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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Come On, Come On, Do The Loco-Motion Times Three!

This is the final entry for the month of August 2014, so naturally, I decided that I would make it a very special one.

And believe me, this edition of the
Sunday Jukebox is exactly that.  What if I told you that today, I'll be featuring not one, not two, but three different versions of the same song by three different artists!  In all three cases, this song reached the Top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and in two of the three, the song topped the charts.

It's incredibly rare for a cover version of a song to chart within the Top 5 of any musical chart.  For a cover version to reach the #1 position?  That's even rarer.

In fact, this song holds another interesting record.  It's one of the few songs to chart in three different decades.  The first time was in the 1960s.  The second was in the 1970s.  The third was the 1980s.  And the three artists that helped make the song an instant success on the charts came from three entirely different backgrounds.  One was a nineteen-year-old who worked as a babysitter for two of the most prolific songwriters of the day.  One was a group hailing from Flint, Michigan whose blues rock compositions entertained people throughout the 1970s.  And, one was a soap opera star who would later grow up to become as big as Madonna in her native Australia.

The song itself wasn't anything serious or deep.  Back in the 1960s, when the song was first released, there were many different types of new dances being created that had their own distinct song to go along with it.  You had the "Mashed Potato", the "Peppermint Twist", and even the "Bat-usi" if you really wanted to get campy. 

But do you know how to do this dance?  Everybody's doing it.  I know you'll get to like it if you give it a chance now.  You just have to swing those hips now!  Now, jump up, and jump back!  Well, I think you've got the knack!

So, put the chuga-chuga motion into it like a railway train now because I want you to come on, come on, and do the Loco-Motion with me!

Yes, long before the Quad City DJ's told everybody to come on and ride the train, this Loco-Motion was pulling into the nearest station and got everybody moving to the beat!  But who was the first person to make this danceable classic a chart-topper? 

Well, it was this little lady - who once worked as a babysitter for songwriters Carole King and Gerry Goffin - the songwriting duo that penned the lyrics for this very song.

ARTIST:  Little Eva
SONG:  The Loco-Motion
ALBUM:  Locomotion
DATE RELEASED:  June 24, 1962

I should note that it was exactly 52 years ago this week that the single topped the Billboard Hot 100.

So, here's the story behind Little Eva's recording of the single.  As mentioned before, Little Eva (born Eva Narcissus Boyd) was hired as a babysitter for Carole King and Gerry Goffin's daughter, and we know that King and Goffin wrote the song for her.

The interesting thing about this song is that there seemed to be a whole lot of urban legends and half-truths surrounding it.  The most popular of these stories seem to be the way that the song was created.  According to many tales, the song came about after Carole King was playing music on her stereo and Eva started dancing along with the music while cleaning the house.  Her dance moves allegedly inspired the Loco-Motion.

However, both Little Eva and Carole King have denied this story as being factual, with King simply stating that she and Goffin had heard Eva sing and liked her voice enough for her to record the song. 

However, because the song was written long before the dance accompanying it was even created, Eva had to come up with the dance moves on her own.  This was later confirmed by Carole King in her concert video "One on One".

There was also a story going around that when it comes to Little Eva's payment for the song, she was only given fifty dollars total - which even in 1962 era currency was pocket change.  But that was also considered to be a false story.  Although Little Eva's life took a drastic turn after recording "The Loco-Motion".  She moved to South Carolina in the early 1970s and lived a life of poverty for several years before she was rediscovered in the late 1980s - right around the time that a certain other starlet was getting started in the music business using her song to do it - but more on that one later.  She passed away of cervical cancer in 2003.

Even after her death though, there are still rumours floating around about her.  The most common one is that Little Eva didn't actually sing on "The Loco-Motion", and that Carole King herself was the real lead singer.  This is a claim that many people seem to believe, including one-third of the famous production team of Stock/Aitken/Waterman, Pete Waterman.  It has been confirmed that Carole King did sing back-up on the track, at least.

Now, twelve years after Little Eva wowed the crowd with her version of "The Loco-Motion", a Michigan based band released their own cover version - a cover version laced with loud music and powerful vocals, and had definite edge to it.  This version also hit the top of the charts in May 1974, and actually stayed on the top of the charts for twice as long as Little Eva's version - a rarity for a cover version.

ARTIST:  Grand Funk Railroad
SONG:  The Loco-Motion
ALBUM:  Shinin' On
DATE RELEASED:  February 1974

This version was produced by another legend in rock music, Todd Rundgren.  And the decision to record this song came courtesy of guitarist Mark Farner, who just happened to be whistling the song while the band was at the recording studio.  The song - which clocked in at just under three minutes in length - reportedly had two different versions.  There was the original version which included a full instrumental section filled with heavy guitars - and there was a radio friendly version which omitted the instrumental portion and inserted a reprise of the song's bridge, which was basically a rehashing of "you gotta sway your hips now".

That's really about all that I have to say about Grand Funk's version, though I will add one more interesting piece of trivia about it.  It is one of the tracks that you can download and add to your "Rock Band 3" video game - provided that you still own a copy of it.

So, that was version number two.  Version #3 would be an interesting tale.  It would be released a little more than twenty-five years after Little Eva's version was released (which explains the sudden resurgence of Little Eva's popularity in the late 1980s).  And, the story behind how this version was recorded is a rather interesting one.

The year was 1987.  The scene was an Australian rules football charity event which featured a slew of football players, and local Australian celebrities.

Some of these celebrities included the stars of the Australian drama series "Neighbours", which debuted in 1985.  And one of the people who was there was Kylie Minogue, who played the role of Charlene Mitchell on the show.

Anyway, the story goes that at this charity event, the Neighbours cast members all assembled on stage to sing a medley of songs.  Without encouragement from anyone else, Kylie belted out an impromptu performance of "The Loco-Motion".  And shortly after that performance, Australian record label Mushroom Records signed Kylie to a record deal where she would record and release the third version of "The Loco-Motion" to hit the charts in twenty-five years.

ARTIST:  Kylie Minogue
SONG:  The Loco-Motion
ALBUM:  Kylie
DATE RELEASED:  July 28, 1987

Now, I should note that while "The Loco-Motion" didn't quite top the charts in the United States, it did hit #1 in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, and Japan.  And, the song's release in the United States only happened because the team of Stock/Aitken/Waterman remixed the single for an American audience.  The single's American release was also delayed by a whole year, being released in July 1988, right around the time that Kylie Minogue's debut album, "Kylie" was released.  But it certainly was worth it in the long run.  The debut single made huge waves in her native Australia and the United Kingdom, and Kylie shifted her focus from acting to music, leaving "Neighbours" in 1988.

Just to put it into perspective, this cover version of "The Loco-Motion" was the beginning of Kylie's massive pop music career.  In particular, on the UK charts, this would be the first of THIRTEEN consecutive Top 10 hits for the singer, beginning with "The Loco-Motion" and ending with 1991's "Shocked".  Over the course of her career, she would release a total of fifty-five singles, with three-fifths of them peaking within the Top 10 of the UK Charts.

It is a shame that her United States success didn't quite take off.  Sure, Kylie did have a couple of Top 40 hits in "I Should Be So Lucky" and "It's No Secret" in 1988 and 1989 respectively, but "The Loco-Motion" would actually be the only Top 10 single that Minogue would enjoy in the United States for THIRTEEN years, when Kylie's 2001 single "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" hit #7 on the charts.  But, I'm sure that no matter where she charted in whatever country, she'll always look back on "The Loco-Motion" as the song that began it all.

And, there you have it.  Three versions of the same song that charted within the Top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100!  Now, here's the million dollar question.  What version was your favourite?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cop and a Half

Okay, everyone!  It's time for another movie review, courtesy of this 10-pack of movies that I bought some time ago.  Many of the movies have been pleasant to watch.  Some have been sloppy.  In the case of last week's feature presentation (Ed), it was easily considered to be one of the worst movies that I've ever written about.

So, in order to redeem myself, I chose a film that I personally liked - and apparently, I happen to be one of the only ones who did.  It's a film that debuted at the box office on April 2, 1993, which made me just a month shy of turning twelve.  I guess that's maybe why I didn't mind this film because I guess I was a part of the intended target demographic at the time. 

And, it's not as though this film had a lot of Z-list talent either.  One of the stars of the film happens to be Burt Reynolds - a man known for such films as "The Longest Yard", "Smokey and the Bandit", and "The Cannonball Run", among others.

Other actors and actresses that were a part of this film included Ruby Dee, Holland Taylor, Ray Sharkey, and the debut performance of then eight year old Norman D. Golden II.

This film even had massive star power behind the cameras as well.  Remember how some forty years ago, Henry Winkler got his first big break in the entertainment industry by playing the role of Fonzie on "Happy Days"?  In this film, he served as the director.

Now, despite all of the star power behind this film, and despite the fact that the film did debut at #1 during its opening didn't stay on top for long.  This film famously divided film critics, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, with Siskel thumbing it down and Ebert praising it.  On the positive, the film did earn Golden a nomination for a Young Artist Award, but on the negative, Golden also earned a nomination for a Golden Raspberry Award.  Burt Reynolds actually earned the Razzie for Worst Actor for this movie...certainly not the "comeback" that he had envisioned for himself.

And, to seemingly prove that this film was a failure, here's an interesting piece of trivia.  Usually, when movies are released, it takes about three and a half years for the film to begin making regular appearances on network television.  In this case, this film made its network television debut on January 26, 1997 - the same exact night as the Super Bowl!  Yeah, that was great planning.

Despite all this though, I didn't think that the movie was that bad.  It's not the best film that I've ever seen, mind you, but I still liked it.

I suppose that's why I sort of have a soft spot for "Cop and a Half", today's feature presentation.

Now, luckily, this movie is such that I can give out a plot summary that is vague enough that I don't have to reveal the ending of the movie (which is good, since I don't like revealing movie endings).  And for what it's worth, the plot of the movie is such that while it might seem incredibly farfetched to the average man or woman, it somehow still works.

Which I suppose could describe nearly every single children's movie released in the 1990s, but I digress.

Meet Nick McKenna (Reynolds).  He's one of the most feared police officers to ever patrol the state of Florida.  His toughness intimidates even the most hardened criminals, and his "no fear" attitude has helped him get through some of the most difficult stakeouts.  Sadly, his attitude and prickly disposition has somewhat alienated him from society in general, and his extremely guarded nature has prevented him from getting close to anyone.  When his partner is killed during a drug bust, McKenna takes full responsibility for his partner's death, and he sinks even deeper in despair, throwing himself into his work, leaving little wiggle room for anyone else to get in.

At the same time, a little boy named Devon Butler (Golden) has dreams of his own.  His main ambition in life is to grow up and serve the police force.  He is obsessed with cop movies, he has dreams of going all over the world to stop crimes from taking place, and he is absolutely determined to achieve his goal at all costs.  Never mind the fact that he isn't even ten years old at the time and has absolutely no idea how dangerous being a cop is...for Devon, that's all he wants.

So I imagine that you can predict what happens next.  Devon finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and becomes a witness to a murder while he is playing around an abandoned warehouse.  The murder is committed by an Italian crime boss Vinny Fountain (Sharkey), a very dangerous person to cross paths with, and because he witnessed the crime, Devon is asked to testify so that they can apprehend the criminal.

However, Devon has his conditions.  He'll agree to help the police take down Fountain and his goons, but they have to make him a police officer for one week.  Realizing that they are over a barrel, the police force agree to honour his request.

And, wouldn't you know it?  The "partner" that Devon is assigned just happens to be Nick McKenna!  While Devon sees this as being a real dream come true, McKenna happens to see it as a nightmare.  Not only does he not like being around people...but he especially dislikes being around children.

Nevertheless, Devon and McKenna are forced to work together before Fountain and his goons have a chance to cause more criminal activity.

And, well...I'm just guessing that you can figure out what happens next.

Okay, that's all you need to know about the plot.  Now, how about some trivia about this movie?  There's some interesting facts about the movie that even I didn't know!

1 - This was Ray Sharkey's final film.  He died of complications from AIDS on June 11, 1993 - just two months after the film was released.  He was just 40.

2 - This was the final feature film that Henry Winkler directed.

3 - Originally, this movie was supposed to have been a sequel to the 1990 film "Kindergarten Cop".

4 - This was Burt Reynolds' first feature film in a four year period, with Reynolds taking time out to film television shows "Out of This World" and "Evening Shade".

5 - This movie was attacked by parenting groups over the scene in which Devon has his head dunked inside of a toilet bowl.

6 - Burt Reynolds' nephew, Andrew Reynolds, makes a cameo in the film as a skateboarder.

7 - Lee Ross was originally considered for the role of Devon.

8 - This picture was designed to be a spoof of Hollywood buddy cop movies, such as "Lethal Weapon".

Coming up next week, we take a look at a movie that really explored the world of fantasy gaming - long before fantasy gaming even became popular.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Whopper of a Deal That Had People's Timbits in a Dither

Hello, everyone.  Welcome to another edition of FOODIE FRIDAY

And in this edition of the Foodie Friday post, we are going to take a look at a recent event in the world of food that has seemingly divided public opinion all across North America at least. 

When it comes to the subject of corporations, sometimes in order for a brand to stay relevant, it might have to impose some rather creative ideas in order to stay alive in the business world.

And sometimes, those ideas might involve a merger of some sort.

I think that most of you know where I'm going with this, right?

Earlier in the week, the news came that fast food hamburger giant "Burger King" purchased the Canadian coffee and donut chain known as "Tim Hortons".  And, who knew that such a purchase would create absolute chaos on social media?  More on that a little bit later.

But first, let's learn a little more about both businesses.  I won't go into too much detail about it because that isn't what this blog is about.

The Stats:

Year Founded:  1953
Company Founders:  Keith J. Kramer and Matthew Burns
Company Location:  Miami, Florida
Revenue:  $1.97 billion
Net income:  $117.7 million
Total equity:  $1.175 billion
Employees:  34,248

Year Founded:  1964
Company Founders:  Tim Horton and Ron Joyce
Company Location:  Oakville, Ontario
Revenue:  $3.225 billion
Net income:  $424.4 million
Employees:  100,000+

And, just to put it into perspective on a local sense.


Now, with the purchase of Tim Hortons by Burger King, this deal will make Burger King/Tim Hortons the third largest fast food operator in the world. 

Of course, this news caused a huge storm of commentary on social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  Many Americans took to their keyboards to protest the deal between Burger King and Tim Hortons, claiming that they were boycotting the Home of the Whopper because of the deal.  Similarly, in Canada, people were upset that a fast food giant with a rather creepy looking mascot was invading their territory to dip his fingers in the addictive double doubles that the chain is known for.

It was really shaping up to be a cross-border food fight with onion rings and honey glazed donuts flying across the sky.  It became quite brutal.

But why were people so upset?  I mean, if you look at the merger from a perspective of common sense, it doesn't appear that the move will really affect the products sold inside either location.

I certainly don't see Whoppers being served on a bed of Timbits, nor do I see Burger King imposing their coffee beans inside of the coffee makers scattered throughout a standard Tim Hortons location.  The companies will be linked together, but will still operate separately.  Tim Hortons will still sell their coffee, donuts, and delicious frozen raspberry lemonade drinks.  And Burger King will still sell bacon double cheeseburgers, onion rings, and french fries covered in cheese and gravy.

(Well, okay...the poutine may only be available in CANADIAN Burger King locations.)

And, the way I see it, this merger could be a good thing for Tim Hortons.  For years now, they've been trying to expand down south into the United States.  Maybe this could be the thing that Tim Hortons needs to open up some more shops - really give Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme some competition!

(Of course, I could be biased, since I love Tim Hortons donuts.)

The big argument that I hear on the Canadian side of things is that Tim Hortons will lose their Canadian identity by allowing Burger King to buy the company, and honestly, I think that's the wrong argument to have.  It would be like if I packed up and moved down to South Carolina.  I would become an American citizen, but I would never forget where I came from.  I am a proud Canadian inside and out.  I'd like to see Tim Hortons as being exactly that.

Tim Hortons to me is as Canadian as the beaver tail, the maple leaf, and the twelve feet of snow that the average Canadian winter gets.  Even if an American company takes it over, it will still retain its Canadian charm, its Canadian identity...and most of all, its Canadian coffee.

But that could just be my opinion.  What say you?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Full House 2.0?

Today's edition of TUBE TALK THURSDAY is being posted at a time in which some news is reportedly breaking in the entertainment world.  News that could figuratively resurrect a sitcom that last aired almost 20 years ago.

If you've kept up with the recent news in the world of entertainment, you'll know that the television show "Full House" is making a lot of headlines recently.  It started with John Stamos, Bob Saget, and Dave Coulier filming a couple of commercials for Oikos Greek Yogurt for the Super Bowl.  Then we saw Candace Cameron Bure competing on "Dancing With The Stars". 

Now comes the news that after nearly twenty years off the air, there are plans to revive the television show "Full House".

Don't believe me?  Read all about it HERE

Admittedly, this idea might sound a little bit bizarre to everyone reading this.  This show idea is not a planned spin-off show, but a continuation of where the show left off when the series aired its final episode in May 1995.  This would mean that if the new show is given the all-clear to go ahead, D.J. would be pushing 40, Stephanie would be in her thirties, and Michelle would be in her late twenties.

And probably still unable to say the words "ice cream".

It's reported that Candace Cameron Bure and Jodie Sweetin - D.J. and Stephanie - have already expressed interest in the project, as has Andrea Barber, who played Kimmy Gibbler.  Bob Saget and Dave Coulier may also be confirmed to be a part of the venture as well.  Still no word on John Stamos, Lori Loughlin, or the Olsen Twins yet.  But, then again, I suppose that if they did a show where D.J., Stephanie, and Kimmy were the parental figures helping D.J. raise her kids after her husband died, it could be an interesting way to pay tribute to the show with a reverse twist.

Truth be told, that's the only way that I can see this new "Full House" working.  That way, Danny, Joey, and Jesse could make guest appearances, and even Michelle could drop in every once in a while. 

It may sound farfetched...but keep in mind that they did the same thing with "Boy Meets World".  Everyone thought that the show was dead and buried when it went off the air in 2000, but Disney found a way to bring it back with Cory and Topanga as parents of a girl who is just entering the world of middle school.  It's a show known as "Girl Meets World", and it has recently been renewed for a second season.

So, maybe this could be a new trend...picking up where old shows left off. 

And, it got me thinking about a rather interesting idea for the Tube Talk Thursday discussion.  What would happen if we took shows that were cancelled ten, twenty, thirty years ago, and we did the same exact thing that "Boy Meets World" did, and that "Full House" could possibly be doing, and speculate what the characters have done since the show went off the air?

Granted, some shows would never get off the ground.  In the case of "Diff'rent Strokes", three-quarters of the main cast are now deceased.  But there are loads of other programs that we can choose from. 

Like, for instance...


Sadly, Dixie Carter would not be a part of this venture, as she passed away four years ago.  However, I could see the series picking up after Julia Sugarbaker's funeral.  You would see Suzanne, Mari Jo, and Charlene coming back to pay their respects.  I could also bring back in Allison and Carlene to stir things up.  I could see Suzanne and Allison battling each other over control of Sugarbaker's Designs.  This plot might seem more like a drama than a comedy, but somehow, I could see it being funny.

The only thing missing aside from Julia would be Anthony.  Sadly, Meshach Taylor died earlier this year.


Okay, you all know that Lifetime is planning on making a behind the scenes movie about what really happened on the set of "Saved By The Bell".  But many were disappointed that they wouldn't be making a reunion movie about the show.  So, it got me thinking that had Saved By The Bell gone on, and showed the gang some 25 years later, what would it be like?

Would Zack and Kelly still be married, or would they have split up?
Would Screech become principal of Bayside High?
Is Jessie over her caffeine pill addiction?
Has Lisa gotten a restraining order against Screech?
Has Slater found something to do other than wrestling?

So many questions still remaining unanswered...


When Hannah Montana last aired in 2010, she had revealed her secret to the world, and she was going to college with her best friend Lilly (or so the episode guide tells me).  Flash forward almost five years later, and something drastically happened along the way.  Join Miley as she makes the transition from young girl to young woman, as well as the struggles with maintaining a public persona without the Hannah Montana image.  There's going to be family drama.  There's going to be singing.  There's going to be wrecking balls?


Okay, so if you remember the end of the show (which probably most of you don't because by the time the series ended in the late 1990s, it had gotten so stupid and farfetched that you soon discovered that the youngest Winslow child disappearing into thin air was quite normal.  But one thing that did happen was that after years and years of rejection, Laura and Steve did try dating each other.  Imagine what might happen if they ended up getting married, and they had children.  And, imagine having Carl and Harriette living right next door.  And imagine that all of Steve and Laura's kids were nerdier than Steve!

Oh, wait...they actually did an episode where Carl had that nightmare.  Well, I suppose that they could make it a full spin-off.  All you'd need is to throw Eddie, Maxine, and Waldo Faldo into the mix and you'd have a show.

Just don't count on Bryton McClure to make an appearance.  He's on "The Young and the Restless" now.


It's been nearly fifteen years since Baywatch ended.  Sadly, I could still picture Mitch and C.J. still acting as lifeguards on the beach.  As well as possibly two of the Jersey Shore cast members, a former Mickey Mouse Club star, that guy that played Sly on "California Dreams", and Yoanna from "America's Next Top Model". 

Anyway, those are just some thoughts.  It's still unknown as to whether the "Full House" project will get up off the ground yet.  But, I'm sure that fans of the show will be interested no matter what.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Stress of Stress

August 27, 2014 (which was actually written August 26, but go with it...)

So, I'm sitting here at my computer desk typing away while nursing a migraine headache with a couple of Extra Strength Advil and a single-serve size container of Breyer's French Vanilla ice cream wondering why in the world I would ever think that something that potentially can cause "brain freeze" would ever be a good thing to nurse a headache with.

Well, turns out that whenever I have a migraine headache (which lately seems to be every two weeks like clockwork), it's usually brought upon by stress.  Headaches come because I am stressed.  If you read the word stressed backwards, it becomes desserts.  And, desserts are naturally one way to alleviate stress. 

Hence the French Vanilla ice cream.  But, hey.  I consider that a minor stress attack.  If it were a full blown panic attack, I'd go after the stuff that had four kinds of fudge in it.

But, at any rate, I think that when it comes down to the idea of dealing with stress, I tend to fail miserably in that category.  Not that I'm literally walking around the streets like a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.  I don't think I feel like things are that bad, although some may disagree with that statement.  However, I know that stress is something that we all go through in our lives, and that we all have our own different ways of dealing with it and coping with it as best we can.

I have heard that one of the best things that one can do to deal with extreme stress is by talking about it with someone that they feel really close to, because obviously if people have a significant support system to help them through some of the most stressful times of their lives can be a really good coping mechanism in hopes of dealing with it.

Though, I have a major confession to make.  Part of the reason why I have such a low tolerance for stress in the first place is because I tend to be one of those people who tends to let it build up inside of them until there comes a time when I feel like I just want to EXPLODE!!!

(Ironically enough, as I type this blog enrty out, I am watching "The National" on CBC, and they are doing a special feature on stress management.  This blog could not have come at a better time!)

Anyway, getting back to the discussion at hand, I tend to have a really bad coping mechanism for dealing with stress - in particular, over the last six months or so.  I don't really want to go into too much detail over it.  Let's just say that things have been a little bit out of control lately.  There has been a lot of situations where I have felt like I have been unable to function because of stress.  And, because it's not really all that appropriate to just let off steam at any given time, it becomes even harder to manage stress.

And, this leads to migraine headaches, like the one that I'm trying to get rid of right now.

The part about talking to someone about stress levels is also something that I find really difficult.  Having had issues with trusting people in my life, it's not that easy to go up to someone and tell them that you're stressed and that you need some help in dealing with it.  Because before you know it, word gets out, and spreads like wildfire, and before you know it, the entire town knows your business.

Trust me.  This has happened before.  I've seen it first hand.  It isn't fun.  And believe it or not, it actually causes even more stress this way.

I also find it difficult to discuss stress levels with relatives or loved ones because I don't really think that they have any idea how things are.  They seem more concerned with their own problems and their own levels of stress to take on any additional problems.  And granted, there are some times in which I completely understand this thought...but there are also other times in which I sort of wish that they could understand my problems too, and offer me some reasonable advice instead of "cheer up", or "get over it".  Alas, they are who they are, and whether I like it or not, I don't foresee them changing in the future.

I also find it difficult to speak to the people in charge at a workplace or what have you.  Half the time, it is a never ending battle to keep stress levels in check, and I fear that if there ever comes a time in which I do get a sit down with the higher ups, I'll have things so bottled up that I will EXPLODE at them and I'll find myself at the end of the unemployment line.  So, I find myself suffering in silence a lot.  I don't like causing a scene or drawing attention to things that really bother me, but with my lack of trust in people, I find it difficult to get everything out in a way that doesn't make me feel like a raging lunatic.  So I keep things bottled up.

Problem is...I can't keep doing this.  It's causing me to be in a mood that I wish I weren't in.  It makes me act like a person that I don't even like.  It makes me feel as though I can't figure anything out.

And while I realize that I am not the only one who has probably felt this stressed out, I have absolutely no coping mechanism on how to deal with it in a healthy way.

So, I guess my question to all of you do you deal with stress?   The ice cream and Advil is a temporary fix for now and already my headache is starting to heal.  But I really consider that to be a Band-Aid solution.  I know that with the way things are - trying to find a balance between work life and personal life, and trying to make sense of everything - I'm probably going to have another instance where stress has me down for the count.

So, let's hear it.  What are some of the ways that you have dealt with extreme stress? 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 26, 2004

Hello, everyone!  It's time for another edition of the Tuesday Timeline, and today's subject has to do with music.  But here's the thing.  You might not know the name of the person of which I will be doing the spotlight on.  But by the end of the timeline, you'll know all about them...including the moment in which their life was tragically cut short.

But before we go ahead with today's feature presentation, we have some previews to watch beforehand.  So, what happened on August 26?  Have a look.

1498 - Michelangelo Buonarroti is commissioned to carve the Pieta

1748 - The first Lutheran denomination in North America is founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1768 - Captain James Cook sets sail from England on board the HMS Endeavour

1789 - The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is approved by the National Constituent Assembly of France

1791 - John Fitch is granted a United States patent for the steamboat

1883 - The eruption of Mount Krakatoa begins its final stage

1910 - Missionary and Nobel Prize laureate Mother Teresa (d. 1997) is born

1914 - The German colony of Togoland is invaded by French and British forces

1920 - Women are given the right to vote following the passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution

1952 - Actor Michael Jeter (d. 2003) is born in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee

1966 - The Namibian War of Independence begins

1970 - Betty Friedan leads a new feminist movement, leading to a nation-wide Women's Strike for Equality

1977 - The Charter of the French Language is adopted by the National Assembly of Quebec

1978 - Pope John Paul I is elected to the papacy

1980 - John Birges plants and detonates a bomb at Harvey's Resort Hotel in Stateline, Nevada

1986 - Actor Ted Knight passes away at the age of 62

1997 - As many as one hundred people are killed in Algeria's Beni-Ali massacre

2009 - American journalist Dominick Dunne passes away at the age of 83

2011 - The Boeing 787 Dreamliner receives certification from both the EASA and FAA

So, that wraps up the event portion of the Tuesday Timeline.  Let's move on with celebrity birthdays.  A very happy birthday to the following people; Jane Merrow, Vic Dana, Stephen Greif, Maureen Tucker, Alan Parker, Valerie Simpson, Mark Snow, Will Shortz, Steve Wright, Brett Cullen, Rick Hansen, Wanda De Jesus, Branford Marsalis, Ola Ray, Allegra Huston, Jon Hensley, Shirley Manson, Christopher Douglas, Elaine Irwin, Melissa McCarthy, Thalia, Meredith Eaton, Macaulay Culkin, Chris Pine, Cassie Ventura, Dylan O'Brien, Hayley Hasselhoff, and Keke Palmer.

All right.  So, what day will we be going back in time to this week? 

Well, we're only going back a decade.  August 26, 2004 to be exact.

Sadly, in the world of music, this date ended up being the last day of this singer's life.

Prior to her passing, she had undergone severe headaches for a period of weeks, but never sought medical attention for them believing that they would simply go away on their own.  Sadly, the headaches were a warning sign that something very serious was going on, and before she realized it, she was gone - dead of a cerebral aneurysm at just 52 years of age.

But you those 52 years of life, she crammed a whole lot of her natural singing ability and her catchy pop songs can still be heard on the radio today, ten years after her passing.

This is the story of the late Laura Branigan - who passed away ten years ago today.

If Laura Branigan had lived, she would be 62 years old.  Born on July 3, 1952 in the small community of Brewster, New York, she discovered that she had a love for music while she was a student at Byram Hills High School in Armonk, New York.  In 1973, she was in a band called "Meadow", and the group even recorded an entire album entitled "The Friend Ship".  The record was never released, but it did prove one thing.  Laura Branigan had major talent, though it wouldn't really be until a decade later before people began to realize it.

Even though her work with Meadow didn't really amount to much (the band split up shortly after recording the material for their album), it encouraged Branigan to continue with the music industry.  She even worked as a back-up singer for Leonard Cohen while he was on tour in Europe!

But for Laura, the year in which she would begin her own solo career was in the year 1979.  That was the year in which people were getting sickened of disco music and were looking for something a little bit different.  She was signed to Atlantic Records that year, and to say that she waited patiently to get her work out is an understatement.  Because Laura's singing voice was unlike any voice that was heard at that time, it took Atlantic about two years before they could figure out what genre of music to place her in.  I suppose that makes some sense.  The period between 1979 and 1981 was quite unstable in the world of music, with disco dying and New Wave rising out of the ashes. 

Finally, the decision was made to have Laura Branigan added to Atlantic Records' pop music roster, and in 1982, she began working on her debut album, "Branigan".  She had her first taste of success when her first single "Looking Out For Number One" made a brief appearance on the Billboard Dance Music Charts, and she enjoyed her first appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 when her first single from her debut album, "All Night With Me" peaked at #69.  It was a modest start.

Little did Laura know that her decision to record a song that had previously been recorded by Italian pop/rock singer Umberto Tozzi in 1979 would become her signature hit.  Would you like to hear it?  Allow me.

ARTIST:  Laura Branigan
SONG:  Gloria
ALBUM:  Branigan
DATE RELEASED:  June 18, 1982

Yes, "Gloria" will probably never be known for its rather simplistic music video, nor will it ever be known as a Billboard Hot 100 #1 hit.  But what if I told you that at the time, it was the longest charting single by a female artist?  It stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for a then record-breaking 36 weeks - 22 of which were on the Top 40. 

And, although "Gloria" never quite made it to the top of the Billboard Charts, it did hit #1 in Australia and Canada, and reached the Top 10 in the UK, Ireland, South Africa, and New Zealand.  It even charted in Italy's Top 40.

A true international hit, that "Gloria" was.  Reportedly, "Gloria" became such a huge smash that fans began calling Laura Branigan by the name of Gloria whenever they saw her on the street!

And that was just the tip of the iceberg.

"Gloria" helped earn Laura Branigan a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and she was up against some really stiff competition.  The other nominees were Melissa Manchester, Olivia Newton-John, Juice Newton, and Linda Ronstadt.  Though she ended up losing to Manchester's "You Should Hear How She Talks About You", this was not the end for Branigan.  After all, she had other hits along the way.  How about 1983's "Solitaire"?

Or, from the same year, this single which became a huge hit for Michael Bolton in 1988?  Branigan's version was a Top 20 smash.

And, then there was this synth-pop classic from 1984 - a hit that peaked at #4 on the Billboard charts, and became another radio friendly hit for the young singer.

I definitely remember hearing "Self Control" a lot when I was a kid.  The radio station that I listened to when I was a kid (PAC 93) certainly seemed to like playing this song a lot!

Over the years, Laura Branigan changed her style of music.  One year, she was issuing powerful rock songs, and the next, she was teaming up with Stock/Aitken/Waterman to add a taste of Europop to her powerful vocals.  She even made guest appearances on CHiPs and Knight Rider, and even contributed a song to the Baywatch soundtrack by singing a duet with David Hasselhoff!

Don't believe me?  Here it is!

Oh, and here's some trivia about Laura Branigan that I never knew until now!  In Canada, one of Celine Dion's very first English language hits was recorded back in the early 1990s.  It was a track called "Unison", and I have to admit, it is one of the few Celine Dion songs that I actually enjoy listening to.

But here's something that blew my mind.  Laura Branigan recorded it first!  Here's her version below.

Now, Laura Branigan continued recording albums for a little while, with her last studio album being released in August 1993.  But shortly after that release, her husband - Larry Kruteck - was diagnosed with colon cancer, and Branigan left the industry in order to take care of him.  He died in June 1996.  Branigan never remarried.

However, as the 1990s ended, and the 2000s began, Branigan was very much looking forward to making a return to music.  Rather than release another album though, she focused more on performing on the stage.  Unfortunately, there were a couple of incidents that really prevented her from making much of an impact on stage.  A fall in 2001 broke both of Laura's femurs which postponed her return to the stage, and she had to drop out of the Broadway production of "Love, Janis" after two performances because producers didn't file with Equity using the proper procedures...however, Laura saw this as a blessing in disguise, as she was supposed to provide the singing voice for the actress who would be portraying the late Janis Joplin, and she didn't think that she could do it.

At the time of her death in August 2004, Branigan was on her way to attempting a comeback in music recording.  She had re-released dance mixes of "Self Control" and "Gloria", and word was that she was ready to consider making her first studio album in eleven years.  Sadly, she never got the chance.

Her body was cremated and her ashes scattered over Long Island Sound, and since 2005, an annual event held in her memory called the "Spirit of Love Memorial Gathering" is held.  There is even a scholarship given in her name at her old high school, given to a senior for excellence in Performing Arts.

But of course, the greatest legacy that Laura Branigan can give us is the seven albums and many, many singles that she gave us to listen to whenever we want.  I think that will be the ultimate memorial to a singer who left us far too soon.