Saturday, January 27, 2007

Some advice when you're planning on giving a book as a gift to your mother...

... scan through it first! I had bought Running With Scissors for my mother before Christmas and was just sitting down to wrap it when I happened to glance through it. Per chance, I landed on the first page of the chapter that begins on page 114 (of the edition shown on the left). It would make a sailor blush! My mother's no prude, but I'm pretty sure she wasn't interested in receiving quasi-pornography from her son for Christmas. I'm sure it likely has a place in the story, but whoa... some things a mother just doesn't need to get from her son. Awkward!

One last retro Sesame Street clip... Wow, memories!

More retro TV for a cold winter Saturday...

Growing up in the 70s and 80s, the NBC soap "Another World" was pretty much an obligatory part of after-school TV viewing. Click above for the final scene of the final show that aired on June 25, 1999. After many years of speculation, the axe finally fell and the show was cancelled after more than 35 years on the air and a mind-boggling 8,891 episodes. These days, a TV series that makes it to five years is a rarity -- 35 years is nearly unheard of. Viewers with access to the specialty cable channel SOAPnet can watch repeats (in order) from the July 1, 1987, episode onward. They're currently airing episodes from 1991. And if you consider yourself the show's biggest fan, I bet you have nothing on this guy who has amassed an incredible array of facts and trivia about the late great Another World.

If you grew up in the 70s, you may remember this from Sesame Street...

Friday, January 26, 2007

An excellent literacy and numeracy campaign from the U.K.

The "Get On" campaign from the U.K.'s Department for Education and Skills seeks to promote adult literacy and numeracy by helping people get rid of their "gremlins" -- i.e. their fear of learning. Click the photo for one of my favourite ads from the campaign -- Bad Dad -- where a father tries to get out of helping his young daughter with her math homework because he doesn't understand it. His "gremlin" is more than happy to torment him. This is social advertising at its best, if you ask me.

Keisha @ Moncton SPCA

Poor little Keisha is still looking for a home. She has been in the care of the SPCA for a very long time... since last April, I believe. Although she is now in foster care instead of at the shelter, she would dearly love to be adopted into a permanent home. Keisha can have a strong personality at times, but that only adds to her overall character. And besides, if you'd have waited this long for a home, you'd be grumpy, too. ;-) Calling all you cat lovers out there! Please consider giving Keisa a new home. Click on the photo for more information.

When they find those 16 altar boys buried in my basement, this will explain why:

Brian "Little Miss Canada" Cormier, 1965

Parents: Dressing your baby sons in women's lingerie is not... I repeat not... funny.

Local romance author making her mark on the literary world...

This is Julianne MacLean's latest book -- Surrender to a Scoundrel. Julianne is a good friend of mine and lives in Bedford, Nova Scotia. She's a very successful USA Today bestselling author with a growing repertoire of critically acclaimed work. If you enjoy the historical romance genre or are looking for a good place to start, check out Julianne's books. Click on the photo to go to her official website. Her books are also carried at bookstores and online sellers.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Following a long path that leads to a blog

Brian Cormier
Hump day
Published Wednesday January 24, 2007
Appeared on page D6, Times & Transcript

I've been writing ever since I was a kid. I would write letters to my aunt and to my grandparents about everything from what was going on in my family to stuff that happened in school.

Once, I excitedly wrote my aunt about how I'd laughed at a girl who accidentally flashed her panties at us when she fell while running in the playground. (I was one step away from being a serial killer, I tell ya.)

At school, I would write stories of all kinds. Then, in junior high, as the hormones kicked in, I drifted away from the "Dear Grandma" type of letters toward attempts at a more adult style of writing. Unfortunately, a desire to write combined with the hormones of a 14-year-old was just not a good combination.

I wrote one issue of a gossip magazine that I sold on the school grounds for 75 cents each. It was called "Heartbreak of Vanier," named after the school I attended at the time. It was chock-full of adolescent gossip such as why various couples had broken up, who cheated on whom, etc. I'm not sure how much of it was true, but it was all based on stuff I'd actually heard, so likely half was true and half wasn't.

Needless to say, it caused quite a ruckus and nearly got my head kicked in.

My next foray into journalism occurred when I wrote a humour magazine - again for only one issue during junior high. Think of what would make a bunch of 14-year-old boys laugh their heads off and you can pretty much guess at the maturity level of the magazine. It's too bad that I didn't keep a copy of either one of these works of art. They'd probably be worth something on eBay after I get famous for something.

Then, in 1979, I entered high school and promptly volunteered to write a weekly column that appeared in this very newspaper about various activities going on at school. My newfound "power" quickly resulted in me being chastised by student council for being critical of students who would leave their lunch trays on the cafeteria tables without properly cleaning them and stacking them neatly in the approved area. The student council president told me that I was giving the school a bad image.

For a short time, I was replaced temporarily by the school, but whoever took over quit rather quickly since they were not dedicated - like I was - to getting copy in on time to the newspaper. Remember, back then there was no option of e-mail and there were no home computers. Everything was done on a typewriter and submitted to the newspaper on paper and by hand. I remember the smell of ink in the newspaper building so well. It was incredibly intoxicating to a writer.

I got paid for the newspaper column, but this didn't compare to the windfall of winning my first story contest. A story I wrote about Santa Claus being an Acadian garnered me a $100 prize from a local newspaper. Up until a few years ago, my cousin - a teacher - used to read the story to her class every year. The story even earned me a fan letter from a girl who also requested my autograph.

In high school, I remember writing a letter to the editor defending bilingualism - a very hot and emotional topic back then (1981). The letter was satirical in nature and was written under a pseudonym - "The Masked Acadian," who threatened to force-feed a poutine râpée to a local politician if my demands weren't met. It wasn't a serious threat, and that's why it was printed. It was obviously satire to me and to the newspaper.

Unfortunately, like the mass hysteria caused by Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast in 1938 - when radio listeners actually believed that Martians had invaded Earth - the letter caused an uproar among a number of readers, forcing the newspaper to print an editorial entitled "What is satire?"

Wow! I had a caused an editorial to be written in a newspaper because of something I'd written . . . and I was only in high school! Pretty awesome stuff for a budding writer. I was hooked on the power of the word and enjoyed the fact that my writing could actually elicit a response from people - although in recent years I must admit that I'd rather elicit a positive response.

After high school, it was off to journalism school then into various public relations jobs where I would write news releases, speeches, letters, brochures, etc. I've even written or co-written a few more newspaper columns, including a restaurant review and now this piece of brilliance that you're reading today.

Recently, I've started "blogging" - or writing a "web log," (hence "blog") or to put it more simply, an online diary where I get to spout off on a variety of issues. So far I'm having a great time and am hoping that it will be a complementary piece to this column. An online blog also allows me to write about stuff at a moment's notice and about a wide variety of things - in fact, anything that comes to mind at any given moment.

So far, the blog has allowed me to comment on why I think Quebec Remparts owner and coach Patrick Roy needs anger management classes. It has also allowed me to send belated birthday wishes to my nephew, write down my thoughts on the unexpected death of a former client, the health of Tomar the tiger at the Magnetic Hill Zoo, and also share a video of an old toy commercial from the 1970s.

Blogs are where it's at - at least that's what all the cool kids are saying. Maybe I should also bring the Masked Acadian out of hiding to make things more interesting. After all, I haven't had any editorials written about me lately and I think I'm due for one.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Play-Doh perfume... I want some!

I swear to God this is not a joke. Hasbro has come out with Play-Doh perfume. I actually LOVE the smell of Play-Doh. *gets out credit card* Read more about why the perfume was created by clicking here.

Remember Brett Somers from "Match Game"? Apparently, she's a New Brunswicker!

Anyone remember Brett Somers from the old Match Game game show from the 1970s? Apparently, she's a New Brunswicker, according to her entry in Wikipedia, but was raised in Portland, Maine. I'm assuming she was born in Saint John, but not sure why... Click here for a short video clip of the show featuring Brett. If someone out there knows exactly where in New Brunswick she was born, please let me know.

Oscar predictions...

I've got a pretty good track record of predicting Oscar winners, so here goes, even though it's a bit early and the tides may move against one or more of the nominees:

Best Picture: The Departed

Best Director: Martin Scorsese (The Departed)

Best Actress: Helen Mirren (The Queen)

Best Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy (Dream Girls)

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson (Dream Girls)

News item: "Grey's Anatomy' star starts counselling"

According to this item, Grey's Anatomy star Isaiah Washington is now in therapy for calling openly gay co-star T.R. Knight a "faggot." It's amazing how remorseful a person gets when their extremely well-paid job is on the line. I hope the show pays their PR people well because I don't think this is the last piece of idiocy we're gonna hear from Mr. Washington! Hopefully, he's learned his lesson, though. I've always found it odd when minorities attack other minorities. Somewhere, there's a KKK member laughing over all this.

Which Guiness Book of World Records record holders have the worst luck?

Is it just me or do the people named "world's oldest person" keep dying? It's a curse!

Following a long path that leads to a blog

Check out today's "Hump Day" column on page D6 of the Moncton Times & Transcript. Today, I write about -- well -- writing. I hope you enjoy it. It will be posted here tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Beware of marked-down cookies!

I bought some molasses spice cookies tonight that were marked down to $2 per dozen. Yummy, I thought. Even though I didn't need them, I had a migraine all day and needed some comfort food. Anyway, I got home and soon discovered why they were marked down to $2. The friggin' things tasted like they were leftovers from something Jesus left on his plate. Stale!

PEI has highest rate of circumcision in Canada

According to a CBC report, PEI has the highest circumcision rate in Canada. The problem I have with routine circumcision (for cosmetic or "habitual" reasons only) is that if this butchery was being done to female babies, the uproar would be heard on Mars! It would be on Oprah! Circumcision is an act of barbarism if it is only being done for cosmetic reasons or "just because." Talk amongst yourselves...

Family kicked off plane because child having tantrum...

Click here and read this story. This sounds like one of those situations where a little spoiled hellion's parents thinks she's an angel. You've seen them, I'm sure. The kid is knocking stuff over in a store, etc., and the parents just think it's adorable. Oh puh-leeze! The airline gave them a hell of a lot more than I would have. I would have reimbursed their tickets -- no problem with that -- but the extra round-trip tickets anywhere the airline flies? C'mon! I dare say that 99% of the passengers who were delayed by that brat were glad the family was turfed so that they could get on their way. Any pity I felt for the parents in having to deal with a child having a tantrum (it can happen to anyone, I know...) evaporated with their selfish attitude toward the airline's subsequent generosity. Their assertion that they'll never fly Air Tran again should be used in the company's marketing. Turn it into a positive! That would be a funny commercial, actually. You read it here first!

Remember Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling's Killer Karl Krupp?

My God, he was fun to watch. What an entertainer! Remember "the claw"? Remember when he used to call announcer Bill McCullough "Mr. McCluck-Cluck"? haha... I think I'll write about wrestling in next week's column. Click on the photo for a biography of Krupp.

Monday, January 22, 2007

This is for you, Connie!

If you read my post below re: Connie Turner... She once told me a story about meeting a young man years ago in a very busy airport. The place was packed. It was hot. Flights were delayed. People were rude, cranky and impatient. In front of Connie was a young man who was incessantly polite, kind and friendly to everyone who talked to him. She thought he was the most charming man she'd ever seen. After the man caught his flight, someone asked Connie if she didn't recognize who it was. She didn't. "That was Harry Connick Jr. !!" the person told her, incredulous that Connie hadn't recognized him. Connie knew of him, but didn't know him well enough to recognize him. Well, she certainly knew him after that... and became a fan. So Connie, here's a Harry Connick Jr. video to honour your memory. You can sing along up in Heaven and maybe even have a little dance with St. Peter.

This week's "Hump Day" column...

... will be about writing and blogging. Catch it exclusively on the editorial page of the Moncton Times & Transcript on Wednesday. It will be posted here on the blog the following day.

Connie Turner (1953-2007)

I was shocked and saddened today to hear of the untimely passing of Connie Turner at the young age of 53. Connie is a former client of mine at my "day job." Connie was a lovely woman who was full of life. I had a "no BS" policy with her. If something wasn't going well, I'd tell her... and she never got angry or upset as long as I was being honest. She was big on managing expectations, even if they were her own. She was really great to work with. God bless you and rest in peace, Connie. I will always have fond memories of you and our long conversations. Below, you will find Connie's obituary from this morning's Toronto Star.

TURNER, Constance Nettie (McDougall): November 6, 1953 - January 20, 2007. Connie Turner, a resident of Mississauga died at her residence on January 20, 2007 at the age of 53 years. She was born in Little Current, daughter of the late Lauchlan and Alma (Ferris) McDougall. Connie had a wide variety of interests which included sailing, writing, her work, community involvement and adventuring with her daughter. Tributes to Connie's life include teaching Sunday School, coaching and playing hockey, chairperson for years of the Mount Albert Sports day, member of Eastern Star, singing in choirs, active as steward in the Mount Albert United Church and working with many community events. Along with these interests Connie held senior positions with Turner & Associates, Aladdin Industries, the Briars Resort, Enbridge, Toronto Hydro and finally Director of Marketing and Communications for the Greater Toronto Airport Authority. Connie is predeceased by her parents Lauchie and Alma and her sister Mary-Ann. Dearly loved by her partner Michael and her daughter Nicole. Sadly missed and lovingly remembered by Chuck Turner, Gary and Marilyn Turner, Chris and Lynn Turner, Mark Turner, Matthew and Jennifer Matson, Ben and Gina Matson, Ryan Dunn, Tracy and Ryan Smith, Ross and Deone McDougall, Kyle McDougall and Marita Ragheb, Neil and Ronda McDougall, Cole McDougall and Nicole Myles, Patrick Dawson, Tammy and Michael Bouchard, Julie Dawson and Gord Baird, Matt and Alexis Dawson. To all the children in Connie's life, she wishes them health and happiness: Alex, Barrett and Cierra McDougall, Shelby and Taryn Bouchard, Brayden Baird, Kyle, Cameron, Stephanie, Cassie and Jenna Turner, Angus, Ainslie and Halo Matson. A memorial service will be conducted at Mount Albert United Church, Mt. Albert on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 at 5 p.m. Visitors may call at the Culgin Funeral Home, Gore Bay on Friday after 7 p.m. The Funeral Service will be conducted at Lyons Memorial United Church on Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 11:00 a.m. In remembrance, donations to West Manitoulin Cancer Society or the charity of your choice would be appreciated.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

For some reason, I've been thinking of Shari Lewis lately...

I must be psychic because her birthday was last week -- January 17. Maybe that's why I was thinking about her. She would have been 74. She died on August 2, 1998. I remember literally gasping in shock when I heard, because she was one of my favourite performers and hadn't been reported to be critically ill, other than being treated for cancer. But pneumonia did her in. Sad. So talented. I absoutely loved Lamb Chop. The kids wouldn't get the double-entendres, but adults did. So funny. I saw her "live" in Halifax when I was attending university. She was the guest conductor for a performance of Symphony Nova Scotia and gave a free dress rehearsal. Of course, all the university students showed up! Unfortunately, she didn't bring out Lamb Chop during the rehearsal, but we did get to see Hush Puppy! The main thing I noticed about her was that she was so unbelievably tiny! I think I could have put her in my back pocket. Her daughter has now taken over Lamb Chop and does an amazing job! Mom would be proud. Read more on Shari here.

Patrick Roy needs to attend anger management classes...

Legendary NHL goalie Patrick Roy may have been a great player... and he can lay claim to being a good coach since the QMJHL team he owns and coaches - the Quebec Remparts -- won the Memorial Cup last year... but the guy has a temper that needs to be reigned in. He's already been arrested (but not charged) for damaging his home after an argument with his now ex-wife, then he came under intense criticism for his mean-spirited psychological warfare during last year's playoffs with the Moncton Wildcats. Now, word comes that he's under investigation for allegedly shoving a representative of a rival QMJHL team the other night. Get some friggin' help, man. You aren't doing yourself any favours. Someone who knows him and cares about him should send him this.

Tomar the Siberian tiger is not doing well...

Moncton's Magnetic Hill Zoo will soon be losing one of its most beloved long-term residents. Tomar the Siberian tiger is suffering from kidney failure and his days are numbered. Local residents are heartbroken over Tomar's illness and are flocking to visit him to say good-bye. As you can see by the video in this CTV report, Tomar still has some life left in him, though, despite his health and advanced age of 19 years. (If you click on "Siberian tiger" above, you'll see that the life expectancy is a maximum of 18 years, so Tomar is already past that.) Many local media outlets are watching Tomar's illness closely as the community rallies around the big cat. According to this report in the Moncton Times & Transcript, the QMJHL's Moncton Wildcats have even shot video footage of Tomar and will be playing his likeness at home games from now on whenever they score a goal. What a wonderful tribute to such a majestic animal.