Saturday, April 28, 2007

Talk about motherly love!

This baby wildebeest's mother is not going to give up her child without a fight! (Content may be inappropriate for some.)

Happy 57th to Jay Leno

Tonight Show host Jay Leno is 57 today. Considering that they are now on opposing networks in the same time slot, here's a rare video of Jay with David Letterman. His voice has become lower since this interview, thankfully.

Singer-actress Ann-Margret turns 66 today

Ann-Margret was born on this day in 1941 in Sweden. Yup, Sweden. Here's a tribute video showing various high points of her career.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Simpsons on this week's American Idol

Très cute! Funny stuff.

The Gregory Despres trial is over

"The trial of Gregory Despres for the horrific murder of an elderly New Brunswick couple will not continue, the judge hearing the case ruled Friday. Justice Judy Clendening of the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench found Despres unfit to take part in court proceedings because of a mental disorder." ... "Despres has been on trial since early January for the grisly double murder of 74-year-old Fred Fulton and his 70-year-old wife, Verna Decarie, who were found dead in their Minto, N.B., home on April 25, 2005. Both were repeatedly stabbed and Fulton was decapitated, his severed head later discovered in a pillowcase under the kitchen table." Click here for more. Although he won't be standing trial, this is one person who should definitely be hospitalized for the rest of his life. He is clearly a danger to society and should never have the opportunity to roam the streets again.

Remembering Vicki Sue Robinson

Vicki Sue Robinson died seven years ago today at the young age of 45. She was the original singer of the mega-hit song "Turn the Beat Around" 31 years ago in 1976. The song was resurrected by Gloria Estefan in 1994 and had a second run on the charts as a big hit. Since then, it has been a staple of contestants in the Idol franchise (American Idol, Canadian Idol, Australian Idol, etc.).

Here's a video of Vicki Sue performing on American Bandstand in (I'm assuming) 1976 or 1977. This is all I could find of her online, unfortunately. The performance is obviously lip sync'd and the audio and video don't match up very well, but I thought I should include it for historical purposes, at least.

Here's Gloria Estfan's version from 1994:

Here's Carmen Rasumusen's version from American Idol in 2003:

Here's Diana DeGarmo's version from American Idol in 2004:

And, finally, here's an amazing version from 2006 Australian Idol contestant Dean Geyer. What a performer! (He didn't win that year, by the way. He came in third.)

The Odd Couple's Jack Klugman is 85 today

Céline Dion and Elvis Presley duet from Wednesday's American Idol: The wonders of technology!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Remembering Lucille Ball

The great American comedienne Lucille Ball died 18 years ago on April 26, 1989, from a ruptured aorta. Like Irene Ryan before her, Lucille Ball was one of those people who just wasn't supposed to die.

Here's a clip from The Lucy Show with special guest star Carol Burnett (who, as you know, turned 74 today).

Irene "Granny" Ryan died 34 years ago today

Irene Ryan, who played the beloved TV character Granny (character's real name: Daisy Moses) on The Beverly Hillbillies, died on April 26, 1973, several days after suffering a stroke on stage during a Broadway performance of Pippin. She was definitely one of the great charactor actors of all time. Although I was only nine years old when she died, I remember being absolutely heartbroken. Granny wasn't ever supposed to die! I saw her once on a rerun of an old game show on the Game Show Network. She was actually very beautiful when she wasn't in character as Granny.

Maybe the actress to the right of Jethro didn't look familiar, but did she sound familiar? Her name was Bea Benaderet. Listen closely to her voice. Still nothing? Think... think... Well, if you thought of Betty Rubble, you'd be right. Bea was the original voice of The Flintstones' neighbour from 1960 to 1964.

New KevJumba video: Superstitious?

Warning: Some language may offend.

Happy 74th birthday to the great Carol Burnett

Everyone's favourite TV comedienne Carol Burnett turns 74 today. Happy birthday! She starred in one of the best TV variety shows of all time -- The Carol Burnett Show -- for 11 seasons from 1967-1978. Here are some clips from her famous "questions and answers" sessions that she held at the beginning of each episode.

The Two Fat Guys end their column in Moncton's Here magazine

The very popular Two Fat Guys column has ended its run in the Moncton edition of Here magazine. In 2004, I co-founded the column with Bob Morton. I left in May 2006 after 100 columns and just as many restaurant meals. Bob continued the column with Jack LeBlanc from June 2006 until today when they both decided to end it after an extremely successful nearly three years. The column reviewed restaurants in the southeastern New Brunswick area and was popular for its honesty and forthright manner of telling it like it was. I'm sure that the column will be missed by its many fans and I was proud to have been associated with it for its first two years. Great memories! Let's hope that the next restaurant reviewer(s) for the publication are just as successful. It's a great gig and loads of fun! Click here to read the final column.

It's tax time in Canada!

In the U.S., April 15th is the deadline for filing your annual income tax return. In Canada, however, we get an extra couple of weeks -- until April 30th. Here's a funny parody of the Capitol One commercial from the Rick Mercer Report entitled "Knee in Package" to commemorate the season.

Hump Day: Maternal instincts don't transfer to uncles

Hump day
Published Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Appeared on page D6, Moncton Times & Transcript

On the weekend, my family and I had a belated Easter Sunday dinner at my sister's house, our original plans having been previously scuttled by a spring snowstorm.

My sister and her husband live in a straw-bale house in the country about a half-hour's drive outside the city. From the outside, it looks like just another large bungalow on a hillside. From the inside, however, it's unique with an open concept, wide windowsills from the use of straw bales as insulation and finished in a rough manner with rounded corners reminiscent of Fred and Wilma's house on The Flintstones.

To prove that it's a straw-bale house, they've even included a window on the interior wall that clearly shows the straw covered by the chicken wire needed to stabilize it before plastering.

They've received quite a few visits from people interested in building such a structure. I even had a client from work drop over with his daughter and her husband to take a peek at it since they were also building one.

Since it's so different - and still relatively rare - it's pretty much a mandatory task to check out the few others that exist in order to find out as many tips and tricks as possible. No need to reinvent the wheel, right?

So we sat in the comfortable and bright kitchen - relatives hanging out and chatting on a beautiful spring day. To say the least, everyone was quite content that the weather had finally changed. A week ago, we were still shovelling snow despite the calendar claiming that it was April. Yes, Old Man Winter's grip on the weather seemed to have finally eased and he'd decided to call it a year and go into hibernation, we hoped!

The star of the family show that day was most certainly my nephew, Ethan, who I hadn't seen since Christmas. Since then, the little tyke has celebrated his first birthday and now clocks in at the ripe old age of 15 months. I have things in my freezer that are older than him, even counting his conception and gestation - not that I ever sat down to calculate that moment right to the minute or anything. That would have been a tad creepy. "Hey sis, I know what you were doing at 10:15 p.m. on Wednesday the 12th!"

My nephew's walking now, which pretty much had everyone on the lookout the entire time. At that age, kids pretty much spend their time running all over the house trying to figure out why walls and table corners just don't magically move out of the way when their little heads bang into them. Ethan was already showing a few battle scars but those certainly didn't stop him from bolting out of sight at a moment's notice, causing momentary fear among guests until we heard a "bang" and a cry. "Found him!"

Usually, he wasn't far. A few times, he was found trying to play with my mother's dog who was holed up under the kitchen table trying to avoid the kid since Ethan hasn't yet learned that doggies don't particular care for having their whiskers slowly yanked out one by one.

I'm proud to say that so far in my life, I've completely avoided changing one single diaper. I've seen it done, but so far it's just been a spectator sport for me. Hmmm . . . that sounds a bit perverted, doesn't it? Well, you know what I mean.

There's one thing about babies, the minute a grandmother smells poop, those old maternal instincts that were put on hold after her own children grew up and moved out come back in full force.

It was almost like her life would be suddenly fulfilled by finding a dirty diaper that needed changing . . . almost like a Labrador retriever seeing a dead duck floating in the water during a hunting expedition and feeling the instinctive need to fetch it for its master. The nose knows!

She sniffed. Her eyes widened excitedly. "I think I smell something."

And then it started. "Awwww did Ethan go poopie?"

All of this, of course, was said while giggling uncontrollably in a tone about three octaves higher than her normal speaking voice.

After hearing all of this mama chatter, my sister's maternal instincts for her son soon chimed in like Pavlov's dog and she ran over to help my mother determine the facts of the matter.

Honestly, they were like two insane asylum escapees: squealing, giggling and sniffing madly.

Meanwhile, I'm really really not wanting or needing to know.

I told them to please get a grip on themselves.

Finally, they settled for just pulling his diaper out for a quick peek. A true mother-and-daughter shared maternal moment.

And a false alarm.

The disappointment was palpable.

Women's reactions to dirty diapers are obviously a maternal instinct that cannot be denied.

I just hope that they don't expect much from me if I ever babysit my nephew because, unless he's completely blown a gasket, it would take heaven and earth to move in order for me to change a diaper.

My perfect record is intact . . . and I am proud.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Alec Baldwin wants to quit 30 Rock

Alec Baldwin has asked the producers of 30 Rock to let him out of his contract so that he can devote all his time to his parental alienation issue. As you will remember, a telephone message where he was insulting to his daughter was leaked to the media a few days ago.

OK, now, let's not get crazy. 30 Rock is a vehicle in which you can rehabilitate your reputation. Don't blow things out of proportion by quitting the show -- which is one of your redeeming qualities and the reason why many people really like you.

Baldwin's several stints as a guest host on Saturday Night Live and his impeccable work on 30 Rock show that he is a comedic actor to be reckoned with. It would be a shame to lose that.

Let's hope the situation resolves itself in a calm, cool and collected manner. Click here for more.

Piano-playing kitty all the rage on YouTube with nearly 2.7 million views... Awwww!

This video has been seen on YouTube so often that it even made it on to CNN as one of today's featured videos. Click here for more on Nora, the piano-loving cat.

American Idol bluff

Since this was "Idol Gives Back" night on American Idol tonight -- an evening where viewers and corporations were asked to donate money for charities in the U.S. and Africa, the producers of the show decided that it would be inappopriate to send someone home. So they will add the votes from this week to the next week's vote and the bottom TWO will be going home next week. As of now, my prediction remains that Phil and LaKisha will be going home, but I reserve the right to change my mind depending on next week's performances.

Exclusive report: Funny fashion show raises money for child with cystic fibrosis

Well, here's one sure-fire way to get some publicity for a fundraiser... send me a video made exclusively for this blog! What a great idea! Retired CBC Radio personality Walt Forsey sent me this note and video today completely out of the blue. I was absolutely thrilled to receive it and am more than happy to post it here. Wow... it's like having my own TV station! :D Thanks, Walt!

Here's what Walt had to say about the video: "Yes it was a fundraiser for cystic fibrosis. It was held at the Dan Bohan Family Centre (Riverview, New Brunswick, Canada) last week. The little girl, Erin, who was with her mother, Sheryl, early in the video has cystic fibrosis. This is the second fundraiser Sheryl's mother and friends have organized. There was no admission to the fashion show. The people coming in to the show were actually buying a ticket on a quilt as part of the fundraising effort. After the meal, they donated what ever amount they wanted to the cause."

Here's Walt's exclusive video for Brian Cormier's Blogtastic World:

Let's hope that this hopes to raise more money for cystic fibrosis! My first exposure to the disease was when I worked for the Moncton Kinsmen Club during the summer of 1983. The local club had won the bid to hold the national convention here in Moncton and one of the stars of the event was singer Kevin Denbok, who also had cystic fibrosis. Kevin died at the age of 21 in 1986. We sold his albums at the office and I had the honour of seeing him perform live at the convention. Thanks again for sending this, Walt! To learn more about cystic fibrosis, click here (Canada) or click here (U.S.) or click here (international).

American Idol prediction for tonight

Bottom three: Phil, LaKisha, Chris. I can't see Blake being in the bottom three again... but stranger things have happened. I think Chris will go back to safety first. Then it will be Phil and LaKisha in the bottom two. Now, I firmly believe that LaKisha will be gone in the next two weeks, but I don't think this is the one. I think that Phil has been in the bottom two so often that his nine lives have evaporated and he'll be the one going home tonight. Let's see what happens tonight! I was bang on two weeks ago and 66% (or so) correct last week. How will I do tonight?

Incandescent light bulbs being phased out in Canada by 2012

After a smattering of announcements by various jurisdictions here and there, including recently in Ontario, now the entire country (Canada) is following suit.

"The federal government will develop national standards for energy efficient lighting by the end of the year and ban inefficient bulbs by 2012, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn announced Wednesday. “I’m very pleased to announce today that Canada is stepping up once again and introducing national standards for energy efficiency in lighting,” Lunn said at a news conference in Ottawa. Inefficient incandescent lighting will be phased out over the next five years, the government said, but the ban will make some allowances when incandescent bulbs are “the only practical alternative,” such as in some medical lighting or in oven lights."

Click here for the news report. Click here for the official news release.

Here's Rosie's announcement on The View

Rosie O'Donnell not renewing contract with The View

Rosie O'Donnell officially announced on today's show that she and ABC Daytime were not able to come to terms for a new contract and that she will be leaving The View at the end of June when her current contract is up. She said that one of the terms on which they couldn't agree was that she wanted another one-year contract while ABC Daytime was insisting on a three-year deal. This is definitely bad news for The View and bad news for daytime TV. Rosie breathed new life into the show and certainly made it the talk of the town! Hopefully, this just turns out to be a negotiation ploy and ABC Daytime caves in to her seemingly reasonable demand for a one-year contract. Click here for more. Fans of The View will definitely be crossing their fingers that Rosie and ABC Daytime will be able to come to terms despite this announcement. Love her or hate her, if you owned that show you would definitely want to keep her as a co-host.

Former Jeopardy! host Art Fleming died 12 years ago today

Younger generations may be surprised to know that Alex Trebek was not always the host of Jeopardy. In fact, Art Fleming was the original host from 1964 to 1975 and from 1978 to 1979. He died 12 years ago today on April 25, 1995. Here is a clip from the older version of Jeopardy! which is virtually unrecognizable from today's high-tech version. (The announcer at the beginning of the show is Don Pardo, the long-time announcer on Saturday Night Live.)

Hank Azaria turns 43 today

Hank Azaria, the Emmy-winning actor famous for his voiceover work on The Simpsons, turns 43 today. Among others, he voices Apu (for which he won an Emmy), Comic Book Guy, Moe and Chief Wiggum.

And the countdown continues...

Eight months and counting...

Today's Hump Day column

Don't forget to check out Hump Day on page D6 of today's Moncton Times & Transcript: Maternal instincts don't transfer to uncles. I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Why did this kid's parents let him play there???

"A 4-year-old boy tackled by a college football player as he played along the sidelines during a game has 30 stitches in his head, but he's recovering well, his father said Tuesday. It was the spring youth football festival at Colorado State on Saturday, and Caden Thomas was wandering along the sidelines with his father during the team's intrasquad game. Caden was near the end zone when wide receiver George Hill, trying to catch a touchdown pass, crashed into him. "Well, there's the sickening thud," Caden's father, Michael Thomas, said Tuesday. "I was just tremendously worried about the rest of his life. You make automatic assumptions there will be some damage when you see something that horrific." The team's trainer and doctor rushed in to help Caden as his father held him and Hill waited nearby, worried about the little boy. Caden was bleeding from a deep cut on his head, but he was conscious, and his neurological exams were normal." Click here for more.

This kid should have never been there in the first place. Ridiculous! He could have easily been killed! Difficult to watch!

Man tries to escape from court

Man, you really have to wonder about the stupidity of some people. Why would someone even attempt to try to flee a courtroom? Yesterday, in Portland, Oregon, Wayne Michael Trent decided he'd try to run away from his court date but never thought that the place would be crawling with deputies and police officers. Uhm, hello? D'ya think? Of course, he got tasered and was quickly apprehended about 30 seconds after bolting. Click here for more.

Feeling old yet?

Here's the #1 Billboard song 15 years ago this week:

... and 25 years ago this week...

... and 35 years ago this week...

... and 45 years ago this week...

... and 55 years ago this week...

Film critic Roger Ebert says people shouldn't hide illness

Renowned film critic Roger Ebert, a columnist with the Chicago Sun-Times, says that people spend way too much time avoiding talk about illness and he doesn't care who sees his disfigured face following failed cancer surgery. In a column entitled "I ain't a pretty boy no more," Ebert says he plans on attending his annual film festival dedicated to overlooked films despite the fact that photographers may take unflattering photos of him.

"My Ninth Annual Overlooked Film Festival opens Wednesday night at the University of Illinois at Urbana, and Chaz and I will be in attendance. This year I won’t be speaking, however, as I await another surgery. I have received a lot of advice that I should not attend the festival. I’m told that paparazzi will take unflattering pictures, people will be unkind, etc. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. As a journalist I can take it as well as dish it out. So let’s talk turkey. What will I look like? To paraphrase a line from “Raging Bull,” I ain’t a pretty boy no more. (Not that I ever was. The original appeal of “Siskel & Ebert” was that we didn’t look like we belonged on TV.) What happened was, cancer of the salivary gland spread to my right lower jaw. A segment of the mandible was removed. Two operations to replace the missing segment were unsuccessful, both leading to unanticipated bleeding."

Wise words from a brave man. Click here for the rest of Ebert's column that appeared in today's newspaper.

Wal-Mart to open 400 in-store clinics in U.S.

"Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said on Tuesday that it will contract with local hospitals and other organizations to open as many as 400 in-store health clinics in the next two to three years. Should current market forces continue, the world's largest retailer said up to 2,000 clinics could be in Wal-Mart stores over the next five to seven years. Wal-Mart said the effort marks an expansion of a pilot program it started in 2005, when it leased space within its stores to medical clinics. Currently, it said 76 clinics are operating inside Wal-Mart stores in 12 states. It has said the clinics are expected to boost the health of its shoppers and should also help sales by drawing consumers into its stores." Click here for more.

I don't know about you, but the first I think of when I think of Wal-Mart is "inexpensive" but not necessarily quality. So with that in mind, I personally wouldn't have tons of confidence in a clinic inside of a Wal-Mart. The two just don't fit. Heck, I won't even go to a Wal-Mart pharmacy. The two just don't go together, in my mind.

This week's Hump Day column...

... is all about a recent trip to my sister's for a delayed Easter Sunday get-together. Read about it tomorrow on the editorial page of the Moncton Times & Transcript.

GM loses title as world's largest auto maker to Toyota

Toyota is now the world's largest auto maker. For the first time ever, Toyota outsold GM in the first quarter of 2007 by 90,000 vehicles. Analysts expect this trend to continue. As a former owner of a couple Toyotas, you can't beat their quality and reliability! Click here for more.

Barbra Streisand is officially a senior citizen today

Happy birthday to Barbra Streisand, who turns 65 today. Here she is in a 1975 live performance of The Way We Were. In addition to singing the title song from the movie, Streisand also earned a Best Actress nomination at the Academy Awards. One of the most accomplished performers of all time, she's won two Oscars, four Emmys, nine Golden Globes, eight Grammys and a Tony. Click here for her official website.

Remembering comedian Pat Paulsen, who died 10 years ago today

Comedian Pat Paulsen died 10 years ago today. You may not recognize the name, but you'll surely remember the face and voice if you're of a "certain age." See him here on a 1982 visit with talk show host David Letterman.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Google named world's most powerful brand

"Google is the world's most powerful brand, according to a survey released Monday by international consulting firm Millward Brown. Google ranks as the top brand with a value of $66.4 billion US — calculated by estimating the sum of all earnings that the brand is expected to generate. General Electric was ranked second with a value of nearly $61.8 billion US and Microsoft was third at $55 billion US. Coca-Cola was fourth, at $44.1 billion US." Click here for more.

"The Secret" audiobook

I was out of town today and took the opportunity to listen to "The Secret" audiobook that I had purchased several days ago. I love listening to motivational stuff in the car. Wow! What an awesome way to pass the time on the highway. Such amazing messages! I was truly impressed. An excellent companion to the DVD and book. Highly recommended!

Stefani wins The Apprentice 6

Stefani, who flew under the radar all season, was named Donald Trump's latest apprentice on last night's The Apprentice 6 finale broadcast live from Los Angeles. In fact, she was so "under the radar" that I could never remember her name. Although she shone on last night's show, she was extremely low profile all season. I would have never picked her to win... never in a million years.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

My sister's straw-bale house

My sister and her husband built a unique straw-bale house a few years ago. The interior of the walls are made straw bales that act as the main insulator. They've finished just like The Flintstones' house inside -- roughly plastered with rounded corners. It looks like a bungalow from the outside, but you can tell it's not "just another house" when you are inside. The house is located in Parkindale, Albert County, New Brunswick, about 40'ish km from Moncton. Thought y'all would be interested in seeing a couple of photos of the interior.

This is a photo of a window they inserted into the interior wall to "prove" to people that it was indeed a straw-bale house. If you look closely, you can see the chicken wire that was wrapped around the straw in order to stabilize it.

Here's a view of one of the windowsills. You can see how they have finished the corners in a rounded fashion.

Here's a brighter view of the finishing of the interior walls. You can see what I mean when I describe them as finished "à la" Flintstones. The window into the straw (see first photo above) can be seen just to the right of the door.

I saw my first "real-life" alpacas today

I saw these alpacas on a farm on the Coverdale Road in Albert County just outside of Moncton (New Brunswick, Canada). Very nice animals! And talk about cute! My mother and her husband are thinking of getting a few as pets. I hope they do!

This is my mother and the alpacas. They chose to stand just down a little hill from her. They weren't fussy about her dog, Rocky.

The late great humorist and writer Erma Bombeck passed away 11 years ago today

I love Erma Bombeck. I was truly saddened when she died at the young age of 69 on April 22, 1996. Her writing was hilarious, self-depricating and touching at the same time. One of my pieces was chosen this year as an "honorable mention" in the 2007 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. What an honour and a thrill! I'm going out to buy one of her books today and re-read it. I haven't read them in years.

Happy birthday, Mrs. Garrett!

The Facts of Life's Charlotte Rae turns 81 today.

Singer Glen Campbell is 71 today

Click here for a bio of the much-troubled singer. Here he is singing Southern Nights:

Happy 70th birthday to Jack Nicholson

Click here for a bio. Here's one of his most famous scenes from 1980's The Shining:

Actor Eddie Albert would have been 101 today

Actor Eddie Albert, best remembered for his starring role in the old sitcom Green Acres, would have been 101 today. He died at the age of 99 in 2005. He was an accomplished television and film actor, having been nominated twice for an Oscar. Here's the show's catchy opening featuring Albert and his co-star, the late Eva Gabor.

And here's the opening being performed by Donald Trump (as himself) and Megan Mullally (as Will and Grace's Karen Walker) at the Emmy Awards broadcast on September 18, 2005.

Little girl gets head stuck in pot

This poor little girl got her head stuck in a pot while trying to imitate a Brazilian cartoon character. Unfortunately, things did not go well for her and she got her head stuck. She was not impressed. The rest of the family, however, thought it was hilarious. Listen as they giggle in the background while she cries her little eyes out. Awwww... I'm no science whiz, but all they had to do was hold her upside down in some warm water for a few minutes and the pot would have expanded, allowing them to remove it easily from her noggin.