually played by a Bob.  And one of the Gordons was really a Gordon.  But for the most part, most of the characters were actors who had different names.)



When I was watching Sesame Street, there were a lot of human faces that came and went (much like the furry Muppets that would be passing through Sesame Street over the years), but one constant was Maria.  She was always my favourite character on the whole street.  She started off on the show as a young woman in her early twenties in 1971 and over the years she became a wife, a mother, and a respected figure in the Sesame Street neighbourhood.  But she was also considered to be a motherly figure to young Muppets like Big Bird and Elmo, was one of the few who could still smile in the face of Oscar the Grouch's bad attitude, and who helped generations of youngsters learn about how to count to twenty, their alphabet, and how to say hello, goodbye, and many other words in Spanish.



It was thanks to Maria and Luis that I became fluent in Sesame Street Spanish, after all.  Might not help me much if I were stranded in the middle of Puerto Rico, but hey, at least I know some basic Spanish vocabulary.

For 44 years, Maria was a huge part of Sesame Street history.  And just a few days ago, we learned that Maria would be leaving the very street that she called "home" for all those years.



Yes, Sonia Manzano, the woman who played Maria for nearly four and a half decades has now announced her retirement from Sesame Street, and will be departing the series later this year.

There's no word yet on how Maria will be departing the series, and there's also no word on whether her on-screen husband Luis (Emilio Delgado) will be staying on the show or whether he too will be leaving.  But one thing that we do know for sure...she will be greatly missed.

I mean, let's face it.  Manzano was essentially one of the most recognizable people in "Sesame Street" history.  Just have a look at some of the clips of her in action.



She certainly has a great singing voice, not to mention her having chemistry with almost every single person she worked with.  One thing I will say about classic Sesame Street...the casting was top notch.

But did you know that Sonia did so much more than just sing and dance and act on the show?  She also did a lot of behind the scenes work on the show as well, writing scripts for segments and episodes.  And because of her contributions to the writing staff, she won quite a number of awards.  Hmm...I wonder how many Emmy Awards she has won in her career?



Oh, yes!  Quince!  Oh, ahem...fifteen.  And in addition to those fifteen awards that she won as a writer, she was also nominated for two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series.  She even wrote a children's book in 2004 entitled "No Dogs Allowed", which began a partnership with General Mills and First Book to help encourage children to read and to fight illiteracy.

I'll be the first to admit...I am really going to miss seeing Maria on "Sesame Street".  Even though I haven't seen the show in like twenty-five years or so, it was a comfort to know that she was always there.  And now that she's leaving, it seems like just one more piece of my childhood is fading away.  But, the memories of seeing her on Sesame Street will remain, and I wish Sonia Manzano all the best in her retirement from the show.

After all...she did help me learn basic Spanish.  So, if I ever find myself trapped in an underwater house, I can yell for help in Spanish!  CASA AGUA!  PELIGRO!

Thursday, July 02, 2015

"The Canadian Dream"

July 2, 2015

It seems very timely that I have chosen to write this post on the day after Canada Day.  After all, Canada Day is the day that marks the day that Canada became an independent nation.

I have to wonder how the people of Canada felt on July 1, 1867.  Imagine having to be a part of a newly created nation.  Being among some of the very first Canadians to experience life in a new nation.  I can only imagine that while the people who lived in Canada at that time were incredibly nervous about what life was going to be like, I also believe that they were excited for the change.

Now, why I say that this post is timely for today?  Well, I have some news to tell all of you...and this news is something that is linked to the subject of independence.

You see, I've talked about my living arrangements before on this blog.  In great detail, might I add.  In my entire time on this earth, my living situations have never really been all that...stable.  Within the first five years of my life, I lived in four different houses.  It was really difficult to try and make a place feel like home when that home kept changing every year.  And even in the homes that I did live in longer than that, the homes were really not very domestic. 

I guess that's a nice way of saying that they were complete dumps.  I mean, yeah, we had a roof over our heads, but that roof was always leaking.  And the walls were always crumbling.  And the floor was always creaking.

I'm sure you get the idea.

But the common thread in every single place that I have lived in over the years was this.  It was only a shelter.  I could never call it a home.  Because my family always rented, we could never change the inside decor the way we wanted, we usually had to wait until the landlord was free before we could even make repairs, and in general, it was just a bad experience all around.  I grew up thinking that having a home of my very own was a dream that was only for the very rich, and that people like me would never get a taste of the "Canadian dream".



Until now.

I've been keeping a secret since the tenth of June.  And now I reveal that secret to all of you.

I just bought a house.  And I have to tell you, it feels absolutely amazing!

Granted, the house I bought is not a new house by any means.  It needs a lot of work, and I certainly have to do a bit of fix up work inside.  It's kind of like that song from "Frozen".

Yep.  That's the one.

Either way, I am so excited to finally have a home base that will actually feel like a home base!

Of course, the whole idea of packing up all my stuff and putting it in a new home is going to be tedious.  I don't think any of us really like moving at all.  But in this case, the move will be a happy one.  Never again will I ever be able to say that I have nowhere to call my own...because I now have that place. 

Well, it WILL be mine come July 15.  That's when I get the keys.

So, what does this mean for the blog?  Nothing...yet.  But when I do begin the moving process, I will be taking a hiatus that will last at least a couple of weeks...maybe longer.  In fact, I may hold off on the cartoon feature until after I get settled in the new place.  But I will keep you posted on everything.  In all likelihood, this hiatus will start sometime in late July, but I will write a little note here just to let you know when that will take place exactly.  I won't be gone long though.  Besides, after four straight years of blogging, I could use a vacation, right?


Who knows?  I may start a feature on home improvement by an amateur in this very space!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Canada Day Soundtrack Suggestions From The Past

I am doing this post entirely in red text today because of a very special day!



You see, here in Canada, our nation is celebrating 148 years of independence.  Go, Canada!  It's your birthday!

I want to take the time to wish all of my Canadian brethren a very happy Canada Day!

Now some of us (such as myself) will be working on this day (but luckily my shift ends early), and some of us will have the day off.  But no matter what it is you do to celebrate, please do it safely and responsibly.

That means, no drinking and driving.  No drinking and swimming.  No drinking and setting off fireworks.  Basically, if you're drinking...don't do anything else at the same time.  Everyone will be better this way.

Of course, I suppose one thing that you could do while under the influence of your second or third Moosehead of the day is dance.  After all, Canada Day celebrations are among some of the most vibrant parties in the whole world.  Or, at least they are in huge cities like Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa.

But even if your party happens to take place in your backyard with a few of your closest friends, it can be just as exciting.

Of course, you're going to have to have the perfect Canada Day soundtrack to listen to while you're chilling on the patio, and in the spirit of Canada Day, I'll be posting some links to some classic Canadian songs from the 1980s and 1990s to make your party swing!

But these aren't going to be your typical songs.  You see, if I posted songs by well-known Canadian artists such as The Barenaked Ladies, Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, and Shania Twain, big deal, right?  Everyone knows who they are.

Well, my list shows a bunch of artists who are Canadian based who most Americans probably may not have heard of.  But I thought that since today is a day that celebrates Canada, why not put the spotlight on some lesser known Canadian artists?

So, let's see who I can focus on this Canada Day.



HONEYMOON SUITE - Wave Babies (1984)

You know, it's almost criminal to know that Honeymoon Suite never really had many huge hits.  For a Canadian band, they were one of the best.  But I suppose with Loverboy, Glass Tiger, and Bryan Adams dominating the American charts back then, it was hard for them to get noticed.  And while I loved songs like "New Girl Now" and "Burning In Love", "Wave Babies" just screams summer.



PARACHUTE CLUB - At The Feet Of The Moon (1984)

Okay, so in Canada, this band might be more well known for their song "Rise Up" - a song that was later used in a string of frozen pizza commercials in the 1990s (and which the band issued a lawsuit against McCain Foods because of it).  But I heard that song so many times as a child that I couldn't stand it after the 10,000th time.  Ah, but "At The Feet Of The Moon"?  Kick ass song.  Sure, it hasn't really aged well, but what song has?



KIM MITCHELL - Patio Lanterns (1986)

Okay, so while I will readily admit that this is not one of my favourite songs of all time, I will give Kim Mitchell some credit.  This song is a perfect song for a perfect Canadian party.  Heck, the song even managed to crack the American rock charts in 1986!  Though, part of it could be the music video.  That summer, every Canadian made sure to have patio lanterns hanging from their verandas, gazebos, and lanais.



PLATINUM BLONDE - Contact (1987)

I was one of those people who tended to like Platinum Blonde towards the end of their run.  Okay, let me tell the truth here.  Platinum Blonde wasn't my favourite band in the world.  But I consider this song to be a little bit of a guilty pleasure of mine.  So, shame me if you must.  I do like this one.  I'd play it today.



MEN WITHOUT HATS - Pop Goes The World (1987)

Okay, so the subject matter of this song is anything but happy (it's about environmental destruction and the potential end of the world by human hands), but this song is a lot more fun to listen to than "Safety Dance" (which was waaaaaaaaaaaaay overplayed).  And, what can I say?  I'm a sucker for a baby on the keyboard.



CANDI - Dancing Under A Latin Moon (1988)

For some reason, I have fond memories of riding the Tilt-a-Whirl with this song playing in the background.  And, no...I didn't get sick on the ride, or else I would have a completely different view of this song today!  I just chose it because it kind of reminds you of being in a South American festival and has a bit of a tropical feel to it.  Given how hot it can get in summer, it definitely is a perfect song.  And, Candi was basically Canada's response to Debbie Gibson and Tiffany, so she naturally had to have at least one of two hits.   I hear that Candi now teaches music at a Toronto area school.



PAUL JANZ - Every Little Tear (1990)

Okay, this song is absolutely brilliant.  I dare you not to rock out to this piece.  It's a shame that Paul Janz didn't have more hits because he was really that talented, but I hear he's gone into teaching now.  Nothing wrong with that!



KIM ESTY - Summer In The Street (1993)

I almost didn't include this song in this mix - mainly because I haven't quite forgotten how she butchered a Billy Idol song or sang about her squeeze toy (don't ask).  However, since Canada Day is the true kickoff of the summer holidays, and since the song is about summer...well, I decided to include it anyway.  Seriously, though...don't even ask about the "Squeeze Toy".



WEST END GIRLS - State Of The Heart (1994)

You know, this was another band that got better as they progressed (and changed members).  And, while they were virtually unheard of in the United States, I remember them being a huge part of Canadian radio - particularly with our AM Radio station.  Seriously, my mom would listen to our local radio station during the middle of the 1990s, and this song would play so much.  Fortunately, it's one of the few West End Girls songs I can sit through.



THE PHILOSOPHER KINGS - Charms (1995)

So, I have to make a confession.  I like the Boomtang Boys dance remix better than the original.  That said, the group does a phenomenal job with this single (which ended up being their debut).  It's a melancholic sounding song, but it works.

And with this, I'll end the list.  Feel free to use all of these songs (or none of these songs) for your Canada Day celebrations.  After all, Canada Day is all about independence, and we all have the freedom to celebrate the day exactly how we want it.

Speaking of independence (of some form), I have a bit of an announcement to make tomorrow - one that may explain why I will be taking a bit of a hiatus from this blog in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June 30, 1966

Here we are.  The last day of June.  This means that we are nearly halfway through the year 2015!  Where in the world did the time go?

But you know what?  I say bring it.  2015 has been one of those years that started off rough, but is turning out to be a fantastic year! 

I will tell you more about why this is the case at another time.  In the meantime, I should probably get on with today's TUESDAY TIMELINE entry.

So let's see what we have on the schedule for June 30.  Let's begin with some of the "happenings" that took place on this date.

1559 - King Henry II is mortally wounded in a jousting match against Gabriel de Montgomery

1805 - U.S. Congress organizes the Michigan Territory

1864 - Abraham Lincoln grants the area known as Yosemite Valley to California for "public use, resort, and recreation"

1882 - Charles J. Guiteau - the man who assassinated President James Garfield - is hanged

1886 - The first transcontinental train trip across Canada departs from Montreal, arriving in Port Moody, British Columbia five days later

1892 - The Homestead Strike begins

1905 - "On The Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies" - written by Albert Einstein - is published

1906 - The Meat Inspection and Pure Food and Drug Act is passed by United States Congress

1912 - Regina, Saskatchewan is hit by the Regina Cyclone, killing 28 people

1917 - Actress/singer Lena Horne (d. 2010) is born in Brooklyn, New York

1934 - The Night of the Long Knives takes place in Germany, courtesy of Adolf Hitler

1937 - London, England introduces the 999 service number - the world's very first emergency telephone number

1953 - The first Chevrolet Corvette rolls off the assembly line in Michigan

1956 - 128 people lose their lives when two airplanes crash into each other over the Grand Canyon

1971 - The voting age is reduced to eighteen from twenty-one in the United States

1972 - The first leap second is added to the UTC time system

1985 - A total of thirty-nine American hostages from hijacked TWA Flight 847 are freed after being held captive for seventeen days

1986 - The U.S. Supreme Court rules that states can outlaw homosexual acts between consenting adults (boy have times changed since '86!)

2001 - Country singer Chet Atkins dies at the age of 77

2014 - Actor Bob Hastings passes away at the age of 89

And for celebrity birthdays, we have to wish the following famous faces a happy birthday; Nancy Dussault, Eddie Rambeau, Terry Funk, Murray McLauchlan, Andy Scott, Leonard Whiting, David Garrison, Hal Lindes, David Alan Grier, Brian Vollmer, Sterling Martin, Rich Vos, Tommy Keene, Vincent D'Onofrio, Murray Cook, Rupert Graves, Steve Duchesne, Mitch Richmond, Wendy Davis, Mike Tyson, Nitin Ganatra, Brian Bloom, Megan Fahlenbock, Monica Potter, Noam Zylberman, Tony Rock, Lizzy Caplan, Cheryl Cole, Katherine Ryan, Fantasia Barrino, Hugh Sheridan, and Allegra Versace.

So, for the first time in what seems like forever, I have an entry that predates the 1980s!  I know, shocker, huh?



We aren't going back in time quite a half century yet.  But the date we are visiting is June 30, 1966.

And, here's some news for you.  Today's subject involves a musical interlude by one of the most successful all-female groups of all time.  And how appropriate that this single was recorded on one of the members' 33rd birthday?

Sadly, Florence Ballard would pass away just ten years later, in 1976.  But she, Mary Wilson, and Diana Ross enjoyed their eighth #1 single that November with this classic song about trying to seek independence from an abusive, loveless relationship.  A single that was recorded 49 years ago today.



ARTIST:  The Supremes
SONG:  You Keep Me Hangin' On
ALBUM:  The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland
DATE RELEASED:  October 12, 1966
PEAK POSITION ON THE BILLBOARD CHARTS:  #1 for 2 weeks

Now, I have to admit, my first experience listening to this single was not by the Supremes.  Remember British pop/rock chanteuse Kim Wilde, who had hits with "Kids In America", "Chequered Love", and "You Came"?  Well, she too had a hit in 1987 covering this very single, and as someone who was six years old then and listened to pop radio at the time, I heard this version a lot.



But whether you liked Kim Wilde's version, or Vanilla Fudge's version, or Rod Stewart's version, or anyone else who has covered this single, you have to hand it to the Supremes.  They did it first, and they did it the best.

So, let's talk about the song lyrics.  I don't know if the lyrics were inspired by a real life event or not, but either way, the subject is about love done wrong from the perspective of the female.  Reading between the lines of the lyrics, we know that the guy did something that is unforgivable (he probably cheated on her with someone else).  And even though she wants to move on with her life, he seems determined to win back her heart at all costs. 

It's essentially one of those on-again, off-again relationship deals that goes in a complete circle.  Girl breaks it off with guy, guy keeps chasing her until she takes him back, then she tries to leave again, and it never ends.  That's very much the story of this song.

It's actually quite a disturbing song when you stop and think about it.  A song that I am sure a lot of women (and men) can relate to.  It must be hard enough trying to nurse an already broken heart.  Try doing so when the person who broke your heart in the first place still wants to be a part of your life.  They can only be friends, they say.  They want you in their life even though they don't really love you, they say.

Well, there's a saying that goes along with that.  If you love somebody, set them free.  And in the case of a broken down relationship, if you really love the other person, and you really want what's best for them, wouldn't you want to see them happy?  Ideally, you'd want them to be happy with you, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way.  So, the next thing to do would be to let them go and find happiness with someone who is able to do so, and hope that one day, you can find that with someone yourself.

Because two people who aren't in love with each other do not make a relationship.

It was a great message 49 years ago...and is a great message now.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Greatest Show On Earth? Maybe Without Animals...

Now that school is out for summer, I imagine that many parents of children between the ages of four and eighteen are trying to figure out how to spend the next two months.

I know that in my family, it was pretty tough to keep all three of us kids occupied for very long.  My family didn't have a lot of disposable income readily available for vacations, so we never went to Walt Disney World, Hawaii, or even Niagara Falls.  As a result, practically all of our summer vacations were staycations. 

That said, the good thing about growing up in a small town was the fact that there were always a lot of summer activities to be found.  Especially in a small town that was situated about a half hour from a border crossing into the United States.

Now when I was younger, I remember being enrolled in a summer playground program where we played games, did arts and crafts, and learned about nature.  That was a period that lasted about six years, before the cost grew too expensive.

There were also local festivals such as our current town gathering celebration "RibFest", as well as past community events like "Riverfest" and "The Great Balloon Rodeo".  Even though these celebrations only lasted a total of a few days, they were jam packed with so much fun and excitement that you never got bored.

Oh, and don't forget about the occasional carnival and fair that would set up shop in town for a weekend or two.  I still have fond memories of chomping down on churros and sno-cones and then going on the Scrambler, hoping that somehow I would be able to keep the carnival food I just ate down.  Most of the time I succeeded, though I did have some close calls.



But one thing that I remember that I needed to do every summer was check and see when the circus was in town. 

For some reason, I always loved going to the circus when I was younger.  The circus was always such a place in which kids could really be kids, and where we could see dozens of different acts performing one right after another.

And, well...as someone who really liked concession stands at summer events, I have to say that there was something special about circus food.  You could eat all the buttered popcorn and cotton candy you wanted so as long as you had the funds to pay for them.  I also seem to remember that the admission to get into the circus was fairly inexpensive - only a few bucks a ticket.  This made it affordable entertainment for the whole family!

I'm sure that anyone who has ever attended a circus has their favourite acts that they loved to see, and of course, I had my list.




While some people I know have a fear of clowns (most likely spawned by the Stephen King book and miniseries "It" where Tim Curry played the delightfully frightening Pennywise), I must admit that the clowns were always delightful at any of the circuses that I attended.  They were goofy, they juggled balls, they tripped over their own clown feet...and they mingled with the audience as well.  Oh, and they gave out colouring books and crayons at the end of each performance, so you had to love that!



I also found myself mesmerized by trapeze artists and tightrope walkers.  As a kid, I would not even dare to try it (heck, at 34, my fear of heights would definitely keep me from attempting it), but watching them soar gracefully through the air was always exciting.  It's a shame that my town never held one of those Cirque du Soleil performances because I think that I would have really enjoyed watching them when I was younger.



What else did I like at the circus?  Well, I have to say that anything involving a unicycle was always fun to watch, whether it was a juggler, clown, or even the ringmaster himself!  I could never hope to learn how to ride a unicycle myself, but I think it's fun when other people do it!

But there are some things about going to the circus that I didn't like.



One such attraction was the one that was featured in one of the three rings of the circus while the performances were going on.  For a small fee, kids and their parents could climb up on top of the back of an elephant and ride around on its back for a few minutes.  And certainly many kids really wanted the chance to ride on an elephant's back.

But I was never one of those kids.  In fact, the whole idea of riding on an elephant scared me.

It wasn't necessarily because of the height thing, though it certainly was one factor.  Elephants are huge animals and for someone who gets vertigo standing on a balcony, it wouldn't have been a very good experience.

But I also have heard lots of horror stories about people being killed when elephants snap and lose control inside of circus tents.  That also prevented me from wanting to ride an elephant.

And as I grew older, I thought a lot of the elephants...and how miserable they must have been.  Instead of being free to roam the wild, they were kept in captivity, their only purpose serving as an organic carnival ride.  No wonder some of the elephants snapped.

And you know, it wasn't just the elephants that made me sad.  It was all of the acts that used animals. 



I never liked the lion tamer part of the circus.  I always thought that some of the tamers who took part in the circus were needlessly cruel to the lions and tigers and bears (oh my) that were featured in some of the circuses that I attended.  Some of them even used whips to keep the animals in check, which I cringed at.  It didn't make any sense to me why they would have to resort to hurting the animals in order to make them behave.  Have you ever seen any instances in which domesticated animals became tamer because they were physically abused?  I can't think of any.

Here's the deal.  I am not an animal rights activist by any means.  I am not a member of PETA or any other organization that protects animals.  But I also fail to see how continuing to use animals in circuses can be a good thing.  It's not that kids are even learning about nature in any way.  It's not like you were watching an episode of "The Crocodile Hunter" in which a trained professional was handling animals in a safe and humane manner.  Instead, you have people who feel that whipping animals into shape for the purpose of entertainment is the best way to operate a circus.

And, I don't believe that to be the case at all.

Now that I'm older, I still love the idea of a circus - but I would probably go to a circus that didn't use animal acts in it at all.  As I pointed out throughout this piece, there are lots of circus acts that don't use animals at all, and they can still be just as entertaining and fun.  And, while I realize that not all circuses that do use animals in their acts are abusive towards them, I've seen enough circuses to know that the animals who are abused deserve better.



I suppose that argument could go towards some zoos and marine parks as well, but admittedly, I've not gone to many of those.  But circuses...well, they can still be fun without the animals.


Of course, that's just my two nickels on the subject.  

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Private Dancer

Have you ever had a moment in which you listen to a song on the radio, and you really enjoy it?  Well, of course you have.  Every single person who has ever been exposed to music has had that feeling at one time or another.

Let me rephrase the question.  Suppose you hear a song on the radio that has a great beat and smooth sound.  You might not really listen to the lyrics the first time around, or maybe you don't quite understand the lyrics.  All you care about is the music itself.  It's kind of like those teenagers from 1960s era "American Bandstand" rating the record.  As long as the song has a good beat and you can dance to it, that was really all that counted!

And suppose you hear this song months, or even years later, and you really listen to the lyrics closely, and you discover that the song is a little more...shall we say...seductive or adult in content than you initially believed.

Allow me to give you a perfect example of this in action.

Now, back when I was a young kid, AM radio music stations were beginning to slowly die out (only to be replaced with talk radio and weather broadcasts sometime in the 1990s), and FM radio was all the rage.  One of the favourite stations to listen to back in the mid-1980s was PAC-93, based out of Ogdensburg, New York.  The station has since changed its format to oldies music and has moved a few notches down the dial to the 98 region, but back in the mid-1980s, it was your generic Top 40 radio station with Billboard hits, new artists, and a dose of Casey Kasem every Sunday afternoon.

I think I was around four...maybe five when I first heard this song.  And weirdly enough, I am pretty sure that I was at a gas station when I first heard it.  Whether we were out to fill up our tank, or getting a car wash, or just wanted to grab a quick snack of Doritos and Bonkers fruit chews (anyone remember those?), I do remember being in a car at least when the song first played.  It was a smooth, jazzy like song, and when I was four, I think I really liked songs like that.  I grew up having a soft spot for R&B music, and certainly Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Kool and the Gang were big in the music scene in my preschool years.

This song was performed by a female artist who had become a huge star by teaming up with her husband.  They had a string of hits in the 1960s and 1970s, but when this woman ended up on the receiving end of hits caused by her husband, the partnership and marriage ended and she tried to go it alone.

In 1984, you could say that this artist made a huge comeback and released one of the biggest albums of the year.  Seven of the nine singles were released, and many of them peaked within the Top 10.  One particular single, "What's Love Got To Do With It" topped the charts for several weeks!

Not bad for a 44-year-old woman with the legs of a nineteen year old, huh?



So, for today's edition of the Sunday Jukebox, let's take a look at the title track from this album - which unbeknownst to my then four-year-old self had a deeper, more adult subject attached to it.



ARTIST:  Tina Turner
SONG:  Private Dancer
ALBUM:  Private Dancer
DATE RELEASED:  October 28, 1984
PEAK POSITION ON THE BILLBOARD CHARTS:  #7

She's your private dancer, dancing for money, do what you want her to do.



Well, not really.  At this stage in her life, I doubt that ANYONE could ever tell Tina Turner what to do with herself.  But boy did she have a great 1984!  Not only did this song peak at #7 on the Billboard Charts, but the "Private Dancer" album charted multi-platinum in several different countries, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Germany.  And the album earned Turner a total of four Grammy Awards, including the awards for "Record of the Year" and "Song of the Year" for "What's Love Got To Do With It?"

But for this entry, we're going to talk about "Private Dancer".  That's the song I remember hearing at that gas station when I was four.  The song that I absolutely loved.  The song that I couldn't stop dancing along to.



(Well, okay, the only part I danced to was the part where she sings about deutsch marks, and dollars, and American Express will do nicely, thank you.  That part was always my favourite of the whole song.  Still is.)

Of course, little did I know that when Tina was singing about different kinds of currencies and credit cards, she was really singing from the perspective of a call girl, a hooker, a lady of the night.



Yes, one of the main interpretations of the song lyrics do seem to make a huge reference to the world's oldest profession.  Prostitution.  And admittedly, I had no idea what prostitution was.  Which is good, considering that I was four.  If asked at four, I probably would have guessed that it had something to do with milk.

(Which, of course, is pasteurization.)

But a quick examination of the lyrical content seems to prove this to be the case.  Dancing for money in front of strange men whose names she isn't supposed to know, or faces they aren't supposed to look at, all the while dreaming of a better life for herself.  Come on, the symbolism is obvious here!  I can totally picture it.

Problem is, if Tina Turner offered up a music video that depicted her as a prostitute or a stripper, MTV would likely not have aired it, and "Private Dancer" might have been buried underneath a sea of controversy and Parental Advisory stickers, courtesy of Tipper Gore and the PMRC.  So a safer music video was made where Tina portrays a bitter ballroom dancer.

I suppose you could say that Tina was doing "Dancing With The Stars" a good 20 years before the show debuted on television!

Either way, both interpretations do have merit, and I suppose the safer explanation allowed the song to be played on radio and MTV.  Good thing too.  I personally think the song is one of Tina's best.  It would have been cruel to have not released it.

But did you know that "Private Dancer" wasn't intended for Tina to record?  At least, not at first.  Believe it or not, the song was supposed to be for this group!



Can you seriously picture Dire Straits singing "Private Dancer"?  Apparently, neither could they.  According to Dire Straits lead singer Mark Knopfler, the track was supposed to go on their 1982 album "Love Over Gold", but just before the album was being edited, Knopfler decided that "Private Dancer" was one of those songs that sounded much better coming from a female singer, so the track was cut.

I often wonder if the band ever regretted the decision to let Tina have the song.  After all, it was a Top 10 hit for her.  Though, given that the group would have a #1 hit months later with "Money For Nothing", I don't think they were too disappointed.  

Oh, and one final thing.  This is the blog's 1,500th post!  So...hooray!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Why You Should Vote For The New Archies

Okay, so before I go ahead with today's entry, I wanted to take the time to offer my absolute support for the fact that LGBTQ people are now able to be legally married in all fifty states.  It has definitely been a long time coming (my nation of Canada has had this in place for ten years now), and long overdue.  To all of my LGBTQ pals out there, congratulations! 

Oh, and save me a slice of wedding cake.  One thing I love more than seeing everyone get equal rights is a nice slice of wedding cake.  Preferably chocolate, but I can do vanilla as well.  No strawberries though.  I'm allergic.

And now, on with what I was supposed to talk about.  What was it I was talking about again?  Oh, yes.  I'm supposed to come up with a final plea for you to vote on the final choice in the cartoon reviewing poll that I have on my blog!  First, in case you missed it, the summary - yet again!

Well, you guys and gals may have noticed that I have a poll posted in this very blog.  And this poll will give you the power to choose which retro cartoon you want me to review every episode of.

Now, I should state that when I say every episode, I mean every episode.  One entry could be a full 22 minute episode, while another could be an 11 minute half episode.  Apparently the 1980s were popular for half episodes for some reason.

Well, I thought that since I changed the date of the poll to July 15, I thought that I would use this opportunity to make a case for each of the four shows.  That way, it might make you think about your vote a little bit more.

Just to show you what I mean by "reviewing" a show, I'll post a couple of links for you.  Click HERE for "Full House Reviewed" and click HERE for "Saved By The Bell Reviewed". 

Mine will follow a similar format - only with less swearing.  I want to keep this blog PG rated so that all audiences can enjoy it.  Not trying to wuss out here.  Just trying to take all ages into consideration.

So, from now until Saturday, June 27 (that's today!), I'll be making a case for one of these shows, just so you can have a bit of an idea as to what to expect in these reviews.

So, we've already given arguments for "The Care Bears Family", "Inspector Gadget", and "Jem and the Holograms".  And in today's entry, we'll be looking at the last choice. 



This is my argument for why you should choose "The New Archies".



Why should you choose "The New Archies"? 

Well, if brevity is your thing, "The New Archies" is definitely the choice you want.  There were only thirteen episodes made of the series, each one with two eleven-minute mini-episodes.  So, this series will only last twenty-six weeks. 

(Or, the end of December 2015.)



It is also a show that is linked to my all-time favourite hobby.  You all know about my love of Archie Comics, and certainly "The New Archies" is definitely part of the Archie Comics family.  It's what Archie and the gang would look like as junior high school students, and certainly the adventures that they have are quite similar to the ones that they would have as high school students.

So you can expect me to have the most general knowledge about this series of all the four.  I've seen all the episodes and can tell you what happened in each one from memory.

And much like Jem and the Holograms, this show is definitely a product of the 1980s.  You'll hear out of date slang, see out of date fashions, and generally, you'll have an out of date experience.  "The New Archies" has not aged well at all, and I will definitely point out how dated the show really is compared to 2015!

Other footnotes you can expect...



Expect me to make fun of Veronica's Valley Girl accent.  A lot.



You can expect me to try to explain the appearances of some characters, as well as the disappearance of other characters.  Seriously, they jettison Chuck Clayton and Midge Klump, but keep Fangs Fogarty?  How completely random.

We'll do some character analyses on the Riverdale crew and see if they even match who they are in the comic books.  I especially want you to pay close attention to Veronica in this one.  She's quite the case study.



As much as I hate the show "Fashion Police", we have to talk about it in this series.  Jughead's pink hat.  Betty's wild hair.  Veronica...and whatever the hell it is she's wearing.  We'll go over it all.



(Yeah, I can see me ragging on Veronica a LOT in this one.)

You know, even though the show's run isn't as long as the other three...I could really have a lot of fun with this topic.  But that's only if you choose to vote for "The New Archies".

So, now that you've heard all the choices, which one would you like to see me review?  You can vote in this poll on the blog on the right hand side, and I will make the final announcement July 15.

Oh, one last thing.  If there is a tie, I will do two shows at the same time.

Happy voting!