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Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Lego Movie

After a one-week hiatus to celebrate the third anniversary of this blog, I am proud to reinstate the SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES theme day!  And, I think that I've chosen a movie that will appeal to the general masses.

At least, I hope I have, anyway. 

In fact, I would say that today's edition of the Saturday movie discussion will offer up a little bit of a throwback to the Saturday Smorgasbord of yore.

(Mind you, when I say yore, I mean late 2013.  Hardly considered to be retro enough to look back on a nostalgic sense...but who cares about minor details like that, right?)

But if you think back to what Saturdays used to be on here, you'll know that it was a day in which I featured all the things that children loved.  Cartoons, toys, children's television programs, books, video games, and other fun things.  It was a lot of fun to do, but I gave it up for the time being - solely because of the fact that I was running out of topics!

This time though, I've managed to bring a little bit of the smorgasbord back into Saturdays because we're going to be having a rousing discussion about toys!

Or, particularly one toy that I really loved during my childhood.

I don't know what it is about them, but I absolutely loved Lego growing up.  My first experience with Lego was finding my sister's old Lego kits (all incomplete, mind you), and using them to build futuristic cities, cars with three wheels, and other creative things that only the mind of a child could dream up. 

And these days, Lego hasn't been more popular.  It's almost as if the decade known as the 2010s has seen a bit of a resurgence in Lego popularity.  Consider it the renaissance movement of the blockhead, so to speak.

I mean, seriously, Legos are everywhere.  In the toy department of the store I work at, there's an entire section dedicated to Lego play sets. 

The Simpsons celebrated the fact that they now have their own Lego playsets by filming a good portion of one of their episodes entirely in Legos (The episode "Brick Like Me" aired towards the end of the show's twenty-fifth season).

And, I can't even count the number of Lego games that have been released for consoles such as PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, XBOX 360, XBOX One, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS!  In all those consoles, you can play Lego adaptations of "Star Wars", "Indiana Jones", "Harry Potter", "Lord of the Rings", "Marvel Superheroes", and "Pirates of the Caribbean"!  It wouldn't surprise me if the next movie to get the Lego treatment was "The Fast and the Furious"!

The point is that Lego has never been bigger and better.  And, with today's movie discussion, you might understand why the fascination with Lego seems to be at an all-time high.

After all.  Lego is awesome.  Come to think of it...EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!

ARTIST:  Tegan and Sara (f. The Lonely Island)
SONG:  Everything Is Awesome
ALBUM:  The Lego Movie:  Official Motion Picture Soundtrack
DATE RELEASED:  February 7, 2014

And, today's movie just happens to be just as awesome!  If 2013 was the year of the deep freeze with "Frozen", then 2014 just very well could be the year of the plastic blocks with "THE LEGO MOVIE"!  After all, since its release in theatres worldwide on February 7, 2014, it has made a total of $461,560,511 at the box office.  And, that's not even counting the projected sales that the DVD and Blu-Ray release will make when it becomes available on June 17. 

(I just hope I'm not working that day.  I managed to avoid "Frozen" and "Grand Theft Auto V" release dates...I've been lucky.  So far.)

Anyway, as far as "The Lego Movie" goes, it's one of those films that looks as if it was inspired by someone who decided to take every single Lego set that they owned, built up ever single one in their basements at home, and then combined them all to make a super huge Lego world.  Well, that's exactly what happened.  Where else can you see a Lego Wonder Woman, a Lego Batman, a Lego Green Lantern, a Lego Teenage Mutany Ninja Turtle, a Lego Milhouse, and a Lego Superman?  Trust me.  It's that epic.

So, what's the whole plot of the "Lego Movie"?  Well, for those of you who haven't seen it, and are waiting for the home video release, I really won't be saying much about it.  So, I'm going to be as vague as possible when it comes down to the plot...especially since there's an ingenious twist to the end of the movie (which I will not reveal at all).

Basically in the world of Legos, a good wizard character known as Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) is set on a mission to protect a superweapon known as "The Kragle" from the monstrosity of evil known as "Lord Business" (Will Ferrell).  Not much is known about this Kragle weapon, but in the wrong hands, it could lead to worldwide destruction.  Unfortunately, Vitruvius fails in his mission, but believes that there is hope.  He issues the prophecy that a person known simply by "The Special" can find the one item (The Piece of Resistance) that will be able to stop the superweapon once and for all.

Interestingly enough, the Piece of Resistance vaguely resembles a cap that one might use to seal up a tube of toothpaste, or a tube of ointment, or a tube of Krazy G...

...oh, dear.  I've said too much.  Moving on.

Anyway, some time passes since the prophecy was made - eight and a half years to be exact.  In a Lego construction site, a construction worker by the name of Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) is doing his job, as usual.  But something very unusual takes place when he stumbles upon a young woman named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks).  He goes towards her to investigate and finds himself falling down a huge hole.  He's not hurt, but he does discover the item that is known as the Piece of Resistance (unknown to Emmet, Wyldstyle was also searching for it).  But when he tries to grab the item he instantly blacks out after seeing some rather interesting visions and hallucinations.  One make one wonder if the Piece of Resistance is coated with a special paint that makes Lego characters just a wee bit tipsy.

When Emmet comes to, he discovers that he is under police custody and is being held by Bad Cop/Good Cop (Liam Neeson).  There, Emmet learns of the plan that Lord Business has in store for the Lego World.  With the use of the Kragle, Lord Business plans to freeze the entire world, making everybody and everything stay in one place forever for the rest of their lives.  The plan is for the event to take place on a day known as "Taco Tuesday", and Emmet realizes that in order to save the world, he must find a way to retrieve the Piece of Resistance and use it to stop the weapon before it is deployed.  But he doesn't have much time.  After all, Lord Business has already tested the weapon on a few Lego people already - particularly the Master Builders who have tried to find the Piece of Resistance beforehand.

So, the time has come for Emmet to escape.  With assistance from his newfound ally Wyldstyle, he succeeds, and finds himself in a place known as Wild West World.  It is here that Wyldstyle explains that all the worlds used to be connected with all the Lego people helping each other out.  But one day, gigantic walls were built by Lord Business to separate all of the worlds, just simply for the fact that he can't stand it when the Lego people leave their own worlds and play in others.  

Geez...sounds like this Lord Business has a thing against Lego mixers, huh?

Anyway, the rest of the movie depicts the quest of Emmet, Wyldstyle, Wyldstyle's boyfriend Batman (Will Arnett), and Vitruvius in finding the Piece of Resistance.  And, as I said, there's a special twist at the end of the film that will make you all go...OHHH!!!

But yeah.  I won't spoil it.  You'll have to wait until June 17 to find out what it is if you haven't seen the movie.

But I do have a few fun facts and trivia to share with you all regarding this movie!  Have a look.

1 - Although the movie does look like a stop-motion piece, the animation is entirely CGI.

2 - Nowhere in the movie is the word "Lego" mentioned!

3 - Look closely at Vitruvius' staff.  It's actually a chewed up lollipop stick!

4 - Believe it or not, this was Morgan Freeman's first animated feature film in a career that has spanned a number of decades!  What took you so long, Morgan?

5 - Lord Business is president of Octan - a fictional gas station brand that has appeared in Lego playsets for nearly twenty-five years.

6 - Lord Business' cape is shaped like a giant necktie.

7 - Vitruvius tickles the ivories in the saloon - Listen closely.  It's a ragtime version of the Tegan and Sara song "Everything Is Awesome"!

8 - Emmet's car is based off of a car that is present in LEGO City's 2010 playset line-up.

9 - Although Lego bricks are the most dominant brick in the film, that's not to say that a Duplo block doesn't make an appearance every now and then.  But wait.  I've said too much.

10 - Has several references to "Fabuland", a fairytale LEGO playset line that ended production in 1989.

11 - Co-director Chris Miller actually used his own Space Village set for a filming location.

12 - Robert Downey Jr. and Emma Stone were considered for the roles of Emmet and Wyldstyle respectively.

13 - Before Will Arnett agreed to play the role of Batman, the producers considered casting one of the previous Batman movie actors to voice him.  Seriously, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and Christian Bale were all considered.  Of course, Will did a fantastic job as Batman, but I think it would have been really cool if one of the actors had said yes.

14 - Though I will say this.  When Anthony Daniels was asked to reprise the role of C-3PO for the movie, he didn't hesitate to say yes.  Though, I suppose it helped that he voiced the character for the Star Wars LEGO movies as well.

15 - Interestingly enough, the voices of Superman and The Green Lantern were voiced by Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill...who will be starring together in the film "22 Jump Street" which hits theatres in June 2014.

And, that's all there is to write about "The Lego Movie"!  Just remember.  Everything is awesome, Lego is better than ever, and don't EVER step on a Lego brick with bare feet.  Those things hurt more than a booster shot in the arm!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Recipes From The Most Unusual Places

You know, I just wanted to once again stress that the "FOODIE FRIDAY" entries are designed so that you all can have a chance to have your name in print.  It's also a good way to share your recipes with the world, and maybe get some ideas from other recipes that you might not have even thought of. 

As always, you can send your recipes via e-mail at my own personal e-mail account for this blog.  The address, of course, is  I usually check it every other day.

Or, if you don't like e-mail, you can send a recipe link by posting it in the comments section on this blog, or by posting a message on the official Facebook page for "A POP CULTURE ADDICT'S GUIDE TO LIFE".

So, I suppose that if you've been reading between the lines, you'll know that I haven't gotten any recipe suggestions as of late...which is fine, as I can easily get my hands on some through cookbooks and other sources (which I will, of course, cite in this and every Foodie Friday blog, partly to eliminate the threat of plagiarism, but partly because I can't cook for beans and don't want to mislead people into thinking that I made the recipe up myself).  Still, I think this recipe swap idea is a good one, and I don't want to give it up!

So, in case I wasn't clear...please send your recipes!

Now, I mentioned that cookbooks were the main source of recipes out there...and certainly people have relied on cookbooks since the invention of the printing press to enhance their culinary skills. 

But what about the sources that you might not expect?  After all, recipes can be found in some of the strangest places.

Certainly, my mother was a big believer in finding recipes from any source possible.  A select few ended up being complete disasters, but the majority of them were fantastic.  And would you believe that some of the biggest sources of these recipes came from food labels, cereal boxes, and inserts from those coupon books that sometimes accompany the newspaper?

It's true.  My mom has a scrapbook of all of the recipes that she has taken from the most unusual sources.  Some of them were told to her from other family members and friends, and they're written on some of the pages...but others were clipped out of newspapers and/or food products, and are permanently pasted inside the book.  So, since I've borrowed the scrapbook for today, let's see if I can find a couple of recipes to share with all of you.

Oh, look.  Here's one that was found on the underside of a label for Carnation Milk.  It sounds like it would be interesting too.


1 cup NESTLE CARNATION Regular Evaporated Milk
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
4 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 cup icing sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice

- Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease 9-inch springform pan; set aside.

- Whisk together evaporated milk and vinegar.  Stir in baking soda; set aside.

- Beat butter with sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy; beat in eggs and lemon rind.  Sift flour with baking powder; stir into butter mixture alternately with evaporated milk mixture, making 3 additions of flour mixture and 2 of milk mixture.

- Stir together brown sugar and cinnamon.  Spoon half of the batter into prepared pan.  Sprinkle evenly with half of the cinnamon mixture.  Spoon in remaining batter; sprinkle with remaining cinnamon mixture.  Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean.  Let cool in pan on rack.  Transfer to cake plate.  Whisk together icing sugar and lemon juice.  Drizzle over top.  Makes 12 servings.

And, just a little piece of nutritional info to add to this recipe.  Each serving is only 311 calories!  Not bad, right?

Oh, and I have a bonus recipe to share from the scrapbook of recipes, courtesy of some sort of Keebler product that I picked up from the United States.  I want to say it's some kind of cookie, but I don't know for sure.

By the way, you don't HAVE to use Keebler pie crusts in this recipe.  Any one will do.  Bon appetit!


1 Keebler Ready Crust Chocolate Flavour Pie Crust
2 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
2 pkgs chocolate flavour instant pudding & pie filling
2 cups cold milk, 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tub frozen whipped topping, thawed

Pour chocolate and sweetened condensed milk into bowl; stir until smooth.  Pour into crust.  Press nuts evenly onto chocolate in crust.  Refrigerate for 10 minutes.  Pour milk into large bowl.  Add pudding mixes.  Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes or until smooth (mixture will be thick).  Spread 1 1/2 cups of the pudding over chocolate in crust.  Immediately stir 1/2 of the whipped topping into the remaining pudding.  Spread over pudding in crust.  Top with remaining whipped topping.  Refrigerate 3 hours or until set.  Garnish if desired.  Makes 8 servings.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ian Beale - The EastEnders Mainstay

Okay, here's a trivia question for you.  It's related to this blog, and it's going back to the very early days of "A POP CULTURE ADDICT'S GUIDE TO LIFE". 

Now, I know that today's not Wednesday, but Wednesdays have been a source of stress for this blog in general, as I can't seem to come up with a theme day that sticks around for more than a year.  I honestly don't know how many times I've changed the Wednesday theme day, but it's been more than five times at least.

But do you know what Wednesdays were when I first began this blog three years ago?  You'll probably never guess if you're just tuning in for the first time, but for those of you who do remember reading this blog back in 2011, you might remember it.

Not sure?  Okay.  I'll tell you.

Wednesdays were known as "
ACROSS THE POND AND BEYOND WEDNESDAYS", and the reason why they were called that is simple.  In the United Kingdom (and I only know this because I happen to have a couple of really good friends who live in the UK - hi Mandie and Helen!), they refer to North America as being the land "across the pond". 

Mind you, that pond just happens to be the size of the Atlantic Ocean...but still, it's across the pond!  And the beyond part comes from the area outside of the USA and UK.  It could be the rest of Europe, Asia, Australia, South America, Antarctica...

...well, okay, the only thing that I could show from Antarctica would be that documentary "March of the Penguins"...and even so, I don't even know if they ever filmed down there.  Just guessing.

The point is that on such days in which I did an "Across The Pond and Beyond" day, the subject would deal with a film, television show, musical star, or other pop culture tidbits that have an international flavour.  Whether it's an Italian opera singer, an Australian medical drama, or a South American children's program, anything went.  My initial thought behind doing this theme day was to compare international pop culture with that of American pop culture.  And, I'll make a confession.  Sometimes I prefer the stuff coming out of Britain and Australia than I do the stuff coming out of Canada and the United States.  Hmm.  Maybe that's why London and Sydney are two of the top ten destinations that I want to visit.  Maybe someday I'll get there.

Part of the reason why I was forced to give up this theme day was because I was running out of ideas for it.  But now that it's been a couple of years since I had this feature up and running, I thought that it would be a cool idea to bring it back for this week's edition of "
Tube Talk Thursday".

And I'll be featuring a character that has been a mainstay on a British based drama.

Just to give you an idea as to how long this guy has been on the show that is up for discussion, well, I'll give you the facts.  When this actor was given a job as an actor for a new drama series on BBC in 1984, he was just sixteen years old. 

Who knew that when the show first aired on February 19, 1985 that he would be the only cast member to stay on the show for a consecutive twenty-nine years and counting?  Now a month shy of turning 46 years of age, actor Adam Woodyatt is just months away from celebrating his thirtieth year of service as an actor on the television series "EastEnders", with his character being involved in one of his biggest storylines ever.

You see, a month and a half ago, on Good Friday 2014, the daughter of his character was murdered, and he has since been trying to come to terms with the life his daughter lead, which included drug use, her sleeping with her best friend's father, and other devastating revelations that made him realize that maybe he never really knew who she really was.

Sounds quite dramatic, doesn't it?

But, while the viewers in the UK watch along during the "Who Killed Lucy Beale" storyline (which is set to conclude in February 2015 for the show's thirtieth birthday), here on this blog, I want to talk about the character that Adam Woodyatt has played for twenty-nine years.  And, I suppose the best thing I can say about his character is that he's truly a guy you love to hate.

This is the story of Ian Beale. 

Okay, so as I mentioned before, Ian Beale originated on EastEnders on the same day that Adam Woodyatt's first scenes aired - February 19, 1985.  And, here's some trivia for you.  As mentioned, Adam was sixteen when he landed the part.  But his on-screen mother Kathy Beale (played by Gillian Taylforth) was only thirty-four when she debuted on EastEnders.  So, to make the mother-son pairing more realistic, the producers decided to make Ian Beale fourteen at the start of the program.  Luckily, Adam had the boyish looks to pull it off.

When Ian first appeared on the telly in Britain, viewers saw a nice enough young lad, selling fruits and vegetables from the marketplace in the middle of Albert Square.  After all, the fruit and vegetable stall had been in the Beale/Fowler family for generations.  It was widely expected that Ian would take over the business when his father Pete Beale (Peter Dean) retired.  However, the young Ian Beale - who always had a fascination with starting up his own business - decided that he wanted to pursue a career in catering and food services.  Of course, Ian was reluctant to tell anyone his real passion as he felt his father would show his disappointment in his being interested in such a "girlish occupation".  But with the love and support of his grandmother Lou Beale (Anna Wing), Ian graduated from cooking school, and finds a way to buy the Bridge Street Cafe, which becomes the first of many businesses that Ian Beale would own during his lifetime so far.

Seriously.  He's one of Walford's most successful and least successful businessmen.  Confused?  Well, here's a list of all the businesses that Ian has owned at some point.

BEALE'S PLAICE (a fish and chip shop)
A BRIC-A-BRAC SHOP (can't remember the name)
SCARLETT'S (renamed Beale's Restaurant)
Several flats scattered all over Walford

And, would you believe that with the exception of the fish and chip shop, he's lost ALL of these businesses at some point due to mismanagement of money and general stupidity?  Heck, Ian Beale almost went completely bankrupt in 2000!  I'll get to that story a little later.  Of course, no matter how deep off the rails Ian gets, he somehow always finds a way to land on his feet...much to the annoyance of some of his worst enemies such as Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) or Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks).

Unfortunately, in his quest to become Walford's best business owner, Ian Beale has seemingly turned into Walford's slimiest character.  He certainly deviated a lot from that sweet kid who was first introduced onto EastEnders in 1985.  He lied, cheated, and backstabbed people for a quick dollar, and while he has a couple of very close friends, they are far outnumbered by the people who have it out for him.  Perhaps none more disappointed than those who Ian claims to love with all his heart.

So, where did it go wrong? 

Well, if I had to pinpoint the root cause, I'd blame the fact that Mr. Beale is a womanizer, and more often than not, the women are the ones who usually get him into trouble.  I know it doesn't seem like he'd be the type, but he's been married a total of four times, almost got married a fifth, and is currently involved in yet another relationship which seems to be on the rocks as of now.  And, each one of these relationships damaged Ian in some way.  Let's have a look.


Cindy Williams (Michelle Collins) was Ian's first wife, and the mother of his twins, Peter and Lucy.  Cindy also had another son named Steven, and another daughter, also named Cindy.  And, at first, it seemed as though Ian had hit the jackpot.  After all, Cindy was posh, gorgeous, and had smarts.  But she also had a vindictive and cruel streak, and she really only stayed with Ian out of convenience.  She tried to pass Steven off as Ian's, but it was really fathered by Ian's half-brother, Simon Wicks!  Which lead to this moment.

Ian obviously survived.  And, although things were frosty between both of them for a while, they did reconcile and had Peter and Lucy together.  But then Cindy strayed again, and decided that she would hire a hitman to kill Ian so that she could be free to be with whoever she wanted.  She even attempted to kidnap two of the three Beale children and tried to flee the country!  It didn't work.  Cindy was arrested and she died in prison giving birth to the younger Cindy.  And the marriage caused so much stress and heartache for Ian that it could very well have been the catalyst in destroying so much of Ian's humanity as we knew it.


Mel (Tamzin Outhwaite) and Ian seemed like an extremely odd match.  Mel was a beautiful, sexy woman who managed Ian's bric-a-brac store, and Ian was a sniveling toad of a sleazebucket.  Somehow though, opposites attracted, and Mel and Ian became a couple.  Their wedding was planned for December 31, 1999, so that they could ring in the new millennium as husband and wife.  But Mel ended up falling for Steve Owen while engaged to Ian, and Mel was having second thoughts about being Mrs. Ian Beale #2.  Somehow, Ian got wind of this, and he came up with a nasty scheme to keep Mel in his life.  He actually told Mel that Lucy had cancer and that her dying wish was to see him and Mel get married!

Of course, this was a total fabrication.  And, also Ian's sleaziest stunt to date.  But Mel bought into it until she stumbled upon the truth no more than an hour after she and Ian got married.  She dumped him as Albert Square counted down to the year 2000, making the marriage of Ian and Mel EastEnders' shortest ever.


Ian met Laura (Hannah Waterman) right around the time that his whole business empire crumbled.  You see, Laura was hired to be the nanny to Peter, Lucy, and Steven Beale, and she soon found himself falling for Ian.  Now, Laura wasn't quite like Cindy and Mel.  She was sort of frumpy by comparison.  But Laura did have a really good heart, and Ian saw how much she loved his kids, so he decided to try a relationship with her.  Things almost fizzled out of control when Laura received an inheritance and she thought that Ian was only marrying her for her money, but Ian managed to resist temptation (barely) and stuck it out with Laura.

Too bad the marriage between Ian and Laura only lasted a year and a half.  And, the reason?  Both cheated on each other!  Ian ended up sleeping with Janine Butcher first (setting the stage for a rivalry between Laura and Janine), and Laura slept with Garry Hobbs!  To be fair, Ian started the whole mess by sleeping with Janine.  But when Laura ended up pregnant around Christmas 2002, she assumed that the baby was Ian's.  But Ian surprised Laura by saying that he had a vasectomy six months earlier.  Laura confessed her affair, and Ian chucked her out on Christmas Day!  What a prince, huh?

Epilogue?  Laura gave birth to baby Bobby, and then a few months later, she died falling down a flight of stairs.  But shortly after Laura's death, it was revealed that a blood test proved that IAN was the real father after all (it was explained that during the six month waiting period that the chance that he could get Laura pregnant was still possible).  Bobby is now under Ian's custody.  Poor kid.


If there was someone that I could say was Ian's soulmate, I would have to say that it would be Jane (Laurie Brett).  Jane and Ian didn't get along at first, but when Jane helped nurse Ian back to health after a carnival disaster, Ian slowly found himself falling in love with her.  Though the road to marriage was a complicated one.  Jane was still married to a man who had Huntington's Disease and was deteriorating slowly, so Ian had to be patient.  After his death, Jane ended up sleeping with the brother of Ian's worst enemy which lead to a most fury filled wedding day.  And, of course, Steven Beale went crazy and shot Jane which caused her to undergo an emergency hysterectomy.  Through it all, Jane and Ian tried to make things work, but ultimately they both came to the conclusion that they had fallen out of love with each other, and they went their separate ways in 2012.  However, with Lucy's death, Jane has been seen in Walford more often.  Could there be a shot at romance again?


Mandy (Nicola Stapleton) is an interesting character.  She moved to Walford as a teenager, stirred up a hornet's nest of trouble, and left.  She came back seventeen years later and immediately fell in love with Ian Beale, which caused a lot of tension between Ian and his family.  Lucy Beale especially hated her, as you can see in this clip below.

Well, it turns out that Lucy was right about Mandy.  Mandy ditched Ian on their wedding day, and Ian had an emotional breakdown over it.  He came back to Walford looking like he had slept on the streets for months, and it was only through the love of his daughter, son Bobby, and best friends Sharon and Masood that he began to heal.  And, since his relationship with Mandy, Ian has shown a bit more of a softer side...though who knows how long it will last?

Now, currently, Ian is with Denise Fox (Diane Parish), and the pair was once again an unlikely one.  But with Lucy's death, Denise is stuck in the middle of a no-way-out situation as she feels that she doesn't love Ian, but she can't leave him alone to grieve for Lucy by himself.

And, boy has Ian grieved Lucy.  Watch him as he breaks down in the arms of his worst enemy, Phil!

Yes, Ian Beale is certainly a complex character.  At times, he'll stick up for you (for a price), and other times he can be a real puke face.  But that's to the credit of Adam Woodyatt, who absolutely throws everything he has in him inside the character.  There's a reason why he's the only one to have stayed the whole twenty-nine year history of EastEnders.  He's that good.

Here's hoping he makes it to the thirty year mark!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Love is a Many Stress-Filled Thing...

I've been doing a lot of thinking about a lot of things.  And should be afraid.  You should be very, very afraid.

(Nah.  Just kidding.  You don't have to fear me.  I don't bite.)

Although, I am going to be using this edition of the "WHO AM I WEDNESDAY" to talk about something that has been fairly elusive to me...well...pretty much my whole life so far.  And, admittedly, I didn't know what the answers were.

At least, that is until recently.

Sometimes it takes a conversation with someone to help you really see things in a different view.  And, sometimes that different view can help a person really look at the big picture and face a few home truths about himself (or herself) that he (or she) didn't want to admit to.

I guess here's hoping that if I make this admission once and for all, it'll be some sort of catalyst.

Here's today's diary entry...this time in words (and some pictures and video clips).

May 28, 2014

I thought that I'd open up this diary entry with a classic song by "Def Leppard" from 1987.  The song is called "Love Bites", and it is probably considered a hit that was buried by the massive success of the band's smash single "Pour Some Sugar On Me".  

Of course, if life were really easy, all that I would need to fall is love is to pour sugar on the ground and roll around in it as if I were some sort of powdered donut.  After all, I'd be sweet...and be a moving target for every honeybee in the entire world. 

Um, yeah.  Bad idea.  Don't roll around in sugar.  Ever.

Now, I suppose you're wondering why I've decided to open this blog entry with "Love Bites".  Well, it is a really good song.  It certainly proved that Def Leppard could do a rock ballad.  But for the longest time, the whole message of that song was what I totally felt about the very concept of love.

Love bites.

Or, does it?

You know, I think back to when I was a kid, and I think that my idea of what love was back then was just a wee bit skewered.  But then again, I suppose it didn't help that my visions of what love was were quite contrasting.  In real life, I've seen my fair share of dysfunctional relationships among people that I am close to, and while I won't reveal too much about them in every gory detail, I will say that a couple of the relationships that I've seen that ended badly made an episode of "Melrose Place" look like "Sesame Street" in comparison.

So, imagine turning on the television after seeing so much dysfunction and watching couples like Cliff and Clair Huxtable or Mike and Carol Brady giving each other ga-ga-goo-goo eyes at each other and whispering nothings in each others ears that are so sweet that I reckon that they would have developed three cavities right then and there.

You can understand why my view of love as a child was so damn confusing.  One part of my childhood told me that love was stormy and tumultuous and the other part told me that love was sugary sweet and filled with romance.  So, which was it?  I mean, keep in mind that I was only a few years shy of ten at the time.  I probably didn't understand much of anything back then.

As I grew a little older, I started to wonder what love was.  I think it was right around the time that I hit puberty that I was really curious about love (as I'm sure that a good 90% or higher of us were around the age of 10, 11, 12).  I always saw Valentine's Day as a day in which we bought 32 packs of Valentines with cartoon characters plastered all over them and handed them out to everybody in the class.  It wasn't until I became a teenager that I realized that the day was more or less a Hallmark holiday designed to give your girlfriend a box of chocolates so that she could dump you for making her morbidly obese.

Harsh tone?  Perhaps.  But I think the reason why I always looked down on Valentine's Day was because I never had one.  Seriously, I know that Valentine's Day is just a day that is commercialized and doesn't mean anything, and I know that you have 364 other days of the year in which you can shower your love  But to me, it was always just a reminder that I was single, and that I had resigned myself to being single for the rest of my life.

You've heard of the derogatory term of "crazy cat lady", which supposedly describes a woman who has never married and who has eight or more cats living with her to fill the void.  It also happens to be a phrase that I absolutely despise, because I've met quite a few lovely ladies who love cats who are the kindest, most generous people I know.  But anyway, you've heard that phrase, right?  I guess somewhere along the way, I decided that I was going to meet the same fate.  Well, the male version anyway.  I honestly don't even know what they're called.  Crazy cat dudes?  Oh, why am I even debating this?  I hate that phrase no matter what gender you use!

The point is that I spent a lot of time feeling incredibly sorry for myself, apparently grieving the loss of something that I didn't even really know.  I never went to dances, because I was too much of a critic about my dancing abilities.  After all, who wants to embarrass themselves in front of ladies, right?

Whenever we had those high school computer dating things (where we filled out those surveys to find out our love matches - because apparently my high school was such that it was something that was apparently necessary for graduation), I was mortified that I ended up getting matched up with some of the biggest snobs to ever stroll the halls of my school.  Just my luck to have my "perfect matches" be the ones who hated me!  But, hey, who ever takes those tests seriously, right?

Shamefully at age 15, I did.  Not a very happy moment for me.  But hey, at least I own it now at 33.

And, you know what?  I'll just come out with it.  I can pretty much count the dates that I ever went on in my lifetime on two hands (and maybe a couple of toes, if I really stretched it).  And, a lot of the reason why I didn't go on dates was because I thought that I was simply undateable.

I don't even know if undateable is even a real English word, but regardless, it's here so I may as well go with the flow.

I mean, I look at the people who were considered cool back in those days.  The guys who always seemed to get all the loving that high school and college had to offer.  They were slim, athletic, got good grades, were highly regarded by students and faculty alike, and were all around considered to be the perfect role model.  But were they really all that perfect?  I didn't think so.  They were also the types of guys who were aggravating, boorish, cruel, defensive, egotistical...and, I'm just now realizing that these adjectives are all in alphabetical order.  How frustrating.

But of course, I knew that I wasn't any of those things.  So, I suppose I told myself long ago that because I wasn't, it would be impossible for anyone to fall in love with me.  And, in a way, that is the truth.

But let's face it.  My inability to have a relationship with anyone wasn't because of any of those things at all.  And it took that conversation with a friend to make me see why.

I couldn't fall in love with anybody because I didn't love myself.  And, if you can't love yourself, well, there isn't anyone in the world who can.  It's the word of truth, and I kept denying it, making up all sorts of excuses why I was unworthy of being loved when the truth was staring you right in the face.

It's a real sobering moment when you stop and think about it.

Truth is...I'm not ready for love right now from another person because I don't think I can be there for them one hundred per cent.  The only way I can be is if I can be there for myself one hundred per cent.  And, right now, I'm not.

But now that I've come to that realization...I do feel better for it.  Only slightly, mind you...but better.

Of course now comes the tricky part.  Trying to find methods in which I can take care of myself and groom myself to be someone who can not only love themselves but find a way to share that love with other people.  I don't even know if anyone has that skill mastered completely. 

But what the hell.  It's worth trying.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May 27, 1975

I think that I have to say that this little experiment that I've tried with the Tuesday Timeline for this month has been a success.  It's been challenging to try and come up with one trivia fact for every year that a celebrity has been alive.  I'll have to try this again at another time.

And I think that for today, I'll choose a younger celebrity.  The last couple that I did were brutal!  Fun, but brutal!

Of course, before we go ahead with that, we have to take a look at some of the other celebrities who are turning one year older today, as well as taking a peek back through some of the notable events for May 27.

1849 - The Great Hall of Euston station in London is opened

1896 - The St. Louis/East St. Louis F4-strength tornado kills 255 people and nearly levels the entire community

1907 - An outbreak of the Bubonic plague occurs in San Francisco, California

1911 - Actor Vincent Price (d. 1993) is born in St. Louis, Missouri

1919 - The first transatlantic flight is completed after the Curtiss seaplane NC-4 arrives in Lisbon, Portugal from the United States

1927 - The Ford Motor Company stops production of the Ford Model T so that it can focus on a new design, the Ford Model A

1930 - The Chrysler Building in New York City opens to the public

1933 - Walt Disney releases "Three Little Pigs"

1937 - The Golden Gate Bridge opens to pedestrian traffic

1941 - 2,100 men are killed following the sinking of German battleship "Bismarck"

1968 - Major League Baseball awards the city of Montreal the very first team outside of the United States of America (The Montreal Expos)

1971 - TLC singer Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes (d. 2002) is born in Philadelphia

1975 - Thirty-three people die in the Dibbles Bridge Coach Crash - the highest ever recorded death toll in a road accident in the United Kingdom

1986 - The role-playing game "Dragon Quest" is released in Japan

1995 - Actor Christopher Reeve is paralyzed after falling off of a horse during a riding competition

1998 - Michael Fortier is sentenced to a dozen years in prison and fined $200,000 for not warning the authorities about the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing

2000 - Hockey legend Maurice "Rocket" Richard dies at the age of 78

2006 - Actor Paul Gleason (The Breakfast Club) dies at the age of 67

2009 - Suicide bombings in Pakistan kills 35 people and injures hundreds more

2011 - Actor Jeff Conaway dies of pneumonia at the age of 60

And, celebrating a birthday today are Christopher Lee, Henry Kissinger, Lee Meriwether, Louis Gossett Jr., Cilla Black, Bruce Weitz, Raye Birk, Bruce Cockburn, Eric Bischoff, Richard Schiff, Cynthia McFadden, Siouxsie Sioux, Neil Finn, Peri Gilpin, Adam Carolla, Todd Bridges, Eddie McClintock, Jeremy Mayfield, Dondre Whitfield, Joseph Fiennes, Paul Bettany, Monika Schnarre, Jack McBrayer, Jason Narvy, Andre 3000, Darin Brooks, and Chris Colfer.

So, what date will we be going back in time to this week?  Well...

...May 27, 1975 sounds like a great date.  And, look.  I only have to come up with thirty-nine facts about today's birthday boy.  What a relief!  That's a little more than half of the facts I had to find last week when I covered Cher!

And, well, let's just say that when it comes to today's subject, this is a guy who knows and appreciates the value of a home-cooked healthy meal.  In fact, he's probably one of the leading figures in promoting healthy eating, and he has launched several missions to get people all around the world to rethink the way they serve dinner.  Granted, sometimes his efforts have lead to some minor controversy over the years, but despite all that, his tireless efforts have not gone unnoticed.

So, what else is there to know about British chef Jamie Oliver, who turns 39 years old today?  Well, here are thirty-nine different things!

1 - Jamie's middle name is Trevor.

2 - He was born in Clavering, Essex, England.

3 - He first began cooking as a young child by practicing at his parents' pub/restaurant.

4 - His first job was as a pastry chef at one of Antonio Carluccio's restaurants.

5 - His first television show was the BBC cooking show, "The Naked Chef", which ran from April 1999 until December 2001.

6 - He was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame in June 2013.

7 - Jamie Oliver was quoted as saying that he doesn't use supermarkets, saying that "supermarkets are like a factory", and that he prefers to buy his ingredients from specialist farmers and organic suppliers.  But this statement caused a little bit of controversy because...

8 - ...he was the official spokesman for British supermarket chain Sainsbury's from 2000-2011...

9 - ...and he's been a partner with Canadian supermarket chain Sobey's since 2013!

10 - He launched his own restaurant in June 2008, called "Jamie's Italian".  Five years later, that single restaurant has expanded into a chain of thirty-five.

11 - Has a line of non-stick cookware manufactured by Tefal.

12 - He was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in 2003.

13 - Founder of the Fifteen Foundation, a charity that inspires disadvantaged youths.

14 - Took part in a documentary series in 2005 called "Jamie's School Dinners", which saw him take over the entire nutritional program of a school aimed with the goal of making school lunches healthier.

15 - The television show was also brought to the United States during 2010-2011 under the title "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution".

16 - The American series provided some frustrating moments for Oliver, as he was challenged by the Los Angeles Unified School District because they did not want him filming inside any schools within the district.

17 - A video game - "What's Cooking With Jamie Oliver" - was released for the Nintendo DS on October 21, 2008.

18 - Has hosted and/or produced a total of twenty-eight different television programs which have aired in several different countries.

19 - Was one of the judges in Oprah Winfrey's "The Big Give".

20 - Guest starred in an episode of "Phineas and Ferb".

21 - Was heavily criticized by some animal rights groups for slaughtering a fully-conscious lamb on one of his television shows.

22 - Surprisingly enough though, PETA was not one of the groups.  In fact, the group saluted Oliver for highlighting the problems that slaughterhouse methods in place used.

23 - Has reportedly been critical of other chef's methods, including that of Marco Pierre White.

24 - Although Oliver is an advocate of cooking meals from scratch, an investigation showed that some of the sauces used at some of Jamie's restaurants were actually produced in an industrial park!  Whoops!

25 - Has been married to wife Juliet Norton since 2000.

26 - Is the father of four children - (Poppy Honey Rosie, 12, Daisy Boo Pamela, 11, Petal Blossom Rainbow, 5, and Buddy Bear, 3.)

27 - Jamie Oliver struggled with dyslexia his whole life.

28 - Because of his dyslexia, the decision to leave school at age 16 to study cooking was a fairly easy one for him to make.

29 - Because of his dyslexia, Jamie Oliver didn't read his very first full-length novel until 2013 - at the age of thirty-eight.

30 - That book he read?  The second book of the Hunger Games trilogy - "Catching Fire".

31 - Is five feet, ten inches tall.

32 - The current food editor for British GQ Magazine.

33 - His "Naked Chef" book was a #1 book on bestsellers lists for ten consecutive weeks.

34 - Plays drums in a band called "Scarlet Division".

35 - Has reportedly turned down several offers from magazines to pose nude.

36 - Runs his own production company, Fresh One Productions.

37 - Has written at least eighteen different books.

38 - Jamie's specialty is reportedly Italian cooking.

39 - Has made the list of The Sunday Times' Richest Britons under thirty earlier in his career.

And, that wraps up our look back on May 27, 1975.  Happy 39th, Jamie!