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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Politics and Roseanne

Now, I don't usually tease with upcoming blog entries, but I do want you to stay tuned for the next one to come after this one.  I don't even know what it is going to be about, but I can guarantee that it is going to be a huge one.  It is a blog entry almost seven years in the making, and I hope that it will be worth it.  Again, I can't reveal too much about what the special blog is going to be about, but I can tell you about a special feature that is set to debut later this month.  I'll give you a hint though.  You know the cartoon reviews that I have done the last couple of years?  I'm going to be doing something a little bit different, but similar.

I'll have more information on the special blog that will come after this one.

For now, I want to talk about Roseanne.

No, seriously.  I want to talk about Roseanne.  In an era of everything old becoming new again, it's no secret that the television series "Roseanne" is coming back to television.  On March 27, 2018, the series is set to come back on ABC - the network where the show began thirty years ago.

The whole cast (minus Glenn Quinn who passed away in 2002) is returning for the continuation of the show.  Roseanne Barr, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Michael Fishman, Lecy Goranson, Sarah Chalke, and John Goodman.  It's going to be hard to explain how both actresses who played Becky will feature (though I'm predicting that Becky has turned into a lesbian and Sarah Chalke is playing her lover).  EDT TO ADD:  Actually, Sarah Chalke is playing the surrogate who is carrying Becky's baby - thanks to Railyn M. for the info! 

And it's going to be next to impossible to explain how they plan on resurrecting Dan who reportedly died at the end of the show's ninth and final season.  But then again, I try to forget that whole ninth season existed.  When I bought the Roseanne series on DVD, I purposely hid the season nine discs because I found that season to be a complete travesty.

There is a part of me that is curious to check out the new series of "Roseanne".  I was only seven when the original show debuted, but as I grew older I really appreciated the concept of the show.  It stood out from all of the other sitcoms that debuted in the 1980s because it featured a blue collar, working class family as the stars.  I could relate to the struggles of the Connor family more because they were experiencing the same struggles that my family endured being of a similar background.  It was really interesting that the set up of the Connor family was exactly the same as my family - two parents, two girls, and a boy (and the actor Michael Fishman who played D.J. was born the same year that I was made it even more surreal).

Naturally, I'm not the only one who is interested in tuning in for the reboot.  There's reportedly a lot of interest in the show's return, and I am sure that the true fans of the series are definitely looking forward to it.

However, for all of the people who are willing to welcome "Roseanne" back into their homes, there are people who are very vocal in wanting to boycott the show entirely.


I think it might have to do with a recent interview that Roseanne Barr gave as part of the promotion for the upcoming show.  Roseanne states that when it comes down to the show's political views, they will be addressing politics in the new show.  And to nobody's surprise, Roseanne Connor will be a Trump supporter.  I say this because Roseanne Barr has also made it clear that she voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election.

Of course, this has prompted some anti-Trump people to boycott her show, claiming that she's helping the enemy and so on and so forth.  And certainly everyone is entitled to their opinion.  They have every right to choose to watch or not to watch.  And they can certainly disagree with Roseanne supporting Donald Trump.  I personally have aired my thoughts on Trump myself here, and I must say that I am not very impressed with his "leadership" at all.  Perhaps if he put the cell phone away, deactivated his Twitter account, and stopped using his potty mouth to insult entire nations, maybe I would stop putting the word "leadership" in quotation marks.  And maybe I'll win eighty million bucks in the lottery.

But would I boycott the show because I disagree with Roseanne?  No.  And truth be told, you shouldn't either.  Well, unless you hated the show the first time around - in which case that would be a solid excuse not to watch.

The thing is, "Roseanne" was always about a family with low income trying to find a way to make it in a world that seemingly treats them like they are dirt.  I've lost count of how many times Dan and Roseanne changed jobs - it's been a long time.  But they took on whatever job they could to provide food for their family and pay the bills.  I suspect that nothing has changed in that regard and that the stupid lottery win plot that kicked off season nine will be just a forgotten memory. 

And Roseanne Barr is correct about one thing.  It was blue collar people and working class people who were key in electing Donald Trump into office.  Whether or not they have buyer's remorse now, that's another topic for another day.  The point is that as a blue collar character, it would seem out of character for Roseanne to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump.  And one thing that "Roseanne" prided itself in during the first few seasons of the show was the gritty realism mixed in with the comedic punchlines.  So, I do appreciate the fact that the show in 2018 is trying to reflect the current times in that regard.

But perhaps what is really interesting is that Roseanne Barr and Sara Gilbert have stated that there will be at least one episode in the new series in which there will be some political divide in the Connor household.  I'm guessing that at least one member of the Connor family did NOT vote for Trump, and just putting it out there, I'm thinking it might be Becky - though that's just my prediction.  But again, the show is portraying a real issue that is currently happening, as the 2016 elections have caused a lot of divide between American citizens and some families have ceased communication with each other because of it.  Both Barr and Gilbert have stated that it was an episode that needed to be filmed.  Gilbert has stated that it would be a great thing for loving families to disagree on political issues and yet somehow overcome those disagreements to be a family.  The thing is, I agree with Gilbert.  If there's any family - dysfunctional as they may be - who can tell this story idea with the honesty and bluntness that it needs, it's the Connors.

So, no...I won't boycott the show.  Truth be told, I'm interested in seeing what will happen.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Embrace The Weirdness!

As I mentioned before (and as you can clearly see from the new banner and new look that I have implemented for 2018), this is the year that I have declared "Be Your Own Best Friend Year"!  It's basically another way of saying that this is going to be the year where I put myself first and taking control of my own destiny in spite of what others try to tell me. 

I'm finished with being a doormat to those who only want to use me for their own selfish needs and then toss me to the side like they would a worn out pair of sneakers.  Instead, I have found that I would rather enjoy my own company and get to understand myself better.  Once I get secure with my big and bad self, then maybe it will give me the confidence necessary to interact with other people better.

(Or, maybe it will make me realize that I'm the only person I can trust to be my true self around.)

Either way, win win.

Anyway, one of the goals that I have for 2018 is to really get into my psyche to understand what makes me who I am, why I have a hard time communicating with people, and for that matter, why I sometimes act like a curmudgeon towards people I do not like, or who I find incredibly frustrating and annoying.

And I suppose one conclusion that I've come up with is the fact that I tend to be one of those "think outside the box" people who more often than not does everything to go against societal standards.  I'm not glued to a mobile phone 24/7, I prefer to write thank you notes instead of typing them out on a computer, and I have opinions about social norms that are anything but normal.  And I make zero apologies about it either.

In fact, I think one of the first things that I want to do for 2018 is to embrace the weirdness.

You see, part of the reason why 2017 was such a rough year for me was because I was trying to be someone that I wasn't comfortable with.  I was trying to be more "normal".  And it took me until 2018 to realize that I absolutely hate being normal.  Because let's face it.  Stressing yourself out because you don't feel you are normal enough for society is not normal.  Stressing yourself out even more when you try to conform to society's definition of normal is not normal either.

Have I confused you yet?

Okay, let's demonstrate this using a pop culture reference from the television series "Full House".  And keep in mind that I will be mentioning some stuff that happened in the last season of "Fuller House" when driving my points home, so consider this a spoiler alert.  Granted, the whole third season's been up for three weeks now, but this is more for those who haven't seen it yet.  You have been warned.

So, if you have ever seen any episode of "Full House", then you are probably aware that D.J. Tanner and Kimmy Gibbler are best friends forever.  Since they were next door neighbours, it's hard to see D.J. and Kimmy not being there for each other, even though the majority of D.J.'s family thought Kimmy was incredibly weird.

Okay, so her fashion sense resembled a box of Crayola crayons after they have baked in the sun for twelve days.  And she did have a humongous foot odor problem that was much made fun of on the show.  And yeah, she did go a little bit trigger happy when she accidentally infected Stephanie's ears while piercing them.  But if you can ignore all those things, Kimmy's loyalty to D.J. remained firm and true.

Of course, while D.J.'s friendship with Kimmy was stronger than salt water taffy, Kimmy's relationship with Stephanie was always brittle.  Kimmy and Stephanie clashed at every opportunity with Kimmy bashing Stephanie on how immature she was and Stephanie insulting Kimmy about how dumb she was.  It was a silly little feud between D.J.'s best friend and D.J.'s sister, and more often than not, D.J. was always the one who tried to smooth things over.

It was sort of like D.J. became the Danny, Stephanie became the Jesse, and Kimmy became the Joey.  Which isn't much of a stretch from the roles they play on "Fuller House".

But as silly a show as "Fuller House" is, I do like one thing that has stayed constant throughout the show's three seasons so far.  The relationship between D.J., Stephanie, and Kimmy has become firm and cemented despite the differences between them.  

I mean, think about it.  You have an overachieving, overprotective mom, a party girl who often goes to bed when everyone else is getting up, and an eccentric woman who is stuck in the 1990s and who wears fashion accessories that look like food.  On paper, this combo would never work, but in "Fuller House", it makes up the unstoppable trio known as "The She-Wolf Pack".

And perhaps the biggest surprise is how close Kimmy and Stephanie have become.  Mind you, Stephanie dating Kimmy's brother might have a little to do with it, but the point is that Stephanie may have taken some time to get accustomed to Kimmy, but once they started living under the same roof, they started to not only like each other, but love each other like sisters.

Perhaps the greatest evidence of this is the fact that Kimmy helped Stephanie when she needed it the most.  On the first season of "Fuller House", Stephanie revealed that she couldn't have children.  However, in season two, there was a chance that she could by using a surrogate.  Initially, the perfect choice would have been D.J., but D.J. had a rough time with her youngest son's birth, so as a result she was ruled out.

But then Kimmy stepped in and offered to be Stephanie's surrogate, and at the end of the third season, Kimmy happily reported that the implanting of the embryo worked and that she was pregnant with Stephanie's child...and her brother's child, which is a little bit strange, but hey, whatever works right?

The point is that Stephanie was initially dismissive of Kimmy's eccentric ways, but over time learned to embrace the eccentricity, and now the two are forever bonded.  And Kimmy perhaps - who always did accept her quirkiness - found a way to accept Stephanie, who initially she saw as a geekburger.

I guess the whole point of this all is to let people know that it's okay to accept that you're quirky, or that you're weird, or that you're strange.  We all feel like that.  Embrace the weirdness.  And more importantly, embrace the weirdness in other people.  You never know...the weird kid who sits by themselves in the corner could be the best friend you've ever had.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

2018 - The "Be Your Own Best Friend" Year

Well, we're already one week into 2018.  How has it been for all of you so far? 

I have to say that given what happened last year, I see 2018 as a new opportunity.  A new chance to reinvent myself.  To say goodbye to past mistakes and have the opportunity to create new ones.

(Wait.  That came out SO wrong.)

I guess what I'm trying to say is that 2017 taught me a lot about myself.  Not only that, but it taught me a lot about other people.

In fact, I've already declared 2018 to be the "Be Your Own Best Friend" year. 

All right, all right.  Maybe it's only applicable to me, but I will explain why I have done that - and what exactly that means.

You see, 2017 was a year in which I saw the absolute best of humanity, as well as the absolute worst.  It was a year in which several things happened in which I could really tell the difference between who was a real friend and who only wore the "friend hat" when it only seemed to benefit them.

Frankly, I'm over it.

There was a situation that I can remember clear as a bell.  I think I had to have been around thirteen years old.  It was just before the band was set to go on stage at my elementary school, and I was supposed to go on.  At least that was until one of my friends and I got into a disagreement that stemmed from - well, I can't even remember what we were fighting about now because it seems so long ago and it was that insignificant. 

Of course, it prompted a classmate of mine named Rob (and yes, I probably won't ever see him again so I don't mind referring to him by his first name) to really get in my face about it even though he had absolutely nothing to do with me or the friend that I was fighting about, and he basically blasted me by saying that I didn't know what a friend was.  I'll admit that it stung quite a bit, and my reaction was to fake a stomach ache so I didn't have to play in the concert because I was that upset. 

But as much as I hate to admit this...all those years later, Rob did make a valid point.  Granted, I still think Rob is a jerk, but he was right.  I didn't know what being a friend was because I had a hard time finding and keeping friends.  Obviously I made a huge mistake with Rob because I actually invited him to my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles party for my 9th birthday only for him to befriend a new group of kids who absolutely despised me. 

But looking back on it, I think I've had that issue my whole life.  I don't have a whole lot of friends who I can say that I've known since kindergarten and who I am still close with today - maybe only two people fit that description.  They are clearly the exception to the rule.

It seemed as though whenever I tried to be friends with someone, it ended one of three ways.  They either moved away and we never talked again, they found a new group of friends and didn't talk to me again, or they became my worst enemy.  As a kid, I didn't understand why this always happened.  Looking back, I think there's equal blame to be found.  I could have done more to try and keep the friendship going, but they could have also made up their own minds and not succumb to peer pressure either. 

I guess it's why I hesitate to call someone my "best friend".  I've mentioned that I was leaving 2017 feeling jaded, and part of the reason why is because I feel as though many of the people I considered friends have bailed on me.  Whether it's on me, or on them, I don't know.  All I know is that my relationships with people who I thought were on solid ground felt as though they were hit with a landslide, and it's made me feel as though I couldn't count on anybody.

I guess that's ultimately what made me come up with the idea of being my own best friend.  I guess in a way, you can't really respect other people if you don't respect yourself.  And honestly in 2017, I put myself last a lot.  In some aspects, it couldn't be helped.  But in others, it most definitely could have.  I left 2017 feeling incredibly defeated and alone because I didn't think I was good enough for people to associate with me.  And, I guess on my part, I got fed up with people trashing each other behind their backs or who gossiped every minute of the hour to even want to associate with them. 

2018 is the year in which I declare myself to be my own best friend because I think I deserve to have someone positive behind me - even if it is only me.  I got to the point where I almost started to accept toxic relationships for the sake of just having somebody to talk to, and that is incredibly dangerous behaviour.  Now I realize that I would rather be alone with my own thoughts of positivity instead of at an entire table of people who will never be true friends.  So, right off the bat, I think that's a great start, right?

Eventually, I hope that I can use this new outlook on life to experience some new adventures on my own - even though I have a really hard time trying new things without someone there to experience them.  I'm thinking that once the snow melts (because let's face it - the winter of 2018 is definitely hibernation weather), I might continue my "see my hometown through the eyes of a tourist" mindset and showcase various parts of my community the way that someone outside the box of normalcy would.

I'm also not going to count on people to make me happy any longer.  If I want to treat myself to a DQ Blizzard because it makes me happy, that's what I'm going to do.  If I want to buy an iTunes card to download some of my favourite songs, that's what I'm going to do.  And if I want to wear underpants that make me feel sexy even though I feel anything but, then that's what I'm going to do.  Heck, it's not like anyone's going to see them anyway!

Yeah, 2018's going to be the year that I finally start to treat myself the way that I deserve to be treated.  And if anybody else has a problem with that, they simply don't have to come and join in.  They can continue along on their merry little way and I'll bid them a hearty "Bye, Felicia" as they pass.  Even if their name isn't Felicia.

And maybe...just maybe...if I become my own best friend in 2018, then in 2019, I can start focusing on finding others who are their own best friends...and then maybe our best friends will become best friends, and then we'll start a knot of friendship that is built on the foundation of love, trust, kindness, and strength.

Now, if you excuse me, I'm going to spend a night in with my best friend Netflixing and chilling.  In fact, this opportunity has me thinking of a new feature that I plan to start later this month.  But more on that later.  For now, it's time to bond with my bestie.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Personal Reflections of 2017

Of all of the entries for the look back at 2017, I think this one has got to be one of the most difficult.  Mainly because 2017 wasn't the greatest year for me.  It was a year in which I experienced things that were quite upsetting, endured things that I wish I hadn't, and came to a few conclusions about myself that have not only surprised me, but made me realize why I am the way I am, and why I behave the way I do.  And the more and more I think of it, the more I want 2018 to be a bit of a redemption year.

These are my personal reflections of the year 2017 - a year that I did not ask for, nor did I want.  But like it or not (emphasis on the word not), I survived it.  And I learned a lot about myself as a result.

So, let's get the obvious out of the way first.  The main reason why I loathed 2017 so much was because my family experienced a lot of hardships this year.  The most obvious one was the fact that I talked about how I stayed away for the better part of two months to help take care of a family member that had an accident.

I'm still unable to talk about the details of what happened, but I can reveal a bit more about who it was that got hurt.  In October, my mom took a nasty fall and broke her hip.  It was a really tough recovery for her, and while the bone has healed to expectations, the muscles in her left leg were damaged.  As a result of this, she is walking with a limp and a cane - perhaps permanently.  It's still too soon to tell as it only happened three months ago, but that injury was really a rough blow for her (and for us).  Though while I wish that it didn't happen at all, I am glad that she is recovering.  If anything, I'm relieved this incident has shown all of us how determined she is at bouncing back.  She's done remarkably well in her recovery and I am proud of her.  And I suppose another positive thing about this incident was that it made my family a lot stronger as a unit.  It's a shame that it took this to make me realize it, but on the whole, we're going into 2018 a lot stronger than we were in 2017.

And believe me, 2017 has tested my strength in more ways than one.  Especially on an emotional level.

You know, when I was coming to terms with the fact that I thought differently from everyone else in the world, it never dawned on me that I would be redefining my definition of the word "normal".  I always classified myself as the kind of person who always thought outside of the box.  I was always the one who coloured outside the lines.  I was the one who insisted on colouring frogs purple even though there is no such thing as a purple frog in nature.  And all my life, I've always had to try and defend myself against people who thought I should conform to be like them.  It was a frustrating experience throughout childhood, and even more frustrating in my early adulthood.

It wasn't until this past year that I figured out one potential cause.  Reading up on Asperger's made me realize that although I haven't been diagnosed with it formally, I do have a lot of the symptoms of it.  It definitely explains why I have a nearly impossible time connecting with people and why I have very few true friends.  It's why I feel anxiety and panic whenever I go to a convention, movie theatre, restaurant, or festival by myself.  It's why I have had difficulty with motor skills to the point where I can't even drive a car.  It's why I burst into tears every time the kids at school threatened to pop a balloon in my face (because yes, sensitivity to loud noises is a common symptom).

It has taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I was not born "normal".  And I am not going to lie to you, there are some days in which I wish I could be like everyone else.  But if the year 2017 has taught me anything, it's how I needed to redefine what the word "normal" really meant.

I suppose this leads to my next point.  I found 2017 to be an incredibly lonely year for me.  I can probably count the times that I was invited to an event or a celebration or just to hang out with somebody on one hand.  And while I've never really considered myself to be a social butterfly, I didn't expect that I would see this year as being one where I didn't do much at all.

Now, coming to terms with the fact that quite a bit of this is my own fault was actually the easy part.  I didn't really make much of an effort to do much because I didn't feel like it.  And the few times in which I tried to do something fun by myself I either changed my mind, or had a panic attack change my mind for me.  I suppose in many ways, I suffer from "stranger in my hometown" syndrome in that I've lived in this town most of my life and yet I still feel very much like a stranger or a tourist.

(Though that mentality helped me see the town through a tourist's eyes and helped me come up with some wicked photo opportunities.  I mean, where else can one expect to see a gigantic rubber duck for Canada's sesquicentennial?  Though, part of me wonders what a duck has to do with Canadian confederation...)

Though, it's that "see the world through the eyes of someone experiencing it for the first time" idea that has made me come to terms with a huge revelation for me.  The revelation that I should never strive to be someone else's definition of what "normal" is.  Rather, I should try to make my own definition. 

And I suppose that part of the reason why I have kept to myself this year for the most part is seeing how other people's definitions of what "normalcy" is clashes with how I see it.

I'm going to be 37 in 2018.  That's quite an age.  If I live to be 74, that's exactly what midlife would be for me.  And I suppose if I had to experience a midlife crisis with personal relationships, 37 would be a good age to experience it. 

I've already mentioned that my relationships with my family have improved a lot over the course of 2017 - which I suppose is one of the highlights of the year.  I also want to say that my relationships and friendships with my friends from all over the world are also as strong as ever before.  Through the Christmas cards I was given this year, to the birthday messages posted on my Facebook page, to the many people who expressed their get well wishes to my mother, to the friends who helped me choose 750 of my favourite songs to share with the world...thank you.  As 2018 begins, I have no worry in losing any friendships with any of you.  Truth be told, even though you mostly live far away from me, you have been a constant support to me, and you truly have been my rock in 2017. 

Now, as far as local friendships go...that's admittedly something that I have to work on.  Mind you, the ones who have stuck by me this year, know that it hasn't gone unnoticed, and I also thank you for standing by me this year.  It hasn't been the most pleasant of years, and I know that many of you have had a rough go of it as well, but we all made it together, and here's hoping that 2018 is better for all of us.

I suppose this goes into the last thing that I have learned about myself in 2017 - and this one has been a bitter pill to swallow, mainly because it best describes two adjectives that I have for 2017 and many of the people I've crossed paths with this year.

Bitter and jaded.  As much as I don't want to admit it, 2017 has left me bitter and jaded towards people.  And I am hoping that in 2018, I will find a way to overcome it.

I suppose a huge reason why I've kept to myself this past year is because the world around me seems to be increasingly hostile and catty.  I don't know whether it's the fact that the economy is up in the air, or because so many bad things happened in 2017, or Trump's Twitter feed is poisoning the Internet as we speak (which might not be much of a factor if the worst about the ending of net neutrality comes to fruition).  Whatever the case, I find myself feeling like I am surrounded by toxic people who do nothing but complain and whine about others.

And I'm ashamed to admit that I've fallen into that trap on more than one occasion.  A classic case of misery loving company, if you can call it that.

I guess it also goes back to my idea of what "normal" is.  According to my experiences in 2017, the "new normal" seems to be that you talk smack about other people to make yourself feel better, you purposely isolate people who don't seem to fit your social status, or you bury your nose in a cellular phone to avoid having to start a physical conversation with spoken words, sentences, clauses, and anything else found within an episode of "Schoolhouse Rock".  If that's what "normal" is, then I don't want any part of that.  As far as I am concerned, people who gossip about others regardless of the amount of truth that is involved are not people who I find any sort of attraction in whatsoever.  The only problem is that I am surrounded by those types of people quite often.  Worse, I have no idea where I can find people who do NOT do this. 

So, I guess part of what I've learned in 2017 is to stop caring about those people who get off on making others miserable.  Instead, I need to use my energy to boost those who want to make the world a better place - which might force me to convert some of my negative feelings into positive feelings.

I suppose 2018 is no better year to start.

Monday, January 01, 2018

2017 in Review - The News

2018 is finally upon us, and a happy new year to all of you reading this right now!

I can honestly state that 2018 is a year that I am really looking forward to.  After all, eighteen is a lucky number for me, and after all of the crazy stuff that happened in 2017, I think most of us can agree that it's a relief that it is over.

I mean, just looking at some of the news stories of 2017, it's a miracle the majority of us have survived it!

All right, maybe I'm being melodramatic here, but 2017 was a really scary year.  It may have been designated at the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the United Nations General Assembly, but it was also a year in which we thought it would be the end of the world as we knew it.  In a way, it has been with all the natural disasters, terror attacks (both domestically and internationally), and overall bad news.

But there has been some moments of brilliance in a year of unrest and uncertainty, and I'm hoping that I cover those as well.

First things first though...not all of us made it through 2017 alive.  Many of us have lost loved ones throughout the year (myself included), and I want to pay tribute to those who passed away this year.  So to start this look back at 2017, let us honour those pop culture icons of the past that we lost last year.
January 12 - WILLIAM PETER BLATTY, director, 89
January 23 - GORDEN KAYE, actor, 75
January 25 - JOHN HURT, actor, 77

January 25 - MARY TYLER MOORE, actress, 80
January 26 - MIKE CONNOR, actor, 91
January 26 - BARBARA HALE, actress, 94
February 7 - RICHARD HATCH, actor, 71

February 12 - AL JARREAU, singer, 76
February 16 - GEORGE "THE ANIMAL" STEELE, wrestler, 79

March 18 - CHUCK BERRY, singer/musician, 90
March 23 - LOLA ALBRIGHT, actress, 92
April 6 - DON RICKLES, actor/comedian, 90
April 22 - ERIN MORAN, actress, 56
April 26 - JONATHAN DEMME, director, 73
May 9 - MICHAEL PARKS, actor, 73
May 14 - POWERS BOOTHE, actor, 68

May 18 - CHRIS CORNELL, singer/musician, 52
May 22 - NICKY HAYDEN, motorcycle racer, 35

May 23 - ROGER MOORE, actor, 89
May 27 - GREGG ALLMAN, musician, 69

June 9 - ADAM WEST, actor, 88
June 19 - OTTO WARMBLER, college student, 22
June 20 - PRODIGY, rapper, 42
July 15 - MARTIN LANDAU, actor, 89
July 16 - GEORGE A. ROMERO, director, 77

July 20 - CHESTER BENNINGTON, musician, 41
July 21 - JOHN HEARD, actor, 76
July 26 - JUNE FORAY, voice actress, 99
July 31 - JEANNE MOREAU, actress, 89
August 3 - TY HARDIN, actor, 87
August 3 - ROBERT HARDY, actor, 91

August 8 - GLEN CAMPBELL, singer, 81
August 19 - DICK GREGORY, comedian/activist, 84
August 20 - JERRY LEWIS, comedian/actor, 91
August 24 - JAY THOMAS, comedian/actor, 69
September 8 - DON WILLIAMS, singer, 78
September 13 - FRANK VINCENT, actor, 80
September 15 - HARRY DEAN STANTON, actor, 91
September 19 - JAKE LAMOTTA, boxer, 95
September 27 - HUGH HEFNER, Playboy magazine founder, 91
September 30 - MONTY HALL, game show host, 96

October 2 - TOM PETTY, musician, 67

October 17 - GORD DOWNIE, musician/activist, 53
October 24 - FATS DOMINO, singer, 89
October 24 - ROBERT GUILLAUME, actor, 89
November 7 - ROY HALLIDAY, baseball player, 40
November 9 - JOHN HILLERMAN, actor, 84
November 15 - LIL PEEP, rapper, 21
November 18 - MALCOLM YOUNG, musician, 64
November 19 - DELLA REESE, singer/actress, 86
November 19 - MEL TILLIS, singer, 85

November 21 - DAVID CASSIDY, singer/actor, 67
November 25 - RANCE HOWARD, actor, 89
November 30 - JIM NABORS, actor, 87
November 30 - HEATHER NORTH, voice actress, 71
December 4 - CHRISTINE KEELER, model/showgirl, 75
December 23 - KENT BLACKWELDER, Big Brother 2 contestant, 62
December 24 - HEATHER MENZIES, actress, 68
December 26 - JOHNNY BOWER, hockey player, 93
December 28 - SUE GRAFTON, author, 77
December 28 - ROSE MARIE, actress, 94

Certainly a lot of famous names there...names that will never be forgotten.

Now, 2017 in the news has been a rather tumultuous year in the world.  And as we go through the list of events that happened month by month, you will see what I mean.

The year began with the swearing in of the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, on January 20.  And it has been a wild ride ever since.  In just one year in office, Trump's war of words on both Twitter and in his presidential addresses have caused a lot of fury.  When he's not poking the bear with his constant jabs towards North Korea, he's causing a lot of tension amongst minority groups and women with his comments - which actually lead to the January 21 Women's March that took place in 168 different countries in protest.  As well, his decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Treaty on June 1, and his declaration on December 6 that Jerusalem would be recognized as Israel's capital has caused a lot of tension which I am sure won't go away in 2018.

In fact, Trump's feuds with practically everybody who is not on his side seem to be overshadowing any political decisions that he has made.  It's hard to say what 2018 will bring, but at least I can say that it won't be anything but boring.  It will also likely be unpredictable with the rotating door of White House staffers fired by Trump.  Sean Spicer, Anthony Scaramucci (after only a few days), and Omarosa can attest to that.  And given the tension between Trump and Kim Jong-un (leading to North Korea firing a ballistic missile over the Sea of Japan on February 11 - as well as its most powerful nuclear test on September 3), 2018 appears to be a very pivotal year.

Cyberterror was definitely a concern for the world when ransomware viruses started infecting millions of computers all over the world beginning on
May 12.  With reports of Yahoo Mail being compromised as well as the hacking of the Ashley Madison website back in 2016, it was definitely a reminder to update your antivirus software.

Of course, terror attacks were sadly a huge part of what shaped 2017.  The first indicator happened on
May 18, when a man crashed a car through Times Square in New York City, killing one and injuring twenty.  A more devastating event took place four days later when a bomb exploded in the lobby of Manchester Arena on May 22 following an Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 people.  On June 7, an ISIL attack on the Iranian Parliament Building and the Mausoleum of Ruhollah Khomeini killed 17 people.  

August 11 saw racial tensions erupt in Charlottesville, Virginia which saw white supremacists show their ugly colours and saw the death of a woman after she was struck and killed by a car.  Even Canada wasn't spared when an attack on September 30 in Edmonton which saw a man deliberately crash into and stab a police constable before striking four other pedestrians.

Domestic terrorism reared its ugly head on October 1 when a man shot and killed fifty-eight people at the Route 91 Country Music Festival from his hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.  October 31 saw a terror attack in New York City when a man mowed down people along a bike path in a rented truck.  And I'm sure the whole world weeped when the news of the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5 broke.  26 people lost their lives, and it remains the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history.

Natural disasters were also a major factor in 2017, and with so much devastation in the world, it certainly has triggered discussion about climate change.  In the last week of 2017, frigid cold temperatures and record snowfall dominated the headlines for most of Canada and half of the United States with Nova Scotia bearing the worst of it with a December 25 wind storm that knocked out power for thousands of customers.  Meanwhile in California, a series of wildfires charred homes and forests in the southern part of the state.  As of January 1, those fires are still active.

Hurricanes were also a devastating source of pain for the Southeastern United States and the Caribbean islands.  Beginning with Hurricane Harvey on August 25, Houston was devastated by heavy flooding.  Parts of Florida were completely destroyed when Hurricane Irma struck the state on September 10.  And Puerto Rico is still recovering from damage caused by Hurricane Maria, which saw widespread destruction when it made landfall on September 20.  And earthquakes also shook up lives all over the world.  On September 19, a powerful 7.1 earthquake strikes on the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 Mexico City quake, killing 300 people.  And on November 12, an earthquake strikes the Iraq-Iran border leaving 530 dead and 70,000 homeless.  

And it wasn't just natural disasters that struck.  Who could forget the fire at Grenfell Tower in London on June 14 which destroyed the whole building and killed 71 people?  Or, the Ohio State Fair disaster on July 26 when a ride called the Fireball broke apart, killing one rider and injuring seven?

So with so much bad news going on in the world, could there possibly be any good news?  As a matter of fact, there was.

Now, I mentioned the bombing at Manchester Arena in May...but what followed was a massive concert event known as One Love Manchester, which took place at the same arena on June 4.  Ariana Grande returned to perform along with Coldplay, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Liam Gallagher, Niall Horan, Robbie Williams, Justin Bieber, the Black Eyed Peas, and many others put on a show to benefit the families of those who died, and it was recently ranked as the number one concert of 2017.

On October 5, the first news broke out about Harvey Weinstein, and over the next three months, it has exploded into a major clean-up of the Hollywood industry.  More and more women found the courage to stand up for themselves and declare "Me Too", and as I mentioned in my movie blog, I am sure that there will be more cleaning up to do in 2018.

2017 also saw the old adage of "Cheaters Never Win" come true when Russia was formally banned from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics on December 5 following an investigation into doping at the 2014 Sochi Games.  And on September 13, the Olympic Committee announced that Paris and Los Angeles would be the host cities for the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympic Games.

We also received good news in the Royal Family, as Prince William announced that Princess Kate was pregnant with their third child and Prince Harry announced his engagement to actress Meghan Markle.  The wedding date is set for May 19, 2018.

And finally, on August 21, many people in the United States and Canada were treated to a rarity - a total solar eclipse.  Here in my area, we only had a partial eclipse, but it was still cool to view - through special lenses, of course.

So that's a wrap for the news of 2017.  What will 2018 bring?  It's hard to tell, as we're only fifteen hours into it.  But I'll be back next year at this time to do a recap.

Tomorrow, what did 2017 mean to me?  Well, I'll tell you.  It isn't going to be all hearts and flowers, but it did change me as a person.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 in Review - The Television

How is it that we are at the last day of 2017?  And to be honest with you, now that it is almost over...I'M GLAD!  It has really been a very difficult year, and I am really looking forward to a brand new year of hope, dreams, and opportunities.

I just wish that it wasn't so blustery cold outside!  It's said that in New York City, it's going to be the second coldest New Year's Eve in the history of the Times Square ball drop!  That could make for one frosty Rockin' New Year's Eve party!  I hope Ryan Seacrest has packed his Underarmor long johns!  And I hope that Mariah Carey actually wears clothes this time around when she sings for her redemption performance after the trainwreck last year because otherwise she might turn into a diva-sicle.

Yeah, Mariah's horrendous performance at Rockin' New Years Eve '17 was just one of the many events that happened in the world of television in 2017.  We've seen some television series debut to much fanfare, and we've seen some of our favourite television shows end after many years of stories.  And while Netflix, Hulu, and CraveTV have won over a lot of viewers, don't count network television out just yet.

So grab a bag of Doritos, pop open a Dr. Pepper, and figure out the difference between Kourtney Kardashian and Kylie Jenner because this is the best and worst of television in 2017.

So, a lot of television shows debuted this year, but before we get to that, let's have a look at some of the shows that we said farewell to.

Girl Meets World (January 20)
The Odd Couple (January 30)
The Apprentice (February 13)
The Vampire Diaries (March 10)
Liv and Maddie (March 24)
Bones (March 28)
Duck Dynasty (March 29)
Dr. Ken (March 31)
Grimm (March 31)
Sleepy Hollow (March 31)
Last Man Standing (March 31)
Switched at Birth (April 11)
Girls (April 16)
2 Broke Girls (April 17)
24: Legacy (April 17)
The O'Reilly Factor (April 21)
Bates Motel (April 24)
Rosewood (April 28)
The Great Outdoors (May 8)
Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (May 17)
Baby Daddy (May 22)
Reign (June 16)
Pretty Little Liars (June 27)
Orphan Black (August 12)
The Insider (September 8)
The Strain (September 17)
Episodes (October 8)
Me, Myself, & I (October 30)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (November 12)
The Mindy Project (November 14)
Longmire (November 17)
Charlie Rose (November 17)
Fashion Police (November 27)
Tavis Smiley (December 13)
Chelsea (December 15)

A few notes:

It's interesting that with "Fuller House" and "Raven's Home" currently airing, "Will & Grace" coming back after a decade long hiatus, and "Roseanne" set to return in 2018 that "Girl Meets World" didn't last longer.  The sequel to "Boy Meets World" was quite the popular show on the Disney Channel and made stars out of Rowan Blanchard and Sabrina Carpenter.  But as decent an effort as it was, perhaps the fact that it was on the Disney Channel might have harmed its success.

But hey, at least it lasted longer than "Me, Myself, & I", which lasted a grand total of one month on the air. 

On the flipside, lots of television series ended after a long run.  Perhaps the one that I am most brokenhearted about is "Bones".  I've been a fan since the first episode aired in 2005, and the cast chemistry and riveting storylines kept me a fan for twelve years.  While I will miss everyone there, at least David Boreanaz is continuing to act in his new show "Seal Team".

"Last Man Standing" also ended its run in 2017 after six seasons, and many fans of the series cried foul, accusing ABC of canceling it due to political reasons.  I don't quite understand that, but given that Tim Allen's previous series "Home Improvement" ran two years longer, I suppose I can understand his disappointment.

Also ending after six seasons is "2 Broke Girls"...and honestly it was about time.  No offense to Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs, but the show was never my cup of tea.

We also said farewell to "Bates Motel" and Freddie Highmore's brilliant, but frightening take on a young Norman Bates.  But don't worry, you can catch him on "The Good Doctor", which has gotten mixed reviews, but I find myself liking it.

And some of these shows ended on their own accord.  I suppose Mindy Kaling expecting a baby could be one reason why "The Mindy Project" wrapped up.  But in the case of Tavis Smiley, Bill O'Reilly, and Charlie Rose...well, let's just say that when you have men behaving badly, they find themselves on the unemployment line really quickly.

I mean, just ask Matt Lauer about that one, right?

All right.  Now let's talk about some of the successes of 2017.  We'll begin with the smash success of the NBC drama "This Is Us".  Starring Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, and Sterling K. Brown, the series is a rather unique one, using flashbacks and flash forwards to tell the tale of one family.  It's had viewers on their seats and has caused a nationwide shortage of Kleenex!  And good news for's reportedly been renewed until at least 2020!  After years of struggles, NBC is slowly winning back their former "Must See TV" title.

On Netflix, "Stranger Things" has aired two seasons, and in those two seasons, fans have been clamoring for more.  It's also been a great career renaissance for Winona Ryder, who has been largely hit and miss since the 2001 shoplifting scandal she was involved in.  Her role in "Stranger Things" was definitely worth the wait.

Netflix also took a gamble with a reboot of the 1970s sitcom "One Day at a Time".  With Norman Lear once again contributing to the show, this version features a Cuban-American female veteran with PTSD struggling to balance a career with motherhood.  Justina Machado and Rita Moreno have a fantastic chemistry with each other, and although the show is told from a 2017 perspective, it has all the charm and the punch of the 1975 original.  And good news...season two debuts January 26, 2018!

On January 26, 2017, the CW took a chance with the show "Riverdale", a darker look at the teenagers that have starred in Archie Comics since 1941.  What the end result became was a surprise hit for the network.  While you haven't seen Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead quite like this before, it's a show that you just get caught up in and you crave more each week.

(Okay, that's how I feel anyway.  I love "Riverdale" and make no apology for it.)

Oh, and the "Santa Clarita Diet" starring Drew Barrymore?  Extremely disgusting, but surprisingly satisfying.

Now for the shows that have debuted this fall and winter, I think some have the potential to be hits.  We already saw a preview of Ellen DeGeneres' "Game of Games" in December and it already received major buzz.  I am looking forward to the official premiere on January 2, 2018. 

Hitching a ride on the success of "The Big Bang Theory", "Young Sheldon" debuted on CBS in September, and I think the early buzz is that it is a winner, as is "Seal Team", "The Good Doctor", and "The Gifted".  Again, it's hard to predict what will be a hit, but early indication is that all of these series will likely get a second season at least.

And now for some miscellaneous pieces of television trivia from 2017.

Congratulations to "The Bold and the Beautiful" for celebrating thirty years on the air.  It is also the television series that has been seen in more countries than any other American soap opera.  The show still boasts two of its original stars in Katherine Kelly Lang and John McCook!  Outstanding, no?

And just to mention a show from across the pond, I want to commend "Emmerdale" for concluding a year long storyline featuring the character of Ashley Thomas battling dementia.  The storyline played out beautifully and educated the public over what living with dementia is like and how painful it is for the loved ones they leave behind.  John Middleton (Ashley) and Charlotte Bellamy (Laurel, Ashley's wife) were outstanding and both were rewarded with acting accolades courtesy of the British Soap Awards.

Megyn Kelly left FOX News to join NBC's "Today", and while the switch was jarring at first, she is starting to come into her own.  Meanwhile, with the departure of Matt Lauer amidst his sex scandals, Hoda Kotb has temporarily joined Savannah Guthrie, and the girl power seems to be working - ratings are actually up for the morning show since Lauer was fired.

"13 Reasons Why" might have been accused of glorifying suicide, but in actuality, I found it to be incredibly haunting and well acted.  It's not for everybody, but if you can sit through it, it's well worth it.

Jimmy Kimmel also had a rough 2017, as his newborn son was born with heart issues - but Kimmel used the opportunity to talk about affordable health care for everyone in America.  While some found his remarks to fall on deaf ears, for others he became the voice for millions who were stuck in medical debt.

Can Michael Phelps win a swimming race against a Great White Shark?  Apparently, nobody really knows.  The shark was actually computer generated, meaning that the whole race was just a clever edit.  Insert shark week comments on Twitter.  Who would have thought that "Sharknado 5" would have been more realistic?

And finally, Scott Pelley left the anchor desk at the CBS Evening News after serving in the position for six years.  While it took some time for a replacement to be found, Jeff Glor took on the position in December 2017.  All the best to him.

That appears to be a wrap for the television flashback.  Join us tomorrow for the first entry of 2018 with a look back on the news events that shaped 2017 for better or for worse.  Happy new year, everyone!