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Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Apprentice

I'm going to be frank.  I make a lousy businessman.

I know that capitalism seems to be the way of the world these days.  I know that big business and corporations - like it or not - are here to stay, and I also completely understand that our economy is directly linked to capitalism.

However, I'll be the first one to admit that I have a hard time understanding big business.  Although I do work retail, I don't really consider myself to be that great of a salesperson.  In order to be successful in business, you have to have certain qualifications.  You have to be confident.  You have to know your product.  You have to believe in your product.  And, you also have to have a certain level of charm, charisma, and personality.

Do I have any of those things?  Honestly, that's debatable.

But as of right now, I have my doubts that I could work in the world of big business.  I don't even like wearing ties.  I honestly don't even know if I know how to even tie a tie!  Oh, why couldn't I have been an adult during the time period in which we all dressed up like Crockett and Tubbs from Miami Vice?

However, dress code aside, I think that there might be hope for me after all.  I am a fairly creative person, and I can brainstorm several ideas in quick succession.  I'd also like to think that I'm keen enough to know what is working, and what isn't working.

So, when it comes to a particular reality show that has aired on a semi-regular rotation since January 2004, I honestly don't know how I would fare.  Maybe I'd go far.  Maybe I'd win.  Maybe I'd be the first one fired. 

Or maybe I would be so intimidated by Donald Trump that I would run out of Trump Tower in absolute terror and get run over by one of the millions of yellow taxi cabs scattered all over New York City.



Whatever the case, we're going to be talking about "The Apprentice", which airs on NBC. 



These days, the show has been retooled into a celebrity format, in which a group of celebrities (mostly B-list actors, athletes, former child stars, or reality show cast-offs) play the game to raise money for their respective charities.  For instance, the upcoming season of "The Celebrity Apprentice" will feature Geraldo Rivera, Ian Ziering, Lorenzo Lamas, Gilbert Gottfried, Leeza Gibbons, Keshia Knight-Pulliam, and Kate Gosselin, among others. 

That's fine and dandy, but I preferred the show a lot better when Donald Trump hired non-celebrity people to work within his organization.  I liked it better when we saw sixteen successful Americans working towards a goal.  I liked it when George Ross and Carolyn Kepcher were judges. 

All in all, I think that while "Celebrity Apprentice" has breathed new life into the show, I miss the old-fashioned version.



Of the thirteen seasons of "The Apprentice" that have aired, seven have been civilian editions.  The first six seasons, as well as season 10 have featured anywhere from 16-18 candidates competing for a chance to earn a position within Donald Trump's massive business.  It's no secret that Trump is definitely one of the biggest forces in American business today, and like him or not, he does know the business world inside and out. 

The show - which was created by "Survivor" creator Mark Burnett - divides the candidates into two "corporations".  In most cases, the teams are divided up by gender (with one exception being season three, which had a team of high school graduates competing against a team of college graduates).  The teams are expected to come up with a name for their corporation.

TRIVIA:  Past team names included Versacorp, Apex, Net Worth, Capital Edge, Gold Rush, and Kinetic.

In each week, teams would be assigned the same task, and the tasks were all business oriented, and were often sponsored by a pre-existing corporation.  Believe it or not, the very first task that the candidates had to embark on was selling lemonade on the streets of New York City - the same way that a lot of kids get started in the world of business.

Other tasks included coming up with a promotional campaign for Burger King's newest sandwich, filming a commercial for a beauty product, selling products on QVC, creating a new line of action figures for Mattel, designing a line of swimsuits, or even selling carriage rides through Central Park.

Each task also involved the team selecting a "Project Manager" to lead the task and get everything organized.

Winners were determined by how much money the teams made, how clear the message was that was presented in ads, how good the quality was on the items made, and through focus groups and their opinions.  If a team won, they were spared from the boardroom, and in later seasons, the project manager was exempt from getting fired in the following task.  If a team lost, the Project Manager would pick two or three people to join them, in which Donald and crew would decide which one would be fired.

At the end of the show, the final two candidates would embark on a super task, with former contestants coming back to assist in the task. 



And the winners of the show went to work for Donald Trump for a one-year-contract.  In some cases, the contracts were extended.  In the case of first season winner Bill Rancic, he stayed on with the company for quite some time, even subbing in as a judge for George Ross on a few occasions.

Now, over the years, seven people have been hired.  Rancic, Kelly Perdew, Kendra Todd, Randal Pinkett, Sean Yazbeck, Stefani Schaeffer, and Brandy Kuentzel.  But so many more have been fired from the show.

In fact, for the rest of this blog, I thought that I would take a look at some of the most memorable contestants to be fired from "The Apprentice", as well as some of the stupid mistakes that they made to get them the axe.  Believe me, you'll feel better about your own job blunders!



OMAROSA (Season 1)

Would you believe that Omarosa is the only Apprentice candidate to appear on the show a total of three times (she was on season 1, as well as two celebrity editions).  And, would you believe that on all three occasions she was fired, she was fired on a task where she was selling artwork?  You'd have thought that she would have learned the first time.



But all joking aside, Omarosa could very well be considered the very first Apprentice villain to appear on the show.  She was a nightmare to work with.  She accused one contestant of being racist towards her for using the phrase "like the pot calling the kettle black".  She told the team that she had a concussion from a piece of falling drywall hitting her in the head one minute, and the next she was playing basketball with a group of kids.  She clashed with almost every single female on the show.  And when she was assigned to assist Kwame Jackson in his final task to plan a concert for Jessica Simpson, she was such a disaster that many viewers (including myself) believed that she was purposely sabotaging Kwame's chance to win the show.  Personally, I do think that Bill would have won regardless, but Kwame deserved to have a better chance.  Hell, Kwame should have fired Omarosa on the spot!



BRADFORD (Season 2)

Bradford was in a fairly good position at the beginning of the second episode of the second season.  He was asked to go to the women's team to lead them on the first task, and because their team won, he was
exempt from getting fired.  That means that no matter how badly the team did, he could not be fired.

As it happened, the team lost the second task, which was coming up with a new ice cream flavour and selling it on the streets of New York.  And Bradford was extremely confident.  He was so confident that he told Trump that he didn't need his stinking exemption because he had performed well enough on the task that he didn't feel that he was going to be fired.

Silly Bradford.  Trump canned him on the spot for being so foolish.



VERNA (Season 3) and MICHELLE (Season 6)

You want to know what Trump dislikes more than people who give up exemptions?  People who decide to quit the game.  In the cases of Verna and Michelle, they walked away from the game without knowing if they could have made it.  Verna mentally checked out of the game during the show's second task, and by the beginning of task #3, she told the team that she had enough and walked out.  In Michelle's case, she resigned after she lead the team to a colossal failure, and decided that the position she was competing for wasn't worth it.

While I don't believe that quitting is such the sin that Donald Trump makes out to be (sometimes quitting one opportunity can lead to better ones coming along), I can't say I disagree with Donald not having sympathy for them.  After all, they took a spot that thousands of people applied for, and walked away from it.



TANA (Season 3)

This one pains me, because as the third season of the Apprentice drew to a close, Tana was easily considered the favourite.  She was the last member of the Street Smarts team going against Kendra, the last member of the Book Smarts team.  Although Kendra did have more wins as Project Manager than Tana did, Tana took on the responsibility much earlier than Kendra.  And Tana had always been a star on any of the teams she was on.

On the final task, Kendra had to put on a promotion and video game tournament sponsored by Sony PlayStation and Best Buy, while Tana had to put together a presentation for the Olympic committee demonstrating why New York City should host the 2012 Olympics (the show aired in 2005).  And the teammates who came to help Kendra and Tana out were six of the most volatile, uncooperative, uncontrollable contestants to appear on that season.

To compare and contrast:

Kendra's team worked well together with very few disagreements.  They all came together to make the event a success.  Kendra made her teammates feel that they were valued and respected, and in turn, Kendra's team wanted to succeed so that Kendra would get noticed.  The event went off near perfectly, and Kendra developed a new found appreciation for all of them.

Tana immediately asked if she could switch team members with Kendra, and vented to one of the judges about them, calling them the Three Stooges.  She never gave the team any direction, and even made them feel like they were an annoyance.  The end result?  No American flag for the flag presentation, no schedules for any of the people involved, and a brochure that was a complete embarrassment filled with spelling errors and things that should never have been included in a brochure.

Can you see why Trump picked Kendra over Tana?



JOSH, JENNIFER, MARK, JAMES (Season 4)

Now, in most cases, Trump will only fire one person during each boardroom setting.  In a few rare opportunities, he'll get rid of two at once.  In this case, Trump pulled the ultimate Grand Slam and fired FOUR people at once.

All the teams had to do was generate an event to boost sales at Dick's Sporting Goods.  They could choose whatever sport they wanted to feature, and the main goal of the task was to
increase sales at the store.  Notice how I bolded increase sales in that last sentence?

Well, team Capital Edge did just that.  They created a mini golf course inside the store for children while their parents were looking around the store.  Every single team member focused on sales, and as a result, the sales increased by 74%.  A very decent number!



As for team Excel...well, they did anything but.  Sure, their event using a batting cage was a good idea to keep people entertained...but the team spent so much time on the batting cage that they neglected the fact that the task was measuring how much they were SELLING!  In the end, the team had a net LOSS of 34%!  Ouch.  And as a result, the four team members who didn't get a single sale were all given the pink slip.  It remains the most spectacular firing in the history of "The Apprentice".

So, do you have any more people to add to this list that I might have forgotten?  I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

They're Just Allergies

Okay, so I was thinking about possible topics for this week's edition of WHO AM I WEDNESDAY, and there's only one thing that I could think of that I could think of to talk about.  The thing is that the subject matter might seem a little bit dull and/or nerdy.  But if it helps, I have kind of a funny story to tell that will bring us into the topic.

The year was 1992.  I was eleven years old, and I was at an age in which everything around me made me sick.  No kidding.  My fifth grade year which was 1991/1992 was one of those years in which every possible childhood illness that I could have contracted (aside from the chicken pox, which I had gotten back in 1982 when I was a year old), I had.  I probably had half a dozen colds.  My throat was so sore, it's a wonder they didn't remove my tonsils.  I developed cold sores around my lips (no idea how), and on top of all that, I had a severe asthma attack and was kept home from school for almost a whole week as a result of it.

I don't know how much school I missed that year.  It wasn't enough to justify holding me back a year, but it was enough that I was out for quite a bit.

Needless to say, my chronic illnesses concerned my parents and they were trying to find out why I was always so sick.  It got to the point where they made an appointment with an allergy specialist, just to see what was happening.  They speculated that it was maybe a severe allergy to something either at our home or in the environment that kept causing me to get sick.  An appointment was made during the summer, and when I was eleven, I got the test done.



I have no idea how they do allergy tests in the year 2014, but back in the year 1992, allergy tests were done in this fashion.  The doctor giving the test inserted random needles in your arm.  Each needle tip was dipped in a liquid that simulated a particular allergen (grass, moss, pollen, etc).  Once the needles were poked into the arm, the doctor waited a few minutes, and examined the arm again.  Eventually some of the places that were poked with the needle would swell and become itchy.  The larger the swelling, the more potent the allergy.

This method confused me though.  In fact, I had thought that the doctor had made a huge mistake when he did the test because I thought he had inserted a needle right inside of a mosquito bite! 

Alas, that was not the case.  That particular needle made the area swell up so much that it really did look like a gigantic insect bite.  And boy oh boy did that sucker itch!  It was absolute torture because the doctor told me I couldn't scratch it at all!  That was not a fun experience.

So, what was the #1 allergy that caused such a reaction on my arm?



Well, it happened to be from pollen.  Tree pollen to be exact.  And soon my parents had the answer as to why I was so sick most of the time.  You see, most of the time that I was sick, it was always during the months of April through June - the time of year in which tree pollen is most active.  My asthma attack?  It was at the very end of April.  It all makes sense now, doesn't it?  The reason why I was so sick in the spring months was because the tree pollen was making it so. 

Suffice to say, after the allergy test, I had to take a small dose of Reactine or Claritin or some non-prescription allergy relief drug during the spring in order to manage my symptoms.  And for the record, while it wasn't a perfect solution, I certainly was sick a lot less after the test was given.

So, now you know that tree pollen is my top allergy and that the spring months are quite brutal for me.  But again, with allergy pills, I can now go outside and breathe easy!

But tree pollen wasn't the only allergy that I discovered I had.  Although the tree pollen allergy was the most severe, I discovered that I had at least four other allergies.  Three were discovered during the test - the other one was discovered strictly by accident.

So, what else am I allergic to?



STRAWBERRIES

This was the allergy that was not discovered from the test.  This was discovered when I was away at school.  There was a dessert that looked really good.  It was a brownie covered with ice cream and berries.  But after eating it, I developed hives.  Not a pleasant experience.  It took some time and process of elimination to discover that the culprit was strawberries.  Chocolate, cream, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries were all fine.  The last item was strawberries.  That told me that I couldn't eat them ever again.

For the most part, it's more of an annoying allergy.  You try finding a multipack of yogurt WITHOUT strawberry flavour.  It's quite difficult.



PET DANDER

Fortunately, this is an allergy that I kind of outgrew (or at the very least, the effects were lessened over time).  If I still had the allergy, I would have never have allowed my beloved Ol' Thum into my life (sadly he passed away four years ago this month).  But when I was younger, any animal that came close to me caused me to sneeze uncontrollably.  It was really a downer when I was a kid, as it seemed that every single kid in my class had a pet, but I could never have one because I was allergic.

Well, okay, I suppose that I could have had a goldfish, kimodo dragon, or a tarantula...but those weren't the same...



MOULD

I'm not exactly talking about the blue crusty stuff that grows on bread that you could figuratively transform into penicillin.  I can take penicillin just fine - it was one medicine from my childhood that I actually didn't mind taking as it kind of tasted like a banana milkshake. 

The stuff I mean is the black mould that can grow on the walls of a house or abandoned building.  The stuff that appears as a result of water damage left unsupervised.  That stuff is my second most serious allergy, and I'm pretty sure that if I was exposed to that stuff for an extended period of time, it would be my death warrant.  Nasty, nasty stuff.




DUST

Yes, believe it or not the doctor tested me for dust allergies.  And surprise, surprise, I have an allergy to dust.  So, basically whenever I have to do activities like dusting, I pretty much have to take an allergy pill.  Otherwise I sound as if someone crammed something up my nasal cavities.  It would be an interesting thing to see, but dust is certainly not my friend.

So, here's a question for you.  What are you allergic to?  If anything?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July 29, 1981

I hereby proclaim this to be the final Tuesday Timeline for the month of July 2014.  And I hereby proclaim that this Tuesday Timeline will be an event that will be unlike any other.

(Or, at the very least, it will cover an event that was unlike any other.)

Of course, before we bring out the bubbly in celebration of the event and frolic in the jubilee of another jolly good Timeline entry, we must also take a look at the brilliant events that took place on this date.

So, let's proceed.

1567 - James VI is crowned King of Scotland at Stirling

1793 - John Graves Simcoe builds a fort and settlement at Toronto

1836 - Inauguration of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France

1858 - The Harris Treaty is signed by Japan and the United States

1864 - Confederate spy Belle Boyd is arrested by Union troops and is detained at Washington D.C.

1883 - Benito Mussolini (d. 1945), the 27th Prime Minister of Italy, is born

1900 - Italy's King Umberto I is assassinated by anarchist Gaetano Bresci

1905 - American actress Clara Bow (d. 1965) is born in Brooklyn, New York

1932 - Troops disperse the last of the "Bonus Army" of World War I veterans during the Great Depression

1933 - Wrestler Lou Albano (d. 2009) is born in Rome, Italy

1938 - Veteran journalist Peter Jennings (d. 2005) is born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

1948 - The 1948 Summer Olympic Games opens in London following a twelve year hiatus due to conflict caused by World War II

1967 - 134 people die when the USS Forrestal catches on fire

1973 - Race car driver Roger Williamson is killed in a car accident at the Dutch Grand Prix

1976 - The "Son of Sam" murders commence in New York City as one person is left dead and other critically injured in an attack

1987 - Plans for the construction of the Eurotunnel are given the go-ahead following the signing of the agreement by Margaret Thatcher and Francois Mitterrand

2005 - Astronomers announce the discover of dwarf planet Eris

2007 - British actor Mike Reid dies at the age of 67

2013 - Two passenger trains crash into each other near Lausanne, injuring 25

And I do want to wish the following celebrities a very happy birthday; Irwin Corey, Robert Horton, Robert Fuller, David Warner, Tony Sirico, Leslie Easterbrook, Mike Starr, Tim Gunn, Geddy Lee, Patti Scialfa, Cynthia Rowley, Alexandra Paul, Richard Steven Horvitz, Martina McBride, Timothy Omundsen, Monica Calhoun, Bryan Dattilo, Wil Wheaton, Stephen Dorff, Wanya Morris, Josh Radnor, Rachel Miner, Dominic Burgess, Allison Mack, and Todd Bosley.

All right.  Now it's time to take our time machine back to the event of a lifetime. 



The date of this event?  July 29, 1981.

Sadly, I do not remember July 29, 1981.  I was only two months old then and in all likelihood, I slept through the whole thing.  This was the point in my life where I slept sixteen hours a day and nobody looked at me strange for doing so.

However, this event did attract a lot of attention from other people.  Reportedly some 700 million people watched this event all over the world on their television sets.  Just to put it into perspective, this event was one of two huge weddings that were broadcast on television that year.  



The other wedding was the one between fictional characters Luke and Laura on "General Hospital" in November 1981.  That wedding only attracted 31 million people to their television sets.

But this wedding in July 1981 was no ordinary wedding.  This was an event that would be celebrated all over the world, especially in the United Kingdom - where the wedding was held. 

To be specific, the wedding was held that Wednesday morning at St. Paul's Cathedral, London, England, at exactly twenty minutes past eleven London time.

So, to put it into perspective, people in my area had to get up early to see the wedding - there is a five hour time difference between Ontario, Canada and London, meaning that the wedding began at 6:20am here. 

(Yep.  I was probably sleeping through it all.)



But the rest of my family were old enough to gather around the television set that hot summer morning and watch as Prince Charles of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer entered into holy matrimony in front of the British Royal Family, their guests, and oh...seven hundred million people around the world!

Their relationship began in the summer of 1980 (though Charles had known Diana years beforehand).  At the time of their first date, Charles was thirty-one years old.  Diana had just turned nineteen.  They had a courtship which lasted approximately six months before Charles proposed marriage in February 1981 at Windsor Castle.  Diana accepted Charles' proposal, though the two had kept their engagement a secret from the public for at least a few weeks.  In hindsight, it was probably a grand move for both people, as neither one of them were aware just how much attention the paparazzi would shower them both with.  Of course, more on that a little later.

For now, rather than get into a full-blown story about how the wedding went and what really happened, I thought I would summarize the event by the numbers.  For a very big day, there certainly seems to be a lot of numbers associated with it.



So here was Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer's wedding - by the numbers.

14 - The number of solitaire diamonds that could be found in Diana's engagement ring.

30,000 - The amount of money in British pounds that Diana's engagement ring cost.

3,500 - The number of people in the congregation at St. Paul's Cathedral the morning of the wedding

2,000,000 - The number of spectators lining the route of Diana's procession.

2,201 - The number of military officers hired to manage the crowds outside of the wedding venue.

6 - The number of Metropolitan Police Officers who accompanied Diana and her father John Spencer during her procession to the wedding.

25 - The length, in feet, of the train on Diana's wedding dress.

9,000 - The amount of money in British pounds that Diana's wedding dress cost.

10,000 - The number of pearls estimated to be sewn onto Diana's wedding dress.

1 - The number of bottles of perfume that Diana reportedly spilled on her dress accidentally.

7 - The number of bridal attendants that Diana had for her wedding.

120 - The number of dinner guests invited to join Charles and Diana after the wedding was over.

27 - The number of wedding cakes baked for the wedding reception.

11 - The number of days that their honeymoon cruise lasted.

15 - The number of years that Charles and Diana stayed legally married (they had separated in 1992, and the divorce was finalized in 1996).

So, as you can see, the marriage did not last.  Of course, there were dozens of factors behind why this was the case.  The obvious reason, of course, being that Charles and Diana had simply fallen out of love with each other.  But there was constant scrutiny of both parties in the British tabloids (which I've found to be much harsher than American tabloids), and the accusations that both Charles and Diana had extramarital affairs with each other probably didn't help much.  And of course, Diana's admission that she had suffered from bulimia during her marriage probably had an effect on the marriage as well, not to mention the fact that she fought the paparazzi every chance she got to protect her two sons, William and Harry from being subjected to the uncontrollable behaviour of some of the people who were getting paid a lot of money for a photo.

The aftermath of the wedding is such.  Charles remarried Camilla Parker Bowles, and is still known as the Prince of Wales.

As for Diana...well, she lost her title of Her Royal Highness, and she embarked on a new career as a humanitarian.  She had finally found happiness again with businessman Dodi Fayed.  But sadly her life came to an end at just thirty-six years of age following a deadly car accident in a Parisian tunnel after being pursued by the paparazzi.



But everyone will always remember the summer of 1981...a summer in which most of us watched the wedding of Charles and Diana - a time in which both were head over heels in love with each other.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Album Covers That Were Frightening

It's time for another edition of FUNNY MONDAY - which is a tentative name until I can come up with something better.  It's something that I came up with at the spur of the moment when I realized that MOTIVATION MONDAY was a done deal. 

But I think that this will be a positive change.  This is the day of the week where we will take a look at some of the funniest signs, pop culture tidbits, bloopers, and mistakes that people have made.  After all, there is nobody in this world that is immune to making mistakes.  Lord knows I've had my share over the years.

But in this blog entry, we're going to be taking a musical trip back in time to look at some of the most...ahem...interesting album covers ever printed.

And the inspiration behind this blog comes courtesy of a little bit of music trivia that I remember reading from a book that I checked out of the library a few years ago.

Have any of you ever heard of a band known as Mom's Apple Pie?  I imagine some of you probably had no idea.  It's okay if you haven't.  They're considered a zero-hit-wonder.  None of their singles really made an impression on the charts, and they only spent four years playing together before they went their separate ways in 1974.

Their album cover for their 1972 debut, on the other hand, was considered to be one of the most talked about album covers of the day.



Now, I know that this album cover seems quite innocent, and I know that you probably wouldn't think anything of it.  But take a closer look at the piece of pie that is missing.  Let's just say that if you look close enough...you might find that it resembles a certain female body part.  That's all I'm going to say.  Apparently it was so controversial that the first album cover was pulled from record stores and replaced with an updated, safer cover.  Still, anyone who has the original cover in their possession might very well be holding onto a gold mine.

But this piece of trivia had me wondering...what other album covers could be considered funny, tasteless, or just plain weird?  Well, I scourged the Internet to come up with some examples, and I think I've found some fantastic ones. 

I'd like to give credit to Pinterest, boredpanda.com, lolriot.com, bizarrerecords.com, and Huffington Post for the examples that I will be providing in this piece.

So, we're about to begin.  Are you nervous?

Well, let's begin with the group known as Orleans.  They had a couple of big hits in the 1970s with "Dance With Me" and "Still the One".



And, why in the hell are they not wearing any clothes on the album cover?  Well, okay, the bottom of the album is cut off.  They could be wearing jeans, or shorts, or cut offs.  At least they're having a bonding experience on the cover.  I guess I can't fault them for that.



Wowzers!  I knew shoulder pads were quite the fashion accessory for the modern gal of the 1980s...but those things could poke an eye out!!!



Okay, forget the fact that he goes by the name of Pooh-Man.  I mean, it could be because he had an obsession with the A.A. Milne literary character.  Why the heck is his head down there?  On second thought, maybe I don't want to know.



And you thought Leonard Cohen songs were depressing...



"Let Me Touch Him"?  Seriously?  In this day and age?  Um, next.



It's really bad enough that William "She Bangs" Hung received more than fifteen minutes of fame for his train wreck audition on American Idol.  It's incredibly bad that he used those fifteen minutes to record a Christmas album.  But to name the album "Hung for the Holidays"?!?  Can we really have a holiday album cheesier than that?



Okay.  I stand corrected.  At least they aren't dressed like the characters they portrayed in Grease three and a half decades ago.  I'll give them that much.



God Isn't Dead!  So this...I'm assuming she's a preacher of some form.  At least I can be reassured that she's telling me that God isn't dead...even if she happens to be standing in front of gigantic wine bottles while she's preaching.  I wonder if this album is trying to tell us something...



I remember my sixteenth birthday.  It was nothing like Julie's.  Thankfully.  They could have at least put up a couple of balloons, or decorated a Hostess cupcake or something.  At least make me believe that she's celebrating her sixteenth birthday with a man who is old enough to be her father.



Wow...I really am amazed by his guitar playing.  His fingers are so perfectly aligned that I've completely disregarded the fact that he ISN'T WEARING ANY PANTS.  Please let this guy be wearing underwear...



Oh...so this is where Pennywise the Clown was born...



You know...this album was remade in the year 2012.  It was retitled as "Believe" by Justin Bieber.



What do you get when you combine leisure suits, a cool looking mustache, and a Sears Portrait Studio session circa 1976?  Why, you get Ken.  By request only!  I wonder if he's still accepting requests?  I'd love for him to try a rousing chorus of Madonna's "Lucky Star".



Here's the latest scoop on ABC's newest Bachelorette.  Her name is Joyce.  She has astigmatism, but that doesn't stop her from dressing up in her favourite shades of red and purple and singing to her heart's content.  Will you accept Joyce's rose?



I am so thrilled to see someone love their life.  It makes me very happy to see someone who loves their life so much that he has to record an entire album all about it.  But please get out of that waterfall and put on some clothes.  You're scaring me.



After seeing this album cover, I can see why some people are genuinely fearful of Ted Nugent.



You know...when *NSync did the whole puppet on a string theme for one of their music videos circa 2000, it was interesting and very creative.  This is just creepy.



Yes.  Swing that gospel axe indeed.  And the guy who is holding that gospel axe seems to be looking to use it on the woman in front of him so that he can get top billing.  I wonder if there's an Alfred Hitchcock album playing in the background...



Okay.  I ask you.  Can there possibly be any album cover more disturbing than serving a human head as the main course at your Hawaiian luau?



On second though...maybe the luau head doesn't sound quite so disturbing...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Satisfied?

Have you ever heard of something called kismet?  It's a word used to describe fate.  And in doing research for today's Sunday Jukebox entry, I have come to discover that kismet has kind of played a role in my song selection.

It's almost as if the song was chosen for me right from the very beginning!

This entry is also very interesting because this song just happens to be from a man who holds the distinction of having my highest read and most commented Sunday Jukebox post since this blog began! 

I had no idea that a song about a murder in a small Nebraska town would generate such discussion and such popularity, but Richard Marx's "Hazard" is definitely a post that has gotten a lot of page views.  As of right now, it has the most comments of any piece that I've written.  And, I can definitely see why this has been the case.  It's a great song by a fantastic artist - and it's got a story that is purposely left ambiguous so that it encourages discussion.



So, discovering that Richard Marx had the #1 song on the Billboard charts exactly twenty-five years ago this week - and the fact that it's one of my favourite songs by Richard Marx happens to be part of the reason why I picked this song.

But listening closely to the lyrics, I realize that there is another reason why I picked today's song.  And before I get to that reason, I want to make a few things clear.

In this blog, I've set some goals for myself.  Goals that have ranged from easy to lofty.  And, some of these goals I've reached, and others I still have yet to achieve.  Most people in my life have been supportive of this, but still there are some who feel the need to call me out on some of the things that I've said on here, claiming that I do these blogs to get attention. 

First of all...of course I do this blog to get attention!  Right now, it's the closest thing I have to doing what I really want to do with my life, and a blog is meant to present my thoughts about what I am thinking about at this moment.  I suppose I could have made those thoughts private, but why should I?  I've been hiding who I am from people for such a long time that I'm sick and tired of it.  And at this stage in the game, if people are going to be responding to my thoughts with negativity and not very supportive comments...well, that's really on them, isn't it?

Sure, I've made goals on this blog.  Have I reached all of them in the time frame that I set for myself?  Not all of them.  But does that mean that I will never achieve them?  Not on this lifetime.

(Mind you, I think from now on, I'll keep those goals on the down low here on this blog until they actually happen...after all...a guy has to have a few surprises!)

Okay, so now that I've gotten that off of my chest, I feel quite empowered, and I feel like I can walk on water.  But since I can't do the second part without floatation devices, I'm going to have to just stick with the empowerment part.

And what better song to depict empowerment than this one?



ARTIST:  Richard Marx
SONG:  Satisfied
ALBUM:  Repeat Offender
DATE RELEASED:  April 27, 1989
PEAK POSITION ON THE BILLBOARD CHARTS:  #1 for 1 week

Yep, this is a song about satisfaction...and trying so hard to find it sometimes.

I mean, if you listen to the lyrics really closely, Richard Marx sings about how there must be more to living than working nine to five, and how there must be something better than working our bodies weary in trying to stay alive.



I say, preach it brother!

These days, almost all of us have to have some form of job in order to keep up a standard of living.  Some of us have to even work two or more just to keep things afloat.  And when you're working all of these hours to try and keep up a standard of living that you're either too tired or too busy to enjoy, it can be the ultimate frustration.  Who has time for hobbies, or making plans, or pursuing real goals when we're too busy with other obligations?

Believe me, I've been there before.  Whenever my schedule gets a little bit strange, it's definitely had a negative effect on this blog because I've had to cut entries short, or not put as much time into it as I would like.  Of course, the job that actually pays the bills takes precedence over the non-paying blog that I write each day.  I'm sure you can guess which job I would rather be doing.

I guess lately, I've been coming to a lot of conclusions about my life thus far.  Those conclusions scare the bejeezus out of me because I know what the solution is, but at the same time, I'm paralyzed with fear when it comes to making those choices.  I suppose that could be the reason why some of the goals that I've made for myself still haven't come true yet.  Fear.

And, let me tell all of you something.  Fear sucks.

I won't say that the last ten years of working in retail have been all that terrible.  There have been some really awesome moments.  And there have also been some not-so-awesome moments.  It's all a rich tapestry of memories, both good and bad, as is the case with most jobs out there I'm sure.

However, my job prospects within the company I work at are essentially non-existent.  There is absolutely no way I can work my way into a higher, more esteemed position - at least not at the store I currently work at.  And, honestly, I really don't think I even want a higher position. 

In fact...I honestly don't know if I even want to continue on with the retail industry at all.  It was a nice job for a while, and I've established a lot of connections with a lot of great people.  But is it something that I want to keep doing because I genuinely enjoy it? 

Not lately, it hasn't.

Sure, the job is full-time.  Sure, I get benefits for the job.  But am I satisfied with the way that the job is going?  No.  I'm tired of feeling tired when I come home after a shift because I am doing way too much work for one person to handle.  If I were working towards a bigger goal, I might feel differently, but I'm not doing that. 

(I'd make a terrible capitalist, by the way.)

Truth be told...I've been working so hard at my job that I'm finding that I have less opportunity to do the one job that I love doing.  I don't want to be a manager of a store.  I don't know if I even want to manage a department these days.  I want to be a writer.

No, wait.  What's this thing about "WANTING" to be a writer?  I AM A WRITER, DAMMIT!

Seriously, I may not like the situation that I'm in right now, but that's not to say that I can't get creative with it.  I've incorporated writing into some workplace things.  I do my blog seven days a week, 365 days a year (well, for now anyway), and in the days before I worked full-time, I had pages and pages of handwritten stories written in three-ring-binders which were written when I was eighteen, nineteen.

(Stories which are not fit for publication, mind you.  I wasn't as great with words back then as I am now.  I guess you could say that when I was a teenager, I committed a lot of "word crimes".)



And, yes...I did come up with an excuse to post a Weird Al song in this space as well. 

Truth is, I have no excuse for not making my goal of being a professional writer happen.  Even though I'm working a job that isn't giving me much satisfaction right now, writing kind of fills the void.  And, hey...if that means I buy a notebook, keep it in my locker at work, and do some writing on my lunch hour while listening to my iPod, so be it. 

(By the way, if you do see me writing in a notebook in an employee lounge, I'm probably tuning you out.  Nothing personal, I just get into the moment.)

I guess if Richard Marx took the steps necessary to make his goal of being a singer/songwriter a dream come true, I can do the same.

Even if I have to sell just a few more televisions to make it come true.