April 14 – Orphan Black

264/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I will admit it, I’m a tv junkie! I love my reality tv but only competition type shows. I love some comedies. I also love some hour long shows but few and far between. However, if you have been on my Facebook, you will know that I am absolutely obsessed with one show – Orphan Black! Four years ago, my then just turned 13 year old son and I saw the preview for the premiere and were hooked (however, he happened to watch the first show on his own and told me he didn’t want to watch it anymore and as I confusedly picked up from where he had paused – only to discover he had stopped during the one and only graphic sex scene the entire 4 seasons, alas he didn’t continue LOL – I’m sure it would be different today). Sadly for the fans, the show is only 10 episodes per season and understandably so as the amazing actress who plays lead plays lead over and over and over. Yes, fellow Canadian Tatiana Maslany (who I had never heard of before this show) plays upwards of 5 regular clones per episode all with their own unique characteristics and qualities. I have to remind myself that Tatiana’s uptight, ponytailed, recovering alcoholic soccer mom Allison is played by the same Tatiana as Ukranian, bleached blonde, recovering psychopath Helena also played by yes the same Tatiana who plays the heart of gold, ditzy yet loveable, uber-blonde Krystal who does duty as quirky, pot-smoking, braniac scientist, the dreadlocked Cosima – did you get that? And that’s only four clones. The subtleties that this actress brings to all of the different clones – are we at 16 so far? – is beyond human! I didn’t know anything about acting and I still don’t know much but I do know that Tatiana Maslany is just amazing and mesmerizing in her portrayals of these unique female characters and up until this show, I never considered a person’s acting – I just watched for entertainment but when one woman carries the show all by herself and acts with herself in scenes with multiple clones, that’s when you realize what true talent is. I am a Clone-Clubber as I am enthralled by this show, follow blogs, have gone to viewing parties and just am truly a fan of the talent that is Tatiana Maslany (so hope she gets the lead in the new Star Wars film that she is in the running for). I’m so giddy with excitement for the season four premiere tonight that I can’t wait to be enthralled for the next two months. So yeah, be forewarned Facebook friends, my infatuation with Tatiana Maslany’s amazing talent is going to be in full force! To my clones – Sarah, Allison, Cosima, Helena, Rachel, Katja, Jennifer, Krystal, MK, Beth, Tony – long live this Orphan Black journey!

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April 6 – 70s tv

256/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.   Growing up pretty much on my own with my younger sister, I didn’t really have many influences to guide me on my choices.  My mom, being a single parent on her own not by choice (as my dad was in Riverview because of his schizophrenia for most of my childhood), was working constantly so me and my sister basically made our own decisions.  My mom would work 6 – 7 days a week so our surrogate parent was the television and me being the senior by 2 years would do the picking.  Television was my escape – I could watch cartoons on Saturdays and I would watch cartoons as I would get out of bed to be ready to get my view on at 8 am with a large bowl of Fruit Loops (or is that spelled Froot Loops – weirdly that latter spelling seems to right).  Right after school, I would rush home to sit down with chips and my favourite 3 – 5 double hour of comedies.  Evenings would be campy tv shows or over the top serials.  My values and morals did not come from Disney books as my mom didn’t know how to read English so most of it came from the television shows that I watched relentlessly and as I reflect back, I am so glad that my role models were so clean cut and simple and the values that were portrayed and thereby instilled in me were of the highest calibre.  I watched Gilligan’s Island and learned about faithfulness, camaraderie, relentless pursuit and spirit.  I watched Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine and learned about believing in your instincts and teamwork.  I watched I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched and developed a sense of curiosity while retaining my naivety and sense of wonder.  I watched Dallas and Dynasty and learned about putting yourself forward and demanding what you deserve.  I watched the Brady Bunch and Partridge Family and was taught about family, bonding and the importance of honesty.  I watched Charlie’s Angels and basically learned about valuing yourself for your looks and your ingenuity.  I get criticized to this day that I am obsessed with pop culture but I don’t deny it – I love it.  I grew up on it.  It shaped me – dare I say for the better when I had no other options and I think that the choices I made for my viewing habits were, for the most part, exactly what I needed to become the person I am today.  Yes, I may be viewed (key word) as less knowledgeable/in touch with the world but I would disagree as I make the conscious choice of living my life with the values of the 70s tv shows that I viewed – a time when everything could be solved within one episode.  Thank you to all the television shows and their characters who had an impact on the person I have become – yes, you weren’t “real” per se but you got me through my tough times so you were real enough for me!

March 28 – escapism

247/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I love to talk.  I love to express myself.  I love to share my opinions.  I love to be heard!  LOL.  If you know me, you know that all that is true about me.  I also love to watch tv and get involved in any discussions regarding the shows that I watch.  I also love music and espouse the virtues of my favourite artists at any turn.  As well, I’m a fan of books and movies and can find myself in enlightening dialogue regarding characters or plot development.  I think this is what makes entertainment that much better – being able to engage into it further than the initial viewing, listening or reading.  About a decade or so ago, I was a moderator of a music forum with a few others.  New singles and artists were introduced (yes, the days of Napster!!) and threads were opened to discuss the merits or faults about the song and I could spend hours embattled in what I felt was a great song or what should have been a huge hit – I enjoyed making ‘friends’ and being able to have lively debates about whomever was artist du jour.  With books, I’ve entered into forums on a work chat site over the years convincing others of the merits of an author and listening to thoughts about others based on what I read.  Not always are the recommendations great, but they do always allow me to expand my horizons.  When it comes to movies, I go to critic sites and see what others are saying.  I also take to heart word of mouth recommendations from friends who I consider would know my tastes – not always have they been right  – Birdman??  Hated it!!  But the follow-up dialogue was better than the movie.  Finally television allows me to engage with people I would not have had things in common with – there are tonnes of co-workers, hockey parents, gym buddies, and Facebook friends who I can text, email, talk to about the episode and come up with theories around the next episode.  To all of my entertainment friends, I love having you around (whether we agree or agree to disagree) about what we have in common – our love for escapism!

March 18 – our Disney girl

237/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Do you have a daughter? Do you know who her Disney girl idol is?? It’s an important question and something you really have no control over. I didn’t even realize my daughter was into the Disney girls until I found myself watching That’s So Raven, Parent Trap, Lizzie McGuire – the list goes on. She ended up having a favourite Disney girl and we ended up buying all her paraphernalia from albums to lunch bags, from accessories to calendars – we were all Lizzie McGuired out! My daughter looked up to Hilary Duff (the actress) and we ended up watching all her movies countless times: Cheaper By the Dozen, A Cinderella Story, Agent Cody Banks and Cadet Kelly to name a few. As a dad of a daughter, I’d take Hilary Duff’s influence over and over again – my daughter picked the right Disney girl who maneuvered into post teen and early adulthood quite well. I mean, she had the choice of Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears back in the day and she chose Hilary. I gotta give props to Hilary because without any big faux pas, she emerged into an adult – yes, she had a divorce, big deal and that’s not something that would shape my daughter negatively as Hilary didn’t do a Miley and become all about her sexuality (not slut-shaming here but being a dad of a daughter) nor did she become a Lindsay with all her drug and alcohol problems, Hilary just traversed adolescent into a respectable woman – the type that my daughter has become. I feel for parents of younger daughters today because the times are much different than a decade ago with the proliferation of social media and “stars” who are famous for infamy. I’m just glad my daughter idolized a Disney girl who was and is a true Disney girl with all the wholesome values that represented Disney post Disney career. Thank you Hilary Duff, this dad is forever grateful!

February 17 – I’m a Survivor

208/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I absolutely love reality tv – not the Kardashian Krap type but competition reality. I used to watch American Idol and The Voice. I am a fan of The Amazing Race and loved Top Model. I watched a couple of one season shows as well but the king of all competition reality is Survivor. I would like to say that I watched it right from the get-go and to a certain degree, I did. The show came on in 2000 and the first season was repeated immediately after it aired and because I heard so much about it, I watched the re-airing and fell in love with the premise and the characters and the entire concept of sole Survivor. Thus, technically I have been watching it from the first season and I have not missed an episode since! Here we are into season 36 I believe and I am just as excited! Being not very athletic, I get to be arm-chair athlete! Being a very social being, I also get to watch the players’ social games and analyze them. I basically live vicariously for an hour through these players. I have been told many times that my persona would be ideal for reality tv and yes, they are all personas – the players are cast for entertainment. I haven’t applied because perhaps on some level I think I would be cast and I don’t know how I would be “edited” – probably the dumb guy!! I have said that if I ever do get on, I will be first voted out or make it all the way to the end 😉 Now the other thing that has made my Survivor viewing interesting and probably that much more enjoyable which is the real purpose of tonight’s blog is to thank the many staff members who have joined in on the Survivor (and other reality) pools that I have organized. I started them way back when I taught at Burnett as a way of getting some staff socialness going on and it took off from there. I came to McNair as a newbie and did the same thing and the staff also came on board. Yes, I may have arm-twisted a few to join but what better or easier way to participate in the work place social atmosphere than throw a $5 bill, get a random player and see if you get a $100 win. The camaraderie that has developed with staff members has been amazing and I have gotten to know staff members that I wouldn’t normally have had a chance of conversing with and it just makes for my Survivor viewing all that much more exciting and pleasurable when you are now talking about staff member players and you have someone to route for right away. Also, I love writing my reviews – some are wine-infused and I let loose a little too much but hopefully they are enjoyable to read 😉 Once again, I want to thank every single person who has participated in the pools – without you, my entertainment on Wednesday night’s would be solely a one way activity but because of you, it has become multi-faceted and much more enjoyable. Here’s to your player winning!!

February 14 – The Walking Dead

205/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. It’s VDay!! All about love! Love can be anything – that special someone or someones. A passion. Something that gets you through the day. Or the week. Of course, I’m going to take this blog in a different way rather than talk about traditional love as I’m not ready for that J However, today’s Valentines’s is so much more because of the mere fact that one of my favourite tv shows is back. This is the show that my son and I sit down and watch. Having a teenager, there are very few bonding moments as connections are different but this show gets us together once a week for an hour (sometimes two with the follow-up hour). What’s the show? The Walking Dead. The non-converted may think it’s just about a bunch of zombies and gore but that is just the surface – it’s so much deeper than that as character development, societal breakdown, loyalties and so much more come into play and the show is not afraid to kill off main characters. My son and I have been watching this show together since last year (he Netflix binge-watched to catch up to me) and there are moments when the house explodes with both of us freaking out about what just happened. However, this show’s bonds go far beyond just the father-son ties – in fact, it cements friendships with people one doesn’t even think would be/could be watching the show. The follow-up show Talking Dead, the inevitable internet search regarding what just happened and the Twitter/Facebook diatribe about the same thing in addition to the next day talks at work about what just took place – this is The Walking Dead experience that bonds so many people and I love that I am a part of this phenomenon in this day and age of a million shows available on TV, streaming, specialty networks etc. Here I am less than 30 minutes from tonight’s mid-season premiere waiting in anticipation of what major events will take place and the follow-up chaos – bring it on Walking Dead, I’m ready!!

January 25 – Mulder & Scully

185/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. The Truth Is Out There and it’s back. I started watching the XFiles the year I received my first full time teaching job in Richmond and the same September that my daughter was born. Up until the XFiles, everything that I watched was a far cry from intelligent and also never from the science fiction genre. Yes, I jumped on the bandwagon as everyone was mentioning that it was filmed in Vancouver and I wanted to be engaged in the water cooler conversation that was bound to take place. I instantly fell in love with the show and its mythology – although I was more a fan of the stand-alone episodes as the main storyline got convoluted. I stuck with the show through all seasons – even with new main characters introduced in the final years (even watching the movies) when most fans had abandoned the series. My tv viewing over the years has been heavily influenced by both the XFiles science fiction – Walking Dead fits the mould perfectly as well as a strong female character lead – Orphan Black fits the mould perfectly! Thank you Chris Carter for creating an intelligent show that got me thinking about conspiracy theories, aliens, government cover-ups and the fact that science doesn’t explain everything. I can’t say that I always make intelligent television viewing choices but the Xfiles influence definitely colours my choices and for that I am thankful.