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Sunday, January 31, 2016

My Five Cents on Five Cent Plastic Bags

How many of you have stockpiled plastic bags from grocery stores and retail outlets?

I know it seems like a rather bizarre question to ask, but it does have something to do with this post.

I have to admit that I do have quite a few plastic bags at my disposal.  And, why wouldn't I?  Plastic grocery bags are the perfect size for my trash can upstairs, and I use them when I am packing my lunch for work (usually when I bring along a salad or something like that).

And at most stores that I shop at, the bags are absolutely free of charge.  It's because of that fact alone that I haven't bought any kitchen catcher garbage bags since 2003! least that WAS the case.

The recent announcement that Walmart Canada was going to begin charging five cents per plastic bag in February 2016 certainly had everybody talking - and not necessarily in a good way either.

I don't know what the situation is like in the United States, but here in Canada, plastic bags have had a cost at several other chain stores for years.  Many grocery stores started charging a nickel a bag because of environmental concerns.  I can see where they're coming from too.  Plastic bags don't degrade naturally the way that paper bags can, and they can end up sitting in landfills for years.  That, plus plastic bags can choke certain animals who might mistake them for food.

And from a business standpoint, let's face it.  Plastic bags in bulk are very expensive to buy, and the charging of bags may help cut costs down for the operating businesses.

But you wouldn't believe the number of people who are up in arms over the company's decision to charge for plastic bags.  Some are upset and feel that it's another way for a business to nickel and dime all of us to the poor house (their words, not mine).  Some feel that it's going to be the first step in declining customer service.  And some have even stated that as long as we will be charging for bags, they will no longer be shopping at the store.

So, being born with a gift of gab and being argumentative to a fault, I will attempt to rip these arguments apart.

First of all, I want to state that the charging of plastic bags is not a new thing.  At least, not in Canada, anyway.  I seem to remember some businesses charging for bags as early as 2010, if not earlier.  That was six years ago!  And honestly, if people are complaining about the fact that they have to pay a whopping five cents more...big deal.  I suppose you might have an argument if this were, oh, 1916.  But five cents doesn't really seem to buy anything at all these days.  You can't even buy penny candy for five cents!  But, I suppose the same people who are complaining about paying for bags are also the ones who complained about the penny rounding that was implemented in 2013 following the Canadian government's decision to eliminate the penny.

In short, don't try to reason with them.  You can't.

Oh, and about the threat to not shop in a store because of the nickel a bag rule?  95% of the time, those people usually return to the store in a week's time.  Trust me.  I've worked retail for eleven years.  I know by now who is serious and who is just blowing off smoke.  And let's just say that in those eleven years, I've inhaled a lot of..."smoke".

Fortunately, there are a couple of solutions to make the transition smooth.  For one, you can purchase the reusable canvas bags that a lot of stores have for sale.  These bags can last for years, and can hold quite a number of objects.  And at least in the case of Walmart Canada, the price of some of these bags will be dropping to twenty-five cents a piece.  This might seem redundant, given how people are upset over five cents, but keep in mind that the 25 cent canvas bags can be used over and over and over again.

(Though, I will ask all of you to please WASH and CLEAN your bags after you're done with them.  There's nothing more annoying and inconsiderate than having a cashier open up a bag that reeks of cigarette smoke, alcohol, and cat urine.  And yes, I've heard things.)

You can also bring along a laundry basket or a plastic tote, and use those to place your newly bought groceries in.  Most stores won't mind, believe me.

Other than that, customers will simply just accept the five cent fee or take their groceries without bags.

But can I just ask one thing?  Can you please stop harassing cashiers, staff members, and managers about the bag charges.  None of us have anything to do with the change, and therefore it is not our fault.  We're just doing our jobs, and I don't think it's fair that we should have to take people yelling at us over something we can't change.

Shop with respect.  And that's my five cents on the subject.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Academy Awards - Not A Simple Case Of Black And White

I'm a huge Michael Jackson fan.  I don't even try to deny it.

From "Rock With You" to "Thriller" to "The Way You Make Me Feel" to "Remember The Time" and even to "Love Never Felt So Good", I don't think that there's a single song by him that I dislike.

One of my favourite singles by Michael Jackson was his 1991 song "Black or White".  It's a song that I remember hearing for the first time when I was in the fifth grade, and I seem to recall most of my classmates really liking it at the time.  Between the guitar solo performed by Slash to the celebrity cameos in the music video (keep your eyes peeled for Macaulay Culkin and Tyra Banks), it was definitely one of Jackson's most memorable songs, as well as one of the most meaningful.

You see, the subject of the song is all about racial harmony, and how it doesn't matter what your skin colour is...people can and should be who they want to be without facing any sort of prejudice and racism.

It's a song that has a great message, and is still relevant nearly a quarter of a century after it was released.

It's just too bad that this song isn't being used as the theme song for the upcoming Academy Awards that is set to be broadcast in just a few weeks from now because as far as I'm concerned, everybody who is involved needs to take a listen to the song's lyrics and meaning.

I suppose that by now most of you have heard the nominees for this year's Academy Awards, and I'm sure most of you have probably noticed that all of the nominees in the acting categories are Caucasian.

Well, this has certainly caused a lot of outrage in the entertainment industry and certainly everybody in Hollywood seems to have an opinion about it.

Some stars like Jada Pinkett Smith openly made their stances clear by recording video messages explaining why she urges everyone to boycott the Oscars.

(Mind you, this prompted Will Smith's former "Fresh Prince" co-star Janet Hubert to issue a scathing rebuttal of her own.)

And, of course, this prompted people on the other side to make their own voices heard, with Academy Award nominee Charlotte Rampling saying that the Oscars are actually racist towards white people!  Even non-Oscar affiliated people like FOX News correspondent Stacey Dash is getting in on the action by stating that Black History Month shouldn't even exist because it encourages segregation.

Of course, this is coming from a celebrity who did THIS on "Celebrity Name Game", so take her stance with a grain of salt.

Yep, it seems as though everyone has an opinion about the #OscarsSoWhite" controversy.

I myself have a question.  Does anyone remember when the Academy Awards were all about celebrating the best in film and not a soapbox to air your dirty laundry? 

Here's another question.  Can we go back to that?

I'm not denying the fact that all of the nominees this year happen to be white.  That's as clear as day.  Do I feel that this is fair?  Well, that's really debatable.  I for one am a little stunned that nobody from "Straight Outta Compton" was nominated for an award because it was a really good film.  And, while Jada Pinkett Smith has certainly opened up this discussion in the first place, I can sort of understand where she's coming from.  After all, her husband gave a really good performance in the movie "Concussion", and I'm quite surprised that he wasn't considered.

But that's not to say that the people who were nominated don't deserve to be there.  I think all the nominees earned it, and the right people were chosen regardless of colour lines.

The fact is that I don't believe that the Academy Awards are as racist as some people would want us to believe.  I mean, if that were the case, you wouldn't have seen Hattie McDaniel, Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx, Forest Whitaker, Louis Gossett Jr., Morgan Freeman, Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Hudson, Mo'Nique, Octavia Spencer, and Lupita Nyong'o win the coveted award.  Mind you, that list could be longer, but it's not enough to claim that the awards are racist and should be boycotted.  That's just absolutely ridiculous, as far as I am concerned.  If the awards were really as racist as some are claiming, I guarantee you that list would be much shorter.  I also guarantee that you wouldn't see Chris Rock as the host of the show either.

And, here's an interesting fact for you all.  The last winner of an Academy Award that was a visible minority was in 2013.  That was only three years ago.  Compare that to the 1970s, where only FOUR were nominated.  For the whole decade.

Face it.  We've come a LONG way since then.

The Academy Awards are meant to showcase the biggest and brightest stars in a variety of genres of music.  And to be honest with you, I'm getting tired of trying to make every single event a controversy.

Just sit down and enjoy the show. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

January 26, 1961

Hey, there!  And, might I wish all my readers from the land down under a very happy Australia Day!  This day was meant to commemorate the first  English settlement to settle in Australia (the area currently known as Sydney) in 1788!  Of course, these days, the day is an excuse for Australians to grill their favourite foods, set off the sparklers, and possibly throwing boomerangs at party guests!

It's also time for the Tuesday Timeline entry, and while I had hoped to choose an Australian topic for today, I just couldn't find one suitable enough.  You'll have to just settle for what I came up with.

In the meantime, have a look at what happened on January 26 throughout history.

1531 - At least 30,000 are killed when an earthquake strikes Lisbon, Portugal

1699 - The Ottoman Empire permanently cedes territory to the Christian powers for the first time ever

1837 - Michigan becomes the twenty-sixth state to join the United States of America

1838 - The state of Tennessee enacts the first prohibition law within the United States

1861 - The state of Louisiana secedes from the Union in the early stages of the American Civil War

1870 - Five years after the end of the American Civil War, Virginia rejoins the United States of America

1905 - Miners in South Africa unearth the world's largest diamond - The Cullinan - weighing a whopping 3,106.75 carats

1911 - Glenn H. Curtiss successfully flies the world's first seaplane

1915 - The Rocky Mountain National Park is established

1925 - Actor and salad dressing entrepreneur Paul Newman (d. 2008) is born in Shaker Heights, Ohio

1934 - The Apollo Theater reopens in Harlem, New York

1942 - American troops begin arriving in Europe for combat missions during World War II

1946 - Movie critic Gene Siskel (d. 1999) is born in Chicago, Illinois

1960 - Danny Heater scores 135 points for his high school basketball team by himself during ONE game - setting a world record

1962 - Mob boss Lucky Luciano dies at the age of 64 from a heart attack

1965 - The Beaumont Children go missing from a beach in South Adelaide, Australia, and as of this writing have never been found

1978 - A huge blizzard paralyzes the Ohio and Great Lakes region, producing 100 mph winds and dumping heavy snow

1992 - Singer/actor Jose Ferrer dies at the age of 80

1997 - Astrologist and psychic Jeane Dixon passes away, aged 93 (I wonder if she saw her death coming?)

1998 - President Bill Clinton goes on television to deny having any sexual relations with White House intern Monica Lewinsky

2005 - Eleven people are killed and another 200 injured following the derailment of a Metrolink train in Glendale, California

And celebrating a birthday today are the following famous faces - Anne Jeffryes, Bob Uecker, Sal Buscema, Huey "Piano" Smith, Scott Glenn, Jean Knight, Jonathan Carroll, David Strathairn, Lucinda Williams, Eddie Van Halen, Anita Baker, Ellen DeGeneres, Craig Anton, Tom Keifer, Andrew Ridgeley, Paul Johansson, Bryan Callen, Kirk Franklin, Tracy Middendorf, Dorian Gregory, Ya Kid K, Vince Carter, Kelly Stables, Sara Rue, Colin O'Donoghue, MarShon Brooks, Emily Hughes, and Christopher Massey.

And, the date that we're going back in time to? 

Well, January 26, 1961 sounds like a fine date.  Hard to believe it was 55 years ago!

And you know, it's hard to believe that today's Tuesday Timeline subject also happens to be turning 55 today!  To me, it just seems like yesterday that my family would turn on Hockey Night in Canada just to see this guy play on the ice - well, in between shots of whatever loud jacket Don Cherry just happened to be wearing that night.

I also have a personal memory of this hockey player going back to my second grade class.  And, yes, I can remember back that far.

Our teacher, Miss Johnson, gave us an assignment to do - and I have to say that she really was quite creative in the schoolwork she assigned us because it allowed us to have fun learning.  Anyway, she had us write a letter to our favourite hockey players, as hockey season was in full swing at the time, and she would take our letters and mail them for us to see if any of us would get a response! 

There was just one problem.  I wasn't very knowledgeable in sports (a fact that remains some years later), and I only knew two hockey players that were big at the time.  There was Mario Lemieux, as well as today's Tuesday Timeline subject.  And, Lemieux was out, as nearly most of the boys in my class were writing to him.

(Though I seem to remember some of the girls writing to Kurt Browning - who as far as I know never played hockey.  So, maybe I wasn't as much of a dummy in sports as I thought!)

Anyway, I decided to write a letter to the other player, and enclosed a picture that I drew of him playing for the Edmonton Oilers.  It was a very nice picture, and I used just the right colours for the hockey jersey I drew on him. 

I come to realize after my teacher mailed the letter that he left the Edmonton Oilers in 1988.  I wrote the letter in 1989.  Whoops!

Fortunately, the fact that he had started playing for the Los Angeles Kings that year wasn't enough to prevent him from sending me a photo back!  And I'm sure that photo exists in my family photo album, but I've no idea where it's located at present time, so I'll just go on the record and say that I have Wayne Gretzky's photograph hidden away at my house somewhere.

Yes, Wayne Gretzky is the subject of today's blog.  And I think it is a fair statement to say that he is one of the most respected and celebrated hockey players in recent years.

I think I still have his final hockey game recorded on a VHS tape somewhere in my possession (which I unfortunately can't watch as I don't have a VCR), but appropriately enough, the year he played his final game was also the same as the number he wore on his jersey.

I don't think I'll ever equate the number 99 with anything else other than Gretzky.  And possibly Nena and her luftballons. 

Let's have a look at Gretzky's other statistics by the numbers, shall we?

4 - The number of teams Gretzky played for in the NHL (Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers)

3 - The number of gold medals won by Gretzky's team in the Canada Cup (1984, 1987, 1991)

60 - The number of NHL records Gretzky still holds as of December 2014

39 - The number of games it took Gretzky to reach 50 goals during the 1981/1982 season, smashing a record set by Maurice Richard

894 - The number of goals that Gretzky scored during his hockey career

1963 - The number of assists Gretzky made during his hockey career

1999 - The year he was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame - and the year he retired from playing professionally

38 - The age Gretzky was when he played his last game

20 - The number of seasons that Gretzky played hockey professionally

17 - The number of points scored by Gretzky at the 1978 World Junior Championship - at 16, he was the youngest player to ever compete in the tournament at that time

2010 - The year that he was chosen to be the final Olympic torch bearer at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia

1988 - The year Gretzky married his wife, Janet Jones

5 - The number of children Gretzky has - his oldest Paulina is a model

1 - The number of animated series that starred him - the series was 1991's "ProStars", and although the cartoon version was voiced by Townsend Coleman, he did make live-action appearances

1981 - The year he guest starred on The Young and the Restless alongside Eric Braeden's memorable character Victor Newman!

Okay, so that last number was more of a fluff number.  It still does nothing to showcase just how much talent Gretzky had on the ice.  At 55 years old, Gretzky still holds the game of hockey very close to his heart.  And I don't think the good ol' hockey game would have been quite the same without his contributions.

Happy birthday. Mr. Gretzky!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Nothing Lasts Forever

January 24, 2016

If there's one lesson we can take from the first month of 2016, it's that nothing lasts forever.

That said, I'm not pulling the plug on this blog.  Just making an observation.

It has been a tough month for the world of music.  It was bad enough in December when we lost Scott Weiland, Lemmy Kilmister, and Natalie Cole.  Having to say goodbye to David Bowie and Glenn Frey was just as hard.  I mean, in some manner, these artists have had an impact on my musical life, and now they're all but memories in the sky.

I still remember the first time I heard Glenn Frey on the radio...and surprisingly enough, it wasn't an Eagles song (though the entire Eagles catalogue is fantastic and definitely worth a listen or two or six hundred). 

No, I think my first memory was hearing "The Heat Is On". 

What a great song that was too!  At the time it was rocketing up the charts, the movie "Beverly Hills Cop" was playing in theatres, and other than "Axel F", the song "The Heat Is On" was the other huge song from that soundtrack.  And, yeah, there may have been some instances where I liked that song so much that I absolutely rocked my little rocking horse across the living room floor during the four minutes or so it was on. 

That's the way Glenn Frey impacted me.

I should also note that my family collectively were huge fans of the show "Miami Vice", and unfortunately I never really got to see any episodes of the series until well into my teen years.  I always had to go to bed when it was on.  If I was lucky, I could stay up long enough to hear the iconic theme tune of the show.

But years later, I bought the "Miami Vice" soundtrack and part of the reason why was because of this song.

"You Belong To The City" was a classic pop tune and a song that I absolutely had to have in my collection.  It was a great sounding song that almost sounded a little bit melancholic.  Glenn Frey certainly knew how to convey emotion in song very well, and I think of him bringing that passion to every single song he sang, whether it be solo or with The Eagles.

It's very sad to know that someone whose music I grew up with is no longer here.  But then again, I felt the same way seven years ago when Michael Jackson passed away - another man whose music I grew up listening to.

Our time on this planet is finite.  We all have an expiration date, and the frustrating part is that none of us know when that date is going to be.

Nothing lasts forever in this world, so we should try to make the most of what we have during the time that we have left.

And, that doesn't just apply to rock musicians and human life either.  That can go for places and things as well.

In a week from now, a grocery store that I used to love shopping at is going to be closing its doors forever - and I'm not very happy by that news.  This was a store that had some of the finest produce and meat sold in any store, and the staff was always pleasant.  But, I think back to how many other stores in town have closed over the years, and I still feel sad that they are no longer around.  That being said though, the memories of these stores will always be in my heart, and these places will never really die as long as I still remember them.

Oh, and I bought this little guy at the grocery store in its final days.  Want to help me give him a name?

And, just looking a little bit deeper than a grocery store, I think about all of those refugees from Syria who are coming to other countries to try and rebuild their lives.  Many of the ones who are coming have basically lost everything - their former communities torn apart by senseless wars and destructive people who would rather win by destroying everything than helping the people in their nation.  I can't imagine what thoughts are going through their minds.  Could you imagine losing everything dear to you and having to start all over again?  Part of you just wants to curl up in a ball and mourn the people, places, and things that are gone forever. 

But there's also part of you that wants the desire to start anew and rebuild everything that was once lost, and sometimes that struggle in between can be the most important life lessons that a person can go through.

It is true that nothing lasts forever.  But since we don't know how long our "forevers" will be, we should live in the now, and hold on for dear life.  Because that's the way life is.  Unpredictable, but so worth it.

Friday, January 22, 2016

New Archies - A Final Recap

In 1987, DIC and Archie Comics decided to team up to create a brand new television show that depicted Archie and the gang as 12-year-olds dealing with the trials and tribulations that most junior high aged people go through.

What we ended up with was The New Archies, a cartoon series that had a bunch of 12-year-olds getting involved in plots that would NEVER happen, but because it's a cartoon series, we're supposed to accept it.

And over the last six months, I reviewed EVERY EPISODE.

This is the closing summary of the television series.  I'll post links to all thirteen episode reviews in this summary.  I'll do some brief character analysis on all the main characters of the show, post my favourite and not-so-favourite episodes, and share my thoughts on the show in general.

First things first, I'll post the links to all twenty-six half episodes that I have reviewed, just in case you missed one.

Now let's see how the characters were written in this show.  Was it true to the comics, or were they way off?

Archie Andrews probably has had some of the most bizarre storylines in the whole series.  In the show's run, he befriended an alien, shrunk to the size of a ladybug, made a super bouncy substance using chemicals and pepperoni pizza, met his royal doppelganger, and became a pre-teen werewolf!  It seems as though his character development was stunted a little bit by the writers who seemed to think that plot was more important.  It's not exactly the greatest way to treat the character whom the show is named after.

That being said, Archie does seem to be one of the more level-headed people in the series when he's not in outlandish plots.  His loyalty to Jughead as a best friend is definitely noticed, and he doesn't even really seem to show any wishy-washiness when it comes to Betty and Veronica - of course, Archie is only 12.  He'll turn into an indecisive jerk within five years.  For now, he's quite likeable.

Betty is woefully underused in this series.  She's only really had three stand alone episodes in the whole show - one she shared with Veronica, and the other she was a victim of Veronica and Reggie's scheming.  We had to wait until the final episode before we got an inkling of what Betty was really like, and the frustrating part is that she wanted to be someone else in that episode!  On the plus side though, this Betty at least seems to have a backbone (something sorely lacking in the comic books), and she is quite pleasant to people whenever she greets them.  I almost feel that because she's so much of a Mary Sue type character in this series that she sort of blends into the background - where I don't feel she belongs.

On the flipside, one character who I think received too much focus was Veronica.  Seriously, she had a couple of nice moments, but for the most part she was annoying.  From the Valley Girl accent that could gag you without a spoon to her...interesting fashion sense, Veronica thought she was queen of the school.  And honestly, she comes across as a spoiled rotten bubblehead of a brat who has no feelings for anybody. 

That said...she does have her moments of softness.  She did help Archie try to find his lost dog once.  And she did come through for Betty at the end of "Horray For Hollywood".  And, well...yeah.  That's it.

But if Veronica was bad, Reggie was just plain worse.  He is such a Snively Whiplash kind of character that I have a hard time taking him seriously.  He is a guy who seems to have hardly any redeeming qualities at all, and he is so smarmy that we almost feel obligated to cheer whenever his dastardly plans blow up in his face.  That said, even Reggie has his moments of kindness.  Though he was bribed by his father to keep quiet about a warehousing deal that would destroy the gang's treehouse, he came through in the end when he realized that friendship was more important than a bicycle.  And in a way, Reggie's personality was defined by that moment.  When you're raised by people who are greedy and cold, you tend to become that way yourself.  Here's hoping Archie and the gang would help keep Reggie on the straight and narrow.

Oh, Jughead, Jughead, Jughead.  You started the series off slowly.  You only said like 12 words in the first two episodes of the series and one of those words was Feltzig!  But by the end of the series, you had four stand alone episodes!  I think only Archie had more!  And I'll be honest with you, three of those four episodes were absolutely fantastic!  Much like the comic books, Jughead is a complex character.  You might think that all he does is eat, sleep, eat, sleep, and eat some more.  And, well...yeah.  He does that.  But he also learns valuable lessons about friendship and probably does the most growing during the whole show.  I know it's a cartoon and all, but I do think Jughead finished strong.

Another character who had a lot of episodes was the Chuck Clayton/Dilton Doiley hybrid character called Eugene.  And I have to say, while I think they should have just kept Dilton on the show, Eugene was a great addition to the cast.  Sure, all of his inventions have pretty much failed - his only success was in "Gunk For Gold", and Archie helped him in that one.  But Eugene is definitely an interesting character, and he probably was the best representation of a junior high student.  His anxiousness about impressing a girl he liked, his drive to succeed in school, and his trying to fit in with the rest of the school is something that all of us went through at age 12, and I think Eugene was very much a diamond in the rough.

I only wish that his girlfriend Amani received such deep character development.  She didn't even appear at all in the final episode, and in the episodes that she did appear in, she only appeared for a minute at the most.  In her one and only episode where she was featured, all we learned about her was that she liked Eugene, she loved ketchup and salt sandwiches, and she can't wear glasses without tripping over people.  Seriously, they could have just given her lines to Betty and written her off and nobody would have noticed.

Moose was also not given great character development either.  At times, he seemed like a 31-year-old instead of a 12-year-old.  And while I applaud the show for not making him seem like a complete idiot, there are moments in which I felt he was channeling Chrissy Snow from "Three's Company".  While I do think he deserved much better, I do like the fact that he did get some focus.

I don't have a lot of time to talk about the other minor characters in detail, but I will say this.  MS. Grundy is the teacher that all of us wanted to have, Mr. Weatherbee was a moron, Ethel was actually quite a decent character in the episodes she appeared in, and it was quite nice to see throwbacks to the Archie Comics by including characters like Pop Tate, Mr. Andrews, Smithers, Mr. Lodge, Fangs Fogarty, and Ms. Beazley make cameo appearances in the series.

So, which episodes did I like?  And which did I hate?  Here's my lists of both.


"Jughead Predicts" - I loved this episode!  Not because Jughead was the star, but because it was genuinely funny.  Jughead's predictions were hysterical because they all came true (but not in the way we were expecting), and Reggie's final comeuppance at the end where he dances the tango with MS. Grundy in a frog suit...I admit, I laughed at that one when I was a kid, and find it funny today.

"Hamburger Helpers" - This episode is the best one to show what true friendship really is.  When Jughead is suckered into giving up hamburgers for a week, Reggie and Veronica try to sabotage him at every opportunity, even locking him in Lodge Mansion with enough hamburgers to fill a McDonald's to get him to break.  But Jughead doesn't succumb to temptation - because when Reggie bet Archie his skateboard, Jughead refused to let anything bad happen to Archie.  Now that's true friendship.  Great lesson learned.

"Red To The Rescue" - Honestly, I think this one ranks as my favourite episode of the whole series.  I love mystery stories, and finding out who was responsible for upsetting a grouchy neighbour by knocking over trash cans didn't seem that spectacular.  But when Red, Archie's dog, was involved in a mystery of his own involving the neighbour's cat, it took Archie and the gang to try and solve both cases.  I could have done without all the Wizard of Oz references, but the end scene alone is so sweet. 

"Loose Lips Stop Slips" - This is probably my favourite episode starring Archie, and it's an episode about how Archie wants desperately to help people in his community but can't seem to figure out how to make it happen without causing trouble.  But when a statue raising ceremony nearly becomes a disaster, Archie uses his rope tying skills to save the day - and gain some badly needed self-confidence in the meantime.

"Horray For Hollywood" - This episode has a very strong message.  Be yourself and the right people will like you for who you are.  And I thought it was awesome that Betty was the star of the show because I don't think this plotline would have worked very well had another character been in the driver's seat.  Besides, it was kind of funny to see Betty as "Jasmine", and her snapping back at Veronica the same way Veronica talked down to her.  Poetic justice, in my opinion.


"Goodbye Ms. Grundy" - This episode just makes me mad.  Here's MS. Grundy and her class is making her have a nervous breakdown to the point where she is considering taking a job that would make her life a lot better.  And yet once Archie and the gang find out what is happening, they manipulate her into staying by being even more obnoxious than they were before.  It's very mean to MS. Grundy, and the whole episode left a bad taste in my mouth.

"I Was A 12-Year-Old Werewolf" - This episode was just stupid.  I understand that "Teen Wolf" had come out a couple of years before this episode was made, and I do see the pop culture reasoning behind it.  But this episode was not scary at all.  It was extremely boring. 

"The Prince Of Riverdale" - I HATED this episode when I was a kid, and hate it even more now as an adult.  The fact that Archie has an exact double is bad enough, but to have the double be a prince?  This is a story that has been done to the death before, and while some efforts were better than others, this one was the worst.  It's almost as believable as the fact that you can use coloured pencils to hide freckles.

"Jughead's Millions" - I said that three of the four episodes where Jughead was a star were great.  This is the only one that wasn't.  What started out as a simple class assignment quickly steered into an episode that was so unbelievable that it made the Dream Season of "Dallas" seem like it could really happen in comparison. 

"Take My Butler, Please" - The only thing this episode does is make us think that Smithers is a complete head case and I'm questioning why Veronica even bothered to try and get him back after he decides he wants to be Archie's butler instead.  I almost wanted to call him "Smothers" during this awful episode.

Now, what are my final thoughts?  All in all, it's an interesting piece within the Archie video library that sadly has not aged well.  From the heavy synthesizer music in the background to the totally rad slang that simply doesn't fly in our 21st century world, the cartoon is definitely a product of its time period.  And some of the episodes were too unbelievable, even by cartoon standards.  I mean, it's hard to fathom that all of these events took place during one school year!

On the flipside, some of the morals and lessons presented in this show are still relevant today.  It's important to be yourself.  It's important to value true friendship.  It's important to be honest and to be fair and square.  These are all wonderful things that we can teach to children, and also to take into our own lives. 

To summarize - The New Archies is a show that may be outdated, but still relevant.

That's a wrap!  Let me know if you want me to review another series!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

January 19, 1953

January 2016 has been a bit of a downer month in pop culture.  In just the first nineteen days of the year, we've lost David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Dan Haggerty, and now we've lost Glenn Frey, who passed away yesterday at the age of 67.

And yes, I'll probably be writing a blog about him at some point this week.

For now, I have a Tuesday Timeline entry that I started writing beforehand...and let's just say that this one celebrates the birth of a rather famous television baby.  But that's all that you'll get from me!

In the meantime, let's see all of the things that happened on January 19, shall we?

1661 - Thomas Venner is hanged, drawn, and quartered in London

1817 - Led by General Jose de San Martin, an army comprised of 5,423 soldiers cross the Andes from Argentina to liberate both Chile and Peru

1861 - Georgia becomes the latest state to secede from the United States, following South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama

1862 - The Battle of Mill Springs takes place

1883 - The first electric lighting system employing overhead wires begins service in Roselle, New Jersey

1915 - 20 people lose their lives when German zeppelins bomb two towns in the United Kingdom - King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth

1917 - A munitions plant in London explodes, killing seventy-three, and injuring 400

1923 - Actress Jean Stapleton (d. 2013) is born in Manhattan, New York City

1935 - Coopers Inc. begins selling Y-front Jockey briefs

1937 - Howard Hughes sets a record by flying from Los Angeles to New York City in a time of seven hours, twenty-eight minutes, and twenty-five seconds

1939 - Singer Phil Everly (d. 2014) is born in Chicago, Illinois

1942 - Japanese forces invade Burma during World War II

1943 - Singer/songwriter Janis Joplin (d. 1970) is born in Port Arthur, Texas

1949 - Singer Robert Palmer (d. 2003) is born in Batley, West Yorkshire, England

1958 - American artist Thomas Kinkade (d. 2012) is born in Sacramento, California

1969 - Jan Palich - a student from Prague - dies three days after setting himself on fire in Wencelas Square to protest about the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union in 1968

1977 - Gerald Ford grants a pardon to Iva Toguri D'Aquino - otherwise known as "Tokyo Rose"

1978 - The last Volkswagen Beetle made in Germany leaves the Emden plant

1981 - The United States and Iran sign an agreement to release fifty-two American hostages after being held captive for fourteen months, signifying the end of the Iran Hostage Crisis

1983 - The Apple Lisa is announced

1986 - The first IBM computer virus is released

1997 - The voice of Snow White - Adriana Caselotti - dies at the age of 80

2006 - Singer-songwriter Wilson Pickett dies, aged 64

2012 - The Hong Kong based file sharing site Megaupload is shut down by the FBI

2015 - Coronation Street actress Anne Kirkbride passes away, aged 60

And for celebrity birthdays, we have the following people turning one year older; Fritz Weaver, Tippi Hedren, Robert MacNeil, Pat Patterson, Michael Crawford, Shelley Fabares, Dolly Parton, Paula Deen, Katey Sagal, Paul Rodriguez, Carman, Jeff Pilson, William Ragsdale, Martin Bashir, Caron Wheeler, Sylvain Cote, Whitfield Crane, Casey Sherman, Shawn Wayans, John Wozniak, Drea de Matteo, Frank Caliendo, Benjamin Ayres, Luke Macfarlane, Bitsie Tulloch, Jodie Sweetin, Erin Sanders, Logan Lerman, Mac Miller, and Gus Lewis.

And today's date we're flashing back to?  January 19, 1953.

Let's just say that if you were one of the lucky people to have a television set during that time period, you and 72% of the American people probably watched a historic moment take place on the small screen.

Sadly, my parents never got to see this moment take place.  My mom's family didn't get a television until 1956, and my dad's family was much later than that, I think. 

But if you did have a television set in 1953, your choices were extremely limited.  I think we're quite spoiled now, given that we have over a thousand television channels at our disposal, including those online services such as Netflix, Shomi, Crave TV, and Hulu.  Back then, there was ABC, CBS, NBC...and I think that was all that was available.  And might I add that it was black and white only?

That being said, 72% of all television sets were tuned into "I Love Lucy" on the night of January 19, 1953.  Why was this the case?

Well, it was the episode in which Lucy Ricardo (played by Lucille Ball, of course) gives birth to her son, Ricky Ricardo, Jr.  It is the very first time that a sitcom character ever gave birth on a television show, and the first time that a sitcom character was ever shown carrying a baby.

Now, these days, you don't see births as being that big of a deal.  On "Full House", Becky gave birth to twins.  On "Friends", Phoebe gave birth to triplets.  And on "The Simpsons", Manjula Nahasapeemapetilon gave birth to octuplets!

(Okay, the last one is a cartoon, but work with me here.)

Back in the 1950s, women were not allowed to be shown pregnant.  Heck, network censors at the time refused to let anyone even mention the word "pregnant", given the fact that they felt it inappropriate to talk about!  Boy, have we come a long way from that!

So, when Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz announced that she was preg...ahem...expecting a child at the end of season one, the producers and writers were concerned because they knew that Ball would begin showing right when they were starting to film season two.  Could the show go on?

Well, it's a good thing that Lucille Ball didn't have any hang-ups about it all, because she, along with the rest of the production crew, decided the show must go on, and the pregnancy was written into the show with Lucy carrying Ricky's child.

By the way, the episode in which Lucy announces the pregnancy is entitled "Lucy is Enceinte".  Enceinte is French for pregnant.  Nice way to get through the censors there, Ms. Ball!  And the way the Lucy reveals the news to Ricky is by requesting the song "She's Having My Baby" anonymously to a singing Ricky!  You can click HERE to watch the moment.  It's very sweet.

That announcement was made in October 1952.  Three months later, on January 19, 1953, the episode "Lucy Goes To The Hospital" aired on CBS, and it was the episode where Lucy gives birth.

And what a hysterical episode it was at that, filled with a comedy of errors that nearly resulted in Lucy nearly giving birth at home!  Let's put it this way, watching THIS CLIP will make you realize that trusting Ricky and the Mertzes to take you to the hospital while you are in labor is probably not the most sound judgment call you can make.

But Lucy makes it to the hospital just in time to give birth to Little Ricky Ricardo.  And, at that time it was the most watched television broadcast ever. 

However, I'm just going to go out on a limb here and state that I know at least two people who didn't watch that episode.  Those two people were Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

You see, the same day that episode aired, Lucille Ball gave birth for real.  And much like her fictional child, Lucille gave birth to a baby boy, Desi Arnaz, Jr.  He was the second child born to Lucille and Desi (older sister Lucie was born in 1951), and I imagine that it had to have been a wacky coincidence to have the episode air on Little Desi's birthday!

Of course, Little Ricky was played by child actor Keith Thibodeaux - who as of this writing is the only cast member from the show still alive.  He turned 65 this past December 1 and now works as a musician.

But that's not to say that Desi Arnaz Jr. didn't follow in his parents footsteps.  He too started an acting career, with his first role being in the 1968 sitcom "Here's Lucy" along with his mother and sister.  He was also the drummer in the band "Dino, Desi, & Billy.  And while he has mostly kept out of the public eye in recent years, at 63, he is still going strong, and I am sure that he still holds the love that his mother and father gave him close to his heart today.

Happy birthday, Desi Arnaz Jr...and happy birthday, Little Ricky!