Saturday, September 15, 2007

Four funny commercials

Standing up to school bullies by making them look ridiculous!

UPDATE - Sept. 23/07: Click here for a CBC Nova Scotia item on the growing campaign against bullying using pink clothing.

UPDATE - Sept. 21/07: Click here for a CTV Atlantic news report. Great stuff!

UPDATE - Sept. 18/07: Wow! I sent this story idea in to CBC's As It Happens over the weekend and they picked it up! It ran on last night's show and actually credited me for the idea. Très cool! Thanks again to Ryan Crocker for bringing it to my attention and thanks to Andrew Laing for letting me know that it ran last night.

This is a portion of a great story by Ian Fairclough from today's Halifax Chronicle-Herald about how two students (David Shepherd and Travis Price, shown in photo - also by Ian Fairclough) bought 75 pink tank tops and other pink items for students to wear after a new student at Central Kings Rural High School in Cambridge, Nova Scotia, was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. Congratulations to David and Travis for standing up to these idiots!

"Two students at Central Kings Rural High School fought back against bullying recently, unleashing a sea of pink after a new student was harassed and threatened when he showed up wearing a pink shirt.

The Grade 9 student arrived for the first day of school last Wednesday and was set upon by a group of six to 10 older students who mocked him, called him a homosexual for wearing pink and threatened to beat him up.

The next day, Grade 12 students David Shepherd and Travis Price decided something had to be done about bullying.

"It’s my last year. I’ve stood around too long and I wanted to do something," said David.

They used the Internet to encourage people to wear pink and bought 75 pink tank tops for male students to wear. They handed out the shirts in the lobby before class last Friday — even the bullied student had one.

"I made sure there was a shirt for him," David said.

They also brought a pink basketball to school as well as pink material for headbands and arm bands. David and Travis figure about half the school’s 830 students wore pink.

It was hard to miss the mass of students in pink milling about in the lobby, especially for the group that had harassed the new Grade 9 student.

"The bullies got angry," said Travis. "One guy was throwing chairs (in the cafeteria). We’re glad we got the response we wanted."

David said one of the bullies angrily asked him whether he knew pink on a male was a symbol of homosexuality.

He told the bully that didn’t matter to him and shouldn’t to anyone.

"Something like the colour of your shirt or pants, that’s ridiculous," he said."

(Thanks to Ryan Crocker, a reporter/photographer with The Review in Beauséjour, Manitoba, for bringing this excellent story to my attention through Facebook. If he wouldn't have posted a link, I would have likely never seen it!)

Some retro TV show openings

In my weekly column, I mentioned "Adam 12" and "Emergency!". Reader Brian Branch also wondered about a show with an 18-wheeler and a monkey. Ha! Sounds weird, but that was "BJ and the Bear"!

Here are the shows' opening sequences, starting with the second season of Emergency!:

Opening credits of seasons 3-6 of Emergency!:

Opening credits of Adam 12:

Opening credits of BJ and the Bear:

Friday, September 14, 2007

Anonymous comments

FYI, while anonymous comments are welcome on this blog, they are moderated. This means that I must approve all comments before they are added. This eliminates spam and any abusive comments from making it on to the blog. Should you feel the need to send abusive remarks, they will never be posted to the blog, so don't waste your time. Luckily, I only need to reject a couple of comments per month (if that!).

Joey Heatherton is 63 today

The younger crowd will likely not remember Joey Heatherton, but she was all over TV in the 1960s and 1970s. (Am I showing my age?) Here's a 1963 performance from The Dean Martin Show when she was only 19 - and even before I was born!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Brian Melo, Jaydee Bixby and Carly Rae Jepsen coming to Moncton!

Canadian Idol's Top 3 are coming to Moncton on Monday, November 19, for a concert at the Capitol Theatre. All three performers are so different that they will attract a variety of fans. I'm sure the event will be a big success! Click here for more information. Buy your tickets soon before they're all sold out!

A heartbreaking photo from Brandon Hupman's funeral

This photo by Cindy Wilson appeared in today's Telegraph-Journal. It struck me as being absolutely heartbreaking - showing two of Brandon Hupman's hockey teammates and a female friend consoling each other after Brandon's funeral yesterday. Click on the photo for a larger version.

Hump Day: Living by yourself is sometimes hazardous

Hump Day
Published Wednesday September 12, 2007
Appeared on page D6, Moncton Times & Transcript

Living by oneself has its benefits. You can decorate the way you want. You can go to bed as early or as late as you want without worrying about being disturbed. And no one yells at you if you leave the toilet seat up.

Sometimes, though, living alone can be hazardous to your health.

This past weekend, my phone rang as I was doing a bit of work around the house. The caller ID showed that it was my cousin, Gisele, with whom I'd had supper the evening before. She'd just retired from teaching a few months ago and moved to town from another city. She sold her house there in one day and is all settled in to a new condo here. The first few months of her retirement have been busy ones filled with moving and setting up her new home.

I answered, and instead of a cheery "Hello!" from her, I heard her sob out my name. She was crying very hard. Something was wrong. Horribly wrong.

Now, I don't know about you, but I don't come from a terribly dramatic family. This means, of course, that I'm not in the habit of getting calls from people sobbing on the other end of the line. My first thought was the obvious: someone had surely died. I braced myself for some shocking and unexpected news.

"I ha-ha-had a bad fa-fa-fall," she managed to croak out between sobs. While relieved that no one had died, I immediately switched gears into "rescue" mode. The house seemed to light up with flashing lights and the sound of sirens filled my head as I thought back to those old episodes of "Emergency" and "Adam 12."

With her sister and brother-in-law on vacation in Europe, and her brother and sister-in-law out of town for the weekend, I became the relative on call in case of an emergency. Time to don my Superman cape and leap tall buildings in a single bound!
I assessed the situation over the phone and gathered that it involved a drawer that she mistakenly left open. Upon returning to the kitchen to do other things, she tripped over the forgotten open drawer and literally flew, launching herself head-first into the range and knee-first to the floor.

Luckily, she didn't knock herself out. There are stories everywhere about people who live by themselves who get injured and are only found days later. Sometimes, it's too late to help. Had she knocked herself out in the fall, she could have been there for a long time. With her siblings out of town and me having just had supper with her the night before, she could have laid there for days before being discovered. I would have only got suspicious after a few days of not hearing from her via e-mail.

Anyway, I rushed right over to her condo -- hitting every red light on the way -- to find her a crying mess and sitting back in her recliner with a large ice bag over one knee and a cold cloth over her forehead, which she'd literally dented in her fall. At least no one can accuse her of being hard-headed anymore. I saw the dent. Her head ain't that hard.

After we determined that she would indeed live to see another day, she asked that I take her to the hospital to get checked out. After a couple of previous back surgeries and that nasty bump on the head, it was better to be safe than sorry.

While she got dressed, I cleaned up some water in the kitchen that had spilled during the fall and then noticed her glasses on the counter. They were a twisted heap, evidence of the force with which she hit her head. "I guess you weren't exaggerating," I yelled out. "Your glasses are destroyed!"

"I kn-kn-know . . ." she managed to choke out between sobs.

Although her knee hurt, her shin was scraped and there was definitely that dent in her forehead, she managed to come out of the fall relatively intact. It could have been much worse.

After she got dressed, she followed me out to the car while holding a damp cloth to her forehead to keep any potential swelling down.

"I su-su-suppose th-th-at this will be in your co-co-column?" she asked through tears on the way to the hospital. I looked at her and gravely nodded, "Of course." It's what a columnist does, after all. Things happen and I write about them -- preferably things that happen to other people, don't ya know.

Now if she would have just co-operated and gone into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital, I could make the column that more interesting by regaling you all with a tale of how I saved her life by jump-starting her heart with the recharger for my cell phone that is constantly plugged in to the lighter outlet. At least it would make the column a bit more interesting. But, selfish person that she is, her heart remained beating all the way there. Sigh . . . There are only so many jokes about only a dented head that I can make.

Thankfully, after getting checked out at the hospital for a concussion and any other serious injuries, Gisele was given a clean bill of health by the doctor.

The next day, I was talking to my neighbour, Diane, who told me about tripping at her mother's and falling face-first into the door. Hmmm . . . I'm going to have to keep a close eye on her just in case I'm in need of a column idea for next week, too.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

News release: Canadian Idol had another banner year!

Every year, it seems that fans whine that the Idol franchise is getting weaker. The facts, however, normally don't back up those observations. CTV issued a news release today chock full of new and exciting statistics for season five of Canadian Idol:

"1) 12 guest stars for the most blockbuster line-up of special guests yet: Enrique Iglesias, Queen, Maroon 5, Rihanna, Kelly Clarkson, Paul Anka, Bon Jovi, Avril Lavigne, Eva Avila, Kalan Porter, Hedley and Low Level Flight

2) 9,477: number of competitors Brian Melo outlasted to claim the Canadian Idol crown.

3) 37,231,772: total votes cast this season, more than one for every man, woman and child in the country.

4) 4,849,386: total votes for the final performance episode this season, the most ever in the history of the series.

5) 15 cities on the Canadian Idol Top 3 Tour, beginning Nov. 18: Charlottetown, Moncton, Halifax, St. John's, Ottawa, Belleville, Toronto, Hamilton, North Bay, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Red Deer, Surrey and Edmonton"

"With the latest season now concluded, Canadian Idol finishes for the fifth season in a row as the most-watched program of the summer on Canadian television. The non-simulcast Idol drew 23 per cent more viewers than the second most-ranked series on Canadian TV this summer, America's Got Talent (CTV/NBC)."

There is lots more information in the release. Click here to read all about it!

Today's Hump Day column: Living by yourself is sometimes hazardous

Hi everyone. Don't forget to check out today's Hump Day column on the editorial page (pg. D6) of today's Moncton Times & Transcript. Today's column is about the hazards of living alone and what happened one day after I received a call from a relative who'd just had an accident at home.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Brandon, Jimmy, Corey and Jared

UPDATE - Sept. 14/07: Nearly 1,600 people have viewed this item in the three days since it's been posted to my blog. This is clear evidence of the grief in the community and the tremendous support and compassion for these families, friends and teachers. It is my sincere hope that the positive energy from this communal outpouring of love for them will help to ease a fraction of the pain and begin the healing process.

I'm finding myself filled with sadness over the passing of four kids who I didn't even know. On Saturday night at 8 p.m., Brandon Hupman, Jimmy Dunphy, Corey Doucet and Jared Storey were killed in a horrific car accident on Ammon Road just outside of Moncton. They died instantly.

Since then, the entire community of Greater Moncton has been plunged into mourning. Students and staff at Harrison Trimble High School have been left reeling in shock. Four families have lost beloved children. The community's collective heart aches with compassion and sadness.

Wakes for three of the kids (Brandon, Jimmy, Jared) were held today. Tomorrow, their funerals will be held - and will be staggered throughout the day in order to allow people to attend all of them. Corey's wake is scheduled for tomorrow with his funeral on Thursday. The next two days will be ones of incredible sorrow, but also the start of healing.

To all those who knew and loved these boys -- maybe I should rephrase that -- To all those who KNOW and LOVE these boys... please know that many people in the community who didn't even know them are thinking of you and keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.

While we are mourning the loss of our friend, others are rejoicing to meet him behind the veil.
John Taylor

This song is called I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me. It's about arriving in Heaven. While we can only imagine - Brandon, Jimmy, Corey and Jared now know.

Canadian Idol: And the winner is...

BRIAN MELO!!! Canadian Idol 2007!!! Congratulations to Brian. Click on his photo for more information. Click here for my review of last night's show, when I predicted that Brian MUST win. Go to Brian's official website to hear the new single! What an awesome song! It will be a major hit!

Tomorrow's Hump Day column...

... is all about living alone and the perils that can bring! Read it tomorrow on the editorial page of the Moncton Times & Transcript.

Canadian Idol news release: First-Ever Canadian Idol Top 3 Tour Announced Following Biggest Vote in Series' History

The following news release was issued today by CTV:

"- Tickets go on sale tonight for 15-city concert tour presented by TELUS
- Nearly 5 million votes recorded last night, the most ever

- 2.3 million watch final performance episode

TORONTO, Sept. 11 /CNW/ - You've seen them on TV. Now you can see them live. CTV announced today that Canadian Idol's final three competitors will head out on a 15-date, cross-country concert tour this fall, presented by TELUS. Featuring Top two finalists Jaydee Bixby and Brian Melo along with Carly Rae Jepson, it's the first-ever concert tour in the history of the series featuring multiple Canadian Idol finalists. Tickets for the concert tour go on sale tonight following the two-hour, star-studded Canadian Idol finale featuring performances from Bon Jovi, Avril Lavigne, Eva Avila and more.

The announcement comes as CTV reveals that last night's final vote was the largest ever in the history of the series. With nearly five million votes cast, last night's vote was up 22 per cent compared to last year. Voting for Canadian Idol's fifth season concludes with 37,321,772 votes cast, or 62 per cent more than were counted in the 2006 federal election.

Last night's penultimate episode was the most-watched of the season when 2.23 million viewers watched Jaydee Bixby and Brian Melo battle it out with their final performances in competition for the Idol crown. The episode was the No. 1 program of the night in all key demos, and attracted over one million viewers in both the 18-49 (1,000,700) and 25-54 (1,084,000) demos during the second half-hour."

Click here for the full text of the release.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Canadian Idol review - September 10th - The Last Show!

Well, boys and girls, tonight was the night! After months of auditions, performances and shocking results shows, the final two in the 2007 season of Canadian performed in the finale tonight: Jaydee Bixby and Brian Melo.

In my opinion, a winner has never been so obvious or deserving as the clear champion of tonight's final results show.

First up, Jaydee sang Bon Jovi's Who Says You Can't Go Home. He did a reasonably good job with this, although I really have to agree with judge Jake Gold that he didn't believe the words he was singing. Stage-wise, it was lacking, as well. 6/10 from me. The judges pretty much hated it, except for Sass who gave Jaydee a pity vote.

Up next was Brian with another Bon Jovi hit, This Ain't A Love Song. Wow! Brian blew this one out of the park, as usual. He did a fine job. The judges loved it. As Jake said, "Jaydee 0, Brian 1." 9/10.

All I Ever Wanted is this year's single to be released by the next Idol. I found that it's one of those typical power ballads about achieving your dreams, etc. It's all good, I guess, but predictable. Basically, every Idol's first single after the show is a huge hit, so either Brian or Jaydee will have this song as their first hit. Who sang it best? Well, I'll tell you!

Jaydee was up first. He took the song, barfed on it, spit on it, and did other digusting things to it, too. This was one of his worst performances of the year. His lower register at the beginning of the song was PAINFUL to listen to. It was not good. Zack summed it up in his comments afterwards that he was cracking under the pressure. It showed. Bad. An absolute 0/10 and I'd give lower if I could. Quite frankly, if I were a Canadian radio station, I would refuse to play Jaydee's version. It was that horrendous.

Brian, meanwhile, predictably gave an outstanding performance of the song. The crowd went wild. The judges went wild. Although he sounded a bit screechy at times, it was a "passionate" screechy... there was a reason for it. Hands down, Brian was the best of the two. No contest. A strong 10/10.

Luckily for Jaydee, his last song pulled him out of the crapper for evening - Tom Jones' It's Not Unusual. A bit cheesy, but it worked for Jaydee. He had fun and was relaxed. The judges were much kinder this time around, although I'm a bit perplexed as to why the kid felt the need to talk back to Jake, who was CLEARLY not impressed with the attitude. Zack was kind enough to state the obvious: Jaydee's going to be a big country star sooner rather than later. 8/10

The last song of the year went to Brian, who sang Leonard Cohen's beautiful Hallelujah, a favourite song of mine. Brian's version was a smashing success, in my opinion. It was touching, original, heartfelt and magical... an artistic chef d'oeuvre on every level. Amazing. Simply amazing. He needs to put this on his first album! 10/10 big time!

It's clear from tonight's show that Jaydee's run is over. The crowd clearly wasn't with him. He's cute. He's nice. He loves senior citizens. When Jaydee hits his mark, there is no one better. But tonight, he was pretty much a disaster and he knew it. The crowd knew it. The judges knew it. I can't believe that the voters at home didn't know it, too.

Brian, on the other hand, had the crowd in the palm of his hand. This was the first time that I've ever heard the crowd clearly favour Brian over Jaydee. It was obvious. Brian was consistent, polished, raw and humble throughout the entire night. Again, Hallelujah was a chef d'oeuvre on his part... one that will go down in Idol history as a truly memorable moment. Bravo!

So who's going to win? Will a bad night mean Jaydee will lose, even after never seeing the bottom two or three even once this season?

Basically... yes.

Jaydee was outclassed tonight. Brian showed he deserves to win the title. Brian showed he wants to win. Brian has the maturity, humility and pipes to win. Jaydee beats Brian on pure charisma and cocky swagger, but Brian is the guy who'll remind us that sometimes a reality show like Canadian Idol does indeed find a diamond in the rough... a future megastar.

Brian Melo will win tomorrow. Quite frankly, he showed tonight that he, above all others, deserves your vote when the chips are down. Canadians are a fair lot, and they know that Brian clearly deserves the crown.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Tragedy in Moncton takes lives of four Harrison Trimble High School students

A horrific car accident in Moncton last night has killed four 16-year-old boys - all students from Harrison Trimble High School. Tragic! A sad day in this city. Click here for news coverage from CBC New Brunswick. A Facebook memorial group dedicated to the four teens identify them as Brandon Hupman, Corey Doucet, Jimmy Dunphy and Jared Storey. My sincere condolences go out to the boys' families, friends and teachers.

X Factor: Antony

I wasn't sure if I liked him or not. He was way too cocky for my taste. The attitude, etc. Then I watched it again later and saw the contrast between the "veneer" of attitude with his friends and the respect he was showing to the judges. I think this kid has a dream somewhere inside of him and that he sees the show as his ticket.