Monday, December 31, 2007

CBC Archives: Lombardo's trademark sound of New Year's Eve

Click on the photo to go to the CBC Archives site and listen to this interview with Guy Lombardo that aired on December 31, 1971 - 36 years ago today!

This week's Hump Day column...

... is a sit-down scolding of the year 2008. Even before he gets his foot in the door, I'm telling him how things are going to be. And he'd better listen.

Check out Hump Day every Wednesday on the editorial page of the Moncton Times & Transcript.

Countdown to 2008: 1 day to go!

Well... 2008 is nearly here, so I thought it appropriate to post three versions of Auld Lang Syne... all quite beautiful in their own way.

First up: Julie Andrews...

Next: André Rieu...

And last but definitely not least, the definitive version of Auld Lang Syne by Guy Lombardo...

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Some good retro and not-so-retro New Year's Eve party tunes

New Year's Eve is coming up and there's no better music to party to than the late 1970s, 1980s... and maybe a straggler from the 1990s. :) Here are some of my favourites!

Edge of Seventeen - Stevie Nicks (from a concert 26 years ago!)

Senses Working Overtime - XTC

Love Plus One - Haircut 100

Wishing - A Flock of Seagulls

Another Nail In My Heart - Squeeze

Electric Avenue - Eddie Grant

Down Under - Men At Work

My Sharona - The Knack

Sweet Dreams - Eurythmics

Six Months In A Leaky Boat - Split Enz

Cars - Gary Newman

A few catchy tunes from the 1990s and later...

How Bizarre - OMC

Every Morning - Sugar Ray

Take A Picture - Filter

That Don't Impress Me Much - Shania Twain

Livin' La Vida Loca - Ricky Martin

Party for Two - Shania Twain and Mark McGrath

Countdown to 2008: 2 days to go!

New Year's Day - U2

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Death & Life of Ice Cream

Very cool video! Probably not a good idea to watch this if you're on drugs or drunk. :P

L'Acadie Nouvelle names Sean Collins its "Person of the Year" for 2007

I was thrilled to hear today that L'Acadie Nouvelle - New Brunswick's only French-language daily newspaper - has named Sean Collins as its "Person of the Year" for 2007. A great honour for a boy who's done so much! The book on his life written by Martin Latulippe - Dix aiguilles / Ten Needles - has sold thousands of copies and has raised more than $100,000 for sick children in New Brunswick. His inspiring message to "live each day like it's your last" has touched thousands of New Brunswickers - young and old alike.

Countdown to 2008: 3 days to go!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Countdown to 2008: 4 days to go!

Happy New Year - Abba

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sometimes the worst impulses get the best of us

Brian Cormier
Hump Day
Published Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Appeared on page D8, Moncton Times & Transcript

Tomorrow, the Boxing Week sales begin, when all that pesky "goodwill toward men" stuff goes flying out the window in favour of pure unadulterated greed. "Buy the most for the least and get out of the way!"

I've only been out to the after-Christmas sales a few times and I fully admit that they don't bring out the best in my character. First of all, I spend way too much money on things I don't need -- and only because they're 99.9 per cent off the regular price. I really didn't need that 200 feet of flesh-coloured tinsel or that book on how to neuter my canary, did I? But the prices were right, so I bit.

A few years ago, I'll never forget when the greed in me came out big time, and it wasn't pretty. I was standing in line at a computer store to get some post-Christmas goodies. Since this was a small establishment, the inventory was limited.

Anyway, this guy was standing immediately in back of me in line before the store opened and was telling people what he was there to buy. I overheard him and made a mental note of what it was, even though I didn't need it. When I got inside, I spied what the guy was intending to purchase.

Whatever it was, the price was amazing. That's when the competitive shopper in me came out. "Hmm . . . even though I don't even want this, the price is so good that I'd better buy it because the guy in back of me is going to buy it if I don't."

Isn't that crazy logic?

Certainly not in the spirit of Christmas, I can tell you that.

Before he could find what he was looking for, I snatched the last one off the shelf like the greedy Grinch that I had turned into now that Santa was safely back at the North Pole and my gifts were unwrapped. There was no turning back, now, and I had a whole year to practise being good again after this shameful post-Noël transgression.

To make matters worse, I saw him go right to the shelf his treasure was to be found at. He looked at the now-empty space and gave a dejected look. Maybe he didn't have a lot of money and was looking forward to buying himself something nice after Christmas? I'll never know, but I've felt horrible for my senseless act of greed ever since.

If you think I'm going to heck over that one, wait until you get a load of this:

One summer day about six years ago, I happened upon a house with a "Yard Sale" sign on the front lawn. Since I normally don't have much cash on me, stopping at a sale like this is usually useless, but I had a few bucks on me that day so I could afford most any treasure that I would find.

It seems that the house belonged to an elderly lady who was selling off most of her earthly possessions and going to live with a relative. It was a sad day for her. Her daughters were there and seemed relieved to have finally talked Mum into selling and moving. I imagined that there had been a battle to get her to give up her independence. Understandable, of course.

So into the house I went to look around. There were the usual toasters, dishes, etc. A bit of furniture here and there. Some things had been picked over. Then I saw them: two quilts. The stitches were obviously sewn by hand. They each weighed a ton... you know, like those old-time quilts that you can barely find anywhere anymore. As well, they were like new.

For some reason, no one had bought them yet. I looked around, wondering if I had to clench my fist and punch someone in the nose to stop them from buying them before me, but that was not the case. They were mine if I wanted them.

I asked one of the daughters, "How much?" She told me they were $20 each. Yes, you can all turn green with envy, now: $20 for a handmade quilt in perfect condition! Most reasonable people would have thrown a couple of twenties at the daughter's head and ran, knowing what a great deal they were getting. But not me. You know that Ikea commercial? "Start the car! Start the car!" Well, that was me that day!

"I'll give you $30 for both," I said, thinking that they were quasi-desperate just to get rid of stuff. Her mother, seeing all her life-long possessions leaving the house for a song, looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "But they're not expensive," wondering why I was trying to cheapen her beloved quilts. Well, I nearly died right there until the daughter said, "It's OK, Mum. We just need to get rid of this stuff."

Despite my attempts to pay more after the tear-filled plea from the quilts' creator, I ended up with my "precious" bargain. The guilt wasn't worth it, though. Not one bit.

A few times this past month, I've seen a teenage boy walking to school (I'm assuming) while on my way to work at about 8:30 a.m. I would guess him to be 16 or 17 years old. Both mornings, I saw him walking on the sidewalk to school (another 20 minutes away by sneaker) without a winter coat on -- only a shirt. The temperature on both mornings? A least 20 below zero. I don't know if he lost his coat or couldn't afford one at all, but no one in their right mind would have been out that day coatless.

I feel guilty for not stopping to see if I could help, but that would have been a bit odd, I think.

So whatever you do with your Boxing Week money, make sure it's something worthwhile, like something you actually need . . . or a coat for someone who has none.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!!


Well, folks... it's time to shut this blog down for the holidays. I'll be back on December 27th when I post my December 26th Hump Day column.

Christmas blessings to you all!

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

"Dear Editor,

I am 8 years old.

Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.

Papa says, "If you see it in THE SUN it's so."

Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


And the editorial response published on September 21, 1897

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Click here to read the history behind this famous story.

Click here to listen to a CBC Radio interview with the woman who inspired the story that aired on December 24, 1963.

Click on the photo for the original response as it appeared in the newspaper 110 years ago.

This week's Hump Day...

... is all about buying stuff on sale... and how I turn into an ogre when it comes to competing with shoppers (and sellers). Read all about it in Wednesday's (Boxing Day's) Times & Transcript. With those crazy post-Christmas sales starting this week, I thought writing about sales was appropriate! Pick up Wednesday's paper or read it here online on Thursday.

Christmas in Heaven

Many people are experiencing their first Christmas following the passing of a loved one this year. I found this beautiful poem by Wanda Becke and wanted to share it with you all. Hopefully, it will provide some comfort.

Christmas in Heaven

I see the countless CHRISTMAS TREES around the world below with tiny lights like HEAVEN’S STARS reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so SPECTACULAR please wipe away that tear for I am spending CHRISTMAS WITH JESUS CHRIST this year.

I hear the many CHRISTMAS SONGS that people hold so dear but the SOUND OF MUSIC can't compare with the CHRISTMAS CHOIR up here.

I have no words to tell you of the JOY their voices bring for it is beyond description to HEAR THE ANGELS SING.

I know HOW MUCH YOU MISS ME, I see the pain inside your heart for I am spending CHRISTMAS WITH JESUS CHRIST this year.

I can't tell you of the SPLENDOR or the PEACE here in this place Can you just imagine CHRISTMAS WITH OUR SAVIOR face to face.

I'll ask him to LIFT YOUR SPIRIT as I tell him of your love so then PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER as you lift your eyes above.

Please let your HEARTS BE JOYFUL and let your SPIRIT SING for I am spending CHRISTMAS IN HEAVEN and I’m walking WITH THE KING.

by Wanda Bencke © Copyright 1999

Tracking Santa's trip around the world!

It's already started! As I write this entry, he's in Australia... and will soon be moving on to other countries. As the clock ticks toward midnight wherever you are, track Santa's journey by vising Lots of fun and quite exciting for young and old alike!

Christmas Countdown: 1 day!

A few favourites to wrap up the countdown!

White Christmas - Bing Crosby

Linus' monologue from A Charlie Brown Christmas

Mary's Boy Child - Harry Belafonte

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Countdown: 2 days!

Mary's Boy Child - Grace Bumbry and the Vienna Boys Choir

An Old Christmas Card - Jim Reeves

A Topo Gigio Christmas

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Countdown: 3 days!

All I Want for Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey

Jingle Bell Rock - Hall and Oates

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Kim Wilde

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Countdown: 4 days!

Bob Hope with Paul Lynde:

We Need a Little Christmas - Lucille Ball (from "Mame"):

Christmas in Beverly Hills (1987) - George Burns, Lucille Ball, Jimmy Stewart, Deniece Williams:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Countdown: 5 days!

I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm - Frank Sinatra

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Frank Sinatra

Silver Bells - Marilyn Maxwell and Bob Hope

Trying to make sense of Christmas songs

Hump Day
Published Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Appeared on page D6, Moncton Times & Transcript

Can you imagine if all of the Christmas imagery around at this time of the year was actually real?

(Kids, despite what you read from here on in, Santa Claus is definitely real. I'm just making a pitiful attempt at making some jokes here.)

Phew. Dodged that bullet.

So anyway . . . with that disclaimer . . . let me say that if I ever woke up with reindeer on my roof and a strange white-bearded man dressed in red eating cookies at my kitchen table, I'd pretty much scream my head off -- and I mean scream! The type of scream that only dogs can hear.

And I don't mean an excited scream like some rich debutante whose rich father paid Brad Pitt to show up naked at her birthday party.

I mean the type of scream she'd make if I showed up naked at her party. It wouldn't be pretty. Much glass would shatter.

If you think about it, a lot of Christmastime imagery is really quite petrifying. Some strange old guy coming down my chimney isn't exactly right up there on the top 10 things I want happening to me in the next week or so. I would call 911, get out the baseball bat, sharpen the cats' claws and we'd attack as a team!

If that's not bad enough, if you really think about the lyrics to all those songs we're hearing on the radio these days, you have to shake your head in disbelief.

If all you want for Christmas is your two front teeth, you really need to get a bigger dream. Why not try for a nose job and pierced ears while you're at it, too, huh? A tummy tuck? Perhaps some Botox for those pelican-like jowls? And a new toupee probably wouldn't kill you, either.

And Frosty the Snowman? Now, let's be real. If you were sitting in front of the fireplace at home and your kids arrived and introduced you to a talking snowman with legs, wouldn't you pretty much jump out the window and run down the street screaming like a little girl until you found someone with a gun to shoot it? I know I would.

Good King Wenceslas? Never heard of the guy. The "Feast of Stephen"? Well, I'm sure he's a nice guy, but if some guy with a weird name wants to go to Steve's house for a meal, what does this have to do with Christmas? Why do we keep hearing this song?

And if Grandma really got run over by a reindeer, isn't it time to do something? If there are so many reindeer that sweet little old ladies can't even walk down the street on Christmas Eve without getting trampled to death, then we definitely have a population control issue. Either start an annual hunt or introduce coyotes to the area. That will take care of the problem quickly, leaving the streets safe for the Grandmas of the world who need to walk home on Christmas Eve half-sloshed from drinking too much eggnog.

And what about "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas"? Wow. Did the guy who wrote this song do detective work on the side? It's December. There are Christmas decorations everywhere. Office parties are going on in every restaurant you eat at and the malls are packed with people buying gifts. Ooooh! Stop the presses. What's going on here? What's this strange celebration that's befallen us? Tell ya what buddy . . . it's going to begin to look a lot like Christmas next year at this time, too.

If you saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus, ask for a raise in your allowance or tell her you'll tell your father.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? I think he'd better get that checked or start a 12-step program.

If you really look at the lyrics of The Christmas Song, you could pretty much turn them into a cops-and-robber movie. "Jack Frost nipping at your nose." Uhm, how did he get in the house? And why's he attacking my nose? What did my shnozz ever do to him? Here we are glorifying break and enter and assault. "Folks dressed up like Eskimos?" Not terribly politically correct, although I suppose "Folks dressed up like Inuit" doesn't sound especially Christmassy.

"Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow"? Note to parents: If your kids arrive home with their eyes all aglow, you should check them into rehab. And what about "if reindeer really know how to fly"? If the reindeer in your neighbourhood are flying, you'd either better move further away from the nuclear power plant or stop sniffing nail polish remover. Or quit making models. That model glue can be quite powerful.

"Bring us some figgy pudding!" Ever eaten figs? I can tell you one thing: if you eat a whole whack of figgy pudding, nobody's going to want to spend Christmas with you because you'll be spending December 25 in the bathroom. Enough said, except that you'd better bring a really long book with you.

Never mind drinking responsibly. This society needs to start singing responsibly. But then again, Christmas songs with lyrics that actually made sense wouldn't be much fun, now, would they?

Coming from someone who starts listening to Christmas music in September, I guess I shouldn't be pointing fingers at all those nonsensical lyrics. It's not as if other types of music have lyrics that make any sense whatsoever, eh?

So sing what ya want and have fun! And have a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My other blog - - was mentioned in today's Times & Transcript!

Click here to read the article on the website or see below. My interview is at the end of the article.

Dietary dilemmas: Holidays can be challenging for those with health conditions or trying to lose weight

By Cathy Donaldson, Times & Transcript Staff
Published Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Appeared on page B1, Moncton Times & Transcript

It's become an annual ritual at our house.

On Christmas Eve, you'll find me happily chopping in the kitchen, preparing the ingredients for the stuffing to accompany the next day's turkey feast.

Make that two stuffings.

My mother-in-law has celiac disease, a disorder of the small bowel caused by a reaction to a gluten protein found in foods like wheat, rye, barley and oats. The treatment: a lifelong gluten-free diet.

So, while I use wheat bread for the stuffing that most of the family eats, gluten-free rice flour bread forms the basis of a second stuffing for my belle-mère.

While the small added task is no hassle here, mealtime can sometimes be challenging for those preparing food for holiday guests with dietary or other health concerns -- not to mention for the guests themselves.

"It's definitely an issue for many people," says Judy Burgess of Moncton, an executive member of the local chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association.

"I just spoke to a girl in our chapter who has lots of parties to go to coming up. Some relatives are saying to her, 'Oh, a little bit (of non gluten-free food) won't hurt. Just scrap the pie filling off the crust.' Some people don't realize that we can't do that because of cross-contamination concerns. The goal is to be 100 per cent gluten free."

Taking chances with food when you have such dietary conditions is not a good idea, says Judy, who was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1958 at the age of 11.

"You're doing damage to your small bowel whether you have a little bit or a lot (of non gluten-free food)," she says.

Fortunately for Judy and other celiacs -- and those who may host them during this festive season -- more gluten-free products are now available in stores, providing additional choices.

Specialty items can be quite expensive, however, with gluten-free bread costing as much as $7 a loaf, for example. An avid baker, Judy cuts costs by making much of her own food, such as breads and sweets.

If you have relatives visiting during the holidays who have special dietary needs, try to determine in advance what you can do to accommodate them, says Judy.

"It's really up to the person with the disease to call and ask what's being served and how it's being made," she says. "For example, if you're celiac and there isn't going to be gluten-free bread or rolls at the dinner you're attending, you can say you'll bring your own. Be willing to help yourself out and not put complete pressure on the hostess."

Sharon Zeiler, senior manager of Nutrition Initiatives and Strategies for the Canadian Diabetes Association, says it's important for anyone who wants to stay healthy to watch their diet during the holiday season, but especially important for those with health conditions.

"It's a busy time of year and people's routines get changed because of holiday parties and the stress of shopping, preparing and so on," says Sharon. "For diabetics, it's really important to take some time to eat before you go to a party so you're not tempted by all of the treats there."

If you really want to eat something at a party, like a piece of cheesecake, go for it, she says.

"But if it's not a 10, if you really don't think it's fabulous, just have a few bites and leave the rest," says Sharon. "Unless it's really special, it's not worth it."

Another option at treat-laden parties is to take a small plate and sample items, she says.

"We also try to encourage people who might be worried that there is something they can eat to bring a tray of vegetables or a fruit tray," says Sharon. "Most supermarkets now have them ready-prepared and hostesses are thrilled when you bring something."

Remember to focus on the family and friends you want to visit at holiday gatherings, not on the food, she adds.

"Avoid standing next to the buffet table," says Sharon. "It's really easy to keep picking up chips or nuts or whatever. If you're away from those, then the focus is on the conversation."

Portion control is also important, especially at sit-down meals.

"We have on our website ( a handy portion guide," says Sharon. "You can use your hand to get an idea of what the portions should be. For instance, a piece of fruit should be about the size of your fist and a piece of cheese shouldn't be any bigger than your thumb."

Diabetics can drink alcohol in moderation, provided their blood glucose is well controlled, says Sharon.

"It's often a good idea to check with your health care professional about it," she says. "Consider making drinks that are half diet pop and half (alcohol).

Or maybe have one glass of wine and then a glass of club soda so you are aware of what it is you're drinking."

Keeping active during the holidays is also vital for diabetics as well as the general population, she adds.

"Whether it's taking everybody out for tobogganing instead of going to a movie or going ice skating or suggesting a walk after a big dinner, those are all good things," she says. "It really helps people with diabetes control their blood glucose and you don't feel so guilty."

Brian Cormier of Moncton, a local writer and author of a web blog entitled, has been experimenting recently with low-carb holiday treats, both sugar-free and wheat-free items.

Since mid-June, Brian has lost about 80 pounds on a low-carb diet, avoiding foods like potatoes, bread, pasta, flour and sugar.

He expects this holiday season to be a bit tougher than usual as he forges ahead with his dietary plan.

"We associate certain kinds of food with certain times of the year," says Brian. "At Christmas, you're talking about the big meals and especially the sweets, the candies, the special desserts, the special cookies, all that stuff. It makes it a little more challenging."

And, depending on your cultural background, there may be even more temptations, he says.

"If you're Acadian, like I am, there's poutine râpée, which is like one big snowball of carbs," he says. "It's grated potato and boiled potato and you put sugar on it after that. That is definitely a no-no for me this year."

Brian has managed to find a solution for at least one of his favourite Christmas dishes, a meat pie called "pâté" that his mother makes.

"I ordered a low-carb baking mix called Carbquick from a grocery store in Toronto," he says. "My mother is going to use that to make the crust for my meat pies."

As for sweets, Brian says he'll be making his own sugar-free selections.

And when it comes to alcohol, he says that if he indulges, he'll opt for hard liquor as opposed to beer since the latter is such a high-carb drink.

The internet is teeming with recipes for sugar-free, low-carb foods, he notes.

"I've found so much stuff there that's really delicious," he says.

Christmas Countdown: 6 days!

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - The Osmond Brothers (and yes, the little one is Donny Osmond - who's now a grandfather)

Sonny and Cher Christmas, with Bernadette Peters and Captain Kangaroo

Kiddie matinee Christmas trailers

Today's Hump Day: Trying to make sense of Christmas songs

Hi everyone! Don't miss the latest Hump Day column on the editorial page (pg. D6) of today's Moncton Times & Transcript. Today's piece is all about trying to make sense of some of those Christmas song lyrics. If you really think about it, many of them are really quite baffling. Hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

This week's Hump Day column...

... is the last column before Christmas, so I'm taking a look at a few absurd Christmas song lyrics. Who's Good King Wenceslas and why's he having supper with Steve? Inquiring minds want to know. :)

Read all about it on the editorial page of tomorrow's Moncton Times & Transcript.

Christmas Countdown: 7 days!

Walkin' 'Round in Women's Underwear - Bob Rivers

White Trash Christmas - Bob Rivers

Snoopy's Christmas - The Royal Guardsmen

Monday, December 17, 2007

Peter Puck makes a comeback!

Everyone's favourite hockey cartoon character from the early 1970s has been resurrected by the Toronto Maple Leafs! Peter Puck will appear on 11 new episodes to air on Leafs TV. Click here for more. Forget what Peter sounded like? Click here for an audio file!

And here he is! Haven't seen him in action in YEARS.

Singer Dan Fogelberg dies

According the Associate Press: "Dan Fogelberg, the singer and songwriter whose hits "Leader of the Band" and "Same Old Lang Syne" helped define the soft-rock era, died Sunday at his home in Maine after battling prostate cancer. He was 56." Click here for more.

Leader of the Band:

Same Old Lang Syne:

Christmas Countdown: 8 days!

O Come All Ye Faithful - Martina McBride

O Tannenbaum - Vienna Boys Choir

O Holy Night - 'N Sync

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Countdown: 9 days!

We're now down to single digits, folks!

The Little King

Cissy King and Bobby Burgess dancing to "Heigh Ho!" - The Lawrence Welk Show, December 23, 1967 -- 40 years ago!

What Child Is This? - Aaliyah

Aaliyah had such a beautiful voice. Tragically, she died in a plane crash in 2001.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A little girl asked for her father back from Iraq for Christmas...

... so watch what happened during a school assembly:

Click here for more on this story.

Cameras for Healing prints for sale

I received this e-mail from Moncton photographer Maurice Henri today and thought I'd pass it along to my blog readers:

"Many of you asked how they could help support the “Cameras for Healing” project in Africa.

Nine images have been prepared for sale to support this initiative. The prices include taxes and shipping (regular mail).

If you are interested in purchasing a print, simply send a cheque payable to Cameras for Healing, include the print code and your mailing address and mail to: PO Box 1636, Moncton, NB E1C 9X4. Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery. The images are archival and unframed."

To view the prints that are for sale, click on the photo.

This is a very worthwhile project and these would make a wonderful and unique Christmas gift. Even if they arrive after Christmas... they're still a great gift!

"There will be stories/interview all week starting today on CBC's Maritime Noon," Maurice says. "There will be an update on the Cameras for Healing and the exhibit in New York, then the 5 minute clips with actual people from Sierra Leone that I interviewed personally. Including a Paramount chief, Howa, a 64 year old women who adopted 10 children etc."

Remember The Mean Kitty Song? Well here's an update...

First, a reminder of the song that has taken YouTube by storm with 4.7 million views:

And here's the update on Sparta:

YES!! Please get Spara neutered!

Christmas Countdown: 10 days!

Garfield Christmas Special

A Pup's Christmas

Hector's Hectic Life

Friday, December 14, 2007

Trailer for the Acadian version of "Toy Story" - "Histoire de Toy"

Christmas Countdown: 11 days!

Peace on Earth - According to Wikipedia: "The plot revolves around two young animals, in this case squirrels, asking their grandfather on Christmas Eve what the "men" are in the lyric "Peace on Earth, good will to men." The grandfather squirrel then tells them a telescoped history of the human race, focusing on the neverending wars men waged. But ultimately the wars do end, with the death of the last man on Earth, a soldier." In 1994, animators named this the #40 Greatest Cartoon of all time. It was also nominated for an Oscar.

Tweety & Sylvester - Gift Wrapped

Tom & Jerry: The Night Before Christmas

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Kevjumba: The Good and the Bad

Christmas Countdown: 12 days!

We Wish You A Merry Christmas - The Tonight Show

The Little Drummer Boy - Bing Crosby and David Bowie

The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole

Looking back. . . and forward to more years

Brian Cormier
Hump Day
Published Wednesday December 12, 2007
Moncton Times & Transcript, pg. D8

In case anyone's counting, it's been two years (this week) that I've been filling this space on the editorial page of this fine newspaper every Wednesday. That's well over 100 columns in a row about everything from my cats, people who've come in and out of my life, my family, things that get on my nerves and just general goings-on.

To start "year three" of the column off on a good footing, you'll see a new photo accompanying this week's column. Since I get more "gorgeouser" and "gorgeouser" as I age, I thought it only fitting that I update the look, huh?

A few months after the column began, I changed its name from "At Large" to "Hump Day" to reflect the fact that it runs on Wednesday, traditionally called "Hump Day" by many. And today -- a new photo! I'm not sure if I'd qualify to appear on TV's "Extreme Home Makeover," but hopefully you like the small renovations.

I'm not sure what the third year of the column will bring, but I do know that I'm extremely grateful for the past two years and the wonderful feedback that I've received from readers. Most of it has been really nice and generous. Of course, I make fun of myself quite a bit, so it's hard to be too critical, eh? The only times that I've been blasted are the few times in the first months when I wrote columns regarding organized religion. That ruffled a few feathers.

Things have evolved since then, though, and I tend to stay away from the controversial issues. You can get that anywhere. I'm not about getting people riled up, really. This column is about having fun . . . sometimes shedding a tear . . . not getting mad.

I'm glad that I was able to touch so many with the column I wrote about Corey Doucet, Jared Storey, Brandon Hupman and Jimmy Dunphy after they passed away just over three months ago in a terrible car accident. I've been inundated with e-mails and my blog has received many nice comments about how my words have helped people as they work through their shock and grief. I'd much rather get e-mails like that than having people get mad at me for something or other.

When I was in journalism school, I never dreamed that something I wrote could affect so many people. I was getting heartfelt e-mails from teenagers thanking me for writing about their friends and for writing some things that made them feel better.

Well, if this 43-year-old codger-in-waiting wrote something that you related to, kids, I'm pleased to have done so. And thank you for letting me know. It means a lot.

After I posted the column to my blog, more than 1,000 people read it in 24 hours. To this day, it's by far the most popular column I've posted to the blog. Nothing has even come close.

I know that this Christmas will not be an easy one for the family and friends of these four boys -- or those of Satara Steeves, another Harrison Trimble High School student who died over the summer in a hit-and-run accident. If it helps even a speck, please know that a lot of people will be thinking of you, too.

I hear from a lot of people that I've made them laugh out loud with some of the things I've written. That's great. I always enjoy bringing a smile to people's faces, but I think the columns that have meant the most to me are the ones that have touched people's hearts. I'm not saying that to brag -- I'm just repeating what people have told me.

The column I wrote on my uncle Romeo's passing seems to have caused a few to shed a tear. People e-mailed me telling me that they were bawling while reading it in a downtown café. Somehow, I have to admit that I got some sort of sick satisfaction out of that because a writer always wants to get a reaction out of the reader. You may laugh, you may get angry, you may cry . . . just don't be indifferent.

I was privileged over the past few months to work on the amazing Dix aiguilles/Ten Needles project, too. This book by Martin Latulippe on Sean Collins' life has sold 13,000 copies to date and has become a bestseller. Wow! And the best part? It's raised $120,000 to help sick kids . . . in a month.

Can you imagine?

Sean is certainly on his way to becoming the Terry Fox of this generation, I believe. His book will go on to raise millions. What a wonderful legacy.

Writing and blogging about Ten Needles has, I hope, helped to kickstart Sean's mission. Had someone told me that two years ago, I would have said they were nuts.

I guess a lot can happen in two years. I wonder what will happen in the next two that will inspire more columns?

Will aliens invade Earth? Should we all line up now to be probed?

I wonder what silly things will befall me.

Hopefully, I won't call 911 again like I did when I mistook someone on Main Street using a staple gun for a real gun.

People thought I was kidding when I wrote that column. No!

You can't make that stuff up, folks.

I did call 911 when I thought someone on Main Street was shooting people when, in fact, all they were doing was using a staple gun to put up posters.

Hey, it was dark!

Luckily, the heavily armed officers who showed up in five police cars had a sense of humour.

Maybe I should have told them that I was just testing my "Emergency Jumping to Conclusions Warning System."

So happy birthday, Hump Day! I don't know how long you'll live, but hopefully your heart -- the readers -- will continue to beat strongly for a long time yet.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Moncton cat found stowed away on Co-Op Atlantic truck in Gander, NL!

UPDATE: Listen to CBC Radio's Shift show today (Thursday) at 5:45 p.m. for an interview with the Gander SPCA re: this story!

FOUND in Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador... an approximately one-year-old black un-neutered male cat from the Price Street area in Moncton. The cat was brought over to Gander inadvertently stowed away on a Co-Op Atlantic truck and was found after three days. If you're missing a friendly, intact, male black cat from the Price Street area, he may have ended up in Gander, of all places! He is currently at the Gander SPCA. Please call them at (709) 651-3002 if you think he may be yours. Click here for the Gander SPCA's website. Click on the photo for a larger version. (The driver of the truck suspects that the cat got on the truck in Moncton and stayed on all the way to Gander.)

The making of Julianne MacLean's book trailer

For those of you who read this blog regularly, you may remember that I wrote about my friend Julianne MacLean's book trailer that she released in October for her latest novel, In My Wildest Fantasies.

Thought you might like to watch this video that she just released about the making of the trailer. (Unfortunately, you have to wait for an ad to play. Her video starts right after the ad.):

Tina Turner's ex-husband Ike Turner dead at 76

Ike Turner, the abusive former husband of renowned rock goddess Tina Turner (not that I'm biased, eh?) died today at his home in San Diego. He was 76. Here he is with Tina on Soul Train in 1970 singing Proud Mary.

Today's Hump Day: Looking back. . . and forward to more years

Good morning! Today's Hump Day column appears, as usual, on the editorial page (pg. D8) of the Moncton Times & Transcript. And guess what? It's the column's second birthday this week! To celebrate, a new photo accompanies the column and I take a look back at a few of the columns that meant a lot to me... and the readers.

Pick up your copy of the Moncton Times & Transcript today or check this blog tomorrow when it will be posted online.

Christmas Countdown: 13 days!

Clouds / Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Peggy Lee

All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth - Spike Jones

Mistletoe and Holly - Frank Sinatra

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This week's Hump Day column...

... is all about my thoughts on the two-year anniversary of the column. It first appeared on the editorial page of the Moncton Times & Transcript back on December 14, 2005. More than 100 columns later, I'm celebrating its birthday with a new photo, replacing the one that's been there since the beginning.

Thank you, readers, for the kind comments I've received over these past two years. I've read every one of the e-mails and responded to them all, too (at least I think I did!). So cheers to you!
Don't miss Hump Day on the editorial page of tomorrow's Moncton Times & Transcript.

Christmas Countdown: 14 days!

Two weeks from today, folks! Woohoo!

This is a follow-up to yesterday's Christmas posting about those Oscar Wilde cartoons that used to air on Christmas morning here in Canada. Yesterday, I posted The Happy Prince. Today, it's The Selfish Giant. I'm still trying to locate The Little Mermaid, but with no luck.

The Selfish Giant in three parts...

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Speak to your kids about cooties...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ordering Dix aiguilles / Ten Needles

Many people have been asking where to order Dix aiguilles / Ten Needles, the life story and legacy of Sean Collins written by Martin Latulippe. After some initial confusion, I'm please to provide this correct information. To order, please contact:

Les Éditions de la Francophonie
55, rue des Cascades
Lévis QC G6V 6T9

1-866-230-9840 toll-free or (418) 833-9840

Christmas Countdown: 15 days!

Years ago, a Canadian TV network (can't remember if it was CBC or CTV) used to run animated versions of Oscar Wilde's stories on Christmas morning: The Happy Prince, The Little Mermaid and The Selfish Giant. Thanks to the wonders of YouTube, I've managed to track down the "Prince" and "Giant" videos. I'll keep digging for the "Mermaid" one.

In the meantime, for all you nostalgic Canadians, here's the complete version of "The Happy Prince" in three parts. "The Selfish Giant" will follow tomorrow. Even if you're not Canadian, these are really nice discoveries... and I'm sure you'll enjoy them.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Nominate Sean Collins for CBC New Brunswick's Newsmaker of the Year!

The book Dix aiguilles / Ten Needles by Martin Latulippe about the life of Sean Collins has sold 13,000 copies since November 8! In total, it has raised $120,000 for sick children... an incredible amount! The book was Sean's dream... that he would leave a legacy behind after he passed. I think we can all agree that Sean's legacy is alive and well and is helping more and more people every day.

Please click here to nominate this amazing young man as CBC New Brunswick's Newsmaker of the Year. Your support would mean a lot to his cause... and would certainly make his family very proud. And I'm sure there'd be a big smile up there in Heaven, too! :)

If you're on Facebook, click here for the group set up for the book.

Christmas Countdown: 16 days!

Christmas in 1950

Season's Greetings from Warner Pathe News

Christmas in Sweden 1955

Support 22 Minutes' petition to get Cst. Chris Garrett a Cross of Valour

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum "Crystal" addition: 4.5-year time-lapse

"This is a just-released time-lapse of Michael Lee-Chin's "Crystal" addition to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). The period covered is from May 2003 to opening night in November 2007 through a series of still images captured daily at 1 p.m. during construction and at 10-minute intervals throughout opening week."

Christmas Countdown: 17 days!

It's an all-Johnny Cash Saturday!

Twelve Days of Christmas - Johnny Cash

Silent Night / The Little Drummer Boy - Johnny Cash (one of my all-time favourite renditions of this beautiful song - Silent Night)

Follow Me - June Carter Cash (not a Christmas song, but it was on their Christmas special and is really nice, so I included it)

Kevjumba: The Mac Is Great for Porn

Guys: Just in case it ever happens to ya...

Friday, December 07, 2007

A sad day for fans of Tomar the Tiger

UPDATE - Dec. 8/07: Click here for a news story from today's Moncton Times & Transcript. Sad news today from Moncton's Magnetic Hill Zoo. The Zoo's mascot, Tomar the Tiger, was put to sleep due to ill health from kidney failure. Tomar was at the Zoo for 19 incredible years. He will be buried there tomorrow. Greater Monctonians said goodbye to Tomar last January when it looked like he was going to pass back then, but he managed to survive the winter and all of this year. According to news reports, his health took a turn for the worst three days ago. He was certainly a big beautiful cat! Rest in peace, Tomar.

Christmas Countdown: 18 days!

The Little Drummer Boy

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas - Gayle Peevey

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer - Dr. Elmo

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Actor/comedian Dan Aykroyd coming to New Brunswick

The following is a news release issued December 4, 2007, by Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits:

First Two 'Dan Aykroyd Discovery Series' Wines Launch in New Brunswick

Two Dan Aykroyd Discovery Series wines, a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Merlot blend have launched in New Brunswick, announced Murray Marshall, CEO of Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits.

These 100% VQA wines from Niagara are the first to be released as part of the Dan Aykroyd-branded wine portfolio.

Both the Dan Aykroyd Discovery Series Chardonnay and the Cabernet Merlot are priced at $16.99. Both wines are available at ANBL Alcool stores across New Brunswick.

"This is another positive step toward ensuring that the Canadian wine industry receives the recognition that it rightfully deserves," said Dan Aykroyd. "Diamond Estates has produced an incredible line of VQA wines that I will be proud to serve at home or anywhere my travels take me."

In the coming months, more Dan Aykroyd-branded wines are scheduled to hit retail shelves. These will include additional releases of Discovery Series wines ranging in price from $15 to $25.

To promote the launch of his wines in New Brunswick, Dan Aykroyd will host several in-store bottle signings at the following ANBL locations:

- Sunday, December 9, 2007 1 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.: Alcool NB Liquor Prospect Store, 1150 Prospect Street, Fredericton

- Monday, December 10, 2007 3 p.m. - 5 p.m.: Alcool NB Liquor Devon Park Store, 580 Union Street, Fredericton

- Tuesday, December 11 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.: Alcool NB Liquor Parkway Mall, 212 McAllister Drive, Saint John

- Wednesday, December 12 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.: Alcool NB Liquor Dieppe, 513 Regis Street, Dieppe

Additionally, Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits will be releasing a Dan Aykroyd Signature Reserve series that will be produced in limited quantities and will range in price from $50 a bottle upward. No more than 300 cases of any of the Signature Reserve wines will be made and each bottle will be numbered and signed by the winemaker. The first wine under this brand will be a barrel-fermented Niagara Peninsula VQA Vidal Icewine.

"As the sales and marketing agent in New Brunswick for this incredible Canadian wine brand, we are very proud to be able to offer these VQA wines to New Brunswickers" said Wayne Chahley, President, Kriscott Distributors Limited.

Kriscott Distributors Limited, a subsidiary of Toronto-based Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits Ltd., has a sales reach that covers all four Atlantic Provinces and a brand portfolio that includes such companies as Sleeman Breweries, Scottish & Newcastle, Dr. McGillicuddy, Finca Las Moras wines from Argentina, Kendall-Jackson California wines, Pieroth German wines and Carpineto wines from Tuscany.

Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits Ltd., who owns and serves as the sales and marketing agency for domestic wines from Lakeview Cellars, EastDell Estates and Birchwood Estate as well as compelling international wine and spirits brands from premium regions around the world. For more information, please visit the company's website at

Christmas Countdown: 19 days!

The Hat I Got for Christmas Is Too Big - Anthony Tone Salloum

Jingle Bells - Looney Tunes

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee

Happy Hanukkah!

Hanukkah began at sundown on December 5. According to Wikipedia, Hanukkah, "also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday beginning on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may fall anytime from late November to late December. It celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple at the time of the Maccabee rebellion.

The festival is observed by the kindling of lights on each night of the holiday: one on the first night, two on the second, and so on."

It must be trying for all those Jewish kids out there to be so inundated with Christmas lights, trees, presents, songs, etc. Adam Sandler had a cute little song about that to show Jewish kids that they aren't alone! Here's how he introduced it on Saturday Night Live several years ago:

A few years later he returned to SNL for an updated version...

Finally, here's a cute parody of "My Sharona" by The Knack... aptly titled "My Menorah":

Trying to live up to the holiday's expectations

Hump Day
Published Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Appeared on page D6, Moncton Times & Transcript

With the Christmas season full upon us, there's a lot of pressure from society to be happy. Everywhere we look, there are sparkling lights, decorations galore, holiday shoppers, TV specials, cheerful and inspirational music on the radio, and generally just an overall mood of good cheer.

But there are some people who don't enjoy Christmas and just can't wait for the blessed thing to be over. I suppose if you're not Christian, you can try to ignore it, although one has to admit that Christmas is pretty much everywhere. And then, of course, there are columnists like me who start writing about Christmas in August . . . so that certainly doesn't help, either.

I can understand the trepidation about Christmas. I mean, really, we might as well just admit that it's impossible to live up to its expectations. I mean, if we were to believe all the hype, the holidays are not just a time to be happy, but a time when an ear-to-ear smile must be surgically implanted on everyone's face.

And God forbid if someone doesn't like this time of the year, because normally sensitive and patient people pretty much turn on you. Heck, I consider myself one level short of sainthood, and you'd even get on my nerves.

(Commercial break while I fawn over myself in the mirror.)

But seriously, I love Christmas as much as anyone, but I find it difficult sometimes to keep up with the imposed sense of joy that seems so mandatory. Necessary happiness almost forces contrary people like me to refute it on purpose . . . just to make a point. "I'm supposed to be happy, eh? Well I'll show you!"

It's kind of like a kid who's told not to touch a hot stove. Well, I was one of those kids who'd plunk my face right down on the burner if someone ever told me that. "You mean I can't touch the burner? Oh . . . I want to touch that burner. It would feel so-o-o-o good. By the way, Mommy, that's the smell of my forehead hitting medium-rare."

I feel a similar way whenever I walk by a railing on a ship or bridge. No, I don't want to kill myself. I mean, geez . . . but sometimes I just want to be contrary and jump because I know I'm not supposed to. Thankfully, I'm petrified of heights, so I stay far away from the edge.

I do know people who aren't into Christmas. Some just can't be bothered. Some of them had bad previous experiences. Some of them associate the holiday season with tragedy or sadness. Kind of difficult getting that image of Aunt Harriet choking on tinsel on Christmas Eve out of one's mind, I guess. Things like that just ruin the holiday.

I don't have too much trouble getting into the holiday season. I really do sincerely look forward to it every year because it's a time to get together with family and friends in a pleasant atmosphere.

Every year, I look forward to getting my Christmas letter and Christmas cards ready. Last year, I put together this behemoth of a newsletter that was, quite frankly, over the top. This holiday season, I'm returning to the much more modest single page, double-sided version of the past. I heard a lot of good feedback from last year's newsletter, but it was too much work and certainly more of a self-imposed burden.

So this year, it's back to the traditional fare of a card and letter. Much less work, including less stress and considerably cheaper, too!

There's lots of snow around early. The stores are jammed with shoppers. People are planning holiday getaways. Credit cards and bank accounts are being taxed to the limits to impress that special person on Christmas morning. Kids in unheated factories in countries we can't pronounce are churning out toys for our brats.

Is it any wonder that some people shut down over the holidays?

Sheesh! Just the stress of trying to be all things to all people is enough to make me want to convert to another religion. Besides, I could do with a change. I mean, how many times can you really hear The Little Drummer Boy before you just want to grab those drumsticks of his and shove them somewhere that would require a few hours of surgery for removal?

Besides, really, who wants some strange kid arriving at your manger unannounced and banging on a drum to wake up a sleeping baby? I'm telling you, it would take all of those Three Wise Men to hold me back from breaking those bloody drumsticks over The Little Drummer Boy's head. "Hey, I hear Frosty needs some new arms. Go see if he could use these!"

In real life, that drummer would have been kicked to the curb and screamed at. I wonder if that was the first instance of holiday rage? Probably.

Despite the fact that many find the holidays to be excruciatingly melancholy -- even painful -- I hope that each and every one of us will be able to dig down deep inside ourselves to find that special something that makes us smile during this time of year . . . whether it's the memory of a loved one who's no longer with us or a special gift that brought a smile to our face.

And if you want to be really radical, think of that baby in the manger. I heard a rumour that he had something to do with all of this, too.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Write Stuff: Writing for Profit Workshop

Join the group of professional freelance writers for an informative half-day workshop that will show you the possibilities and realities of the professional writing world.

Date: Saturday, January 26, 2008

Time: 1-5 p.m.

Place: Moncton Public Library

(Click on the photo for a poster for the event.)

Little Richard is 75 today!

Singer Little Richard turns 75 today. Incredible!

Lost dog in Moncton

Hi everyone. I just wanted to bring a lost dog to your attention. LOST on Saturday, December 1, in the John Street / Victoria Park / Bonaccord Street area off Mountain Road in Moncton... please be on the lookout for Shadow, a six-year-old shih tzu and chihuahua mix dog. She is brown, black and white. Her belly is white and her four paws have white on them. If anyone sees her or knows of her whereabouts, please call Nicole at 872-3963 any time, day or night. Nicole is frantic to find Shadow and misses her terribly. (Click on the photo for a larger version.)

Christmas Countdown: 20 days!

The Chipmunk Song - Alvin and the Chipmunks

What they sound like in "real time":

More chipmunks - Alvin and the Chipmunks

And more...

Today's Hump Day column: Trying to live up to the holiday's expectations

Hi everyone! Don't forget to check out today's Hump Day column on the editorial page (pg. D6) of the Moncton Times & Transcript. Today's piece is all about the pressure we all feel to be happy at this time of the year. Check it out! Pick up your copy of the Moncton Times & Transcript today or check back here tomorrow when it will be posted online.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Christmas Countdown: 21 days!

Disney Christmas - I remember watching this every year on The Wonderful World of Disney.

A Charlie Brown Christmas - Linus explains what Christmas is all about

Shrek the Halls - An excerpt from the best new animated Christmas TV special to come along in years! Be sure to catch it as I'm sure it will be repeated during the Christmas season.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas Countdown: 22 days!

Do They Know It's Christmas? - Band Aid

Last Christmas - Wham

When My Heart Finds Christmas - Harry Connick Jr.

(Best modern Christmas song ever!)