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Monday, February 29, 2016

February 29, 1940

Hey, everybody!  Welcome to the final day of February!

You know, February 29 is a very special day.  It's a day that only comes around once every four years in most cases.  Believe it or not, February 29 is a day that occurs every four years except for in years that are not divisible by 400.  So, in 1900, there was no February 29, but in 2000 there was.  That being said, there will be no February 29 in the year 2100...but that really doesn't matter since only a small fraction of us will be alive to see 2100 in - unless I happen to live to be 118, that is.

So, since it is the 29th, I thought that I would a special Monday Timeline for all of you.  Normally I would have waited until Tuesday, but since the next time February 29 will fall on a Tuesday won't be until 2028 and I don't know if this blog will last until then, I'm doing one today.

So, here's some of the events that have taken place on this special day.

1504 - Christopher Columbus convinces Native Americans to give him supplies using his knowledge of the lunar eclipse in his favour

1712 - As a result of Sweden wanting to go back to the Old Style calendar, a February 30 is added to the calendar in Sweden.

1796 - The Jay Treaty between Great Britain and the United States comes into force

1892 - The community of St. Petersburg, Florida is incorporated

1904 - Saxophonist/bandleader Jimmy Dorsey (d. 1957) is born in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania

1912 - The Piedra Movediza of Tandil falls and breaks

1916 - Singer/actress Dinah Shore (d. 1994) is born in Winchester, Tennessee

1936 - Actor Alex Rocco (d. 2015) is born in Cambridge, Massachusetts

1940 - During World War II, Finland initiates Winter War peace negotiations

1944 - The Admiralty Islands are invaded in Operation Brewer

1960 - An earthquake destroys the city of Agadir, Morocco, killing 12,000

1964 - Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser swims the 100-meter freestyle competition in 58.9 seconds - a new world record

1972 - South Korea withdraws 11,000 of its 48,000 troops from Vietnam

1980 - Gordie Howe scores his 800th goal

1988 - Desmond Tutu is arrested with 100 clergymen in South Africa for anti-apartheid protests

1996 - 123 people are killed following the crash of Faucett Flight 251 in the Andes Mountains

2012 - Monkees singer Davy Jones passes away at the age of 66

Now for celebrity birthdays, we don't really have a whole lot of them, but turning one year (or is it four years) older and actually getting an honest to goodness birthday this year are Joss Ackland, Tempest Storm, Hermione Lee, Patricia A. McKillip, Al Autry, Jonathan Coleman, J. Randy Tarraborelli, Tony Robbins, Frank Woodley, Antonio Sabato Jr., Zoe Baker, Ja Rule, Chris Conley, Simon Gagne, Rakhee Thakrar, Cam Ward, Mark Foster, Majesty Rose, and Claudia Williams.

So, given that February 29 is a special day, I thought I would choose a very special date to focus on.

That date is February 29, 1940.

Okay, so as we close out the month of February, a couple of major events have just concluded.

February happens to be "Black History Month", and despite what Stacey Dash has said about it, is a celebration of all of the contributions of people who are African, African-American, African-Canadian, etc, as well as some of the hardships that these people have had to endure for centuries.  It's an important piece of the history curriculum that should be focused on, and a lot of people from Rosa Parks to Nelson Mandela, and even Oprah Winfrey have made their mark in the history books.  February 29 happens to be the conclusion of Black History month, and today's subject is a name that definitely belongs in that category.

As well, the Academy Awards aired its 88th ceremony last night, and while all of the winners were celebrated last night, the actual nominations caused controversy with the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag.  And, yes, I did do a blog post issuing my thoughts about it.  If you click HERE, you can read it.  Well, this Tuesday Timeline subject is also about the Oscars as well.

In fact, I may as well go ahead and tell you what the subject is.  Today marks the 76th anniversary of the day that a woman made history because on February 29, 1940, the first African-American won an Academy Award.

That person was actress Hattie McDaniel, who at the time was thirty-four years old.  She was born June 10, 1895 as the thirteenth child of two former slaves, and she had an interest in performing, writing songs, and acting.  And during the 1920s and 1930s, she did everything she could to satisfy her love of the arts, all while facing the hardships of discrimination and poverty.

But it wouldn't be until 1939 that McDaniel would gain notoriety for the film role that would earn her that Academy Award.

The film, of course, was "Gone with the Wind", a 1939 drama that became the highest grossing film that year - even making more money than "The Wizard of Oz"!  And while the competition was fierce regarding the coveted roles of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler, there was just as much competition for the role of Mammy, the maid of the O'Hara manor.  Initially, Eleanor Roosevelt had suggested that her own maid, Elizabeth McDuffie be given the part, but that suggestion was denied.  And even Hattie McDaniel had reservations about even auditioning for the role of Mammy.  She was by all accounts a comic actress, and she didn't think she quite fit in for a role in a serious historical romance like "Gone with the Wind". 

However, McDaniel wasn't about to walk away without a fight, and she reportedly showed up to audition for the part in an authentic maid uniform.  It seemed to do the trick, as McDaniel was soon cast in the role, although a popular tale that seems to have made the rounds was that actor Clark Gabel had made the suggestion to producers to hire McDaniel as Mammy.  I don't know if we'll ever know the real truth, although Gabel and McDaniel had become close.  In fact, when the film was being premiered in Atlanta, Georgia, and executives from MGM had been told to exclude all black actors from attending the function, Gable had been so disgusted by this decision that he almost boycotted the premiere.  It was McDaniel herself who convinced him to go.

It actually makes me really sad to know that the woman who became a huge star in that film was never considered worthy enough to attend the Atlanta premiere because of the colour of her skin.  Could you imagine something like that happening in 2016?  There would be so much outrage!  It is to McDaniel's credit that she stayed classy through the whole ordeal.  She had every reason not to, mind you, but she took the high road during the whole thing, which may have swayed the Academy Awards committee to vote for her to win.

Not only was she the first African-American to win an Academy Award, she was also the first African-American to even be nominated!  And even though the Atlanta premiere turned out to be a complete debacle, she was allowed to attend the Hollywood premiere (at the insistence of studio head David Selznick) where her image was restored onto all movie posters and programs.

And to close off this piece, have a look at Hattie McDaniel's acceptance speech, as given on February 29, 1940...

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, fellow members of the motion picture industry and honored guests: This is one of the happiest moments of my life, and I want to thank each one of you who had a part in selecting me for one of their awards, for your kindness. It has made me feel very, very humble; and I shall always hold it as a beacon for anything that I may be able to do in the future. I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry. My heart is too full to tell you just how I feel, and may I say thank you and God bless you.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The "Fuller House" Review - Sans Spoilers

So, this could be one of the few times in this blog that I talk about a current show, but it's definitely something that I want to cover.

As you may have already guessed from the numerous talk show appearances of the cast members as well as the promotions surrounding it that a "Full House" spinoff or reboot or whatever you want to call it was coming.

On February 26, 2016, that show "Fuller House" debuted on Netflix.

And I have watched all thirteen episodes of it and feel comfortable enough to do up a review of the series and whether I think it will get a second season.

Okay, so here's the set-up of the plot, in case you didn't know...and for people who haven't seen the series, I'll try not to spoil it too much.  The gist of it is this.  At some point between the birth of D.J.'s youngest child and the time the show debuts, D.J.'s husband Tommy gets killed while fighting a fire.  D.J. has moved herself and her three boys, Jackson, Max, and Tommy Jr. into her dad's house.  Danny plans on selling the house because he and Becky's talk show has become nationally syndicated and they are moving to Los Angeles.  Jesse has also gotten a composing job in Los Angeles, and Joey has gotten a comedy gig engagement in Las Vegas.  Stephanie has become a DJ under the name of "DJ Tanner", and Kimmy has become an event planner and is raising a thirteen-year-old girl named Ramona.

But when D.J. has trouble trying to take care of everything and everyone, and is upset that everyone is leaving her, Stephanie and Kimmy make the decision to move in with D.J., and so D.J., Stephanie, Kimmy, Ramona, Jackson, Max, and Tommy become a blended family.

It's essentially the same plot, just with a gender swap.

So, what do I think about the show itself?  Well, obviously, it's not for everyone.  The first series was sugary sweet and could be corny.  The new series is just as glucose laden - but I will say that there is a little bit of spice in the mix as there are some subtle and not-so-subtle adult references mixed into the various episodes.  Let's just say that you won't look at a volcano quite the same way again.

But for people who watched the original show, it's a nice nostalgic look at the past as well as a great hope for the future - even though the reunion episode would have been a lot better had it been expanded to a full hour.  And for new fans, it's a show that still provides classic laughs and humour while giving off a nice warm glow. 

Now, having said that, there are some characters who seem to have made the transition well, and others who have become as dumb as a box of rocks.  And while we won't be discussing the character of Michelle as the Olsen twins declined to participate (a point that the cast of the show seems to poke fun at a LOT), we will talk about the people who were credited in the first show.

Now, D.J. Tanner-Fuller has become a veterinarian, which I have to say is a fairly good choice of career for her, as she always took care of everyone and everything around her.  What's interesting is that she has essentially become a female version of her father, which is ironic given how she was annoyed by him a lot when she was a teenager!  But, I suppose she could have had worse role models.  As a mother, I think D.J. has done well, and I think that she really does love her children a lot.  But she also finds herself the object of two men's affections during season one.  One is her partner, Matt Harmon (played by John Brotherton), and the other we'll talk about later.

Stephanie is one of the characters who seemingly has devolved in the show.  At first, I was wondering how a clean cut straight A student like Stephanie could become a party girl who goes by the name of "DJ Tanner" at work.  But in episode five of the series, we learn a secret about Stephanie that not only explains why she is the way she is, but also breaks your heart.  Easily the most emotional moment of the series so far.  I think as the show progresses, Stephanie's love for her nephews becomes solid, and I expect that as season two progresses, she will find her path.

Kimmy Gibbler is Kimmy Gibbler, and we wouldn't want her any other way.  She was one of my favourite characters on the original show, and she is still very well liked on this show.  Somehow, Kimmy has started up a successful party planning business entitled "Do It Gibbler Style", and even Danny admitted that she is great at her job.  She seems to have conflicting feelings for her ex-husband Fernando (Juan Pablo DiPace), and she is trying to be more of a mother and less of a friend to daughter Ramona.  She's not nearly the perfect mother, and sometimes she has disagreements with D.J. and Stephanie.  But you know, it's really good to see the three women getting along so well and creating the "She-Wolf Pack".

Jackson Fuller - or J-Money - is a wild card character for me.  I think the actor cast for his part is perfect, and honestly, I think the casting director got it right with all of the kids, because they are all very talented.  But, I think Jackson suffers from "It's Not Fair" disease, because he seems to feel this way quite a lot.  But, Jackson's personality is supposed to be designed after Jesse's, and I have to admit it took me two seasons before I started to like Jesse, so I'll give it time with Jackson.  But I will say this...he is a great older brother.

But Max, on the other hand...he has absolutely become the show's scene stealer, and I think that's great.  He's definitely got a charming personality and great charisma that is sure to work for him - at least for now.  I think I even read in an article that Jodie Sweetin who plays Stephanie said that she'd adopt him if she could!  I think Max is an absolute delight, and even though he seems to be designed after Danny, it's hard to resist his catchphrase of "Holy chalupas!"

Ramona is definitely a Gibbler.  Even though she's at that age where Kimmy starts to embarrass her, she definitely has Kimmy's wild style and biting wit.  And, while she and Jackson sometimes have arguments with each other, Ramona knows that deep down inside, they will always be friends.  Certainly Ramona found it hard to move into the home at first - she referred to the Fuller family as the whitest family in America.  But by episode 13, she wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Not much to say about Tommy Jr.  He's just a few months old.  Michelle wasn't very impressive her first year either.

Jesse appears in a total of four episodes during the series, and I think that his character remains true to form.  He still has great hair, loves Elvis, and sticks his foot in his mouth on occasion in front of his wife.  But you'll be happy to know that he and Becky have stayed married, and in the final episode of season one, they renew their wedding vows.  Or, at least they TRY to.  Either way, Jesse doesn't change much at all through this second go around, and I'm kind of relieved.

Danny, on the other hand, seems to have made quite a few changes.  While he's still a neat freak, I get the impression that he doesn't seem to care about cleaning nearly as much as he used to.  Maybe the fact that he married a younger woman named Teri (Eva LaRue) that did it to him.  To Danny's credit, I think he's actually improved since "Full House".  He's not as goofy and Care Bear like.  Sure, he still loves giving hugs to people, but he's also not nearly as OCD as we initially thought.  He appears in only two episodes of the series though.  I would have thought he'd have done more.

Joey makes an appearance in three episodes, and honestly, I think his character has become increasingly pathetic.  I think Joey started Full House being semi-interesting, devolved into village idiot by series end, and now he's just basically given up on trying to be an adult.  Though, I will say this.  In episode three, when he's babysitting the kids, he does do one thing that I wholeheartedly agree with when it comes to spending family time together.  And for once, it doesn't involve Mr. Woodchuck.

Oh, Becky...what the hell happened to you?  You used to be one of my favourite characters on the original series because you actually had a brain and knew how to use it.  But on this series, you seem like you've donated your brain to science and have become a mess of a character whose biological clock is ticking away its last seconds.  We get it!  Your twins ended up being complete screw-ups and you want another child...but seriously lady, you have a national show and are married to Jesse!  Give it up already.  Of course it doesn't help that in the three episodes that Becky appears in, one of them was my least favourite one.  Seriously, I stopped caring who got sent a thousand roses after the roses arrived.

I had such high hopes for Nicky and Alex, but all they seem to want to do is run a fish taco stand and surf.  Jesse and Becky would be proud.  But, at least you can say that Blake and Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit grew up very well.

In an interesting twist, Steve Hale comes back into the scene.  And he appears in six of the thirteen episodes.  And he still has feelings for D.J.!  And he likes to eat!

And for some reason, his dog happens to be Comet's granddaughter.  Yes, Comet the dog crossed the Rainbow Bridge long ago, but Steve's dog had puppies in the very first episode and Max got the chance to take home one of the dogs as his pet (the dog's name also happens to be space themed).  And I think that dog ended up being the gateway for D.J. to spend some time with Steve again.  Will these former lovebirds become a couple?  Well, not if Matt has anything to say about it.

Of course, the show still has a few unanswered mysteries to solve.  Will D.J. find love again?  Will Stephanie settle down?  What will Tommy's first word be?  Will Danny, Joey, Jesse, and Becky return?  How did Danny meet his new wife?  And will Michelle ever come back to the series?

Well, if my prediction is true, I suspect the show will be renewed for a second year.  The question is...will you watch? 

I admit...I might give a second season a whirl...but only if I get to drink as much tequila as the girls did throughout the season!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

February 23, 1896

As we get close to the end of February 2016, I'm sure all of us in the upper parts of North America are ready to bid it adieu, if only for the reason that we are sick of snow and below freezing temperatures.  March is definitely a more optimistic month - if for no other reason than the fact that we get more daylight in the day thanks to Daylight Savings Time.

But there's still enough time in the month for us to have one more Tuesday Timeline at least.  And I guarantee you that the subject for this topic is going to be a sweet one!

For now, let's take a look at what happened on this date in history.

1455 - Listed as the traditional date for the publication of the Gutenberg Bible - the first book printed in the West with movable type

1836 - The Battle of the Alamo begins in San Antonio, Texas

1861 - After an alleged assassination attempt in Baltimore, Maryland, Abraham Lincoln arrives in Washington D.C. in secrecy

1870 - Mississippi is readmitted into the United States five years after the end of the American Civil War

1886 - Charles Martin Hall produces the first samples of man-made aluminum

1889 - American director Victor Fleming (d. 1949) is born in La Canada Flintridge, California

1898 - Emile Zola is imprisoned following his writing of the "J'Accuse" letter that accused the French government of antisemetic beliefs

1905 - The Rotary Club is founded in Chicago

1927 - Calvin Coolidge signs a bill by Congress that establishes the Federal Radio Commission

1941 - Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg produces and isolates the element of plutonium

1944 - Singer-songwriter Johnny Winter (d. 2014) is born in Beaumont, Texas

1945 - U.S. Marines and a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman reach the summit of Mount Suribachi and are photographed raising the American flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima

1954 - The first inoculations of children with the Salk vaccine - a vaccine designed to combat polio - is administered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1974 - The Symbionese Liberation Army demands another $4 million in ransom money to release Patty Hearst

1980 - Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declares that Iran's parliament will decide the fate of the hostages taken during the Iran Hostage Crisis

1991 - Ground troops cross the Saudi Arabia border into Iraq beginning the ground phase of the Gulf War

1998 - An outbreak of tornadoes in Florida kill 42 people and damages over 2,600 structures

1999 - Gaitur, Austria is destroyed by an avalanche; 31 people lose their lives

2010 - Criminals dump nearly 2.5 million liters of diesel oil into Italy's Lambro River, sparking an environmental disaster

And celebrating a birthday this 23rd of February are the following people; Hans Herrmann, Linda Cristal, Peter Fonda, Ron Hunt, Doug Moench, Marc Garneau, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Patricia Richardson, Brad Whitford, Howard Jones, David Sylvian, Chris Vrenna, Daymond John, Niecy Nash, Paul Anthony Stewart, Rondell White, Michael Cornacchia, Kelly Macdonald, Adam Hann-Byrd, Aziz Ansari, Emily Blunt, Skylar Grey, Samara Weaving, and Dakota Fanning.

Okay, so what date will we be going back in time to this week?  Well, hold on to your hats because we're going back in time at least one hundred years plus a bit!

Yep, you're not reading that date wrong.  We are taking a look back at February 23, 1896!

You know, I can't say for sure that I know what the year 1896 was like because I missed it by eighty-five years!  But I imagine it was a simpler time with simple pleasures.  And one of those pleasures just happened to be invented on this very date.

You remember how the last entry that I wrote before this one talked about commercial mascots and spokespeople, and I talked about the behind the scenes stories about them?  Well, while trying to come up with ideas for the topic, I was reminded of a commercial that used to air on television when I was a kid that I absolutely loved.  In fact, I'll post it below.

I'm fairly sure that it takes a lot more than three licks to get to the middle of a Tootsie Roll pop - though nobody I know has ever taken the test to find out for sure.  I know I attempted to do it once, but lost interest after lick #176. 

But the topic is not about the delicious candy confection known as the Tootsie Roll Pop.  Those things didn't come out until 1931.

It was what was inside the pop that will serve to be our main topic.  That morsel of chocolate flavoured taffy like substance that has caused great divide amongst confection connoisseurs such as myself.  Some absolutely love it for its classic taste and history, while others can't stomach it.

Myself?  I like it...but I like the fruit flavoured version better.

Love it or hate it, the Tootsie Roll celebrates its 120th birthday today!

First manufactured on February 23, 1896, the founder of the Tootsie Roll, Leo Hirshfield, had a goal in mind when coming up with the design and flavour.  He wanted to come up with a candy that tasted like chocolate (likely inspired by the fact that the Hershey bar had been created just two years prior), but could withstand the heat of the hot sun during the summer months.  He achieved this by making the Tootsie Roll have the same composition and texture as a piece of taffy or a caramel.  He made it this way so that the shipments from warehouse to store would arrive without melting.

And as of 2016, it is estimated that over 64 million Tootsie Rolls are made daily in the United States.  Not bad for a little chocolate candy, huh?

Here are a few more pieces of trivia about this delightful treat.

Did you know that the Tootsie Roll was the very first penny candy to come individually wrapped?  It's true, although the only Tootsie Rolls that were available for a cent at that time were the little tiny ones, also affectionately known as "Midgees".

Did you know that Tootsie Rolls come in other flavours other than chocolate?  It's true!  There are standard Tootsie Fruit Rolls that are available for purchase right around Halloween (and may be available at some supermarket checkout counters), and they come in flavours such as vanilla, lime, orange, cherry, and lemon?  I actually am one who prefers the fruit flavoured ones over the original chocolate flavour, though I will eat both.  I'm partial to the lime and vanilla ones.

Did you know that Tootsie Rolls were certified kosher in 2009?  That means that people can have Tootsie Rolls for Hanukkah and other Jewish celebrations!

Did you know what the ingredients of a standard Tootsie Roll are?  Well, the current list includes sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated soybean oil, condensed skim milk, whey, cocoa, soy lechtin, as well as natural and artificial favouring.  Okay, so it's not quite all natural, but as long as you don't eat too many, you won't get a belly ache.

Did you know that several people have attempted to come up with the definitive answer for how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?  The answers range from 200 to almost 3,500 licks!  I guess we really are no closer to finding out the answer, though YouTube sensation Ryan Higa filmed a video of himself trying to figure it out and claims that it is 700.  For me, I gave up after 176 licks, so he could very well be right!

Did you know that twenty million Tootsie Roll Pops are manufactured each year?  That's a lot of chances to find out what the answer is in regards to the Tootsie Roll pop question!

Did you know that the company actually reuses some of the previous day's batch of Tootsie Rolls to make new batches the following day?  Now that's recycling!

Did you know that during the Korean War, the U.S. Marine Corps were accidentally sent crates of Tootsie Rolls instead of ammunition?  It's true!  I have to wonder how they fared in combat.  I suppose the confusion comes from the fact that at that time, "tootsie roll" was code for mortar rounds.

Did you know that Tootsie Rolls once had a comic mascot named Captain Tootsie?  The comic strip was printed in newspapers until at least the 1950s.  Not quite the success that Bazooka Joe comics were, but a good try, nonetheless.

Finally, did you know that Tootsie Roll had its very own jingle, sung by a couple of kids?  It's true, and here's the proof!

Happy 120th birthday, Tootsie Rolls!  

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The People Behind The TV Commercials

I think part of the fun of watching a television series that has run for several seasons is the idea of getting to know the people who make up the show.  We watch them grow up, face challenges, and do crazy things that get everybody talking.

And sometimes we see the characters they play do the same things!

Seriously, though, we do give a lot of thought to the people who entertain us in sitcoms, dramas, sci-fi adventures, and even reality programming.  But what about the two minute breaks in between segments of said shows where advertisers force feed you commercials for various products?  Can they make as much of an impact?

Well, yes.  They can.

Since the days of Mr. Whipple of the Charmin commercials to the Wendy's "Where's The Beef" commercials, television pitchmen (and pitchwomen) have been a part of life since the early days of television.  And over the years, we've been introduced to several mascots - all with their own stories to tell.

But behind the characters that they play lie some very real lives.  And some of the tales that these actors play are almost as interesting as the characters they play in random 30 second increments that air in between "The Young and the Restless" and "The Bold and the Beautiful".

Of course, we all know the fates of some of these people.  We know that Jodie Sweetin got her start on an Oscar Meyer commercial back in the 1980s.  We know that Mikey from the Life commercials didn't die from a lethal combo of pop rocks and Diet Coke.  And, well...we all know what happened with a certain pitchman of the five dollar footlong.

But some of these other people?  You may be surprised.

Let's get started.


Have you noticed that the Geico gecko sounds a little bit different lately?  That's because beginning in late 2015, the company hired a new actor to replace the old one.  And just who was the old actor?  Well, here's a picture of him.

The man pictured is Jake Wood, a 43-year-old actor who isn't well known here in North America, but has quite a following in the UK - likely helped by the fact that he has starred in the British drama series EastEnders since 2006.  Wood plays the character of Max Branning, and let's just say that he's kind of considered a...oh...what's the words I'm trying to think of...oh, yeah, manwhore.  That's it.  Of course, this isn't why he was let go.  I'm not exactly sure what the story is behind it.  But considering that he played the role of the Gecko for nearly ten years, I'm thinking it's got to have some reason.  Obviously it's not as bad as the Subway guy though, because he's still employed as an actor!


Since the mid-2000s, this lady has been telling you - no, encouraging you - now, just plain beating it into your skull that Progressive is best.  And, you know, I have to say that I can see why she has lasted as long as she has as Progressive's main spokesperson.  She does have a charm to her that makes you take notice, and she isn't afraid to make fun of herself.

Of course, it probably helps that the woman behind Flo - Stephanie Courtney - is a member of the comedy troupe known as The Groundlings.  The 45-year-old actress has appeared in several commercials, and has popped up on bit parts on television series over the years, including one episode of "Without A Trace" where she played the before of a woman who went on a reality show similar to "The Swan" to change her whole appearance. 

I do have to wonder if she likes having her hair styled like that...


Okay, so let's clear one thing up right off the bat.  The Popeye's Chicken lady is not dead.  Apparently someone started a meme that stated that the woman who played Annie in all of those Louisiana flavoured commercials for the fried chicken and seafood restaurant had sampled her last chicken wing, and was now resting in pieces...ahem...I mean, peace.

Fortunately, actress Deidrie Henry is alive and well, and in addition to hawking her chicken and biscuits has appeared in several television shows and has done theatre, and has won the Ovation Award (celebrating excellence in theatre) in 2006. 

It kind of makes me wonder how she went from theatre actress to chicken saleswoman though.  I guess selling $5 box meals pays more.


Ah, yes...sweet Lily.  She's the one who can answer all of your iPhone, Samsung, and HTC questions for you - provided that you sign up with AT&T mobility, that is.  But still, she's so sweet with her helpful nature and all-American look.

But here's the thing about Lily.  She's not American.  Her name's not even Lily.

No, 28-year-old Milana Vayntrub was born in what was then called the U.S.S.R. (which for those of you who may not remember was a group of countries that were linked via communism that folded in 1991 marking the end of the Cold War).  Her family immigrated to the United States when she was three, and one of her first roles was for a Barbie commercial that aired in 1992, when she was just five.

But she's done more than just commercials.  She is also a social activist, and founded an organization and social media campaign known as #CantDoNothing in response to the Syrian refugee crisis.  Very inspiring.


They've been doing commercials for the fast food chain since 2004, and what astounds me about these two is the fact that even though they've filmed hundreds of spots for Sonic that their waists have remained the same size.  Is it magic?

Well, the real magic seems to be that T.J. Jagodowski and Peter Grosz have been with the company for twelve years, and have likely "consumed" so many calories that it would have killed Wilford Brimley of "diabeetus" long before he started being the poster adult for Quaker Oats.

Like Stephanie Courtney from the Progressive ads, both Jagodowski and Grosz started off their careers as comedians, and while both have made several appearances on various shows and comedy circuits, I fear that they'll be filming these commercials well into their seventies.  Or until their blood pressure kills them.  Whichever comes first.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Remembering Mrs. Moore

I have to say that when it comes to my memories of school, I have what you call a love-hate relationship with it.  I loved learning.  I loved art class.  I loved field trips.  I hated being treated like garbage by some of my peers, and a couple of teachers.  Mostly it was fine.

And when it comes down to teachers, there are some that were more memorable than others.

One of those teachers would have to be my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Moore.  Let me tell you all about her.

The year was 1990.  Kindergarten Cop, Ghost, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were huge hits at the box office.  Madonna taught us all how to vogue.  Milli Vanilli was about to have their fall from grace courtesy of the lip-synching scandal.  And we all secretly wondered how many squirrels we could shove inside MC Hammer's gigantic pants.

(Well, okay.  I was wondering that.  I was a strange 9-year-old and make no apologies for it either.)

Anyway, at my elementary school, fourth grade was a big deal.  It was the first time I ever had a classroom on the second floor of the school (the classrooms in the lower levels were K-3), and I must say that it was the first time I really felt sort of grown up.  Who knew that a flight of stairs could make a huge difference in how mature you thought you were!

I admit that I was very excited about fourth grade, but I was also very nervous.  Fourth grade was great because it was the first year that we were allowed to have computer time by ourselves (prior to grade four, we always had to be paired up with a partner).  It was also the year that we were allowed to sign up for lunchtime activities such as playing sports in the gym.  Fourth grade offered a lot of freedom that we just didn't have in third grade.  After all, fourth grade was the gateway year for sex education class.  At least, it was in my school, anyway.

But I was also a huge fan of the then new show "The Simpsons", and I remember thinking that Bart's teacher, Mrs. Krabappel was one mean teacher.  It didn't dawn on me until years later why she was that way, and she inevitably became one of my favourite Simpsons characters, but back in fourth grade, I was terrified that I would have a teacher just like her.

Fortunately, from the moment I met Mrs. Moore, I was instantly relieved.  She was definitely one of my favourite teachers.

And here's why.

She was never really afraid of taking things too seriously.  Sure, she could be a strict disciplinarian when she had to be - I remember we had a couple of out of control kids in my classroom that year that tested her patience (as well as everyone else in the class) - but she always knew how to have a laugh.

I still remember when we had our class Halloween party and she dressed up in what I think was a farmer costume, and she told us ghost stories and she was really fantastic at story telling too!  I think a couple of kids in the class even got a little scared!

But she was also a fantastic teacher who unlike a lot of the other teachers at my school really focused on playing to our strengths.  She would have listening activities, reading activities, and kinesthetic activities available so that we could all have a chance to improve on skills and to help us focus on the best way we absorb information.

Me?  I'm a kinesthetic learner.  I have to learn things by doing them.

Another thing I will say about Mrs. Moore was that she was probably the one teacher that I remember who really seemed to notice just what level everyone was at in the class, and assigned them work that corresponded with that level.  I still remember that for the first few months of the school year, we were assigned reading kits, and each of us were given a different colour to start off at.  That colour represented a level of reading skill.

I remember the colour that I started with was violet.  And people who were in the violet group were assumed to read at a Grade 8 level.  I think it was myself and one other person in the class who began at that level.  Of course, the tradeoff was that the violet kids didn't have as much teacher-student interaction as say, the tan level, who was Grade 5, or the lime level, which was Grade 3.  It would have been nice to have had more input from the teacher to know if I was handling the workload well.  But I guess I must have done okay with it, if she wasn't concerned.

Really, I remember fourth grade being a year in which I did well in every subject except for two - math and physical education.  But since they were my two worst subjects, I didn't really care that much. 

I think I also have some random moments from fourth grade that I'd like to share below.

- Mrs. Moore reading a postcard that a friend of mine wrote to the class after his family relocated up north.  It was good to hear that he was doing well, though I often wondered what happened to Jeff.  It's been 25 years since he moved away, and I hope he's doing well, even if he doesn't remember who the hell I am! 

- I also remember Mrs. Moore showing us "The Little Mermaid" during our Valentine's Day party, and I even remember liking it at the time.  I think 1991 was also the year I last liked Valentine's Day, come to think of it!

- For some reason, I remember art class being one of those classes where I think she could have shown a little more originality.  Whereas other classes would have epic projects, ours were basically drawing pictures all period long.  Fortunately, I had an endless supply of Laurentian pencil crayons to last me the whole school year.

- My town also had a small earthquake during my fourth grade year, and I remember that we spent part of class talking about it.  I wish I could have had a lot more to say about it, but I slept through the whole thing!

I'm sure there are other memories that I have of fourth grade, but I'm not really remembering them at the moment.  But one thing I do remember was that Mrs. Moore was definitely one of the better teachers that I had, and you could tell that she loved her job very much.

Well, I just found out that a couple of days ago, Mrs. Moore passed away at the age of 69, and I remember feeling very sad when I heard the news.  She was an excellent teacher - one of the few that I always held in high regard, and part of the reason why this was the case was because she really took the time to know her students.  She had a keen eye on which students got the material and which students did not, and she wasn't above giving students extra help who needed it, or providing more challenging options for people who required it.

She was a teacher that I wish more would strive to be like.

Thanks for being a great teacher.  Thank you for being MY teacher, Mrs. Moore.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

February 16, 1968

Hello, everyone, and welcome to a very snowy Tuesday here at A POP CULTURE ADDICT'S GUIDE TO LIFE!

Yes, we may be having a winter storm right now, but we're going to go ahead with the TUESDAY TIMELINE anyway because that's how I roll.

I will be the first to admit that I had a difficult time finding something to write about because February 16 hasn't exactly been one of the most memorable dates as far as historical significance goes.  However, I thought about it, and came up with a solution.  And I didn't have to call anyone for help either!

And after leaving you with that vague reference, I think I'll go ahead and post some of the items that didn't make the cut.  Here's what happened in history on the sixteenth of February.

1742 - The Earl of Wilmington - Spencer Compton - becomes the Prime Minister of Britain

1804 - Stephen Decatur leads a raid to burn the USS Philadelphia during the First Barbary War

1852 - Studebaker Brothers Wagon Company is established

1862 - General Ulysses S. Grant captures Fort Donelson, Tennessee during the American Civil War

1874 - The silver dollar becomes legal tender in the United States

1881 - The Canadian Pacific Railway is incorporated by Act of Parliament at Ottawa

1923 - Howard Carter unseals the burial chamber of Pharaoh Tutankhamun

1935 - Singer/politician Sonny Bono (d. 1998) is born in Detroit, Michigan

1937 - Wallace H. Carothers is granted a patent for a new material - nylon

1940 - 299 British prisoners are freed from the German tanker Altmark by a group of British sailors during World War II

1954 - Model/actress Margaux Hemingway (d. 1996) is born in Portland, Oregon

1957 - The "Toddlers' Truce" is abolished in the United Kingdom

1959 - Fidel Castro becomes Premier of Cuba

1961 - The DuSable Museum of African American History is chartered

1978 - The first computer bulletin board system is created in Chicago

1990 - New York City based artist Keith Haring dies of AIDS, aged 31

1998 - In Taiwan, 196 passengers aboard China Airlines Flight 676 die when the plane crashes into a residential area - seven more die on the ground

2005 - Due to lingering effects from the players going on strike, the 2004/2005 hockey season and playoffs are canceled by the National Hockey League

2006 - The final MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) is decommissioned by the United States Army

2015 - Singer Lesley Gore passes away at the age of 68

And celebrating a birthday today are the following people; Marlene Hagge, Paul Bailey, Barry Primus, Andy Van Hellemond, Bob Didler, William Katt, James Ingram, LeVar Burton, Ice-T, Herb Williams, John McEnroe, Pete Willis, Andy Taylor, Christopher Eccleston, Dave Lombardo, Keith Gretzky, Tammy Macintosh, Amanda Holden, Jerome Bettis, Sarah Clarke, Maureen Johnson, Luis Figueroa, John Tartaglia, John Magaro, Elizabeth Olsen, and The Weeknd.

All right.  So, let's hop in our time machines and see where we're going back in time to today.

February 16, 1968.  I wonder what was so significant about that date?  Let me think.  Urgh...where's William Shatner when I need him?

No, this post is not Star Trek themed.  But William Shatner did host a television show that aired when I was in my preteen years.  It was a show that focused on people who got themselves in scary situations, be it trapped in a house fire, or getting in a car accident, or even something silly like getting your tongue stuck on a low-hanging icicle in the freezer and having your little brother try to call for help.

(Yes, believe it or not, there was an episode of "Rescue 911" that had that very subject.)

But anyway, "Rescue 911" was a show that I really loved watching.  It was a show that celebrated just how hard working and professional 911 dispatchers were and balanced some of the most chilling stories with the lighthearted.  But one thing that was in common with all of these stories were the dispatchers who more often than not were very special people who had the patience of a saint and the heart of a hero, determined to get help for whoever needed it as quickly as they could while staying calm.  The part I liked best about the show was that sometimes the people who called 911 would be reunited with the 911 dispatcher that more often than not saved their lives.  That was always nice to see.  I guess you could call Rescue 911 one of the earliest instances of reality television.

Of course, it got me thinking.  911 has always been available in the United States as long as I've been alive, and was implemented in my area sometime in the mid-1990s (though some urban areas in Canada received the service as early as 1972).  But when exactly did 911 service get implemented into North America in the first place?

Well, it was exactly 48 years ago today, on February 16, 1968 in the community of Haleyville, Alabama.  The first call was placed by Rankin Fite, who was then the Speaker of the House for the state of Alabama, as a test of the system, and while it took some time for the number to catch on, by 1990, most of the lower 48 states were connected to the 911 service grid.

Today, 911 is considered by many to be an instant lifeline for many people who need medical assistance or who are trapped in perilous positions, and it is estimated that the number receives more than twelve million calls a year.

It certainly became a more efficient way to ask for help, given how primitive the service was prior to 1968.  Back in the days of the rotary phone, people would have to rely on an operator switchboard assistant to provide someone in distress some help.

And, lord help you if you ended up with someone like her at the switchboard!

All kidding aside though, while operators would often do their best to try and get a fire truck or ambulance to the person calling for help, it was a slow procedure - one that definitely needed improving.

It's interesting to note that before 911 came into existence, another number - 999 was used by the United Kingdom.  The country started the service in the late 1930s, and as of 2016 is still used as the main emergency number in that area.  But it took the United States another thirty years to catch up, with the American government finally passing the bill that would create the 911 system as we know it in 1967.

And it's amazing to know that in the 48 years since the first 911 call was made that it is a service now available to 98% of people who live in Canada and the United States...and that millions of lives have been saved because of those three little numbers.

Makes you stop and think, doesn't it?