Saturday, March 24, 2007

Jeff Corwin attacked by elephant

Watch this clip of wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin being attacked by an elephant in Cambodia yesterday while being interviewed by CNN's Anderson Cooper. Corwin posted a note about it on Cooper's blog here (look under March 23). No broken bones, but he's not sure yet on ligaments, etc.

Is this man the next premier of Quebec?

The latest poll shows that 31% will vote PQ, 30% Liberal and 28% ADQ. Holy moly... that's a real barn-burner! For political buffs, Monday night is going to be a long one... André Boisclair, the openly gay former coke-sniffer may end up being premier yet... much to the surprise of many, including the members of his own party who seemed ready to dump him just a few short months ago. It's going to be a an exciting night of results. I can't wait to watch.

Friday, March 23, 2007

New Brunswick man acquitted after killing would-be burglar

Here's an excerpt from this CBC news story: "Just before midnight on March 22, 2006, (George) Mason and his wife woke up to the sounds of a burglar alarm indicating that someone was breaking into their shed. Mason — who had been targeted twice before by thieves who made off with about $8,000 in goods — loaded his rifle, went outside and, seeing no one inside a suspicious truck, fired four shots at the vehicle's tailgate and the tires. He later said he intended to flatten the tires, foiling an escape, and wanted to mark the vehicle to help police identify it. But one of the bullets hit and killed 21-year-old John Ivan Smith, who was hiding in the front seat. Smith and a friend, Brian Wheaton, had been trying to steal an all-terrain vehicle from Mason's property and were using a stolen truck. During the four-day trial, MacDonald argued that his client did not mean to kill anyone, and that that people who live in the country can't count on police to show up quickly so they often keep guns to protect themselves." Congratulations to George Mason on being acquitted. He should have never been charged in the first place. If this crook was killed in the process of committing a completely illegal act on Mr. Mason's property, then that is the sorry result of a risk he took. He knew it was wrong and he paid for it with his life. No pity from me. Not one damn bit. Only the most bleeding of bleegingest hearts would hold Mr. Mason at fault for this. And I ain't one of them! Prosecutors have said that an appeal of the jury ruling is unlikely. Actually, I'd bet that -- privately -- prosecutors and police are glad Mr. Mason was acquitted, although they'd never say so in public. (Photo credit: Noel Chenier, Telegraph-Journal)

Vertigo Candy using "Têtes à Claques" creators for their commercials

If you're Canadian and speak French, you've no doubt visited the incredibly popular "Têtes à Claques" website. Finally, someone has tapped into the comic genius and success of the website's creators for use in advertising. Vertigo Candy has incorporated "Têtes à Claques"-style characters into their funny new ads. And what's great for anglos, the ads are in English! Click here and enjoy. Here's one of the most popular "Têtes à Claques" videos... "Willi Waller 2006":

Man commits suicide on webcam as watchers urge him to do it

This is 42-year-old Kevin Whitrick of Wellington, U.K. As chatroom users watched on Wednesday evening, he committed suicide by hanging himself live on wecam. Some, not believing he was actually trying to kill himself, urged him to hurry up and just do it. The mood changed when they realized he wasn't kidding. "A father of two hanged himself live over the Internet in Britain's first 'cyber suicide'. Kevin Whitrick, 42, took his life after being goaded by dozens of chatroom users from across the world who initially believed he was play acting. But as they watched in horror, Mr. Whitrick climbed onto a chair, smashed through a ceiling and then hanged himself with a piece of rope." Click here for more on the story. That's right up there with those who urge people to jump off buildings. I could never understand that mentality. I think I'd be traumatized for life if I ever saw something like that.

Oh my God: They found rat poison in the recalled pet food!

Look at the photo of that poor little Yorkie dog. Pitiful. Breaks your heart, doesn't it? The photo was posted on the CNN homepage today re: the discovery of rat poison in that massive pet food recall scandal that is sweeping North America. No wonder pets are dropping dead! Rat poison! I hope they get to the bottom of this tragedy and I certainly hope that it wasn't placed there deliberately by someone wanting to sabotage the company - Menu Foods Inc. Click here for more. Worst job in the world today? Spokesperson for this company. If I owned any of the brands that were manufactured at Menu Foods' plants, I would move them immediately to other suppliers or drop them completely -- at least temporarily. Pet owners will never trust them again if they don't.

1980s computer commercial starring William Shatner

Oh, how times have changed! I can't get over how chunky that keyboard is compared to today's paper-thin ones.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Fox's "The Loop"

"The Loop" starring Brett Harrison first ran on Fox last year for a measly nine-episode trial run. I thought it was clever, charming and absolutely laugh-out-loud hilarious. Funniest thing I'd seen in a long time. I thought it was gone forever when I decided to check online today to see what had become of it. Lo and behold, it's coming back for 10 episodes starting in June! Awesome!! There's talk online of the network burning off the new episodes just to get rid of them, but I sincerely hope that this is one of those series -- such as Family Guy -- that finds new life because of high DVD sales. It is honestly one of the funniest shows I've ever seen. Check it out in June when it comes back! You won't regret it.

Coincidences and split seconds change a life

Hump day
Published Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Appeared on page D6, Moncton Times & Transcript

It's difficult for me to believe that 1988 was nearly 20 years ago. It seems like yesterday! I was living and working in another city.

I can't even remember where I was working at the time. I was jumping around from contract to contract, I think. The employment situation back then was certainly different than what it is today. Back then, it was an employers' market. Today, it's definitely an employees' market with worker shortages nearly everywhere.

One fine fall day, I had visited a corner store near the apartment I shared with a roommate when I came across a long-lost cousin as I turned the corner on the sidewalk next to the store. I hadn't seen her for more than two years. In fact, the last time was when I was a pallbearer at her mother's funeral. And it had been years before that, too.

This run-in was in happier circumstances, though, and we had a nice chat. She told me about an organization she belonged to, the Junior Chamber (also known as the Jaycees), and urged me to go to a meeting with her. After some prodding, I decided to go and this eventually led to a long and eventful association with the organization.

I'm not a big traveller, but through the Junior Chamber I went to places I likely never would have visited much on my own, such as Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario (remember, not a big traveller here!), Alberta, Rhode Island and Florida. I met people from all over the world. At a convention in St. John's, I even got to stand next to singer David Bowie at a hotel front desk.

I met lots of great friends, some of whom I keep in touch with to this day. Needless to say, I wouldn't give up the experience for the world. I learned a lot.

But here's what I think about sometimes: What if I hadn't gone to the store that day?

What if I'd never met my cousin around that corner?

We weren't close enough at the time to really just call each other out of the blue for coffee. Oh I suppose we could have, but we didn't, so the likelihood of meeting up with her would have been slim.

It's something I've thought a lot about because I'll often wonder about other times when things could have had quite different turnouts in just the blink of an eye.

Take the car accident I had in 1991. I had a green light and proceeded to turn right at an intersection. Unfortunately, some yahoo clocking upwards of 80 kilometres per hour was trying to beat the red light going in the opposite direction. As you can guess, I got shmucked right in my driver's door.

Immediately upon impact, sirens went off (there was a police cruiser right at the intersection). People started running up to me to see if I was OK. Luckily I was driving a brand of car that prides itself on positive crash test results and I was not injured. The guy who hit me also totalled his own car and another car that he hit after bouncing off me.

I often wonder what would have happened had I been a few inches further in or further out of the intersection. Would I be in a wheelchair now? Maybe I'd be using a cane. Worse, maybe I'd be an all-you-can-eat buffet for a family of hungry worms in a graveyard somewhere.

Another time, returning to the city from an out-of-town meeting, I decided to drive home in a blizzard. Dumb idea. I should have just booked a room in a hotel and stayed safe and warm while watching, uhm, "art films." Anyway, I ended up in back of a car that suddenly decided to brake and turn left onto another road.

I was going way too fast to stop. Lord knows I tried, but all I did was slip and slide on the icy road like a kid trying to skate for the first time. So I had three choices. Go to my left into oncoming traffic. Go straight ahead and ram the back of the car in front of me. Or go right and try to drive around the car via the narrow snow-packed shoulder. I went right and somehow managed to remain on the shoulder without taking the ditch.

Victory! Or so I thought. Unfortunately, the momentum of the car not only brought me back in to my own lane, but right over to the oncoming lane, as well. I felt like I was in a Laurel and Hardy car chase scene. Of course, I failed to come face to face with something small like one of those old Chevrolet Chevettes. No, no. Speeding toward me was a huge oil truck! Great, I thought. I guess they'll be identifying me by my dental records after the sun-like bonfire that's going to begin in about three seconds.

I knew there was a reason I should have flossed that morning! Peter Mansbridge: "The coroner said the victim - the handsome and charming Brian Cormier - died on impact . . . and that he obviously hadn't flossed since Jesus was in carpentry school."

As you can guess, I did make it back in to my own lane without colliding, but just barely. You never know when that next oil truck will come barrelling at you, so if the only things they're going to have to identify me by are my dental records, then I'm darn well going to make sure that the chompers are at least in semi-presentable condition for the open-casket wake. (Note to self: Call dentist's office for cleaning.)

So all this to say: "You never know what's going to happen to you!"

A decision to turn right at an intersection or to go to a corner store could change your life. And a close run-in with an oil truck while you're going too fast on an icy highway in a blizzard could even convince you to floss more often.

Stranger things have happened . . . I think.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

American Idol results show

Well, I was 33% kinda right. Phil and Gina stayed. Stephanie was in bottom two. Shockingly, she was accompanied in the bottom two by Chris R. Unbelievable! What a shame. He didn't deserve to be there, but they... the audience decides. Sanjaya was given a reprieve from the bottom group after a better performance this week. So it was Stephanie and Chris R. in the bottom two... and Stephanie went home. Great singer, but couldn't compete with the other divas, Melinda and Lakisha. She got lost in the shuffle. I didn't realize she was only 19. She seemed so much older.

I'm one of two featured blogs at Big Blog Directory

Thanks to the Big Blog Directory for making me one of two featured blogs for the next few days. I'm sharing the spotlight with South African Cricket Scene. (Cricket -- I just don't get it!) Anyway, to celebrate this momentous occasion, here's Ren and Stimpy's "Happy Happy Joy Joy" video:

Letterman's Larry "Bud" Melman dies at 85

Calvert DeForest, who played the always hilarious Larry "Bud" Melman, a frequent guest character on Late Night With David Letterman for 20 years from 1982 to 2002, died on Monday at the age of 85. Here's what Letterman said about DeForest: "Everyone always wondered if Calvert was an actor playing a character, but in reality he was just himself -- a genuine, modest and nice man," Letterman said in a statement. "To our staff and to our viewers, he was a beloved and valued part of our show, and we will miss him." Here's a clip of the Letterman show from 1994 where DeForest plays Bud Melman playing Johnny Carson. (Confused yet?) Rest in peace and thanks for the laughs.

Some reader comments on today's column

"Imagine my surprise I sat here flossing my teeth this morning and reading your column! Still very much enjoying your column and have managed to cruise by your blog a couple of times too!" (Brian's note: You'll have to read the column to understand this comment. It will be posted online tomorrow.)

"Love your column... Anyhow, this morning after reading your column, I e-mailed my uncle (a war vereran) who lives in Ottawa to tell him to look for the column on the net - he enjoys a good laugh - - and I was wondering how far back I can go to read more columns." (Answer: The Times & Transcript only keeps three days of "free" archives online for subscribers. Otherwise, you'll have to pay for them. However, I do post all my columns here on the blog the day after they're published in the newspaper. All columns published since December 27, 2006, have been posted to the blog. I can usually e-mail ones on a specific topic or ones from a certain period if it's not too onerous a job. The first column appeared on December 14, 2005.)

Thanks for the e-mails, everyone! I love hearing from readers and always respond.

22nd anniversary of beginning of Rick Hansen's "Man in Motion Tour"

Canadian paraplegic athlete Rick Hansen began his 26-month cross-Canada tour 22 years ago today on March 21, 1985, to raise money for spinal cord injury research. On May 22nd of this year, Hansen will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the end of the "Man in Motion Tour," as it came to be known. To this day, Hansen remains a vocal advocate of spinal cord injury research. In fact, on February 2, the Government of Canada announced $30 million in funding over five years for the Spinal Cord Injury Translational Research Network (SCI-TRN), established by the Rick Hansen Foundation. Hansen -- who was paralyzed after being thrown from a truck when he was only 15 -- is a true Canadian hero who has dedicated his life to helping people maintain hope.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Rick Hansen signing $30-million funding deal. According to Wikipedia, "The song "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" was written in his honor by fellow British Columbian David Foster and performed by John Parr for the soundtrack of the film St. Elmo's Fire. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States on September 7, 1985." So in honour of the 22nd anniversary of the beginning of the "Man in Motion Tour," here's that very song:

American Idol prediction

My American Idol predictions have been horrible lately, so I'm certainly making no promises for accuracies about tonight. I predicted that Haley would leave last week, but she stuck around after Simon told her she wasn't that bad. That saved her. This week, she did really well, I thought, despite getting the dreaded #1 slot on the show that has proven to be unlucky for votes. Expectations for Sanjaya are so low now that he can sing half as well as the others and be perceived to have done just as well -- which is what happened last night. I think that poor depressed little girl who cried during the whole show may have saved Sanjaya from getting kicked off the show this week. (Oh I'm just being mean. I know she was so excited that she couldn't stop crying. Poor little thing. It was actually quite cute to see such an excited fan!) Lakisha was OK but the bloom is coming off her rose in favour of Melinda. The best of the night were Melinda, Blake and Chris R. Chris S. was thankfully better than last week's mess. I thought Gina, Phil and Stephanie were forgettable. While Sanjaya has that emotional fan base (people WANT to like him but he's not doing the work yet), he did well enough last night (and throw the bawling kid in for extra credit) that he should do well tonight. I agree with Simon. I think Phil's in danger tonight. Too forgettable. His bald look does not suit him at all and I find it very distracting. So my prediction: Gina, Phil and Stephanie in the bottom three, with Phil and Gina in the bottom two and Phil getting the boot. Watch tonight to see how bloody wrong I am. :) (I wouldn't be shocked if Sanjaya was in the bottom three, but I think he saved himself this week.)

Doggie exercise

I do something similar with my cats using a laser light. They love to chase the point of light all over the house. It's great exercise!

Horror: Sadistic foster mother's reign of terror comes to an end

In the U.K., a cruel, sadistic and twisted woman's reign of terror against her foster children has finally come to an end. Click here to read more and see pics, but be warned that they are graphic. She would regularly beat them with sticks, force them to eat their own vomit and rat feces, and also rub their skin raw with sandpaper. This was done because THEY were sinners. (She's a devout Jehovah's Witness, although I doubt the organization would in any way condone this type of criminal behaviour.) Eunice Spry abused (at least) three foster children over a 19-year reign of terror. One of the children was force-fed so much liquid soap that he could tell different brands apart. Congratulations to the foster child who came forward to report this abuse. They were so terrified that they never reported it before being asked by someone if they were being abused. Finally, the victim had the courage to come forward for help, despite their fear. There's a special place in hell for people like Eunice Spry, and I hope they're preparing a good welcoming party for this evil wench when she kicks the bucket.

Coincidences and split seconds change a life

Check out today's Hump Day column available exclusively on pg. D6 of the Moncton Times & Transcript. The headline pretty much explains what the column is about. I hope you enjoy it. It will be posted here tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Makes ya think...

Reminds me of why they got rid of the old "flesh" Crayola Crayons years ago. "Flesh" was introduced in 1949 but renamed "peach" in 1962. Click here for more on what Crayola colours were introduced... and when.

Let Knut the polar bear cub live!

Here's an excerpt from this Reuters report: "Berlin Zoo rallied to the defence of Knut, a three-month-old polar bear cub, on Tuesday, rejecting demands that the animal be allowed to die after being abandoned by its mother. The fate of "cuddly Knut" has gripped the German capital since his birth in December. Rejected by his mother Tosca, the cub was adopted by a zookeeper who moved into the animal's enclosure to care for him round the clock. Some animal rights campaigners think this will humanise the bear too much and want the zoo to stop saving young animals. "Hand-rearing a polar bear is not appropriate and is a serious violation of animal rights," Bild newspaper quoted animal rights campaigner Frank Albrecht as saying." OK, let's get this straight. Animal rights activists are peeved when people are cruel to animals, right? Right. And animal rights activists are peeved when humans are nice to animals, right? Wrong. Huh??? Anything wrong with this picture? Yeah! It's called incredible hypocrisy. I, for one, applaud this zookeeper. Compassion should rule our actions, not some ideal vision of what life should be for someone else. This cub was born in captivity and would have lived forever in captivity. It would have known nothing else. It will be fed, safe and cared for. In an ideal world, perhaps it would be out in the wild, but it's not. Why should Knut be euthanized just to appease the ideals of some wingnut?

Butt-cheek-clenching suspense

I don't consider myself much of a redneck, but when it comes to police chase videos, I go totally Jerry Springer. They're certainly not relaxing to watch! Lots of suspense and drama. I think the police manoeuvres to take out these guys are amazing. So much training involved. And the gall of some of those drivers! Incredible. In this video, the driver was 15 years old and had stolen this vehicle along with his 15-year-old buddy. They're actually pretty good drivers. The narrator mentions the large 40-gallon gas tank and how it could last for a long time. It evidently did! In the beginning of the video, it's daylight. At the end, it's dark. Wild stuff!

What a cool table!

Closure of Faint Hope Claws animal shelter in Notre-Dame

On Saturday, I blogged about the closure of the Faint Hope Claws shelter in Notre-Dame, about 20-25 minutes outside of Moncton. I'm happy to report that several of the dogs have been placed at the Moncton SPCA and other shelters, including the SPCA in Halifax. No word yet on the cats, though! Yikes. I'll let you know when I hear anything. I'm sure someone has an eye out for them, so I'm not (too) worried... but hopefully they'll find their way to other shelters sooner rather than later. Thanks to to the Moncton Times & Transcript for a really great story by Aloma Jardine on pg. A3 of today's paper -- "These dogs need a new home." And look at the photo by Greg Agnew that accompanied the article and that I've posted here, too. Doesn't that just break your heart? There's nothing like a pitiful doggie photo to tug at the heartstrings, eh? He's safe and warm and is being fed at the SPCA, though, so he's fine. But I'm sure he'd rather have a nice warm home of his own.

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

... is difficult to describe. Basically, I go through a few life events and "close calls" and wonder how life would have been had things gone differently. It's one of those columns that is a bit difficult to describe. Hmmm... along the lines of, "What if I hadn't gone to the club that night? Would I have ever met my new wife / husband / friend / etc." Check it out exclusively on the editorial page of tomorrow's Moncton Times & Transcript.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I hate this commercial...

... but ironically, I'd kill for some right now. Ugh.

Don't escalators in Spain have steps?

Watch this poor lady fly down the escalator. They apparently have no steps on escalators over there. Strange. She's not strong enough to hang on to her overloaded shopping cart... and yikes!

Does duct tape cure warts?

Some people claim that putting duct tape on a wart cures it. Today, however, a study came out refuting that suggestion. Click here to find out more.

I heard back from Wrigley re: Hallowe'en commercial question of February 3

On February 3, I asked if anyone remembered an old Wrigley Hallowe'en commercial that featured an animated witch -- the Doublemint Witch. I think the animated witch was combined with live action. It only ran at Hallowe'en. She encouraged parents to pass out Doublemint Gum at the door on Hallowe'en night, if memory serves correct. Since no one responded to my blog inquiry, I wrote directly to Wrigley about it. Here's a response I received last night:

"Dear Mr. Cormier,

Sorry for the delay in responding. It is hard to find advertising information going back more than a decade. Do you have any idea when it aired? I do have a couple of print ads for Halloween: 2 Juicy Fruit print ads from 1960 & 1961 (attached).

We’re curious why you are asking. Is it mostly nostalgia?

Bryan Challis

Customer Service Co-ordinator/
Consumer Affairs Administrator"

I did write back and tell him that it was indeed for nostalgia purposes. I wasn't suing them for trauma related to seeing that witch all those years ago. :) Thanks very much to Wrigley for checking up on this for me! That's great customer service, I tell ya! Here are the two ads he sent along. I love old stuff like this - although 1960 and 1961 are before my time.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I had the hiccups today...

I hiccup really strangely. I have a quick intake of air and then burp... so every time I hiccup, I burp at the same time. Weird. If you ever get the hiccups and wonder how to get rid of them, click here.

Great moments in advertising

What happens when you visit Magnetic Hill, New Brunswick

You put your car in neutral and then coast UP THE HILL, hence the term "Magnetic Hill." It's all an optical illusion, but you'd swear to God you were doing it. I've lived here all my life and I can't figure it out. Here's something I found on YouTube:

Some old Canadian music videos...

Remember The Box? These guys were awesome. I saw them live in Fredericton, N.B., in the late 1980s. Here they are singing Ordinary People:

And here they are singing "Carry On":

"Tokyo Rose" by Idol Eyes...

One of my favourite Canadian songs ever... "Patio Lanterns" by Kim Mitchell:

I can't believe I found this one! Sherry Kean -- "I Want You Back"...

"Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats (awesome video...):

Happy 69th birthday, Charley Pride!

In 1973, I received a tape recorder for Christmas. With the tape recorder came two cassettes -- both by Charley Pride. We used to listen to Charley Pride a lot in the 1970s. My aunt was (and is) a big fan of his and we always listened to his 8-tracks on the way to visit my grandparents in PEI. Click here for his official website. Here's one of the most under-appreciated country songs of all time -- "Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger" -- along with "Crystal Chandeliers."