Friday, June 26, 2009

You Rocked My World...

Michael Jackson 1958-2009

My parents talk about where they were and what they were doing when they heard that Elvis died.

I wasn't sure anything in my lifetime would ever compare to that tragic loss of a music legend.

But then, yesterday evening, news broke that the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, was dead at age 50, presumably after falling into cardiac arrest.

And suddenly, I knew. This was my Elvis moment. This was that one day I would look back on and say, "I know exactly what I was doing when I heard Michael Jackson died..."

For the record - I had stopped in at Stacy's for a visit; she was outside with Maddy, playing in the wading pool, on a stifling-hot late-June evening. After gathering up the water toys and towels and heading inside, Stacy walked into the living room and happened to glance at the TV. Before I had even made it past the door, she exclaimed: "Oh my God! He died! Michael Jackson is dead!"

I scurried into the living room, and sure enough, the headline, in giant letters across the TV screen, declared: MICHAEL JACKSON DEAD, below helicopter images of crowds gathering behind police barricades outside the UCLA Medical Centre where he had been taken.

Shock. Disbelief. A lump in my throat as I sat with my hand over mouth, trying to comprehend what I was hearing.

And all I could think of was this purple t-shirt my sister had when we were kids that she'd never let me wear.

A purple t-shirt with a picture of MJ on the front, from his "Thriller" days, that I loved so much, but she always hid it from me. One day, I found it, secretly put it on, and wore it to school. I was in Kindergarten, and she was in Grade 6. When she caught sight of me in it in the hallway at lunch time...I thought she was going to kill me.

Is it possible to summarize Michael Jackson in just a few paragraphs? From his early days as the smiley young frontman of his family band, the Jackson 5, to his rise as the King of Pop with the unparalled success of his "Thriller" album, to the most recent years of his decline into vicious accusations of child molestation, court cases, and a constant tabloid watch on his ever-changing face - MJ was always in the news for something.

Thankfully, in the wake of his untimely and unexpected death, the world seems focused on remembering him in all his legendary glory. Because no matter what one believes about Jackson's questionable private life... in the music industry, you didn't get much bigger or better than him.

The word 'icon' somehow doesn't seem prestigious enough for him. His style - the white glove, the red leather jacket, the shades - he literally had millions of kids copying his image. He gave the world new dance moves - the crotch-grabbing and, of course, the moonwalk. He redefined music in the '80's and '90's. He redefined an entire generation.

Unfortunately, I pretty much missed out on all that hype. By the time I was old enough to fall in love with music, Michael Jackson's best days were behind him. I ended up growing up with the speculation, the scandals, the baby-dangling incident, and the ever-present question: When will Michael's nose fall off?

Still, the coolness that was MJ was not lost on me. I bought his albums. I danced to "Billie Jean" and "Black or White" in my basement. I often watched an old tape of my sister's of him performing "Dangerous" at the American Music Awards in the early '90's. And despite all the criminal allegations and bizzare behaviour, I always felt sympathy for him. He grew up in the limelight and became a pop mega-star, and struggled his entire life to gain back the childhood he felt he never had.

His friends in the music and entertainment world have had nothing but wonderful words to say about him in the wake of his tragic passing. He's been described and sweet and loving; a prodigy; a visionary; a phenom. His music and his dance moves continue to have a strong influence on today's music scene, and in that respect, Michael Jackson is right up there on the same pedestal as Elvis Presley.

(Fans in Copenhagen react to the news of Jackson's death)

Today, the world mourns the loss of one of the greatest. Everywhere Michael Jackson went, everthing Michael Jackson did - it was a spectacle. He was a light in this world that will be sorely missed, and will continue to be celebrated in the days to come.

Michael, you rocked my world - you know you did.

And you will be missed.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

'Heater' Sparks Anger & Disappointment

News broke yesterday afternoon that Senator fan-favourite Dany Heatley is seeking a trade out of Ottawa.

My reaction? Shock. Anger. Severe disappointment. Dany Heatley? OUR Dany Heatley? Wanting out of Ottawa? Seriously?
It was completely unexpected - something I never thought would happen. Not even after the media hyped "tensions" between Heatley and the new coach, Cory Clouston, as the season drew to an early close for the '08-'09 Senators. Both said the appropriate things at the time - Clouston said Heatley was adjusting to the new system, and Heatley said that he was getting used to it.

All fine and dandy, right?

Apparently not so. Not so at all.

Just one year into his 6-year $45-million contract extension, he's ready to bail, citing differences with the coach.

Honestly, it makes me really sad. For the past decade or so, the Senators organization has worked really hard to become a place where players want to play. One bad year, and one of our elite is getting out. Just like that. Well, excuse me mister, but check yer friggin' attitude at the door.

Never thought I'd put Dany Heatley in the same category as Alexei Yashin, but holy flippin' spoiled brat!!!

And you know what? Not the first time he's done this, either. It's just that the last time no one said anything, because his request for a trade from the Atlanta Thrashers came at a time when no one could blame him. It was after the car accident which claimed the life of his teammate Dan Snyder, with Heatley behind the wheel. No one questioned his departure from Atlanta, because most agreed that certainly, this poor guy needed a change of scenery; a fresh start.

I'm sorry, but "differences with the new coach" don't rank up as high on my list of things to feel sympathetic for.

The good news? Heatley is one of the best in the league, so we should get some pretty high-quality sh*t in return for him.

But still...I can't help thinking this is going to ruin things even more for the team. And just at a time when it seemed we were starting to get back on the right track. Starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I'm worried about how this will affect Jason Spezza. These two guys were practically a package-deal. One complimented the other so well. How will he fare out with out his best buddy and linemate on the ice with him?

I'm worried about how it will affect Cory Clouston. Coming in here as a new, young coach, and actually having a burst of success in first few months behind the bench - how will he feel knowing that one of the team's stars wants out and is pointing the finger at him?

I'm worried about this team in general. It just seems like, since their run to the Cup final in '07, it's just been one thing after another. Something's gotta give here. We can't keep having such terrible luck.

So. What do we lose when #15 hits the road out of town via trade this summer?

We lose a back-to-back 50-goal-scorer. A natural. We lose one of the most fun names to announce after goal. ("Dany Heeeeeeeeeeeeeatly!") We lose the charming gape-toothed smile. We lose the 'ying' to Spezza's 'yang'. We lose a guy who I thought was a team player, but apparently is not.

That last part? Makes me think we're not losing much.

Monday, June 08, 2009

I'm Just a Summer Girl...

I'm just a summer girl, I wear my flip flops
When I let my hair down, the party never stops.
Who needs a boyfriend? I got my girlfriends -
When we get together, the summer never ends!
(Jessica Andrews)

It's that time of year - the lazy, hazy days of summer are just ahead of us. Already we've been treated to a few sweet tastes of summer - a few days when the temp has creeped up into the high-20's, a few days of beaming sunshine. And the summer activities have begun - the Quyon Canada Day golf tourney is behind us, which I generally consider the kick-off to summertime, and 3-pitch and fastball are both well under way.

Saturday afternoon, I lounged on the back deck with a magazine in my lap and a bottle of sunscreen at my side. For the first time, it felt like summer was officially here for 2009. And that got me thinking of the songs that put me in a summery mood. It's time to load up your iPods with summer music - songs for the beach or the backyard BBQ or the bonfire or the hot nights on the dancefloor. If I still had my iPod, I know my summer playlist would be in heavy rotation right now.

So direct from my iTunes - here's Jill's Summer Playlist:

You Shook me All Night Long - AC/DC
Summer Girl - Stereos
Brother Down - Sam Roberts
Summer of '69 - Bryan Adams
Semi-Charmed Life - Third Eye Blind
Soak up the Sun - Sheryl Crow
Bobcaygeon - The Tragically Hip
Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding
Tim McGraw - Taylor Swift
California Girls - The Beach Boys
Centerfield - John Fogarty
Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
Fishin' in the Dark - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (or the Emerson Drive version - my personal fave!)
Summer Nights - John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John
We Danced Anyways - Deanna Carter
Running on Sunshine - Jesus Jackson
The Boys of Summer - Don Henley (or the Ataris version is pretty cool!)
Summergirls - LFO
All Summer Long - Kid Rock
Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First) - John Mellancamp
Chicken Fried - Zac Brown Band
Kokomo - The Beach Boys
Mud on the Tires - Brad Paisley
Summertime - Kenny Chesney
Steal My Sunshine - Len
When the Sun Goes Down - Kenny Chesney ft. Uncle Kracker
Margaritaville - Jimmy Buffett
All I Want to Do - Sugarland
Summertime - New Kids on the Block
Senorita - Justin Timberlake
Drift Away - Uncle Kracker
When the Nights Feels my Song - Bedouin Soundclash
Escape (If You Like Pina Coladas) - Rupert Holmes
Summertime - Bon Jovi
I'm Yours - Jason Mraz
Strawberry Wine - Deanna Carter
While We're Young & Beautiful - Carrie Underwood
Never Too Late - Hedley
Red Red Wine - UB40
My Best Friends Girl - The Cars
Sounds of Summer - The Higgins
Three Little Birds - Bob Marley
I Like It, I Love It - Tim McGraw
Anything But Mine - Kenny Chesney
Low - Flo Rida ft. T-Pain
Unbelievable - EMF
Mary Jane Shoes - Fergie
...and of course, Summer Girl - Jessica Andrews

Am I missing any? Feel free to add your favourites to the comments section! And get out there & enjoy the sunshine! :)