Turn Back Tuesday – 1984

What were you doing 30 years ago?

How’s THAT for a loaded question? As I get older, I’m more often than not thinking back to my youth and reminiscing about what I was doing. Maybe it’s because I recently had a birthday, I’m not sure. But I’ve been thinking about the past recently.

So I’m going to try and re-create my memories over the past 30 years, one week at a time. This week, I’ll start with 1984.

I remember this was the first year that I lived in Amherst, Nova Scotia. Up until then, my dad was a manager at Royal Bank and we had moved around to a few different places (including New Minas, Nova Scotia and Saint John, New Brunswick). He left the bank and opened up a Pizza Delight franchise in his home town. We all ended up moving there just as I started Grade 6.

My dad's first restaurant
My dad’s first restaurant, 1984

I ended up going to two different elementary schools because we moved twice during this time (I have no idea why…I don’t think I ever asked). Thankfully, Amherst shared a junior and senior high school so I ended up making friends in both schools that would last a lifetime.

To this day, I think 1984 was probably the greatest year for popular music in the modern era. There are simply too many great songs and great albums by great artists to name, but trust me…it was a helluva good year for music.

30 years ago this week, the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 was “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince & the Revolution.  Man…I loved this song (still do!). The movie wasn’t the best, but I dare you to find a soundtrack that’s as incredible from start to finish as Purple Rain was.

Ghostbusters_PosterThe top 5 box office films of the year were:

  1. Ghostbusters at $238 million
  2. Beverly Hills Cop at $234 million
  3. Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom at $179 million
  4. Gremlins at $153 million
  5. The Karate Kid at $90 million

Out of those movies, I think I’ve probably seen Ghostbusters more than any other in the years since. It’s a pretty common thought that Temple of Doom was the worst Indiana Jones movie. Beverly Hills Cop is still funny but severely dated, as is The Karate Kid. The only movie I haven’t seen in a VERY long time is Gremlins, but I fear this is one of those movies that simply wouldn’t stand up over time because of the cheesy special effects and bad acting. I could be wrong, though.

DynastyThe top 5 television programs of the year were:

  1. Dynasty
  2. Dallas
  3. The Cosby Show
  4. 60 Minutes
  5. Family Ties

Obviously, as a kid I only watched two of these programs. I loved both of them, actually. Other top television programs that I enjoyed were The A-Team, Knight Rider, and The Facts of Life.

Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau retired in 1984. I remember not liking him because it was his fault taxes went up and, thus, so did the price of my Star Wars action figures. I mean, as a 12-year-old you gotta blame somebody, right?

That’s 1984 in a nutshell for me. What do YOU remember about 1984?

Confessions of a Reality TV Junkie

Somewhere in the past decade or so, my taste in television has shifted dramatically. Gone are the hours spent watching CSI, CSI:NY, Friends, Law & Order, Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, and whatever else I used to enjoy every evening. Instead, my time is primarily spent watching reality television.

There is just something innately interesting about watching other people interact in unique environments. There are stories that are told and storylines that develop over time…all just by watching people. Maybe it’s one step away from the Romans cheering on as the Christians were being fed to lions and slaughtered by gladiators…but I’m totally fascinated with people watching. Thus, I must confess to being a reality show junkie. I just can’t stop myself.

I’m not sure about your tastes in TV, but here is what I love to watch…

Survivor29Survivor – This is the show that really started it all. And at one point, I stopped watching it entirely. I began watching again when I started dating Sunshine and now the whole family cannot wait to watch the upcoming season. What I love about the show is how it has evolved over the past 20+ seasons. There are so many elements to playing the game now that weren’t around initially (we recently re-watched the third season and were blown away at just how different the game was). We love hidden immunity idols. We love the twists. We love Redemption Island. We love returning players trying for one more shot at the title. We love Jeff Probst (yeah…he really does make this show). This show, after all these years, is still evolving and is still awesome.

at midnight@Midnight – It’s difficult to explain the concept of this show, but I’ll try. It’s a comedy faux-game show that makes fun of online headlines, photos, stories, and people. The points don’t really matter but it’s fun to see who wins at the end. Quite simply put, it’s one of the best shows on television today. It’s a bit racy at times so the kids don’t watch, but Sunshine and I absolutely LOVE this show and would recommend it to anybody with a sense of humour.

AMAZING RACEAmazing Race (both US & Canada versions) – I was the one who introduced this show to Sunshine’s girls and now they’re all over it like white on rice. I’ve watched almost every single season since the show’s inception primarily because I love to travel so watching it is enjoyable just on that level alone. Add to it the tasks that must be performed and the always unique twosome pairings that are used and you have a recipe for fun viewing.

MasterChefMasterChef (US, Junior, & Canada versions) – We’re all late to the party on this show, but now we can’t get enough. We only started watching the original MasterChef last season and were immediately hooked. Then the Junior version came out and the girls were all over it. Then we watched the Canadian version and are catching-up on the latest season of the original version. The home chefs are always different, but the way the show is produced is still the same regardless of the head chefs are (though you can’t do better than Gordon Ramsey) so we’re all enjoying the heck out of these shows.

come-dine-with-me-canadaCome Dine With Me Canada – I don’t know if this is nearly as popular in the US as it is here in Canada, but if Sunshine and I are looking for a couple of hours to kill without the kids around, we will watch five episodes back-to-back for shits and gigs. Basically, five people get together each night for a week, and each of them host their own dinner party (appetizer, entrée, dessert, and entertainment). Each night, the four people who ate the food give scores to the host and then the winner at the end of the week wins $1,000. It’s hilarious because the people that they get for this show are normally insane (or drunk)…leaving for some very entertaining television.

americas-got-talentAmerica’s Got Talent – This is one of those programs that the entire family loves watching together. It’s enjoyable from the sense that it’s a new-age variety show and you’ll get people from all walks of life trying to entertain you with a hundred different types of entertainment. It’s got singers that could easily be on American Idol or The Voice, it’s got comedians and magicians and other acts that you would easily see in Las Vegas, and it has acts that you may have never seen before that completely blow your mind. The judges each have their own distinct personality and the results are usually very entertaining.

So that’s my huge list of reality television. Don’t even get me started on shows like Bar Rescue, Chopped, Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, American Pickers, or even Drive-Ins, Diners, & Dives…there are simply too many to watch!

What do YOU watch?

Fun Music Flashback Friday – Run Runaway

Friday Night VideosIn July 1983, a show called Friday Night Videos came on the air. It was NBC’s attempt at trying to capitalize on the quickly emerging popularity of music videos. As a young boy, I was not only fascinated by music videos (as was the majority of the population) but I also wanted to stay up late on Friday nights. This show was perfect for me!

By the time 1984 rolled around, I had a television in my room. My parents were always asleep well before midnight, so sneaking the TV on was something I did on many an occasion. I would watch The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and think it was the greatest thing in the world. Every weekend, however, my time was spent watching music videos.

One night I was watching Friday Night Videos when this incredibly different and unique song started with a drum beat. As the drums pounded out a beat, I heard a killer guitar riff and then…could it be? A FIDDLE?!?!

I was immediately mesmerized by “Run Runaway”.

I watched the rest of the show and was still wondering about that song. I had written down the track and band name so I could go look for their cassette the next time I ordered from the Columbia Record & Tape Club.

I stayed up late that night, as the local ABC Bangor affiliate station had their own 90-minute video show. As I switched over to their program, I saw the video AGAIN!

This was awesome, I thought. I only wished that I could have turned it up so I could really hear it.

The next afternoon I was watching American Bandstand, as I normally did. Most of the songs of the day were dance or pop, but they always had a band “perform” (well…they lip-synced their latest hit song). No word of lie, but on this day SLADE was there to perform “Run Runaway”!!

THIS WAS A SIGN!! I don’t recall how quickly I purchased their cassette, “Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply”, but it wasn’t very long afterwards. I’m pretty sure I played that cassette out just from listening to the one song over and over again. To this day, it’s still a favourite I love to crank up in the car.

And funny enough, one of my favourite Canadian bands used this song to kick-off their 20-year music career. What’s funny (to me, at least) is that many Great Big Sea fans to this day don’t even know that this wasn’t an original song by Great Big Sea, but was actually a cover.

Throwback Thursday

I was talking with Sunshine over lunch the other day when I kind of drifted off a bit. I don’t even remember the initial conversation (I think we were talking about apples), but somehow I drifted off to thoughts of my grandmother.

My mother’s mom, Beulah, was one of the most incredibly nice people I’ve ever had the chance to meet (and I’m not just saying that because I’m related). She lived in a modest home in Sackville, New Brunswick for as long as I can remember. She was also single for as long as I can remember, as my grandfather died before I was born and she never remarried or was even interested in other men (at least to the best of my knowledge).

The thoughts turned to her because I remember she had a couple of crab-apple trees in her backyard. I could picture myself walking into her backyard…walking through the grass and the sea of dead crab-apples that had fallen from the trees. I’d walk back to the fence and watch the trains pass by.

I’d go into her garage, which was filled with license plates from the 40’s up through the 70’s. As a child, I thought it was a very cool place to explore. As an adult, I would love to go back and see what other goodies she had hidden away in there.

I remember extended visits where I would get bored as the adults would talk, so I’d take my Star Wars action figures into the front porch and be in my own little world. It truly was a magical time for me and I cherished our visits.

She passed away in the mid-1990’s. The house is now owned by someone else. I’ll never know what else may have been in that garage. And I certainly don’t miss walking through the sea of crab-apples.

But I do remember her. And those memories will always live with me. So today’s Throwback Thursday is dedicated to her.

Throwback Thursday

Men vs Women & How Humanity Hasn’t Evolved Yet

This is gonna be a long one, folks……

I hate that we live in a society…still, after all these years…where women are treated the way they are. Forget the simple “equal job for equal pay” argument. This is about more than just that. This is about abuse and violence and assault and people actually justifying it.

There are so many recent, high-profile examples to choose from:

MackChristy Mack is an adult film star and was physically obliterated by “War Machine”. If I came home and caught my wife messing around with another guy, I would probably lose my mind. Would I get violent? I would like to hope I wouldn’t, but it’s hard to say not being in the situation.

John “War Machine” Koppenhaver was NOT married to Mack, though. In fact, they weren’t even exclusively dating at this point (at least if you believe her side of the story). He entered the home (using a copy of her keys) and caught her and her NEW boyfriend sleeping together and lost his frickin’ mind. Not only did he bash in the boyfriend’s face, he then brutalized Mack in a way that justifies his silly MMA-inspired name. He made her shower naked in front of him and then beat her up some more. He then cut off some of her hair with a dull kitchen knife before going to the kitchen to look for a better knife.

Koppenhaver is now facing life in prison and 32 felony charges, including attempted murder, sexual assault, battery, and burglary. There has been a ton of support directed to Mack in her time of recovery, and rightfully so. There is, however, a large contingency who blame her for the whole situation. Those “arguments” against her include:

  • He already did time in prison for felony assault so this was her fault for dating him in the first place. The exact quote I read online was “it’s Koppenhaver’s fault for beating her like it’s a lion’s fault for mauling people who sneak into the pen at the zoo.” I mean…seriously? Sure, he had a history but he wasn’t living with her at the time!! She had moved on. Is her house now the lion’s pen at the zoo?
  • She deserved it for sleeping around. The thought that even IF they were dating, that this was behaviour to be expected…it’s just laughable to me. If they WERE still dating, that still wouldn’t justify what he did to her. At all.

To me, this baffling “it’s kind of her own fault” mentality is sickening. It really shows a deviant mindset and makes me question society’s morals. But this one example certainly isn’t the only one…

Jennifer LawrenceJennifer Lawrence was among a number of female celebrities recently who had personal photos hacked from their lives (whether it be via iCloud or iPhone or another way all together) and displayed for the world to see. Private, personal photos that included nude and non-nude. For Lawrence, this is actually the second time in less than a month that it has happened to her. The outrage has been all over the place, and justifiably so. Again, however, there were a large number of people who actually found a way to blame the celebrities for the situation:

  • Because they are celebrities, they should know that their phones will eventually be hacked and their privacy compromised. Thus, again, it’s their own fault for taking the photos to begin with. A quote I saw was, “If she didn’t wanna risk them leaking, she shouldn’t have taken them.” That mentality was recently displayed by a female radio disc jockey the other day on air, and she laughed at the celebrities. I was a bit taken aback and slightly offended at the ignorance, actually. I mean, what if this was your credit card information? What if it was your banking information? What if it was ANYTHING that was personal and private to you and happened to be on your phone or in your laptop? Is it my fault that I was banking online and that information was stolen? Is that fair to say in our society now? Is there NO privacy available to anybody?
  • Many of these women have either been naked on screen or scantily clad, so why is this any different? They don’t have the right to be upset, apparently. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to think that what I do behind closed doors in private is completely different than what I do at work…even if there are similarities. It’s not the same thing. Work is work….home is home.
  • These women should “own it” because they’re beautiful. The quote I saw was, “If you looked like Jennifer Lawrence you would be quite happy to let those pictures be seen everywhere. Own it.” They do own it…which is why their bodies weren’t sold to the highest bidder. THEY own their bodies and THEY are the ones who should decide how they are seen in public. Just because they are attractive doesn’t mean they should “own” the fact that their privacy was illegally compromised.

Listen…there is NO justification for having your personal property stolen and then displayed for the world to see. Regardless of whether they were nude photos or intimate photos with their children on Christmas morning opening gifts; their personal property was stolen. Because they are celebrities or public figures, it does not give the public ANY right to see every aspect of their private lives. While some people may think that they are somehow being supportive by telling these women to “own it”…they are, in fact, sending a pretty harmful message that women should simply give in to the notion that their bodies are public property.

Again…a sickening display by humanity desensitized to our individual rights to have private and personal things remain private and personal.

ray rice punchFinally, there is the situation with former NFL running back Ray Rice. Many people were livid at the fact that a man who admitted to striking his (then) fiancé and dragged her unconscious body out of an elevator would only receive a 2-game suspension from the NFL. When he was suspended indefinitely by the NFL, I read a quote on Facebook that defended Rice in a very peculiar way:

  • In my opinion, whether you’re a man or woman, you should not lose your job due to an event in your personal life. I’m referring to the guy who lost his pro football job because he knocked his girlfriend out. Sure, he’s an asshole, but not unemployable. I’ve had lots of asshole work for me.”

Where does one even start with this quote? Ignore the fact that the NFL has a “Personal Code of Conduct” policy in place that Rice obviously violated. It’s simply a matter of doing the right thing. Rice wasn’t just “acting like an asshole” when he cold-cocked that woman and dragged her unconscious body out of the elevator. That’s a violent, illegal act that shows just what kind of person you have working for your organization. If you can’t see the difference, then that says more about you than anything else.

But it’s not just people defending him, though. His (now) wife defended him and the entire situation, too:

  • No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass of for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific. THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is!

So here’s the thing: she’s obviously COMPLETELY clueless as to why Rice was fired by the Baltimore Ravens and then suspended indefinitely by the NFL. This isn’t about ratings and this certainly isn’t about hurting them or taking their happiness away. This is about doing the RIGHT THING because there is no place in the NFL for a person like that. Heck, there is no place in my office for a person like that. I’m sure he’s sorry and she has obviously forgiven him…but that doesn’t change who he is or what he did. During the initial press conference back in the spring, SHE apologized for being involved in the situation, NOT him!!

That, my friends, is weak sauce. More than that, it’s bullshit.

She did NOTHING wrong. She’s not doing herself any favours by placing blame on people other than her husband, because he is the only one to blame in this situation.  I’ve read that Rice is going to counseling and seeking advice through church & religion in order to move on with his life in a positive way. If that’s the case, then good for him. Maybe…perhaps…one day the NFL will forgive him and allow him to come back to the NFL. But judging by the line of people in Baltimore who took up the offer to return their Rice jerseys and exchange them for another player, he won’t be forgiven any time soon.

Ray Rice Jersey Exchange

Whether it’s people blaming a porn star for getting beaten half-to-death or blaming the celebrity for taking nude pictures in the first place or the victim blaming themselves for the actions of their other party, our world is not moving ahead as quickly as it should when it comes to gender equality and violence. I would be livid if one of these situations happened to one of my own children. Hell…I’d be pissed if somebody hacked MY computer and simply posted some private pictures onto the Internet that I didn’t endorse or approve of.

Sometimes I wonder if our society is truly evolving. Sure, we’ve “allowed” women to vote and everybody can sit anywhere they want on the bus…but has it really changed that much? I’d like to think that we’re a society that’s evolving and growing and becoming better people…but then situations like these come up and I question it all over again.

Okay…rant over.

Mad Modern Family Men

How often do you watch a show from beginning to end? Most times there is a ton of patience and luck involved, even with DVRs, because shows can change nights and times without much notice.

I’ve seen a few series from beginning to end: Friends, Seinfeld, Heroes, Lost, Dexter, Rome…but as I mentioned, it can be really difficult. I’m currently in the process of watching four shows from beginning to end: The Walking Dead (cannot wait for the new season!), Games of Thrones (same thing!), Modern Family, and Mad Men.

The first two are shows that I watch on my own, as Sunshine doesn’t care to be bothered with either one of them. I’ll discuss those another time.

modern-familyModern Family is a show that we both found out about early last year and ended up watching every single season in a matter of two months. The next thing we knew, we had seen every episode and were sad that we had to wait for the weekly program to air in its regular timeslot.

It’s not just a situation where the characters in the show resemble our lives, although that is totally the case (I’m more Phil Dunphy than I’d like to admit). It’s really a situation where it’s a damn funny show. DAMN funny. It’s the kind of show that you can watch with your kids as a family…and there aren’t a lot of comedies that you can do that with anymore.

On some levels, I can relate to ALL of the characters. I can see a little bit of my family in theirs, and that’s appealing to me. But at the end of the day, if I can’t laugh consistently at the smart writing then it’s not worth tuning in for. As we enter Season 6, the show is still worth our time and that’s saying something. We look forward to it every week and laugh at the repeats we see in syndication every evening.

But that’s not the only current show that we’re following.

Mad MenMad Men is a show that I had heard about but never cared about watching. Sunshine didn’t think I’d like it so she started watching it by herself one weekend when I was with my son. I watched about 15 minutes at the end of the 6th or 7th episode when I got home and was immediately intrigued. Two episodes later and I was hooked.

Now we’re on Season 4 and it’s only been a month (wow). We have opinions on the characters and we’re quite vocal about where those characters go and what they say during an episode. I’m sure we sound ridiculous sometimes…telling Roger that he’s an idiot or calling Don terrible names because he’s doing something self-destructive AGAIN. But here we are…racing through every episode like we’re addicts on crystal meth.

The writing is smart. Sunshine enjoys the relationships while I’m intrigued by the interpretations of products and how they come up with advertising campaigns. We’re both addicted to the way they portray the 60s with its non-stop smoking, drinking, sexism, adultery, homophobia, and racism. It makes us wonder how anybody survived that decade.

We’re already dreading the day that we’re caught-up and done the “first half” of Season 7. Neither one of us have any idea where the show is going, but we’re excited to see where it leads us.


So what about you? Have you ever watched a series from beginning to end?

Boston Pizza Kids Card Campaign

This is a sponsored post.

BP 50 yearsToday is the day that Boston Pizza launches their annual Kids Cards campaign, and they have asked me to spread the message about this very worthwhile project. So what is this all about?

mybp-masthead-enFrom September 22nd to November 2nd, Canadians can show their support for kids by purchasing a Boston Pizza Kids Card for a minimum donation of $5. With every Kids Card that is purchased at Boston Pizza locations or online at BostonPizza.com, guests then receive 5 free Kids Meals (valued at $35), and the money is used to help support Boston Pizza Foundation Future Prospects. If guests sign up for a new MyBP account, they will receive a bonus sixth Kids Meal when they register their Kids Card (registering for a MyBP account is free and can be accessed at the BostonPizza.com website or via the Boston Pizza app in the Apple iTunes store).

4Boston Pizza Foundation Future Prospects was established in 2014 to raise funds and awareness for organizations that provide kids in Canada with role models and mentoring programs. Some of the partners include Big Brothers Big Sisters, Kids Help Phone, and the Rick Hansen Foundation. Last year alone, more than $615,000 was raised for charity through the sale of Boston Pizza Kids Cards.

The more Kids Cards that are sold this year, the more Boston Pizza Foundation Future Prospects can help kids from coast to coast reach their full potential. It’s a tremendously worthwhile program that only requires a minimum $5 donation.

For more information, go to BostonPizza.com.