Boxing Day Eve: Recognizing Recognition

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Happy Boxing Day Eve, Hillside Fans!  First-rate blogger and long-time Avalon denizen Tom of TomBeingTom.com has chosen me, among others, to be an honored recipient of a non-existent award aptly entitled The Blogger Recognition Award, necessitating this temporary, set-to-self-destruct post recognizing Tom’s humbling recognition of the web’s indisputable premier destination.

Apparently, we’re to tell our blogging origin story as part of this online acceptance speech, so I’ll keep mine as succinct as possible.  Notes From The Avalon was not my first blog, but it is the only one worth mentioning since it is the only one still in existence.  Earlier this year, while wasting time on YouTube for the better part of an afternoon, it became apparent that the “Information Superhighway” contains precious little information aboot the greatest television program that ever aired.  “Somebody should do something aboot this,” thought I, and thus Notes From The Avalon was born.  If you were hoping for something a bit more detailed regarding my relationship with Fifteen, I elucidated much of that in this post from back in June, along with the only picture of my ugly mug to appear on this page: Breaking The Band.

Thank you, Tom!  And to all of my friends north and south of the border: I wish you all a blessed and joyous Boxing Day and a prosperous 2020.

 

Post Script: Vindication!

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I completed the final Notes From The Avalon post over three months ago.  To say that it’s a pleasant and humbling surprise to see so many people still reading my Hillside summaries each day would be one hell of an understatement.  While most readers choose to remain anonymous, one emerged from the shadows and identified himself as Randy – the one and only “original Filth Pig”.  Short of a direct endorsement from Ryan Reynolds as part of a Golden Globes acceptance speech, Randy’s message to me represented the pinnacle of this page’s possible achievements.

As soon as I realized that I was communicating directly with a cast member from the show, I put up a temporary post here entitled “Big News From The Avalon” but, as is the unwritten rule here at NFTA, I removed it after a week or two because the Episode Guide should be the first thing people see when they visit the blog.  However, I need to rise above my techno-fear and figure oot how the fuck to keep this as a permanent post on the site while retaining the Episode Guide at the top position.  In other words, your intrepid “webmaster” is aboot as computer savvy as your average tapeworm.

For those who missed it, here is Randy’s initial message via the Contact page:

I am the original, one and only, season one “filth pig”, there were other Avalon workers, but I was the original one with the dirty rag and apron. If you want to know anything about the show when it was filmed in Canada, feel free to ask away, I recently found call sheets from the show that have all the names of everyone on it very cool pieces and I would say very rare, anyway, love what you did here, take care.

Of course, I enthusiastically “asked away” and this guy is so fucking cool that not only did he answer my silly questions, he sent me an email full of awesome reminiscences of the audition process along with a ton of other fantastic Fifteen insider info.

Here are some of the more interesting takeaways from Randy’s generous trip down Memory Lane:

  • Although Randy has now hilariously taken to calling himself “Filth Pig” in our correspondence, everyone’s favorite hygiene-impaired waiter had a name: Jerry. Now, Randy was not the same actor who played the much older and larger Jerry in Season 2, mind you – but in the Hillside universe, it’s a near certainty that mute/Filth Pig Jerry and non-mute/band-auditioning Jerry are one and the same character, sort of like the two Darrin’s on Bewitched or the two Becky’s on Roseanne.
  • Randy initially auditioned for the role of Olaf. Perhaps you think that Aubrey Nealon came oot on top in this situation, but did he really?  Was Olaf’s picture the first visual aid on the very first episode post on this page?  No, it wasn’t.  It was Filth Pig’s picture that ushered in our extended visit to Hillside over nine long months ago.

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  • The audition process was open to any kids within a certain age range, regardless of whether they had any acting experience. Commercials were run on BCTV inviting anyone interested to show up at the studios on a certain date and time with a bag lunch.  When Randy arrived, there were literally hundreds of kids lined up to audition, so a guy named Garth Lewis began bringing in aboot 30 at a time where he instructed them to form a circle and deliver a pre-written line, one by one.  Those who displayed the requisite enthusiasm in the delivery of the line were asked to step forward, so Randy belted it oot with as much gusto as he could muster and was therefore given a script of Olaf dialogue to take home and memorize.  Of course, Aubrey Nealon ultimately landed the role of Olaf, but I take issue with Randy’s assessment of Jerry the Waiter as an “extra”: as far as I’m concerned, Filth Pig was just as essential to the show as anyone else, setting the entire tone of the next 65 episodes with his very first on-screen appearance.  For all of my tongue-in-cheek mockery of show creator John Binkley, I’ve gotta admit: opening auditions to any interested kids, regardless of experience, is pretty fucking cool.
  • Those fucked up sets? That nauseating apron and dishrag?  Randy’s elucidation of these conundrums is priceless, so rather than continue to paraphrase, I’ll let him take it from here: “Try imagining a massive gymnasium, now imagine in that gymnasium all the sets you see on the show.  They were all literally built side by side, one leading to another; the Avalon to the garage, the bedroom to the lounge area, locker room to the stairs hallway area, stairs led to no where, just behind plywood walls; there were several of these at this studio.  Next to us was a talk show, there was a news room, a cafeteria, offices, etc.  It was massive. The soda machine wasn’t plugged in and I remember hearing the actor put in change and it making the noise it makes when it goes straight to the coin return slot, and a soda can was just placed there to be picked up by the actor. I was told to make the apron look like it was a bit dirty but all I had to work with back there that I could find was some ketchup and mustard so that’s what they got, filth pig was born!”

As if all that wasn’t cool enough, Randy also found some old call back sheets that were given to the actors each morning on the set and sent me JPEG copies of these instructions from September of 1990, which is beyond fucking awesome.  I’ve appended these priceless artifacts to the bottom of this post.

I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude to Randy for taking the time to send all of those great stories and for having an excellent sense of humor.

Now how aboot a reunion show?  If someone can get Ryan Reynolds on board, I’ll write the script, free of charge.

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An E-mail From Deadpool

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About a month ago, in a rare burst of optimism, I e-mailed Ryan Reynolds at the address he uses for his Aviation Gin company with a link to Notes From The Avalon and a pathetic plea that he visit my blog page.  Naturally, I received a hilarious but impersonal auto-reply, meaning that I am no closer to getting Mr. Reynolds’ attention now than I was before the attempted contact.  This morning, I got an e-mail from ryan@aviationgin.com containing a forwarded exchange between Ryan and the head of Aviation’s advertising department, culminating in a link to his latest piece of self-promotional genius.  Thus, whether he realizes it or not (not), Ryan Reynolds has officially contributed to Notes From The Avalon and though it’s not nearly as exciting as if he had commented directly on one of my posts, I’m still pleased as punch to present it here.  Enjoy and remember to always drink responsibly lest you find yourself locked up in some hospital place with Matt.  Cheers.

I Get A Pass

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I have a tendency to read between the lines.  In fact, I’ve noticed that even when I listen to someone speak, I similarly tend to listen between the lines in an effort to suss oot the underlying psychology behind a person’s stated opinion.  Some seemingly uncharacteristic gripes of a few old friends of mine recently brought this into starker focus.  Now, what I’m aboot to say may sound hypocritical coming from a purveyor of knowingly offensive online content such as I, but stay with me on this one: the growing wave of self-appointed social justice warriors on a mission to shame anyone and everyone for their choice of words may be annoying, but in the larger context, it is just the type of visceral over-correction that may be needed if the modern collective consciousness is to transform into something more civil and egalitarian than it has been since time immemorial.

The aforementioned gripes of people I’ve known for many years go a little something like this: Initially, I hated Trump just as much as everyone on the left, but now I think he may be right aboot destructive political correctness.  I am so tired of people telling me how to speak that I can’t imagine voting for another left-wing asshole who’ll monitor everything I say.

Talk aboot a knee-jerk reaction!  Are these friends of mine actually trying to say that they’d rather live in an authoritarian, white supremacist state as long as those at the helm don’t encourage verbal and linguistic micromanagement from their constituents?  If so, then they are suckers who have fallen for the very games of intentional divisiveness from Trump and his ilk that they allegedly once despised.

How do I square all of that with my unshakeable defense of free speech?  Quite simply, by speaking freely, but with the understanding that if someone takes issue with something I say or write, that person is also exercising their right to free expression.  Your typical Fox News pundit would have you believe that “PC culture” is an epidemic threatening the very foundations of the nation and its constitution.  However, they do so in defense of those who have all but run that “sacred” document through the fucking shredder, and it is only the threat to their continued dominance in the social, racial and ethnic hierarchy that they fear.  The only reason there has been such an uprising of public protest by those who take offense at racist, xenophobic, homophobic and misogynistic speech is because those people have been on the receiving end of the institutional discrimination allowed by hateful and/or cowardly public sentiment for the entire history of the United States.  If, like me, you have enjoyed the privilege afforded to those of us who are straight, white, American born males, you must ask yourself how you would react if you found yourself on the wrong end of the cultural stick and subject to the hatred, violence and lack of opportunity that has gone along with the experience of being a minority in this country for so many people who are only just finding their voices and a platform on which to raise them now.  That platform, of course, is the internet, the same one utilized by those who peddle in hatred and division, as is their right.  To many, the downside to freedom is responsibility, however, an unfortunate but necessary element of free expression is that those who use words to divide and incite are exercising the same rights we use when we call them oot on it.  Thus it could be said that some of us use our right to free expression responsibly and others do not.  Shy of direct threats of bodily harm, we must allow them this irresponsibility.  And it is that very irresponsibility against which we now hear a rising chorus of equal and opposite free speech.

When I referred to the content of my writing as potentially offensive in the opening paragraph, I wasn’t really talking aboot my fondness for vulgarity.  Swear words are something over which someone must choose to take offense, especially since there are inoffensive and “acceptable” terms that have the exact same literal meanings as their verboten four-letter synonyms.  What I was referencing was my use of terminology that was a-okay in the social climate of the early 90s (the era of the TV show to which this ridiculous blog is dedicated) but has become largely taboo in the intervening decades.  Specifically, off the top of my head, I can count at least a half a dozen times that I used the term “retard” or “retarded” as a pejorative so far in my parody-heavy analyses of Fifteen.  Why would I use such a word when I know that there are those who cringe at its very existence?  Because, whether thoughtlessly or with awareness, I along with many others used it quite liberally back in 1991.  The reason you don’t read any racially charged or homophobic language here is because I never really utilized such terminology, even when it was more “socially acceptable” to do so.  I don’t court controversy by saying things that are antithetical to my own values.  But “the R word”, as I’ve more than once heard it called?  Yeah, that one still escapes my lips with the ease of unconscious respiration.  Apparently, I’m not alone:

From Rick & Morty

Rick:  Your sister’s boyfriend gave me a microscope that would have made me retarded.

Morty:  Ooh, oh boy, Rick, I don’t think you’re allowed to say that word, you know?

Rick:  Uh, Morty, I’m not disparaging the differently abled.  I’m stating the fact that if I had used this microscope, it would have made me mentally retarded.

Morty:  Okay, but yeah, I don’t think it’s aboot logic, Rick.  I think the word has just become a symbolic issue for powerful groups that feel like they’re doing the right thing.

Rick:  Well, that’s retarded.

Regardless of the fact that I obviously side with the fictional Rick Sanchez on this one, would it be wrong of someone to tell me that my use of such language is offensive or hurtful?  Of course not!  In fact, I’m guessing that the only reason I’ve yet to receive such admonishments is because Notes From The Avalon has a whopping readership of 37 people.  Granted, a year or two ago when my blog was more opinionated and diverse in its subject matter, I had a much bigger following, yet I still never caught any shit for my frequent evisceration of people’s religious and political beliefs because I was preaching to the choir.  In other words, the only people who tend to follow someone’s personal blog are those who agree with its author on most issues.  This is why it seems that no matter what I say, I always seem to get a pass.  I’m sure this wouldn’t be the case if I started writing aboot shit that a preponderance of people might actually be interested in reading as opposed to analyzing the crap oot of an awful Nickelodeon children’s program.

My point is, nobody is trying to take your right to free speech away, just like nobody is trying to take your guns away.  If weathering the occasional online scolding for how you express yourself is the only price you have to pay for the potential increase in universal civil and human rights, then my advice is to just suck it up.  But for Christ’s sake, don’t overhaul your entire worldview into something racially exclusive or even fascistic just because the PC Police hurt your feelings on Twitter.  In other words, please choose your battles wisely.  Perhaps we can revisit your gripes aboot having to occasionally defend the language you use after we’ve dispatched of the racist authoritarian threatening to tear us apart with his strategically divisive Oval Office megaphone.

Friends of The Avalon

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I am well aware that it takes a rare and special sort of person to appreciate Notes From The Avalon.  Let’s face it, a blog page that regularly features episode summaries of an awful and antiquated Nickelodeon teen soap opera that sometimes take the better part of 15 minutes to read isn’t everyone’s cup of Molson.  Even those who do see the humor (and the point) of this silly endeavor must need a break from reading my long-winded synopses every now and then, so to that end, I’d like to tender a few suggestions of other blog pages that I find highly enjoyable.  Some of these pages belong to literal friends of Notes From The Avalon and some do not, but that’s not the criteria I’m using for this incomplete list of worthwhile WordPress destinations.  All that matters is the fact that I find them enjoyable and predict that you will, too.  In no particular order:

Anonymole.com

The Apocryphal Abecedarian.  Philosophy flows like water from a kink-free hose here, but unlike my earlier freewheeling forays into complicated ontology, Anony Mole actually does his homework and gets all of the baseline ideas upon which he elaborates directly from the source.  So you can trust his accuracy, but that’s not what makes his posts so fun to read.  His approach to explaining and extrapolating the ideas of some of the world’s greatest thinkers is both accessible and brilliant, and more often than not, refreshingly hilarious.

Educationalmentorship.com

A/K/A My Dang Blog!  I recommend this one at my own risk.  Why, you ask?  Because if uproarious humor straight outta The Great White North is your thing, Suzanne’s spit-take-prompting week-by-week summaries of the trials and tribulations that colored her last 7 days leave my silly faux-Canadian blog page choking in the dust every time.  I promise that if you read just one random entry on the basis of this recommendation, you’ll be back like clockwork every Sunday to read the latest dang post on one of the funniest dang blogs in existence.

Tombeingtom.com

By almost any measure, Tom is a better man than I to guide us through these trying times in which we live.  Most people who have been reading his work for a while note with admiration his seemingly endless supply of optimism, but that might give you the wrong impression.  While it’s true that whatever he chooses to discuss is usually approached from a glass-half-full viewpoint, Tom is anything but naïve, and that’s why Tombeingtom.com is far more important than its author seems to think it is.  It’s the dose of pragmatic optimism all of us need, but maybe didn’t realize was lacking in our increasingly aggressive sociopolitical discourse.  Oh, and there’s plenty of dogs, so that’s a bonus.

Bloggingwithbojana.com

A/K/A Coffee & Confessions To Go. Compelling and beautiful poetry mingled with take-no-prisoners social commentary makes this an essential destination for anyone in need of the type of intellectual stimulation that’s in depressingly rare supply here on the Interwebs.  Did you hear me?  I said essential.

Assholeswatchingmovies.com

Two of the funniest and most impressively thorough movie critics you’ve ever read share this highly addictive film-related blog page.  More than once, their reviews have served for me as reliable guides aboot a movie’s potential charms (or lack thereof) but even if you hate movies, I’d still recommend following this blog because it’s just too witty and ingeniously written to pass up.

Brothawolf.wordpress.com

Unflinchingly honest, no-holds-barred commentary aboot the degenerative effects of personal and institutional racism on every marginalized community in the nation (and sometimes the world).  The author is well-informed, well-sourced, and frequently downright brilliant in his thought-provoking analyses.  If you’re comfortable with this type of material, I recommend that you give this page a visit.  If you’re uncomfortable with this type of material, I demand that you give this page a visit and ask yourself why you find certain truths to be so unsettling.

Rugby843.blog

The Bag Lady.  Unlike the frustratingly specific subject matter of the page you’re currently viewing, this blog is a virtual cornucopia of entertaining flights of literary fancy.  Have you ever visited the page of one of those bloggers that sit around waiting for some WordPress writing prompt to serve as creative inspiration for their otherwise barren imaginations?  Well, this ain’t that, though she does play ball with such writing prompts.  The critical difference is that when the Bag Lady works off of such a prompt, she invariably owns it and makes anyone else’s take on the same idea superfluous at best.  The most creative and entertaining use of WordPress prompts (which she doesn’t always use and obviously doesn’t need) that I’ve ever seen.

So get reading, my friends.  But of course, when you notice the Season 3, Episode 3 post hit your reader in the not-too-distant future, drop everything and hurry your ass back to The Avalon.  Remember, Wade Wilson is watching.

Dear Jake

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October 4, 1991

Jake Deosdade
Novotel Beijing Peace
3 Jinyu Hutong, Wangfujing
100006
Beijing, China

Dear Jake,

I’ve been thinking aboot you, too.  In fact, I guess I’ve been thinking aboot you a lot.

Not much is new here at Hillside.  I wear headbands now.  You should see me, I look really hot.

Remember Matt?  He was your best friend, right?  When you write back, would you please answer a question for me?  This may sound kinda bizarre – in fact, it might sound really bizarre, but when you were here, did Matt ever talk aboot me?  Not, like, talk aboot me talk aboot me, but talk aboot me, you know?  It’s nothing, really.  I’m just kinda curious.

Everyone really misses you and can’t wait until you get back from China.  How is China?  Do people eat Chinese foods there?

Well, I should get going because I’m supposed to meet Matt at The Avalon in a few minutes.  Remember Matt?  I know you haven’t seen me in one of my new headbands, but does Matt like headbands?  Did he ever tell you if he likes headbands?

Write back soon.

Miss you!

XOXO

Courtney