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Thursday, September 28, 2017

September 28, 2016

Okay, so I will apologize in advance for the fact that today's Throwback Thursday post won't be going back in time that far.  In fact, it will probably be the most recent Throwback Thursday that I have done yet.  But there is a good reason for it - and besides, when we get to the background info on this subject, you'll find that it is definitely filled with its share of historical tidbits.

For now, let's take a look at some of the other events that took place throughout history on this, the twenty-eighth day of September.

1066 - William the Conqueror invades England

1779 - Samuel Huntington is elected President of the Continental Congress

1781 - American forces begin the Siege of Yorktown during the American Revolutionary War

1787 - The Congress of the Confederation votes to send the newly-written United States Constitution to the state legislatures for approval

1867 - Toronto officially becomes the capital city of Ontario, Canada

1901 - Variety show host/creator Ed Sullivan (d. 1974) is born in Harlem, New York

1909 - Cartoonist Al Capp (d. 1979) is born in New Haven, Connecticut

1918 - The Fifth Battle of Ypres takes place during World War I

1919 - Omaha, Nebraska becomes the site of race riots, leaving three people dead

1924 - A team of aviators enlisted in the United States Army Air Service become the first people to fly around the world in an aircraft; that same day Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni (d. 1996) is born

1928 - The medicine known as penicillin is discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming

1938 - Singer Ben E. King (d. 2015) is born in Henderson, North Carolina

1939 - Warsaw surrenders to Nazi Germany during World War II

1951 - The first color televisions are available for sale to the general public - they are discontinued by November, but will eventually make a significant comeback

1964 - Comedian/actor Harpo Marx passes away at the age of 75

1971 - The United Kingdom passes the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971 which bans the medicinal use of cannabis

1973 - The ITT Building in New York City is bombed

1975 - London, England becomes the setting of The Spaghetti House Siege, where nine people are taken hostage

1991 - American jazz musician Miles Davis dies at the age of 65

1994 - MS Estonia, a cruise ferry, sinks in the Baltic Sea, killing 852 people on board

2000 - Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau passes away at the age of 80

2003 - Tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson passes away at the age of 76

2008 - SpaceX launches Falcon 1 - the world's first private spacecraft - into orbit

As for famous birthdays, have a look at the people who are celebrating turning another year older today; Jeremy Isaacs, Brigitte Bardot, Bruce Crampton, Richie Karl, Jon Snow, Jim Henshaw, Jennifer Rush, Gregory Jbara, Grant Fuhr, Laurie Rinker, Susan Walters, Greg Weisman, Janeane Garofalo, Mira Sorvino, Moon Unit Zappa, Naomi Watts, Eric Lapointe, Joseph Arthur, Dita Von Teese, Jeezy, Bam Margera, Melody Thornton, and Hilary Duff.  Happy birthday to you all as well as anyone else who is celebrating a birthday today!

So where are we going back in time to this week?

Okay, I wasn't kidding about being a recent entry.  We're going back to September 28, 2016 - one whole year. 

I know what you're thinking.  Why would I want to revisit the year that most of us dread talking about?  A year which saw many of our entertainers pass away and many of our politicians losing the plot?

Well, it's partly because of guilt. 

For those of you who have read my blog over the last few years, you know that around New Years' Eve, I do a week long feature of the highlights and lowlights of the year gone by.  2016 was no exception.

Unfortunately when I posted my list of all the stars we lost in 2016 - and believe me, we lost a LOT of them...I had forgotten to include one. 

September 28, 2016 was the day that a woman passed away at the age of 93.  And while the name might not sound familiar at first to the average person, she had a long career in television - particularly within daytime television.

No, she wasn't an actress in a long running serial.  She tended to work behind the scenes instead.  She began as a scriptwriter for several long established soap operas, and by her sixty-fifth birthday, she had created three shows that at the time were still on the air (all on the same network) with varying degrees of success. 

That's right.  Of the dozens of soap operas that had aired on daytime television, she was responsible for the creation of three of them - "Loving", "All My Children", and "One Life to Live".

While these three shows went off the air in 1995, 2011, and 2012 respectively, the shows were also responsible for creating some of the most well known daytime characters to ever exist in the industry.  Characters such as Erica Kane, Viki Lord, Todd Manning, Tad Martin, Trisha Alden, and Dorian Lord.  Not only that, but this woman was also responsible for some of daytime's most controversial and groundbreaking storylines.

And today, as we celebrate the life of soap opera legend Agnes Nixon, we'll talk about those three shows, and more.  And I think the best way to do this is to make a list of trivia facts about her and her creations and go from there.  Believe me, some of the accomplishments that she had during her career were nothing short of extraordinary.  In fact, her memoir is set to be released sometime in late 2017 or early 2018.

1 - She was born Agnes Eckhardt on December 10, 1922 in Chicago, Illinois.

2 - She was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority while attending Northwestern University.

3 - She married her husband - Robert Nixon - in 1951.  The marriage lasted until 1996 when he passed away.

4 - One of her first jobs in the television industry involved writing for the soap opera "As The World Turns", where she worked for show creator Irna Phillips.

5 - At some point during her career, she ascended into the head writer position for three different soap operas - "The Guiding Light", "Search for Tomorrow", and "Another World".

6 - Nixon is credited for penning the very first soap opera story involving a character getting a pap smear.  She wrote the story for Charita Bauer, who played the character of Bert Bauer on "The Guiding Light" and it was designed to educate women on the procedure.

7 - Although Nixon had created the outline for "All My Children" first, she wasn't able to get it passed by ABC executives right away, so "One Life to Live" became her first soap to debut.  It's first episode aired on July 15, 1968.

8 - "All My Children" would eventually get a premiere of its own a year and a half after "One Life to Live" debuted - on January 5, 1970.

9 - And thirteen years later on June 26, 1983, Nixon would create the college set soap opera "Loving".  It was the first show where she was credited as co-creator, as she had worked with Douglas Marland to bring it to screen.

10 - When "One Life to Live" debuted, it was designed to be a more contemporary soap opera, and Nixon made sure that there were characters of all backgrounds, including Jewish characters, Irish-American characters, and African-American characters. 

11 - "One Life to Live" also featured a storyline involving the AIDS Quilt in 1992.

12 - The daytime drama "Loving" also had a first associated with it.  It was the first soap opera that featured a main character suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after serving in the Vietnam War, and actually had his character visit the Vietnam War Memorial.

13 - And not to leave out "All My Children", it created controversy of its own by having a storyline where Erica Kane chose to have an abortion - the first time the subject was tackled on daytime television.  Of course, the storyline was completely rewritten thirty years later - which likely sped up the cancellation.  But was the first time a show tackled a touchy subject like abortion.

14 - When "Loving" was cancelled in 1995 and turned into "The City", Agnes Nixon retained a co-creator title, even though James Harmon Brown and Barbara Esensten were at the helm for the show's entire run.

15 - Prior to that, when "Loving" was undergoing personnel changes, Nixon took over as head writer for a period in 1994 to keep the show afloat.

16 - Agnes Nixon sometimes appeared on her own creations in walk-on roles.  On "All My Children" and "One Life to Live", she played the role of Agnes Eckhardt - her maiden name.

17 - Her show "All My Children" did exceptionally well at the Daytime Emmy Awards.  In the forty-one years the show aired on television (plus its brief online run through Prospect Park in 2013), "All My Children" won the award for Outstanding Drama Series in 1988, 1996, 1997, and 1998 - plus a further twelve nominations between 1990 and 2012!

18 - Nixon herself won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series for "All My Children" in 1985.

19 - She was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1992.

20 - She was also inducted into the Soap Opera Hall of Fame in 1994; the first female writer to do so.

21 - And finally, in 2010, she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmy Awards.

It's a shame that Agnes Nixon is no longer around - she died one year ago today from Parkinson's Disease.  Even sadder is the fact that she outlived all three of her soap opera creations.  However, as the daytime industry keeps changing, and soap operas are becoming less popular - it's nice to know that for a little while, Agnes Nixon happily wore her "Queen of the Soaps" crown.  And you know something?  She deserved it.

On a totally unrelated note, I wanted to extend my condolences to the loved ones of Hugh Hefner, who died yesterday at the age of 91.  Rest in peace, Hef.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Fast Food Commercials That Stick With You

I apologize for not writing in here for quite a while.  Real life has once again gotten in the way.  So, you know what?  I'll expand this special food theme into October as well to make up for it.

So, what's the theme for today?  It's all about commercials.  Specifically the commercials for fast food places that have made an impact on us.

These are the commercial jingles that have somehow stayed in our brains for twenty-five years, but yet we can't remember how to do basic arithmetic or what we need to purchase at the supermarket.

I'll tell you what inspired this post though.  Actually, I'll show you.

Yeah, yeah...I know.  It's shocking to see Jason Alexander of "Seinfeld" fame with hair.  But what is even more shocking is that I remember this commercial vividly.

A friend of mine posted this on his Facebook page last week.  It's a commercial for the McDLT which first came out in 1985.  Now, the product itself was designed to keep your lettuce and tomato crispy and fresh, while your burger stayed nice and warm.  It was a brilliant concept, but with more and more companies steering away from styrofoam packaging in the 1980s, the shelf life of the sandwich was short.  But it's absolutely amazing how more than 30 years later, that commercial is still etched in my mind.  Even more impressive was the fact that I was only four years old when the McDLT commercial first aired!

Anyway, it got me thinking...what other fast food ads made that much of an impact?  Well, I've searched YouTube to come up with some examples.

Now, keep in mind, I've only put examples up over the last three and a half decades.  If you have any other ones to share prior to say, 1982, I'd love to see them!

And since I started off with McDonald's, let's post another one from them that I remember a lot.

Okay, so the Mac Tonight ads were designed to try and make McDonald's a little more classier.  Because I know that when I think haute couture in the culinary industry, I think of Big Macs.  Around 1987, McDonald's tried using a dapper crescent moon doing his own take on Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife" by singing about wanting a "Mac Tonight".  For what it's worth, the commercials were quite well done, and I think I still might have a Mac Tonight fridge magnet hiding in my garage somewhere.  But it didn't quite gel with the general public.

I was probably still taking six hour naps when this commercial first started airing for Wendy's, but I think everyone tried to imitate Clara Peller's "Where's The Beef" inquiry!  It was an ad designed to promote the fact that Wendy's used more beef and had larger patties than the other fast food joints out there.  I can attest that as far as fast food burgers go, I definitely like Wendy's quite a bit.  Sadly, the commercials only lasted three years as Clara Peller passed away in 1987.

Moving away from hamburgers for now, some of the best commercials that I have seen for fast food places come from pizza joints.  And Little Caesar's commercials are probably some of the funniest and most creative of their time.  Who could forget the conga line commercial with the surprise twist ending?

Or the various commercials featuring how stretchy their cheese pizza was?

Yeah, those cheeser cheeser commercials sure were memorable.

Another pizza company that had great commercials was Domino's.  At least, back in the late 1980s, they did.  Having been a fan of the animation art known as Claymation back in the day, watching the commercials that starred the Noid was always a fun experience.  The Noid was kind of like the Trix rabbit in a way in that both wanted to eat the product that was advertised, but neither mascot came out the victor.  At least the Noid ended up getting made into a video game called "Yo, Noid!"

Seriously.  I'm not kidding - and it was a tough game too...I couldn't make it past level 11.

Sometimes the ads weren't for the food themselves, but for the toys that you could purchase with the meals.  Back in 1990, Burger King ran a promotion where if you bought food from them, you could also purchase one of five Simpsons stuffed toys for $3.49.  Unfortunately, I only managed to get three of these toys.  I missed out on Maggie and Bart.  But I still have Homer, Marge, and Lisa kicking around!

Okay, so here's a commercial that actually predates me by a few years, but I have to include it because of the fact that it has a slogan that became an instant earworm.  Long before McDonald's started lovin' it, Burger King made it clear that you could "hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don't upset us".  And as someone who could be quite picky about what they wanted on a burger (as in, you put onions and mayo on my burger and you will die a slow and painful death), this was a good thing.  Years after this commercial aired, they redid the commercial (with I believe the same actors who filmed the original).

A more recent commercial from McDonald's, I have to admit that the fish singing the "Filet-O-Fish" song was catchy as hell.

And I have to say that this Dairy Queen commercial for the "Flamethrower" burger was absolutely laugh out loud the minute I first viewed it sometime in the 2000s. 

Finally, to end things off on a heartwarming note, we have this commercial from McDonald's that used to air for a couple of years during the winter months.  It was a commercial that I absolutely adored as a kid, and if anything it helped me realize that Ronald McDonald was actually a very nice clown who just appeared to look like something from Satan's kitchen.

Okay, so now I turn the floor over to you.  Which commercials from fast food places did you enjoy the most?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

September 21, 1998

Before I go ahead with today's Throwback Thursday posting, I want to congratulate Josh for winning Big Brother 19.  It was definitely an unexpected, but incredible twist of fate that he took home the half million.  Good job for being a dragon slayer, Josh. 

Now, as for today's subject...well, unfortunately this subject met an untimely end...but made the most of her time on this earth given how "fast" it went.  More on that in a moment - but for now, let's celebrate the last day of summer with a list of historical events for September 21!

1776 - After being occupied by British forces, parts of New York City are burned to the ground

1780 - Benedict Arnold gives the British the plans to West Point during the American Revolutionary War

1912 - Animator Chuck Jones (d. 2002) is born in Spokane, Washington

1921 - A storage silo explodes in Oppau, Germany - the blast kills well over five hundred people

1931 - Actor Larry Hagman (d. 2012) is born in Fort Worth, Texas

1933 - The first "Lucha libre" match is held in Mexico

1934 - Honshu, Japan is devastated by a typhoon which kills over three thousand people - also on this date singer Leonard Cohen (d. 2016) is born in Westmount, Quebec

1937 - "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien is first published

1938 - The Great Hurricane of 1938 makes landfall in Long Island, New York, killing between 700 and 800 people

1942 - Over 2,500 Jews are slaughtered by Nazis in Dunaivtsi, Ukraine

1965 - The North American XB-70 Valkyrie makes its maiden flight from Palmdale, California

1974 - Author and actress Jacqueline Susann dies at the age of 56

1981 - Sandra Day O'Connor is unanimously approved to become the first female Justice of the American Supreme Court

1993 - "NYPD Blue" debuts on ABC

1996 - The Defense of Marriage Act passes the United States Congress

1998 - "Will & Grace" debuts on NBC

2001 - Ten days after the 9/11 attacks, America: A Tribute to Heroes is broadcast by thirty-five network and cable channels - the television special raised over $200 million for families of loved ones who died September 11, 2001

2007 - Actress Alice Ghostley dies at the age of 84

And for celebrity birthdays, we have quite a few people turning one year older.  Happy birthday to Don Preston, Dick Simon, Dickey Lee, Bill Kurtis, Fannie Flagg, Jerry Bruckheimer, Richard Childress, Don Felder, Stephen King, Artis Gilmore, Bill Murray, Marta Kauffman, Ethan Coen, Dave Coulier, Corinne Drewery, David James Elliott, Nancy Travis, Rob Morrow, Cecil Fielder, Angus Macfadyen, Cheryl Hines, Faith Hill, David Jude Jolicoeur, Ricki Lake, Anne Burrell, Melissa Ferrick, Alfonso Ribeiro, Luke Wilson, Liam Gallagher, Paulo Costanzo, Autumn Reeser, Nicole Richie, Maggie Grace, Lindsey Stirling, and Emma Watkins!

Whew!  I'm exhausted!  Let's just go ahead and see where the Throwback Thursday post takes us today.

September 21, 1998.  Nineteen years ago today.

Now, this happens to be the date that the show "Will & Grace" debuted in, and certainly it would have been a great topic of discussion as it is coming back to the small screen next week.  But then I remembered that something else happened on this date that was quite sad...not necessarily because of the way that this famous athlete died, but how she died. 

In order to begin this story, I'll tell you a personal tale.  No, I didn't know this person very well, but I do remember how I heard the news that she had died.

I should preface this by telling all of you that I have an obsessed love for all things related to game shows.  When I was home sick from school, all I wanted to watch were game shows.  My favourite YouTube clips are video compilations of stupid game show answers.  And I have made it no secret that one of the things on my bucket list is to be a contestant on a game show.  I don't even care if I win or lose.  I just want to be a contestant for the experience.

I very vaguely remember the old "Hollywood Squares" game show.  It was the one where you had to play tic-tac-toe by answering whether a celebrity square was lying or telling the truth about a certain statement read by the host.  I was too young to remember the days when Paul Lynde was the center square (he died when I was a year old), but do remember when Joan Rivers was in the middle.  I liked the show back then.  I was way too young to get the jokes, but I liked seeing the famous people playing the game.

So when "Hollywood Squares" was revived in the fall of 1998, I was really excited.  Hosted by Tom Bergeron, the center square featured Whoopi Goldberg (back in the days after she was a famous Hollywood starlet, but before she turned into a shrieking harpy on "The View").  And I admit that those first couple of years of the show were halfway decent.

The new show debuted on September 14, 1998, and was a success the first week.  But on the week of episodes beginning September 21, 1998, it was jarring to see Whoopi Goldberg appearing in a separate clip before the show began.  I thought...that's odd.  Is the show being cancelled already?

Then she announced that one of the celebrity guests for the shows that would be airing the week of September 21-25 had died.  That was REALLY shocking.  Especially when you consider that the person who died was not only a famous athlete in her own right, but that she was only 38 years old.  

The celebrity that died was Florence Griffith-Joyner.  Or, Flo-Jo, as the media lovingly referred her as.  She passed away on September 21, 1998 after having an epileptic seizure in her sleep.

Her death certainly cast a bit of a gloom on the week of shows that aired.  Watching her be witty, charming, and warm to all of the contestants and other celebrities she appeared on the show with, it was hard to believe that she was gone.  She really was one of those larger than life personalities that you often heard so much about.

Of course, Flo-Jo had far more talent than being a game show panelist.  In fact, at one point, she was considered to be the fastest woman in the entire world!  Now that is definitely a title to hold!

You see, Flo-Jo made her living as a track and field star.  And that love for all things athletic began at a very early age.  Born in California on December 21, 1959, Florence Griffith's interest in sports began when she was in elementary school.  She joined the Sugar Ray Robinson Organization and ran track meets on weekends.  This prepared her to join the track team in high school and to enter track and field competitions.  When she was just in her teens, she won the Jesse Owens National Youth Games back to back in 1974 and 1975!  By the time she had graduated from high school in 1978, she had already set the school records for the sprinting and long jump events.

She was so good in the sport that she was an early contender to be a competitor in the 1980 Summer Olympics.  Of course, we all know that thanks to a boycott of the Summer Olympics by the United States and several other nations, Flo-Jo's Olympic dreams had to be put on hold.  But she continued to train rigorously and earned a degree in psychology in 1983.

By the time the 1984 Olympic Games had come to Los Angeles, Florence was ready to take them on, earning herself a silver medal for the 200-meter sprint.  But it wouldn't be until 1988 that Flo-Jo would REALLY make a name for herself.

For starters, the nickname of Flo-Jo came about after her 1987 marriage to triple-jump gold medallist Al Joyner.  I guess Flo-Jo sort of rolled off the tongue a bit better than Florence Griffith-Joyner.  For another, Flo-Jo was getting attention for the elaborate track outfits she wore while competing.  With brightly coloured one-legged track suits and impressive fingernail designs, she certainly stood out in a fashion perspective.

But even more impressive, she stood out for her incredible natural talent.  When she took part in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, Flo-Jo made history.  She won four medals that year, a silver in the 4x400 meter event, and three gold medals in the 100m, 200m, and the 4x100m events!  In the case of the 100m and 200m events, Flo-Jo performed so well that she broke the record for the fastest time ever recorded by a female athlete in those events - a record that has stood ever since!  It amazes me that after she competed in the 1988 Olympics, she retired from the sport while she was on top because she really was a force to be reckoned with.

After her retirement, she decided to embark on a different career path.  Certainly fashion was one industry she dabbled in (after all, she did design her own track outfits).  But she also did some acting on the side and appeared on various talk shows and game shows - such as "Hollywood Squares".

Sadly, when Florence Griffith-Joyner died in 1998, there was some talk that her death was related to steroid use.  It had been a nasty rumour that had been flying around for years - dating back to the 1988 Olympics where she had performed so well.  Many athletes had suspected that her fast times were caused by steroid and drug use, and many believed that she had cheated to get to where she was.  It was a claim that Flo-Jo had always denied, and several tests concluded that she had no illegal drugs in her system.  The autopsy results showed that she only had over-the-counter painkillers in her system the day she died. 

It wasn't until after her death that her family revealed that she had a cavernous hemangioma - a condition that made Flo-Jo susceptible to seizures.  She was treated for these seizures at several points during the early 1990s.  Whether it was this condition that prompted her to go into retirement, it's hard to say.  There hasn't been any confirmation to this, but it would seem like a logical reason.

All in all...September 21, 1998 was a really shocking day in the world of sports...and the track and field community lost a real legend.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Big Brother 19 - A-Paul-ling

So, the finale for Big Brother 19 is coming up very soon - tomorrow night.  But do I care?  Nope.

(Well, okay, I care enough to write a blog entry on it...but other than that, I don't care.)

Truth be told, this is one of the seasons of Big Brother where I really don't give a toss about who takes home the half million dollars, as this whole season has been spoiled by the threat of temptation, the stupidity of the players, and the cult of Paul Abrahamian.

Yeah, that's right.  I said cult.  Because watching this whole season has been a complete train wreck from beginning to end.  One might say that it was the most appalling season to date.

Or, maybe I should say "A-Paul-ling".

This summer was all about the idea of temptation.  No, the houseguests didn't get to play the popular game of the same name from "The Price is Right" to win a brand new car (though that would have been more entertaining).  No, they had the chance to accept temptations that would give them rewards and consequences in hopes that it would cause them to get further ahead in the game.

The only problem was that A) the temptations were incredibly lame and only seemed to benefit one player over everyone else, and B) many of the later temptations were never used because the other houseguests were too busy drinking their cult leader's Kool-Aid to make a huge move.

As it stands, this is probably the weakest final three that Big Brother has ever had.  And keep in mind that we survived the Big Brother 9 couples from hell and Big Brother 15's race riots.  Big Brother 19 isn't as terrible as either of those seasons, but I guarantee you that I won't ever look fondly on this season.  From people throwing away their games to give someone else a chance to win to disgusting things said on the live feeds, this bunch of houseguests are certainly not going to be remembered in a positive light - though I think in this case, it was one player in particular who really spoiled things.  For everyone.

Now, at this time, I have no idea who is going to win Big Brother 19, and as I said, I don't care.  But I think I can probably predict who will take the whole thing.  So, for the cast profiles and why I don't really like the vast majority of them, I'll post a screenshot of their cast credit and explain why they were an asset or a disaster.

For what it's worth, even though he spent a grand total of like 14 hours in the Big Brother house, I consider Cameron to be an asset to this season.  The dude completely got screwed over in the game.  He was almost like a sacrificial lamb of sorts.  After all, had the temptation not been taken, Cameron would have lasted at least a week instead of one night.  If there was ever an argument for a season where they brought back the first one voted out from each season, Cameron would be it.  Tough break.

There are two arguments that you could make for the sole quitter of the season, Megan.  One argument is that she took a spot that someone else could have had and threw it away.  I can understand Cameron being pissed off at her because of it.  On the other hand, maybe Megan saw the writing on the wall before the damage began to be inflicted, and she decided to cut out before she damaged herself any more than she had to.  The jury is out, but I can say this...for abandoning this horrible season, I think Megan inevitably became one of the more INTELLIGENT houseguests this season.  Still, if I were Cameron, I'd probably be pissed.

Like Cameron, Jillian didn't really make much of an impact in the house (though unlike Cameron, she did make it in almost one whole week).  Her undoing had to do with the den of temptation (as well as one other person who I will be talking about a little later).  Jillian was more or less fodder for the games of some of the other players, and I feel that she got a raw deal as well.  Besides, I think the hula dance she did in the opening credits of the show made me kind of like her.

Dominique, the only thing I can say is that you have a big mouth.  The talk show may have been a great idea on paper, but Oprah Winfrey you are not.  In fact, I can't think of anyone else who essentially blabbed their entire plan in the time frame of just a few minutes.  The other houseguests picked up on it, and out the door you went!  At least in this case, I can say that you held the cards to your own fate.

Ah, Cameron and Jillian, you also fell victim to the gameplay of others as a result of the stupid temptation twist.  Or maybe you just fell victim to the fact that you actually tried to fight for your life in the Big Brother house by actively going for the Power of Veto and pissing off the Cult of Abrahamian.  Either way, you were a really nice guy who ended up getting stung way too early.  I'm sorry, man.  You know, this seems to be a recurring theme...the nice ones always seem to go first.

All right, I am grouping Jessica and Cody together for three reasons.  One, they were considered to be the showmance of the season (no matter what "Maven" might suggest otherwise).  Two, they were evicted one right after the other (though Cody won a chance to get back in earlier in the season and is a juror), and three, they were considered public enemy number one and two for the Cult of Abrahamian.  You see, back when Cody was HoH, he tried to get Paul evicted.  Unfortunately, Paul was given a temptation to use, and Jillian was eventually voted out - but as a result of the temptation and the PoV and other twists, Cody ultimately ended up pissing half the house off and made enemies in the process.  Jessica ended up being collateral damage.

Here's the thing.  While Cody will not be winning a congeniality award anytime soon and while Jessica might want to keep her hands to herself (don't ask), I struggle to come up with a valid reason as to why they were constantly bullied by the Cult of Abrahamian so badly.  The abuse that both of them took was so vile and obnoxious that it really spoiled the whole show.  It wasn't as bad as the Aaryn/Candice/GinaMarie battles from Big Brother 15, but it was still mob mentality bullying.  I don't know if their relationship will last past the Big Brother house, but as people...they deserved much better than this.  Heck, I just might want Cody to win America's Favourite Juror so that the other houseguests would react with shock and awe.  It'd serve them right.

When the season first started, I had dismissed Elena as a genuine floater.  She essentially did nothing but cling onto Mark the whole time, and I can't even remember if she had won any competitions at all.  But as the game progressed and she and Mark became the next targets of the Cult of Abrahamian, Elena grew more likeable, and by the time we saw her in the jury house, she was actually a lot more intelligent than I gave her credit for.  She realized that the Cult of Abrahamian played all of them for fools before she was voted out and at least acknowledged that she was played.  So, thanks to Elena for showing me a more pleasant side to her.

(Side note:  The whole jury house segments are more enjoyable than the action inside the Big Brother house.)

Mark, you strike me as a genuinely nice guy.  Unfortunately, nice guys RARELY win Big Brother.  Look at Evel Dick, Rachel Reilly, Andy Herren, and Dr. Will Kirby for proof of that.  I think you lasted longer than I thought you would, and I think had you kept your cool and not tried to go after Josh so many times, I think you would have made it even further - though I have heard that you and Josh patched things up so good on you.  And good luck in everything.  Nice guys like you deserve it.

Matt...what exactly did you do this season other than Raven?  Yep.  Nothing.  Oh, wait.  You ate some cereal.  Yeah, you win the prize for most boring and pointless houseguest ever.  Next.

Jason, I want to like you, but we have to address the elephant in the room.  I don't care if you were joking around or being completely serious.  Rape jokes are not funny and you should be ashamed of yourself for uttering them inside the Big Brother House on the live feeds.  And it's really unfortunate because before that happened, I was really pulling for you.  You had a likeable personality, you played hard and won competitions, and I didn't even mind the Whistle-Nut references.  I think when you leave the house, you owe Kevin an apology for the comments you made, and you also owe one to your family.  Again, rape is not something to joke about.

Oh, now we come to Raven.  A puppet master in her own mind.  Which admittedly is pretty screwed up.  By now, you've probably heard all of the comments about how Raven's family are con artists who suck money from innocent people to fund trips and expensive shopping sprees.  I won't rehash that.  But I find it hard to take someone seriously when they apparently have more diseases than Anna Chlumsky claimed to have in the movie "My Girl".  I mean, if she has gastroparesis, I feel for her because it is a painful condition - but was the other 612 maladies really necessary?  Honestly, Raven...just.  shut.  up.  I don't know what Matt sees in her.

Alex, I'm not 100% impressed with you either.  I get that Paul played both you and Jason - and at least you two recognized the fact after you were voted out.  But I don't understand why all of you listened to Paul and claimed that KEVIN was your biggest threat.  And frankly, some of the stuff you said about Kevin and the other houseguests on the live feeds was not very nice and painted you in a really horrible colour.  My hope is that you take a look at how you came across and learn that you don't have to be so mean in order to get a point across.  I don't think that you or Jason are bad people...I just think that the stress of the house (and the Cult of Abrahamian) got to you.

Kevin, let's talk about the action that you did that MADE ME NOT LIKE YOU FOR A WHILE.  You took the $25,000 temptation that saw Cameron get evicted and Paul back into the Big Brother House.  We could say that YOU were the cause of this season going down the tubes because of that.  But I honestly can't because you turned out to be one of the most charismatic and lovable houseguests this whole season.  I was actually kind of hoping that you would have made the final three so that there could actually be SOMEONE to root for.  But hey, at least you have a shot at winning America's Favourite Juror.  That prize could allow you to buy all the plastic wrap you want! 

But were the one who unwittingly brought Paul back, and for that I admittedly have a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth.  I can't be completely nice here!

So, who do we have left in the house, and what place do I rank them in?

If there IS a Santa Claus out there, my hope is that he does NOT give Christmas the win.  The reason being that Christmas has literally rolled along week to week by doing absolutely nothing.  Okay, so granted, that's not all her fault.  She broke her foot horsing around with Jason and it potentially could have killed her career - and honestly I do feel bad for her in that regard.  But my sympathy well ran dry the moment she and Josh started drinking the Abrahamian Kool-Aid and somehow managed to hobble her way to the final three.  The only HoH competitions she won, she was essentially thrown by the other houseguests.  And as much as she claimed she was making big moves...she was actually nothing more than a ventriloquist elf puppet on Paul's knee.  It makes for not a good candidate to win - and honestly with Christmas' cockiness, I don't even think Corey from BB18 would have anything to do with this Christmas.

Now, if Josh made it to the final two, his best shot would be to take Christmas with him to the finals because I know he would easily beat her.  And if I can say anything positive about Josh, it's that he does have some brains and that he did try to stay in the game by playing hard.  Unfortunately, his extreme loyalty to Paul, his constant crying, his bullying of some of the other houseguests (Mark, Megan, Cody, Jessica) and the stupid clown dance with pots and pans has not only soured me on Josh, but has also soured me on non-stick surfaces, Hawaiian shirts, and circuses.  Josh, you can be a good guy, but you can also be a menace.  You need to find that happy balance and stick with it, you big meatball head!

I actually cringe when I think about what I wrote about Paul last season.  Let's see if I can remember...

It pains me to say this, but this time around the better man did NOT win.  And for that, Paul, I am truly sorry.  Your only crime was the fact that you had a stupid jury who voted for the wrong person - well, okay, Bridgette, Victor, Michelle, and James are exempt from this.  I can't say that I was 100% impressed with you.  Some of the language you used against some of the houseguests was not the greatest, and I truly never want to hear the word "friendship" from you ever again.  But played this game better than anyone else, and your adaptability alone was enough to guarantee you a final two position.  Don't be upset at happy that you made it as far as you did.  And feel free to use that $50,000 you won and go on a nice vacation with Pablo!  You both have earned it.

Suffice to say, I NO LONGER FEEL THIS WAY.  Because much like Nicole was ruined for me last year, Paul is forever tainted in my eyes this season. 

Okay, so let's get it out of the way.  If Paul makes it to the Final Two, I believe he has won the whole thing.  And from a gameplay perspective, I can say that he deserves it.  He played every single person in the house, promised deals to all of them, and somehow managed to make it so that the houseguests would NEVER target him.  Sure enough, he was the ONLY person to never be on the block for elimination up to now.  He did what he could to stay ahead of the game and right now, I think he's done it.

But did he play an HONOURABLE game?  Oh, sweet Jesus...where do I begin?

I cannot condone the fact that he went way to far in trying to get out his targets.  He not only bullied Jessica and Cody until they were both gone, but he encouraged Josh, Matt, Raven, and Christmas to join in the fun as well.  It was absolutely disgusting to see Paul encourage mob mentality bullying.  Not cool.

Also not cool was the fact that production seemingly did everything possible to throw Paul a lifeline at every opportunity.  Giving him weeks of safety, giving him a temptation, etc.  Way too many breaks to be a simple coincidence.  Some may argue that Paul played the best game, but I think he had a little help along the way.

It was also sort of boring to watch Paul get over on all the houseguests all the time.  In fact, I could easily say that with the exception of Cody and Jessica (who were the only ones to see through Paul and try to get him out), everyone else fell for his lies hook, line, and sinker.  These houseguests were made out to be the dumbest, whiniest, meanest people in the whole world.  Yet when they went to the jury house one by one, they became extremely likeable and thoughtful.

Well, okay...Matt and Raven are screwed up people no matter what.  But the point is that had Paul not been brought back, this cast might have gelled a LOT differently and maybe the season wouldn't have been so mean-spirited and dull. 

I think that as good of a game that people believe that Paul played, I really think it wasn't all that great.  It was as if Paul was a gigantic jaguar let loose in a house filled with rats.  And the more that Paul got into their heads, the more Kool-Aid they guzzled down.

But such was life in the Cult of, don't it?