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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cliquety-Cliquety-Claque (Friendships Fly Off The Track)



This is a piece that I wrote about five years ago.  And the subject happens to be about a time in which I was exiled from a Facebook group for what seemed to be no reason at all.  I thought it would be a good time to revisit that piece I wrote all that time ago, and take a look at what I've learned since that day.

Originally written on September 29, 2010.

You know, it's very seldom that I devote an entire note to a recent event that has happened to me.  Normally, I tend to write notes in here that are mostly lighthearted.  Talking about colours and imagery.  Writing about my hopes, dreams, and deepest desires.  Venting about crazy ladies who throw gum at me because our juice supply ran low...

...well, okay, they aren't ALL positive.

But, if any of you who read these notes really know me (and yes, I'll be touching upon that point a little later in this note), you'd know that I tend not to talk about current events in my life.  For one, I don't think anybody would even be remotely interested in my current life, because at times even I find it a bit dull and monotonous (though I am taking steps to remedy that).  And, for another, I actually find it much more therapeutic to talk about things that happened to me in the past so i can look at situations through adult eyes and laugh, heal, make peace with it, etc.

This note is going to be a bit different though. 

I'm sure that when you glance at the title of the article, you'll soon discover that the article is all about cliques (and not about trains, though having a father who worked for a railroad for 31 years makes me kind of a semi-expert in that subject as well). 

The dictionary meaning for clique is as follows...

CLIQUE - a small exclusive group of people.

What's funny is that there are so many people who want so desperately to belong to a clique, but yet so few people actually find themselves actually belonging to one.

Growing up, I never did understand the whole concept of cliques.  To me, I was a kid who wanted to be liked by everybody, and wanted to like everybody.  Of course, a world where everybody likes and respects each other is about as real as a world that is filled with unicorns and fairy dust.  So, you try to make do with what you have.

I do feel that there is a humongous difference between a small group of friends and a clique.  To me, having a small group of friends means having a small group of at least three people who like and respect each other, and will pretty much have each other's backs and won't let other people hurt them, even if they kid each other around with humour and inside jokes.  I'd also like to believe that a small group of friends can like and respect each other in spite of any differences that they may have, and that a small group of friends can accept anybody else who may befriend the other people in the friendship.

But, in my experience, a clique differs quite a bit from a simple group of friends.  To me, a clique is made up of a group of a fixed or determined number...no more, no less.  A clique is formed based on one or more shared interests, and anyone who doesn't relate is immediately excluded from being a part of it.

And, perhaps the biggest difference between a clique and a mere group of friends is the fact that in a clique, friendships are built on a foundation of conditions and high expectations.

Recently, I was involved in a situation that included a clique (rather I was forced into being involved), and the end result has lead to hurt feelings, anger, and general disgust in several people.  I want to speak about this experience I had.  It isn't because I want people to feel sorry for me, because I'm a lot stronger than I let on.  It certainly isn't to get revenge, because I don't play that game.  And, it's not to belittle or begrudge anyone either, because anyone who really knows me (again, a key point to this whole essay), knows that I am the last person who would take pleasure in other people's mistakes.

So, a few months back, I had made some friends with a group of people who were mutual friends of some of my friends.  They had started up a group on Facebook, and when I was invited to join the group, I didn't hesitate.  The group itself was one of those self-improvement groups, and again, to those who know me, they know that I have a bit of an issue with making those self-improvements.  So, joining a group that was originally described as a group where people could share their dreams and their goals with each other...it seemed like it was a fantastic idea.  And, for the first few months, it was great.

Then the cracks began to form.  There was some minor in-fighting between a couple of members, and there were a couple of people who left the group, but since it didn't have anything to do with me, I just ignored it.

Then, about three or four months ago, a couple of my friends were blacklisted from the group for tangling with one of the members of the group who was also a friend of mine.  Again, since it didn't directly affect me, I thought nothing of it.  I was upset that two of my friends were fighting with each other, but again, I trusted that both of them were mature and responsible enough to handle the fights themselves away from the group.

Then, out of the blue...one of the feuding friends decides to end the friendship between her and ME...without any explanation to me in regards of why she did it.  Imagine my surprise when I was left confused, because I was always under the assumption that we were cool, and that I hadn't done anything wrong.  It never dawned on me at the time when this happened, but now that I think of it, I often wondered if maybe she had thought that I had taken the side of the other friend because I was still talking with him.  But, again, I wanted to stay out of it.  Obviously, there were issues between the two of them, and obviously, it was up to them to work it out.  But, the idea that I would have my friendship forcibly ended with one of the people didn't make any sense to me, especially since I wanted to stay out of the line of fire.

So, imagine my surprise when the person who ended the friendship with me sends me a message out of the blue two months later, telling me that I should basically end my friendship with the other person, and that as someone who has such a strong anti-bully stance, I should know better than to have let him on my anti-bullying group because he was such a bully to her.

Let's just go ahead and dissect this little rambling.

First, for someone to decide not to have anything to do with me because of my association with someone she dislikes to then come up and try to tell me to drop this person as a friend tells me one thing.  She's a troublemaker.  I don't like troublemakers very much.  And, besides...she decided way back when that I wasn't important or worthy enough for her friendship and now she decides to warn me about him?  Sorry.

Second...the person she had the conflict with and I have been friends for almost an entire decade.  It would take a lot to get me to walk away from a friendship that I've had for such a long time.  Personality conflicts between people happen all the time...my friend of almost 10 years probably has friends that he has that I probably would not like...and similarly, I'm sure that I have contacts that he's not fond of.  But would we end the friendship because of this?  Unless that friendship was purely toxic, not a chance.  I'm just sorry that the other person involved in the dispute was so insecure in our friendship that she chose to end it without hearing my side of the story.  Because if she really knew me, and really valued my friendship, I most certainly would have tried to keep things civil, and I would have tried to keep both friendships going.

Thirdly, I don't do well with ultimatums.  For the record, my friendship with the guy that has lasted ten years has never issued me any sort of ultimatum in regards to my friendships with others.  He may not like everyone I hang out with but I'd like to think that we're secure enough in our friendship that we need not worry.  The other person ended the friendship and THEN told me two months later why she did.  Sorry, not good enough in my opinion.

And, lastly...to try and use my beliefs and my passion about a certain subject as a guilt trip to try and win brownie points from me...I'm sorry...to me, that is pretty low, and if anything, it damages their credibility a heck of a lot more than it damages mine.

So, long story short...I chose to remain loyal to my friend who I had known the longest.  His friendship is real, genuine, and not based on a set of conditions.  Hers was, and the more I thought of it, the more I realized that having a friendship with her wasn't meant to be.

Then it really hit the fan.

Not long after she messaged me, which I pretty much ignored, the founder of the group that I belonged to piped in with her two cents, saying basically a repeat of everything that the other one had said...that my other friend was bad news, I was getting in over my head, she didn't feel comfortable maintaining the friendship as long as I was friends with the other one...you know...things like that.  I messaged her back, saying that I would at least speak to my other friend to get the whole story (mainly because I didn't understand why he was being blacklisted, and why I was being blacklisted right alongside him).

Shortly after that message, I then went to visit the group that I was a part of to see if I could get some advice on how to handle the situation as someone who seemed to be unintentionally caught in the middle. 

Only I couldn't find the group.

It was only after that when I realized that all of my friends (with the exception of two) from that group had either blocked me, or decided that I wasn't worth having as a friend, and then it dawned on me.

I was blacklisted from that group because I had chosen the friend who they did not like anymore.  I was basically shown the door by the owner of the group and her other friends because apparently I was friends with the enemy.

Did I mention that this was all done BEFORE the founder of the group contacted me?  That she had ended our friendship and kicked me out of the group BEFORE she told me that she was ending the friendship?

I'm sorry, but what cowardice on her part.

Had I known that she had done this, I would not have been nearly so nice to her in my reply back.  I would have likely told her off, and told her off real good.

When it first happened, I'll admit it.  I was deeply hurt.  Why would I be kicked out of a group for such a silly reason like that?  Why wasn't my friendship important enough for them?  Didn't they enjoy my contributions?  Didn't I inspire them?

Turns out, I wasn't the only one.

I know of quite a few people who were also kicked out of the group for basically the same reason I was.  We just didn't fit into THEIR group.

We weren't IMPORTANT enough for them.

They had essentially become a clique...and the troublemaker who tried to cause trouble between my friend and I was right in the center of it all.

It was like high school all over again...being on the outside of the clique that contained some of the "coolest" kids in the school.

Though, looking at this clique, and many other cliques that I've had to encounter in my school years, through adult eyes, I have a different conclusion.

There isn't anything "cool" about a group of people who shun others because they don't seem to fit THEIR criteria.  What it shows is insecurity plain and simple.  Insecurity about themselves, and insecurity about their relationships with other people.

If that group of people really (and I mean REALLY) knew me, they'd know that I am the last person who would want to hurt anyone's feelings intentionally.  I am incredibly loyal to people who show loyalty back.  The fact of the matter is that my friend of almost ten years has shown me that loyalty, even when times got too tough, while the whole lot of those people didn't think twice about ending my friendship based on a conflict between two people who were not me.  And, people wonder who I'm going to align with.

Let's get one thing straight.  I don't have any respect for the way this situation was handled by the group.  I'm not acting like a Mother Teresa here and saying that I was absolutely perfect.  I know that I could have done more to try and understand both sides of the story...but it's incredibly difficult to try and get both sides when one side immediately cuts you off before you get a chance to hear them out.

I also don't like the idea of people turning against other people just because another person tells them to do so.  It happened with another one of my closest friends too, and to me, it shows more about their character than it could ever possibly say about them.

People have made mistakes.  Lapses in judgment.  Things that they could do over again if they could.

I wish that I didn't need to join that group to know that I am a fantastic person who is incredibly loyal to their TRUE friends.  Although, in a way, I'm glad I did join, because I quickly discovered who my real friends were from that experience.

The whole experience could have left me bitter, but I choose not to let that happen.  Clearly, those people in the group made their choices, and they'll ultimately have to live with their choices.  I just hope they realize that what they did to me and my friends was much more hateful, hurtful, and immature than anything that my friends could have done.

The worst part about this is that I still would have posted on that group.  I still would have used that group as a springboard for healing my old wounds and finding my inner strength.  If the opportunity wasn't snatched away from me by force, I'd still be a member there.  But, it's kind of ironic in a sense that my deletion from that group lead to the addition of inner strength, self-worth, and self-esteem.



And here we are...five years later, and I still have these same thoughts.  I still have no tolerance for cliquey people, and whenever possible, I try to avoid them as much as possible.  If they want to have their own exclusive group, by all means, let them.  In the end, they'll only become some of the loneliest people to ever grace this world. 

I'm confident enough in myself to know who my real friends are.  And believe me.  They know it.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Concerts From Childhood - Plus The One I Wish I Had Gone To...



The passing of children's entertainer Lois Lilienstein a couple of days ago really got me thinking about a lot of things.

Mostly, how old I seem to be getting.

But, I suppose once a person reaches a certain age, it dawns on them that their childhood idols eventually leave this world.  And certainly Lois Lilienstein (one-third of Sharon, Lois, & Bram) was one of those childhood figures that made such a huge impression on my life.



I remember playing the "Sharon, Lois, & Bram in the Schoolyard" album until the grooves wore out on it (that's right boys and girls, I had that album on vinyl!).  I watched every single episode of "Sharon, Lois, & Bram's Elephant Show".  Had I still been in the target audience, I probably would have watched "Skinnamarink TV" as well.

Really, there was nothing that these three couldn't do to keep me entertained.  Their take on classic folk hits with a little bit of 1980s flavour and a lot of silly lyrics made them huge stars in not just Canada, but the United States as well.  Did you know that they performed at the White House Easter Egg hunt twenty-one years ago, and had breakfast with Bill and Hillary Clinton?  That's one definite sign that you've made it in the entertainment business when the President of the United States invites you to join them for one of their annual traditions!

Sadly, I do have one huge regret when it came to Sharon, Lois, & Bram.  And sadly with Lois' death, it's something that I will never be able to do.

My regret is that I never got a chance to see them perform live in concert.  And believe me, I always wanted to see them.  Alas, it just wasn't in the cards.  I don't ever recall them coming to my hometown (and if they did, they must have come at a time in which buying concert tickets was an excessive luxury).  Just watching the concert footage that was spliced into each episode of "The Elephant Show" and seeing all the kids having so much fun dancing in the audience...I always wanted to have that experience.



Now, I suppose that the closest that I will get to that experience is singing along to "Peanut Butter & Jelly" and "I Am Slowly Going Crazy" with some sort of hockey game playing in the background to simulate cheering.  And I'm sure if I did that, the second song I listed would make for an appropriate soundtrack.

But even though I never got to see Sharon, Lois, & Bram sing live in person...I still consider myself lucky.  The reason why I consider myself lucky is that I remember seeing a lot of other talented children's entertainers during the first ten years of my life, and some of these experiences were once-in-a-lifetime.

So, I thought I'd share some of my tales with you.



Now, I never did get to see Sharon, Lois, & Bram.  But I did get to see Eric Nagler once upon a time.  I remember being really young too - probably no older than seven.  I did like Eric Nagler on "The Elephant Show", I owned one of his albums, and the magic he performed with his "sewerphone" is absolutely indescribable.  I have to say that I absolutely loved the concert...but what I loved even more was the fact that Eric stuck around after the show and greeted every single one of his fans who came to see him perform.  He even called me by name, which I thought was so awesome!  I think I do remember telling him to say hello to Sharon, Lois, & Bram for me, and I wonder if he did give them the message.  Of course, that was back in '87/'88, so who knows?  Still, I'd like to think he did in some manner. 



I also had the pleasure of seeing Robert Munsch when he came to town for a promo tour.  Again, I couldn't have been much older than seven, but by that point I had fallen in love with his wacky, crazy stories.  When he came to town, I couldn't resist seeing him.

Now, back in those days, Robert still had his beard, and his hair wasn't quite as white as it is now.  But his talent and his passion in telling us about how Moira's birthday went terribly wrong, and how a princess found courage in a paper bag kept all of us glued to our seats.  And like Nagler, Munsch stuck around and greeted his fans.  I still remember being so excited to meet him.  He truly was one of the key people who got me so interested in writing and storytelling.  I don't know if I ever told anyone that before. 

I guess it's out in the open now.



How many of you remember the show "The Polka Dot Door"?  Well, it was a show that aired on TVO for a little over twenty years, and although the co-hosts were changed each week, one thing that never changed were the characters of Humpty, Dumpty, Bear, Marigold, and of course, Polkaroo.

(Note that I never mentioned the animals.  That show probably went through 139 different Friedas and Fennels.)

Anyway, back in the late 1980s, "Polka Dot Door" would go on live tours around Ontario, and a couple of times, they stopped over in my town.  They recreated the whole set, brought over the four stuffed animals, the Story Time Clock with Story Time Mouse, and of course, Polkaroo.

Usually the hosts were almost always the same.  I want to say that Cindy Cook and Johnnie Chase were the ones who always went on tour.  And don't ask me how I remember their names some 25 years later.  My memory is very strange.

Oh, and perhaps my most prized memory?  Getting the chance to see Mr. Dressup performing live at our local arts centre all the way back in 1986!



And, what made it even more special was the fact that back in those days, he still had Casey and Finnegan on the show.  So, I not only got to see Mr. Dressup performing live, but I was one of the rare kids to see Casey and Finnegan up close and personal.  When Ernie Coombs died in 2001, I admit that I took his death quite hard, as I grew up watching him from the moment I was born.

And I'm certainly taking Lois Lilienstein's death in that same bittersweet feeling.  It's sad that she is no longer here, but the memories that she brought with Sharon and Bram are irreplaceable.  And long after they're all gone, their music will continue to live on.

I still regret not seeing them perform in concert.  But I'll always have the Elephant Show.  And, I found a song that perhaps best illustrates how most of us fans of Sharon, Lois, & Bram all feel.  You'll have to scroll ahead to 2:08 for this one, but trust me, it's worth it.  It's from the show's series finale in 1988.



Rest well, Lois.  Thanks for the memories.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Just Be Yourself Online!

April 24, 2015

I don't argue that the Internet can be a great source of information and entertainment. You can use it as an encyclopedia, you can use it to play games, you can use it to interact with thousands of people all over the world. 

There is a downside to having the freedom to use the Internet...people who log on to knowingly cause trouble as a way to screw around with sites and play mind games with innocent posters who just want to use the Internet in peace. 





Obviously, some Internet crimes are punishable by the criminal courts. Hacking into government sites can get you a hefty prison term. Same deal with online pyramid scams. I even hear that new laws are being passed that will make punishments for cyberbullying much more severe, which is news that I applaud. 

But, what about things people do that SEEM to be legal online, but can get you into a world of trouble in the real world? 

Allow me to show some examples off to you... 

Everyone's played those games where they play online with people all over the world...you know, games like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy Online, TetrisFriends...and, we all know that during the chat rooms, there's always some moron who insults the gamers online, or tries to hit on a female gamer, etc. Online, there's not a whole lot that is done, aside from people telling these other people off. 

Now, if this were in a real video arcade (assuming that there are some arcades that survived the great arcade purge of the mid 1990's), you might have a mob scene or a fist fight, with teeth being flung one way and blood flowing out the other while scared patrons dodge loose quarters and arcade tickets. 

Being online might give you enough anonymity to make comments to people that you don't dare make in the real world, but that doesn't mean that you should do it! 

Which brings me to my next point. 

Why is it that some people feel the need to come up with more than one username for the same website? I mean, don't get me wrong here...granted, I do know a couple of people who do have more than one screenname, but in their case, it's just to reap more rewards on Facebook games that they play here, like Farmville, or Mafia Wars, or Candy Crush Saga. I don't understand the Facebook game craze, but at least they aren't using their dual names to cause anyone else grief...well, except those who grow their online rutabagas the honest way, that is... 

It's when people make up fake profiles to harass or bully a legitimate poster or cause that really grinds my gears, as Family Guy's Peter Griffin'd say. You can go on any website, and see some person whose profile is obviously fake, hiding behind their fake name to cause trouble. And, surprisingly enough, I don't know why people don't get more outraged over this to consider it a real problem. 

But, if you tried this in the real world, oh, let's make a list of all the crimes you could be charged with. 

Fraud, Identity Theft (if you use someone else's name), Stalking (if you use fake names to harass the same person), for starters. 

And, that's just the legal charges. 

I mean, could you imagine storming into a funeral service just to make light of the service or say disgusting things about the recently deceased? In the real world, this would be inexcusable...yet on memorial pages on Facebook, that's exactly what some of these cowards do. 

What else can I add to this? 

I don't know about you, but if I were to start setting up shop in a random part of town without so much as a permit, I could get arrested, or at the very least, told to pack up and leave. Yet, spammers hock their wares online all the time. And, often, on sites they have no business being on. Maybe there are some comic book fans who have a secret obsession with diazepam, but it makes absolutely no sense to join a comic book forum, and have all your posts talking about the wonders of Viagra. 

And, don't even get me started on people releasing viruses online to infect people's computers to steal information and kill computers. As bad as computer viruses are, real viruses are worse. Good luck escaping criminal charges by releasing viruses into the real world. Heck, good luck keeping your LIFE! 

The reason I wrote this note is because I am genuinely concerned. Some people who may end up being the nicest folks you could encounter on the street could show a completely different side to them online, and vice versa. I think that there should be more done to ensure that going online is as safe and pleasant an experience as possible. If that means really cracking down on security measures, that's fine. 

Just remember...some of the stuff that you may think is funny in an online setting, can get you 15 - 20 years in prison on the street. 

Just be yourself...online AND off.  But within reason.  No need to share your Social Insurance Number with the world!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Stop Being A Smart Phone Zombie!

April 23, 2015

I think we're getting to the point where we rely so much on instant gratification that we insist on getting news as it happens anytime we want.

Seriously, we live in a society in which it's never been easier to get information.  With WiFi connections at practically every single coffee shop in the world and new websites being created every minute, you can find out practically anything you want in just seconds.

Isn't the Internet fun?

Of course, some of the information presented online can get a little bit repetitive.  I think I lost count at 100 times that I saw information on the "Full House" reunion that is set to happen on "Netflix" sometime next year.

(Oh, and fun fact here.  Candace Cameron bure will be 40 years old when the show will make its return in 2016 - which is older than any of the adult characters when the original show debuted in 1987!  How's that for freaky?)

Anyway, we're not going to talk about "Full House" in this diary entry.  Instead, we're going to be talking about how easy it is to get information from the Internet...as well as how easy it is to alienate everybody around you while you're getting this information.



Now, I get it.  These days every single person in the world seems to have at least one cellular phone.  I admit that I have a phone myself which I use semi-often.  I'm the type of person who actually uses a phone to...well, you know...call people.  I don't mind texting, but I'm not very good at it. 

I'm basically a "Damn You Autocorrect" moment waiting to happen.

And while I do find it awesome that I can visit Facebook, or even update my blog using my cell phone...I very rarely use my phone for that.  I honestly haven't figured out how to update my blog through my phone, and to be perfectly honest, I prefer using an old fashioned desktop computer for my writing.

Truth be told, if I could find a retro style typewriter, I would rather use one of those.  I love old school typewriters!

But do you know what I don't love?  I don't love people who are so obsessed with what they are downloading on their phones that they completely tune out everything and everyone to focus all of their attention on a five inch screen...or whatever size your cell phone just happens to be.

Here's a prime example of this.

Now, at my workplace, if you work an eight hour shift, you typically get an hour for lunch.  And most people I know spend their hour inside of the employee lounge.  There are times in which I will be sitting at a table all to myself and I will have people sit down and join me, which I do not have a problem with.  I can be quite a chatty person if I am in the mood and I really love having deep conversations with people.

What I don't enjoy is having a group of people sitting at my table, pulling out their cell phones and completely ignoring me to have a rousing game of candy crush, or texting their main man or woman, or updating their Twitter feed.  To me, it's a little bit rude.

Even ruder still is when someone at the table finds something of interest, and they feel the need to pull out their phone and show everyone at the table - and they completely forget to acknowledge you at all.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times that I have seen people showing off videos on their phones and completely freeze me out, as if I'm not important enough to see it, or because I actually want to spend my lunch hour socializing face to face instead of through a tiny phone screen.

As much as it pains me to say this, one of the ways in which I take action against this is by bringing my iPod to work and drown everyone else out.  It sometimes sucks that I have to take on the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" approach, but what's the point of trying to engage conversation with people who basically don't even notice that you're there.

But here's the difference.  If someone were to sit down at my table, I would remove the iPod and chat. 

In closing...put away the damn cell phones when you're at a table with other people and maybe get to know the people who are around you instead of ignoring them.



If I wanted to watch zombies, I'd turn on "the Walking Dead."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

25 Things You Didn't Know About Me - Really!

Typically speaking, I don't go out of my way to purchase so-called celebrity magazines.  You know, magazines such as People, Rolling Stone, Hello!, and Life & Style?

That said, I will read them if they are sitting on a table at a doctor's office, or laying on a table in the employee lounge at work.  After all, they're quite easy to digest, and in some cases they've provided me with a lot of inspiration for some of the topics you've read in this blog over the last four years.

In fact, one magazine has inspired this post!



Have any of you heard of the magazine known as "Us Weekly"?  It's a magazine that was founded in 1977 by the New York Times Company, and over the course of the last thirty-eight years, the magazine has covered a wide array of celebrity news, gossip, and trends coming out of Hollywood. 

(True Story:  For the longest time, I believed that Us Weekly was actually called U.S. Weekly, and I thought that it was a magazine that featured nothing but American stories, American celebrities, and American everything.  In reality?  It's probably only 85% American.  They do the occasional story about One Direction, Kylie Minogue, and Celine Dion.)

Anyway, Us Weekly has quite a few regular features inside of its pages that keeps readers entertained.  For instance, they have a "Fashion Police" section which takes a look at what celebrities were wearing and either praises them or pan them.  It's like having Giuliana Rancic in your living room.  Whether that's a good thing or not?  Well, that's your call.

Us Musts takes a look at the newest television shows, CD's, and movies that are out, and gives recommendations on what to scope out and what to avoid.

And then there's my personal favourite.  It's a little blurb that takes up no more than half a page of the magazine, but it allows you to learn so much about your favourite famous people.

It's a feature where celebs list off twenty-five facts that people might not know about them.  And for what it's worth, you learn a lot about people.  Most of the celebs take it seriously.  Some take it semi-seriously.  And some like Weird Al Yankovic handled this piece with such sarcasm that it's hard to tell whether there really are any serious answers in the bunch or not.

(Seriously, just click HERE and read his list.  It'll crack you up.)

Anyway, I thought that I would do my own list.  And in this case, this is going to prove to be a challenge.  You see, I've been keeping this blog going for four years now, and I don't know if I have any more things to share that you already don't know.

But you know what?  I'll give it my best shot.

So, I've reached into the depths of my brain and I have come up with 25 things that you probably didn't know about me...well, until now that is.

Okay, let's go.



1.  I would die a very happy man if I never ever heard the words "Kardashian", "Jenner", or "Kanye West" again.



2.  I have a small collection of novelty socks.  Here is just one of many pairs that I have.  With us having a strict dress code at my workplace, it's the only form of self-expression I have.

3.  At my workplace, I can use the key cutting machine, I can use the paint shaker, I can operate the shopping cart pusher, and I've worked in at least half a dozen different departments.  



4.  This was the very first banner that I ever designed in my life.  This banner was painted in 2014.

5.  The font that I used in this banner is called "Variex" - which is the same font that I use for this blog's logo.

6.  I can probably count the number of weddings that I have ever attended on one hand.



7.  When I have a day off, or I am working on something that requires me to do some messy work, I'll purposely wear clothes that don't match.  Don't believe me?  Here's proof.



8.  I have every song that hit #1 on the charts on every single one of my birthdays downloaded onto my iPod from "Bette Davis Eyes" to "All of Me".



9.  One year, I spent my entire March Break holiday playing Final Fantasy 6 on my Super Nintendo.  Everyone else I knew went away for the holiday.  What else was there to do?



10.  I love Old Navy clothing and I really wish that a location would open up where I live so I don't have to travel eighty-three kilometres to go to Old Navy.

11.  I was absolutely terrified of a gigantic neon foot sign inside of a local sporting goods shop in my hometown, and until the sign was taken down, I would not even walk inside of the store.



12.  My favourite gum to chew as a child was Wrigley's Juicy Fruit.  I still chew it on occasion.

13.  I've fallen down a total of seven flights of stairs in my entire life.

14.  I have a tiny scar on my head that is covered by my hair.  I fell down a slide and cracked my head open at the bottom of the slide.



15.  My least favourite colour in the world is yellow.  Interestingly enough, I just purchased a yellow M&m's wristwatch because I like the yellow M&m's mascot.



16.  I once dumped an entire bottle of Oil of Olay on my head when I was four years old.  I wonder if that's why people think I look younger than I really am.

17.  Although I was born and raised in Canada, some people claim that I have an American accent.



18.  I am only twelve books away from having a completed Archie Digest collection.



19.  My body wash of choice is almost always Old Spice.



20.  I use a deodorant called "Mesmerize" - which I'm not ashamed to admit that I order from the AVON catalogue.

21.  I have never played any of the games in the Call of Duty series.

22.  I use a different coloured pen at work each day. 



23.  I have the entire series of "Three's Company" on DVD format.

24.  I cannot function in a pristine room.  I have to have some clutter scattered around in some manner or else I cannot concentrate.



25.  Believe it or not, my very first swimsuit was a lime green Speedo.  Mind you, I was only three years old at the time, and have never worn a Speedo since.  You're welcome, by the way.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April 21, 1977

It's time for another edition of the Tuesday Timeline, and this week, we're going to be looking at a topic that is very close to the theatre scene.

And admittedly, my knowledge of the theatre scene is quite limited.  I've only ever seen one production of "The Phantom of the Opera".  And that was in May of 1995. 

But, when you live four hours away from Toronto (the place where I saw Phantom of the Opera) and about nine hours from New York City (the place where Broadway comes to life almost every night), it makes it hard to enjoy the theatre scene.  And, high school productions of "As You Like It" and "Bye Bye Birdie" just don't have that same effect - although both of the plays that I watched in high school were acted quite well.

Anyway, today's Timeline is all about Broadway musicals.  But before we get started with that, we have some other events to look at first.  Shall we have a look at some of the things that happened on April 21?

753 BC - The date that Romulus founds the city of Rome

1509 - Henry VIII ascends the throne of England

1918 - "The Red Baron" is shot down and killed over Vaux-sur-Somme, France during World War I

1934 - "The Surgeon's Photograph" (which showed a photo of the legendary Loch Ness Monster) is published in "The Daily Mail" (the photo was declared a fake sixty-five years later, in 1999)

1952 - In the United States, Secretary's Day is first observed

1962 - The Seattle World's Fair - the first World's Fair to be held in the United States since World War II - opens

1970 - Elton John makes his solo debut as a performer when he opens for T.Rex at a gig in London

1982 - Rollie Fingers of the Milwaukee Brewers becomes the first pitcher to record 300 saves

1989 - Over a hundred thousand students gather in China's Tianamen Square to commemorate Chinese reform leader Hu Yaobang

2003 - EMI and Universal Music sue Napster for copyright violations

2012 - Two trains collide head on with each other in Amsterdam, injuring at least 116 people

And, well...that's it.  Apparently, April 21 was one of those days in which not a whole lot happened.

So, let's have a look at celebrity birthdays, shall we?

The following people are turning one whole year older today; Queen Elizabeth IIElaine May, Angela Mortimer, Charles Grodin, James Dobson, Iggy Pop, Patti LuPone, Tony Danza, Steve Vickers, James Morrison, Andie MacDowell, Robert Smith, Cathy Cavadini, Roy Dupuis, John Cameron Mitchell, Robin Meade, Toby Stephens, Nicole Sullivan, Eric Mabius, Jamie Sale, James McAvoy, Tony Romo, Brianne Davis, Terrence J, Shayna Fox, Robbie Amell, Christoph Sanders, and Princess Isabella of Denmark.

How cool that we start the celebrity birthday segment with a royal and end it off with a royal?  (Well, okay, I find it neat.)

And today's date for the Tuesday Timeline is also a neat one.



We're going back in time thirty-eight years in the past to April 21, 1977.

And for what it's worth, a lot happened on this date.  We said farewell to Gummo Marx, who died on this date.  We said hello to Canadian figure skater Jamie Sale, who was born on this date.  And Frank Sinatra and Friends first aired on ABC with special guests Natalie Cole and John Denver.

But it was also a big day in the world of Broadway, as it was on this date that a famous musical first debuted.  It was a musical that ran for nearly six years in its original run on Broadway, and won a total of seven Tony Awards during the show's first year.

And the Broadway show even spawned a hit movie!



No...not this version.  I don't even want to talk about the 2014 version of this movie, which in my opinion should have never been made.  And it's nothing to do with the actress who played Annie - I think that Quvenzhane Wallis did a fine job as Annie.  My issue was with the changes that this version made to the plot. 



No, I'm talking about the more superior 1982 version of "Annie", which starred Aileen Quinn.  That version was always one of my favourites.



And of course, the movie was based from the Broadway musical of the same name which debuted - you guessed it - thirty-eight years ago today!



Of course, anyone who has seen the show "Annie" probably can tell you where the idea originally came from.  Years ago, there was a comic strip called "Little Orphan Annie", created by Harold Gray.  Beginning in 1924, the comic strip detailed the life of a little curly haired girl named Annie who along with her dog Sandy struggle to make it in a world of cruelty and coldness - likely spawned by the fact that she was an orphan who lived in an orphanage run by a cruel woman who hated kids (the comic strip gave her the name of Miss Asthma, but in the Broadway play and movie, she is known as Miss Hannigan).  It wasn't until she crossed paths with the wealthy, but kind Daddy Warbucks that Annie begins to find her place in the world.

So, how did "Annie" go from a comic strip to a Broadway musical?

Well, the story actually begins in 1976.  The production was jointly produced by Charles Strouse (music), Martin Charnin (lyrics), and Thomas Meehan.  It held its unofficial debut in August 1976 at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut under the direction of Michael P. Price.  And originally, the actress who starred as the title role was Kristen Vigard.  Vigard lasted a few days in the role, but producers didn't quite feel as though she didn't quite fit the part.  See, Annie was supposed to be this gritty orphan who had a "Hard Knock Life", but Vigard proved to be a little bit too sweet.  She was kept on as understudy, but the main role then went to Andrea McArdle, who would eventually play the role for another year.  But don't feel too bad for Vigard - she landed a role on "Guiding Light" just a few years later.



TRIVIA:  Andrea McArdle would play another role in the musical as an adult.  She played the role of Miss Hannigan for a couple of performances of the play in 2010.

It wouldn't be until April 21, 1977 that the play made its official debut on Broadway.  It opened up at the Alvin Theatre in New York (which has since been renamed The Neil Simon Theatre), and featured the cast of McArdle, Reid Shelton as Daddy Warbucks, Dorothy Loudon as Miss Hannigan, and Sandy Faison as Grace Farrell.  The show closed in January 1983.  At the time, it was the longest running musical to feature at the Alvin Theatre/Neil Simon Theatre until 2009 when "Hairspray" broke the record.

Since then, the show has been periodically revived in several places around the world such as New York, London, and Sydney.



I guess it always goes to show you that no matter where you are, tomorrow is always a day away.