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Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Hodge Podge

Hey, everyone!  And, might I add...


Yes, Halloween is finally here, and I hope that all of you have gotten your last minute preparations completed.  Whether that involves buying more bags of candy, or whether you are finishing up the last minute details of your Halloween costumes, I certainly hope that you have a fantastic time.

Remember kids, always make sure that you wear costumes that can be seen in the dark.  After all, you have to make sure that you are trick-or-treating safely.

You should also check your children's candy as well before they eat it.  After all, you have to make sure that with food allergies and going door-to-door around the neighbourhoods, you make sure that they are eating candy that is considered safe.

But most importantly, try to have fun tonight!  Oh, and when I say fun, I mean that you should do so safely and responsibly.  This means no taking part in tricks that can be considered dangerous.

Now, I did have a post that I intended to write tonight, but due to some technical issues, I am unable to follow through with it.  But luckily, I can think on the spur of the moment, and in this case, I'm going to make this post all about sharing some Halloween memories via photos that I've randomly come across on the Internet.

So, that's likely why I've called this post the Halloween Hodge-Podge.  It's kind of a mishmash of Halloween memories of the past. 

Now, before I share my list, I want to mention two things.  First, I encourage every single one of you reading this to comment or chime in with your own Halloween memories.  After all, this blog is an interactive one, and I do appreciate and welcome all comments.  Go ahead and share your stories.  I love hearing them.

Secondly, I'm not putting this list in any particular order...just listing them as I come across them as I think about my own experiences.  Keep in mind that I have only lived through thirty-three (well, okay, technically it would be thirty-four) Halloweens, so you might have some memories from the 1970s, 1960s, or even earlier than that to share.  Please post those stories too if you like.  It will be interesting to see how much Halloween has changed over the years.

All right.  Here's memory #1.

Oh, how I have such a fond memory of the movie "Beetlejuice".  I have to watch this film at least once every Halloween.  I think the first time that I saw this movie was the year after it was released, which would be 1989.  My sister wanted to throw a Halloween party in our attic (at the time, we lived in a three story home), and she had rented "Beetlejuice" and "Pet Sematary".  Now, as an eight year old, I was not allowed to watch the latter.  However, I fell in love with the "Beetlejuice" movie - which I admit to swiping from the attic to watch in secret.  I honestly don't even know if the party went on, but I always remember watching "Beetlejuice" for the first time on Halloween, 1989.

Next memory.

Ah, a paint set.  You probably may not understand what a paint set would have to do with Halloween, but when we were kids and we used to live in a house that had two front entrances (it was laid out extremely weird), in order to help kids know what entrance to go to, we painted a mural on one of the glass windows of the entrance to direct kids to that entrance.  All of us were really artistic kids, but my sister always did most of the painting.  I only wish that I had some photos of these murals, but we never took pictures of them.  Such a disappointment that we never snapped any shots of them...but then again, this was the late 1980s/early 1990s.  There were no smartphones back then, and cameras were really expensive back then.

Okay.  Next Halloween memory.

I know what you're thinking.  Haven't I confused Halloween with Christmas?  There's absolutely no way that one can link a blizzard to Halloween - well, unless you're one of the ten thousand girls that is planning to dress up like one of the characters from the Disney movie "Frozen".

Well, keep in mind that my trick-or-treating days were long before "Frozen" came out.  My final year of trick-or-treating was 1993, and on October 31 of that year the temperature in Ontario was so cold that we ended up having a really huge snowfall right in the middle of trick-or-treating time.  But you know something?  I didn't care.  I loved it!  No snow was going to stop me from getting my yearly supply of peanut butter cups, Chiclets gum, and Cheetos.  Besides, I wore a really, REALLY warm costume that year.

Yeah, that's where the Coke can comes into play.  The last year I went out trick-or-treating, I dressed up as a can of Coke, fully insulated with warm foam material. 

Or, was it Jughead Jones?  I can't remember now.  But I do distinctly remember dressing up as both.  Come to think of it, I remember dressing up as a lot of pop culture figures of the past.

I was Pepe LePew.

I was Super Mario.

I was Kermit the Frog.

I was the stupid little green sprout from those Green Giant commercials.

I even dressed up as Michaelangelo the Ninja Turtle for two years in a row.

(Man, I seemed to like dressing up as green things when I was a kid.  It's a wonder I didn't dress up as Luigi instead of Mario.)

Let's see.  I have a memory of the year I dressed up as Mario.  It was a rather bittersweet memory at that.

Okay, you have a scavenger hunt list.  This story goes into detail.  The year I went as Super Mario was 1991.  Two days before Halloween that year, I lost my grandmother to a heart attack.  What was really creepy was that my grandmother's wake was on Halloween night.  So, while my family was at the wake, I went trick-or-treating with a friend of the family (my parents insisted that I have fun trick-or-treating before my grandmother's funeral on November 1).  And when my parents picked me up that night and we drove home, two college kids were trying to steal the tackling dummy that we threw in our tree for decoration!

Yeah...that was an interesting Halloween.  I mean, here we were about to bury our relative, and these people were stealing fake corpses from our tree.  What kind of a world do we live in?

So, after they explained the situation and apologized, we let them have the dummy anyway.  All they had to do was ask us!  No need for them to have resorted to body snatching!

Okay, so that's all of the Halloween memories I have.  Any you want to add?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Stephen King's "It"

It's the day before Halloween, and believe me...I've saved my scariest post for last.

You see...I'm not going to be online much this coming Halloween, so I have a post that is largely going to be illustration based for tomorrow.  Don't fret though.  This post will give you some last minute ideas for Halloween treats that you can serve at parties or what have you.

No, for today, I thought that I would use this edition of TUBE TALK THURSDAY to discuss not a sitcom, not a drama, not even an episode of America's Funniest Home Videos.

No, this week, we're going to be talking about a miniseries.  A miniseries that admittedly scared me so much as a kid that I couldn't watch the whole thing until well into my twenties.

And it's such a strange thing to me that I would be afraid of watching this miniseries because I have never, ever suffered from coulrophobia in my entire life.

Which I suppose leads you to wonder - what the heck is coulrophobia?  Is it a fear of being cold?  A fear of colouring books?  A fear of turning into a different colour?

Nope.  Coulrophobia is a fear of clowns.

Now, I'll readily admit that the only time I have ever been afraid of clowns is when they make those stupid balloon animals - and in that case, I hated the balloon animals more than the clowns.  Truth be told, I've had no reason to really fear clowns.  I watched Bozo the Clown.  I liked the McDonald's commercials with Ronald McDonald.  I didn't even mind seeing Binky the Clown on Garfield, or Krusty the Clown on The Simpsons.  Clowns didn't bother me.

And yet, I know so many people who are terrified by the very sight of clowns.  I don't know if it's the make-up on their faces, or their high pitched laughter, or the loud and garish clothing that clowns are known to wear, but it just freaks them out to the point where they can't even go near them.

Now, I imagine that everyone's fear of clowns likely originated somewhere.  And for people who are my age, their fear may likely be linked to one clown in particular.

Say hello to Pennywise, the Dancing Clown! 

Now, you might think that this clown is as harmless as a feather...but Pennywise holds a really dark secret.  A secret that will be revealed in the television miniseries "It", a miniseries that aired in two parts in November 1990 on ABC.

Of course, the brainchild behind the book that this miniseries is based off it is horror master Stephen King, so naturally it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that Pennywise would be revealed to be absolutely evil.  But man, oh, man does Tim Curry play the role of the demented clown well.  In fact, all of the actors in the miniseries did extremely well in their portrayals of the main characters.

In addition to Curry, this film boasts the talents of John Ritter, Richard Thomas, Tim Reid, Annette O'Toole, Harry Anderson, Dennis Christopher, Richard Masur, Michael Cole, Olivia Hussey, and Seth Green.

Okay, so what exactly is it about Pennywise that makes him so frightening?  Maybe it's his creepy laugh?  Maybe it's his disturbing clown make-up.

Or maybe it's because Pennywise has been killing small children in the town of Derry, Maine for three decades!  And perhaps the catalyst of all this begins in the year 1960 when a six year old boy named Georgie Denbrough is playing with a paper boat that drifts into the sewer grate.  Pennywise appears in the grate and convinces Georgie to climb down inside the grate with him because there are lots of fun things down below.  And, well, as you can see in the clip below, it doesn't quite have a happy ending.

Georgie's death has a significant impact on his brother Bill.  Bill was the one who sent Georgie outside to play which lead to his death, and he is later immobilized in fear when a picture that he drew begins to bleed.

Fortunately, Bill finds support in a group of friends who all have had something traumatic happen to them.  Eddie Kaspbrak is an asthmatic, hypochondriac whose mother refuses to let go of her little boy.  Ben Hanscom is a chubby boy who lives to build things, who is still dealing with the fact that his father died.  Beverly Marsh has to deal with having an abusive, alcoholic father while practicing the perfect way to use a slingshot.  Richie Kozer is the one person in the group who isn't afraid to stand up to the school bully Henry Bowers.  Mike Hanlon is the new kid in town, trying to find his way into a new community.  And Stan Uris is a kid from a Jewish family who loves birdwatching.

Now, friendship does bring all seven kids together, but ultimately it is fear and anger that cements the bond between the seven children. 

Fear of and anger towards Pennywise the Clown.

You see, Pennywise isn't just a clown.  He's actually a shape shifting being that can morph into whatever form he chooses, all for the purpose of scaring people to death.  That's why in later scenes, Pennywise is referred to as being just "It".  And "It" invades the lives of all seven children by teasing them and torturing them, hitting them where it hurts.

For instance, in the case of aspiring actor Richie Tozier, "It" appears in the form of a werewolf.  "It" causes Beverly's bathroom to become engulfed in a geyser of blood.  "It" taunts Ben with gruesome images of his deceased father who orders him to go near the sewer.  And it nearly traps poor Stan in a haunted house which is being guarded by a mummy.

And on top of all that, Henry Bowers and his crew of bullies are popping out at every opportunity to scare and tease the seven children.  As if battling "It" wasn't bad enough already.

Eventually this leads to a huge confrontation with Pennywise the Clown, and all seven children find a way to defeat him by exploiting his weakness - because "It" transforms into anything he wants through the imaginations of children, the kids come up with the theory that if they attack "It" with the weakness of the item or person that he is portraying.  For instance, if "It" transforms into a snowman, they reason that they could defeat him by making him stand in front of a space heater.

And after a frightening encounter by Stan - which sees "It" murder Henry Bowers' pals - Stan deduces that the "deadlights" are the real target.  The kids reason that by destroying the deadlights, they will kill "It" once and for all.  But before Beverly can line up the perfect shot, "It" disappears into the night.  All seven kids make a pact that should "It" reappear in Derry, they'll be ready.

Well, flash forward thirty years, and Mike is the only one who is still in Derry, the others having left long ago.  And Mike is concerned when the news reports on the death of a little girl in her own backyard.  The circumstances behind the death are mysterious, and nobody knows what is going on.  But Mike suspects that "It" is back, and he makes six phone calls to his six friends, warning them that it was time to take care of business once and for all.

But who, if any, of the seven children who are now adults make it out alive?

Well, that would be revealing too much, wouldn't it?  After all, this is kind of similar to a movie entry, and I don't like spoiling movies.  But it's very interesting to note that all seven children had some sort of trauma in their lives, and how all seven became friends because of that.  And, I wonder if maybe "It" gained power through other people's misery.  It certainly makes sense if you look at it from that perspective.

Anyway, I have a little bit of trivia and stuff about the actors, behind the scenes action, and other miscellaneous info about "It".  For instance, did you know...

...that two of the actors from "It" died the same year?  John Ritter died on September 11, 2003 from aortic dissection.  Two months later on November 12, 2003, Jonathan Brandis (who played the role of 12-year-old Bill) took his own life.

Did you know that the actor who played the young Henry Bowers (Jarred Blancard) was extremely uncomfortable with using the N-word towards Marlon Taylor (young Mike Hanlon)?   He would always apologize profusely to Taylor before shooting the scenes in which he had to say the word.

Did you know that Tim Curry doesn't really like talking about his role as Pennywise the Dancing Clown that much in interviews?  He also reportedly hated wearing all that clown make-up.

Did you know that Alice Cooper was once considered to play the role of Pennywise?  Now THAT would have been epic.

Did you know that in the library scene, some of the actors were actually injured?  The amount of falling objects in the scene caused some people to get slightly hurt.

Did you know that the library scene only took one take?

Did you know that John Ritter took a memento of the set from
"It" after filming wrapped?  He took home a playing card with Pennywise's face stamped on it.

Did you know that some of the actors who played the "Lucky Seven" worked together on previous projects?  John Ritter and Richard Thomas, for example, worked together on "The Waltons".

Did you know that Eddie's medications that were used in the film were actual bottles that belonged to Dennis Christopher?

Did you know that Tim Reid's gray hair in the miniseries was not real?  The effect was made by having Reid comb his hair with a comb dipped in baby powder.

Did you know that while Richie was terrorized by a werewolf in the movie, Seth Green - who played Richie as a child - actually played a werewolf on the television series "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer"?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

No Class Division on Halloween!

Hello, everyone!  It's only a couple of days left until Halloween, and I have a special Halloween themed WHO AM I WEDNESDAY entry to share with all of you this week.

Now, this entry is going to be a little bit different.  Usually what I do with these kind of entries is write it in the form of a diary entry, and regurgitate whatever thoughts I have going through my mind. 

Well, in this one, I'm still going to regurgitate whatever is going through my mind...I'm just going to present it in a different way.

Okay, so I'm sure that most of you have read a newspaper at some point in your lives.  If you haven't...where the heck have you been the last century and a half?

Anyway, there are some sections of the newspaper that I tend to read more than others.  I'm not one for the sports section, I have no interest in the financial pages, and as far as I'm concerned, the society pages only exist so that unimportant bigwigs can feel important by having their names in print on the second page of the third section of the newspaper.

But some of the sections I absolutely love.  The entertainment section...well, given the theme of this blog, that's a given.  The comics section?  Well, it really depends on the comics that are printed inside, but I will say that in most cases I'm perfectly fine with newspaper comics.  And of course I am one who cannot resist doing the word searches, crossword puzzles, and Sudoku puzzles inside of the newspaper.

(Even though in most cases I screw up the Sudoku so badly I have to buy another newspaper in order to finish it.)

Oh, yeah.  There was one other section in the newspaper that I enjoyed reading as well, and until now I was sort of ashamed to admit that I did enjoy it so much.  But I figure that now that I am old enough to not care what other people think, I will admit that I did read advice columns in newspapers.

You know the ones I mean?  The ones by Dear Abby, or Ann Landers, or other columnists who answer questions on medical issues, domestic disputes, repairing broken friendships, and saving marriages.  Yes, I did read those when I was a teenager. 

Then again, I also watched Ricki Lake.  Again, something I wouldn't have admitted as a teenager, but would admit to now.  After all.  I don't care anymore.

I guess part of the reason why I liked reading advice columns was because I wanted to see if the experts actually could answer any questions that were going through my head.  But, I'll also admit to wanting to see people ask such idiotic questions that it was worth seeing Abby and Ann Landers deliver some verbal smackdown to the dimwitted.

Well, recently someone posted a link to one of these advice columns.  I'm not sure if this column is printed in newspaper format, but it is definitely found in online format.  It's a column that is entitled "Dear Prudence", and just looking at her website on, it appears as though she writes the column once a week.

Anyway, a couple of days ago, I read the following question asked by a regular reader.  It has to do with Halloween, specifically the trick-or-treating portion of the event.  This letter writer questioned trick-or-treating etiquette and as you can see, she is frank and honest about her opinion.  But that doesn't mean that's a good thing.  Here's the letter, as written.

Dear Prudence,
I live in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country, but on one of the more "modern" streets - mostly doctors and lawyers and family business owners.  (A few blocks away are billionaires, families with famous last names, media moguls, etc.)  I have noticed on Halloween, what seems like 75 per cent of the trick-or-treaters are clearly not from this neighborhood.  Kids arrive in overflowing cars from less fortunate areas.  I feel this is inappropriate.  Halloween isn't a social service or a charity in which I have to buy candy for less fortunate children.  Obviously this makes me feel like a terrible person, but what's the big deal about making less fortunate kids happy on a holiday?  But it just bugs me because we already pay more than enough taxes towards social services.  Should Halloween be a neighborhood activity, or is it legitimately a free-for-all in which people hunt down the best candy grounds for their kids?
                                   - Halloween for the 99 Per Cent

Wow...where do I begin with this one? 

First of all, I had to actually wonder if this was a real legitimate letter, or if it was some sort of parody.  I mean, sites like The Onion report false news all the time.  But let's just go with the assumption that this letter is in fact the real McCoy.  Did anyone else find this letter to be a tad bit, oh, I don't know...condescending?!?

Let me tell you a little bit about myself.  I consider myself to be within the 99 per cent of the population.  Heck, I'm probably considered a bottom feeder of the 99 per cent at that.  I went to school with a lot of kids who came from families who were the 1 per cent of my town (or at the very least, acted like it).  I knew where the rich people lived, and I knew where the poor people lived.  Do you really think that I cared about status quo when it came to trick-or-treating?

Hell no.

Really, there were only two major rules when it came to trick-or-treating when it came to my family.  Rule number one - never go trick-or-treating by yourself.  Always have a parent or guardian with you at all times, or barring that, use the safety in numbers method and go trick-or-treating with a group of half a dozen kids.  And rule number two - always trick-or-treat in well lit areas.  After all, on Halloween night, it's dark by six o'clock in the evening.

Nowhere in the Halloween rules of safe trick-or-treating did it say "only go trick-or-treating in the area where your economical status best fits".

I'll be honest with you.  I was the kid who stayed out all night long on Halloween.  I would stay out until at least nine o'clock.  In that time, I reckon I hit up a good two dozen blocks.  Of course I trick-or-treated in my own neighbourhood, but I eventually ended up in the north end of town - a place where all the middle to upper class folk lived.  And not one of them told me to get off of their property because I was poor.  Really, when you're wearing a Halloween costume, who the heck is going to know anyway?  Most people I know love to see the wonderful costumes that they would see. 

And really, candy is candy no matter what the size of the house is.  To me, it didn't make much of a difference what houses I went to.  All candy tasted the same.

(Though I have to admit that the house that gave out full size chocolate bars...I would purposely hit that house each time I went out...and it was a good eight blocks away!)

Really, the only message that I have for the "outraged 1% person who doesn't believe in giving candy to poor people" is this.  I hope that the money you save on doling out candy to the ghosties and goblins from a different snack bracket is a lot.  You're going to need every last dime to buy enough cleaning products to scrape off the residue of broken eggs that are smashed up against your immaculately expensive front porch.

I mean, seriously, I have known a lot of elitist snobs in my lifetime, but this letter writer sure takes the cake.  If this person really feels that strongly about this, maybe they should just shut off all their lights and pretend that nobody is home.

Besides.  I bet they handed out raisins instead of candy.

That's my thought anyway.  But I suppose you're wondering how Prudence responded to this person.  Have a look at this brilliant response as we close the book on another WHO AM I WEDNESDAY!

Dear 99,
In the urban neighborhood where I used to live, families who were not from the immediate area would come in fairly large groups to trick-or-treat on our streets, which were safe, well-lit, and full of people overstocked with candy.  It was delightful to see the little mermaids, spider-men, ghosts, and the occasional axe murderer excitedly run up and down our front steps, having the time of our lives.  So we'd spend an extra $20 to make sure we had enough candy for kids who weren't as fortunate as ours.  There you are, 99, on the impoverished side of Greenwich, or Beverly Hills, with the other struggling lawyers, doctors, and business owners.  Your whine makes me kind of wish that people from the actual poor side of town come this year not with scary costumes but with real pitchforks.  Stop being callous and miserly and go to Costco, you cheapskate, and get enough candy to fill the bags of kids who come one day a year to marvel at how the 1 per cent live.
                                                    - Prudie


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October 28, 2009

This week's edition of Halloween themed blog entries continues with the weekly edition of the TUESDAY TIMELINE.  And while I'll readily admit that this entry technically is not really Halloween themed, the subject has some links to Halloween pop culture.  And besides, with the date being three days before Halloween, I think most of you will understand.

So, let's not waste any more time, shall we?  Let's check out some of the other events that was taking place on this date throughout history, shall we?

1492 - Explorer Christopher Columbus discovers the island nation of Cuba on his first voyage of the New World

1538 - The Universidad Santo Tomas de Aquino - the very first university established in the New World - is established

1707 - At least five thousand people in Japan are killed in the 1707 Hoei earthquake

1776 - British forces arrive at White Plains, attack, and capture Charleston Hill from America

1848 - Spain's first railroad opens, with service operating between Barcelona and Mataro

1886 - The Statue of Liberty is dedicated in New York Harbor by President Grover Cleveland

1893 - Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No. 6" debuts in St. Petersburg, only nine days before the composer's death

1918 - Czechoslovakia is granted independence from Austria-Hungary

1919 - U.S. Congress passes the Volstead Act, setting the stage for Prohibition to begin with the arrival of the new decade

1929 - Black Monday at the New York Stock Exchange - the market would crash just one day later

1940 - Greece officially joins combat in World War II following Italy's invasion of the country through Albania

1942 - The Alaska Highway construction is completed

1958 - Buddy Holly makes his last television appearance on "American Bandstand" - he would die in a plane crash three months later

1962 - The Cuban Missile Crisis officially ends following Nikita Khrushchev's orders to remove all Soviet Missiles from Cuba

1965 - The construction of the St. Louis Arch is completed

1980 - Five of the original Mouseketeers from "The Mickey Mouse Club" gather in Burbank, California for a 25th anniversary reunion

1995 - The Baku Metro fire in Azerbaijan kills 289 people, making it the deadliest subway disaster in the world

2007 - Country singer Porter Wagoner dies in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 80

Now, I hope you're ready for celebrity birthdays, because October 28 is filled with them!  Warm birthday wishes go out to Joan Plowright, Charlie Daniels, Carl Davis, Lenny Wilkens, Jane Alexander, Curtis Lee, Dennis Franz, Wayne Fontana, Telma Hopkins, Bruce Jenner, Annie Potts, Desmond Child, Bill Gates, Mark Derwin, Daphne Zuniga, Lauren Holly, Sheryl Underwood, Jami Gertz, Andy Richter, Julia Roberts, Ben Harper, Greg Eagles, Brad Paisley, Joaquin Phoenix, Dayanara Torres, Lauren Woodland, Justin Guarini, Matt Smith, Frank Ocean, Lexi Ainsworth, Jasmine Jessica Anthony, and Sierra McCormick.

I told you there was a lot of them today!

Well, in this edition of the Tuesday Timeline, we're not going to focus on a birthdate.  Instead, we're going to consider this...a swan song of sorts.

We're only going to go back five years in the past to October 28, 2009.  And, we'll get to that date in a little while. 

But first things first, I want to ask all of you reading this entry a question.  Don't worry.  It's not a difficult one...well, unless you were born after 2009, that is.

Where were you when you heard about the death of Michael Jackson?

I can tell you exactly where I was.  I had just gotten home from work the afternoon of June 25, 2009, and at that time, the news was all about the passing of Farrah Fawcett, who had died earlier in the day.  I was flipping through the channels around 5:30 that day when I happened to stumble across MuchMusic (Canada's version of MTV).  Now, it had been years since I watched that channel, but something in me felt the need to pause and watch.  If I remember correctly they were doing some sort of live request show or something that involved a large crowd of people and a host.  It was right at that moment that the female VJ - obviously in a lot of shock - had announced that Michael Jackson had died at the age of 50 years old.

It was certainly a shock, especially as someone who grew up listening to his music as I certainly had.  This was the guy who moonwalked his way to success.  The man who had several chart toppers in his five decades on this earth.  The man who single-handedly lead the music video revolution with hits such as this one - perfect for every Halloween party.

(I had to try and pin a Halloween reference in this piece somewhere.)

Of course, over the past five years, the investigation into Michael Jackson's death has played out like a synopsis found deep inside the pages of Soap Opera Digest, and I won't really go into details surrounding all of that.  There's been thousands of articles about the subject, and a quick Google search will introduce you to the key players in the trial and investigation.  Besides, this entry isn't about his death anyway.

Instead, this post is about a film that was released four months after his death.  A film that offered heartbroken fans all over the world a little bit of closure.  A final project that Jackson had been working on prior to his death.

There was just one catch.  It wasn't supposed to be a film.  Rather, it was supposed to be a concert tour.

Well, okay.  I suppose "tour" isn't the right word to use, considering that the "This Is It" concert series was set to take place in one and only one venue.

The announcement for the series of concerts came in March 2009 at London's O2 arena.  At least seven thousand people gathered to hear Michael Jackson's big announcement.

The announcement was that he would be setting up residency in London to perform a series of fifty concerts exclusively from the O2 Arena in London.  Furthermore, it would be his final concert performances in London, stating that "when I say this is it, it really means this is it."

Hence the concert series being entitled "This Is It".  It was designed to be Michael Jackson's retirement from performing concerts.  It was unknown at the time whether he would stop recording music at that time, but as far as performing live, he made it perfectly clear that these shows would be some of his last.

Let me say this.  The promotion of this tour was unlike anything ever seen in the world of rock music.  After all, this was to be his first concert event in twelve years.  In fact, there was a commercial that aired on the British television channel ITV (seen above) that lasted an entire block of commercials, and cost roughly one million pounds to create.  The "This Is It" tour was already touted as Michael Jackson's ultimate comeback, and was one of the most anticipated concert events of 2009.  When tickets became available for sale to the public, internet servers crashed due to the influx of people wanting to purchase the tickets online, and almost 200,000 tickets were sold in just a couple of hours!

The "This Is It" tour would begin in July 2009 and conclude in late February/early March of the following year, and if the London concerts were a huge success, then there was also the possibility of expanding the tour to North America, Asia, Europe, and Australia, making it his final world tour.  It certainly looked like 2009 would become the year of Michael Jackson.

And it was...for all the wrong reasons.

As we all well know, Michael Jackson died eighteen days before the tour was to kick off on July 13, 2009, leaving everything in disarray.  All fifty concert dates were obviously cancelled, and fans who had purchased tickets received a full refund (or they could choose to keep their tickets as a very expensive souvenir of what was supposed to happen but never came to be.)

Now, you might think that would be the end of the "This Is It" story.  But alas, it wasn't quite least not just yet.

Even though Michael Jackson had died, there remained a lot of footage that was shot while Jackson was rehearsing for the big tour.  At least one hundred hours of footage filmed during the spring of 2009 existed, courtesy of Kenny Ortega, the choreographer and director of the "This Is It" concert tour. 

Initially, the footage shot by Ortega was only for his own use, and he made it clear that none of the footage shot was to ever be seen by the public.  Of course, this was before Michael Jackson's death.  After he passed, the decision was made to splice together the footage into a nearly two hour concert film showing fans all over the world what they might have expected to see had the "This Is It" concert tour went off as planned.

With Columbia Pictures and AEG Live backing the project, the film "This Is It" was officially released on October 28, 2009 for what was initially supposed to be a two-week engagement.  However, this run was later expanded to accommodate the demands of Jackson's fans.

If the concert series couldn't go on as planned, the movie was the next best thing.

Mind you, not everybody saw it that way.  Many people called out AEG Live for seemingly exploiting Jackson's death for profit.  Some even believed that Jackson wouldn't have wanted this film to be released at all because of the fact that it was all rough footage that wasn't meant to be seen.

However, despite the negative criticism of the film, it still did fantastic at the box office.  Thirty thousand movie tickets were sold in London the first day they became available.  The film had record breaking screenings in Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco.  The first weekend that the film was in theatres, it grossed $101 million alone.  By the time the film ceased airing in theatres, it had made a total of $261,183,588 worldwide.

But all profits aside, the concert video was quite good.  I have watched it myself, and was blown away by the performances that he performed in the film.  In fact, have a look at a couple of clips from the movie that I've posted below.

And to think that this was just from the rehearsal periods.  It's hard to say what the actual concerts would have been like, but if the rehearsal periods were this good, I can only imagine the finished product to be amazing.

So, I suppose in a way, "This Is It" was Michael's final contribution to the world of concert.  Maybe it wasn't the way he wanted it, and I certainly didn't think he expected to die just before he kicked off his final concert performances.  But in a way, it was a brilliant way to remember him and honour him.  In the end, he did set out to do what he had hoped for.

And I suppose Michael Jackson's legacy just keeps on giving.  In May 2014, an album of songs recorded before his 2009 death was released entitled "Xscape".  And, well...I figure that posting a song from that album is a wonderful way to close out this Tuesday Timeline entry.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Questionable Halloween Costumes

Can you believe that it's only four more days until Halloween gets here?  So, I suppose that it is my duty to make these next few days filled with Halloween goodness.

Wait.  Halloween goodness?  Wait, scratch that.

Halloween badness.  Yes.  Halloween badness.

Of course, that would imply that Halloween in all of its forms is bad.  We wouldn't want that now, would we?

Okay, how about this?  How about I just wing it from here, and try to write up five Halloween themed blogs, and just see where it takes me?  Yeah, that much I can do.

And, wouldn't you know it?  This all begins on FUNNY MONDAY of all days!  Who would have thought that?

Now, here's the dilemma.  I have two choices of topic that I could have done, and yet, I didn't know exactly which one to talk about.  Both were really awesome choices for a topic and I agonized over which one I would pick.

But then, it dawned on me.  I could always talk about one today, and one for WHO AM I WEDNESDAY, couldn't I?  And, one of those topics would allow me the opportunity to give an opinion about it.

So for today, you get to take a look at some Halloween costumes...with a twist.

Now, everyone loves the idea of dressing up for Halloween, and certainly part of the fun of the day is dressing up in scary, fun, and creative costumes.

But what happens when your costume idea turns out to be tacky, unimaginative, or just plain offensive?

Well, that's where this blog comes into play.  We're going to take a look at a dozen questionable Halloween costumes and have a discussion as to why they might not be the greatest choice to wear to a Halloween party or out trick-or-treating.

This is the blog post about QUESTIONABLE HALLOWEEN COSTUMES!

And, I just want to give credit to,,,,,, and for the images presented here.

1.  Wow...that is one creative Halloween costume.  It's so creative that I have absolutely no idea what he's supposed to be.  Is he a Power Ranger?  Casey Jones from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?  The Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz?

2.  Um, yeah...I don't know if this costume is really available for purchase, but this costume is definitely a really bad idea given what is happening with Ebola right now.  Besides, does anyone really think that a costume like that would protect against Ebola? 

3.  My main question is not why she came up with the idea of this costume.  My question does she breathe?

4.  Nick Cannon's costume is perfectly fine.  But leave it to Mariah Carey to turn cookies into a fashion trend...and not a good one at that.

5.  Oh, dear...I sense a sexual harassment lawsuit coming with this...interactive costume.

6.  To be honest with you, I think this costume looks quite cool.  Certainly the "Sharknado" trend seems to be uber-hip this year.  But my concern is safety.  I don't even know how one would walk or see in that costume.

7.  Is there any other way that a Bert from Sesame Street costume could look worse?

You know what?  Nevermind.  Forget I asked.

8.  Come on!  That's the worst Mr. Potato Head costume that I have ever seen!  At least remove your nose and one ear to make it seem authentic!

9.  You know that controversy that erupted when that mother from Florida lobbied to remove "Breaking Bad" action figures from Toys R Us shelves?  Well, apparently she neglected the fact that there are Halloween costumes for kids as well.

Though, I must admit...the baby in the Walter White costume looks adorable.

10.  How anyone thought this costume was a brilliant idea, I'll never understand.

11.  Talk about creativity going down the toilet...

(This last one is not suitable for younger audiences, so if you are, say...10 and younger, you may want to skip over this last one.)

(That was your one warning.)

(Last chance.)

12.  I'm speechless...absolutely speechless.