Saturday, April 14, 2007

Burl Ives died 12 years ago today

Beloved singer and actor Burl Ives died 12 years ago today on April 14, 1995, at the age of 85. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the 1958 film The Big Country. He was well-known for his many ballads, including Funny Way of Laughin', A Little Bitty Tear, and the Christmas-season favourite Holly Jolly Christmas. Of course, you'll also remember him as Sam the Snowman, the narrator in the Rankin-Bass animated Christmas special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964). Sing along to the karaoke version of Holly Jolly Christmas here (since it's so snowy out, you might as well!):

Here's an old commercial for some concert videos:

It's April but looks like January!

The weather here has been awful for the past couple of days. Yesterday was a day of snow, sleet, wind and rain. Looking outside, it looks just like the middle of January, not the middle of April. But hey, we have to patient and let nature take its course. Things can't help but warm up. 'Tis the law of nature, after all!

Friday, April 13, 2007

A quote from Douglas MacArthur

There is no security on this earth. Only opportunity.

Asian "Candid Camera" - Funny!

Cool new automatic door

I'm not sure what the purpose of this is... other than to be different. But it's kind of cool to watch.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Gretchen Bonaduce files for divorce from train wreck Danny

You know it's bad when your divorce is one of the top stories on CNN. Self-described train wreck Danny Bonaduce's marriage is ending after 16 years. Danny and his wife Gretchen starred in the VH1 reality series Breaking Bonaduce, which lasted two seasons. I watched every episode, of course. I was never one to turn my head away from a gory car accident, after all. Morbid curiosity is one of my traits. Anyway, if you've ever watched the show, you're likely not terribly shocked at this development. I'm surprised it lasted this long. Hopefully he'll stay on the straight and narrow and remain clean and sober despite this news. He has a long history of drug and alcohol abuse and hopefully this will not lead him to fall off the wagon. I'm not sure what to make of him. He's a combination of complete a**hole, tragic figure and little boy all rolled up in to one. He loves his kids, though. That is clear from the show. If anything, one has to at least give him that. Here's a funny clip from The Soup:

If he still doesn't ring a bell for you, check him out when he was just a kid starring as red-headed guitar-playing son Danny Partridge on The Partridge Family:

Can you believe this? 15-25 cm (6-10 inches) of snow expected tonight

Look, I really don't mind winter... but there's a limit. We got 30 cm (a foot) of snow on Sunday, and now we're expecting close to that tomorrow. In April. Give me a freakin' break. There's nothing we can do about it, but still... When you get the biggest storms of the entire winter in mid-April, it's not good for the nerves! Click here for the latest weather forecast for the Moncton area. (Click here for the non-metric temperature version. Snow amounts are still in metric for some reason.)

Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope 27 years ago today

Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope 27 years ago in 1980 by dipping his artificial leg in the Atlantic Ocean in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. (Click here for a CBC News report.) Terry had lost a leg to cancer and wanted to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. He never completed his journey after his cancer returned and was forced to abandon his marathon on September 1, 1980, just outside Thunder Bay, Ontario. He became a hero to many. Today, there are statues in his memory and several public facilities named after him, including many schools. As recently as last year, a new school was named after him in Bathurst, New Brunswick. Every year, the Terry Fox Run is still held in many locations across Canada and around the world to raise money for cancer research. He died just a little over a year after starting his run on June 28, 1981, at the age of 22. His death was the top story on every national newscast and front-page news in every newspaper across Canada. Here's a great video tribute to Terry that was prepared by a YouTube contributor:

Bill Haley & His Comets recorded "Rock Around the Clock" 53 years ago today

"Rock Around the Clock" was recorded on April 12, 1954, by Bill Haley & His Comets. Here's a video performance of the song.

SawStop: The safest table saw in the world -- quite amazing!

I think this guy failed his sobriety test

Yesterday's column: All things related to death are fascinating

Hump Day
Published Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Appeared on page D6, Moncton Times & Transcript

I have a creepy confession to make. I have a serious problem. You see, I'm pretty sure that I'm a death junkie. I'm fascinated by anything having to do with the subject.

I've read books about life after death. I've watched documentaries and TV reports, including Barbara Walters' "Heaven - Where is it? How do we get there?" There was also an absolutely fascinating documentary that I recently saw called "Dying at Grace," the Gemini Award-winning film that followed a number of terminally ill patients at the Salvation Army Toronto Grace Health Centre.

Participants and their families were interviewed regarding their thoughts on death. I've never personally been with someone when they died, but from watching "Dying at Grace," I can see that it's a very intimate and powerful moment of life transition. The persons involved were filmed right up until their last breath. I'd often heard about the "death rattle," and you can clearly hear it in the film.

Unnerving, but a natural process. I felt honoured to watch these persons' final moments. Of course, my fascination was also combined with a healthy (or perhaps unhealthy?) dose of morbid curiosity.

I think graveyards are nice, peaceful and full of history. I could spend hours in a graveyard reading all the tombstones and wondering about the lives of those who are buried beneath them: those who lived a long time and those who didn't. I wonder about the surviving spouses who have inscribed their names on the tombstone next to their late partners' names. What if they find new love? Will they still want to be buried there if they end up married to someone else for the last 20 years of their life? I'm sure that in a time of grief no one thinks about that, but I've heard of the awkwardness it can cause.

As you can probably guess, I'm an avid reader of the obituaries and regularly troll online taking a look at the way they are written in various cultures. Obituaries written in the 1700s and 1800s are unique. They seem so cold and matter-of-fact compared to today's much more flowery and sentimental prose.

When I heard last year that a radio station in Charlottetown, P.E.I. was dropping its noon-hour obituaries, I was sad to see this quaint tradition end, but obituaries certainly did not fit in with the station's format. As you can imagine, it's difficult to segue from Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." to five minutes of solemn on-air death notices from a news reader who sounds like he's one paper-cut away from a casket himself.

When I was a kid, we'd visit my grandparents on P.E.I. quite often and the entire house would stop at noonish when the obituaries aired. Despite getting the newspaper every day, the radio broadcast was also a must. I guess it was their version of "late-breaking death news." There was maybe one day of the month when they actually knew someone, and even then they'd already heard through a telephone call or by reading it in the newspaper that morning. Hearing it on the radio, however, must have made it painfully official. Until that deep solemn voice said the name, maybe it was a mistake.

Once, I made fun of my grandmother for listening to the radio obituaries. She was not amused and promptly got up anyway to turn on the radio to get the latest names of those who had been recently visited by the Grim Reaper. My mother and aunts kicked in and also kidded her for being addicted to the broadcast. We were all sternly hushed and told to be quiet while the serious and sad-sounding anchorman came on.

At one point, a woman named "Lulu" was reported to have died. Apparently, this was not a common name around those parts and we thought it to be quite funny. This was a sign for my mother and aunts to all chime in at the same time, "Oh no! Lulu's dead!" What followed was a fit of silly laughter that lasted for a good five minutes, much to my grandmother's horror - although much of it was probably pointed at herself for having inadvertently joined in the guffaws until she caught herself.

My addiction to obituaries made me a strange kid. I would read them when I was little and would get quite sad. One day, my mother asked me why the telephone book had a bunch of names crossed out of it. Being a rather efficient tyke, I quite proudly announced that I was just keeping it updated by crossing out the names of the dead people I'd read about in the newspaper. Nothing weird about that, now, was there?

Hey, I thought it was a great idea but from the odd look on my mother's face, I quickly got the hint that this was more than a bit strange. I never did it again, but for a while I am proud to say that the Cormier household had the most up-to-date telephone book in the entire city thanks to my obsession. You'd think my parents would have appreciated that, but no. Fine, then. Go call someone who's dead and see how you feel!

My fascination with death has also made it on to my blog. A friend recently asked me why I keep writing about celebrity deaths. Well, when a person has a blog, coming up with something to write about every day isn't the easiest thing sometimes, so when I look up what happened on a certain day in history and see that a celebrity died, I can usually write up a little anecdote about some obscure connection to them and perhaps also find a related video to post. And there you have it, an easy blog entry.

If I didn't work in my current industry, I would definitely own my own funeral home. I know that may sound terribly depressing to some, but I really would. And I'd pay radio stations to carry my home's obituaries. I think that nice little tradition is in need of a comeback. Besides, my grandmother needs something to listen to at noon up in Heaven.

My other dream job? You guessed it. Editor of the telephone book!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Two more New Brunswick soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Good God! Master Cpl. Allan Stewart, 30, and Trooper Patrick James Pentland, 23, were based at CFB Petawawa in Ontario, but were natives of New Brunswick. Their deaths come on the heels of the deaths of six soldiers on Easter Sunday, five of whom were based at CFB Gagetown near Fredericton. Click here for more.

My American Idol prediction was 100% accurate for the second week in a row!

Yup, for the second week in a row, my American Idol prediction was bang on! Phil, Haley and Chris were in the bottom three. Chris was sent back to the safety first. Then it was down to Phil and Haley... and Phil was safe. Haley Scarnato went home. Not a huge surprise. Phil will likely go next week. The big surprise will be who's in the bottom three next week... likely Phil, Chris... and who else? Will Sanjaya finally go back in? Stay tuned and see. Click on the above photo to visit Haley's homepage on the American Idol website.

Warning to men: Reading this may cause you to bend over and moan from phantom sympathy pain

"A jury awarded US$786,760 to an Ohio man who says he has endured years of pain and must walk bowlegged after his left testicle was struck by a broken weight-machine bar at an athletic club." Click here for more. OUCH!

Stupid criminals: Man leaves leg behind at scene of crime

"A man accused of using a chain and pickup truck to yank a 680-kilogram ATM from a market failed to escape police when his prosthetic leg fell off during the getaway. " Click here for more.

I could spit nails!

As you may (or may not) know, my house is currently for sale because I want to move in to a condo. It's taking a long time to sell! Definitely a buyers' market these days. Oh well, them's the breaks, as they say! Anyway, an agent was supposed to show my house yesterday but when I arrived home, I suspected that they just never showed up. There was no card left on the table, no shower curtain pulled back (a common sign, actually) or a light left on by mistake. Anyway, come to find out that this agent never called to cancel and never showed up. The reason? Oh this is rich: She couldn't find my house. Yup. That's her reason. A real estate couldn't find my house. I'm in front of the biggest park in this part of the city, a 20-second drive from a major road, on the city bus route, etc. Now, I ask you, do you think she could carry a *&%$# map with her? Does that sound reasonable? Maybe she could have called my agent? Anyway, her clients ended up buying something else. I guess they decided that they didn't want to live in the boonies since I'm so hard to find. Let's just say this: I will never forget this agent's name or the company she works for. I will never use them. I will never refer anyone to her. I will, in fact, tell people that she is useless if she can't even find a damn house. Idiot! And honestly, I wouldn't have minded so much if she would have just called to cancel... but her excuse was so lame. I guess there are bad seeds in every profession.

Pet food recall: Medi-Cal Feline Dissolution Formula

Published Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Appeared on page C1, Moncton Times & Transcript

Royal Canin Canada is recalling Medi-Cal Feline Dissolution Formula canned food after learning from Menu Foods one lot of the product contained contaminated wheat gluten.

One production lot with the best before date of Jan. 8, 2009 contains the tainted ingredient, but the company is taking the precautionary step of recalling all date codes.

The food is prescribed only through veterinary clinics.

In a release, the company says they learned from Menu Foods - who produces the product - late Monday that contaminated wheat gluten had been used in this product.

The company says this is despite repeated assurances they received from Menu Foods that no contaminated wheat gluten made its way into Canada.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month announced that it had found melamine, a chemical used in plastics and some fertilizer, in samples of recalled pet food.

Pet owners who are feeding the recalled product to their cats and have questions are asked to call Royal Canin at 1-866-494-6844.

American Idol fans: Here are a few good moments from Canadian Idol

The always-entertaining Jacob Hoggard from 2004 singing David Bowie's "Space Oddity."

Check out his current work with his band Hedley. Here they are singing "On My Own":

Here's 16-year-old Daryl Brunt from 2005 singing "Tainted Love." He had to pull out all the stops that week after nearly getting voted off the previous week. It worked! He was safe when the votes were tallied.

Here's the 2005 Canadian Idol winner, Melissa O'Neil singing "It's De-Lovely":

American Idol prediction for tonight - April 11, 2007

I was "bang on" last week. Let's see if I can repeat that feat. Sanjaya appears to be safe with an OK performance and the fact that he sang last. It's quite rare that the singer who goes last is kicked off the show. In fact, I read today that it's only happened once in American Idol's six seasons. So let's count him as safe. I never know from week to week if they're going to choose a bottom two or three. I think it's safe to say that the bottom two this week will be Haley and Phil. If there's a third, it will be Chris or LaKisha. Yup, LaKisha. She's getting boring and looks too morose for my taste. Blake, Melinda and Jordin will be the top three this year, I think. In my mind, Blake has taken over from Melinda as the front-runner. Anyway... I think Chris is the odds-on-favourite to be #3 in the bottom three, so I'll go with him, but he should be safe right away. Again, to recap: Chris, Haley and Phil in bottom three -- with Haley going home. If she doesn't hit the bottom three tonight, LaKisha will likely start appearing in the bottom three beginning next week, I think. The consensus online and from people I talk to is that bloom is off her rose and fading fast.

Don't forget to check out my "Hump Day" column...

... on the editorial page of today's Moncton Times & Transcript. "All things related to death are fascinating" talks about my creepy little obsession with obituaries, graveyards, etc. And why did my family have the most up-to-date telephone book in the city when I was a kid? Well, you have to read the column to find out. Check it out on page D6 of today's newspaper.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

For any American Idol fans... this is the guy who won Canadian Idol in 2004

If you're a fan of American Idol and have never seen Canadian Idol, check out Kalan Porter, who won Canadian Idol in 2004 at the age of 18. It was pretty evident that Kalan was going to win from the first time he stepped on stage. In fact, he was never in the bottom two or three during the entire run of the show. Here he is singing "Born To Be Wild," which pretty much cemented his position as the one to beat.

Remember Ma and Pa Kettle?

I used to watch the Ma and Pa Kettle movies all the time on TV when I was a kid. Would love to see them again. It's too bad that you can only get them by buying them now. Marjorie Main played Ma (she died on this day in 1975 and was an Oscar-nominated actress, no less) and Percy Kilbride played Pa. Here's a famous clip from 1951's "Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm."

Jean Vander Pyl, the voice of Wilma Flintstone, died on this day in 1999

Jean Vander Pyl, better known as the voice of Wilma Flintstone, died on this day in 1999. Here's a little clip showing her in person. She was also the voice of Pebbles Flintstone and Rosie the Robot Maid on The Jetsons.

Cute commercial for Dove hair products

This commercial ran a few years ago. I always thought it was cute.

This week's Hump Day column...

... is about my obsession with the subject of death. I also make a confession about a very strange little hobby I had when I was a kid. I thought it was a perfectly logical thing to do until my mother found out about it and gave me a look that pretty much meant, "Oh my God. My son is going to grow up to be a serial killer." ;-) Check it out on the editorial page of tomorrow's Moncton Times & Transcript.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Big changes coming to NBC's "America's Got Talent"

You may have heard that NBC's America's Got Talent will change hosts for the upcoming season. Regis Philbin is out and Jerry Springer is in. Yes, THAT Jerry Springer. Apparently, now, Brandy is out as one of the judges and Ozzy's wife Sharon Obsourne is in! This should be interesting! Sharon is known for her bluntness, so I'm sure she'll add some spice to the show. Odd that they would include two Brits in the lineup of judges, though. Click here for more.

How to kiss

I came across this funny and charming video by accident on YouTube. Check it out. Very entertaining.

If you're in a bad mood, watch this...

I think I've already posted this, but I can't remember. And since this is post #530 (!!), I hope you'll forgive me if I already did. I'm starting to forget what I posted. Anyway, if you happen to be in a bad mood, watch this. This little guy will cheer you up!

Second season of "Et Dieu créa... Laflaque" now on DVD

Season two of the hilarious computer-animated Radio-Canada political satire show "Et Dieu créa... Laflaque" is now available on DVD. Click here for more information on how to order DVD. If you haven't yet checked it out, be sure to watch on Sunday evenings at 8:30 p.m.

This is Feather and she needs a home!

Hi everyone. I just wanted to bring Feather to your attention. She's a young female cat who's currently at the Moncton SPCA waiting for a new forever home. I was at the shelter for a recent board meeting and met Feather. She was in the "cat room" with a volunteer. What a sweet little cat! I went in to meet her and she promptly hissed at me (as all good cats will do upon meeting a stranger, don't ya know!), but one little pat on the head and she turned to complete goo. I picked her up and we were great friends from then on. She purred up a storm. If you're looking for a nice cat, I can personally vouch for Feather! Click here find out more about her. If Heather isn't what you're looking for, check out the other animals at the Moncton SPCA by clicking here. Getting pre-approved for an adoption will reduce a lot of stress when you find the right little friend for you. That way, you can go home right away with your new pet instead of waiting for your adoption to be approved. Once approved, your form is good for one year. If Feather's already been adopted, there are lots of other cats there waiting for a new mom and/or dad.

102-year-old woman gets hole-in-one!

Good Lord. I can barely hit the ball, let alone get a hole-in-one! Well, Elsie Mclean of California got one was last week -- her first -- at the age of 102. Congratulations, Elsie! Click here for more.

Carl Perkins would have been 75 today

Singer Carl Perkins would have been 75 today. He died in 1998. Here he is singing his #1 hit "Blue Suede Shoes," which he also wrote. Elvis Presley later recorded the song, but it did not reach the success of Perkins' original version. Here is Perkins on Perry Como's old TV show singing his signature hit:

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Five of six Canadian soldiers killed today in Afghanistan were from New Brunswick's CFB Gagetown

Five of the six Canadian soldiers killed today by a road-side bomb in Afghanstan were based at CFB Gagetown near Fredericton, New Brunswick. A very sad day for the Canadian military and for CFB Gagetown.

Sad news from the world of comics

There was sad news today from the world of comic strips. Johnny Hart, the creator of B.C. and the co-creator of The Wizard of Id, died of a stroke while working at home. Thanks for all the laughs! Here's a recent B.C. strip:

And here's a recent Wizard of Id strip:

Nirvana's Kurt Cobain died 13 years ago today in 1994

Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain committed suicide on April 8, 1994. (Well, his death was discovered on this date, at least.) Here's a clip from MTV's "Unplugged" of Nirvana singing "All Apologies." I'm not a big Nirvana fan, and this is the only song that I could even remember. Thought it was semi-catchy. (With apologies to all the Nirvana fans out there.)

A snowy Easter morning 2007 here in Moncton

This is a view of what we're waking up to this Easter Sunday morning here in Moncton. This photo was taken from my front door at about 7 a.m. Lots and lots of snow and wind! Ugh. It's April 8th for God's sakes! Enough already! This is a very big storm for this time of year. At least the snow won't last long, though. You can't tell much in this particular photo, but the snow is really blowing around. I think a lot of Easter dinner plans may be on hold today -- maybe even mine! :(