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Thursday, August 31, 2017

August 31, 2014

Well, it's time for the final Throwback Thursday in August...and I'm sure that we all know one historical event that took place on this date...a rather sad one at that.  But since I already did an entry on this last year, I have chosen another topic instead - one that I actually know quite a bit about.

With that, let's have a look at some of the other historical events that took place on the final day of August.

1422 - Henry VI becomes King of England at just nine months old following the death of his father, Henry V

1864 - Atlanta, Georgia is the subject of an attack launched by William T. Sherman during the American Civil War

1886 - Sixty are killed in Charleston, South Carolina when an earthquake strikes

1888 - Mary Ann Nichols is murdered; she would later be named the first of the victims of Jack the Ripper

1897 - The kinetoscope is patented by Thomas Edison

1920 - The first radio news program is broadcast from Detroit, Michigan

1928 - Actor James Coburn (d. 2002) is born in Laurel, Nebraska

1931 - Actor Noble Willingham (d. 2004) is born in Mineola, Texas

1935 - The first of the Neutrality Acts is passed by the United States

1937 - Singer/songwriter Bobby Parker (d. 2013) is born in Lafayette, Louisiana

1939 - Nazi Germany mounts a false flag attack on the Gleiwitz radio station which creates the excuse to attack Poland on September 1 - the official start of World War II

1945 - Singer/songwriter Bob Welch (d. 2012) is born in Los Angeles, California

1962 - Trinidad and Tobago gain independence

1969 - American boxer Rocky Marciano dies at the age of 45

1986 - Aeromexico Flight 498 collides with another airplane midair, killing 67 in both planes, and another fifteen on the ground

1991 - Kyrgyzstan declares its independence from the Soviet Union

1997 - Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed are killed when their car crashes in a Parisian tunnel following a chase with the paparazzi.  Diana was just thirty-six years of age

2006 - After being stolen from the Munch museum in 2004, Edvard Munch's "The Scream" is recovered in a police raid

2012 - Comedian and "Family Fortunes" host Max Bygraves dies at the age of 89

2013 - Journalist and game show host Sir David Frost dies at the age of 74

And celebrating a birthday today are the following famous faces; Allan Fotheringham, Warren Berlinger, Larry Hankin, Jack Thompson, Van Morrison, Richard Gere, Rick Roberts, Colm O'Rourke, Gina Schock, Glenn Tilbrook, Dee Bradley Baker, Todd Carty, Jonathan LaPaglia, Debbie Gibson, Zack Ward, Chris Tucker, Craig Nicholls, and Ian Crocker.

All right, so here's the thing with today's subject.  It's a subject that unless you are very knowledgeable in all things comics, you probably won't know him.  But it's someone whose work has been a part of my life for thirty years.  Sadly, this is the date that he passed away, but his memory lives on through his millions of pages of artwork, his contributions to a certain comic redhead...and a permanent place on my office wall?  



Well, all right, first I'll announce today's throwback date.  August 31, 2014.  Only three years.  Not that long ago!

Sadly, August 31, 2014 was the last day of this cartoonist's life.  He was 82 when he passed away, and it certainly was a sad day in the world of comic books.  However, during his lifetime, he left his mark on three major comic book companies and worked on some of the most recognizable comic book titles in the world.

And it was about thirty years ago that I first fell in love with his work.



Today is the day that we celebrate the achievements of comic book artist Stan Goldberg, on the third anniversary of his passing.

In fact, I have a permanent tribute to him hanging on my office wall.  Have a look!



To be honest, I can't remember what I did to get this picture of him.  I probably wrote him a fan letter or something along those lines.  But what I can tell you is that this is an authentic autograph of Stan Goldberg that accompanies this sketch of Archie, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, and Jughead from Archie Comics.  And it's a picture that I will treasure forever.

Now, when I was first reading Archie Comics in 1987, Goldberg's work was all over the inside pages.  At that time, Goldberg was one of Archie's de facto artists alongside Dan DeCarlo, Samm Schwartz, Bob Bolling, Dexter Taylor, Henry Scarpelli, Rex Lindsey, and Jon D'Agostino.  



And he also designed quite a few cover gags over the years from the 1990s...



...to the 2000s...



...to one of his final projects with Archie - the six issue miniseries which showed Archie getting married.

Of course, Stan Goldberg worked for Archie comics for almost forty years - he joined the company in 1971 and his last story was printed in 2010.  But did you know that before he began at Archie comics, he had a hand in helping to design the colour schemes for some of the world's most recognizable superheroes?

That's because before he began working at Archie comics, he started his career off as a freelancer for Atlas Comics - which would later become Marvel Comics.  And beginning in the mid-1960s, Goldberg would work on the colour designs for various characters alongside fellow artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.

Among some of the creations that Goldberg worked on?  Well, Spider-Man, for one.  In fact, it was Goldberg who came up with the colour scheme to use for Spider-Man comic books in the 1960s - a period of comics that fell under the so-called "Silver Age". 



(Ironically enough, when Marvel Comics teamed up with Archie Comics to start releasing a series of Marvel Greatest Hits Digests, Spider-Man was the first superhero featured!)

Goldberg also worked on "The Fantastic Four" and "The Incredible Hulk" comic books series before leaving Marvel in 1969.  While he worked for Marvel, he also had a hand in inking and penciling various comic book characters in the various humour titles that Marvel released. 

Emulating the style of Archie comics guru Dan DeCarlo, Goldberg would work on such titles as "Millie the Model", "Kathy the Teenage Tornado", and "Patsy Walker".

As if that wasn't enough, in between his stints at Marvel and Archie, Goldberg did a brief stint at DC Comics where he contributed to the titles "Binky", "Swing with Scooter", and "Date with Debbie"!

All in all, Goldberg was in the industry for well over six decades, beginning his career with Timely Comics in 1949, and ending it with Archie in 2010.  And he had certainly been rewarded for his efforts.  In 1994, Goldberg won a Comic-Con International Inkpot Award.  And in 2011, he was formally inducted into the National Cartoonists Society Hall of Fame.  And in 2010, IDW released a collection of Archie Comic stories under the title of "The Best of Stan Goldberg".

Unfortunately, all things had to come to an end.  And it was three years ago today that he passed away from complications from a stroke he sustained two weeks prior - this after making a full recovery from a car accident he was involved in back in 2013.



However, even though he is gone...his work will forever live on.  I know.  I have the picture on the wall to prove it.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Greatest Food Disappointments

The inspiration for this post comes from a box of cereal.

In particular, a box of cereal that had eluded me for over three decades.

When I was a kid, and there used to be Saturday morning cartoons on the air, the commercials that aired during those blocks were often just as entertaining as the cartoons themselves.  And it was almost guaranteed that you would see at least one commercial for some kind of sugary cereal every ten minutes.

(Truth be told, it was the only way I could decide what I wanted for breakfast on Saturday mornings.)



Well, I happened to come across a commercial for "Cookie Crisp" cereal.  And I fell in honest to goodness cereal love.

Actually, it was more like cereal lust, but you get the picture.

So, I remember wanting to try this Cookie Crisp cereal.  I begged my parents to buy it for me.  The only problem was that at that time, Cookie Crisp was only available in the United States - which then prompted me to beg them to take me to the States to buy cereal which sparked dozens of lectures about how foolish it was to go to another country just for cereal.

Can you believe that I waited thirty-six years before I got the chance to try Cookie Crisp?  That's how long it took before Cookie Crisp finally became available in Canada.  Once I saw it was available, I bought a box, a carton of 1% milk, and I immediately ran home to enjoy a bowl of it.

And it was...strangely anticlimactic.

I suppose it was all right, I suppose.  It tasted fine, but it was weird.  It was like if I had taken a jug of milk and poured it over a container of those chocolate chip cookies they used to give out with the Happy Meals at McDonald's.  It was sort of a disappointment.  A cereal that I had waited three and a half decades to try and it was just...meh.

I suppose that leads to the topic of today's blog post.  Food disappointments.  And don't lie and tell me that you haven't had any.  We have all had them.  Cookie Crisp just happens to be my latest food disappointment.

Here are a list of the others.  Maybe some of you will agree, and maybe some of you won't.  Whatever the case, I encourage you all to share some of your food disappointments as well.

And since I started off with a cereal, I thought that I would begin this list with another one.



FROOT LOOPS

Don't get me wrong.  Froot Loops are a beautiful cereal as far as bright colours go.  It's definitely one of the most visually appealing cereals that are readily available.  And yeah, I was intrigued when I heard that there was a cereal that tasted like different kinds of fruit.  What kid doesn't want cereal that tastes like cherries, lemons, and oranges?

Apparently this kid doesn't.  I had one bite of it and I didn't like it.  At all.  But to be fair, I also hated Fruity Pebbles and Trix when I first tried them too.  I guess I have this idea in my head that cereals shouldn't taste like fruit.



KETCHUP POTATO CHIPS

Okay, so I'm thinking that most of you outside of Canada don't even know what these are.  In Canada, one of the more popular flavours of potato chips are ketchup chips, and take it from me, they definitely taste like ketchup.  Unfortunately, I think they taste TOO much like ketchup, and as it stands, it is one of two flavours of potato chip that I don't like (the other one is Mrs. Vickie's Jalapeno chips).  At least I tried it.  Now, if Lay's would make chips that tasted like French's mustard, then we'd have a party!



MCDONALD'S PIZZA

Okay, granted I don't really like a whole lot of food from the Golden Arches anyway.  But back in the 1990s, when McDonald's tried their hand at pizza, I enjoyed it because how can anyone screw up pizza?

Well...I suppose breaking a baby tooth in half on the crust would do it.  It had an okay flavour, but I couldn't get past the crust.  



You know, come to think of it, I'm probably the only person in the world who doesn't like the McRib either.



PEPSI BLUE

I have to admit, I do love Pepsi.  I love it probably more than I should, but I do love it.

I also love blue raspberry slushies.  I admit that I love lime ones a little bit more, but I do love blue raspberry slushies.

However, I would never think to mix the two together.  Aside from going on an insane sugar rush, I don't find that those two flavours go together at all.  That's kind of the impression I got when I first tried Pepsi Blue.



MICRO MARVELS SNACKS

Seemed like a great idea at the time.  Microwaveable burgers, fries, and milkshakes that you could enjoy at home instead of waiting at a drive-thru for your order.  Unfortunately, when I contracted food poisoning from one of these items, it pretty much soured me on most microwave friendly cuisine for two years.  Well, except for popcorn. 



JIFFY POP POPCORN

Well, at least unless you use Jiffy Pop popcorn and almost set your kitchen on fire making it.  At least the non-blackened popcorn tasted okay.



KRAFT OR HEINZ BARBECUE SAUCE

Back in the mid-1990s, my favourite barbecue sauce was Lea and Perrins.  At least it was until they discontinued it.  Today, the closest brand I can find to match it is Bulls-Eye, but I tried several other kinds with hit or miss results.  Kraft is definitely a miss.  And, I'm telling you...it doesn't matter whether it was hickory smoked, original, or honey garlic.  I didn't like any of them.  Same deal with Heinz.  Their ketchup is great...but their other condiments fail.

And finally...





BUTTER TARTS

To some, they are a Canadian delicacy.  To me, they are globs of brown sugar surrounded by an inedible flaky crust.  I just about gagged when I first tried one, and I said to myself, never again.

Those are some of my biggest food disappointments.  I want to hear from you now.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

August 24, 1995

This week on the Throwback Thursday post, we are going to take a look at a product that revolutionized the way we did business, the way we formatted documents, and the way we first started to get connected with each other.  Well, at least it was revolutionary for three calendar years anyway.

Getting to that in a moment, it's also time to see what was happening in the world on August 24.

1456 - The printing of the Gutenberg Bible is completed

1682 - William Penn receives an area of land that will later become the state of Delaware - for the moment, he adds it to his colony of Pennsylvania

1814 - British troops invade Washington D.C. - Several buildings - including the Capitol and the White House are set on fire

1816 - The Treaty of St. Louis is signed

1875 - Matthew Webb becomes the first person in the world to swim the English Channel

1891 - Thomas Edison patents the motion picture camera

1909 - The first concrete is poured for the construction of the Panama Canal

1917 - Game show host Dennis James (d. 1997) is born in Jersey City, New Jersey

1929 - The second day of the Hebron Massacre during the Palestine Riots of 1929 - at least 65 Jews are killed

1932 - Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly non-stop across the United States (from California to New Jersey)

1942 - Singer Jimmy Soul (d. 1988) is born in Weldon, North Carolina

1943 - Actor Kenny Baker (d. 2016) is born in Birmingham, England - the actor is best known for playing R2-D2 in "Star Wars"

1944 - Allied troops begin the attack on Paris during World War II

1949 - Actor Charles Rocket (d. 2005) is born in Bangor, Maine

1967 - The New York Stock Exchange is temporarily disrupted as the Youth International Party led by Abbie Hoffman throws dollar bills onto the trading floor

1970 - The University of Madison-Wisconsin's Sterling Hall is bombed by Vietnam War protestors

1978 - Singer/actor Louis Prima dies at the age of 67

1981 - Mark David Chapman - the man who shot and killed John Lennon - is sentenced to 20 years to life in prison

1989 - Pete Rose receives a permanent ban from baseball due to gambling

1999 - Actress Mary Jane Croft passes away, aged 83

2004 - Two suicide bombers blow up two airplanes flying out of Moscow, killing 89 passengers

2006 - The International Astronomical Union declares Pluto to be a "Dwarf Planet"

2013 - Actress Julie Harris passes away at the age of 87

2016 - Central Italy is devastated by a 6.2 earthquake, causing damage to the town of Accumoli and killing nearly 300 people

And celebrating a birthday today are the following people; Susan Sheehan, David Freiberg, Mason Williams, Ronee Blakley, Ken Hensley, Vince McMahon, Anne Archer, Mike Shanahan, Alain Daigle, Jeffrey Daniel, Stephen Fry, Steve Guttenberg, Cal Ripken, Jr., Jared Harris, Marlee Matlin, Rich Beem, Jean-Luc Brassard, Ava DuVernay, Dave Chappelle, Chad Michael Murray, Brett Gardner, and Rupert Grint.

All right...now what's the date we'll be throwing back to this week?



How about August 24, 1995?  I mean, it's a date that I was actually alive for.  And I remember the date extremely well!

It was a couple of weeks before I was set to begin high school.  At that time, I was really looking forward to it (and on that token, I couldn't believe how naive and optimistic I was back in the summer of '95).  I was looking forward to learning about the history and geography of Canada.  I was looking forward to having a locker to put all of my stuff in.  I was even excited to take any and all computer classes that were offered because anything would have been better than those Unisys Icon computers from 1982 that we were forced to use all throughout elementary school.

Yet, imagine my surprise when my grade nine keyboarding class used those same computers.  Oh, goody, we could play "Type Away" in high school as well and make snails using d's, f's, j's, and k's.

It was a bummer to me...especially since when I started high school there were all of these commercials advertising a new way of computing.  It was the newest software designed by Microsoft that revolutionized the way we looked at computers.



The advertising campaign for this product was certainly well thought out.  Bill Gates used the Rolling Stones single "Start Me Up" as the main theme for the product - which enjoyed a brief resurgence of popularity fourteen years after it was originally released). 



"Friends" stars Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry filmed a video guide on how to use the new computer software.

And, let's face it.  Although the technology is way outdated by today's "Windows 10" standards, it set the groundwork for how we use computers now.



Because it was twenty-two years ago today that Windows 95 first hit the market.  And life as we knew it would never be the same.

Well, at least it wasn't for me.

When I first started using computers, I think all of them were the original Windows operating system that was used when the program became readily available in the mid-1980s.  The first time I even used a computer, I was probably four years old.  The newspaper took a picture of me and put in on the second page or something.  I wish I had a copy of that article.  If anyone has any old newspapers from 1985, have a look and see if I'm in there.

Then I moved on to version 3.1, I think?  It was the version that was released just before Windows 95.  It was nice, but very limiting on what you could do.

It wouldn't be until I was in the eleventh grade before I got to use Windows 95 for the first time - in 1997.  Yeah, despite the fact that I went to a school that had mostly students from rich families attending, it still took my school two years to get new computers in our lab.  Once they arrived, we all agreed that Windows 95 was brilliant.

The speed in which we could access programs was a huge improvement.  I know when I was using Windows 3.1 it sometimes took forever to open up a word processing document or to create a spreadsheet. 

And I think that for anybody who is my age or older, I think it is a fair bet to say that most of us used the Internet for the first time using Windows 95 as our operating device.  Mind you, this was back in the day when the only online company seemed to be America Online, and it took five and a half minutes to log into the system with the screeching and humming of the modem entertaining you while you waited.  Still, it was really cool to join the World Wide Web.  I sent my very first e-mail on Windows 95.  I built my first basic HTML page on Windows 95.  I think I might have even found a way to play Tetris when I should have been doing my computer studies homework assignments on Windows 95! 

So, in a way, even though the program is outdated and hasn't had any support since 2001 - it's still fondly remembered by many as the program that helped them connect to people in ways we never really dreamed of.

Happy birthday, Windows 95!  You may be obsolete, but never forgotten.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Eclipse of Calmness



Well?  How was the solar eclipse for you?

For some people, this was the first time that they would ever see a solar eclipse.  Until recently, I thought that this one was my first one.  I guess I forgot about the one that happened on May 10, 1994.  I shouldn't have really blocked it out either.  I was in seventh grade and the school purposely kept us inside during lunch hour until the eclipse passed.  I guess there are a few memories that have faded as I grow older.

But we're not here to talk about the 1994 eclipse.  We're here to discuss the here and the now.  Well, okay, the here and then.  By now, the solar eclipse is over and it looks like my next chance to see on is in April 2024 - according to Wikipedia, anyway.  And we all know that Wikipedia NEVER lies...

Still, it was a great experience.  Unfortunately, my area didn't get a chance to see a total eclipse.  I think we were in a spot where 65%-75% was covered.  Not bad, but could have been better.

And it's not as if I had the proper equipment to view it either.  I doubt my glasses with Transitions lenses would have been powerful enough.  I didn't have any welding goggles.



I couldn't even make a pinhole camera because all of the cereal boxes in my house were full.  And I don't know about you, but I can't eat a full size box of Honey Nut Cheerios in one sitting.

(Cap'n Crunch, MAYBE...but not Honey Nut Cheerios.)



At least CNN broadcast the event live on television so I could watch it without destroying my eyes any more than I already have (I sat too close to the TV a lot as a kid).  I got home just in time to see footage of the total eclipse in Casper, Wyoming.  It was absolutely stunning to see.

I guess it just goes to show that in many ways, the universe is a lot bigger than we all thought it was.  Here is an event that only takes place every few years (in the case of a total eclipse, it could take centuries), and almost all of us paused to take watch.  In those brief moments, we all forgot about our problems, and just gazed at the natural beauty that came from a solar eclipse.

I know these past few days have been quite tumultuous in regards to how scary the world has seemed.  Terrorist attacks, race riots, extremist political views, and of course the threat of nuclear war.  It's so easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom of the world that we sometimes forget how to truly appreciate the beauty that is part of our universe.  I suppose the eclipse in that aspect is a bit symbolic.  Sometimes darkness moves into the light and tries to steal it away...but it never last for very long.  Eventually, the light finds a way to push the darkness back out.

I'm glad that for just a few minutes at least, we all had some degree of calm and that we could all find our light.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

August 17, 1998

Political scandals, the disturbing actions of a white supremacist group in Virginia, the possibility of aggravating North Korea into nuclear war.  Just another week in 2017 - a year filled with unpredictability and unrest.  I can tell you that my year recap will be chock filled with info this time.

For now, it's time for the Throwback Thursday post, and I can tell you that the subject relates to one of the topics that I've mentioned in my opening spiel.  What that subject is...we'll get to that in a moment.  For now, let's see what else happened in the world August 17th...

1786 - Soldier/politician Davy Crockett (d. 1836) is born in Limestone, North Carolina (now present-day Tennessee)

1807 - The first commercial steamboat service in the world is inaugurated with the launch of the North River Steamboat in New York City

1862 - The Dakota War of 1862 commences

1864 - The Battle of Gainsville takes place in which Confederate Troops defeat Union troops near Gainsville, Florida

1883 - "Himno Nacional" - the national anthem for the Dominican Republic - is performed for the first time

1907 - Pike Place Market opens in Seattle, Washington

1908 - Emile Cohl's "Fantasmagorie" is shown for the first time in Paris, France

1913 - Mark Felt (a.k.a. Deep Throat), former FBI Associate Director (d. 2008) is born in Twin Falls, Idaho

1920 - Actress/singer Maureen O'Hara (d. 2015) is born in Ranelagh, County Dublin, Ireland

1933 - Pop singer Mark Dinning (d. 1986) is born in Manchester, Oklahoma

1943 - A busy day in history - The Allied conquest of Sicily is completed, the first Quebec Conference takes place, and Operation Hydra begins!

1953 - The first meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is held in Southern California

1958 - Pioneer 0 is launched, but the launch fails

1959 - The Hegben Lake Earthquake in Montana forms a lake known as Quake Lake

1969 - Hurricane Camille devastates parts of the Gulf Coast, killing 256 people and causing over a billion dollars in damage

1970 - Venera 7 is launched

1991 - In Sydney, Australia, a taxi driver goes on a shooting rampage inside of a shopping plaza - seven people are killed and six more are wounded before he takes his own life

1999 - A devastating earthquake takes place in Turkey, killing over 17,000 people

2005 - Over five hundred bombs are detonated all over Bangladesh by terrorists

2008 - American swimmer Michael Phelps makes world history by winning his eighth gold medal in the 2008 Olympic Games - the first athlete to win so many gold medals in one Olympics

2009 - Seventy-five lose their lives and power is shut down in various areas of Russia following an accident at the Sayano-Shushenskaya Dam

2016 - Canadian born director Arthur Hiller dies at the age of 92

As for celebrity birthdays, we have quite a few today!  Birthday greetings go out to T.J. Anderson, Shane Porteous, Robert De Niro, Rachel Pollack, Hugh Baiocchi, Martha Coolidge, Gary Talley, Julian Fellowes, Kevin Rowland, Eric Johnson, Belinda Carlisle, Jonathan Franzen, Eric Schlosser, Sean Penn, Gilby Clarke, Dan Dakich, Jon Gruden, Colin James, Maria McKee, Steve Gorman, Dottie Pepper, Don Sweeney, Helen McCrory, Donnie Wahlberg, Kelvin Mercer, Eric Boulton, and Gracie Gold.

Okay, so what date have I decided to turn the clock back to this week?



Hmmm...August 17, 1998.  That was only nineteen years ago.  Unfortunately, I'm old enough to remember what was happening on that date.  Yes, I'm that old.

Let's see...at that time, the newest addition to the family (my nephew) was born a few days earlier.  I was getting ready to begin my twelfth grade year at school (which ended up being a hell of a lot better than eleventh), and I had just gotten my bedroom the way that I wanted it (which was a moot point as we would move just two years later).

It was also the day in which a huge news story seemed to dominate the news channels all over the world.  It was considered to be one of the greatest scandals within an American presidency since the Watergate scandal which saw the impeachment of Richard Nixon in 1974.

I'm sure you all know where I'm going with this, and given the date that I've picked, you can pretty much narrow it down to which president I am talking about.  Yes, it was on this date in 1998 that President Bill Clinton publically admitted that yes, he did have sexual relations with that woman.



That woman, of course, being former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. 

You know, that scandal broke out right around the time that I was getting into late night talk shows.  Back in those days, we had David Letterman and Jay Leno - and naturally, both hosts had a field day with it.  It wasn't quite as much of a spectacle as the O.J. Simpson trial with the Dancing Itos...but it was enough to get the world's attention.

At the time, it was a huge deal.  When the affair took place, it was allegedly between 1995 and 1997 - right around the time that Clinton was running for re-election.  At the time the affair began, Clinton was 49, and Lewinsky was just 22.  And of course we all know that during the tryst between Clinton and Lewinsky that he was a married man. 

The first inkling of trouble within the White House was first heard in January 1998, when the Washington Post released the story about the alleged affair between Clinton and Lewinsky.  On January 26, 1998, Clinton appeared before a press conference and uttered the nine words that would come back to haunt him.

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

However, according to Lewinsky, that wasn't quite the case.  In fact, she had stated that she and the President had at least nine consensual sexual encounters during November 1995 and March 1997.  At some point during that time, Lewinsky's duties were shifted from the White House to the Pentagon as her superiors believed that she was getting a little too close to the President.  If only they knew...

The early stages of the scandal began to take root in late 1997 when Lewinsky confided in U.S. Civil Servant Linda Tripp about the affair.  Tripp advised Lewinsky to keep all of the presents that she had received from Clinton.  She also told Lewinsky to keep a blue dress that she had worn on one of the then alleged sexual encounters as proof.  And yes, that infamous blue dress was a common joke subject for the late night comedians I used to watch back in the day.

Anyway, long story short, Tripp began to record the conversations that she would have with Lewinsky about the affair, and those tapes would be used as evidence that Lewinsky had perjured herself while on the stand as a witness in the Paula Jones trial.  Jones had filed a sexual harassment suit against Clinton in 1997 and Lewinsky had stated back then that she did not engage in any sort of physical relationship with Clinton.  So, naturally the two stories kind of conflicted with each other, and over the next few months, the speculation intensified and many were left wondering whether or not an affair took place.

But on August 17, 1998, Bill Clinton admitted to a grand jury that he did have improper physical relations with Lewinsky - the dress that Lewinsky turned in became a crucial piece of evidence that was fairly hard to ignore.  That night, he confessed to the American public via a press conference.

As a result of this, Clinton was held in civil contempt of court for his misleading testimony surrounding the nature of his relationship with Lewinsky and was fined $90,000.  His license to practice law was suspended for five years.  Because of the scandal, he was very nearly impeached from his position, but in February 1999, the Senate acquitted him of all charges and he remained to serve out the rest of his term in January 2001.  Throughout it all, his wife Hillary stood by him throughout it all, and the couple is still married today - though I imagine that the first couple of years after his confession were quite tense in the Clinton household!

As for Lewinsky?  She moved on from the scandal as best she could, becoming a spokesperson for Jenny Craig, hosting a short-lived reality television series called "Mr. Personality", and is now an advocate for cyberbullying - which I suppose makes sense, given that she was and continues to be crucified for her role in the scandal.  Personally, while I acknowledge that she did make a really big mistake, I think enough time has passed that everyone should just really leave her be.  Besides, I don't think that she really deserved as much scrutiny as she ended up getting. 

Besides, with what's been happening in the world lately, the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal is MILD!      

Monday, August 14, 2017

Duck and Cover: My Struggle with Social Anxiety

So, this was the weekend that I saw a gigantic duck.

No, I am not on drugs, nor am I having some sort of hallucination.  I really did see a gigantic duck.  Here's the proof below.



The reason for the duck is a small part of what was happening in my hometown.  As part of the Canadian sesquicentennial, there was a lot going on.



First, there was the reopening of Canada's very first railroad tunnel.  My hometown is the location of this historic relic, and until this past weekend, it was sealed up.  Now it has been reopened, and you can walk through the entire length of it.

We also had an old-fashioned fair that was set up near the tunnel that boasted a ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, and other fond favourites from our childhoods gone by.

The festival coincided with the annual RibFest celebration in which dozens of vendors tried to tempt you with offerings of spare ribs, chicken, and pulled pork sandwiches. 

And of course, the gigantic duck.  The duck, believe it or not, is the source of controversy as it was widely reported that it cost taxpayers a quarter of a million bucks to transport the duck across the country on its journey.  I'll admit that I question how a rubber duck could possibly be linked to Canadian confederation, but aside from that, I thought it was a neat addition to the festival.  And, considering that the duck is ten times taller than I am, it certainly was quite the spectacle.

I just thought I'd show you some snapshots of the one day that I attended the festival.  I didn't stay very long, and I worked most of the weekend anyway, but I did enjoy what I experienced, even though in some ways I felt a bit down as the same time.

I suppose I should explain.  I took a few pictures of my experience with the town festival, and I enjoyed watching my local friends do the same.  At the same time, I felt as though I was missing something.

I wish I had someone to share the experience with.

And when I say that I wish I had someone, I certainly don't mean a romantic partner or a family.  I've already come to terms with the fact that in my near future, I don't expect either to happen.  I just wish that I had someone to hang out with there so that I didn't feel completely out of place.

It sounds like a really ridiculous thing to admit, but I get incredibly self-conscious when I am in a crowd of people.  My self-consciousness increases tenfold when I see that I am the only one in that crowd who is without a plus one, or plus two, or plus twenty.  So, as a result I don't tend to enjoy myself nearly as much as I should.

I'm sure that I am not the only one who gets this way.  Far from it.  Social anxiety is a common part of life for a percentage of adults and children all over the world.  For all I know, there very well could have been other people at the festival who were extremely uncomfortable to be there as well.  But when you experience an anxiety attack, you don't think rationally about those sorts of things until after the fact.

A couple of months ago, the city held another festival that included various trucks that served poutines.  And as someone who cannot resist the delectable combo of cheese curd, gravy, and french fries, it was definitely my kind of place to hang.

But once I got there and I saw the huge crowd of people there...I froze in my tracks and had what I consider to be the mother of all panic attacks.  Shortness of breath, sweat coming out of every pore, the inability to keep it all together.  Yeah, I had every single one of those symptoms.  It took everything in me to try and keep it together until I got home.  It was such a horrible feeling that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

It wasn't until a family member agreed to go with me that I calmed down and made another attempt to go.  And as long as I was with them, I was perfectly fine.  I grabbed my poutine, I ate it, and I even grabbed some homemade donuts for a snack later on.  It ended up being a great day considering that just hours earlier, I was so anxious that I couldn't even go into the park where the festival was being held.

I never expected myself to be the co-dependent type.  Going through what I went through, I honestly thought myself to be fairly headstrong.  But I've come to the conclusion that I simply don't know how to relax and have fun by myself. 

I know what you are saying though.  I could have simply asked someone if they wanted to go with me.  But I also know that most of the people I am close with have their own families and their own relationships and I would feel as though I'd be getting in the way.  The last thing I want to feel like is being a third, fifth, or thirty-seventh wheel.

Now, why have I decided to tell you this?  Well, I want some of you who have had these attacks of anxiety before to know that you aren't alone.  Trust me, social anxiety is very real, and its effects can be quite devastating.  My social life isn't as rich as it could be as a result of it, and while I agree that part of it is on me...there's also a part of it that isn't.

It's also very difficult for me to admit this on a public forum such as this blog.  By me admitting this, I essentially am putting myself out there with a great big sign saying "these are my faults and yes I have them".  But I'm hoping that if someone else has had these feelings and has successfully conquered their fears and anxieties, maybe I could learn from them how they did it and put it into practice.

There's no shame in asking for help or assistance.  And maybe it's time I figure out why I get so panicked in large crowds of people.  




After all...if I can handle a sixty-foot tall duck, anything is possible, right?