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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

February 22, 1878

Welcome to this week's Wayback Wednesday entry - the final one of the year.  But that's not to say that we're going to say farewell to the pop culture history lessons for good.  I'll get to more about this at the end of today's entry.

For now, grab yourselves a seat and enjoy today's specials, starting with a heaping appetizer of events that took place on February 22.

1632 - Galileo's "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems" is published.

1848 - The French Revolution of 1848 begins

1856 - The United States Republican Party hosts its first national convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1862 - Jefferson Davis is inaugurated as the first President of the Confederate States of America

1872 - The Prohibition Party hosts its first national convention in Columbus, Ohio

1918 - Announcer Don Pardo (d. 2014) is born in Westfield, Massachusetts

1924 - Calvin Coolidge becomes the first American President to deliver a radio address from the White House

1932 - Politician Ted Kennedy (d. 2009) is born in Boston, Massachusetts

1943 - Christoph Probst and Hans and Sophie Scholl are executed in Nazi Germany for being members of the White Rose Resurgence during World War II

1944 - American aircraft make the mistake of bombing several Dutch communities resulting in loss of life in the cities of Arnhem, Deventer, Enschede, and Nijmegen

1959 - Lee Petty wins the first Daytona 500

1962 - Steve Irwin (d. 2006) - "The Crocodile Hunter" is born in Essendon, Australia

1976 - Former Supremes member Florence Ballard dies at the age of 32

1980 - The "Miracle on Ice" takes place during the 1980 Winter Olympics where the American hockey team defeats the Soviet Union team with a final score of 4-3

1983 - The Broadway play "Moose Hunters" makes history in the worst way possible - it becomes one of the first plays to open and close in the same night!

1986 - The People Power Revolution begins in the Philippines

1987 - Artist Andy Warhol passes away at the age of 58

1997 - Scottish scientists make the announcement that they have successfully cloned a sheep (named Dolly)

2002 - Animator Chuck Jones dies at the age of 89

2011 - At least 185 people are killed in Christchurch, New Zealand when an earthquake strikes - the second deadliest in the country's history

2014 - New Zealand born television personality Charlotte Dawson takes her own life at the age of 47 following a personal struggle dealing with cyberbullying

And celebrating the day with a slice of birthday cake are the following famous faces; Paul Dooley, Bruce Forsyth, James Hong, Sheila Hancock, Ishmael Reed, Judy Cornwell, Jonathan Demme, Julius Erving, Julie Walters, Ellen Greene, Kyle MacLachlan, Rachel Dratch, Thorsten Kaye, Jeri Ryan, Thomas Jane, Clinton Kelly, Lea Salonga, James Blunt, Chris Moyles, Drew Barrymore, Jenny Frost, and Shamari Fears.

All considering that today is the final Wayback Wednesday of the year, I thought I would make this date worth the trip.  How would you all like to go back in time to the 1800s?

The date?  February 22, 1878.  By my calculations, that date was exactly one hundred and thirty-nine years ago today.

Now, before I go into why this date is so important, I would love to share with you a personal story related to the subject of this date.

And no...I wasn't around in 1878.  Or, 1978 for that matter. 

But when I was a kid, I definitely had my favourite places that I liked to go to in my little town.  I loved going to the park to swing on the swing sets.  I loved throwing pennies into the town fountain in the middle of Court House Square to make a wish.  I loved going to the movie theatre whenever a movie that I really wanted to see was out.

And I loved our little
Woolworth's store that was located downtown.

Okay, so obviously this is a very old photo of the store.  I found it on the website for our town paper and the photo was taken by a local town historian, Doug Grant.  If I had to wager a guess, it was taken sometime in the 1950s or 1960s just based on the cars driving down the street.  But when I was a kid growing up in the 1980s, it was a place that I loved to go to.  I think I loved going to that store more than I did other big named department stores that existed back in those days.

I think one reason I loved Woolworth's so much was because of the lunch counter inside.  I remember once a month, Mom would take me to the lunch counter where I could order anything I wanted for a special lunch.  I always got the cheeseburger, and to this day, their burgers were among the best fast food burgers that I can recall eating.  And the food was relatively cheap as well.  At least, it was back in the 1980s anyway.

And I also had fond memories of perusing the toy department of Woolworth's, deciding on what toy I wanted.  Sometimes I'd spend tooth fairy money there, and other times I would spend allowance money there.  Back when I was a kid, there were endless choices.  I could have bought a gigantic balloon with a Wuzzle or a Sesame Street character on it for a dollar.  I could have bought a couple of storybooks to add to my growing book collection (had the store sold Archie comics, I'd have been in heaven), or I might have even bought a colouring book and a 64 count box of their store brand crayons (which I maintain were better quality than Crayola crayons and would happily pay four times their price for a box of them today). 

I can't recall a single time in which I left Woolworth's without a huge smile on my face.  It was such a great store that contributed to so many memories for me.  I actually cried when Woolworth's closed up shop in the early 1990s and was replaced by the substandard "Bargain Shop". 

So, I'm sure you've already guessed that Woolworth's is the subject of today's blog post.  And the date that I've chosen - February 22, 1878 - is an important one in the department store chain.  It was the date that the very first Woolworth's Five and Dime store opened its doors.

Now, five and dime stores are not exactly a new thing.  It was how Walmart got their start, and back in the 1870s, it was how a lot of businesses operated.  The idea for them was to charge consumers a fixed price on a variety of different kinds of merchandise - usually for nickels or dimes - as an effort to undercut other merchants who sold the same items for higher prices.  The F.W. Woolworth Company was actually one of the first retailers to display merchandise on the sales floor of their store locations WITHOUT the assistance of a sales clerk.  Prior to those days, people would often line up behind a counter with a list of the items they wished to purchase, and the person behind the counter would grab the items themselves.

I suppose looking back on it, the old way of selling merchandise is similar to putting stuff on layaway at Kmart or Walmart locations.

In 1878, Frank Winfield Woolworth obtained credit from a former boss and combined the money loaned to him with his previous savings to purchase the building and merchandise for the grand opening of Woolworth's Great Five Cent Store in Utica, New York on February 22, 1878.  Woolworth had high hopes for the new business, but it closed up shop just three months later in May 1878.  Despite the failure of the initial business, Woolworth refused to give up on the idea, and so the following year, he reopened the Great Five Cent Store in the community of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and unlike what happened in Utica, the store quickly became a success.  So much so that a second location was opened in nearby Harrisburg (this time his brother Charles Sumner Woolworth) would run it.  Unfortunately, the Harrisburg store was forced to close after a disagreement with the landlord, and a couple of other stores opened up without much success.  But in 1880, when the Woolworth brothers opened up a five and dime store location in Scranton, Pennsylvania, their fortunes improved.  By the turn of the twentieth century, a total of six chains of affiliated Woolworth's locations had opened up in the United States and Canada. 

By 1962, Woolworth's had expanded to include Woolco stores - single floor discount stores that specialized in fashion, electronics, toys, and some household merchandise (the store would later become famous for their $1.44 sales which were held every Monday for many years).  By the time of the company's 100th birthday in the late 1970s, it was considered to be the largest department chain in the world, with the company having expanded across North America, Europe, and Australia. 

Woolworth's was also the location of the first of the sit-in protests that took place in Greensboro, North Carolina (the event in which four black students from a nearby college sat down at the lunch counter that was reserved for white customers and refused to leave in protest of the segregation laws that existed back in the early 1960s.

Unfortunately, the company ran into some major financial trouble during the 1980s.  Having tough competition from other retailers who were offering similar products and employing similar business methods, stores began to close up throughout the 1980s.  Although Woolco was still doing quite well in Canada, in the United States, all stores bearing the Woolco name were closed up by 1983.  In addition, the store sustained some bad press following a devastating fire at one of the largest Woolworth's locations in the UK, and despite the store being rebuilt, it was closed for good in the mid-1980s.  Though the incident caused the UK chains of Woolworth's to break away from the parent company and as a direct result of this, the Woolworth's name remained in the UK until January 2009.

Here in North America, the 1990s signified the end of what was once a very powerful company.  Restructuring in 1993 meant the end of the Woolworth's name for a good many stores.  In the United States, almost all Woolworth stores were shut down by 1993, and the last of the stores bearing the name were closed for good in the summer of 1997.  In Canada, many Woolworth's locations had been transformed into "The Bargain Shop", and in 1994, the majority of Woolco stores were rebranded as Walmart locations (save for the few that turned into Zellers locations - a chain that became defunct in 2013 when Target Canada took it over for two years before it pulled out of the country in the spring of 2015). I've shared up above, I do miss the Woolworth's name.  I miss the lunch counter.  I miss the toy department.  I just miss having that childhood staple around.  I don't care what people say.  Ordering a Quarter Pounder at McDonald's is no comparison to sitting at a lunch counter stool and eating a burger that you see made right in front of you. 

But I suppose that like most things in this world, they never truly die if you keep the memories close to your heart. 

So, this marks the finale of Wayback Wednesday.  But fear not.  Next week, the day shifts again to Thursdays.  And the first "Throwback Thursday" post will be shared on Thursday, March 2.

Stay tuned.  There is more to come!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Friendship Connection

I've been doing a lot of thinking about connections.  How we make them.  How we break them.  How we do everything to keep them going, and how we're constantly trying to make new ones.  How sometimes the connections we make aren't as simple as we believe them to be, and how sometimes the most complex connections turn out to be the ones you need the most.

I think the idea of connecting with other people is a must for everybody on this planet.  I think as much as some of us try to deny it, we all need to have some form of interaction with other people because those interactions help keep us sane.

But what if you have a difficult time making such connections?  What do you do then?

Well, I can only speak for myself, but I consider myself to be one of those people who have a really difficult time getting close to people.  What that reason is, I'm not sure.  I have reason to suspect it is because I am considered to be an introvert in a small town filled with extroverted people, and I have always felt as if I don't quite know my place in this world.

Or it could be because I'm as ugly as Quasimodo and repulse everybody that I come into contact with.  But, somehow I don't think that's quite the reason.

I think going back to when I was a kid (and going back to a previous post I wrote about being the odd one out in my family born between generations), I seemed to form connections with some of the most interesting people from my community.  I couldn't tell you the first friend I made in elementary school, but I could tell you that the first adult friend I made was Margaret, the head librarian of our town library at the time - whom I lovingly referred to as "the lady with the bun in her head".

(You see, she always wore her hair in a bun style, hence the phrase.  Funny thing is, I think she got a kick out of it.)

And it was like that throughout my early childhood.  I would have rather chatted with the yard duty teacher than play with people my own age.  I'd rather have talked to the guy delivering bread to the Quickie store instead of the teenagers crowded around the pinball machine.  I formed connections with the most random people in the most unusual circumstances and I saw nothing wrong with it at all.  Of course, I had parental units who supervised every interaction to make sure that it was safe (which was appreciated), but that was how it was. 

I guess part of it comes from the fact that I am the kind of person who doesn't really like small talk.  In fact, I can't stand the whole "Hi, how's your day" garbage that most of us in the world take part in at some point of the day.  I prefer to engage in deeper conversations that provoke thought and encourage creativity.  I'm thinking that could be why I connected with adults more when I was a kid.  I was surrounded by adults in my childhood, and I liked talking to them.  I learned more from the bread delivery guy about life than any of the kids in my class could have taught me.  Again, it seems really strange to some, but that's the way I made connections with people.

I think it also explains why I have so few friends in my community, but have hundreds of connections outside of town.  I've tried figuring it out, and I believe I have friends from four provinces, twenty-nine states, and five different countries!  That's quite a smattering of people scattered all over the place, isn't it?

And yet, I've only ever really met one or two of them in person.

Whether it was because we shared a common interest on a pop culture website, or whether we befriended each other through mutual friends, or in once case bonded because we tag teamed a troll on Facebook and decided that we should be friends because of it, I find it easier to connect with people online than I do in the real world.


Because online I get the chance to think carefully about how I want to phrase an opinion and I can edit it if I feel it's not exactly how I want to come across.  It's kind of similar to what I do with this blog.  My online persona is definitely more of a social butterfly than the dried up cocoon that I present myself as in the real world.  And that's not me poking fun at myself.  That's a known truth! 

Of course, this leads to a bit of a problem.

You see...the friendships that I have made all over the world through a couple thousand dozen keystrokes the last fifteen years are completely real to me.  I hold them in very high regard, and I appreciate them.  But it is such a horrible feeling to know that they are so far away.  It's not as if I can go out to grab a burger with them, or catch a movie with them, or just wander through the nearest park and talk about life as we spin ourselves sick on the swing set.  Online friendships are real friendships...but I wish I lived closer to them.

And, I guess there's a small sliver of doubt in myself about just how real those friendships are.  I worry that one day I will come face to face with these people that I have been friends with for so many years and they will be so disappointed with the actual face to face encounter that they never speak to me again.  Or I do something to screw it up.  Or, they think I look like Quasimodo and run screeching towards Notre Dame University in a panic.

Okay, that last thing won't happen.  Notre Dame University is about 900 miles away from where I live and they'd probably pass out just before they reach the New York state border.

I'm probably worrying over nothing really.  I tell myself that I've known these people for fifteen years now, and that they won't be disappointed if we ever met face to face.  I have to trust that to be true, and I do. 

Because when it comes to real friendships and real never know exactly where you will find them.  They can come out of nowhere from the most unlikely sources.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Jem Reviewed: Episode 48 - Journey to Shangri-La

If you thought last week's episode of Jem Reviewed was weird enough with the whole retelling of Robin Hood, brace yourselves.  This week's episode multiplies the weirdness factor by a hundred.

This is what some would call one of the more infamous episodes of the series so far.  Episode 48: Journey to Shangri-La.

But, wait.  I know what you're saying.  Shangri-La does NOT exist.  Well, according to the Holograms' new friend Andrew - who I believe is introduced as a professor of music or something similar - Shangri-La DOES exist!  And it's the very place where the Holograms can go to improve their sound and to add new flair to their already popular music.  This I have to hear.

Andrew explains that while he has never seen Shangri-La up close in person (surprise, surprise), he does believe that it exists, and inside the gates of Shangri-La are the secrets of the finest music ever heard.  Secrets that date back thousands of years.  Kimber asks if the city has all of the old Monkees records, which gets a sarcastic comment from Aja, but Jerrica seems convinced that they should at least try to find it and they immediately book a flight to the area where they believe Shangri-La is.  Tibet.

It looks like Jem and the Holograms aren't the only ones who are ready to book a flight to Tibet.  Apparently, Techrat has his computer set to give him alerts on Jem's whereabouts at all times which upon retrospect is insanely creepy.  I bet he's the one who programmed all cell phones to monitor your location on Facebook too!

Of course, when Techrat tells Eric that the Holograms are going to Tibet, he doesn't exactly know the reason why they're going.  So when Eric informs the Misfits of the Holograms' plans, they look at him as if he has six heads.  But when Eric seems to suggest that there might be something musically related to the trip, Pizzazz jumps on board with thwarting their plans.  Wow, talk about blindly leaping to conclusions.  For all they know, the Holograms could be staging a benefit concert to promote the goodness of yak milk!

Some time later, the Holograms arrive in Tibet, all bundled up for the long hike through a series of mountains covered with snow.  Andrew is there too, along with their guide named Milkey.  Oh, lord, don't tell me they're actually going the yak milk route...

The Misfits have arrived in Tibet as well along with Eric and their own sherpa guide, Miyan.  And, apparently the Misfits have taken their entire wardrobe and all of their electric equipment with them.  Geez, you're only staying a few days.  You're not actually relocating to Tibet.  Though, it might be fun to watch Roxy and Jetta choke down yak milk.

Okay, okay...I'll shut up about yak milk.

At least the Holograms seem to be doing well in the hike.  They've even decided to sing a song about how beautiful and magical they believe Shangri-La to be.  And will be hearing this particular song played.  A lot.

"Shangri-La".  Definitely not one of my favourite Jem songs.  In fact, I've noticed that the music choices for these later episodes is not exactly Grammy Award winning.  In fact, I don't even think they'd win a Teen Choice Award surfboard.  But, I suppose that they had to incorporate one song that at least had the words Shangri-La.  What next, them singing a song about Dairy Queen?

Well, after that rousing Shangri-La singalong, the Holograms decide that they need to rest (and mainly because the sherpa guide that they hired has gotten them lost on their way to Hunza Village). Hunza Village is the destination that they have to reach first before trying to find Shangri-La.  Apparently an elderly woman who lives there is the only one who knows where it is.  And, there's our plot point.

Jem hears a noise in the background, and she wanders off to investigate.  And as soon as she walks a few steps she is surprised by a giant fur-covered beast who growls at her!

It's the BUMBLE!  Well, okay, it's just a yeti.  The fact that Yukon Cornelius and Rudolph are nowhere around is a sign.  But surprisingly, this yeti is of the friendly sort, and lets Jem in close enough to touch him.  Hell, if Kimber were around, the yeti would probably try to hit on her!  Too bad Andrew scares him off!  It's only after the yeti flees that Milkey drops the truth bomb that the yeti could actually lead the group to Hunza Village.  Nicely done, Andrew.  Looks like someone's not getting any yak milk tonight!

Up above, the Misfits and Eric are intimidated by the fact that to get to the village, they have to climb a giant ice wall.  Of course, Miyan has no problem with making the climb himself, but to take four women, a man, and 2,000 pounds of luggage with him?  Yeah, that's going to be a challenge.

And naturally it's Eric who ends up falling off the mountain first, followed by Pizzazz, Roxy, Jetta, and Stormer.  Fortunately, Stormer's rope snags just before she goes kersplut on the ground, but they are all trapped on the mountain with no way to go.

The yeti has seen this unfold, and not knowing how mean the Misfits are, he decides that he's going to go for help.  And since he already met Jem, he figures that Jem and her friends can help out.

Andrew makes a comment that he can't believe they are getting help from an abominable snowman, which prompts Kimber to make a comment that they can't believe that they're helping the Misfits get to safety.  Well, gee, Kimber.  It wouldn't be very Jem-like to let them turn into Otter Pops on the side of a mountain.  Then again, I could see Jem lecturing them on mountain climbing safety after they rescue them ending off with "climbing a mountain safely makes you a superstar!".

One by one, the Holograms help the Misfits climb up the mountain.  Highlights include Andrew catching Jetta as she loses her grip and slips, and Kimber telling Stormer to ease off the yak milkshakes and lose some weight!  Nice to see that Kimber and Stormer can still joke around with each other.

It comes as no surprise that once all the Misfits are safe, they go and abandon the Holograms before they get the chance to climb the mountain.  Aja wonders why the Misfits are there in the first place, but Jem understands that they're probably looking for the same thing that they are...and they now have a huge head start.  I think Jem's more upset that she didn't get to lecture the Misfits.

The Misfits arrive at Hunza Village - which sort of resembles a campground filled with lots of tents.  It's definitely not the most elegant place the Misfits have visited.  It's even more disappointing for the Misfits when they learn that none of the expensive electronic equipment they brought for the trip will work as there is no electricity in the village at all.  Yeah, I can see how a remote village surrounded by mountains might find it difficult to stay powered up.

But there are people.  Two people emerge from one of the tents - an elderly woman, and a young woman who appears to be around the same age as Stormer and Kimber.  The young woman introduces herself as Li San, and the elderly woman is her great-grandmother.  I couldn't quite catch her name when Li San said it, but this elderly woman is the person that they need to see to help show them the way to Shangri-La. 

It's just too bad the woman won't help them.  She takes one look at Pizzazz and deems the entire group to be UNWORTHY of the experience, and refuses to help them.  HA!  Bet Princess Pizzazz isn't too pleased right now!

But Li San does tell the Misfits that if they want, she will help them lead them as far as she can take them.  While her great-grandmother is the only one who knows the true way, she can help them go in the general area, which is good enough for them.

By the time that Jem and the Holograms arrive at Hunza Village, the Misfits have already departed with Li San.  Only the elderly woman is around to greet them.  She also points out that while the Misfits have already left, they don't know where Shangri-La is, and she expects them to return later that night.  Jem takes the opportunity to ask her to show them the way to Shangri-La, but the woman takes one look at Jem, calls her a fake, and walks away saying that she can't help them.  WHOA!  Can we keep this woman?  She is quite literally the best thing about this weird episode!

It appears as though Li San is doing her best to try and find the location of Shangri-La, but she finds herself at an impasse, and doesn't know where to proceed.  The Misfits decide to sing her a song along the way.

Ugh...ANOTHER repeat of a Misfits tune?  I mean, don't get me wrong, I like "You Oughta See The View From Here" which first appeared in Episode 14 - but it seems like forever since we had an original Misfits hit! 

After they finish singing, the Misfits and Li San slip and slide down an icy hill - which I admit looks like it would be a lot of fun!

Of course, that fun ends when the Misfits realize that Li San has got herself into a prickly pickle of a situation.  She's slid under a patch of snow briar plants which are very sharp.  Li San is uninjured, but she warns the Misfits to stay away from the patch.  Stormer is insistent that they try to rescue Li San, and Pizzazz and Roxy actually agree with her!

But in the process of trying to save Li San, Pizzazz and Roxy both get sliced by the snow briars.  In what seems to be a first for the show, we actually see Roxy bleed because of it!  Mind you, the horrible Korean animation that is present in this episode kind of makes it look strange, but still, the blood is shown!

After Li San is rescued, both Pizzazz and Roxy collapse on the ground.  Li San explains that the snow briars are poisonous, and that Pizzazz and Roxy need to get back to Hunza Village as soon as possible, or else they will die.  But Stormer and Jetta realize that they are hours away from Hanza Village, and they don't know how they will make it back in time.

Oh, look.  Here comes our friendly neighbourhood yeti to make another appearance.  Too bad Stormer and Jetta throw rocks and snowballs at him to make him run away.  Seriously, that's just rude.  Especially since the yeti genuinely wants to help.  He picks up Pizzazz and Roxy and urges the others to follow him back to the village.  He's simply trying to save them some time!  Besides, it's not as if they can just call an Uber to take them back.  One, Uber doesn't service Tibet.  And two, Uber wasn't around in the 1980s.

It doesn't take long for the yeti to bring back the sick women, and Stormer and Jetta are legitimately concerned for their friends.  Now, for Stormer, this is nothing new as she's always been soft-hearted, but seeing this side from Jetta is really something shocking.

Unfortunately, it's bad news for Pizzazz and Roxy.  The snow briar poison is not that easy to get rid of.  You can't get a vaccine or swallow a pill.  The only way to cure the illness is to play the music of Shangri-La.  Jem tries desperately to get the old woman to show her the way to Shangri-La, but the woman refuses, as she still deems Jem as false.

Jem is visibly frustrated and isn't sure what to do...until she really starts to think about what the woman is saying.  Of course Jem is false because Jem is NOT who she really is.  All it takes it for Jem to utter the words "Show's over, Synergy", and she transforms back into Jerrica Benton.  That makes another person who knows Jem's real identity. 

But it's funny that once Jem turns into Jerrica, the woman basically turns into a fangirl and compliments Jerrica on her magic skills!  And the best part is that now that Jerrica is in front of her, she has no problem giving her the map to Shangri-La!  Wow, Jerrica...great thinking!

Of course, she changes back to Jem before joining the others, telling them that they have the map to Shangri-La.  Eric, Jetta, Stormer, and Li San stay behind to watch over the feverish Roxy and Pizzazz while the others try to locate Shangri-La.

It takes a few minutes for the group to find the location, and once they do, they're disappointed to find nothing but a mountain peak.  But once Jem stands out in front, the heavens give way, and a magical village appears out of nowhere.

This is the mythical land known as Shangri-La.  It's a place where people never age a day, where people have lots of fun...

...where people look like this.  Seriously, this guy sounds a little TOO happy to be here.

Actually, he's the gatekeeper of Shangri-La, and he is there to welcome them all.  But he also states that once you enter Shangri-La, you may never leave.  Well, Pizzazz and was nice knowing you two!

Well, okay, there is ONE way that they can leave.  All Jem has to do is agree to learn the songs of Shangri-La by being given a special lesson from the High Lama of Shangri-La.  The rest of the Holograms decide that they're going to wait until Jem returns.  I just hope it doesn't take twenty years for Jem to learn the music!

I do have to admit, watching the music lesson between the High Lama and Jem is probably one of the better scenes of this incredibly weird episode.  It's really farfetched from beginning to end, but the High Lama is a patient teacher, and Jem is an eager student.  Before long, Jem is skilled in playing the music of Shangri-La, grateful for the experience and thankful for the opportunity. 

Of course, when Jem announces that it's time to leave, the rest of the Holograms consider staying in Shangri-La for the rest of their lives.  Yeah, great idea.  Let's let twelve girls under the age of fifteen take care of themselves.  Let Roxy and Pizzazz turn into corpses.  Who cares, right?  Well, apparently Jem cares.  And, it's Jem that convinces everyone else to go back to Tibet to save one-half of the Misfits from croaking.  At least someone has common sense!

Now, when Jem and the Holograms return with the musical instruments the High Lama gave them, they start to play a song for the sick girls...and I must warn you.  This next video is incredibly trippy, so if you're under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may want to skip this one.

This is definitely not the Shannon single of 1983.  "Let The Music Play" is definitely one of the strangest singles in the Jem discography.  It sounds like some new age music from the 1960s and the imagery sort of resembles a sketch from the Claymation Christmas Special.  And yes, the word Shangri-La is repeated about seventy-eight times.  As I said, it's very trippy.

But it seems as though this musical drug does the trick, as Pizzazz and Roxy immediately recover from the sickness they were suffering from.  And for a moment there, I almost think that both of them will show the Holograms a little ounce of gratitude.

Well, that is until Pizzazz and Roxy start yelling at Eric and their sherpa guide and storm off towards Shangri-La.  Sigh...well, it was a nice moment for a little bit.

At least Jem and the Holograms have really gotten a lot out of the experience, and thank everyone for their hospitality.

Oh yeah...about the Misfits quest to find Shangri-La?  They fail.  Miserably.  And Jem and the Holograms sing Shangri-La once more to rub it in their faces.

So, looking back on this's really not one of my favourites.  I think it's marginally better than "Aztec Enchantment" and "The Presidential Dilemma", but it's just a little too insane for me to really fall in love with it.  The reappearing yeti was on a little too much, and the poisonous brambles were just a plot point that seemed tacked on.  I appreciate the concept of the episode, but I feel it wasn't executed as well as it should have been.

Well, let's hope next week, we have a more believable plot.  Let's see...Jem and the Holograms get caught up in Techrat's time machine and end up visiting three historical places. there any way I can skip Episode 49 and go on with Episode 50?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February 15, 1965

This week in the Wayback Wednesday post, I thought that I would choose a topic that is very close to my heart.  And the accent colour that I have chosen is your clue for this post.  And no, it's not Valentine's Day related.  That was yesterday.

I'll leave you to ponder that as we take a look at some of the other events that happened on February 15th.

1493 - Christopher Columbus pens an open letter describing his experiences in the New World

1764 - St. Louis, Missouri is established (then called Spanish Louisiana)

1804 - The Serbian Revolution begins

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

1879 - President Rutherford B. Hayes signs a bill that would allow female attorneys to argue cases before the Supreme Court of the United States

1898 - The United States declares war on Spain following the explosion of the battleship USS Maine near Havana, Cuba

1907 - Actor Cesar Romero (d. 1994) is born in New York City

1909 - 250 perish in the Flores Theatre Fire in Acapulco, Mexico

1927 - Actor/comedian Harvey Korman (d. 2008) is born in Chicago, Illinois

1928 - Author of the Clifford the Big Red Dog series, Norman Bridwell (d. 2014) is born in Kokomo, Indiana

1933 - Giuseppe Zangara attempts to assassinate Franklin D. Roosevelt in Miami, but instead shoots Anton J. Cermak, then the mayor of Chicago

1942 - The Fall of Singapore takes place during World War II

1952 - King George VI is buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle

1964 - Actor/comedian Chris Farley (d. 1997) is born in Madison, Wisconsin

1965 - Singer Nat King Cole dies at the age of 45

1971 - Britain completes the decimalisation of its coinage

1972 - Sound recordings are granted U.S. federal copyright protection for the first time

1982 - Eighty-four workers lose their lives off the coast of Newfoundland when a severe storm sinks the "Oceam Ranger", a drilling rig

1984 - Actress/singer Ethel Merman passes away at age 76

1992 - Jeffrey Dahmer is sentenced to life in prison for the serial murders of seventeen men and boys between 1978 and 1991

1996 - Actor McLean Stevenson dies at the age of 68

2003 - At least eight million people in six hundred cities all over the world protest against the Iraq War

2007 - Voice actor Walter Edmiston dies at the age of 82

2013 - Russian citizens get a shock when a meteor explodes above them, injuring 1,500 people and shattering windows in buildings near the area

2016 - Canadian-American singer Vanity dies at the age of 57; Actor George Gaynes dies at the age of 98

And blowing out candles on their cake today are the following famous faces; Frank Dunlop, Claire Bloom, Brian Holland, John Helliwell, Marisa Berenson, Art Spiegelman, Melissa Manchester, Jane Seymour, Matt Groening, Janice Dickinson, Christopher McDonald, Ali Campbell, Martin Rowson, Jane Child, Craig Simpson, Birdman, Alex Borstein, Renee O'Connor, Miranda July, Conor Oberst, Ashley Cafagna-Tesoro, Amber Riley, and Zachary Gordon.

Okay, so you know that today's topic has to do with the colour red. 

And now you know the date that today's Wayback Machine is sent back to...February 15, 1965 - the same day that Nat King Cole died.  While Nat King Cole was a wonderful singer and entertainer, alas, he is not the subject for today's piece.

Though, you know the first clue is that it's partly red.  And your next clue is that it is entirely Canadian made.  Which definitely makes this Canadian born blogger stand on guard for thee in pride. 

And why shouldn't I feel proud of my country?  This July, Canada marks its 150th birthday!  One hundred and fifty years of endless winters, maple syrup, poutines, and hockey games. 

Of course, no Canadian celebration would be complete without the appearance of the banner that many Canadians look at with pride.

A banner that was first introduced on this date in history fifty-two years ago.

A banner that has a distinctive symbol smack dab in the middle of the flag that is quite unique to Canada.

Ladies and gentlemen...I present to you the Canadian flag.  Hard to believe that in a country that was born one hundred and fifty years ago, our flag is only a third of the age of the country.

But it's true.  Prior to 1965, the Canadian flag looked something like this.

The flag above is known as the Canadian Red Ensign.  First used in the 1890s, the Red Ensign was flown in places "wherever place or occasion may make it desirable to fly a Canadian flag". 

And of course, prior to 1965, the Union Jack was flown prominently, as Canada and Great Britain have such tight bonds with each other (which explains why we have so much delicious British chocolate here).

But, in 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson was frustrated with the fact that Canada did not have its own independent flag even though it had been established as an independent nation back on July 1, 1867.  He formed a committee to create a new flag independent to Canadians, and thus the Great Flag Debate was born.  Pearson wanted the flag to be changed, while former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker did not.

Pearson recruited the help of lawyer John Ross Matheson to begin researching the steps needed for Canada to adopt a new flag design, and he knew that he had a challenge ahead of him.  While many English speaking Canadians loved the use of the Red Ensign flag, French speaking Canadians in Quebec and New Brunswick weren't enamored with the Red Ensign.  In 1964, Pearson brought forth his own design for the new flag, which some dubbed the "Pearson Pennant".

As you can see, there were some similarities to the current design, except there were blue stripes instead of red, and the maple leaf design was more of a cluster than a single red maple leaf.  Not a bad design, but certainly not one that I would have voted for.

Ultimately, put to a vote by an all-party committee (consisting of seven Liberals, five Conservatives, one NDP, one Social Crediter, and one Creditiste, the design chosen was created by George Stanley - who based his design on the flag of Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario (seen above).

Long story short, the new flag design was passed in early 1965, Queen Elizabeth II proclaimed the new flag in January 1965, and on February 15, 1965, the flag that Canadians have adopted as its own was inaugurated at a ceremony at Ottawa's Parliament Hill - just in time for Canada's centennial two years later.

And I am sure that the flag will be flown at every opportunity a few months from now when Canada celebrates its 150th birthday.