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Monday, April 30, 2018

The Oldest Canadian Railway Tunnel - A Tour

It's been a long time since I've done a video blog, and so for the end of April, I thought I'd introduce you to one of the most iconic tourist attractions in my neck of the woods.

I'm a bit late in posting this as when I did the walkthrough, it was Monday, April 23.  But due to what happened in Toronto, Ontario that afternoon, I decided to hold off on it until some time had passed.

I said that I wanted to do more of these video blogs where I take tours of various attractions in my area, and I couldn't think of a better place to start than our railway tunnel.

Of course, the tunnel is no longer operational to hasn't been for several decades.  But when the tunnel first opened in 1860, it predated Canada by seven whole years!  It lay dormant for years, but was re-opened to the public on August 12, 2017 - a month after Canada's 150th anniversary.

Now, I'll start with the video of my tour of Canada's oldest railway tunnel, and then I'll post some photos that I took on my way back through.  Hope you enjoy the tour...and try not to make fun of my voice or camera skills too much.  When you're filming with an iPod, it tends to get a bit shaky!


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Recapping One Day at a Time - Episode 13 - Quinces

Well, here we are.  The finale of Season 1 of Recapping One Day at a Time - the reboot.  Although my scheduling this time around has been incredibly unpredictable, we're finally here at Episode 13 - Quinces.  Be warned.  Because it's the last episode of the season, this entry's going to be a bit photo heavy.

Ah, so we've finally arrived at the day before Elena's quinces!  The little girl who is all about social justice and who didn't even want to have a quinces in the first place is now freaking out over her bejeweled tiara!  And Penelope is excited to see Elena so happy.

But out of the blue, Penelope transforms into a drill sergeant, issuing orders to Alex, Lydia, and Schneider who happen to be sitting on the couch in the Alvarez living room.  With dozens of relatives arriving at the apartment in the next few hours to set up for the party, there is absolutely no time to waste.  Schneider's job is to pick up everybody at the airport and deliver them to the apartment.  Alex is responsible for supervising the party decorations with Penelope.  And Lydia is responsible for making Elena's dress for the event.

As for Penelope?  She was the one responsible for setting the seating chart for the big day.  It seems as though Elena insisted that all of the tables for the event be named after famous women in history.  So, you have tables named for Frida Kahlo, Rosie the Riveter, Rosa Parks, Eva Peron, and Oprah Winfrey - which sparks a near flawless impersonation of Oprah by Justina Machado.  YOU GET A SEAT!  YOU GET A SEAT!

But underneath the tough exterior, Penelope does have one major worry.  Victor.  Since she threw Victor out for being drunk, he's been staying with Schneider since.  And while Victor is going to the quinces, Penelope worries that he will relapse at the party.  Well, here's an idea, Penelope.  Don't serve alcohol.  Which should be easy given that Elena's got six more years to go before she can down a Tequila shot.

Elena comes out wearing her beautiful ball gown, which she appears to like.  But Lydia is unhappy.  Lydia believes that if a gown doesn't make a girl cry in joy, it's not finished.  Well, at least Lydia has a few hours to figure things out before the party, but I can sense that Penelope is just a few hours away from total meltdown.

The opening credits roll, and we see the venue for the party...which looks large enough to be for a high school prom!  The Alvarez family went all out!  And hey, Dr. B. is back for this one...complaining about the acoustics of the ball room.  Because apparently he's an expert on that sort of thing.

And Lydia is complaining about the size of the dance floor, and gets into a bit of an argument with the party planner!  Yeah, that's Lydia...creating memories for the most perfect quinces!

At least Victor shows up and is pleasant with his kids, even though it's probably causing a lot of anxiety for Penelope.  And Victor is here to practice the father-daughter dance with Elena.  The song they've chosen is a tune made famous by Julio Iglesias, but I have no idea what the song title is as Spanish is not my mother tongue.  But Elena assures Victor that she has chosen a more modern version.

In fact, as Elena is dancing with Victor, she decides that now would be a good time to inform him of the fact that she has come out as a lesbian.  And for what it's worth, I think Isabella Gomez does a great job of emoting her feelings during her monologue.  Sometimes I find Elena annoying, but the actress playing her is a delight to watch!

Now, whereas Penelope had doubts about Elena's choice but ended up being fully supportive, Victor flat out reacts with anger and basically tells Elena that she is too young to know what she is.  Wow.  Father of the Year right here.  Elena immediately apologizes for springing it on him and Penelope tries to intervene, but Victor is set in his ways.  He thinks that Elena coming out is a rebellious phase and that she is only doing it to embarrass him.  Penelope essentially tells Victor he's crazy and it leads to Victor storming out of the ball room. Elena is visibly upset and wishes that she had chosen a different way to tell Victor the truth, but Penelope holds her close and tells her that she did nothing wrong.  At least Elena has ONE parent that she can count on.

Back at the Alvarez place, the entire room is filled with relatives of Penelope's all eager to help Elena celebrate her quinces.  And it seems as though most of the relatives are putting together the flower arrangements for the big party.

Well, all except Penelope who launches into a Joan Crawford like rant at one of her relatives for substituting carnations for the flowers that are supposed to go there.  I mean it, it's like total "no wire hangers" scary.  Alex tries to calm her down and asks her when the last time she slept was.  It seems as though Penelope has been putting forth so much effort into the planning of the quinces that she's managed to stay awake for two whole days!  Yeah, I get the feeling that she's going to have a mental breakdown any minute now.

Penelope goes into Elena's room where Lydia is working on Elena's dress.  Also in the room is Elena's best friend, Carmen, on the laptop via Skype.  Carmen remarks that the dress is gorgeous, but Lydia exclaims that the "diabla lies", and disconnects the call!  Yikes!

Penelope is understandably frustrated, and while Elena insists that she loves the dress, Lydia is not buying it - once again citing the fact that for her to really like the dress she would cry like Niagara Falls.  Of course, Elena tries to compromise by suggesting that when she walks onto the dance floor in her dress, she could wear Doc Martens underneath and that way she will bring a piece of herself into the look.  But after Abuelita nearly dies of a coronary, Elena decides on something else.

After Penelope leaves the room - and after she passes by Alex who is yelling at the same relative for sneaking baby's breath flowers into the bouquets - Schneider arrives with the last of the Alvarez's on the guest list.  A young couple and their child.  Unfortunately, after Penelope converses with the woman in Spanish, she tells Schneider that she doesn't know these people and that he picked up the wrong family!  Why does this not shock me in any manner?

Schneider tells Penelope that he will fix things...but before he does, he informs Penelope that Victor is up in his apartment packing up his things.  It seems as though he is still having issues with accepting Elena's coming out and told Schneider that he was leaving.  Not if Penelope has anything to say about it!

Sure enough, Penelope storms into Schneider's apartment where she spots Victor folding up his shirts and putting them into a duffel bag.  And you can better believe that Penelope delivers a scathing "the reason you suck" speech to Victor - which I will be recapping in the best lines from this episode portion of the blog.  She essentially tells Victor that if he is any sort of man, he will not run away from this and he will be at Elena's quinces.  My love for Penelope grows stronger as the season wraps up.  I hope she's like this during season two!

When Penelope returns home, she is shocked to find that Dr. Berkowitz is there serving snacks to everyone.  She is confused as to why he is there now when he said that he would see them tomorrow at the quinces.  It appears as though Lydia has invited Dr. B. over as she requires his hands for some project.  Now, keeping in mind that Penelope knows that Dr. B. and Lydia have an interesting relationship together, she automatically assumes the worst and walks away with a disgusted look on her face.  Alex gives Penelope some more bad news.  According to Alex, a group of Alvarez family members who initially didn't know for sure that they were going to go to the quinces have now decided that they are going, meaning that there are going to be extra chairs for Penelope to have to make room for.  Alex suggests that they get another table, but Penelope has another Joan Crawford moment where she screeches that there will be no more tables and she will figure out how to fix things.

At least until Dr. B. stumbles and takes out the entire seating chart, mixing up twelve famous female icons and about a hundred and seven Alvarez family members on the floor!  Dr. B. doesn't feel safe, and Penelope looks like her brain is about to explode.  Cue the nervous breakdown in T-minus four seconds as she retreats behind Lydia's curtain and lets out a bloodcurdling scream!

And just like that, Penelope is fine and kneels down to try and reassemble the seating chart.  Dr. B. feels terrible and attempts to try and help since he was the one to destroy it in the first place.

But when Lydia passes by and tells Dr. B. that she needs him in her quarters now, Dr. B. gives this hilarious expression and follows Lydia behind the curtain leading to Penelope giving the camera a "WTF" look and Alex playfully trying to film both of them behind the curtain.  Believe me, it plays out funnier than I can ever describe it.

Penelope takes the whole seating chart into her room where a clock radio tells us that it is 9:10 p.m.  Alex tries to tell her to get some rest, but Penelope - who is in full on Joan Crawford - scares Alex out of the room.  Penelope is all set to re-create the magic of the seating chart and she gets to work.  But somewhere between the spots where the Hillary Clinton and Sonia Sotomayor tables are supposed to be, Penelope passes out cold and catches the Z's that she's been avoiding since two and a half days ago.

In fact, Penelope is so zonked out that she doesn't wake up until 10:03 the next morning!  Wow, I wish I could sleep for thirteen hours straight some days!  Hilariously, what wakes Penelope up is the sudden realization that the Rosa Parks table should NOT be at the back!

Penelope looks at the time, realizes that the quinces starts in less than two hours and she has gotten nothing done.  To her surprise, everybody is out of the apartment, everything has been cleaned up, and Penelope realizes that somebody has brushed her teeth while she was sleeping.  She openly wonders if she died and went to heaven...but a knock on the door from Schneider causes her to think that she died and went to hell!

To Penelope's shock, Schneider is clean-shaven, free of spectacles, and actually looks like he stepped out of the pages of GQ magazine.  Penelope is creeped out because not only does he look different but she finds herself strangely attracted to him!  Schneider explains that he's come to take Penelope to Elena's quinces, and Penelope is confused as to what happened.

Well, it seems as though Alex has a secret talent of being a leader when the situation calls for it.  And when Penelope arrives wearing a dress that shows off...well...everything, Alex has the quinces venue looking pretty fly for a bunch of high school students! 

It also appears as though Penelope's words got through to Victor because he happens to be at the party as well...though given the way that Penelope and Victor interact with each other, I get the feeling that there's still going to be a frosty reception between both of them for years to come.

Penelope takes a break to go into the dressing room where Elena is putting the finishing touches on her makeup.  You know, for someone who was against the idea of having a quinces to begin with, she sure is having a lot of fun with it.  And perhaps the greatest moment comes when Lydia reveals to Elena the dress that she will wear to the quinces...and Elena is so moved with emotion that she bursts into tears at the sight of it and gives Lydia a huge hug!  Even Penelope seems ready to tear up.  It has me wondering what Lydia did to make it so beautiful. 

At any rate, it's time for the introduction of Elena's quinces, and Penelope is trying to get people's attention.  It's not until Lydia screams out HEY, YOU GUYS (a brilliant poke at the past when Rita Moreno said the same words on "The Electric Company") that Penelope begins her speech.  There's nothing really major of note in the speech.  We learn that Elena's birthday is August 7, 2001, she was born eight days premature, and one of her first school plays had her playing a tree or something like that. 

Whatever the case, the quinces court comes out onto the floor with the guys dressed in black tuxes and the women all wearing blue dresses.  The song playing in the background is Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out" - a rather ironic song given everything that Elena went through this season.  And we also learn that when Penelope introduces her daughter she has so many middle names that I don't even remember what order they fall in!

Elena walks out onto the floor with her date Josh...and she isn't in a dress at all!  Instead, she's wearing a pantsuit complete with a sparkly shirt underneath it.  She looks incredibly gorgeous in the ensemble, and most importantly, Elena looks like she is having fun.

And another surprise!  Carmen's at the quinces too!  Turns out that Carmen's arrival is Schneider's gift to Elena as he purchased the plane ticket to fly her out.  Awwwww!

A slow song begins and Elena and Josh start to dance, as does Carmen and Alex.  Turns out that Lydia has been Skyping Carmen in secret to teach her the choreography for the dance numbers!  Of course, Lydia was quite mean to Carmen, but Carmen secretly loved it!  Oh, Carmen...don't ever change.  But at any rate, almost everyone in the room is happy. 

Almost everyone.  As soon as Elena walked out in her pantsuit, Victor cringed with embarrassment.  And each minute you could see him getting angrier and angrier.  I hope he doesn't do anything to ruin the day for his daughter because that would make him despicable.

At any rate, Elena is having a great time at the quinces, and Penelope asks Lydia how she got the pantsuit ready in time.  Well, that's where Dr. B. comes in.  Because of his work stitching up patients, he's developed an eye for sewing...and it was he who helped stitch up Elena's suit.  Oh my goodness, I am LOVING this.  It's almost as if Schneider and Dr. B. have become honorary members of the family.

It's now time for the father-daughter dance, and true to form, Elena has chosen a version of the Julio Iglesias song sung by a female artist.  Elena is standing on the floor waiting for Victor to come and join her.  And she waits.  And waits.  And her expression starts to transform from a smile to a frown as she continues to wait.

Penelope is visibly confused and notices that Victor's place at the table is empty.  When her gaze focuses on Schneider, his facial expression says it all.  Victor couldn't handle his daughter's coming out, he left the party, Schneider tried to stop him, but Victor walked out of his OWN DAUGHTER'S QUINCES.  What a horrible thing for him to do.  He truly is a jerk, and Penelope made the right choice by walking away.

At first Penelope starts to break down and curses Victor for breaking their daughter's heart.  But then she does something that actually nearly makes me start to shed tears.  Remember how at the very first episode, Penelope stated that all she wanted was for someone to come up to her, hold her, and say "I got you"?  Well, she walks up on the dance floor, tells Elena "I got you", and she joins Elena in the slow dance on the floor to a cheering crowd!

This prompts Alex, Lydia, Schneider, and Dr. B. to join them in one gigantic mob slow dance.  It's meant to be comedic, but really, it goes to show you just how far they've come as a family.  And yes, Schneider and Dr. B. are family...much more than Victor proved to be.  All in all, a show with a smidgen of bittersweet flavour but a lot of feel good action overall. 

So that is a wrap for Season 1.  I'll probably be starting Season 2 sometime next week, but for now, you'll just have to wait as you read the best lines from the last episode of Season 1.  Enjoy!

ELENA:  Mom, a tiara is a backward symbol of how women are only valued for their beauty.  And now that I'm wearing one...I don't care.  I look awesome, and it's SUPER SPARKLY!!!

PENELOPE:  And what the hell is a carnation doing in here?!?
ALEX:  Mami, a word.  When was the last time you slept?
PENELOPE:  Two days ago.  Yeah, but don't worry.  I take little power naps when I pee.

PENELOPE:  I just wanted to make sure everything was cool.  You're not going to do something stupid like not come to the quinces tomorrow?  "Yeah, cool, Lupe.  I'll be there." "Oh, thanks, Victor".  Look, I know this is all hitting you fast.  I...was really thrown at first, too.
VICTOR:  This isn't who she is, Lupe.  It's not.  It's a phase.  It's what kids do.  It's, like, cool now to be gay.
PENELOPE:  Oh, yeah.  That's it.  She wants a piece of that sweet, sweet bullying and persecution because being a teenager's not hard enough.
VICTOR:  You know what?  I'm not joking.
PENELOPE:  And I'm not here to fight with you.  Because this is not about us right now.  This is about your daughter.  And I know you love her.  And you know how much it means to Elena for you to be at her quinces.
VICTOR:  Does the whole family know?
PENELOPE:  No.  She's only told a few people.
VICTOR:  All right.  Well, that's good.  Don't tell anyone else.
PENELOPE:  I'm not gonna tell anyone else.  Because it's not up to me.  Or you.  It's up to Elena to decide who she tells and when.  But the one thing you do get to decide is whether you're gonna be there for your daughter.

PENELOPE:  What is going on?  The Cubans are missing, my seating chart is gone, and I'm kind of attracted to you?  Nothing makes sense!
SCHNEIDER:  Chill, girl.
PENELOPE:  Oh, that helps when you talk.  Thank you.
SCHNEIDER:  I'm here to take you to your daughter's quinces, so get in that bedroom and put on all your clothes.  Whoa.  I've never said that to a woman before.

ALEX:  Immigrants.  We get the job done.

LYDIA:  What about the suit, huh?  It was perfect.  And I could never have done it without Leslie.
DR. B.:  Well, last night, your mother said, "if you can suture, you can sew", so, I helped her make Elena's suit.
LYDIA:  I was on a deadline.  I needed his nimble fingers.  Oh, such a talent!  It's a shame you wasted your life as a doctor.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Living in Canada, you almost feel as though you're in a fish bowl in comparison to the rest of the world.  As a Canadian, I am often looking through the newspapers, or watching the news on television, seeing all of the horrific events that have taken place over the last couple of years worldwide.  The terrorist attacks on Paris and Nice.  The bombings at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.  The hostage crisis in the coffee shop in Sydney, Australia a couple of years ago.  But living in Canada, I admit that at times I have felt as though we were insulated from all of those horrible tragedies.  I, like so many of my fellow Canadians, thought that those events couldn't possibly happen in a country as friendly and warm-hearted as Canada.

At least, I felt that way until 1:27 p.m., on April 23, 2018.

That was the moment in which a white van sped through one of Toronto's busiest streets and purposely mowed down pedestrians at three major points of the street before he was stopped by police.

Ten people lost their lives that day.  At least fourteen were wounded.  And for hundreds of people who happened to be in the vicinity of Yonge and Finch Streets in Toronto, as well as Mel Lastman Square, they were witness to an event so shocking that I suspect that many of them won't forget what they saw for a very long time...if ever.

For the paramedics on the scene to take the injured to the hospitals, to pedestrians on the streets calling 911 and administering first aid to the wounded, to the peaceful manner in which the perpetrator was arrested.  Let's just say that there was no shortage of heroes that day.  But among those were millions of people all across Ontario, trying to make sense over what just happened.

It's true what people say.  You never think anything so tragic will happen in your own backyard and when it does, you are completely caught off guard.  Just last week, the top story in Toronto was the CN Tower being forced to close because of melting ice falling from the top of it.  To go from that to this...that would be jarring for anybody.

I know that when it comes down to it, I certainly didn't expect anything like this to happen in Toronto.  It's only a four hour drive from my area to Toronto.  I've visited the city of Toronto a great many times - the last time being just a few years ago.  And by all accounts, Toronto is a wonderful city.  It's way too expensive for me to live there, but whenever I have visited there, it was always a good experience.

Toronto has always been one of the most multicultural cities in Canada, if not the world.  It is a living, breathing mozaic of different cultures and backgrounds coming together to form a huge city built on a foundation of love and understanding. 

I guess that's why I am still in disbelief that this happened. 

Now, we've certainly seen cases of this happening all over the world, and certainly every nation has their own coping measures with how to process their grief. 

This is how we do it in Canada.

On the very street where ten people lost their lives, makeshift memorials have popped up, with people from all over Ontario coming down to pay tribute to those who fell.  Gigantic poster boards with signatures and messages of compassion line the street.  So many flowers of various colours have popped up along the street.  It is very reminiscent of what took place in Saskatchewan a couple of weeks ago when the Humboldt Broncos were involved in that bus crash that claimed the lives of half of its team.  And it's a testament of just how strong of a community Toronto is, with its citizens leaning on each other to get through it as best they can.

I've also learned that Toronto is resilient and refuses to back down and cower when times are tough.  Even though a hockey game was scheduled the same night that this took place, the game was held as scheduled.  And I have to think that because of the strength of Torontonians and the resolve of the hometown hockey spirit that the Toronto Maple Leafs are on their way to Game 7 against the Boston Bruins during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

And I think that whether you live in the heart of Toronto, or several hundred kilometers away, this tragedy has impacted so many Canadians.  While our bubble of protection has sprung a leak, I don't think that we should live our lives in fear either. 

Toronto will get through this.  The entire eyes of the world are now upon them...and I'm sure that for many of those eyes looking at this unfold...they know exactly what it means when people say that they are #TorontoStrong.

Stay strong, Toronto.  We're all there for you.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Recapping One Day at a Time - Episode 12 - Hurricane Victor

Brace yourselves.  A storm is coming to this blog.  And I do apologize for taking a week's been a crazy week.  But fear not...I've got a little bit of writing inspiration back, so there's more to come.  But first...

According to today's schedule in the Recapping One Day at a Time feature, we're at Episode 12 - Hurricane Victor.  Now, I'm guessing that the reason why this episode is called this is because Victor is the name of Penelope's ex-husband and his return is set to cause a ruckus.  I don't know for sure, but that's my guess.

For now, we're treated to a make out session between Penelope and her new boyfriend, Ben.  Remember, we met him in Episode 11 after Penelope picked him up in a gay bar because she was still coming to terms with Elena being gay.  And as it turns out, Penelope mentions this in passing to Ben, as Victor is planning on making an appearance to celebrate Elena's quinces with her.  Ben seems a little nervous, but Penelope assures him that all is fine - even though her mother still has this idea that she and Victor will get back together again.  Which leads to some random scene where Lydia actually calls Penelope using Ben's number.  No, that's not creepy at all.

By the time Penelope arrives home from her date, she sees that Elena, Alex, and Lydia are gathered around the computer having a Skype session with Victor.  At this point we don't see his face - we just hear him.  But it appears as though the session is going well with Victor playfully flirting with an unimpressed Penelope, and Lydia clearly seems to be holding onto hope that Victor and Penelope will find love with each other once again.  

It seems as though there's at least one more member of the Alvarez family that doesn't seem excited that Victor is visiting.  Elena is concerned about her father coming to see her because she feels as though they have absolutely nothing in common.  Plus, she hasn't told him that she's come out of the closet yet and she is worried about how he will react.  Though Penelope does try to make her feel better by saying that because she likes girls, then she'll have something in common with him.  Still, it's a valid concern that Elena has, and it'll be interesting to see if the show deals with this potential plot twist.

Alex is excited to be playing the cello in a recital that he has coming up in the next couple of days.  Though he is bummed that Victor can't be there to see him perform.  But as Victor is talking to Alex on the computer, they hear a knock on the door, and when Penelope opens it...

...surprise!  Victor is standing at the door!  And Alex gives him a hug so huge that they both fall backwards into the hallway!  I guess Alex has grown some since they last saw each other a year ago.  Victor also tries to make contact with Elena, but they both just seem to awkwardly stare at each other not knowing what to do next - proving that Elena's opinion of Victor might have a lot of threads of truth binding it together.

Of course, Penelope's reaction to Victor is a little bit frosty, but Victor is undeterred.  In fact, he's quite charming and warm to her, and eventually succeeds in making her crack a smile or two. 

As for Lydia, it seems as though Lydia is more than on board with the "Reunite Penelope and Victor" train.  When Victor remarks that he came early to see Alex's recital and he's booked a hotel room for the duration of his stay, Lydia opens up her curtain and offers Victor use of her bed!  Even better news for Penelope, Lydia announces that she will be moving into Penelope's room.  I'm surprised she doesn't take up residency with her platonic bestie, Dr. Berkowitz, but he's not in this episode either.  I'm guessing Stephen Tobolowsky had other commitments and was only available for 11 of 13 episodes, but still...I'm kind of missing him.

The following morning, Victor is pouring Lydia some coffee and Lydia is incredibly smitten.  Seems as though he's turning on the charm again - which doesn't seem to go unnoticed by Penelope - or Lydia.

Victor also seems to want to make up for lost time with his children as well, offering to make them breakfast.  Unfortunately for Victor, his attempt involves making pancakes shaped like a clown face.  Certainly the breakfast of champions for a kid, but for Elena it is a bit juvenile.  At least Alex is easy to please, remarking that his clown pancakes are about to create a circus in his stomach.  Wow.

Victor also has some presents to give to the kids as a way to make up for the fact that he's been away for a whole year.  For Alex, the gift he brings is one that many thirteen-year-old boys dream of.  A PlayStation 4!  Needless to say, Alex is thrilled about the gift and thanks Victor wholeheartedly.

I only wish Victor had struck gold with Elena as well.  Her gift happens to be a gigantic Barbie doll - which leads me to wonder if Victor realizes that a quinces is to celebrate a girl turning FIFTEEN!  Victor hilariously tries to explain that the doll is a fierce Latina like her, but Elena only half buys it.  Fortunately, Victor kept the receipt so he can return her to Toys R Us...well, at least this was filmed during the period in which Toys R Us wasn't completely bankrupt.

Once the kids and Lydia leave (I should point out that Lydia doesn't want to leave, but Penelope forces her to go), Penelope and Victor chat about the last year, and Victor actually admits to Penelope that he is seeking treatment for his problems.  He tells her all the steps he took to get to where he is now, and Penelope seems visibly impressed.  Considering the stories we've heard about Penelope and Victor, it would appear that their relationship breakdown was because Victor refused to get help for his problems - culminating in Victor nearly crashing a car into a tree.  Maybe Victor is serious about getting help.  And maybe he is serious about wanting to make amends with his family.

Of course, this prompts Penelope to drop a bombshell of her own.  She's seeing someone.  And while Victor initially seems upset about it, he calms down a bit and shakes his bon bon over the news.  Okay, maybe he's no Ricky Martin, but again.  Positive steps.  Victor asks Penelope who he is.

Cue a yet again shirtless Schneider asking Penelope what colour sweater he should wear to Alex's recital completely ignoring Victor.  Okay, I'm hoping we see less shirtless Schneider in Season 2 because this recurring gag is getting really old.

But at least Penelope and Schneider (and I) get a good hearty chuckle when Victor makes the assumption that Schneider is Penelope's new man.  Yeah, like THAT'S gonna happen.

Anyway, after that misunderstanding, everyone is gathered at the place where Alex is playing.  Which appears to be at an old folks home where some elderly guy is singing old songs from the 1940s and 1950s.  I suppose we all have to start somewhere.

At least the relationship between Schneider and Victor is thawing.  Victor actually appreciates Schneider for being there for Alex and taking him to games, and supporting him in developing his skills.  Again, I'm finding it hard to understand why Victor is so bad of a guy, and watching Penelope and Lydia, I think Penelope is questioning why they split up.

But we've no time to analyze this now.  There's a problem.  The person who was responsible for delivering the musical instruments to the recital has gotten lost, and Alex doesn't have his cello to play.  If he cannot play, the recital will be cancelled.

Fortunately, Victor has a plan.  While he sends Schneider out to go find the van, he grabs Penelope and takes her to the front of the room to stall the audience.  Mind you, their idea of stalling the audience involves he and Penelope singing the 1983 Bonnie Tyler classic "Total Eclipse of the Heart" a bunch of times - but let's face it.  The crowd isn't THAT tough to entertain.  Turn around, bright eyes.

At any rate, Elena and Lydia seem pleased to see that Penelope and Victor are getting along with Elena remarking on how cute they look together.  Given that Elena is the living, breathing definition of sarcasm, this is a big deal for her to say this.

Fortunately, it doesn't take long for Schneider to recover the instruments, and after Alex and his friends are equipped with their respective strings, they start to play their song.  Thankfully it's NOT Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out on a Hero".  But given the glances and compliments that Victor showers Penelope with, maybe Penelope is starting to see him as the hero she fell in love with.  This could be quite complicated.

Back home, Alex is praised for his performance by all, and Alex wants to hook up his PS4 as a reward for his hard work.  Victor is definitely up for that idea, but first he has to give something to Elena.  He returned the Barbie doll to the store and instead gave her a gift of a donation to one of her favourite social organizations.  Now that's a gift for the aspiring social justice warrior!  Elena loves the gift, and it seems as though Penelope is noticing that Victor is making an effort and is pleased by it.

Of course, she can't think about that right now.  She has a hot date with Ben tonight and she wants to focus all of her attention on the date.  But as she leaves to go on the date, Victor stops her and has a present for her as well.

It appears as though Victor is realizing that Penelope wanted Victor to make a decision about their future and he has drafted up divorce papers for her to sign.  It seems as though all is fine and good and that Victor is now free to live his life and get help for his issues and Penelope and Ben can sail off into the sunset together.

So...why are they smooching in the hallway?  You know that both talk a good game, but you can tell that there are some major unresolved feelings between herself and Victor.  This probably doesn't bode well for her future with Ben.

Sure enough, Penelope decides to break things off with Ben right then and there...and while Ben is shocked of the sudden turnaround, I get the impression that he understands the confusion that Penelope has.  To be honest, I don't fault Penelope at all for this.  The truth is, I think she handled the break-up very well.  They weren't dating that long, so there wasn't time to build up a deep relationship, and if she had any doubts, it's good that she made them clear now.  Still, it kind of sucks because Ben was actually not a bad guy for her.  Alas, Ben, we hardly knew ye.

Penelope arrives home late at night and she sees Victor sleeping soundly in Lydia's bed.  But of course, Victor wakes up and asks Penelope why she's home so soon.  Penelope explains that she called it quits with Ben and that she is not as ready to move on with another man as she thought she was. 

Victor tries to cheer her up by offering to spoon her in Lydia's bed...which to me would probably have me running for the door based on the ick factor surrounding that very suggestion.  But Penelope - whose brain is obviously not working properly - thinks this is an okay idea and crawls into bed beside him.

At first, things are going okay, and Penelope and Victor are really enjoying the moment...which almost makes me believe that this is the moment in which they will get back together.  However, since this sitcom seems to be grounded in reality more than most, we have to have one last twist ending.  And in this twist ending, we learn that Victor has alcohol on his breath when Penelope leans in to kiss him.

And judging from the number of empty beer cans that fall out of the bed when he tries to get up from the bed, I'm guessing that Victor is not enrolled in Alcoholics Anonymous.  Now I'm beginning to see what contributed to the break-up between Victor and Penelope.

What ends up happening is a blow out screaming match between Victor and Penelope with Penelope cursing Victor out for not getting the help he needs, and Victor making excuses for why he doesn't need help.  Penelope makes the final move by kicking Victor out and ordering him to go to a hotel...and furthermore, she doesn't want to see him again until Elena's quinces, as she does not want Alex or Elena to see him in this state.  And right there is why Penelope is not only just a badass soldier, but a badass mother as well.  Mad respect to her.

The argument causes Lydia to wake up, and Victor - knowing that Lydia has a soft spot for him - tries to reason with her to calm Penelope down.  But Lydia is firm in her stance, and she wants Victor to leave as well. 

The episode ends with Victor leaving his former home with his tail between his legs, and Lydia doing her best to console a heartbroken Penelope as the screen fades to black.  And to make note of the fact that this is a "very special episode", there is no music to accompany the closing credits.

Really, this episode proves a lot of points.  It showcases the fact that as an ensemble, the actors chosen were the best.  I liked the actor who played Victor as he perfectly portrays someone who had it all but was traumatized by war and lost it all because he couldn't cope with it.  And as I stated before...Penelope Alvarez is a total badass, and someone that all women can look up to.

Later on this week, we will end off season one with Elena's quinces - which promises to be explosive!  That's all I can say for now. 

Let's end this off with some of the funniest lines from episode 12.  Enjoy!

LYDIA:  Victor is showing us a funny picture of a camel.  It is very tiny.  It has no humps. is a dog.

PENELOPE:  And, uh, where are we with the idea of telling him?
ELENA:  Oh, who thinks it's a good idea to greet my Latino veteran dad with "Hey, I like girls!"
PENELOPE:  You'll finally have something in common.

VICTOR:  I know, I'm early, but I really wanted to surprise papi chulo over here and see his cello show.
ALEX:  Awesome.
LYDIA:  Que nice, que thoughtful...Kay Jewelers.  They sell engagement rings.

ELENA:  A donation to my name!
ALEX:  Why are you giving money to a guy named Kiva when you could be giving money to a guy named Alex?
ELENA:  Oh, Kiva is an organization that gives a loan to a small business in a developing nation.  They're amazing!  How did you know I would like this?
VICTOR:  Well, I did a little research.  And, uh, well, somebody told me you were...what was it?
LYDIA:  Annoying?
VICTOR:  A...a social justice warrior.
LYDIA:  Same thing.