Saturday, February 17, 2007

How can someone DIE and nobody notices for more than a year? No friends? No family? Sad...

According to this news report, a man in Long Island, New York, was found dead in front his TV set. Hampton Bays had been dead for more than a year, not having been heard from since December 2005. His mummified body was found in front of the TV, which was still on and apparently blaring quite loudly. Neighbours just assumed he'd gone into a nursing home.

I hope to God that when I die it doesn't take a year to be found -- especially if I'm in my own house. To not have anyone even notice for more than a year that I haven't been around... good God! It's practically unbelievable.

Anna Nicole Smith may have company soon: Britney Spears just shaved her head...

Clearly, Britney has lost her mind. Today, she shaved her head. Have another beer, Mom. :( I hope her kids are being taken care of. Mothers shouldn't be acting like this, sorry... There are enough orphans in the world. If this is a result of post-partum depression (she recently had a baby), I hope someone in her entourage convinces her to get help soon. The reports of partying, drunkenness, showing her bare hoohaa to the world... C'mon. You have kids!

Went to a Moncton Wildcats game tonight...

The Moncton Wildcats are our local hockey heroes, having won the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Championship (President's Cup) in 2006. They also made it to the final of the 2006 Memorial Cup... the Canadian championship! Tonight, they played the Val d'Or Foreurs, but unfortunately lost 2-0. I guess you can't win them all! The QMJHL is part of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL).

Here's a tribute video put together in honour of the Wildcats' 2006 QMJHL championship win.

The pride of China: The Dormitory Boys

In researching some great 1980s videos for my upcoming university reunion, I searched for Trio's "Da Da Da" on YouTube. Somehow, I landed on a link to a lip-sync performance of a version of the song by two Chinese university students who call themselves The Dormitory Boys. I thought they were hilarious! And for Chinese guys, they sure can lip-sync well to English songs! They're apparently quite famous in China now because of their YouTube performances -- so much so that they even landed a gig on TV! The power of the Interet is amazing.

Click here for their English-language blog or click here for their Chinese website.

There are lots of Chinese people who visit my blog, apparently, so I just want to say "Hi!" to everyone in China. One day, I hope to visit your fascinating country.

Here's The Dormitory Boys' version of Da Da Da. Funny stuff!

Be it resolved: Men at Work's "Down Under" (1983) is the undisputed champion of 1980s music

The time for debate has now elapsed. I win. You lose. ;-)

Here are two versions of one of the best music videos of the 1980s... the first is the original while the second is the "Pop -up Video" version that offers "info nuggets" throughout. You don't realize how much you miss during a song/video until someone actually explains it to you. I always loved Pop-up Video. (For years, when singing along, I'd say "a bite of my sandwich" instead of "a vegemite sandwich.")

The original:

The Pop-up Video version:

Some old comic books that I used to read as a kid...

Hey, I never said I was proud of them all... ;-) Just pretend you didn't see "Little Dot" and "Little Lulu"... ;-) For the record, my favourites are definitely anything Donald Duck / Uncle Scrooge / Beagle Boys related. I also loved Mad (and still buy it on occasion) and scary comics, such as the first one in the list.

I hereby declare an official day of mourning for TV addicts

Robert Adler -- the co-inventor of the TV remote control -- has died. *drops to my knees in grief* God bless you, Mr. Adler! There should be a holiday! You deserve sainthood! Call the media! Call the pope! Stop the presses! Someone boil water! Get some towels!

Friday, February 16, 2007

"Belly bowls" update

Here's an update to my "Belly Bowls" post of February 6, 2007. I received this nice e-mail from Joy Olsen:

"Hi Brian

I’m so glad you like my creations, and thanks for including my site in your blog … very cool. Up until a day or so ago, I was backpacking in the wilds of Western Australia, out of contact with the world, thus this late response.

With regard to Suzin Schiff, sorry I can’t tell you anything about her past or if this is the person you think she is. I met her through a mutual friend, but haven’t seen either of them for quite some time. I’ll keep you posted.

FYI … the belly bowls are quite popular …

All the best to you and keep on blogging


The Fixx -- "One Thing Leads to Another"

My university classmates and I are planning a reunion for those of us who attended / graduated from 1985-89. We're planning on listening to lots and lots of 80s music at the dance being organized. One of our classmates -- Jonna -- seems to be eager to hear The Fixx. Well... here they are! I love The Fixx, too!

How odd to make inferred health claims about your product when your spokesperson DIED in 1995

Text of the ad to your left: "I don't really consider myself to be in the business of making healthy snacks, but when you consider that my hot and buttery Orville Redenbacher's SmartPop! is made of whole grains, and it's 94% fat free, well, that's evidence I'll put my name on it." ... and it's signed by Orville Redenbacher.

Orville Redenbacher was a nice man. I remember him from all those popcorn commercials. His company makes good popcorn. It's very tasty. I'll even give them the benefit of the doubt that the company's new SmartPop! popcorn is better for you than most.

But wait... he's been dead for nearly 12 years... so should he be talking up the product's health benefits? If he's keeping thin these days, it's because he's decomposing, not because he's eating Orville Redenbacher's SmartPop!

How weird is it to have a dead spokesperson extolling the healthy virtues of product? Very, I would say. It seems like the company is trying to morph the real Mr. Redenbacher into a cartoon'ish spokesperson. I'm not sure if that's a good idea. He still was a real person. And he's still dead. So... uhm.... just for the record, I don't really put much faith in health benefits for products made by dead people. As they used to say on Sesame Street: "One of these things is not like the other..."

Here are the Family Guy's voice actors

If you're a fan of Fox's Family Guy, you'll love watching this clip of the voices behind the characters.

And here's how part of the above taping turned out:

Here's a great BBC item on do-it-yourself (DIY) TV, i.e. YouTube

"Broadcasting is going through its biggest change since the invention of television. Nowadays virtually anyone can set up a TV channel and start broadcasting. It's easy and getting cheaper all the time. In the digital age anyone can make their own programmes and share them with the world online."

Click here to access the article. (By the way, BBC News is an amazingly informative site.)

Oh whatever shall we do for slippers now? :(

This is Florence Melton, considered the inventor of modern-day slippers. I didn't even know that slippers needed to be invented, but I guess they did. Anyway, Florence passed away on February 8 at the age 95 in Florida.

According to her obituary in the New York Times:

"It was in a loft in Columbus, Ohio, in 1948 that Mrs. Melton and her first husband, Aaron Zacks, started the R. G. Barry Corporation and began making the slippers, called Dearfoams. (They named the company after their sons and the son of an investor.)

The slippers, made of washable terrycloth or velour, come in a variety of colors. Some Dearfoams have slightly raised heels, some have backs, some have straps, some have open toes and some have tassels — but all have that soft foam-rubber insole, at least a half-inch thick.

Although Mrs. Melton had the idea for the slipper, she was never an officer of the company; she held the title of consultant. She did, however, hold the patent for the slipper, as well as 18 other patents for products like shoulder pads and cushioning devices for exercise and physical therapy machines."

I just figured a slipper was just one of those things that had been around forever... like a towel or something.

Florence also founded The Florence Melton Adult Mini-School.

Now that Florence is walking on clouds, she doesn't need those slippers any more! Rest in peace, Florence. Click here for a tribute to Florence on the R.G. Barry website.

Canadian memories...

The United States had Julia Child... and Canada had Jehane Benoît. She was a long-time staple on Canadian TV with cookings shows and countless guest appearances on other programs to talk about food and demonstrate best practices in cooking. She also wrote numerous cookbooks. Every Canadian knew who she was... definitely a household name. Click here for a clip from Take 30 that I found in the CBC Archives. It originally aired on February 3, 1964. That voice and accent certainly bring back memories. Click here for an affectionate write-up on Benoît by the great Canadian writer Margaret Atwood. (Note: Although the clip aired before I was even born, she was a daily part of Canadian culture until her death in 1987 -- and remains as a Canadian cooking icon to this day.)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Nat King Cole died 42 years ago today on February 15, 1965

The great Nat King Cole was a popular and prolific recording artist. A heavy smoker, he died of lung cancer. He is the father of popular singer Natalie Cole. Through the magic of technology, here's Unforgettable... the video they recorded "together"...

Seems like the people who liked Cold-fX were right! It works!

According to a CBC News report out late today:

"Health Canada will allow the manufacturers of the patented natural remedy Cold-fX to claim it is proven to reduce cold and flu symptoms by boosting the immune system. Edmonton-based CV Technologies Inc. announced Thursday the federal government has approved wide-ranging new health claims for Cold-fX, which the company says is the first treatment of its kind and a top seller among cold and flu remedies." ... "The federally approved treatment claim for the product, which now has a licence and natural product number, states Cold-fX "helps reduce the frequency, severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms by boosting the immune system.""

Click here for the CV Technologies news release.

I know lots of people who swear by the product. Personally, I'm one of them!

As seen on the ATV Evening News: Noah the cat... and how you can help!

For those of you who saw the ATV Evening News last night and tonight, you will have seen a story about Noah the cat (Halifax). Noah was thrown out a second-storey window by his previous extremely cruel owners. A good samaritan neighbour took him in and brought him to the vet to treat the broken leg he suffered in the fall. The new owner can't afford the surgery, however.

Noah's surgery will be very expensive. It will be done at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown. If he doesn't get the surgery, he will have to be euthanized. Already, they have raised about $2,000 for his operation. I'm not sure if that's enough. If you want to contribute, read further:

Noah's Need

Atlantic Cat Hospital is making an urgent plea to all you cat lovers. Currently in our clinic we have an injured 5 month old male cat named Noah. Noah has sustained a fractured leg that occurred when he was living in an abusive home. He was recently rescued from this situation and now needs surgery to repair his injury. The surgery will be done at The Atlantic Veterinary College in PEI. The people who rescued Noah can not afford this surgery, so we are asking the general public to make a donation to save Noah, if he does not have this surgery he will have to be euthanized. Anyone wanting to make a donation can do so at any Scotiabank where ACH has set up an account for Noah. To make a donation, please use the account number 60293 02159 88. On behalf of Noah, all the staff at ACH would like to thank those person's that make a donation.

The above citation can be found in the "Latest News" box on the right-hand side of the homepage. UPDATE: Feb. 21/07 - Click here.

A very graphic anti-smoking ad from Australia

Wow. Very powerful. Social marketing/advertising is very fascinating because advertisers can push the envelope. These are the best types of ads because they make us think... and make us implement changes in our lives.

If you're queasy, don't watch. Consider yourself warned.

Now read this. Do you feel any differently? Actually, I do... because now I know it's an actress playing a part. Boooo! Shame on them. Use real people! It's the only thing that works in these type of ads because otherwise they revert to ineffective scare/shock tactics.

"What? Couldn't find a real person to participate in the ad? Then that means that perhaps you're exaggerating." That's what people will think if you don't use real people.

Click here and here for other articles on the controversy created by this ad.

An early (but I think accurate) prediction of the winner of American Idol 2007

OK folks... If you haven't yet heard of Sanjaya Malakar, consider yourself told. Why? Because he's going to win American Idol this year and become the next teen superstar. He'll beat the fluffy and mop-headed Chris Sligh in the final. That's my prediction. (Hopefully, though, I'm better at predicting the winner of American Idol than I am at predicting the winner of The Apprentice.)

Here's a photo of Sanjaya. Get used to that face. You're gonna be seeing a lot of it.

Despite having the stronger voice over Sanjaya, Sligh will suffer a bit in the voting because fans already went the "old white guy" route last year with Taylor Hicks, who has barely caused a blip on the radar when compared to Clay Aiken, Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson. They're going the "young visible minority sweet shy cute boy" route this year with Sanjaya. Sanjaya would also be the youngest-ever winner if he pulls it off.

Fans first took notice of Sanjaya during his audition. His sister was also chosen to go to Hollywood, but she didn't make it to the Top 24 (hence the crying I will mention later...)

I predict that Sanjaya will inherit the voting machine known as Clay Aiken's Claymates -- the rabid fans who are just itching to win a title as revenge for losing to Ruben Studdard. (The sound you hear of crickets chirping is for Ruben's invisible career.)

Look for the United States' Indian population to go completely crazy over Sanjaya and vote like mad, too -- increasing his vote count. Also, Sanjaya passes my "screaming teenage girl" test. Can I see a stadium filled with screaming tween girls and their mothers (and older women with Mrs. Robinson complexes)? Yup. Chris? Nope. The final nail in Chris's proverbial coffin? Sanjaya will benefit from the "underestimated / underdog" label from day one, whereas Chris will come across as the old pro who doesn't need to win to have a career.

Besides, if you saw Sanjaya cry after his sister was cut from the competition, you don't want to see that again. It's like seeing a puppy cry in pain. So people will vote for him in droves. I was surfing the net researching this issue and the cry you'll see in this video did wonders for his PR. Everyone found it adorable and sincere. I can't say I blame them.

You read it here first. My prediction: A Sanjaya/Chris final with Sanjaya coming out the winner.

Simon Cowell keeps saying this is a singing competition. The show, however, is called American IDOL. You want to fill stadiums. You want little girls screaming because they're in love with the winner. You want mothers fantasizing about giving the (male) winner a spongebath. And that person, my dear friends, is Sanjaya Malakar -- American Idol 2007.

The buzz on the net for this kid is amazing. It's all over but the voting, folks!

(UPDATE: OBVIOUSLY!!!!!!!!!!! I was out of my freakin' mind when I wrote this entry. Sanjaya tanked every week after his initial buzz. Oh well...)

Wally Cox died 34 years ago today...

If you don't know who Wally Cox is, he was a regular panelist on the old Hollywood Squares game show and was the voice of Underdog!

Check out this opening to a 1968 episode of Hollywood Squares, featuring (in order): Walter Matthau (died in 2000), Sally Field (eventually a two-time Oscar winner and now starring in ABC's "Brothers & Sisters"), Charley Weaver (comedic character played by actor Clifford Arquette who died in 1974... father of late actor Lewis Arquette (played J.D. Pickett on "The Waltons")... grandfather of the Arquette acting siblings: Patricia, Rosanne, Alexis, Richmond and David), Zsa Zsa Gabor (recently in the news when her husband announced that he may be the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby), Wally Cox, Nanette Fabray (the sign language she does in the opening is likely to raise awareness of the hearing impaired, of which she is one), Jan Murray (died in 2006), Van Johnson, and Buddy Hackett (died in 2003, and shown making a joke that he likely wouldn't do on TV if he were alive today).

Cox died of a heart attack on February 15, 1973. With two weeks of episodes of Hollywood Squares in the can and set to air, host Peter Marshall had to make the sad announcement to viewers that the show was taped in advance and that they would be seeing Cox on the show for the next two weeks despite his death. Click here to listen to the heartbreaking announcement and notice that Marshall references Cox's work as Underdog. (Thanks to the amazing "The Hollywood Squares Classic Site" for hosting the clip. Any fan of Hollywood Squares will appreciate the memories the site brings back. Congratulations to Dixon Hayes for all his work. Click here for Dixon's tribute to Cox.)

If you were a kid in the 1960s and 1970s, you likely remember Cox as the voice of Underdog.

While researching this entry, I also discovered that Cox was best friends with late actor Marlon Brando. Seems like quite an odd pair! Some speculate that their friendship was a "Brokeback Mountain" type of affair.

Valentine's Day celebrations exclude some

Brian Cormier
Hump day
Published Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Appeared on page D6, Moncton Times & Transcript

It's Valentine's Day and, since I'm eternally single, I'm feeling a bit like a Muslim or Jew on Christmas Day. I can sit back and watch the festivities, but I'm not really part of them.

Actually, Valentine's Day for single people is worse than Christmas Day for non-Christians because at least non-Christians are welcome to partake in Yule festivities. As a single, however, I can assure you that I won't be invited to sit in on any of the millions of romantic candlelit dinners that will be going on around the world this evening.

In that way, Valentine's Day is a holiday that excludes, rather than brings together. Whereas family and friends can get together on most holidays - be they religious or not - Valentine's Day is for the romantic couple, period. Couples are very selfish about celebrating the day alone - and I guess that's OK.

It's just that as a single person, you're never left to feel so bloody alone as on the day when so many are celebrating their coupledom. I have zero problem with being single - but Valentine's Day is always a bit rough, despite its stature as a contemporary holiday that exists solely to benefit greeting card publishers, candy stores and flower shops. In 2007, there remains no overtly religious reason for people to celebrate this date.

But, like other manufactured holidays - such as Mother's Day and Father's Day - it's best for those of you in couples to protect your physical safety and follow society's customs rather than be perceived to be forgetting about your better half. Like a mother forgotten on Mother's Day, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned on Valentine's Day!

And no more better proof of that is needed than to drive around town tonight - a freezing cold Wednesday evening in many parts of the northern hemisphere - to find nearly every decent restaurant filled to the brim with happy (and a few pretending to be happy) couples celebrating their undying love for one another.

Not only will romantic meals be had, but gifts will be exchanged - mostly from men to women . . . and mostly either chocolate or jewellery. I'm thinking the jewellery will be the preferred choice of the receivers, while chocolate the preferred choice of the givers, considering who has to pay for the gift.

Many an unsuspecting gal will have her breath taken away tonight by her boyfriend dropping to one knee and saying those words she's been waiting to hear for so long: "Have you seen my contact lens?"

Following the kick to the head that would no doubt ensue, the question would then be changed quickly to "Will you marry me?", thus avoiding further injury and ensuring a look at her bare knees (at least) later on.

The boyfriend and his freshly minted high-heel scar to the temple would then sit down and wonder just how he went from looking for his contact lens to planning a wedding. Ah, the magic women hold over men!

Like a Jewish kid staring longingly into a decorated shop window at Christmastime, I also want to be part of the Valentine's Day festivities despite my official single status. Why shouldn't I be able to go to a restaurant for a candlelit dinner all by myself? Well, I guess that would be rather pitiful, wouldn't it? And bringing an inflatable date would just be in poor taste. Besides, the price for latex has gone through the roof recently - if indeed that's what those things are actually made of. Just a guess.

Maybe I could stay home and watch a romantic movie by myself. I'd just have to wade through the puddles of tears on the floor and the aura of loneliness in the air at the video store left by the other singles with the same idea as me. Sounds like no fun. I could bring one of my cats to the restaurant, but other diners may not be as patient about them as I am. Kind of like arriving with a crying baby, don't ya know.

I could always send flowers to myself. There's nothing wrong with that, is there? OK, so I admit we're taking yet another road to Pitifulville. Or maybe I could get together with some single friends and hang out like we did last year. Oh wait . . . all the friends who were single last year are now with someone. Oy!

Wait! What about the friends who were coupled last year but are now single? Oh . . . they'll all be home tonight drinking alone with the shades drawn, writing never-to-be-sent woeful love letters to their exes. Well, that sounds like a barrel of monkeys, eh? I'll just leave them to their misery. The first post-break-up Valentine's Day is the worst.

OK, now my mind is straying back to the inflatable date idea. Benefits versus drawbacks? Benefits: Eats cheap. Good listener. Good for my ego by always looking really really surprised at everything I tell her. Drawbacks: Not a great conversationalist. Shy when being introduced to other people. Major paper-cut phobia.

Well, I guess there are drawbacks to any kind of partner I choose, so I think I'll go the inflatable route this year. If you see us cozied up tonight in some romantic corner of a dimly lit bar, please don't be shy. Come over and introduce yourself. We promise not to be like those other selfish couples who just want to be left alone on Valentine's Day. Don't worry about interrupting us!

Oh, and please don't be put off by how really really surprised she looks when you come over to chat. It's just the way she is.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Looks like Howard K. Stern has some competition...

It looks like Howard K. Stern has some competition in the bad acting department -- this time from a Carson, California, city council meeting. What a drama queen Jan Schaefer is! I agree the woman shouldn't have hit her (tapped her, actually)... but what an overly exaggerated reaction. Lordy! It's fake beyond belief.

Excerpt from this report: "From the videotape of Tuesday night's City Council meeting, this much is clear: Vera Robles Dewitt, the leader of the effort to recall Mayor Jim Dear, lightly struck Commissioner Jan Schaefer on the head with a sheaf of papers. Then, chaos. Schaefer waited a beat or two, then let out a blood-curdling shriek and rolled onto the floor in apparent agony. Dear shouted: "She hit her right in the eye! Stop that woman from leaving the room! She struck the woman. She should be arrested. This is unbelievable. ... We're going to call a doctor.""

I hope Jan Shaefer hasn't picked out her gown for the Oscars just yet. Hit her right in the eye?? Obviously Mayor Dear thinks Shaefer has eyes in back of her head, because that's where she got "hit." This would be hilarious if it weren't so sad.

Two disturbing cases of cat abuse in Nova Scotia

There were media reports of two very disturbing cases of cat abuse in Nova Scotia today. The ATV Evening News carried a piece about a cat thrown out of a second-storey window. A neighbour rescued the cat and brought him to a vet, where he is being treated, however they need donations to help the cat. I will post more info as I get it.

The neighbour doesn't want to get the idiots who threw the cat out of the window in trouble, though, so won't tell authorities who did it. Uhm... a part of your heart is in the right place, but a part of it isn't. Tell the police. Animal abuse is a criminal offense. (I hope to have a video up for tomorrow evening.) But in the end, thank you for saving the poor cat from further abuse. UPDATE - Feb. 15/07: Click here.)

In Sydney, two kittens were found frozen to the ground outside the SPCA on Monday. Luckily, the kittens survived and have been adopted. Apparently, the person(s) who left them there wanted to avoid a small voluntary fee for dropping them off.


That would go for any SPCA that I'm aware of. Of course, the money would be nice, but the life of the animal is #1... not #2 to the money... it's #1. Period. Please do not abandon animals outside any shelter... ever!

Humiliation of senior resident at Nova Scotia nursing home garners slaps on the wrists for two nurses

Two nurses at Glen Haven Manor in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, have been suspended for five days and 10 days, respectively, for taping an elderly woman's mouth shut to quiet her down and for drawing a smile on the tape. According to this CBC report: ""Both considered it a harmless attempt at humour to distract the patient," said Don Hussher, chairman of the board of directors, adding both workers now realize it was "a form of elder abuse camouflaged as horseplay." He said the elderly woman, believed to be in her 80s, wasn't hurt." Could someone explain to me how this could distract the patient? Is taping a patient's mouth shut taught in nursing school? I think not. Do they teach comedy in nursing school? I think not. Well, then, leave the comedy to Bill Cosby and Joan Rivers and do what you were paid to do. Humiliating an elderly patient is an abomination and can not be tolerated. Is it just me or are these suspensions just slaps on the wrists? UPDATE: Click here for a CTV report on the incident + video.

Message to Howard K. Stern: Don't clear a place on your mantel for an Oscar just yet...

This is Howard K. Stern -- the late Anna Nicole Smith's lawyer, supposed husband and possible father to her daughter. He was there when her son died. He was there when she died. Is he a bad luck omen or was he somehow responsible? I'm certainly not going to speculate, however rest assured that after viewing this clip from Entertainment Tonight, Stern will not be winning any Oscars soon. So fake...

Another clip from The Simpsons' Valentine's Day show...

Worst Valentine's Day date... ever!

It seems that zoos in the United States have figured out that humans are addicted to sex... even if it means watching animals "do it." There's a trend toward zoos holding special Valentine's Day events where patrons pay a premium to visit and learn about the sex lives (including live demonstrations) of the animals housed there. Seems a bit odd to me, but if people are willing to dole out $50 to $75 per person to watch a couple of rhinos "do the nasty" -- and the zoo benefits from it -- well then fill yer boots... figuratively, of course. Apparently, the animals are not always co-operative, but just the thought of seeing some action has some human hearts all aflutter.

  • Click here for info on Lowry Park Zoo's "Wild at Heart" event (Tampa FL) - SOLD OUT!
  • Click here for info on the San Francisco Zoo's "Day Woo at the Zoo" event (San Francisco CA)
  • Click here for info on Central Park Zoo's "Jungle Love" event (New York NY)

TORO magazine (2003-2007)

One of my favourite magazines has ceased publication. TORO was a general interest men's magazine published in Toronto. There aren't tons of Canadian magazines geared toward men, so it was nice to have one that we could call "our own." Alas, the magazine publishing business is a tough one at the best of times and TORO just couldn't hold on. The ad revenue wasn't there to sustain it. Too bad. A real loss. It was great while it lasted, though.

Visit the Valentine's Day edition of PostSecret

The great PostSecret blog has some Valentine's Day-related confessions posted. Check it out!

Valentine's Day celebrations exclude some

Don't forget to check out "Hump Day" on the editorial page (D6) of today's Moncton Times & Transcript! Today's column is all about Valentine's Day (quelle surprise!) and how single people are excluded from the celebrations. Fortunately, I've come up with a way to get around all that. It will really really surprise you.

Happy Valentine's Day... ugh... ;-)

I remember passing Valentine's Day cards to the kids in my class. Although most would give to everyone... there was always that one person who just got a bit less. The cruelty of children... We've all been through it in one way or another, though. Here's a classic scene from The Simpsons when Ralph becomes the kid who receives no Valentine's Day cards and how Lisa saves the day, much to her ultimate regret. It's too bad that today's Valentine's Day cards -- the kinds that kids give out in class -- are based so much on commercial characters and whatnot. I really preferred those old-style cards that were based more on sentiment. Oh well. Times they are a-changin', I guess. Now I'm starting to sound like an old fuddy-duddy.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Do they still make Fluffs?

Does anyone know if they still make Fluffs puffed wheat cereal? We used to eat this stuff by the bag when we were kids. Especially good drenched in brown sugar after adding milk. Now I want some! It must have been a Canadian thing... because I searched high and low on the Internet for Fluffs and this is about all I came up with... one measly pic... and even then I had to crop it out of another photo. UPDATE - Feb. 15/07: Apparently they DO still make fluffs. They're distributed/manufactured in Manitoba by Associated Brands Inc. under the "Newport" brand name.

Played with these for hours as kids...

Barrel of Monkeys

Remember this ad from old comic books? I always wanted to order some...

Click on the pic to buy some! Other Sea-Monkey links...

Uncircumcised boys banned from school in Kenya

"A Kenyan secondary school has sent home 20 boys because they were not circumcised, saying it feared they would be bullied by other students."

Uhm, OK... but honestly... who checks? Are "peepee verifications" written into teachers' contracts??

A couple of pet peeves just out of the blue...

1. Convenience store clerks who put your lottery tickets in a bag. (It's happened to me more than once.) Isn't that odd? (Just for the record, I know the clerk is just trying to be nice and give good service. They're not trying to be annoying. But honestly, who puts their lottery tickets in a bag??)

2. Local radio station promos that are obviously done in another part of the country because they continuously mispronounce the city you're in. For example, I'm in Moncton. Around here, it's more or less pronounced "Munk-tin." It's pretty obvious when a radio station has farmed out their promos when you hear this: "This is Titanic Radio 109.3... MAWNGKTONE." Oh for God's sakes. Learn how to pronounce the city you're doing promos for, would ya? What's worse, the radio station keeps playing the promos despite the mispronunciation.

More bad news for Valentine's Day -- Expect to hear more and more talk about "flower miles"

According to this British report, the huge volume of flowers being given on Valentine's Day is contributing to global warming! Why? Because of the jet fuel being used to fly in tons of the smelly sticks from all over the world. You're ruining the planet with all your sickening love, people! Muahahaha! Here's an excerpt from the report:

"The Valentine's Day bouquet — the gift that every woman in Britain will be waiting for next week — has become the latest bête noire among environmental campaigners. Latest Government figures show that the flowers that make up the average bunch have flown 33,800 miles to reach Britain. In the past three years, the amount of flowers imported from the Netherlands has fallen by 47 per cent to 94,000 tons, while those from Africa have risen 39 per cent to 17,000 tons. Environmentalists warned that "flower miles" could have serious implications on climate change in terms of carbon dioxide emissions from aeroplanes."

Thanks for killing the polar bears. Tsk tsk.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Regular naps prove good for the heart: study

Click here for more. In related news, this kitten looks like he's going to have a strong heart when he grows up! :)

New trend: Anti-Valentine's Day cards

It appears that there's a growing backlash against Valentine's Day -- no doubt initiated by single people like myself! There are now even Anti-Valentine's Day e-cards available.

Well so much for THAT prediction...

On January 31, I predicted that Aaron would win the sixth season of NBC's The Apprentice. So much for that! He was fired last night. I'm very surprised. D'oh!

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

... will be about Valentine's Day and the joys (?) of being single when everyone else is out cuddlin' 'n nuzzlin' in dark corners of romantic restaurants. Check out "Hump Day" exclusively on the editorial page of this Wednesday's Moncton Times & Transcript... New Brunswick's largest daily newspaper!

Dixie Chicks clean up at the Grammys

Seems like the Dixie Chicks have been officially forgiven for their criticism of President George W. Bush after 9-11. Last night, they picked up five Grammys, including all the biggies -- Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Album of the Year. It was awesome to see The Police reunited! Too bad they sang my least-favourite song, however... "Roxanne." I know it's an iconic song for them... their classic... but I can't stand it. Click here for a complete list of Grammy winners. And I guess there's no more suitable way to end this post by presenting the video of the Dixie Chicks' big song of the night... "Not Ready to Make Nice" ... winner of both Song of the Year and Record of the Year:

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Citizen journalists take over news-gathering duties for TV station in Santa Rosa, California

KFTY-TV in Santa Rosa, California, has dumped most of its newsroom staff and will be relying almost entirely on "citizen journalists" to gather its news from now on. According to this report, "So the next step in Channel 50's evolution will be a nationally watched experiment in local television coverage. Over the next few months, the station's management plans to ask people in the community -- its independent filmmakers, its college students and professors, its civic leaders and others -- to provide programming for the station." What an interesting experiment! Will be fascinating to see if the "citizens" can remain fair and impartial. It will certainly make for some interesting and controversial coverage. You can be sure that journalistic ethics will be shown the door in some cases, though. With little or no training in journalism, some of these "citizen journalists" will likely cross many lines that shouldn't be. In the lawsuit-crazy United States, this may put a quick end to the experiment.

A sign of the apocalypse: I agree with a Roman Catholic archbishop on something

Despite being Roman Catholic, I disagree with the church on many social issues. Heck, I'd probably even have a problem with the brand of paper clips they purchase for their offices. With that said, I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly today with Vancouver Archbishop Raymond Roussin regarding Telus's decision to offer pornography on their cell phones. Click here for the story. I am far (!!) from being a prude, but other than for sheer profit, what reason does a mainstream telephone company have for selling pornography directly to their subscribers? I can see allowing it on their systems for download or viewing for the sake of freedom of speech (through third parties)... but to now transform every single one of the company's shareholders into purveyors of pornography has got to be the most insane, disastrous public relations decision ever! Remember, it's not just Telus -- the company -- that's selling porn, but Grandma Mabel, Auntie Sarah, Cousin Gertrude and Uncle Floyd, too -- all of whom are shareholders. And how many pension funds and mutual funds are Telus investors? Can a teachers' pension fund reasonably argue that it can continue to invest in a company that directly sells porn? Oh sure, Telus will probably make tons of money... but somehow I doubt that Telus attracts the type of shareholders that are willing to benefit from pornography profits. If someone wants to start up their own pornographic magazine or website, I have no overt moral problem with that as long as its legal. The difference in Telus's case is that its shareholders had a reasonable expectation that investing in the company would not turn them into merchants of porn -- and that's why it's such a horrible PR move on the company's part. Expect this decision to be reversed by the end of the week. The optics of this are about as bad as you can get and cannot be justified... nada... zilch... zero. Also, expect whoever OK'd this decision to be fired outright or resign "to spend more time with their family." UPDATE: Feb. 21/07 - Click here.

Geographic locations of visitors to this blog so far...

Google Analytics is so cool because it allows you to track where your visitors are from. So far, I've had visitors from every continent of the globe except Africa and Antarctica. The vast majority of visitors are from Canada and the United States, with China coming in third place! (Hello to everyone in China!)

  • #1 Canadian city: Moncton (understandably... it's my hometown and the blog is publicized in the newspaper when my column is published weekly...)
  • #1 American city: Los Angeles
  • #1 city outside North America: Beijing

So there you go! Pretty cool to see where everyone is from!

World lottery proposed with annual jackpot of up to $572 million Cdn / $487 million U.S.

British lottery provider Camelot is proposing a world lottery within five years that would offer an annual super-jackpot of up to $572 million Cdn / $487 million U.S. - and monthly draws creating up to 100 millionaires at a time. According to the company, 20 countries need to sign up in order to make the venture possible. So far, 48 have expressed an interest. Whoa! That would buy a lot of Kraft Dinner or (nearly) 1,233 of these -- exluding sales tax. Click here for Camelot's news release.