Saturday, April 07, 2007

Some photos from inside the Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Coeur convent on King Street, Moncton

I visited my great aunt Marie in the convent today. She's been a Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Coeur sister for more than 70 years. She'll be 96 in June. She's slowed down quite a bit and is confined to a wheelchair, but I'm glad to report that she was in a chipper mood today and all smiles as my cousin and I brought her around to visit! I'm not a regular church-goer, but I really like the atmosphere in the convent. The sisters seem genuinely happy and truly care for one another. It's a community in the real sense of the word. I even met my brother's grade five teacher who he had more than 30 years ago at Aberdeen School - Sister Jacqueline Poirier. She's still going strong. Here are some of the photos I took:

This is a view into the main foyer from one of the many parlours for visitors. It looks a bit crooked, but it's just the angle of the shot.

This is a close-up of a cross-stitch that was hanging on the wall in the parlour I was waiting in.

This is a photo of the floor tile pattern in the parlour.

Cheaper than going to the dentist!

This little girl has a loose tooth pulled via bow and arrow.

Canadian bandleader Percy Faith would have been 99 today

The great Canadian bandleader Percy Faith, who died in 1976, would have been 99 today. Here he is leading his orchestra in "Theme from A Summer Place," winner of the 1961 Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

Singer Janis Ian is 56 today

Click here for more on Janis Ian.

"Maude" complete first season out on DVD

Finally, the excellent "Maude" TV series from the 1970s is out on DVD. For those of us who grew up in the 1970s, it was a big part of our TV viewing. Beatrice Arthur, who played Maude, went on to play Dorothy on "Golden Girls," another long-running show that earned her another generation of fans. Some trivia: "Maude" was a spinoff of "All in the Family"... she's Edith Bunker's cousin. Here are the opening credits to Maude with that catchy theme song.

Friday, April 06, 2007

To commemorate Easter, here's an article I wrote in December about my Uncle Romeo's passing

Since this is Easter weekend, I thought it perhaps an appropriate time to post this column that I wrote in December after my Uncle Romeo's passing. Good Friday is solemn... but Easter Sunday is joyful. Romeo's passing may have been solemn, too, but I like to think that there was a celebration waiting for him in Heaven, just like Easter.

Remembering a relative's life fully lived
Hump day
As published on page D6, Moncton Times & Transcript
December 6, 2006

When my aunt Barbara passed away in 2002, my uncle Romeo tried hard to move on but it was impossible to mask the deep sense of loneliness that came over him after losing his life partner of nearly 50 years.

At a family function a few years ago, I asked him how he was doing. He didn't even pretend not to miss Barbara's companionship. A sense of sadness came over him as he told me quite grimly, "Oh, it's really difficult," he said. "I don't like to eat alone."

It was a heartbreakingly candid and honest comment from a man who was still lost after his wife's passing despite the support of his family and friends.

To his credit, he remained active and kept busy with various activities, including golf and visiting family and friends, but it was never the same. His grandchildren were a special comfort, however. Romeo chuckled mischievously when he told me, "Sometimes my grandkids don't call me Grampy, they call me Grumpy."

In fact, conversations with Romeo were always animated and vocal. He never shied away from a good argument and always relished sharing his opinions. If there was an opposing view to be had, Romeo was there.

An avid hockey fan and former player and referee, stories abounded of his admonishing refs for their bad calls. If his hockey-playing grandson lost the puck, Romeo would firmly give advice on how to improve. Even when he went to church, he always had a comment for the priest, likely something about world affairs or how things just weren't like they were in the good old days.

Once, when I wrote a review for a local newspaper that was highly critical of his favourite restaurant, Romeo was livid. I thought he was kidding, but there was no "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" grin. "They have good food there! Your column was #$&*!" He called a spade a spade and it didn't matter if you were related to him or not.

I smile when I think about him because he would always give you an honest opinion regardless of whether you wanted to hear it or not. And you know, there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, it was part of his charm - and I always found him to be charming.

On the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 28, after a short period of failing health, Romeo was disconnected from the life support machines he'd been on for about two weeks. He knew the risks before being connected and knew he might not come out of it. A man of strong faith, however, he was sure that whatever was meant to be would be. And besides, the worst that could happen was that he'd be with Barbara again, hardly a disheartening thought to a man who so terribly missed his sweetheart.

At the funeral home, I heard about how much Romeo loved to barbecue steak, so I decided to honour him on the evening after his funeral with the largest T-bone steak I could find and smother it with fried mushrooms and onions.

Now, Romeo would always let it be known that there was a heart attack right around the corner for me if I didn't smarten up and lose weight. The comments were certainly said out of concern and that's the way I took them, despite admittedly swearing below my breath. But Romeo always made sure he got in the last word . . . and he sure did on this subject!

So while sitting at the post-funeral reception chatting with family and thinking about my delicious tribute supper to come that night, Romeo just had to get that last word in on my "fluffiness." All of a sudden the folding chair I was sitting on snapped in half and I was laid out flat on my back on the floor with dozens of surprised and worried eyes staring at me.

Point taken, Romeo, but I still had that steak in your honour and it was delicious. Remember, stubbornness runs in the family.

Romeo was a hard worker. He was a very devoted father, husband, son, brother, grandfather and friend. He was an interesting man, with all his assets and all his flaws, just like the rest of us. And judging by the huge crowd at his funeral on Saturday morning, those assets far outnumbered the flaws.

On the evening of Nov. 28, I could just imagine Romeo walking toward that light we'll all see when our day arrives. At the end of the light, he would be warmly and enthusiastically welcomed by his mother Léonie and father Émile, his brothers Camille, who died in infancy (and who has a namesake brother alive today), Patrice, Normand, Louis, and sister Thérèse . . . all of whom had passed away from various ailments over the years and who are now smiling, pain-free and enjoying a big celebratory feast to welcome home yet another beloved family member.

And, of course, there would be Barbara, too, waiting for Romeo to come home since she arrived there suddenly and without much warning in 2002. Radiant among all the hoopla and celebrations for Romeo's arrival, she would pat the seat of the chair next to her and motion for him to come over and sit down. Elated at seeing her again, he would quickly go to her and they would embrace lovingly.

And before they would sit down for some of his mother's good homemade food - those familiar delicacies that only a mother can make - Barbara would whisper in his ear those words that Romeo had waited so long to hear:

"Dear, you never have to eat alone again."

Two very different singers died on this day in 1998: Tammy Wynette and Wendy O. Williams

Two very diferent female singers died nine years ago today -- April 6, 1998.

Tammy Wynette died at the young age of 55 of a cardia arythmia while sleeping on the sofa. Known as one of the great queens of country music, she had many hits throughout the years, including D-I-V-O-R-C-E and Stand by Your Man. One of her biggest hits, ironically, was a disco'ish number in 1991 as a guest singer on the KLF song Justified and Ancient. The song hit #11 on the U.S. Billboard charts, #2 on the U.K. charts and was #1 in 18 countries around the world. First up, a performance of Stand by Your Man from the old Hee Haw show. (Gotta love the "helmet hair," eh? Many cans of hairspray obviously died in the making of this video.)

Here's Justified and Ancient -- quite a different style of song for Tammy. It introduced her to an entire new young audience of fans.

And punk singer Wendy O. Williams, lead singer of group The Plasmatics, died on the same day as Tammy Wynette on April 6, 1998, after walking into a wooded area near her home and shooting herself. (This is a relatively rare form of suicide for women.) Here she is singing Reform School Girls (1986).

Both of these very different singers remain revered by their (jsut as different) fans nine years after their deaths, both of which came much too soon.

It's Good Friday 2007

Today is Good Friday, the day that Christians around the world commemmorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Pet food recall: Sunshine Mills Inc. products

"The recall of contaminated pet food and treats is being widened to include dog biscuits and more Menu Foods products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday. The FDA said dog biscuits manufactured by Alabama-based Sunshine Mills Inc., which were made with imported Chinese wheat gluten, are being pulled from the marketplace. Mississauga-based Menu Foods has also expanded its date range of recalled wet pet foods to include products dated back to Nov. 8. None of these products were sold in Canada. The recalled products from Sunshine Mills Inc. include some of the products made for sale under five private labels, including Ol'Roy biscuits, sold by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and Stater Bros. large biscuits, sold by Stater Bros. Markets. It also covered a portion of Sunshine's own Nurture, Lassie and Pet Life dog biscuit brands." Click here for the full news story. Click here for the list of recalled products.

R.I.P. Dusty (1993-2007)

My sister and her hubby's dog Dusty passed away this morning at the age of 14. Rest in peace, old girl. You were a loyal and trusted pet -- and loved. Before you watch this video, make sure you have a few tissues handy.

CBC cancels the excellent "Hatching Matching and Dispatching"

One of the most hilarious and irreverant shows in Canadian television history - Hatching, Matching and Dispatching - has been cancelled by CBC after being off the air for seemingly eons for "retinkering." Well, it seems they probably tinkered it to death. What talent is going to stay with a show that's "on" one day and "off" the next? Hard to keep stars interested if they're all off working on other projects. A damn shame, I tell ya! This was the funniest thing going. Absolutely brilliant. Congratulations to Mary Walsh for amazing work on the show. I really hope that CTV picks it up and gives it another chance. Click here for more.

Honest-to-goodness letters give way to e-mail

Here's yesterday's column:

Brian Cormier
Hump Day
Published Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Appeared on page D6, Moncton Times & Transcript

I really miss the days when I would sit at a desk, put pen to paper and actually write an honest-to-goodness letter. But long gone are the days when I was an avid letter writer with a large number of correspondents that included family, friends and even pen pals who I'd never met other than through photos and their handwriting.

Today, I only send e-mails using shortcuts such as "LOL" (laughing out loud), OMG (oh my God) or BRB (be right back). I would find it difficult to find the patience to sit down and write a letter in long hand like I used to do. And Lord knows, patience is not one of my strong points. If I were God, I would have certainly opted for creationism since evolution would have taken way too much time.

As a kid, I'd write letters to my grandparents and my aunt. I would tell them all about the goings-on in the Cormier family household and in school. I would sometimes put small gifts in the envelopes - kind of like a cat dropping a dead mouse on the doorstep as a gift to the family. In the fall, I would perhaps include a nice colourful leaf with the letter or the odd other trinket or two. Once, as a gift, I included a chewed-up pen that I'd found outside. Maybe my letter recipient would have preferred the dead mouse.

When I went away to university, I missed my friends a lot and went on a letter-writing spree that would have put Jesus' apostles to shame. Long detailed letters went out at regular intervals and any I received were answered promptly that day. Missing the mail pickup was akin to forgetting about one's heart bypass surgery or not showing up at your daughter's wedding because you "forgot." Missing the pickup was not an option for a die-hard letter-writer like me.

My roommate during my first year of university was a big letter-writer, too, and we'd often have contests to see who'd receive the most letters in one day. Somehow, I'd managed to best him by one letter when I received six one day and he only received a paltry five. He probably died alone in alley somewhere after that. Only five letters in one day, eh? Amateur! Sucks to be hated, eh?

I had a part-time job in the mailroom at university, so I got to see all the letters coming in. Some of my classmates received letters quite often, others only very rarely. Some people received mostly cards around various holidays.

Two sisters I knew would receive cards for every holiday imaginable: "Happy Albanian Yak Days"; "Happy National Circumcision Week"; "Happy Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's Corgi's Pap Test." I'm sure their family was solely responsible for any and all profits in the greeting card industry from 1983 to 1986, when I sorted mail.

During high school, I somehow got the idea to broaden my cultural horizons by getting pen pals from all over the world. I honestly can't remember how I went about getting them, but it was very easy: simply send in your interests, age, sex, etc., and you would receive a letter shortly from someone who wanted to be your pen pal.

I had several pen pals then: girls in South Korea, Brazil, England and the Channel Islands (who I still correspond with to this day), and guys from Sweden, Kenya, Liberia and the United States. The Korean girl would send me these really elaborate hand-made gifts. She was also quite the photographer, and I received many photos of her family. I corresponded with the Swede for years until we eventually lost touch.

The Kenyan was interesting. He was very blunt about what he wanted: cameras and money. It was all about the stuff I could send to him rather than discussing culture and interests. He got dumped pretty fast. The Liberian was the poster child for clinical depression, but I really can't blame him, considering the political turmoil going on in his country at the time. I felt like I needed a degree in psychology to write to him. Civil war wasn't anything that I could relate to since I lived in the safe and relatively rich country of Canada. He had to worry about getting shot when walking the streets at night. All I had to worry about was getting a cavity from eating too much maple syrup.

But it's Belinda, my pen pal from the Channel Islands in the U.K., with whom I've corresponded the longest: 26 years (since 1981) and still going strong. She still enjoys writing long detailed letters, but I've pretty much reverted to writing exclusively via e-mail, my handwriting having gone slowly downhill over the years. People used to tell me that I had great handwriting. Now, they just ask, "What word is that?" and, "What does that say?" Today, I try to write so fast that things tend to come out as gibberish.

Over the years, Belinda and I have told each other about all sorts of things going on in our lives: births, deaths, marriages, break-ups, illnesses, countless residence and job changes, birthdays, holidays, pets and other everyday banalities and excitements of life. She works in the post office on Sark - the smallest of the Channel Islands - so if you're ever over there, say "hi" for me. We've never met in person and have only spoken on the telephone once - and that was more than 20 years ago. And not having access to high-speed Internet on Sark, talking via webcam is not an option, either.

Today, she's married and enjoying life on her quaint little island, and I quite enjoy the mystery of wondering whether or not we'll ever meet. One of these days, I may just surprise her by showing up. Will she recognize me? With my luck, she'll have left the island for two weeks' holiday when I show up unannounced.

Oh well, at least I'll get to put my handwriting to use again - by sending her a postcard from her own backyard. "Having a great time on Sark! Wish you were here!"

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Relax, people!!! It was an April Fool's joke...

Apparently, my April Fool's prank post is causing quite a stir among some people who haven't yet clued in that it's a joke. Please read the entire article and click on the links and the comments. It becomes quite obvious that it was an April Fool's joke. Everyone can relax. The cathedral in Moncton is NOT being torn down to make way for a new office complex. I've received e-mails in the last couple of days from people who are shocked that the cathedral is being "demolished." Relax and check the date. 'Twas April Fool's Day. Click here for the post. And thanks to CBC Radio's Information Morning show here in Moncton for mentioning the prank on Monday's show!

American Idol: Damn I'm good!

As I predicted earlier this evening, the bottom three were Gina, Haley and Phil, with Gina going home. Man, that gives me back my confidence after being so wrong so many times this year. I'd lost my Idol prediction edge! Click the above photo for Gina's homepage on the American Idol website.

Some networks refusing to carry Toronto Blue Jays commercial

"A new commercial that depicts Blue Jays slugger Frank Thomas smacking a child with a pillow has caused consternation among viewers and regulatory bodies alike, but the ball club is at a loss as to why. The original version of the commercial depicts two boys bouncing up and down on a bed while having a pillow fight. The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Thomas then enters the room and says "Hey, you guys are supposed to be in bed." One of the boys then smacks Thomas with a pillow. He responds: "Oh yeah?" grabs the pillow, winds up, and lets fly a home run-worthy swing, knocking the boy off the bed and onto the floor. Thomas then bounds out of the room with a satisfied look on his face. The boy pops back up with a shocked expression and says "wow." The ad was intended to be one of a series promoting the Jays' 2007 season which opened on Monday, with a victory on the road against the Detroit Tigers. As it turns out, the original version will only run on the CBC, which as a public broadcaster has the right to set its own standards. Other networks running the ads will show an edited version that doesn't show the child being knocked to the floor, after the Television Bureau of Canada ruled it was inappropriate." Click here for more.

I can see what they mean, but I actually thought it was rather funny. It's obviously exaggerated. What do you think? (For the record, I think the kid says "Whoa!" not "Wow!")

Wow... talk about bad special effects!

Guess what these guys were arrested for?

If I hadn't read it, I would never have believed it. Click here to read more.

American Idol prediction for tonight

Let's get the obvious out of the way first. Yes, Sanjaya should go home, but that doesn't seem likely just yet. I think the bottom three will be Gina, Haley and Phil. I have a funny feeling that it's Gina going home tonight for some reason, although she's never been in the bottom group yet. We'll see what happens! It could very well be Haley or Phil, though... both have been in the bottom group at least once in the past couple of weeks. But my money's on Gina tonight. Gut instinct. I do have another prediction...

Every year, there is a "shocker" early exit. Last year's was a doozy: Chris Daughtry. I still can't believe it. This year's shocker? I think it will be LaKisha. I think that the "black diva" vote will migrate toward Melinda, leaving LaKisha out in the cold. That's why Chris Richardson's days may be numbered. I think his votes will trend toward the consistently good Blake. Sanjaya's tween vote will eventually move toward Melinda and Blake, as well. And I think that the thought of Melinda not winning (she SO deserves to win this year) will cause the pranksters who are currently voting for Sanjaya to trend toward her, as well. She's too likeable to risk having her lose. Do you want to see her cry? I sure don't.

Remember cute little Brian Bonsall from NBC's "Family Ties"?

UPDATE Sept. 1/07: Bonsall was given two years probation. Click here for more.

Ah, look at that innocent face, eh? Actor Brian Bonsall played little brother Andy Keaton in the long-running hit NBC comedy series "Family Ties" from 1986-89. The character was born on the January 31, 1985, episode of the show. By the next season, he was already in pre-school. (Gotta love how they age kids on TV, eh? Soaps were notorious for that. A 12-year-old kid would go away to summer camp in June and come back in September as an 18-year-old with either facial hair (if the character was male) or bosoms (if the character was female).) He stayed with the show from 1986 until the end of the series in 1989. Well, here's Bonsall today:

That's his mugshot (now aged 25) after being arrested in Boulder, Colorado, last week after a domestic dispute with his girlfriend. Ah, little Andy's all grown up. Hide the valuables! Alex P. Keaton would NOT be amused.

"Off the Mark" Easter cartoons

With Easter fast approaching, here are a couple of related cartoons from Mark Parisi who writes and draws "Off the Mark." I think this guy is really clever. Click here to visit his website and be prepared to laugh! (Yes, I've blogged about him before, but I really think people need to discover his humour.)

Canadian singer Allanah Myles' "Black Velvet" hit #1 on Billboard 17 years ago today

Hump Day: Honest-to-goodness letters give way to e-mail

Check out my Hump Day column on the editorial page (pg. D6) of today's Moncton Times & Transcript. Today's column is all about the long-lost art of letter writing. I talk about some old pen pals that I used to have -- and one with whom I still correspond 26 years after first writing to each other in 1981!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Pet food recall: Dingo pet treats

"Eight in One Inc. announced Monday that it is pulling all packages of Dingo Chick'N Jerky, Dingo Kitty Chicken Jerky and Dingo Ferret Chicken Jerky. The treats were sold in Canada and the U.S. This recall is not linked to a recall involving contaminated wheat gluten in cat and dog food. The company warns that the salmonella in the tainted dog food could infect both animals and pet owners who handle the food. Salmonella can cause symptoms including high fever, severe headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. People with weak immune systems are particularly vulnerable to salmonella poisoning." Click here for more from CTV News. Click here for the company's news release.

Funny commercial...

If you've never seen this commercial before, you'll laugh and agree wholeheartedly when you find out what they're selling.

Oh, how touching! The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards snorted his own father's ashes

"Keith Richards has acknowledged consuming a raft of illegal substances in his time, but this may top them all. In comments published Tuesday, the 63-year-old Rolling Stones guitarist said he had snorted his father's ashes mixed with cocaine. "The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father," Richards was quoted as saying by British music magazine NME. "He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared," he said. "... It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive." Richards' father, Bert, died in 2002, at 84." Click here for more. Now that's what a mother wants to hear.

Doris Day / Stockwell Day petition

Some comments in the previous post mention a petition put forward by former "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" host Rick Mercer (see photo) in 2000. The leader of Canada's opposition party in the House of Commons at the time - Stockwell Day of the Canadian Alliance - was promising to hold referenda on issues should a petition demanding such reach a certain number of signatures. The "This Hour" crew, wanting to cause some mischief, brought up the idea of seeing if they could prove Mr. Day's policy was flawed. After all, governments are hired to make decisions -- and holding referenda on things every few months would cost a fortune. So they decided to see if they could get enough Canadians to sign an online petition to have Mr. Day change his name to Doris... thus, Doris Day. Within a very short time, they had the required number of signatures on their electronic petition and proved that getting signatures was easy to get and that the policy was terribly flawed. Needless to say, the Canadian Alliance got shmucked in the election soon after that. Click here for an archived interview with Rick Mercer from CBC Radio's "As It Happens." It's too bad that the video is no longer available online... at least I can't find it anywhere. Is someone finds a copy, let me know.

Doris Day is 83 today

Singer and actress Doris Day turns 83 today. If you like the "crooner" style of music, you'd really like her stuff. Her Christmas CD is great, too. Here she is with Perry Como singing "Everybody Loves a Lover":

This week's Hump Day column...

... is all about letter-writing and the pen pals from all over the world with whom I used to correspond when I was younger -- U.K., Kenya, Sweden, Brazil, Liberia, etc. Read it exclusively on the editorial page of Wednesday's Moncton Times & Transcript.

Canadian pet treat recall: Jerky Treats Beef Flavour

"The Canadian division of Del Monte Foods is recalling a brand of dog treats as a precautionary measure, after learning wheat gluten supplied to the company from China contained melamine. The brand affected in Canada is Jerky Treats Beef Flavour with the best before date of 16.08.08 (Aug. 16, 2008). "Consumers should discontinue feeding this product and return affected products to their store for a refund," DLM Foods Canada Corp. said in a press release Monday." Click here for more. The previous Del Monte recall was for U.S. products only. This recall is for a product being sold in Canada.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Funeral home commercial made me wince

There's a new TV commercial for a local funeral home here in the Moncton area that I saw for the first time tonight. First of all, from everything I've heard, let me just say that the facility offers excellent service and has a great reputation. I must take issue with this commercial, though. It uses client testimonials to promote itself, which is fine. Testimonials are a very powerful marketing tool. One is from an older widow who talks about the excellent and compassionate service she received after her husband's death. It's the other testimonial that got me wincing. It was from a father whose infant had passed away. That's OK in itself, but he says how he "got a good price." Now, PR-wise, if I were the owner of the funeral home, I would not have allowed this to be part of the commercial. A father discussing how he got a "good price" for his child's funeral is just not... I don't know... It seems insensitive and I'm wondering if the father isn't still in shock. I'm sure it was important to the family. After all, funerals are expensive. But if I was going to somehow mention that the home's funerals are affordable, I would have had the ad's narrator say it or even the adult child of an elderly parent who had passed away. I just feel really uncomfortable about a father talking about how happy he was that his baby's funeral was had at a "good price." What do you think? (This is what happens when you do your own advertising without the assistance of professionals. And if the funeral home did have professionals helping them out with this, then they should be kicked to the curb, if you ask me.)

Starving for Sanjaya

Personally, I think the "Starving for Sanjaya" chick is a big hoax, no pun intended. You see, there's this woman who's on a hunger strike until Sanjaya Malakar is booted off American Idol. Hey... how about going on a hunger strike until the troops are out of Iraq or until those British military personnel are released by Iran... or until cancer is cured... or until hunger in Africa is eliminated... or something a lot more meaningful than Sanjaya's American Idol stint. Blogging about the kid is one thing, but going on a hunger strike and potentially damaging your health is another. But, like I said, I'm not so sure it isn't all a big hoax. Click here for her site. Click here for a related news article. Click here for a TV item. One funny line: "Don't worry, I'm still alive." Oh, I wasn't worried. Just disappointed. UPDATE: April 2/07 at 10:07 p.m. -- Her page is now set to "Private." Wonder why she's so publicity-shy right at the moment? I smell "hoax," I tell ya!

More games we used to have as kids...

This is "Rebound," which wasn't that exciting, but it's one of the first games my brother, sister and I had as kids.

And this is "Tip-it". We spent lots of time playing this one until the base broke, I think.

And remember "Hands Down"? With a bunch of people slamming down on those plastic parts, I can't believe the game lasted long in a house full of excited kids. The game likely broke relatively quickly.

Second anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death

Pope John Paul II died two years ago today on April 2, 2005. Click here for BBC News coverage and see below for a video of front-page newspaper stories from around the world.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Marvin Gaye was a victim of filicide 23 years ago today

Singer Marvin Gaye was murdered by his father 23 years ago today on April 1, 1984. ("Filicide" is the act of a parent murdering their child. Oooh... big words!) He had a string of hits throughout the years including "What's Going On," "Sexual Healing" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." I was originally going to post "Sexual Healing" because it was a hit song during my youth and that's the one I remember most, but after the previous post about Terence singing about "Two Fathers," I thought posting a video of "Sexual Healing" would be a bit creepy for some reason. So here's Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell singing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough":

"Two Fathers"

This is Terence from The Netherlands singing about his "two real fathers." I think it's really touching. It's been viewed nearly 800,000 times on YouTube! Terence is part of Kinderen voor Kinderen, a Dutch children's chorus that's been around for years.

Pet food recall: Del Monte Pet Products

"Del Monte Pet Products is voluntarily recalling some of its dog and cat products. The company recalled the treats, with certain date codes, after learning from the FDA that the wheat gluten supplied to it from a Chinese plant contained melamine. Melamine is not approved for use in food. The brands that have been recalled include Jerky Treats Beef Flavor Dog Snacks, Gravy Train Beef Sticks Dog Snacks and Pounce Meaty Morsels Moist Chicken Flavor Cat Treats. Other products sold under private labels are also affected: Ol' Roy Beef Flavor Jerky Strips Dog Treats and Ol' Roy Beef Flavor Snack Stick Dog Treats." Click here for the rest of the news item. Click here for the Del Monte Pet Products news release that contains the complete list of recalled products. Click here for links to Del Monte Pet Products' brands.

Talkin' 'bout Sanjaya on CNN's Larry King Live

Common sense at Wal-Mart

I was at Wal-Mart in Dieppe this morning buying a few things for the house. There were two cashiers working up front and I chose the one with the shortest line. Now, this usually backfires on me because I tend to end up in back of someone trying to pay with Albanian yak testicles or something odd like that, but today went relatively smoothly until... The cashier's light was out (the cash's number that's lit up to tell shoppers that the cash is open), so I reminded the cashier when I got there that the light was off. She said they couldn't get it to work. Weird, I thought. Then why open that register if no one can tell it's even open? Then the conveyor belt wouldn't work so she had to reach down across the entire length of the belt to bring stuff toward her. This, of course, left me wondering why in the name of God they would open a cash with no light working and the conveyor belt out of order? I advised a woman on the way out and she said her boss insisted on opening that cash because it was "up front" (as opposed to one set back). I told her it didn't make much sense because the light was out (no one knew the cash was open so no one was going to it) and the conveyor belt was broken, meaning customers or the cashier had to move items themselves. Long story short, the woman I talked obviously agreed with me but had to obey the boss. I told her, "Well you can tell your boss that you received a customer complaint about it and it was very annoying." Like... hello?? Sounds like someone's on a power trip. Shouldn't customer service and convenience come first? How odd.

Moncton's Notre Dame de l'Assomption Cathedral to be demolished

Holy moly! I mean, I don't go to church very often, but even I find that this is a ridiculous waste of beautiful architecture. Moncton's largest church (Roman Catholic or otherwise) is being demolished to make way for a new office complex. A news release sent out yesterday explains that the cathedral has outlived its usefulness for the Roman Catholic Church in Moncton and that it is too expensive to continue to run, especially considering the aging and dwindling congregation. Click here for a 360-degree view of the inside of the beautiful church. The story even hit BBC News since the cathedral is known for its beautiful architecture. And let's face it, cathedrals aren't torn down every day! Click here for the BBC News story.