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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

August 23, 1949

It's time for another edition of the Tuesday Timeline, and this time around, I'll be putting the spotlight on a man who has worn many hats during his career.  And, by hats I don't mean literal hats...I mean that he's a real renaissance man who could be considered a real jack of all trades.  A fair dinkum kind of mate, if you will.

I'll let you Google what I just wrote while we go over the list of events that took place on this date in history.

30 BC - Octavian executes Marcus Antonius Antyllus and Caesarion following the successful invasion of Egypt by the Romans

1541 - French explorer Jacques Cartier arrives in Quebec City during his third voyage to Canada

1831 - Nat Turner's slave rebellion is supressed

1904 - The automobile tire chain is patented

1912 - Actor/singer/dancer Gene Kelly (d. 1996) is born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1914 - Japan declares war on Germany during World War I

1928 - Actress Marian Seldes (d. 2014) is born in New York City

1929 - The Hebron Massacre takes place during the 1929 Palestine Riots

1942 - The Battle of Stalingrad begins

1944 - Sixty-one people are killed when a United States Air Forces B-24 Liberator bomber accidentally crashes through a school in Freckleton, England

1946 - The Who drummer Keith Moon (d. 1978) is born in Wembley, Middlesex, England

1951 - Survivor frontman Jimi Jamison (d. 2014) is born in Durant, Mississippi

1966 - Lunar Orbiter 1 takes the first photograph of Earth from orbit around the Moon...and speaking of moons...

1967 - The Who's Keith Moon drives his car into a hotel swimming pool during his 21st birthday celebration

1970 - Actor River Phoenix (d. 1993) is born in Madras, Oregon

1973 - The term "Stockholm Syndrome" is coined following a failed bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden where the hostages took pity on the robbers

1989 - The "Singing Revolution" takes place where two million people from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania stand on the Vilnius-Tallinn Road holding hands

1991 - Tim Berners-Lee opens the World Wide Web to new users

1993 - The Galileo spacecraft discovers the moon Dactyl

2006 - After spending eight years in captivity, Natascha Kampusch escapes her kidnapper; the kidnapper - Wolfgang Priklopil commits suicide by jumping in front of a train

2008 - Madonna kicks off her "Sticky and Sweet Tour"

2010 - The Manila hostage takes place on a tourist bus where eight people are killed

2012 - Puppeteer/voice artist Jerry Nelson dies at the age of 78

And for celebrity birthdays, we have the following famous faces turning one year older; Vera Miles, Barbara Eden, Mark Russell, Richard Sanders, Willy Russell, Rowena Wallace, Shelley Long, Mark Hudson, Queen Noor of Jordan, Charles Busch, Edwyn Collins, Chris Potter, Dean DeLeo, Alexandre Desplat, Shaun Ryder, Kenny Wallace, Wendy Pepper, Jay Mohr, Ray Park, Shifty Shellshock, Eliza Carthy, Scott Caan, Kobe Bryant, Julian Casablancas, Andrew Rannells, Ritchie Neville, Ozzy Lusth, Natalie Coughlin, and Sky Blu.

Oh, there's one other birthday that I have to add to that list - the birthday of our Tuesday Timeline spotlight.

He was born 67 years ago today on August 23, 1949.

As I mentioned before, this is a person who has had many different career paths.  In some cases, he dominated the music scene with several hits to his credit.  In others, he was a television actor appearing in everything from soap operas to teen dramas.  He's also dabbled in writing and voice work!  Quite the list of achievements for this Australian born entertainer!

Yes, today is the 67th birthday of Rick Springfield, and to celebrate his birthday, I thought we'd have a look at just a few of the many hats he wore during his life and times.  Many of these you'll probably already know, but there may be a surprise or two along the way.

So, let's start with the hat that Rick Springfield has worn the most and go from there.


Okay, so it's fairly obvious that Rick Springfield is probably best known for his music career.  After all, the song below went to #1 in the summer of 1981.

ARTIST:  Rick Springfield
SONG:  Jessie's Girl
ALBUM:  Working Class Dog
DATE RELEASED:  February 1981

But I bet you didn't know that Rick Springfield's career began long before that song was even released!

Having developed a fondness for playing music since he was a child and learning how to play the guitar at the age of 13, Springfield joined the Australian band Zoot in 1969, replacing original lead guitarist Roger Hicks.  And while he became a teen idol for girls in Australia around this time, the cost of being a member of Zoot was quite high.

Could you imagine wearing an all pink satin ensemble like this?  I know I definitely couldn't pull it off!  It was quite difficult for Springfield to be taken seriously as an artist when he had to dress up in Pepto-Bismol pink jumpsuits and sing songs like "Hey Pinky".  Though the band did have a very clever cover version of the Beatles song "Eleanor Rigby" in the early 1970s.

By 1971, Zoot had broken up, and it gave Rick the opportunity to cultivate a solo career.  Though his first few albums weren't as successful as he had hoped they would be, he never gave up on recording music.  It would be in 1981 that "Jessie's Girl" would be released, making him an international rock star.  Other hits followed, including "Don't Talk To Strangers", "Affair of the Heart", and "Rock of Life".  And his success came with great rewards, including a Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Male Performance for "Jessie's Girl".

And he's still releasing music today, with his latest album "Rocket Science" having come out in February 2016.


But we also can't forget the fact that Rick Springfield is also quite the talented actor as well.  During the late 1970s, Springfield had made several television appearances with roles on "Battlestar Galactica" and "The Rockford Files".  But 1981 would also prove to be a pivotal year in his television career as well when Springfield landed a role on a popular daytime drama.

"General Hospital" was definitely the show to watch in 1981, and while part of that could have been because that was the year that Luke and Laura got hitched (the most watched soap opera episode in the United States ever), a lot of it had to do with Springfield's role as Dr. Noah Drake.  He had signed onto the show for a two-year contract right around the time that "Jessie's Girl" was released, which he did as a back-up plan just in case the album didn't do so well.  But when "Jessie's Girl" became a #1 hit, it doubled Springfield's workload because when he wasn't working on "General Hospital" he was touring the country with his band to promote his music.  He did the schedule for two years before bowing out of the soap in 1983, though he has returned to "General Hospital" for several appearances between 2005 and 2013.

He also made a couple of films - most notably "Hard to Hold", "Nick Knight", and "Legion".  He also appeared in "Californication", "Hawaii Five-0", "Hot in Cleveland", and "True Detective", and has joined the cast of "Supernatural" - his episodes will start airing in October 2016.


Of course, you could classify the number of songs he wrote for his numerous albums as being part of the writing career, but in 2010, Springfield penned his own autobiography entitled "Late, Late at Night: A Memoir", which did quite well on the New York Times Bestseller List (it peaked at #13).  I've read snippits of it online and it's quite interesting.  Apparently Rolling Stone Magazine thought so too - they ranked it at #23 of the 25 Great Rock Memoirs of All Time.  Not too shabby.


Believe it or not, there actually was a cartoon in which Rick Springfield voiced himself in the cartoon "Mission: Magic"!  I really don't know much about the cartoon as it debuted a full eight years before I was even born, but needless to say it was quite a trippy series.  I suppose the best way to describe it is that it was sort of like the Magic School Bus, only using teenagers instead of fifth graders.  Unfortunately, I don't think the series aged all that well, as Rick Springfield was later quoted as saying that the cartoon scarred him for life.  Ouch!  But still...he did voice work in cartoons, so I have to include it - though I'm sure that the late Casey Kasem probably looked at the years that he did Scooby-Doo a lot more fondly!

So, whatever hat you associate with Rick Springfield, know that he has proven to be skilled in all of them. 

Happy birthday, Rick Springfield!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 22 - Intrigue at the Indy 500

Previously on Jem Reviewed, Kimber proved that she wasn't quite the boy-crazy airhead we all thought she was and ended up saving the home of a rock legend from being bulldozed by Eric Raymond.  And, I have to admit, I really liked last week's episode to the point that it might be my favourite of season one thus far.  I wonder if the next one will be just as good.

Let's see...Episode 22:  Intrigue at the Indy 500.  Sounds...intriguing.  You might notice that in behind the title is a black and white glossy of Eric that Pizzazz is using as a dartboard.  I guess we now know that the Misfits think about Eric as little as Jem and the Holograms do.  But when Pizzazz runs out of darts to throw, she decides that she'll just use raw eggs instead. 

And guess who just happens to walk through the door just as Pizzazz throws the egg?  If you guessed Eric, you're right...though Jem could have walked through the door and Pizzazz would have gotten just as much satisfaction out of the deal.

It appears as though the Misfits have a reason for being angry with Eric.  The Misfits and Eric are in the city of Indianapolis, home of the Indy 500 - one of the largest auto racing events in the world.  There's a fancy dress party going on at a restaurant in town in which all of the racers would be present.  Eric received an invitation to the party, but the Misfits did not.  And Eric isn't exactly keen on having the Misfits make an appearance as he likely believes that the Misfits would cause nothing but trouble.  Naturally, Pizzazz is steamed, and she makes it a mission to find a way in.

The night of the party arrives, and Eric is seated with two large men who are quite intimidating.  And if you're wondering how Eric scored an invitation to the party, it's quite simple.  He's one of the sponsors who has a driver in the race.  Raymond's driver will be driving car #007.  Geez, who is this driver anyway?  James Bond?

Naturally whenever Eric is around, there is bound to be trouble.  Further investigation reveals that these guys are Eric's prospective business partners who would happily partake in betting and gambling to ensure that they make a fortune.  They have given Eric a huge sum of money to place a bet on Car #007 with Eric's bookie, Harry.  And, to ensure that Car #007 is the winner, Eric has done some damage control of his own.  The real threat of the race is four-time winner Martino Grandzetti, and Eric used his funds to bribe Martino's sponsors to back out of the race.  Apparently when it comes to the Indy 500, no sponsor, no race.  Oh, and your Jem Trivia for today?  Martino Grandzetti is apparently based off of the character of famous auto racer Mario Andretti.

So, with Martino seemingly out of the race, and it's all but certain that Eric's sponsored driver will win, what could go wrong?  I suppose the announcement that Martino has a new sponsor and is back in the race might make Eric sweat a little bit.  That sponsor just happens to be a little recording company known as Starlight Music.  Gee, I wonder where I've heard that name before.

Oh, right!  That's Jem's record company.  And it's time for a performance and a song.

Okay, first off, I'm going to avoid the obvious racy jokes that could stem from a song title like "I'm Coming From Behind".  Won't go there.  Trying to keep this blog PG-13 rated at most.  That said, I actually don't mind this one.  It's not Jem's best song, but it's hardly "Deception" quality.  I'd firmly place this one right in the middle of my list of Jem's greatest hits.

Now while Eric is not very pleased with Starlight Music backing Martino up. Martino couldn't be more grateful, and he is incredibly charmed by Jem and the Holograms.  That's okay with me though.  He seems to have a charming personality anyway.  But when Martino asks where Jerrica Benton is, it causes Jem to panic a little bit.  How is she going to explain this one?

She doesn't get a chance to do anything though, as Pizzazz, Roxy, and Stormer crash the party by crashing through the front doors of the restaurant where everyone is gathered.  To add insult to injury, they do this by stealing Jem's Rockin' Roadster!  So either Roxy knows how to hotwire a car, or Jem was stupid and left the keys in the ignition.  Either way, the Misfits have to be stopped before they scratch any of the paint off the vintage race cars inside.  Or until they kill a person.  You know, priorities.  At least this gives us an opportunity to see just how skilled a driver Martino is.  He leaps inside one of the cars and drives it in an effort to slow the Misfits down.  It takes a little bit of clever steering as well as avoiding obstacles like tables and the maitre d', but Martino successfully causes the Misfits to lose control of the car, which goes crashing into the kitchen of the restaurant!  I sure hope Jerrica has a hefty insurance policy on the car!

The Misfits are covered in spaghetti and are immediately thrown out of the restaurant - but when Pizzazz recognizes Eric, she helpfully points out that they were with him, and thus Eric is tossed out as well.  I guess this is Pizzazz's revenge for Eric not taking them to the party in the first place.  Thing is, I actually like the Misfits better when Eric ISN'T around, so maybe the real antagonist in this show is Eric.  After all, Eric doesn't seem to really care about the Misfits either.

But Eric does care about money.  And to ensure that he comes out on top, he's not above hiring someone to sabotage Martino's car before the race.  Not cool, Eric.  Those cars can go extremely fast.  If one of them were to crash, it could mean serious trouble.  Look at what happened to Dale Earnhardt.

Fortunately the race isn't scheduled for a few days yet, so as it stands, only practice runs are being held today.  Sure enough, Martino's in tip-top form as a driver, and the Holograms have decided to see him in action to cheer him on.

Also at the venue is Rio, who I assume is Jem's personal guest.  Or Jerrica's.  Yeah, whatever.  He's climbed up on top of some scaffolding to take some shots of Martino with his camera.  I guess Rio must be a racing fan or something.

Turns out it was the worst thing that Rio could have done.  As Martino is passing by Rio and the girls, one of the wheels comes loose, and Martino is spinning out of control.  He manages to avoid Jem and the Holograms but crashes right into the scaffolding where Rio is perched, which sends Rio falling to his death and Martino burning up in a fiery inferno.

Just kidding.  They only up in Intensive Care, since nobody is allowed to die on Jem except for Emmett Benton.

Jerrica decides to pay Rio a visit and is shocked to see a mummy lying in one of the hospital beds.  Jerrica is horrified to think that Rio could be under those bandages, but in actuality it is Martino - who seems to have an unbelievably good attitude about nearly dying on the track.  Fortunately, all Rio seems to have is a broken leg and a couple of head injuries.  Or, maybe the head injuries were already there from his inability to see that Jem and Jerrica are the same person.  Who can say?

But with Martino bruised and bandaged and his car completely smashed, there is no way that he can compete in the Indy 500.  What's more, Jerrica was informed that Martino's car was sabotaged and she gets so angry that she destroys the flowers that she brought Rio as a Get Well Soon gift.  Hilariously, she gives Rio the broken stems anyway.  It's like...yeah, I brought these for you, but I destroyed them.  Love you, mean it!

Certainly the car that Martino was in looks as though it has seen better days.  Seriously, I've seen cars on "Canada's Worst Driver" in better condition.  Kimber, Aja, and Shana decide to try and help Jem fix up the car, but none of them took shop class in high school and have no idea where to even start.  Jem decides that she has an idea.  Calling for Synergy to appear, Jem asks Synergy to project a set of blueprints for Martino's car as it looked before the accident and that way they can go from there in reassembling the car.  I question this strategy because Jem seems to have the idea that the car can be rebuilt like a Lego playset - but I suppose that it's better than having Synergy project a hologram of Martino's car.

Besides, we need another excuse to play another Jem song.  This time, we're hearing "Back in Shape" - which admittedly could have been used in "Last Resorts" or "Hot Time In Hawaii" as both those shows dealt with getting in shape.  That said, the song does work here, and I do like the imagery that Synergy projects throughout the video.  If not for the fact that Synergy is meant to be kept a secret, this would make a good concept video.

It appears as though Synergy was of excellent help because the car is like new and even Rio is quite impressed.  But that leaves the question of who will drive the car, as Martino is still bandaged up.  The camera then pans to Jem who seems to have a very strange look on her face.  I wonder...

...oh, you can't be serious.  You mean to tell me that JEM is going to drive the car?  I mean, I get it.  Danica Patrick was only four years old when this episode aired and she was likely only driving around in one of those Power Wheels toys at that time.  But Jem?  Seems like we have another one of those "this episode is impossible, but let's believe it anyway because plot" shows.  Just when I had such high hopes for this episode too.

But with Jem taking over Martino's car, this means that she'll be starting off in the pole position - not a bad place to start.  She's in Car #11.  And right next to her is Eric's driver, Car #007.

And up in the stands, Eric and the Misfits are blown away by the fact that Jem is driving Martino's car.  Actually, I'm blown away too.  To be honest, if anyone should be driving the car, it should be the one who drives it for 75% of the series so far.  But it's not the first time Aja gets shoved to the side for Jem's sake, and it probably won't be the last either.

For Eric though, Jem racing in Martino's place is not exactly comforting for him.  Especially since his "business associates" are seated a few rows behind him.  And with Jem somehow mustering up enough driving skills to take the lead in the race, it causes Eric's paranoia to skyrocket.  And to top it all off, Pizzazz is getting hungry and demands that Eric buy her a hot dog with mustard.  Can't say I blame her.  Mustard is the only condiment I put on hot dogs.

This does work out well for Eric, as Eric's bookie has set up a hot dog stand that doubles as an impromptu betting station.  And Eric is so paranoid about the race that he actually places a bet in favour of Jem!  Eric's paranoia also causes him to be forgetful as all he brings Pizzazz is a hot dog bun!  Okay, so technically Eric's betting slip was stuffed inside the bun.  Harry could have at least thrown a hot dog in there.

Although Pizzazz is angry that she has to go hungry, she is even more upset that Jem seems to be in the lead.  And considering that Eric promised that the Misfits would play at the victory party for his driver after the race should he win, that's more than enough ammo for Pizzazz to take drastic measures.

So when Eric's driver pulls in at the required pit stop of the race, Pizzazz more or less assaults him and tells him to beat it because she was going to drive the car the rest of the race.

You know, I'm pretty sure Pizzazz can't do that.  I'm almost positive that she would be arrested or at the very least escorted outside of the venue.  But we have to somehow believe that it's okay for Pizzazz to drive a race car because plot.  I didn't think I could hate an episode more than "The Princess and the Singer", but this episode is just horrible!

Oh, and Pizzazz's method of trying to stay ahead of the game?  Smashing into every single race car to make them crash.  Seriously, I get that Pizzazz wants to win at all costs, but threatening the lives of innocent race car drivers to do it?  This is an all time low for our green haired Misfit, and it's actually kind of painful to watch.  Though once again, Eric is panicked about the fact that Pizzazz could now win the race and he races towards the hot dog stand to change his bet from Jem to Pizzazz.  I sure hope that bookie is charging him a fee for his wishy-washy decision making.

Of course, Pizzazz saves her worst for Jem, and she manages to run Jem off the road straight into the path of one of the race cars that Pizzazz was responsible for destroying!  It looks as though Jem might be completely out of the race for good.

Nah, turns out that the obstacle was no match for her.  Though Jem's car does suffer a little bit of damage and is forced to the Pit Stop for repairs, leaving Pizzazz to once more get ahead of the game.

Ah, yes...that's the same name of the Misfits song in this episode.  And, it's a good thing that "Ahead of the Game" has a decent beat and a great video because right now the music is the only thing that is holding this stupid episode together.  Seriously, what the hell was Roger Slifer thinking?  We know he's capable of writing good scripts (I believe "Last Resorts" was his creation as well), so why would he submit this one?  It. Makes. No. Sense.

Anyway, Jem's ready to get back out on the track even though she's a couple of laps behind.  Rio warns Jem that it might not be a good idea and tells Jem that one of her wheels isn't holding out that well and that too much speed could cause the axle to snap.  But Jem seems to have caught the "I'm too good to listen to you" disease that the Misfits have gotten and speeds off in the quest for victory. 

And just like that it is neck and neck between Pizzazz and Jem, with Pizzazz having a slight lead over Jem.  Of course, Jem isn't above using Synergy to play mind games with Pizzazz, and she summons up a hologram of Pizzazz's "conscience", who admonishes Pizzazz on her poor sportsmanship.  I have to admit though, I chucked when Pizzazz was shooing the hologram away telling it that she didn't HAVE a conscience.  Pizzazz truly does have the best lines in this series - and kudos to Patricia Alice Albrecht who delivers Pizzazz's lines so flawlessly.

Eric once again decides that he wants to change his bet again to Jem, but this time around Harry refuses to honour his request as the cutoff point for final bets has arrived.  Eric pleads for Harry to reconsider, but all Harry does is take his money and give him a hot dog.  With mustard.  Too bad Pizzazz is out on the track making a mockery of the Indy 500. 

But after all that, it looks as though Eric and Pizzazz may have the last laugh as Rio's warning about the wheel failing comes true.  The faster Jem speeds up the car, the more dangerous the car becomes.  On the sidelines, Kimber, Aja, Shana, and Rio watch in horror as Jem seems destined to crash and there isn't a lot they can do.

But Jem finds some inner strength and declares that what she is about to do next is all for Martino, and with a little bit of fancy steering, Jem somehow manages to cross the finish line ahead of Pizzazz even though the wheel completely falls off, and causes Jem's car to do several somersaults through the air!  Jem wins the Indianapolis 500!

Jem should also probably be dead if this were real life.  But as I said before, nobody is allowed to die in this cartoon except for Emmett Benton, so Jem's pit crew escort her to safety before she is incinerated in the resulting explosion.

I bet Eric was wishing that he was inside that car when it blew up.  Now he has to face his "business associates" who lost a lot of money.  And it appears as though they mean business with them grabbing metal rods and threatening to strangle Eric with them.

But they back off when Pizzazz drives through the door and corners Eric with the car yelling at him for losing, and the associates decide that having Pizzazz in his life is punishment enough for Eric.  Ha!

So, Jem is awarded the trophy for winning the Indy 500 and they make remarks about her being the first woman to win.  Jem throws support to Martino who watches with pride from his hospital bed even though he'll likely be there until the 1990s.

The episode concludes with Rio planting a huge smooch on Jem, thankfully putting this edition of Jem Reviewed out of its misery.  Seriously, this episode was just plain awful.  I get that it's supposed to be a cartoon and all, and I do appreciate the fact that the show tried to show us all that girls could do anything that boys could do...but the way that Jem and Pizzazz went about it - especially Pizzazz - was so unbelievable, ridiculous, and dangerous that it sort of made the Indianapolis 500 look like a parody of itself.  Not exactly what the show was supposed to do.  And seriously, why wasn't Aja driving the car?  Aja wouldn't have let the car flip more times than Dominique Moceanu at the 1996 Summer Olympics!  Seriously, Aja is the best Hologram of the four!  Use her more!!!

Well, next week on Jem Reviewed, it's another two-part episode.  In part one, we're introduced to the Jem Jam, filled with Starlight Girls, "celebrity guests", and ways to find your father without the aid of Maury Povich!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

I Just Found Out There IS Such A Thing As The Real World!

I can't believe that in just a few years, music from the 2000s could start being played on oldies music stations.  Isn't that depressing?

I mean, the 2000s were a horrible decade for music in general, but to think that songs such as "Who Let The Dogs Out", "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" and "Shake Your Bon Bon" are at least fifteen years old?  I tell you, it certainly makes me feel as though I need to start buying Metamucil and denture paste.

One song that I recently heard for the first time in a while was the 2002 hit by John Mayer entitled "No Such Thing".  It's definitely not my favourite song - or for that matter, my favourite musical artist - but I will post the song here.  Go ahead.  I'll wait until you listen to it.

The song itself is about the idea of finding your own path and carving your own destiny, which in theory is a very positive thing.  When the world is telling you that you have to make the honour roll, and you have to go to a prestigious university, and you have to do what the school aptitude tests say you're best qualified for, it can get to be too much.  Believe me, this is coming from a guy who wasted two years and fourteen thousand dollars pursuing a degree in a subject that ultimately would have ended up being no more valuable than toilet paper because he felt that he "had" to be like the Romans and do what the Romans did. 

Basically, my school guidance counselors were morons. 

It was an expensive lesson to learn, but people need to realize that university is not for everyone.  It certainly wasn't for me.  So, in that sense, the song "No Such Thing" is definitely a song where the message I mostly agree with.

However, there is one part of the song that I do take issue with.  The part where John Mayer happily sings that there is no such thing as the real world, and that it's just a lie that you have to rise above.

John Mayer...YOU LIE!  Then again, this is coming from a guy who used the phrase "sexual napalm" to describe a former girlfriend, so maybe it doesn't mean all that much in the grand scheme of things. 

The point is, I don't believe for a second that there is no such thing as the real world.  There most definitely is.  And if one is not prepared for the real world, it will chew you up and spit you out.

At least...that's the way we SHOULD look at it.

While I firmly believe in the idea of pursuing our passions and doing what makes us happy, we also have to realize that we have to pay our dues along the way.  We can't just expect to have everything handed to us on a silver platter and be done with it.  Believe me, I would have loved to have had someone hand me fourteen thousand dollars so I could have paid off my loans lickety-split, but in reality I had to work my butt off to pay back ever last dime.  It took me eleven years to accomplish this feat, but in the end, it taught me several valuable lessons about money management and taking responsibility for your own mistakes. 

That's why I find it hard to deal with the fact that some people in this world seem to feel as though responsibilities and earning your way in this world doesn't matter as much as doing whatever it is you want.  It's the classic proverb brought to life.  You can't have your cake and eat it too.

I don't really mean to pick on the generation known as the Millennials (believe me, I've met and known quite a few Millennials who absolutely get it and are well-adjusted, pleasant people to be around), but they seem to get the most derogatory comments directed towards them when it comes to earning your way through life.  Again, from personal experience, I know that this is definitely not the case with everyone born between 1982 and 2002.  But I do have to agree that some of them do seem to feel as though the world owes them a living and that the less work they have to do to get what they want, the better life will be for them.

But here's the thing.  I actually don't blame those Millennials who do feel that way.  If anything, I think that they're learning by example from the people who are around them.  I think in the cases of those who I find to be upstanding citizens, they've had really good role models to look up to and who have shaped their work ethic and how they see life. 

But in the cases of those who see life as one big party without any responsibilities...where do I start?

For starters, I think a lot of the origin of this behaviour comes from the days in which these people were little boys and girls learning how to add two plus two and figuring out that red and yellow made orange when mixed together.  I can remember back when I was that age, we'd have a fun sports day at the end of every school year where we would sort of simulate the Olympic games and prizes would be earned to the Top 3 finishers.  I sucked at every single event and I think I was the only one in my class that never earned a single medal or a first place blue ribbon.  That was embarrassing.  And to top it all off, everyone in the school got a participation ribbon so that even though we knew we sucked, we still took something home anyway.

To be honest, I would have rather not gotten anything at all.  To me, what made the medals and blue ribbons all that more special were the fact that there were only a limited number of them.  To have a participation ribbon that everyone else got was sort of boring. 

And yet we have tons of examples of "everyone getting a trophy" because nobody wants to hurt someone else's feelings, and that way everyone wins.

I absolutely HATE this practice. 

You know, as much as I sucked as an athlete, at least I owned it.  And as bummed as I was about not getting any first place ribbons, it just gave me that much more motivation the following year to do better.  Okay, so I never did earn a blue ribbon, but the point is that I did gradually improve because I put in the work and the effort to make it happen.  Instead we have a group of people who get rewarded whether they win or lose, no matter how much or how little effort people give in the process.  So, basically they are taught that they will get rewarded whether they work hard or not.  What a horrible lesson to teach people.

And you know, many people like to blame the so-called Millennial generation for this sense of apathy...but who do you think implemented these ideas in the first place?  That's right...the generation before them.

I think as a whole, we need to make everybody accountable for their actions.  I feel that if someone does something that is great, by all means, give them the blue ribbon, the trophy, a pat on the back, and the one million dollar cash prize.  Well, that is...if there is a million dollars at stake.  Usually any of the situations I'm in, there's not.

On the flipside, if a person is not doing what they are supposed to be doing, be it at school, at work, or in a sports game, then we need to stop making excuses for them.  Stop arguing that they deserve an A+ when their paper is a D minus.  Instead, sit down with them and help them put forth the effort to bring that grade up.  Stop making excuses for why people feel the need to skip shifts simply because they won't work weekends.  Instead, hold them accountable for their actions and take the necessary disciplinary steps to fix or correct the issue before it starts to affect workplace efficiency and morale.  Stop demanding that your child automatically make the first string of a sports team because it is their right.  Instead, work with the children to improve their skills, or find an activity that they CAN excel in.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is this.  Let your children experience failure.  Let your children experience disappointment.  Let your children make a mistake or two or eighty-seven.  But stop trying to install a sense of entitlement in them because they will find out the hard way that life isn't always easy. 

And that there IS such a thing as the real world.  It's no lie.  And if you're not prepared for it, it'll break your heart...and then some.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August 16, 1977

It's time for another Tuesday Timeline entry, and I think for this one, it'll be a date that most of you will remember quite well.

I won't though.  I wasn't born yet.

Before we get into that though, let's see what else happened on August 16.

1780 - American troops defeat the British in South Carolina during the Battle of Camden

1812 - American General William Hull surrenders Fort Detroit to the British Army during the War of 1812

1841 - When President John Tyler vetoes the bill that would re-establish the Second Bank of the United States, members of the Whig Party riot outside of the White House

1858 - The transatlantic telegraph cable is inaugurated by President James Buchanan when he sends a message to Queen Victoria

1896 - The Klondike Gold Rush begins

1916 - American race car driver Iggy Katona (d. 2003) is born in Toledo, Ohio

1920 - Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians is hit on the head by a fastball pitched by New York Yankees player Carl Mays; Chapman succumbs to his injuries the following day

1924 - Actor Fess Parker (d. 2010) is born in Fort Worth, Texas

1927 - The Dole Air Race is held where pilots had to fly from California to Hawaii - six of the eight planes that entered the race crashed or went missing

1928 - Singer Eydie Gorme (d. 2013) is born in Manhattan, New York

1930 - Football player/sportscaster Frank Gifford (d. 2015) is born in Santa Monica, California; also born on this date was actor Robert Culp (d. 2010)

1945 - An assassination attempt is made on Kantaro Suzuki, the Prime Minister of Japan

1948 - Baseball player Babe Ruth dies at the age of 53

1954 - Sports Illustrated releases its first issue

1956 - Actor Bela Lugosi passes away at the age of 73

1960 - A trio of records are broken by Joseph Kittinger when he parachutes from a balloon over New Mexico; highest speed reached by a human without an aircraft, high-altitude jump, and free fall - the records would remain unbroken until 2012

1963 - Voice actress Christine Cavanaugh (d. 2014) is born in Layton, Utah

1964 - General Nguyenm Khanh becomes President of South Vietnam following the removal of Duong Van Minh as a result of a coup d'état

1987 - Northwest Airlines Flight 255 crashes after takeoff in Detroit, Michigan, killing two on the ground and all but one of the 155 passengers aboard

1989 - The Toronto Stock Exchange is forced to close after a geomagnetic storm caused by a solar flare causes the electronic systems to fail

2005 - Animator/voice actor Joe Ranft dies in a car accident at the age of 45

2013 - 61 people are killed and another 59 declared missing after the St. Thomas Aquinas ferry collides with a cargo ship and sinks in the Philippines

And for celebrity birthdays, we have the following famous faces turning one whole year older; Ann Blyth, Julie Newmar, John Standing, Suzanne Farrell, Lesley Ann Warren, Barry Hay, Bill Spooner, Stockwell Day, Kathie Lee Gifford, James Cameron, Tim Farriss, Laura Innes, Angela Bassett, Madonna, Timothy Hutton, Steve Carell, Ulrika Jonsson, Rulon Gardner, Emily Robison, George Stroumboulopoulos, Damian Jackson, Vanessa Carlton, Cam Gigandet, Cristin Milloti, and Greyson Chance.

Okay, so what's the date we're going back to this week?

Hmmm...August 16, 1977.  That was 39 years ago, so obviously a date that I missed.  But in the world of music, it was a very sad day.

I'll tell you something...being born in 1981 meant that I was being born into a world that had quite a few voids in it.  Especially in the music scene.

For instance, I've never known a world that had Buddy Holly, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, or Janis Joplin.  They all passed away before I was born.

I've also never known a world in which all four of the Beatles were still alive.  John Lennon was shot while I was still in the womb.

And, going along this trend, I've never known a world in which Elvis Presley was still alive - well, unless you believe all those hundreds of tales of him being sighted at McDonald's in the National Enquirer.

But was thirty-nine years ago that Elvis Presley was found dead inside of his home at the age of 42.  The day he died he was in the middle of a comeback of sorts, and he was slated to fly out of Memphis, Tennessee to begin touring the United States.  He was found unresponsive by his girlfriend at the time, Ginger Alden and was pronounced dead at 3:30 that afternoon.

By August 17, the world began to mourn Presley's death.  He left behind his estate known as Graceland (which would become a tourist attraction beginning in 1982), and he left behind his only child, daughter Lisa Marie, whom Elvis had with Priscilla Presley.  Crowds gathered outside of the estate to pay their respects, and it is estimated that 80,000 people lined the processional route to Forest Hill Cemetery, where Presley was initially buried alongside his mother. (Both bodies have since been relocated to Graceland's Meditation Garden after a crazed fan tried to dig up his body in an effort to steal it.)

It seems hard to believe that Elvis Presley would be 81 years old had he lived.  And, even though it's been nearly four decades since his death, his music can still be heard on the radio, in television and film projects, and even in a couple of video games! 

So, I thought that to pay tribute to Elvis Presley, I would choose five of my favourite Elvis songs to play and discuss so that we can remember him by his immense gift of combining his powerful vocals with his quivering lips and swaying hips.  And, I'll tell you...choosing only five songs was no easy task.  I really had to pick and choose what songs I thought were worth a listen. 

It took me a while, but here's my list.  And feel free to share yours here as well if you like. 

Released:  August 1, 1972

I don't know what it is about this song that I like so much.  Maybe because it was one of Elvis' last Top 10 hits (it peaked at #2 in 1972).  Maybe because it was Elvis' last real rock and roll song (any of his song releases after this date were ballads.)  Maybe because it has that catchy "hunka hunka burning love" chorus at the end.  Maybe because it was used a lot in the Disney film "Lilo & Stitch".  I don't quite know what the appeal is.  All I know is that I really enjoy this one, and it almost seems criminal that it was kept off the top of the charts by Chuck Berry's "My Ding-a-ling". 

Released:  June 11, 1957

Okay, okay...let's forget about the fact that John Stamos, Bob Saget, and Dave Coulier sang this song to the Olsen twins in a 1990 episode of "Full House" for a minute.  The fact of the matter is that this single was and still remains a very catchy little ditty.  It also did incredibly well on the music charts, staying at #1 for seven consecutive weeks!  And keep in mind that this was before the Billboard Hot 100 even existed!  I think it very well could also be the only chart-topper that incorporated that wonderful stuffed animal that I would imagine that 99% of us owned at one point in our childhoods.  Great song.

Released:  August 26, 1969

Okay, this was another song that was performed on "Full House" - or at least a snippit of it.  I can't help the fact that Jesse Katsopolis loved Elvis!  But with a brilliant single such as "Suspicious Minds", it is hard not to love what he did.  But what might shock you is that this song was actually released as a cover version.  The original was recorded one year earlier by Mark James, but it fizzled on the charts.  Elvis Presley was given the song to record one year later, and the rest is history.  The song about a dysfunctional relationship where a lack of trust is definitely evident was the cornerstone to Elvis Presley's renaissance period, and he sang the song at his comeback special in 1968 to glowing reviews.  This song would be his final #1 hit.  And while other artists such as the Fine Young Cannibals and Dwight Yoakam have released their own versions of the song, I'd say Presley's was the best version.

Released:  January 27, 1956

I've always loved songs that seem to be based on a true story, and in the case of "Heartbreak Hotel", the story behind the song is about as tragic as you can get.  Two different stories have been told behind the origin of the single.  In one, the song is allegedly based on the tale of Alvin Krolik, a man who wrote a partial autobiography with the line "the story of a person who walked a lonely street" who checked into a hotel following the break-up of his marriage.  In the other, it was written on an account of a man actually committing suicide at a hotel he checked into following the end of his relationship.  Either way, the song was definitely one of Elvis' finest performances, and it became a number one hit.  Interestingly enough, the song was received warmly in North America, but was criticized in the UK where people felt that it wasn't entertaining enough and actually placed the song on a restricted play list!

Released:  March 22, 1957

You know, it was really hard to pick my favourite Elvis song, but whenever I thought about it, "All Shook Up" was always going to be at the top of my list.  Why?  Because it's smooth, it's easy on the ears...and it was inspired by a bottle of Pepsi?!?  One of the stories behind the origin of the song is related to the tale about how one of the owners of Shalimar Records, Al Stanton was shaking a bottle of Pepsi at the time he was meeting with Otis Blackwell, and Blackwell penned the lyrics based on the phrase "all shook up".  Whether or not this is absolutely true or not, who can say?  The point is that this song was definitely a hit (it was #1 for eight whole weeks), and it's definitely the song that automatically comes to my mind whenever the name Elvis Presley is dropped.

It seems so unreal that it has been almost four decades since Elvis passed away.  But, his memory and his music will live on forever.

So, tell me.  What Elvis songs are your favourites?